A not-so-jobless recovery? According to the Associated Press, November harbored good news for the labor market -- the 11,000 jobs lost is the lowest monthly decline since employment began nosediving in December 2007. Experts say it's a pretty monumental improvement, considering that the expected number of positions cut was around 130,000. "We've still got a long way to go," said Carl Riccadonna, senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, "but the good news is this report provides important positive momentum." The article also reports that the average work week rose to 33.2 hours, from the record low of 33 hours, and that average weekly earnings jumped $4.08 to $622.17.
Cash for caulkers? On the eve of the job report release, President Obama said at a White House forum that he would announce new ideas for job creation next week, but warned of limited resources, The New York Times reports. Still, one idea being floated is a play off of the popular "cash for clunkers" program: cash for caulkers. The idea is that the government would give incentives to homeowners to weatherize their houses in an effort to boost energy efficiency as well as work for contractors and home-improvement stores.
Show some love for local businesses. Got a favorite local business that always goes above and beyond to make sure you leave their store happy? This holiday season is the perfect time to say thanks with some cold, hard cash. Intuit's Love a Local Business contest lets customers, employees, and just about anybody else (including the owners themselves), nominate their favorite local business for a monthly grant of $1,000. Five businesses are selected each month for the $1,000 prize. One of those five businesses gets chosen for the grand prize of $5,000, which is determined based on the testimonials each business receives. Cash isn't the only thing Intuit is giving away to small businesses these days. Want some free business advice? Check out this article where Intuit's founder, Scott Cook, answers a reader's question on product innovation.
Pete Cashmore on Web trends to watch in 2010. Sometimes it's hard to step back from the hectic, consuming task of running a company and take in the maelstrom of developments in the world around you. Thankfully, Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore has doled out his very own list of 10 web trends (via peHUB) that have gained momentum in '09 and will continue into 2010. While a few of them are head-smackingly apparent--real-time Web and augmented reality will be big--it will still take a bit of entrepreneurial ingenuity to incorporate them into your business.
Can anyone stop Facebook? Writing in Slate today, Farhad Manjoo asks the question and says the answer is no. "Facebook keeps growing and won't peak anytime soon--it is becoming part of the infrastructure of the Web, every bit as indispensible to our daily wanderings as Google or e-mail," he writes. How did Facebook cross over into indispensability? In short, he argues, it's too big to fail. "Facebook gets better as more people join it, meaning that the site's very growth is its main selling point to new members," Manjoo writes. "What's more, Facebook's size makes it extremely resistant to rivals and increases the likelihood that it will spread to more places online."
What happens to "nice girls" who try to negotiate? Whitney Johnson, founding partner of Rose Park Advisors has a really compelling post on the Harvard Business blog about the social cost to women who negotiate for a higher salary. One study found that managers of both genders were more likely to "subtly penalize" women who did ask for more money, "the perception being that women who asked were 'less nice." Johnson found that out herself after negotiating a $3,000 increase at Paine Webber only to find out her pay wasn't even in the top quartile. It's a familiar double standard: men are deemed proactive, women pushy. While that information can give women who are reluctant to ask for more the feeling that they're being savvy about the social cost of asking, rather than wimping out, Johnson advocates a different approach: "Ask for what you want. You may not get it, but you won't leave empty-handed. At the very least, you'll get information."
Amazon on a buying spree. Just on the heels of its $1.2 billion Zappos acquisition, Amazon looks poised to buy another e-commerce upstart. This time, reports TechCrunch, it's Vente-Privee, a French company that operates private online sample sales like the ones run by the U.S. outfit Gilt Group. The rumored price is $3 billion, TechCrunch says, noting that the site, which was founded in 2001 and has 1000 employees, has been shopping itself for the past few months.
JASON DEL REY was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey