A dour procession of economic news arrived today - from a consumer confidence free fall to tumbling home prices to poor earnings reports from major retailers.
What can you do if the bad news touches you? Below, a lineup of upcoming local job events and workshops.
First, the news, in three takes:
1) The New York-based Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index, which was down slightly in January, plummeted more than 12 points in February to 25, from the revised 37.4 last month, the AP reports. That was well below the 35.5 level that economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected. The index, which had hovered in the high 30s over the past few months, broke new lows since it began in 1967. A year ago, the consumer confidence reading stood at 76.4.
Economists carefully monitor consumer confidence since consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity. Signs of a further collapse in consumer confidence is bad news for the economy and stores, whose success hinges on them being in the mood to spend.
2) Home prices in 20 U.S. cities declined 18.5 percent in December from a year earlier, the fastest drop on record. In Charlotte, prices took their steepest decline yet, down 7.2 percent from a year ago.
3) Retailers' fourth-quarter reports reflected Americans' financial worries. Macy's Inc. reported an almost 59-percent drop as results were hurt by weak sales and one-time costs associated with the consolidations of regional divisions and store closings. Target Corp.’s profit fell 41 percent due partly to credit card woes. The Home Depot Inc., which has suffered under the weight of the collapsing housing market, reported a loss of $54 million mostly due to its plan to shut its four smaller home-improvement brands.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the economy is suffering through a “severe contraction” that's likely to keep shrinking in the first half of this year. He's hopeful, but hedging, that the economy will begin to improve by the end of 2009.
What can you do to equip yourself best?
Central Piedmont Community College is hosting Resources for Changing Times next Monday, March 2. The event is a one-stop resource for local professionals who have lost their jobs or are in fear of losing their jobs. City and county agencies, plus local universities and colleges, will discuss area resources for jobs and benefits, and Charlotte-area executives will lead panels on careers. The event also will include workshops on career planning, job searching, as well as soft skills how to handle the stress of losing your job. March 2, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., CPCC's Harris Campus.
UNC Charlotte is hosting Moms Corps - a one-day event next Wednesday designed to help women navigate the professional world and changing workforce. The event, sponsored in part by our (newly designed) MomsCharlotte, features three speakers, including former WCNC meteorologist Terry Bennett, who will discuss juggling working and motherhood. March 4, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Bobcats Sports & Entertainment is hosting a career fair Friday at 2:30 p.m. on the main concourse at Time Warner Cable Arena, featuring 23 companies who are hiring for a variety of jobs, including sports positions. Registration fee is $20, which includes tickets to that night's Bobcats-Orlando Magic game.
From our news partner, NewsChannel 36, a list of job search support groups, with contact info and meeting times.