Six Important Questions for Gerald Celente – LISTEN NOW!

Follow the Money Weekly radio host Jerry Robinson asks Gerald Celente six vital questions about the times and trends of the U.S. economy. In this shocking and timely interview, you will hear Celente’s opinion of where the U.S. economy is headed, as well as what the future holds for citizen preparedness during times of war.

Part 1

Part 2

Listen to the entire radio show, and hear more interviews like this one at our website: http://www.ftmdaily.com/ftmweekly.php

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Obama faces growing credibility crisis

By Edward Luce in Washington

The Financial Times | Published: July 13 2010 18:51 | Last updated: July 13 2010 18:51

Robert Gibbs, Barack Obama’s chief spokesman, got into hot water this week for daring to speak the truth – that the Democrats could lose control of the House of Representatives in November. But it could be even worse than that.

Contrary to pretty much every projection until now, Democratic control of the Senate is also starting to coming into question. While Mr Obama’s approval ratings have continued to fall, and now hover at dangerously close to 40 per cent according an ABC-Washington Post poll published on Tuesday, the fate of his former colleagues in the Senate looks even worse.

In the past few days polls have shown Republican challengers taking the lead over previously safe Democratic incumbents, such as Barbara Boxer in California and Russ Feingold in Wisconsin. Indeed, given the uniformly negative direction in the numbers, it is now quite possible the Republicans could win the Senate seats formerly held by both President Obama in Illinois, and Joe Biden, vice-president, in Delaware.

Add to that the continuing woes of Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic majority leader, in Nevada, where the Republican party’s recent nomination of Sharron Angle, a far-right and highly eccentric Tea Party supporter, appear to have had no positive effect on Mr Reid’s prospects, and the Grand Old party has a good shot at taking control of both houses of Congress. Worse for Mr Obama, political scientists say that at this stage in the calendar, there is almost nothing he can do about it.

If you ask me where the silver lining is for President Obama, I have to say I cannot see one,” says Bill Galston, a former Clinton official, who has been predicting for months the Democrats could lose the House. “Just as BP’s failure to cap the well has been so damaging, Obama’s failure to cap unemployment will be his undoing. There is nothing he can do to affect the jobless rate before November.”

Chart: Obama job approvalThe direction of the data could hardly be worse. According to Democracy Corps, a group headed by Stanley Greenberg, a liberal pollster who is a close friend of Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama’s chief of staff, a majority of US citizens see Mr Obama as “too liberal”.

Astonishingly, 55 per cent of citizens think Mr Obama is a “socialist” against only 39 per cent who do not share that diagnosis. The same poll shows 48 per cent support for Republicans against just 42 per cent for Democrats. The numbers are eerily similar to 2006, except that it was George W. Bush’s Republicans who were on the receiving end four years ago.

The bottom line here is that Americans don’t believe in President Obama’s leadership,” says Rob Shapiro, another former Clinton official and a supporter of Mr Obama. “He has to find some way between now and November of demonstrating that he is a leader who can command confidence and, short of a 9/11 event or an Oklahoma City bombing, I can’t think of how he could do that.

In private, informal advisors to Mr Obama are almost as negative. According to one, the US public’s loss of confidence in Mr Obama’s leadership is a factor above and beyond their dissatisfaction over the state of the real economy, which continues to slow as last year’s $787bn stimulus starts to run dry. The adviser, who asked to remain anonymous, said the public did not know what Mr Obama really believed. Examples include his lukewarm support last year for a public option in the healthcare bill and his equally lukewarm support today for a Senate bill that would extend unemployment insurance and aid state governments to keep teachers in their jobs.

In both cases, Mr Obama has offered only token, negotiable, support. “I never thought I would say this, but even I’m unsure what President Obama really believes,” says the adviser. “Instead of outsourcing decisions to Congress, he should spell out his bottom line. That is what leaders are for.”

Next week, Mr Obama is likely to sign a historic Wall Street re-regulation bill into law. Earlier this year he did the same for healthcare. But polls show the public either does not care, or even opposes these otherwise big reforms. “The longer this goes on, the more it looks like Obama wasted his first year on healthcare,” said the outside adviser. “It’s still the economy, stupid.”

The 50 most unbelievable facts about the U.S. economy

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/09/2010 17:02 -0500 | Zerohedge.com

As we close on another week replete with ugly economic data and the usual bizarro counterintuitive market, here is a summary of the 50 most underreported facts about the state of the US economy, courtesy of the Coto report. After reading these it almost makes sense that the market has become completely desensitized to the sad reality now pervasive in this country. Readers are encouraged to add their own observations to this list. Surely if the list is doubled, the market will go up to 72,000 instead of just 36,000.

#50) In 2010 the U.S. government is projected to issue almost as much new debt as the rest of the governments of the world combined.

#49) It is being projected that the U.S. government will have a budget deficit of approximately 1.6 trillion dollars in 2010.

#48) If you went out and spent one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend a trillion dollars.

#47) In fact, if you spent one million dollars every single day since the birth of Christ, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.

#46) Total U.S. government debt is now up to 90 percent of gross domestic product.

#45) Total credit market debt in the United States, including government, corporate and personal debt, has reached 360 percent of GDP.

#44) U.S. corporate income tax receipts were down 55% (to $138 billion) for the year ending September 30th, 2009.

#43) There are now 8 counties in the state of California that have unemployment rates of over 20 percent.

#42) In the area around Sacramento, California there is one closed business for every six that are still open.

#41) In February, there were 5.5 unemployed Americans for every job opening.

#40) According to a Pew Research Center study, approximately 37% of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have either been unemployed or underemployed at some point during the recession.

#39) More than 40% of those employed in the United States are now working in low-wage service jobs.

#38) According to one new survey, 24% of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.

#37) Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.  Not only that, more Americans filed for bankruptcy in March 2010 than during any month since U.S. bankruptcy law was tightened in October 2005.

#36) Mortgage purchase applications in the United States are down nearly 40 percent from a month ago to their lowest level since April of 1997.

#35) RealtyTrac has announced that foreclosure filings in the U.S. established an all time record for the second consecutive year in 2009.

#34) According to RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings were reported on 367,056 properties in March 2010, an increase of nearly 19 percent from February, an increase of nearly 8 percent from March 2009 and the highest monthly total since RealtyTrac began issuing its report in January 2005.

#33) In Pinellas and Pasco counties, which include St. Petersburg, Florida and the suburbs to the north, there are 34,000 open foreclosure cases.  Ten years ago, there were only about 4,000.

#32) In California’s Central Valley, 1 out of every 16 homes is in some phase of foreclosure.

#31) The Mortgage Bankers Association recently announced that more than 10 percent of all U.S. homeowners with a mortgage had missed at least one payment during the January to March time period.  That was a record high and up from 9.1 percent a year ago.

#30) U.S. banks repossessed nearly 258,000 homes nationwide in the first quarter of 2010, a 35 percent jump from the first quarter of 2009.

#29) For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.

#28) More than 24% of all homes with mortgages in the United States were underwater as of the end of 2009.

#27) U.S. commercial property values are down approximately 40 percent since 2007 and currently 18 percent of all office space in the United States is sitting vacant.

#26) Defaults on apartment building mortgages held by U.S. banks climbed to a record 4.6 percent in the first quarter of 2010.  That was almost twice the level of a year earlier.

#25) In 2009, U.S. banks posted their sharpest decline in private lending since 1942.

#24) New York state has delayed paying bills totalling $2.5 billion as a short-term way of staying solvent but officials are warning that its cash crunch could soon get even worse.

#23) To make up for a projected 2010 budget shortfall of $280 million, Detroit issued $250 million of 20-year municipal notes in March. The bond issuance followed on the heels of a warning from Detroit officials that if its financial state didn’t improve, it could be forced to declare bankruptcy.

#22) The National League of Cities says that municipal governments will probably come up between $56 billion and $83 billion short between now and 2012.

#21) Half a dozen cash-poor U.S. states have announced that they are delaying their tax refund checks.

#20) Two university professors recently calculated that the combined unfunded pension liability for all 50 U.S. states is 3.2 trillion dollars.

#19) According to EconomicPolicyJournal.com, 32 U.S. states have already run out of funds to make unemployment benefit payments and so the federal government has been supplying these states with funds so that they can make their  payments to the unemployed.

#18) This most recession has erased 8 million private sector jobs in the United States.

#17) Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of 2010.

#16) U.S. government-provided benefits (including Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs) rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.

#15) 39.68 million Americans are now on food stamps, which represents a new all-time record.  But things look like they are going to get even worse.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting that enrollment in the food stamp program will exceed 43 million Americans in 2011.

#14) Phoenix, Arizona features an astounding annual car theft rate of 57,000 vehicles and has become the new “Car Theft Capital of the World”.

#13) U.S. law enforcement authorities claim that there are now over 1 million members of criminal gangs inside the country. These 1 million gang members are responsible for up to 80% of the crimes committed in the United States each year.

#12) The U.S. health care system was already facing a shortage of approximately 150,000 doctors in the next decade or so, but thanks to the health care “reform” bill passed by Congress, that number could swell by several hundred thousand more.

#11) According to an analysis by the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation the health care “reform” bill will generate $409.2 billion in additional taxes on the American people by 2019.

#10) The Dow Jones Industrial Average just experienced the worst May it has seen since 1940.

#9) In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1.  Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.

#8) Approximately 40% of all retail spending currently comes from the 20% of American households that have the highest incomes.

#7) According to economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, two-thirds of income increases in the U.S. between 2002 and 2007 went to the wealthiest 1% of all Americans.

#6) The bottom 40 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

#5) If you only make the minimum payment each and every time, a $6,000 credit card bill can end up costing you over $30,000 (depending on the interest rate).

#4) According to a new report based on U.S. Census Bureau data, only 26 percent of American teens between the ages of 16 and 19 had jobs in late 2009 which represents a record low since statistics began to be kept back in 1948.

#3) According to a National Foundation for Credit Counseling survey, only 58% of those in “Generation Y” pay their monthly bills on time.

#2) During the first quarter of 2010, the total number of loans that are at least three months past due in the United States increased for the 16th consecutive quarter.

#1) According to the Tax Foundation’s Microsimulation Model, to erase the 2010 U.S. budget deficit, the U.S. Congress would have to multiply each tax rate by 2.4.  Thus, the 10 percent rate would be 24 percent, the 15 percent rate would be 36 percent, and the 35 percent rate would have to be 85 percent.

Why Congress Can’t Afford Not to Extend Unemployment Benefits Again

U.S. News & World Report | Liz Wolgemuth, On Wednesday July 7, 2010, 11:58 am EDT

It’s “Recovery Summer,” according to White House officials who have been circling the country to show off solar-panel installers working on Federal buildings and construction workers building senior housing projects–jobs created by last year’s stimulus, which is still being spent. Unfortunately, this season has lost its luster for many who aren’t at work on stimulus projects. In a move that may have spelled financial crisis for nearly a quarter of the 9.2 million Americans living on unemployment checks, Congress adjourned for July 4th recess without extending emergency benefits. When Congress returns July 12th, some 2.14 million out of work Americans will have lost their benefit checks.

While economists are split on the merits of further government spending in the name of job creation, few debate the merits of paying unemployment benefits when unemployment is at 9.5 percent. Not only do benefits provide necessary income when the private sector cannot, they are also believed by many to be a sprightly stimulus–putting money in the hands of people who spend it immediately. With five active job seekers for every job opening in the United States, job creation needs to be much more robust before benefits are cut. “We have a big problem–people can’t find jobs,” says Thomas Kochan, codirector of the Institute for Work and Employment Research at MIT. “This recession has been unusually harsh on people who have been out of work for an extended period of time, so it’s time for Congress to act.”

When Congress reconvenes, the Senate jobs bill could restore federal benefits that expired June 2, and extend them through November. This is considered by many to be a crucial lifeline for the jobless, many of whom have been shut out of the fledgling job market thanks to mismatches in their skills or expectations and employers’ needs. Republican Senators have blocked the bill because they have differed with Democrats on how to pay for it.

If Congress fails to extend benefits when they return from recess, an estimated 3.2 million Americans will lose their benefits by the end of July–a result that could cause obvious financial, social, and psychological distress for millions of households. It would be a strange turn of events for a Congress that has traditionally doled out benefits in periods of high unemployment. “That certainly has been the historical pattern–typically benefits are extended repeatedly until the unemployment rates get down to a certain level, and obviously whatever that level is, we’re not there yet,” says Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpoint Securities in Stamford, Conn. “Historical experience would suggest you would be expecting Congress to continue to extend benefits at this point in the cycle.”

The logistics of current benefits can get pretty confusing, so here’s the basic rundown: Most states provide the first 26 weeks of benefit checks. During the recession, Congress authorized emergency benefits lasting, ultimately, 34 weeks with a couple of additional tiers that added 13 extra weeks for some states, and an extra six weeks on top of those 13 for fewer states–based entirely on how high their unemployment rates were. Finally, extended benefits kick in after emergency benefits, and those last 13 to 20 weeks. That’s the formula that has given some long-term unemployed workers in very lousy job markets access to 99 weeks of unemployment.

The long-term unemployed, or those out of work for six months or more, now make up 46 percent of the total unemployed. Long-term unemployment is a vicious cycle: workers can’t find work for a long time for a variety of reasons, then get shut out of new hiring because they’ve been unemployed for so long. Many may never return to the same occupations they had in, say, the hard-hit construction or manufacturing industries. “We are seeing some structural changes in the economy,” says Sung Won Sohn, an economist at California State University-Channel Islands. While the government can’t pay benefits forever, the government has some responsibility to train workers for new roles, Sohn says.

[See 5 things to know about the newest jobs bill.]

Ultimately, any investment in retraining won’t show a return until employers are really hiring again. While the private sector added more than 80,000 jobs last month, the economy needs about 150,000 a month just to absorb normal labor force growth. At this stage in the recovery, employers should be adding 200,000 to 300,000 each month, Sohn says. This kind of math gives plenty of support to the argument for extending jobless benefits again, given that there are not nearly enough openings to match job seekers. In other words, benefits aren’t giving much competition to paying jobs.

Even so, if Congress extends benefits through November, they are likely to be smaller. Given Washington lawmakers’ concern over deficit spending, there’s little chance that Congress will continue the stimulus provision that added an extra $25 to every weekly benefits check. Without the extra dollars, the average U.S. benefit check is a little less than $300 a week. Many find the penny pinching over benefits unseemly. Larry Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, says cutting the extra $25 in an effort to look fiscally responsible “is to hurt the unemployed almost for symbolic purposes.”

Last month the number of long-term unemployed declined slightly–but significantly. Those who fell off those rolls were likely among the roughly 650,000 people who dropped out of the labor force in June, pushing the unemployment rate down to 9.5 percent. It’s safe to figure that some of the long-term unemployed saw their benefits run out in June and, without the need to meet the active job search conditions for receiving benefits, took a break from their searches and were no longer counted in the labor force. (Contrary to what some people believe, an unemployed worker can be counted in the labor force even if they’re not receiving unemployment benefits. Data for the two measures–unemployment and benefit claims–are collected separately.) So, unemployment benefit extensions incentivize job searching for even the most beleaguered and downtrodden job-seeker. Those who have collected 99 weeks of unemployment during this recession have consistently, if unsuccessfully, sought work for nearly two straight years. Without benefits, no doubt many job seekers would have quit looking for work much earlier.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Its starting to feel like 1932

With the US trapped in depression, this really is starting to feel like 1932

The US workforce shrank by 652,000 in June, one of the sharpest contractions ever. The rate of hourly earnings fell 0.1pc. Wages are flirting with deflation.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Published: 9:33PM BST 04 Jul 2010

People queue for a job fair in New York

People queue for a job fair in New York. The share of the US working-age population with jobs in June fell from 58.7pc to 58.5pc. The ratio was 63pc three years ago. Photo: EPA

“The economy is still in the gravitational pull of the Great Recession,” said Robert Reich, former US labour secretary. “All the booster rockets for getting us beyond it are failing.”

“Home sales are down. Retail sales are down. Factory orders in May suffered their biggest tumble since March of last year. So what are we doing about it? Less than nothing,” he said.

California is tightening faster than Greece. State workers have seen a 14pc fall in earnings this year due to forced furloughs. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is cutting pay for 200,000 state workers to the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to cover his $19bn (£15bn) deficit.

Can Illinois be far behind? The state has a deficit of $12bn and is $5bn in arrears to schools, nursing homes, child care centres, and prisons. “It is getting worse every single day,” said state comptroller Daniel Hynes. “We are not paying bills for absolutely essential services. That is obscene.”

Roughly a million Americans have dropped out of the jobs market altogether over the past two months. That is the only reason why the headline unemployment rate is not exploding to a post-war high.

Let us be honest. The US is still trapped in depression a full 18 months into zero interest rates, quantitative easing (QE), and fiscal stimulus that has pushed the budget deficit above 10pc of GDP.

The share of the US working-age population with jobs in June actually fell from 58.7pc to 58.5pc. This is the real stress indicator. The ratio was 63pc three years ago. Eight million jobs have been lost.

The average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks. Nothing like this has been seen before in the post-war era. Jeff Weninger, of Harris Private Bank, said this compares with a peak of 21.2 weeks in the Volcker recession of the early 1980s.

“Legions of individuals have been left with stale skills, and little prospect of finding meaningful work, and benefits that are being exhausted. By our math the crop of people who are unemployed but not receiving a check amounts to 9.2m.”

Republicans on Capitol Hill are filibustering a bill to extend the dole for up to 1.2m jobless facing an imminent cut-off. Dean Heller from Vermont called them “hobos”. This really is starting to feel like 1932.

Washington’s fiscal stimulus is draining away. It peaked in the first quarter, yet even then the economy eked out a growth rate of just 2.7pc. This compares with 5.1pc, 9.3pc, 8.1pc and 8.5pc in the four quarters coming off recession in the early 1980s.

The housing market is already crumbling as government props are pulled away. The expiry of homebuyers’ tax credit led to a 30pc fall in the number of buyers signing contracts in May. “It is cataclysmic,” said David Bloom from HSBC.

Federal tax rises are automatically baked into the pie. The Congressional Budget Office said fiscal policy will swing from
a net +2pc of GDP to -2pc by late 2011. The states and counties may have to cut as much as $180bn.

Investors are starting to chew over the awful possibility that America’s recovery will stall just as Asia hits the buffers. China’s manufacturing index has been falling since January, with a downward lurch in June to 50.4, just above the break-even line of 50. Momentum seems to be flagging everywhere, whether in Australian building permits, Turkish exports, or Japanese industrial output.

On Friday, Jacques Cailloux from RBS put out a “double-dip alert” for Europe. “The risk is rising fast. Absent an effective policy intervention to tackle the debt crisis on the periphery over coming months, the European economy will double dip in 2011,” he said.

It is obvious what that policy should be for Europe, America, and Japan. If budgets are to shrink in an orderly fashion over several years – as they must, to avoid sovereign debt spirals – then central banks will have to cushion the blow keeping monetary policy ultra-loose for as long it takes.

The Fed is already eyeing the printing press again. “It’s appropriate to think about what we would do under a deflationary scenario,” said Dennis Lockhart for the Atlanta Fed. His colleague Kevin Warsh said the pros and cons of purchasing more bonds should be subject to “strict scrutiny”, a comment I took as confirmation that the Fed Board is arguing internally about QE2.

Perhaps naively, I still think central banks have the tools to head off disaster. The question is whether they will do so fast enough, or even whether they wish to resist the chorus of 1930s liquidation taking charge of the debate. Last week the Bank for International Settlements called for combined fiscal and monetary tightening, lending its great authority to the forces of debt-deflation and mass unemployment. If even the BIS has lost the plot, God help us.

Time runs out for 1.2 million on unemployment

(Jerry’s Comments: It is currently a sad state of affairs in our nation. The high unemployment that America has been suffering imparts extreme to our nation’s economy. The time is counting down and Washington knows something must give. But the options are few when spending cuts are unacceptable and our monetary system remains corrupted by central banking schemes. America, this is your wake-up call.)

By Christina Zdanowicz, CNN
June 30, 2010 11:29 a.m. EDT

(CNN) — With her unemployment benefits coming to a halt, Miriam Cintron is forced to make a difficult choice between health insurance and daily expenses.

Signing into her unemployment benefits account last week, the New Yorker was horrified to see she hadn’t received any money for three weeks, she says.

What would the four-year cancer survivor do if she couldn’t afford to pay her $650 monthly COBRA payment? Her health insurance helped pay for life-saving treatment before, so giving it up is not an option, she says.

When Cintron was laid off from her job as a case worker at a homeless shelter in late 2008, she never imagined she’d go on unemployment. But even with 17 years experience, she’s been unable to land a new job.

Cintron isn’t alone. Unemployment benefits are set to run dry for 1.2 million people nationwide Friday after the U.S. Senate decided not to extend a deadline to file for these benefits last week, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Come Saturday, the number of people cut from unemployment benefits will surge to 1.63 million, according to U.S. Department of Labor estimates. By mid-July, about 2 million unemployed Americans could lose their benefits.
It’s very hard for me to get into this feeling sorry for myself. … But I am getting there.
–Miriam Cintron, unemployed American

Before last month, out-of-work Americans were eligible for extensions once they maxed out at 26 weeks of state benefits. Depenging on the state, people could qualify for up to 73 weeks of federal benefits — a total of 99 weeks. But, Senate Republicans blocked the extension with a 57-14 vote last week.

The House could vote again as soon as late Wednesday.

“The reality is that we have the worst job market on record going back to the Great Recession,” says Maurice Emsellem, policy co-director at National Employment Law Project.

“There’s only one job available for every five unemployed workers.”

For people who are apt to say, “Go find a job,” Emsellem says the predicament of the unemployed isn’t easy to escape.

“For anybody that has a thought in their head that unemployed workers are to blame for their situation, the reality is that workers are struggling hard to find work, but the jobs are just not there.”

National Employment Law Project resources for the unemployed

While Cintron has been struggling to make ends meet for the last year-and-a-half, she worries about other people in the same predicament.

“My story is one story and it’s unique,” she says. “But, there are so many people with children, other issues, that are in dire situations.”

“I’m just shocked that more attention isn’t being paid to this story.”

She’s thankful she doesn’t have any children relying on her for support right now. But, she does care for her mother. Part of Cintron’s unemployment checks have been going toward her mother’s expenses since she moved in with her a few months before Cintron lost her job.

Cintron’s $425 unemployment check each week — or $1,700 each month — has to stretch a long way. She pitches in for appliances, groceries and whatever else her mother needs. Health insurance payments burn a hole in her wallet at a whopping $650 per month. And then there’s the storage fee of $300 she pays for all her excess furniture from her old apartment.

If Congress fails to pass the bill granting the unemployment benefit extensions this week, Cintron says she will only be able to stay afloat for a month. She will have to dip into her 401(k) retirement plan to continue to pay for health care, she says.

As to what happens after that, Cintron says she just doesn’t know.

“I will try to survive and see what I can do for paying the health insurance for at least another few months with my 401(k).”

“I don’t qualify for Medicaid, I make too much money. I have to pay the $650 to a private health insurer.”

Finding the income to support her expensive health insurance hasn’t been an easy task. For the last year-and-a-half, Cintron has been applying to jobs at homeless shelters in New York. Even though she has landed several interviews, they haven’t amounted to anything.

“The agencies where I’m applying to, they’re all cutting back too,” she says, citing city funding cutbacks.

Cintron is considering part-time or customer service work as a last resort, but she’s worried she may be worse off.

“I certainly don’t want to live on unemployment,” she says. “The customer service jobs don’t pay well, don’t have health insurance. I really need insurance because I’m a cancer survivor.”

For now, Cintron keeps logging into the unemployment benefits website, typing in her account number and trying to claim benefits.

Cintron says the New York State Department of Labor has instructed her to keep logging in as normal, even though she’s not getting a dime. Cintron says the website is confusing and she’s unsure of how many extensions she’s had.

With all the stress and lack of income, Cintron’s been relying on hobbies to try to keep her spirits up.

Ever since she lost her job, she’s been an active iReporter, scouting events and stories in her native New York. Videography and photography have become her focus. In this digital age, it’s free for her to upload her images, so it’s a cheap hobby.

Her other passion is music. She’s sad she’s had to nix going to concerts, but says she’s lucky to live in a city where so many free shows are going on at any time.

Even though she’s found ways to lead a semi-normal life, her time being unemployed is starting to wear her down.

“I’m a glass half-full kind of person. I’m a very positive person. It’s very hard for me to get into this feeling sorry for myself, what-am-I-going-to-do mode,” she says.

“But I am getting there.”

Jobless claims rise sharply to 472,000

Alan Zibel, AP Business Writer, On Thursday June 17, 2010, 9:27 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people filing new claims for jobless benefits jumped last week after three straight declines, another sign that the pace of layoffs has not slowed.

Initial claims for jobless benefits rose by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 472,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the highest level in a month and overshadowed a report that consumer prices remain essentially flat.

First-time jobless claims have hovered near 450,000 since the beginning of the year after falling steadily in the second half of 2009. That has raised concerns that hiring is lackluster and could slow the recovery.

The four-week average for unemployment claims, which smooths volatility, dipped slightly to 463,500. That’s down by 3,750 from the start of January.

“Most market economists have been expecting claims to fall below 450K for several weeks now,” said Kevin Logan, an economist with HSBC Securities. “The wait is getting longer and longer. As each week goes by, doubts about the underlying strength of the economic expansion grow.”

A separate Labor report said consumer prices fell for the second straight month. The 0.2 decline in the Consumer Price Index was pulled down falling energy prices — most notably a 5.2 percent drop in gasoline prices. Declining energy bills were the main factor pulling down prices.

But core consumer prices, which strip out volatile energy and food, edged up 0.1 percent in May, after being flat in April. Core prices are up only 0.9 percent over the past year — below the Fed’s inflation target.

Additionally, the Commerce Department said Thursday that the broadest measure of U.S. trade rose during the first quarter to the highest point in more than a year. Much of the widening deficit was due to higher prices on imported oil during the first three months of the year.

Economists say they will feel more optimistic that the economy is creating jobs once initial jobless claims fall below 425,000 per week.

Just this week, casino owner Wynn Resorts laid off more than 260 workers in its two Las Vegas casino hotels in a move expected to save nearly $8 million.

The number of people continuing to claim benefits rose by 88,000 to 4.57 million. That doesn’t include about 5.2 million people who receive extended benefits paid for by the federal government.

Congress has added 73 weeks of extra benefits on top of the 26 weeks typically provided by states. All told, about 9.7 million people received unemployment insurance in the week ending May 29, the most recent data available.

The extended benefit program expired this month. The House has approved an extension of the benefits through November. The Senate has yet to act.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans and a dozen Democratic defectors rejected a catchall measure combining jobless aid for the long-term unemployed, aid to cash-strapped state governments and the renewal of dozens of popular tax breaks. Despite the loss, Democratic leaders predicted that a scaled-back version of the measure could pass, possibly later this week.

Adding to worries about the job market, the Labor Department said earlier this month that the economy generated only 41,000 private-sector jobs in May. That was down from 218,000 in April.

Temporary hiring by the Census Bureau added another 411,000 jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent from 9.9 percent.