As badly as so many people wanted today's job numbers to confirm predictions of a double-dip recession, they didn't.
For perspective: most economists say the U.S. needs to add at least a couple hundred thousand jobs EVERY MONTH. America lost 54,000 jobs in August - that's bad. In fact, the government alone shed 121,000 jobs.
So why the heck am I so pleased? Because the private sector (-i.e. Businesses) ADDED 67,000 jobs. Here I'll do the math: 67,000 private sector jobs created minus 121,000 government jobs lost equals 54,000 jobs lost.
But I'm almost blind to the 121,000 government jobs lost (not, by the way, to the people and families affected by those lost jobs), because job creation is supposed to come from the private sector.
We arrived at the docks in Venice, Louisiana, after a 90-minute drive from the closest hotel we could find. When we arrived, we were met by the U.S. Coast Guard, which has federal oversight over the oil burning effort. The work itself is being coordinated and paid for by BP, using local contractors.
The entire operation is run by a company called O’Brien out of Houston, Texas. This “in situ” or on location burning of surface oil has only been used in U.S. waters during the Exxon Valdez disaster. That’s largely because of environmental concerns; although those concerns are now outweighed by fears that crude oil itself will do more damage than the particle contaminants released by burning them.
At about 12:30 p.m., five of us from CNN go into briefings with the Coast Guard. At about 1 p.m. our Coast Guard escorts load our gear onto the crew vessel Gulf Storm, which is normally used to transport oil workers to and from rigs and platforms in the gulf, and to supply those oil vessels.
After about 45 minutes, we enter the Gulf of Mexico and head to the site of the burning. The trip from the port to the burn site takes about three hours. During that time we discuss the process at length with Coast Guard Senior Chief Andrew (Drew) Jaeger, a paramedic/firefighter from Wisconsin and a member of the Coast Guard Reserve who is our chief escort.
The burn site scene was remarkable. An earlier thunderstorm had cleared and skies were bright and partly cloudy. But in the distance, seven separate funnels of dark cloud churning upward into the sky created a great, billowing angry cloud up ahead. Through the cloud of burnt oil particles, a single King aircraft flew – a spotter plane which would guide the burn teams to the locations where, using fishing terminology, they would get their “best catch.”
We disembarked onto a larger, similar supply boat, the Premier Explorer. It’s “mission control” for these burns. From there, it was onto a jetty used as an ignition vessel to light the fires.
It’s a day after the Dow Jones industrial average sent the markets on a wild ride - dropping nearly 1,000 points in five minutes then rebounding - and we’re still not sure what happened.
Yesterday was slightly more than a run-of-the-mill bad day - and then something technical happened. We’re still unclear about what caused it. At first all eyes turned to Greece and sovereign debt issues in Europe. Then there was word a technical glitch involving Proctor and Gamble was to blame. Everyone is pointing fingers. Some say prices were listed as billions instead of millions, but nobody knows - yet.
The bottom line is: Somehow, either one stock, or a handful of stocks lost a significant amount of value within moments and that is uncharacteristic.
As someone who has been around the oil industry, been on a rig and even been evacuated from one during an emergency, I know about the safety issues on rigs and how they are handled.
An explosion on a rig is a rare occurrence because fires don't generally start on rigs and are easily and quickly contained when they do. But this time there was one - and at least 11 people are missing and seven are critically injured after an explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.