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Truth stranger than fiction Posted by on

You can be forgiven if you think this article came from The Onion, rather than the Wall Street Journal, but it appears to be completely legit.

Leather-goods maker Coach Inc. plans to gradually move some production out of China, where labor costs are rising, and into lower-cost countries, such as India and Vietnam.

At the same time, China is proving a boon to Coach's sales, as residents that have become more affluent buy the retailer's status-symbol bags. Comparable-store sales grew by double digits in China, which Chief Executive Lew Frankfort called "our fastest-growing business."

Coach isn't moving production because the company is struggling financially. At least not in any way that most people would understand. Quite the opposite. The article states that the company saw a 19% increase in sales in the second quarter of 2010, which brought a 26% increase in profits. Coach expects to see a 10% increase in profits for the year and expects to buy back $1.5 billion of its own shares by mid-summer.

The company sells "luxury ladies handbags" that sell for several hundred dollars apiece in addition to wallets, shoes and accessories.

TAGS: Economy

State-by-state job numbers Posted by on

While AGC contractors are cautiously optimistic about job growth in the construction industry for the coming year, the last year has been one of mixed results in New England. According to numbers presented by the AGC from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, seasonally adjusted, three of the six New England states experienced modest job growth in the construction industry. Two states saw continued job loss, while Vermont remained largely unchanged.

By adding 800 jobs, New Hampshire's 3.6% increase in construction jobs put it 5th in the country. Massachusetts and Maine were 12th and 13th respectively. Rhode Island saw the loss of 1,200 construction jobs, making its performance 44th in the nation.

Here are the percentage job gains/losses for the New England states in the 12 months ending December 2010. The full table of 50 states is available here.

Connecticut: -4.9%
Maine: +0.8%
Massachusetts: +1.2%
New Hampshire +3.6%
Rhode Island: -7.1%
Vermont: 0%

Reich highlights double economy, single recovery Posted by on

Robert Reich, the former U.S. Secretary of Labor is a frequent commentator on the economy, economic policy and how it affects American workers. In a piece following up on President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, Reich argues that America essentially now has two economies--one for corporations and one for the rest of the country--and only the first is experiencing legitimate economic recovery.

The piece can be found at the site of the New Haven Register.

Corporations are profiting from sales of their foreign operations, especially in China and India. Here, they??re selling to rich Americans ?? Christmas sales at Tiffany & Co. and Neiman Marcus were up, but sales have been down for downscale retailers.

Reduced costs ?? especially shrinking payrolls ?? have been the most important key to the rise in corporate profits, though. The result has been fewer jobs and lower pay.

The Great Recession accelerated trends that started in the 1980s ?? outsourcing abroad, automating work, converting full-time jobs to temps and contracts, undermining unions and getting wage and benefit concessions from remaining workers. The Internet and software have made all this easier.

The U.S. economy is now twice as large as it was in 1980, but the real median wage has barely budged. Most benefits of economic growth have gone to the top. In the late 1970s, the richest 1 percent of Americans got about 9 percent of total income. By the start of the Great Recession, they received more than 23 percent. Wealth is even more concentrated.

TAGS: Economy

AGC, contractors optimisitc for 2011 Posted by on

The Quincy Patriot Ledger yesterday published a story about prospects for the construction industry in 2011, featuring optimistic views by contractors.

Among those quoted were Lee Kennedy, CEO of Lee Kennedy Co:

??The public (projects) have been carrying the ball for the last two years, but people seem to be more confident on the private side,?? CEO Lee Kennedy said. ??We??re expecting there is going to be job improvement, and we think that??ll translate into some additional office space.??