Report, analysis agree jobs coming back, maybe staying

The job market is looking up, according to a report on the U.S. private sector released on Wednesday, and a separate analysis by the Treasury Department’s top economist.

Companies in the U.S. private sector added 32,000 jobs in April, according to the ADP employment report.

The report, coming two days before the Labor Department reports on changes in the nation’s nonfarm payrolls for April, added to the sense that there would be a sizable increase in jobs.

Economists are expecting a 185,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls. It would be the biggest gain in three years.

In testimony to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress later on Wednesday, Alan Krueger, the assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy, said the labor market is beginning to show signs of “sustained improvement.”

The unemployment rate, however, could be hard to bring down for a while. The economists in the MarketWatch survey ahead of Friday’s report predict the jobless rate will stay at 9.7 percent for the fourth straight month in April.

 

Nationalized mortgage firm Freddie Mac seeks more aid

Freddie Mac is asking for $10.6 billion in additional federal aid after posting a big loss in the first three months of the year. It’s another sign that the taxpayer bill for stabilizing the housing market will keep mounting.

The McLean, Va.-based mortgage finance company has been effectively owned by the government after nearly collapsing in September 2008. The new request will bring the total tab for rescuing Freddie Mac to $61.3 billion.

But company CEO Charles Haldeman said, “We are seeing some signs of stabilization in the housing market, including house prices and sales in some key geographic areas.”

Freddie Mac set aside $5.4 billion to cover credit losses from bad mortgages, down from $7 billion in the final three months of last year.

Created by Congress, Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae buy mortgages from lenders and package them into bonds that are resold to global investors. As the housing bubble burst, they were unable to raise enough money to stay afloat, and the government effectively nationalized them.

 

Post Co. puts ailing Newsweek up for sale

At a time when people don’t want to wait a minute for information, let alone seven days, do newsweeklies have a future? If Newsweek does, it won’t be with its current owner.

The 77-year-old magazine, hobbled by sagging ad revenue and circulation, is being put up for sale by The Washington Post Co.

Newsweek has been piling up losses for the past two years. It cut costs through voluntary buyouts that have reduced its staff by about a quarter; it ended 2009 with 427 employees. And it tried to better compete with more upscale magazines such as The Economist and The New Yorker with a complete redesign of its print and online editions last year.

Neither step has done enough. The Post Co. said Wednesday it has retained the investment bank Allen & Co. to help find a buyer for the magazine.

 

GM woos, hires marketer who helped Hyundai soar

General Motors Co. has hired the marketing whiz that helped Hyundai nearly double its U.S. market share.

The automaker said Wednesday it is bringing on Joel Ewanick, the former head of marketing for Hyundai Motor America, who developed the successful Hyandai Assurance campaign that promised to take back cars from customers who lost their jobs.

Ewanick, 49, will leave his current job as head of marketing at Nissan North America, a position he took just two months ago. He spent three years at Hyundai before that, where he became a high-profile figure in automotive marketing circles.

During his time with the Korean automaker, the company’s market share grew from 2.7 percent to 4.4 percent through March of this year.

At GM he replaces Susan Docherty starting May 24. Docherty had run both sales and marketing at GM, but saw her duties shrink to just marketing in March. GM says it is still deciding on her new role.