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Lil Wayne Mocks Mitt Romney In New Song

Nicki Minaj got the headlines for saying she’d be “voting for Mitt Romney,” but another track on Lil Wayne’s Dedication 4 ridicules the GOP candidate, too. “Nigga call me Mitch Romney!”

By Michael Hastings

Nicki Minaj made headlines when she sort of endorsed Mitt Romney in a remix of the hit song “Mercy” on Lil Wayne’s new album Dedication 4, released earlier this month.

But another song on the album — called “Cashed Out” — also mocks Romney, taking shots at the GOP candidates strategy of stashing his money in off-shore bank accounts in Bermuda, the Caymans, and Switzerland, to name a few.

The song begins:

As another election year upon us. This last four years has been good to me. A couple of dollars in a couple different bank acccounts. Some here, some off shore. Nigga call me Mitch Romney!

In recent days, questions have been raised about whether the hip-hop community still supports Obama. The answer appears to be: yes.

President Obama with Jay-Z and Beyonce at a recent New York fundraiser.

Lil Wayne Mocks Mitt Romney In New Song

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Hiring Slows in August, Adding to Pressure on Fed and Obama

The economy added 96,000 jobs in August, the Labor Department said Friday.

By 

Job growth slowed substantially in August, increasing the political pressure on the White House and strengthening the argument for new action by Federal Reserve policy makers to stimulate the economy when they meet next week.

The economy added a total of 96,000 jobs in August, down from a revised figure of 141,000 in July and well below the 125,000 level economists had been expecting.

The latest figures confirm suspicions that the economy has been treading water recently — over the last six months, monthly job growth has averaged 97,000, typically not enough to absorb new entrants into the labor force, let alone reduce the unemployment rate.

For August, the jobless rate fell to 8.1 percent, from 8.3 percent in July, but economists said that was a sign more unemployed workers were dropping out of the work force, rather than an indication that new jobs were being created.

Current and former members of the military at a job fair on Thursday in San Diego.

Republicans have made persistently high unemployment a centerpiece of their argument for denying President Obama a second term, and the new figures give the White House little to boast about.

“This is one of those reports that as you dig deeper, it looks less friendly,” said Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “The improvement in the rate was purely due to people who gave up looking for jobs.”

Indeed, he noted that the government report showed the overall labor force dropped by 368,000 workers in August.

“Politically, you can spin the drop in the rate as a positive, but it’s a sign of weakness,” Mr. Harris said. “The economy is slowing down and it wasn’t very robust to begin with.”

Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, last week delivered a forceful argument for more action, calling the current unemployment level a “grave concern.”

The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee convenes on Wednesday and Thursday, and many economists and traders are looking for major news to come out of the meeting. Some expect the Fed to announce another round of asset purchases aimed at lowering borrowing costs and boosting investments. A more limited option would be for the Fed to extend its benchmark interest rate, set near zero, into 2015 from late 2014.

The rate of job creation has been erratic in 2012. After adding more than 200,000 jobs in both January and February, the economy slowed and by June the gain totaled an anemic 80,000. It bounced back in July, but few economists see big gains in the coming months.

Friday’s report showed that the private sector created a total of 103,000 jobs in August, while the number of government jobs fell by 7,000.

In order to make a significant dent in the unemployment rate, the economy would have to add at least 200,000 jobs a month, assuming modest growth in the labor force.

The manufacturing sector, a closely watched barometer for the broader economy, lost 15,000 jobs.

Sectors that did show growth in employment tended to be lower-paying ones, said Mark Vitner, a senior economist with Wells Fargo. About 40 percent of the new jobs came from four sectors: retail, leisure and hospitality, temporary help services, and home health care services.

“This is one of the reasons wages haven’t been growing,” he said. “People are taking jobs they didn’t take in the past, moving from sectors like construction into jobs at lower-paying, big-box retailers.”

There were other signs the economy remained stuck in low gear. Average hourly earnings ticked downward by 1 cent in August to $23.52 while the length of the typical private sector workweek remained flat at 34.4 hours. Both measures have barely budged from where they were six months ago.

Hiring Slows in August, Adding to Pressure on Fed and Obama

 

Housing improves in hard-hit swing states

By Tami Luhby @CNNMoney

Housing gains may not register with voters, especially in swing states, ahead of the election.

At long last, the housing market is improving in Nevada, Florida and other important swing states that were some of the hardest hit during the downturn.

But that probably won’t win President Obama a lot of points at the election polls, according to some experts.

On the national front, home pricesand home sales are up, whileforeclosures are down. The swing states are also seeing some positive results.

In Nevada, there were just over 14,000 foreclosure filings in the second quarter, less than half the amount the year before, according to RealtyTrac. Foreclosure sales are on the decline after a state law last year cracked down on loan servicers’ practices, while short sales are on the rise. Short sales are better for neighborhoods because the homes are often maintained better and command higher prices.

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The median price of a single family home in the Las Vegas area, by far the largest market in the state, has climbed 9% over the past year, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

And in Florida, foreclosures are creeping up again as banks recover from their paperwork fiasco, which forced them to greatly slow the number of delinquent homeowners they brought to court. But it’s still down by about a third from 2010 figures.

The typical single family home is selling for 7.8% more than it did a year ago, according to Florida Realtors. Median sales prices are the highest they’ve been since 2009.

Home prices are up thanks to a rebound in employment and in the stock market, said John Tuccillo, chief economist for the Realtors group. Investors, particularly from abroad, are once again realizing the Sunshine State is a good place to buy, he said.

In Ohio, prices rose 4.9%, according to the Ohio Association of Realtors. Foreclosures, however, are on the upswing.

Related: Obama’s economy: A snapshot

But rising home prices don’t mean there aren’t any dark clouds hovering over the swing states. The good news about housing doesn’t seem to be trickling down to voters, who still view their states as being stuck in a real estate slump with little improvement.

“The housing market is starting to recover in most areas of the country, but most consumers don’t realize it,” said John Burns, head of John Burns Real Estate Consulting. “The word hasn’t gotten out that home prices are appreciating again.”

One main concern that’s dampening homeowners’ enthusiasm is the number of homes that are underwater, or worth less than the mortgage. Nearly 31% of homeowners nationwide are in this predicament, a disproportionate number of them younger than 40, according to Zillow.

That problem is amplified in some of the swing states.

In the metro Las Vegas area, more than two-thirds of borrowers are underwater. More than half of Orlando borrowers owe more than their homes are worth, while in the Miami-Fort-Lauderdale market nearly 44% do. In Cleveland and Columbus, one-third are underwater.

Also, many would-be buyers are finding it tough to get approved for mortgages, while homeowners seeking to refinance to lower interest rates are also being stymied by bank bureaucracy.

“We’re significantly better off than we were two years ago, but there are still enough problems remaining for people to be concerned about their housing situation,” Tuccillo said.

Will it be enough to sway swing state voters?

For the most part, the presidential candidates are largely ignoring the housing market.

While Obama launched a series of efforts to try to fix housing since he first took office in 2009, they were mostly viewed as ineffective. Not many new ideas have been included in his 2012 campaign either.

His challenger, Mitt Romney, does not list any housing fixes in his economic proposal. And the Republican platform unveiled last week talks only of dismantling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and curtailing the Federal Housing Administration.

Ultimately, many voters will tie the recovery of the housing market to the recovery of the job market, Burns said. So they will pick the candidate they think can best boost the economy.

Housing improves in hard-hit swing states

Claims for Jobless Benefits Rise

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits for the first time rose a slight 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 372,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, evidence that the job market’s recovery remains modest and uneven.

Separately, the Commerce Department said new-home sales rose 3.6 percent in July.

Applications for unemployment benefits are a measure of the pace of layoffs. When they fall consistently below 375,000, it generally suggests hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

New claims for unemployment benefits have risen for two straight weeks. But they are still lower than they were five weeks ago. That suggests hiring may be improving slightly this month.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, increased 3,750 last week to 368,000.

Better economic growth bolstered hiring last month, according to government figures. Employers added 163,000 jobs in July, the most since February. Job gains averaged only 73,000 jobs a month from April through June, not enough to keep up with a rising population. The unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent in July, from 8.2 percent the month before.

Many economists say stronger growth is needed to create enough jobs to lower unemployment. The economy grew at an annual rate of 1.5 percent from April through June, down from 2 percent in the first quarter and 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

In a separate report, the government said sales of newly constructed homes in the United States rose 3.6 percent in July, matching a two-year high, to an annual rate of 372,000 units.

In the past 12 months, new-home sales have jumped 25 percent. Still, the increase is from a historically low level. New-home sales are well below the annual pace of 700,000 that economists consider healthy.

One trend holding back sales is that there aren’t many newly built homes available. New homes for sale dipped last month to 142,000, the lowest on records dating back to 1963.

Claims for Jobless Benefits Rise

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