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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Jack Otter On Today's Unemployment News

Aired July 3, 2003 - 19:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Rather than get into political name calling that follows today's unemployment news -- and trust us there was plenty of that -- let's get an expert opinion, right now, of when things will start to get better and when political leaders of both parties might actually do to help. Jack Otter is a senior editor of "Smart Money".
Jack, thank you for being with us. First of all, give us an overview of the economic picture. How bad are things?

JACK OTTER, SENIOR EDITOR "SMART MONEY" MAGAZINE: Well, you just heard some bad news from Jeff Einstein so I'll try to give you the good news. The big headline was the unemployment numbers but it's important to realize that unemployment is a lagging indicator. By that I mean, companies don't start to hire people full-time workers until the executives are absolutely sure that the economy is rebounding.

What they'll do is they'll hire temporary workers first, and behind the numbers today, there is an increase in the number of temporary workers getting jobs. So that's a good sign and it could be an indicator that things are starting to turn around.

COOPER: There were some who were trying to paint this, again optimistically, by saying that this is maybe a sign of more people actually sort of entering the job search period and that's why the numbers seem bigger?

OTTER: Well, that was the Elaine Chao and she might, very well, be right. I mean, I caught just a tiny whiff of spin on that one.

COOPER: Yes, I agree with you there.

OTTER: But that may be true. And one more point to keep in mind, the service industry is still hiring people. It's the manufacturing sector where we're just hemorrhaging jobs.

COOPER: Also the construction industry is doing very well, is that right?

OTTER: Oh absolutely, because home building is bounding. Another little thing behind the numbers, bond rates really went higher for the past couple of days. That means the price of existing bonds goes down. It's bad if you're a bond holder and it's really bad if you haven't refinanced yesterday yet.

COOPER: Well there are certainly a lot of people hoping this economic stimulus package is going to help get things moving a lot of people criticize that saying it may not happen and if it doesn't happen things will be in really bad shape. We're going to have to wait and see on that.

Jack Otter appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

OTTER: Absolutely.

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