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85,000 Job Cut in December; Terror Suspect Arraigned; Frigid in Dixie

Aired January 8, 2010 - 10:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: A sluggish economy and the pain of unemployment. The government released new unemployment numbers this morning and they show employers cut more jobs than expected last month. The Labor Department reports 85,000 people lost their job in December, but the unemployment rate was unchanged, staying at 10 percent.

So what's the story behind the unemployment rate? CNN's Christine Romans looking at the numbers for us from New York this morning. Christine, tell us what you have, break it down for us just a bit, if you would.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's still uncomfortable. 10 percent unemployment is just something that is not sustainable in a healthy economy. That's just the bottom line there. But the pace of job loss over the past year has slowed pretty dramatically, and frankly, Heidi, even by the month of November last year we saw some job creation.

So that almost two-year streak of job losses ended in November when employers added 4,000 jobs, but then by December, the end of the year closing out a pretty rotten year for a lot of companies, you saw 85,000 more jobs lost. So ending a year - ending a period since the recession began with about more than seven million jobs lost, 7.2 million jobs lost since the recession began.

You can see, though, look at how the job losses have slowed, Heidi. Last January, February, March, April, it was a really painful period. Companies were taking a look at the environment around them and they were cratering orders, they're cratering customer traffic and they were just slashing jobs. You can see that by November, 4,000 jobs created and then again in December 85,000 jobs lost.

The big question now is what happens next. We have seen some temporary workers be hired. This is traditionally a sign that employers are tiptoeing back in. They're not sure they want to commit to full-time workers yet but they know that orders are getting better so they want to start hiring people. That's important.

We've seen jobs created in health and education. That was a big story of last year. Net positive job creation for health care jobs is expected to continue. But here's a little thing that many economists are worried about for 2010, Heidi, and that is that you have millions of people who have stepped out of the labor market. They haven't even been looking for a job for six months. They gave up. When things start to get a little bit better or when time runs out for them, they're going to start entering the jobs market again. That means even when jobs start being created you could see the unemployment rate still going higher. So something to be prepared for. Unemployment rate that goes higher even as things start to pick up here and there.

One last point I want to tell you...


ROMANS: The CEO of a big employment services company told me there's starting to be bidding wars, wars over the top talent in all different kinds of industries. So for the cream of the crop in some places, you are starting to see some activity and that's also a good sign.

COLLINS: Those that have salary caps or do not have salary caps might be part of that story perhaps?

ROMANS: Not just the financial services, not just financial services, but clearly the unemployment rate for people with a graduate degree, with an undergraduate degree or graduate degree or higher, professional highly skilled people, you're starting to see a little bit of movement in that area. And actually according to this one CEO, a bidding war for some of that talent.

COLLINS: OK. Good for them definitely. All right. Christine Romans, thanks so much. I want to get another perspective now on those jobless numbers. So joining me is Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

Secretary Solis, thanks for joining us this morning. If you were to write a headline from what these numbers are this month, what would it be?

HILDA SOLIS, LABOR SECRETARY: Consistent moderation. Because what we have seen is that if you compare the job loss from last year at this time, we've actually been able to see that contraction. In the last four months we've seen that happen but of course, that's not good enough. The president and I remain very committed every single day to see that we put and add jobs back.

And today he'll be talking about more incentives to provide tax credits for small businesses so they can get into new energy efficient, retrofitting weatherization programs to help jump start our economy. Small businesses are the engine of growth and that's why the Small Business Administration has already put forward $16 billion to help provide that incentive for small businesses.

Here in the Department of Labor, we're going to be ready to provide assistance for people who want to get into these new green jobs. So we're issuing those partnerships right now, funding for partnerships with business and with labor and with management so that we can have a prepared workforce ready to go.

COLLINS: Sorry, pardon me. Are you talking about more training then for people who have no prior training in the industries that you're talking about that may be growing and how much?

SOLIS: We're talking about both, because we also see where people want to have a career ladder in perhaps the energy efficiency arena. So they may start out as someone who's an electrician, but end up later on being the owner of a small business that actually helps to install solar panels. So we're trying to provide those incentives working with community colleges, local government, private partnerships with businesses and really getting a handle at the local level so it comes from the bottom up in terms of what the needs are for that region.

COLLINS: How much time do you have?

SOLIS: I have time.

COLLINS: When you talk about consistent moderation, I mean I'm listening to the people at home who would say the clock is ticking and it's ticking fast. 4.2 million jobs lost just last year and this unemployment rate at 10 percent. We're expecting it to go a little bit higher as we just heard with our own correspondent, Christine Romans. What do you say directly to them?

SOLIS: I would tell people to contact the Department of Labor, because this is the time now to get engaged in helping to retrain themselves and find out where the jobs are going to be. And your previous speaker talked about health care, education, and renewable energy. All of these areas are going to be for the foreseeable future areas of growth, so I would encourage people to contact our offices at 1-866-4USADOL.

COLLINS: And that is where they will be able to call and get the training they need to get into those industries specifically.

SOLIS: Yes, absolutely.

COLLINS: Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, thank you.

President Obama will make remarks about the economy later today. White House officials say he'll be announcing new funding as we just heard, clean technology manufacturing jobs. That is set for this afternoon around 2:40 Eastern. You can catch it live right here on CNN.

ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN, your severe weather headquarters.

COLLINS: Now to what's going on likely right outside your door. The winds and bone-chilling cold is so brutal in places like Oklahoma City, power transformers have blown, like you just saw there. Thank goodness the electricity was quickly restored there.

But then there's the snow and the ice and that makes for some treacherous driving, especially in the south where people really aren't used to it. There's even more to the north. Though at least 10 states cancelled school today. It's been at least 20 years in fact since one system has affected so many people. And of course we do have the very latest on all of this for you.

Jacqui Jeras is tracking the system from our winter weather headquarters. Rob Marciano braving those cold temperatures down in Memphis. Jacqui, I want to start with you. Yesterday we talked about this arctic system where the temperatures are just able to come down from the north and affect us all.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and they're - you know, that door is open, so to speak, from the north. And so we're looking at those freezing temperatures dipping across this huge chunk of the country. You can see the windchill index, 15 below in Minneapolis as well as Kansas City. It feels like 0 in Dallas right now. How about Memphis where Rob is, three degrees below 0. Same story there in Cincinnati.

We're going to start our weather pattern, moderate a little bit, so we're bottoming out here in the nation's midsection today. We're going to see temperatures gradually warm. Sunday, you're really going to feel the difference. You could see some 20-degree temperatures. I know 20 sounds cold to some people in the south but that's going to feel a lot better here in the Midwest.

And then the southeast, we're going to see our temperatures start to moderate. 40s even I think potentially in Atlanta as we head into next week. So that is certainly some good news. But in the meantime windchill advisories and warnings are in effect because it's going to be feeling like even single digits at times in places like New Orleans, Shreveport, on up into the St. Louis area, and 20s below zero into Kansas City. Let's go ahead and show you - actually I want to show you some pictures real quick before, while we're talking into the snow about some icicles.

Check this out. This is really cool stuff. By the way, High Point, North Carolina, what happened here, yes, icicle spans a five- story building. Apparently the heating and air conditioning system sprang a leak.

COLLINS: That does not look safe either.

JERAS: Talk about solid ice right there. Also some incredible pictures from Omaha, Nebraska. These are some cool buses -

COLLINS: I'm sorry, but that is every kid's dream right there to see that shot.

JERAS: Isn't? You'd think it would take weeks to get those doors open, right? Well what happened was these buses were parked behind a bowling alley apparently that had caught on fire so some of the spray from the firemen's hose obviously kind of sealed up those buses. So maybe no school for parts of Nebraska. No school for a lot of people today.

You know, our arctic system is really making its way off the coast now, so for the most part we're done with the precip except for northern and central parts of Florida. That's even going to swing through the Florida keys later on tonight but it is a nuisance still because temperatures remain below freezing so there are a lot of roadways which are still covered in some of the snow and ice. Use a lot of caution.

You know, it's not just the south, it's still the northeast too. We've got some ground delays at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson about an hour and a half. The FAA web site reporting that these are Delta Airline flights only, so call your carriers and 45 minutes in San Francisco.

So Heidi, make your plans indoor this weekend. Next week, you can go out running again.

COLLINS: Yes, yes because that's what I would do. OK.

JERAS: I know.

COLLINS: Jacqui, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Well, some of you, of course, may be used to the snow and the ice that we're seeing in many parts of the country, but the extreme cold is something else. Our Rob Marciano is all bundled up in Memphis this morning. So Rob, I think we just heard Jacqui say it's three there, is that right?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Three below is what the windchill is. So, yes, that's cold for Memphis. Happy birthday, Elvis. He'd have been 75 years old today. I wish it was 75 degrees. Blue suede shoes would definitely not keep you warm in this sort of biting cold. The second of two rounds of Arctic cold air that have driven down into the south for a cold snap in length that they haven't seen in over 10 years, in some places over 20 years.

We're at Peabody Place, the main street here. [inaudible] People are sort of out and about, but certainly when you live in the south, any time you get an excuse to have a rare snow day, it's snowing a little bit, you take it. But the good news is, is that reports from authorities is that they didn't have any fatalities last night. I tell you, if you were out trying to survive this weather last night, you'd be hard pressed to survive the morning.

There were fatalities early in the week from the first round so it looks like the precautions that they took were certainly met and people learned quickly when the first round of Arctic air came in. A little snow right now. Just a blue blocks from here, B.B. King's place on Beale Street yesterday, some snow falling there. So not completely unheard of but a rare event to see that sort of thing.

They did treat the roadways, so there haven't been a tremendous amount of traffic accidents. But there have been some school and government closures. One of the precautions that they took in order to keep people warm yesterday, we showed you a story of Jacqueline Mosley who got her lights and power turned on because after not being able to pay it. They did that to roughly 500 customers yesterday so that was one good thing.

And also another bright spot on her note, is that when her word got out via us, we had an anonymous person say they wanted to pay her electric bill -

COLLINS: Really.

MARCIANO: And help her get her back on her feet. So a little bit of good news there in what is a bitterly, bitterly cold place this morning.

COLLINS: Yes, maybe just a bit warmer hearing that story. All right. Rob, we know it's cold, the lips are freezing and totally understand. Three below is that temperature you're dealing with there. We'll check back later on. Thank you, Rob.

Of course, weather the big topic on my blog this morning. We are asking what, if anything, the weather is stopping you from doing today. Go to and let us know. I'm going to read some of those responses coming up a little later on in the hour.

The near catastrophe on Christmas day, the man accused of nearly blowing up flight 253 is headed to court today. We're going to have a live report coming your way from Detroit.


COLLINS: Terror aboard flight 253. Today a court hearing is scheduled for the man accused of trying to blow up that Northwest Airlines plane on Christmas day. Those charges could carry a life sentence.

CNN's Deb Feyerick is outside the courthouse in Detroit. So Deb, talk a little bit more if you would about the extra security that you're seeing there at the courthouse this morning.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely. Clearly U.S. marshals and law enforcement taking this very seriously. They have blocked off the entire street so that they can monitor who is coming in and who is coming out. There is also barricades and also there is going to be a very heavy presence around Abdulmutallab as he is transported from a detention facility about 45 minutes away here to the courthouse. That's going to happen in just the next couple of hours. Heidi.

COLLINS: Any sign of family? We've been hearing a little bit about family members that may come in from overseas.

FEYERICK: Well, that's what's so interesting. The father has really taken a prominent role in all of this, in the sense that he's the one who went to the U.S. embassy and he is the one who alerted U.S. officials saying that he was fearful that his son had become radicalized. He is a very, very prominent banker, comes from a very good family.

This 23-year-old graduate student is going to be in court today. He's really had every privilege that his father could afford him so it's unclear just what role that is going to play in the hearing today. COLLINS: Yes, and what possibly the security concerns would be at this point for him as well. Deb, let's talk a little about the maximum penalty here and what the lawyers' strategy might actually be.

FEYERICK: Well, this - during the arraignment, what is usually likely to happen is the charges will be read against him. Usually his defense lawyer will enter a plea of not guilty. We're not sure whether he'll speak. He did speak when he appeared at a hearing when he was in the hospital a couple of weeks back. He's facing very, very serious charges, using a bomb as a weapon of mass destruction, trying to destroy that U.S. jetliner and trying to murder all 290 people on board that plane.

Those are the charges. Obviously any one of those charges carry a life sentence, a maximum life sentence, Heidi.

COLLINS: So it's not clear, at least at this point in the investigation, how deep his ties are to Al Qaeda, but he's now become sort of their poster child, right?

FEYERICK: Well, that's exactly right. You see this smiling face, but there's a picture of him and behind him is a flag of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Now, they are the group that has taken responsibility. They say that it was in direct retaliation for a strike against Al Qaeda militants in Yemen on December 17th.

Now, what's interesting, it's the day before Abdulmutallab set out on this journey to get here to the United States. So it's clear that his operation was well under way long before this, "retaliation" that the U.S., of course, has denied or has refused comment, I should say. Excuse me, on being involved in that strike except to say that in fact U.S. intelligence and Yemeni sources do share intelligence. So there are a lot of dynamics that play in all of this, Heidi.

COLLINS: Boy, they sure are. All right. Deb Feyerick will be following this story for us all day long in Detroit today. Thank you, Deb.

Meanwhile President Obama confronting the security lapses that preceded that attempted bombing. He announced about a dozen security changes including expanded terror watch lists and better communication among intelligence agencies.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The U.S. government had the information scattered throughout the system to potentially uncover this plot and disrupt the attack. Rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already have.

I am less interested in passing out blame than I am from learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer. For ultimately the buck stops with me.


COLLINS: Here's some of the key points of how security will be beefed up. The government will deploy another 300 full body scanners at U.S. airports this year. Right now there are only about 40 scattered around the country. Also in the works, more bomb-sniffing dogs, more metal detectors and more technology to detect explosives.

The security enhancements will also be felt on board airliners. Hundreds of law enforcement officers will be trained as federal air marshals.

He invented hundreds of medical devices. Now he wraps his brain around the mind-boggling subject of health care. Hear what he's saying about the debate and possible solutions.


COLLINS: Checking the top stories now.

A man suspected of going on a shooting rampage at a Missouri industrial plant was reportedly a disgruntled worker caught up in a pension lawsuit against the company. We told you about this yesterday here on the show. It happened at the ABB Group plant in St. Louis. Police say the gunman killed three people, wounded five others before apparently turning the gun on himself. He's been identified as 51- year-old Timothy Hendron. Hendron's lawsuit against ABB went to trial this week.

A deadly explosion at a steel plant in Portage, Indiana. Officials say the blast may have happened when some water hit molten steel last night. One worker died at the scene. Four other employees were hospitalized with steam burns.

A tragic accident on the snow-covered Ohio interstate. Police say a tractor-trailer jack knifed near Springfield yesterday swerving into oncoming traffic and colliding with a bus carrying disabled passengers. Four people on the bus were killed. Seven others were injured, including the truck driver.

He's been called the Thomas Edison of our time. Dean Kamen, the inventor of more than 400 medical devices. Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta traveled to Kamen's idea factory and got a look at his latest innovative inventions and heard his ideas on health care.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Dean Kamen does have his own idea factory, it's the neatest thing. Can you imagine having your own idea factory and just being able to put these ideas out there and actually turn them into real-life solutions. The reason I really wanted to talk to him is because his voice on health care is different than just about anything else that I've heard.

In fact, he said it's not that we're spending too much money on health care, he thinks in many ways we're not spending enough. Here's why.


GUPTA (on camera): Sir.


GUPTA: How you doing?

KAMEN: Terrific. Come on in.

GUPTA: Well, thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here.

(voice-over): Dean Kamen is an inventor. On a bitter cold day, I went to visit him at his home in New Hampshire.

KAMEN: Well, actually, just to give you a sense of how things are going to go today, I thought I'd light the situation up. So are we ready?

GUPTA (on camera): This is how you start an interview with Dean Kamen.

(voice-over): You've probably seen his most famous invention, the Segway. It was built on medical breakthroughs. He started building what became the first insulin pump when he was still in high school. He and his company, Deka, have developed more than 400 patents.

Here's a home dialysis machine. And this wheelchair, the I-bot, well, you can dance, you can spin, you can stand six feet tall.

KAMEN: You fight with somebody in one of these, you're going to be the one that goes down.

GUPTA (on camera): What do you think of what's going on with health care right now, the whole health care debate?

KAMEN: Well, sadly, I think it's a debate that has so polarized two sides that there's not a lot of common sense being said by anybody.

GUPTA: There does seem to be this inherent skepticism or cynicism even about big companies and big government to some extent as well. If you had a moment with President Obama and he was collecting all these opinions on health care now, just had a couple of moments, what would you say to him? Because he wants to spend less and get more. That's what he's saying.

KAMEN: I would say, Mr. President, I think that there's no investment, no stimulus package, nothing you could do that would have a better return collectively to the country, to our companies and to our citizens than to put more resources into finding really good sustainable solutions to our medical problems.

What better place to focus more and more of our collective genius and innovative capability than on health care. Why is the debate a fight to spend less time, less money, less resources in the thing that we all claim is the most important thing we want. It's crazy.


GUPTA: Well, it's a very different look at health care. If you listened closely to what he was saying, he's saying that we really need to put more money into innovation to try and curb some of the health care costs later on down the road. Think about that for a second. He gives the example of the insulin pump, something he helped create, and he said while insulin pumps are not cures for diabetes, it could curb health care costs, which are in the trillions, by a third, by that one single innovation alone.

I spent the entire day talking to him and looking at his inventions and looking at his vision for the future. A long interview you can see this weekend on the show. But I can tell you, he's one of the most fascinating guys I've ever met. Back to you.

COLLINS: All right, cool. And as Sanjay just mentioned, you can hear more from Dean Kamen this weekend on the premiere episode, "Sanjay Gupta MD." Watch Sanjay's interview with the pioneering inventor at 7:30 a.m. Eastern, Saturday and Sunday.

A deep freeze from the midwest to the deep south. CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is tracking all of the ice and snow across two-thirds of the nation. We're really getting in some unbelievable pictures there. There's those school buses again, Jacqui.

JERAS: I know. Amazing pictures. I'll have some more fun ones actually for you, coming up. Believe it or not, you know, Heidi, one part of the country still has yet to see the Arctic air. It's coming in tonight. We'll tell you who that's going to be impacting and when this warm-up is finally going to come and just how warm will it be.


ANNOUNCER: Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, Heidi Collins.

COLLINS: Snow, cold and ice from the Midwest to the deep South. The storm is part of the Arctic system that has two-thirds of the nation shivering in below-freezing temperatures. Schools across the metro Atlanta area cancelled classes today. Drivers in Georgia are being warned to stay off the roads until at least noon.

Frigid conditions also snarling U.S. air traffic with some 400 flights cancelled at Chicago O'Hare Airport yesterday.

Jacqui Jeras is tracking this arctic blast for us, and our David Mattingly also shivering here in Atlanta where it's all of 15 degrees. Not counting the windchill. So hang in there, David. We'll get to you in just a moment.

First, over to Jacqui Jeras. We're obvious looking for a warm- up, Jacqui. How much longer do we have to deal with this?


COLLINS: He's not doing it very well.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. I would not recommend that for the novice person. It doesn't look terribly safe.

COLLINS: All right, Jacqui, thank you.

The snow, the sleet, bitter cold temperatures creating extremely dangerous driving conditions in the south. We've been talking about it a lot. In Atlanta, icy roads caused a bunch of wrecks, including a 27-car pileup.

CNN's David Mattingly is joining us now from some of those slick Atlanta streets. So, David, what's it like out there right now? The sun is coming out.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Heidi. In the expressways, Atlanta's notorious expressways moving quite well right now. State road crews concentrated very heavily on keeping them open, and the traffic moving pretty well on those.

The problem right now is on all the side streets, the overpasses, the bridges and that's where we saw this tremendous pile-up early this morning. Twenty-seven cars, at least 27 cars slipping, sliding, skidding, colliding on the ice on an onramp onto I-85. This was south of Atlanta. Fortunately three injuries, not serious, reported in that 27-car pile-up.

There was, however, one traffic fatality reported in a separate accident, a single car skidding off a road south of Atlanta. The driver of that car dying in that traffic accident. So, one fatality attributed to the cold conditions, the icy conditions here in Georgia.

What we're looking at right now is things trying to get back to normal at the world's busiest airport, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. A lot of passengers had an unexpected stay in Atlanta last night. A lot of flights were cancelled proactively last night in anticipation of problems. Today, all those passengers now finding flights, getting back to normal. No delays being reported at that airport.

But as we've been hearing all morning long, the thing that makes this cold storm so distinct is that this cold is going to be here for a while. We're not going to see temperatures above freezing today, so everything that you see on the ground right now, this light dusting of snow and all the ice that's piled up on the side streets, that's going to linger here until a substantial warm-up, possibly later this weekend or an Monday.

So, those treacherous conditions in some places are going to linger and everyone will deep an eye on those, hoping people stay indoors and don't venture out on the roads if they don't have to as long as these conditions persist.

COLLINS: Yes, boy, isn't that the truth. All right, David Mattingly, thanks so much. Appreciate that. That long stretch of cold putting the hurt on homeless shelters struggling to help people out. In today's "Snapshot Across America," we look at how shelters in three Southern cities are coping with all of this. Martha Kegel is with Unity of Greater New Orleans. Vince Smith is with the Gateway Center in Atlanta and Cliff Tredway works for the Nashville Rescue Mission. Thanks to all three of you for being with us this morning, and also thanks for what you do. A very, very important job.

Martha, I want to start with you, if I could. How big of an increase in clientele have you seen as of late?

MARTHA KEGEL, UNITY OF GREATER NEW ORLEANS: Well, since Hurricane Katrina, we have seen almost a doubling of homelessness in New Orleans. And the problem is particularly challenging because we have thousands of people living in New Orleans, 61,000 abandoned buildings as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

The job of getting to them this week is just overwhelming. We have crews of outreach workers who are entering abandoned buildings in the middle of the night trying to pull people out. It's very, very difficult, very labor-intensive work. We don't have enough shelter for them.

COLLINS: Yes, boy, understood. And we're also hearing reports this morning because of the cold temperatures there, the city basically shut down, state buildings, everything.

KEGEL: That and budget cuts.

COLLINS: Mm-hmm. So, what's next? I know that you have sort of a whole SWAT team out there that tries to help these people out so that no one freezes to death. That's exactly what you guys say. How are they actually going out and trying to find the people who are not coming to the homeless shelters?

KEGEL: Well, we comb the streets and find people in every gully, every alley, every piece of woods, every doorstep, but the really difficult and challenging work beyond that is going into abandoned buildings. And so we have outreach workers who enter those buildings during the night. They climb through windows, they find any opening they can to go in and about one out of every five abandoned buildings that we enter have people in them. It's just alarming.

COLLINS: Wow. All right, Martha, thanks for that.

Vince, you are here in Atlanta, the Gateway Center. Tell us a little about what you're seeing.

VINCE SMITH, GATEWAY CENTER IN ATLANTA: We've had a 20 percent increase in the response because of the cold weather. We also in Atlanta have had outreach teams out with a number of partners, agencies that are out in the daytime as well as in the evenings bringing folks in.

The Gateway Center operates some transportation operations that allow us to bring folks to the Gateway Center. We're putting down mats. We've had wonderful community support with blankets and gloves and hats and linens...

COLLINS: But do you have enough space?

SMITH: Actually we're sort of like at grandmother's house with all of your cousins. We're just putting down mats next to each other and we have -- we've had plenty of floor space for those who have need to come in from the cold.

COLLINS: Are you also finding that there are people out there who are resistant to coming in and getting shelter, even in these cold temperatures?

SMITH: Tragically, yes. There are individuals who think they can sort of tough it out. Our outreach workers are skilled and trained and make every effort to encourage folks to come with them and come to the gateway center or other shelters in our community.

COLLINS: Boy, Cliff, what about you? What are you seeing in Nashville?

CLIFF TREDWAY, NASHVILLE RESCUE MISSION: We're seeing capacity. We've got nearly a thousand beds, and at this point we've got people in our overflow areas and people, you know, sleeping in chairs in our day room. Tragically, more women and children. That trend just continues to grow. Even beyond just this cold, the cold weather. But it's tragically bad right now.

COLLINS: Martha's sort of alluded to it, but I imagine, again, we're talking with all of you because you are in these Southern cities that just really aren't used to these type of cold temperatures, especially for this long.

So, Cliff, how are you finding the funding for this? Is there room in the state budget for exactly what you do?

TREDWAY: Well, actually, we've been around for 55 years and we've never taken a dime from the government, and don't intend to take any money from the government anytime soon. So, we rely on individuals and organizations to support us. Being in Nashville, I mean there's more churches per square mile in Nashville than any other city in the world, so we're fortunate to be in a charitable community that when we explain the need, Nashville rallies behind the work.

COLLINS: Yes. Hey, I want to go around the circle real quickly and ask you guys specifically for people who may be watching today what exactly they can do. I mean is it just money, donations, or can they go out and help you physically in some way? Martha, first to you.

KEGEL: Well, cash donations are what we really need because we need to pay for additional emergency shelter. But in addition to that, we need blankets, because there are a lot of mentally ill people who just will not come in, and for them if we just can't get them in and we can't get them committed to the hospital, then we have to give them blankets and coats. So, we're accepting donations like that.

COLLINS: Okay, very good from New Orleans. And then in Atlanta, Vince?

SMITH: The same. Donations are helpful as well as blankets and coats, linens, gloves, hats, those kinds of things. And food. We've had wonderful response from people in the community bringing meals to the Gateway Center that we can share with folks.

COLLINS: Terrific. And Cliff?

TREDWAY: We've got a list of items on our Web site at but ours are the same as theirs. Underwear and socks, that's something that most people don't attach to the homeless cause. And we go through a lot of underwear and socks during this time frame.

COLLLINS: Yes. All right. Well, again, thanks to all of you for being here this morning and also for what you do. Martha Kegel with the Unity of Greater New Orleans, Vince Smith with the Gateway Center in Atlanta, and Cliff Tredway with the Nashville Rescue Mission. Thank you, guys.

TREDWAY: Thank you.

COLLINS: Jobless figures still in the double digits, so how is Wall Street weathering this latest economic storm? We're checking on the markets.


COLLINS: Checking our top stories now. Terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is being arraigned in a Michigan federal courtroom today. The 23-year-old Nigerian faces six charges, including attempting to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day and attempting to murder 289 people.

President Obama will make remarks about the economy later today, and he's making those comments just after a new government report shows job losses were worse than expected last month. White House officials say he will announce new funding for clean technology manufacturing jobs. That's set for this afternoon, 2:40 Eastern. You can catch it live right here on CNN.

Let's take a moment to get more on those job numbers now. The damage, 85,000 positions were cut last month. Unemployment remains in double digits at 10 percent.

Susan Lisovicz on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to talk more about this. As we look through the report, Susan, Wall Street seems to be sort of taking this in stride. A little flat, anyway.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Heidi. In fact, we've paired the losses and the NASDAQ is positive right now. Why is that? Even with this disappointment, there are signs of hope, no question about it.

Look, this is a reality check. Recovery, like the stock market, does not move in a straight line as much as we would like. What are the signs of hope? Well, we talk about the revision in November. November actually added 4,000 jobs. That's the first time we've seen that in 22 months, so, yes, we'll take it.

47,000 temporary workers were added in December. Why do we look at that? Because cautious employers often start adding temporary workers before they make the full commitment to permanent staff. Finally, hourly wages, they inched higher by a few cents an hour, also a good sign. That's why the Dow has pared its losses down about 40 points. NASDAQ is up by 5, Heidi.

COLLINS: When is the job market going to get back to where we were before the recession started. As if you have that crystal ball right in front of you, as you always today, along with the cow bell in the other hand, right?

LISOVICZ: We're optimists, Heidi. Dow, 15,000, I might add, Ms. Collins.

But it's going to take a while. 7.2 million jobs lost since this recession officially began December of '07. Some of those jobs aren't coming back, like manufacturing, so there have got to be new jobs. Remember, this is an economy that needs to be creating 100,000 jobs a month just to keep pace with population growth. Think of all those college grads, for instance, trying to get work, coming into the workforce. That's why so many of them are going for extra degrees or different types of skills.

But the fact is we've come a long way, Heidi. A year ago, we were talking about nearly 750,000 jobs lost in a month, so we've made a lot of progress, Heidi. I'm happy to tell you that I won an important bet today because a friend of mine who is a high-end manager told me a year ago, he said the U.S. unemployment rate will be at 12 percent by the end of the year. I said no way. I won the bet, and you're in on it. He's getting us a table at Rayo's in East Harlem.


LISOVICZ: I'm not kidding you. He's a big fan of yours, Heidi.

COLLINS: I thought you meant this was an ongoing bet by the end of 2010, but this was last year.

LISOVICZ: No, no, no, we're collecting. We're collecting next month.

COLLINS: I'll go, but I want the whole thing to turn around because it's way too high even at 10, obviously.

LISOVICZ: Oh, no -- but it's getting better. We're going to look -- that's really kind of what the market is focused on. Disappointment but still signs of progress. Big progress over the past year, no question. COLLINS: Well, we'll be watching closely and cautiously. Susan Lisovicz, thank you. Thanks for getting me in on that.

Heating costs on the rise. So is the need to help those who cannot afford to beat the cold.


COLLINS: We've been talking about the weather all morning long, obviously. It brings us to today's blog question. We asked you what the weather is stopping you from doing today, if anything.

So Dolores told us this. "The weather is keeping me from leaving my nice, warm house." Gabriel says, "It's stopping me from saving money, the heater is on all day." And Jevan says, "It is stopping me from going to school." A lot of kids saying that this morning.

Jennifer. "We are on vacation in Florida. It is so cold that we haven't within able to get into the swimming pool all week."

From Chris, "The subzero weather is stopping me from going ice fishing this morning. However, once the temps reach positive territory, I'm going back out there. I mean, it is Wisconsin."

All right, remember, we always love hearing from you. Go ahead and log on to and share your comments with us.

That cold snap particularly hard on farmers, as you would imagine, in the South. Crops like citrus and corn being frozen and ruined. That could mean you will have to pay more at the store.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really costly. It hits the pocket really quick. We feel its effects, you know, instantly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this actually hurts their bottom line and sometimes makes us not want to be farmers.


COLLINS: Just in Mississippi and Louisiana alone, losses are expected to top 800 million dollars.

Cold weather taking a toll on crops throughout the South, as we've said, but in Florida it's not just the oranges that are freezing in the trees. Watch.

Oh, no. I didn't know he actually fell out of the little twig, you guys. That was an iguana. Basically, when it gets below 40 degrees, the non-native reptiles go into instant hibernation. See, he was just sleeping really hard. If they're 20 feet up in the air, ouch. So when the temperatures drop, so do the iguanas. Don't worry, they're not dead, as we've said, they are just sleeping.

As freezing temperatures blanket much of the country, more Americans are getting help paying their heating bills, but the need for assistance, as you'd imagine, keeps growing. Stephanie Elam has our "Energy Fix" now from New York. Hi there, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Heidi. It's going to be hard to follow that iguana story, but I'll do my best here.


ELAM: Yes, you are. But that was a little disturbing. I was making lots of faces.


ELAM: You're right, despite the lower energy prices, the economic downturn and high unemployment are forcing more Americans to seek help paying their heating bills. It's a real serious problem. Nearly eight million American households got help in fiscal 2009. That's a record number for the second year in a row, and a 33 percent jump from 2008.

Now, applications are flooding in for the current fiscal year, which started in October. The National Energy Assistance Director's Association predicts a 20 percent jump in the number of families seeking help. More than $5 billion has been set aside for heating assistance this year, but the association is worried that that is not going to be enough, so it's planning to ask Congress for another $2.5 billion if applications keep pouring in. Otherwise, it warns assistance may be cut, which would really hurt a lot of families, Heidi.

COLLINS: Definitely. So how can people who need help paying their bills get it, at least while it's still available?

ELAM: Right. Well, the low income heating energy assistance program is federally funded, but it's run by the state, so to get help you can call this toll-free number. We've got it on the screen for you, but it's 1-866-674-6327. Or you can send an e-mail to They'll refer you to your state agency.

Keep in mind that eligibility is really based on income. The majority of families receiving this assistance make less than $25,000 a year, but many states have raised the ceiling so families making more can qualify.

Remember, this is not the only help out there, so if you think you're not going to be able to pay your bill, call your utility company. Many of those companies are actually willing to work out a payment plan. Of course if you want to learn more about this or more "Energy Fixes," check out and follow us on CNNmoney on Twitter. Heidi, back to you.

COLLINS: All right, very good. Stephanie, thank you.

If you are sleepy this morning, I bet I know why. You watch the whole game, didn't you? How could you not? After what happened just a few minutes into the first quarter.


COLLINS: Alabama wins its first national title since 1992. The Crimson Tide scored a 37-21 victory in the BCS Title game against the Texas Longhorns last night. Alabama's Mark Ingram, Heisman Trophy winner, ran for 116 yards and two scores.

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, though, was injured just a few minutes into the game, and that is when freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert stepped in, made a heck of an effort. But alas, that title goes to Alabama, and it was a late game, that's for sure.

I'm Heidi Collins. Have a great weekend, everybody.

CNN NEWSROOM continues with Tony Harris.