The recession isn’t ruining someone’s holiday spirit

santacon

These people are single handedly keeping the Christmas cheer alive.

Santa Claus costume sales with prices ranging from $35 to $400 have increased nearly 10% over this time last year according to Costume SuperCenter.com.

The PR release does not reveal whether or not the annual SantaCon has anything to do with higher sales and obviously, at least one eye should be cocked by these self-congratulatory stats.

But the good news is Santa costumes are not just for the drunk and merry. Apparently, the costume can also be used for a paycheck.

“According to Simplyhired.com, a mall Santa’s salary can average $24,000 for the season. Self employed visiting Santa’s can get from $150 – $250 an hour. A good quality Santa suit is therefore a wise investment,” Jim Moore, the marketing manager, said.

Clearly the power of Christmas is just too strong to bow down to the evil forces of the recession. Merry Christmas Eve, everybody!

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Revenge of the Wal-Marts

snooty couple

I bet even that dog is getting the same lavish treatment in stores now.

The rich have been ashamed to be rich since the economy started its downfall, so it’s no wonder the NYT reports that expensive boutiques and retailers have decided to be super extra nice to every potential shopper (hint: this means you.)

A few steps away at Dennis Basso, a fur store, Mr. Basso himself was greeting customers. “It can’t hurt,” he said. “Stores that don’t normally have great customer service are trying harder. They’re reaching out and giving that special treatment to the … ” and here, he paused for emphasis, “ … Christmas shopper.”

It makes sense that in tough times every customer’s worth rises a bit in proportion to how poorly sales are falling. In fact, stores are taking such a high interest in doting on you that jobs are at stake.

And, yes, those doormen really are cheerier. Jim Gold, the chief executive of the store, said he replaced the security company that hires them “when we found the ones we were using weren’t as friendly as we wanted them to be.”

And it turns out many of these luxury brands need all the customer service training they can get.

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The economy is feeling much better, thanks

Things felt pretty bad for much of '08 and '09.

Everyone from the WSJ to the NYT is reporting on the recession’s improved health. Some outlets have even (jokingly) credited Obama with being magically responsible for the economy’s path to recovery.

In the best report since the recession began two years ago, only 11,000 jobs disappeared last month, the government said on Friday, and the unemployment rate actually dipped, to 10 percent, from 10.2 percent the previous month.

Although 15.4 million people are struggling to find work, the November report revealed signs of improvement across the country. More than 50,000 temporary workers were hired, the first surge in months and often a precursor to companies hiring permanent workers. Employees worked more hours, even in manufacturing.

And, reflecting the increased hours, the average weekly wage for most of the nation’s workers rose by nearly two-thirds of a percentage point in a single month, to $622.

Adding to the positive signs, a broad measure of unemployment — one that includes those forced to work only part time and those too discouraged to look for work — fell to 17.2 percent, from 17.5 percent in October, the first decline in several months. In addition, job losses in September and October turned out to be far less than previously reported: 250,000 instead of 409,000.

Here’s hoping for more of the same.

Why I Have a Job: the comp lit major who used to wait tables at Bubba Gump

She is as well-versed in Foucault as she is in today's specials.

Name: Stephanie
Major: Comparative Literature and Society, which, as the editor of this blog might be able to confirm, is a certified major in Indecision.
What I do all day: I write papers, case studies, and (hopefully soon!) a blog for a software-as-service tech company. I’m the lone liberal artist amongst businesspeople and engineers.

Unemployed should add “not getting sick” to New Year’s resolutions

Your weekly round-up of hopeless economy news.

  • Millions of unemployed U.S. workers face sharply higher health insurance premiums and loss of coverage as temporary federal subsidies expire. [Reuters]

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Hopeless thought of the day: Plan to live at home for at least another 4 years

I always lie naked on a random rock when things get really sad.

The recent slowdown in job losses is welcome but only marks the beginning of the difficult process of rehiring the more than 8 million workers sidelined by the recession. With unemployment still rising, payroll levels have shrunk nearly 6 percent since the recession began in December 2007. That is nearly three times the level of job loss during the last recession in 2001.

After the 2001 recession it took 18 months to restore employment to pre-recession levels. At that rate, even if the economy began adding jobs next month, employment levels wouldn’t return to pre-recession levels until June 2014.

-[MSNBC]

Shamed bankers turn to illicit affairs to get their groove back

Maybe they just got confused because money is involved in both transactions.

As if cheating the citizens wasn’t bad enough, London Reuters reports that disgraced financiers are turning to another crime to help regain whatever wasn’t lost of their dignity.

IllicitEncounters.com said it has seen a huge increase in the number of financial workers signing up to have affairs after the collapse of the markets in October last year, and that “finance” continued to be one of the most represented professional areas on the site.

The website said in a statement that it has over 380,000 members across Britain of which more than 20,000 work in “financial services” and said it surveyed over 600 men and women bankers to compile a top 10 list of reasons why they embarked on extra-marital affairs.

Of course, the reasons for their improper behavior are pretty much the same as what led to the irresponsible mishandling of money in the first place: unchecked pride, raging testosterone, and childish bragging rights.

The list shows that public revulsion for bankers combined with a lack of affection in private was the top reason for having an affair, followed closely by the excitement of doing something risky, escaping boredom, feeding the ego and one-upping the boys with a trophy mistress.

No word on whether this holds true for Americans as well, but I bet Europe is proud that their bankers are so dedicated to remaining awful human beings. It takes courage to be such a long running joke.

Why I Have a Job: the PhD who sells cashmere when not crusading against student debt

The face ready to take on the student loan system.

Name: Ms. C. Cryn Johannsen

Major: B.A. in History with honors, University of Kansas; German Language Studies, Goethe Institute, Munich, Germany; M.A. in the Social Sciences, University of Chicago; M.A. and Ph.D. research in the intellectual and cultural history of Modern Europe, Brown University; Exchange Scholar, German Intellectual History, Harvard University

What I do all day: Too many things to list, but here it goes: I am a salesclerk, an advocate for people struggling to pay their student loan debt, a freelance writer, a legislative researcher for United Professionals, and also the creator of Education Matters.  I  like to tell customers at the high end dept. store about my background. I think some of them are horrified when I say that I went to an Ivy, while others are sympathetic. It’s shocking how nasty rich people can be. Oh, well . . .I used to teach these people’s kids as a grad student (and it was an honor and a privilege), now I sell them fancy cashmere sweaters. As of February, I’ll be teaching English and History at a private institute abroad.
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Recession making young adults regress into awkward high school living scenarios

dating at home

Um, hi mom.

Did you move back home after college? Congratulations! You are part of a new recession trend!

According to the Pew Research Center, about 20 million people ages 18 to 34 live at home with their parents — roughly 30 percent of that age group. That’s up from about 18 million, or 27 percent, in 2005. Roughly one-third, or 35 percent, of boomerang kids said they had lived independently at some point in their lives but had to move back in with their parents. About half of the grown children worked full- or part-time, while 25 percent were unemployed and 20 percent were full-time students.

And here’s the kicker:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a smaller share of 16- to 24-year-olds are currently employed — 46.1% — than at any time since the government began collecting such data in 1948.

Data released earlier this year showed that older Americans will make up virtually all of the growth in the U.S. work force in the coming years as a nearly unprecedented number hold onto jobs and younger people decide to stay in school.

So for all of us getting a slower start on our careers, paying our bills, and other trappings of the adult life, at least we know we’re not alone.

David Morrison, president and founder of Twentysomething Inc., a marketing and research firm, told the AP: “Young adults are the first to feel the brunt of a bad economy and the last to feel the benefits of a recovering economy. So the first way you hedge your bets is to minimize your expenses.”

At least the stigma of living with your parents is sort of neutralized now that everyone‘s doing it.