Positive Economic Report – May 2009

17 June 2009
Comments are off for this post

My Situation Assessment: Today’s Economy post highlighted positive things happening in the economy from September 2008 to April 2009, and then my Great Progression post framed those positive happenings in a broader context. I continue to track positive economic news, and will try to post it monthly. So, here’s the first installment – the pieces I found during May…


  • Boeing hired 106 employees in its defense arm, is looking for hundreds of more, and has 1,500 current and anticipated job openings for engineers. Microsoft, plans to add 2,000 to 3,000 jobs in “key investment areas,” like online search and cloud computing; since April 1, Microsoft has posted more than 350 job openings, including 260 in the U.S., for software developers, program managers and others. AT&T is adding 3,000 workers in its growing wireless, Internet and television units. IBM recently announced plans to add 4,000 employees over the next three years for a new unit in its consulting division; IBM also is opening a center in Iowa to manage customers’ information-technology systems, which will employ up to 1,300 people by the end of 2010. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Chile stands as a shining star among emerging markets, with no bank bailouts needed, a net-creditor position, a credit-rating upgrade in March, and a stimulus plan that is paid out of savings. (Wall Street Journal)


  • A survey of about 100 members of the American Society of Employers in Southeast Michigan found that 56% planned to hire recent college grads in the next year. (WWJ.com)
  • The US Army is expanding its TACOM facilities in Warren, Michigan, spending $77MM to add space for 1,200 jobs that are being relocated from around the US (WWJ.com)
  • Dow Chemical is transforming itself. “We have the portfolio we’ve always wanted — a Dow that is two-thirds specialty in revenue and where three out of four divisions are run as true market-driven technology-rich divisions with accountable and focused leadership,” said the CEO. (The Saginaw News)
  • Three Michigan companies are expanding. Velesco Pharmaceutical Services is investing $1.8MM to expand its labs and build a manufacturing facility. CAS-MI is investing $3.6MM to expand its R&D. Essen Instruments is investing $3.1MM to open a new business unit. (Ann Arbor SPARK)
  • BAE Systems won a $600MM Army contract to refit armored vehicles. (Crain’s Detroit)


  • Households with incomes higher than $100,000 spent 18 percent more at dollar stores in the second half of 2008 compared to the year prior. “The troubled economy and rising costs in healthcare, education and food have caused everyone to rethink where they purchase basic household goods. Today dollar stores are delivering more consistent selection and value.” (BrandWeek.com)
  • WalMart made $3B in profit in the last quarter, sales at stores open at least a year increased almost 4%; in addition, new customers made up 17% of Wal-Mart’s increased shopper visits, and their purchases were 40% higher on average than its traditional shoppers; WalMart is taking advantage of the slumping advertising market to increase its advertising, and is also “aggressively spending” on improving technology systems and fixing up old stores. Also in the quarter, Kohl’s had profits of $137MM, Nordstrom had profits of $81MM, and Urban Outfitters had profits of $31MM. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Elementary school teachers could afford a home in 39 more markets in 2008 than in 2007. Licensed practical nurses could afford a home in 18 more markets. Police officers could afford a home in 29 more markets. (MarketWatch)
  • The global market for rapid prototyping systems (3D Printing), services and materials will grow at nearly 5% a year and reach $782MM by 2013. (CanadianManufacturing.com)
  • Help A Reporter Out (HARO), an e-mail based service that brings journalists and sources together, has built a subscriber base of close to 75,000 subscribers and now has nearly a million dollars in revenue. (MarketingProfs.com [subscription])
  • U.S. sales of both food and non-food organic products grew 17.1% during 2008. Organic food saw sales grow 15.8% in 2008 (vs. 4.9% growth for total US food sales). The strongest growth in 2008 is in the categories of breads and grains (35% over 2007) and beverages (40%). Posting even more dramatic growth than organic food, organic non-food sales grew by 39.4%. (MarketingCharts.com)
  • Last October, Rashmi Turner founded Global Wonders to help make children more aware of other cultures and better global citizens. The company expects to sell $3 million-$5 million of preschool products throughout 2009, and Turner plans to develop a virtual space by the end of 2009 and is also developing on-demand broadcasting and in-school opportunities. (BrandWeek.com)
  • Whole Foods made $1.9B in profit in the last quarter; Jack in the Box made about $30MM in profit, about $4MM more than last year. (MarketWatch.com)
  • Sears made $26MM in profit in the last quarter (MarketWatch.com)
  • Cougar Biotech sold their company for about $1B in cash to Johnson & Johnson (MarketWatch.com)
  • Searches on eBay grew 20% in April; overall internet searches grew 3%, and 4 of the top 5 search engines had increases. (MarketingCharts.com)
  • In the most recent quarter, Lowe’s sold about $12B worth of merchandise and made profits of $476MM. Demand was strong for paint, hardware, and outdoor products, which have higher margins, so the company’s overall gross margin increased. (MarketWatch.com)
  • Campbell Soup expects profits to rise 5-7% for the year. In the most recent quarter, its gross margins were 2% higher, and condensed soup sales rose 2%. (MarketWatch.com)
  • Hulu.com increased the number of shows it streamed by 490%, from 63MM to 373MM (MarketingCharts.com)
  • In the 1Q09, venture capital investment in energy storage technology more than doubled to $114MM, and fuel cell technologies drew $45MM compared with nothing the year before. (Michigan Business Review)
  • eBay sales in April were up 46% for eForCity Corp, which buys electronic accessories from China and sells them online. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Budgeted spending on oil and gas exploration and production will total around $375 billion this year, according to IEA. (MarketWatch.com)
  • AT&T Wireless grew revenue in 2008, and expects to again in 2009. It added 2.1MM subscribers in its fourth quarter – 1.9MM were iPhone accounts that average 60% higher spending than its other accounts. (All Things D)
  • Identity fraud is falling, while concern about identity theft is rising. [Sounds like a business opportunity to me – maybe why LifeLock got prime VC money…] (MarketingCharts.com)