Published April 21, 2011
Right now, there are two Americas out there. On the one hand, there is the one we report about all day long on this network -- Wall Street and corporate America who are doing very well, thank you very much.
Just this week we are getting corporate earnings reports from the first quarter and they are on fire. S&P 500 companies will report a 12% earnings gain on average - a bang up quarter.
Even the banks - which were creamed by the mortgage meltdown - are reporting robust earnings. Stock prices have reflected this earnings recovery for some time now. The Dow Jones industrial average was up more than 12% over the last year, and is off the races with a gain of nearly 8% so far this year.
But that's not the only story we're covering at this network. Weekly jobless claims out today continue to show a jobs market that can't find its feet.
The numbers disappointed economists with 403,000 Americans filing for unemployment claims for the first time. Experts predicted just 392,000 would file.
It may not sound like much - but this is a market in which a few thousand make a difference. The jobless rate at 8.8% has come down marginally. Officially some 13.5 million of us are without jobs. Unofficially, that number may be millions higher.
And, as we struggle with a poor jobs market, our costs are rising. Gas prices are hitting $5 a gallon and other commodities are rising too.
What's going on here is more than the hangovers of a recession, or the fact that emerging markets are competing ever more aggressively to sell products and services we once thought of as ours alone.
As we reported to you this week, many American companies are hiring more and more people overseas - because that's where their new markets are. One company tells the story: today, General Electric reported earnings up 77%, a blowout quarter that executives must be proud of.
Less talked about - the fact that over the past 10 years, the company has been slowly but surely exporting its jobs growth. Fifty-four percent of GE workers are based outside the U.S., while just 46% are based in America.
That's right - one of the most recognizable American brands has more employees overseas than at home.
To add insult to injury, CEO Jeff Immelt is leading the president's council on jobs and investment – he's expected to come up with ideas to help U.S. companies expand their employee rolls.
Let's just hope he doesn't share GE's strategy.