Unemployment Numbers at their Lowest in 50 Years

According to the US Labor Department, the unemployment rate for the month of September 2019 fell to only 3.5% from 3.7% the previous month. An additional 136,000 jobs were added to the economy.

Official portrait of Jerome H. Powell. Courtesy Wikipedia.

There was also additional retroactive good news as August’s figures for job growth was updated to 168,000 instead of what had been reported to be 130,000. Some manufacturing jobs last month while wage growth held steady.

The increase in jobs in September was below what has been the monthly average of about 161,000 for the year, but it was still above the number the economy requires every month to stay in line with the growth of the working age population, which is 100,000. The manufacturing sector lost 2,000 jobs in September, after employing an additional 2,000 workers in August.

Manufacturing has been doing poorly across the globe, but it is less a factor in employment than it has been in the past, since modern economies have been transferring away from reliance on this sector.

Despite the positive news on jobs, however, will probably not relieve the pressure on Federal Reserve head Jerome Powell to cut interest rates. The US Federal Reserve Bank cut interest rates for the first time since 2008 in July, and then did it again in September. The bank would like to keep what is so far the longest economic expansion in US history–11 years—moving forward.

Discussions Lead to Chinese Mega Soybean Purchase

As a result of high-level trade talks a week ago, China has agreed to purchase 600,000 tons of soybeans grown in the USA. As a result of the purchase, the price of soybean futures in the US climbed by more than 1 percentage point on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Soybeans. Photo courtesy CSIRO

The deal will result in the shipment of about 10 boatloads of soybeans, which will be spaced over the time period between October and December, all heading off to Chinese shores.

The announcement about the soybean purchase came on the heels of the bad news that Chinese trade officials had cancelled a scheduled visit to US farm states. Except for this one decision, trade talks had proceeded positively. More negotiations between the US and China are scheduled for October has the trade war between the two powerful global economies continues.

In early September this year a Chinese state news agency reported that some farm products, pork and soybeans, were no longer subject to additional tariff increases. The announcement helped to reduce tensions between the trading partners and make way for the recent soybean deal.

Best Destinations for Business Travelers in the US

Business travelers spend lots of money during their peregrinations for their companies. Global business travelers spent more than US$1.3 trillion in 2017, with China and US businesses the top two spenders. Expedia, the on-line travel agency looked its annual data and discovered that out of a total of 405 million trips made for business by Americans, about 60% extended their stays for fun.

The following three cities were found be the best US cities in which adding a few days to your business stay is the most fun according to small business solutions marketplace Fundera.

In first place was Los Angeles. Strategically situated in one of the sunniest US cities, a visitor can count on great weather, but there is a lot more to LA than sunshine. Gorgeous beaches, fantastic restaurants, non-stop entertainment opportunities and world-class museums are just the beginning of what makes LA such a great place to chill.

What must have been a close second is of course New York City. One of the great cities of the world, despite cold winters and hot/humid summers, the Big Apple is unquestionably the go-to place for an exciting vacation chock-full of an almost endless variety of activities suitable to every taste. From Broadway shows to lovely parks, the city that never sleeps is good choice for an after-work break.

In third place comes Dallas; but it ranks first in US cities not along any coast. This city is a wonderful compromise in its size, convenience and culture. Since it is not a mega metropolis like LA or NY, it might have less by way of choices for restaurants and hotels, but it makes up for that in the calm, cool atmosphere created by a smaller, friendlier and easier to get-around in environment. Not to mention the Dallas airport is a hub for just about anywhere else you might want to travel to in the US.

Fundera says that an average stay in a Dallas hotel is just under $190 per night, lower than in less-populated cities such as San Francisco or Miami. The Dallas Fort-Worth Airport is 20 miles from downtown, but even during rush hour it will only take 40 minutes to arrive.

Starting a New Business

Many people dream of becoming their own bosses, having their own businesses and not having to answer to an employer.  Recent figures have shown that in the States 99.7 percent of all-American businesses are actually small ones.  this indicates that people are increasingly moving toward working for themselves and away from the corporate world.

While that statistic is very positive, unfortunately, when you look a few years down the line, the numbers of those businesses that were successful and even remained afloat is not as encouraging.  indeed, around 70 percent of small businesses end up closing within two years.

We took this opportunity to ask two individuals who have successfully been running their own business for 5+ years for tips.

Photographer Mozes Victor Konig works in both the US and in Israel.  He opened his company in 2011 and has never looked back.

“I did work for an agency when I first started out.  And I liked it on some levels.  I didn’t have to worry about getting clients and I had regular work. But after a decade of giving more than 60% of my hourly rate to the agency I started thinking about how I could open my own business.  I have to say – maybe I’ve been lucky – but I’ve never looked back. I think the most important piece of advice I got that perhaps resulted in this success was from a fellow SME owner who said find your niche.  now that I focus on events like museum openings, new restaurants and charity events, I feel like I have more respect from consumers who know that I have a talent in that particular area. don’t try to bite off more than you can chew.  make sure you are 100% proficient in a few areas and offer those services.  The fact that I travel between Israel and America (also for personal reasons) is helpful for me personally since I never tire of what I’m doing; I love it actually.”

Genevieve Marcella opened a florist store in Battery Park City in 2015.  She has lived in the neighborhood her whole life and – similar to Mozes Victor Konig – really enjoys what she does. She said:

“I think that the fact that I’ve lived in Battery Park City all my life really helped when starting a new business.  I know many of the locals – my mother taught half of my clients – and I understand their needs.  I offer flowers for many different events and occasions but in particular for weddings.  Weddings by the Hudson River are fantastic; there are many different options and I like to help clients with that as well.  I suppose the advice I would give to someone starting out is get to know your client base.  The personal touch – especially in the service industry and with local businesses – is so important and can really set you apart from the competition.”

Toshiba LNG Division Sold to Total SA

Unburdening itself from its somewhat risky liquified natural gas venture, Toshiba Corp. completed the sale of Toshiba LNG Corp to oil and gas powerhouse Total SA of France for $15 million. The sale is part of the Japanese firm’s restructuring process.

Technigaz Mark III type LNG membrane inside an LNG carrier. Photo courtesy of Thinfourth

The sale was announced in June when Toshiba realized it would have a hard time profiting from US-produced LNG for Japanese utilities due to the fall of the price of LNG. As it is, the sale to Total SA will still result in a loss for Toshiba of about $847 million for the fiscal year ending in March. Toshiba plans to pay Total about $815 million to take the contracts Toshiba is already committed.

Toshiba’s deal with the US firm to have the rights to process U.S.-produced gas into 2.2 million tons of LNG each year for 20 years beginning in 2019 was brokered back in 2013.
Toshiba’s restructuring comes in the wake of a fraud scandal that came to light in 2015, and after Westinghouse Electric Company, a nuclear power subsidiary, went bankrupt in 2017.