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Monday Motivation: Good News in the Numbers

NumbersStatistics, especially those of the economic variety, can be either informative or deceptive. For those of us who look to numbers to help tell a story, these statistics are the mortar between the bricks: You need them to help make your story more cohesive.

That brings us to today's edition of Monday Motivation. This past week, it was easy to find numbers that indicated the start of a turnaround in the U.S. economy. For instance, many cheered Friday's announcement that the U.S. lost only about 345,000 jobs in May, roughly one-third less than what economists predicted and the lowest monthly drop since last September, when the bottom appeared to be falling out of the nation's financial system.

If we weren't in the middle of a recession, a loss of 345,000 jobs would be a cause for deep concern. In this case, though, take it the way most see it: as a sign of hope.

Online Job Demand Increased 7% in May. Don't be surprised if you get an extra bite or two on your resume. Online job openings grew by 250,000 to reach 3,367,000 in May — the first gain since October 2008 and the largest since October 2006. Demand rose in 43 of the 50 states. Over half of the increase reflected jumps in management, administrative support, computer/math, health care, and technical occupations.

Pending Home Sales Keep Rising. Aided by a new $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, the number of home sales contracts signed in April rose for the third straight month, according to the National Association of Realtors. The 6.7% rise was far above the paltry 0.5% forecast by experts on Briefing.com. Pending home sales are a forward-looking indicator since it takes weeks or months before many contracts close.

Wal-Mart to Hire 22,000, Offer Health Coverage. The world's largest retailer said the new hires will fill positions across its business units, including cashiers and sales associates, as well as pharmacists, human resource managers, and customer service. In announcing its expansion plans, Wal-Mart also said it will offer benefits — including health plans with customized health coverage options — to its full- and part-time workers.

And with that, I bid you a Happy Monday!


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