business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From the Boston Globe:

"The US economy created 528,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department said on Friday, a confoundingly robust gain that pushed total employment back to its pre-COVID level.

"The unemployment rate dipped to 3.5 percent, matching a five-decade low last seen just before pandemic lockdowns began in March 2020.

"Last month’s hiring binge - the increase was double most forecasts - came as soaring prices for products and services have rattled consumers and businesses, and other indicators point to a possible recession. It was especially remarkable given that the labor force, or pool of available workers, shrank in July, extending a worrying post-pandemic trend."

•  From CNBC:

"Some restaurants are reporting weaker sales or declining traffic in the second quarter, signaling that diners are cutting back on eating out to save money.

"But CEOs are split on how consumer behavior is changing and whether it’s impacting their companies.

"McDonald’s Chris Kempczinski and Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Brian Niccol are among those who told investors that low-income consumers are spending less money at their locations, while higher-income customers are visiting more frequently. Other chief executives, like Starbucks’ Howard Schultz and Bloomin’ Brands’ David Deno, said they haven’t seen their customers pull back.

"The mixed observations come as restaurant companies hike menu prices to pass along higher costs for ingredients and labor. Prices for food eaten away from home have risen 7.7% in the 12 months ended in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. People are also paying much more for necessities like gas, toilet paper and groceries, stoking worries about the possibility of a recession."

Historically, the story says, "pricier fast-casual and sit-own restaurant chains typically see sales deteriorate during slowdowns as people opt to stay home or pack their own lunches. Fast food tends to be the top-performing restaurant sector as people trade down to cheaper meals when looking to treat themselves."

•  Fast Company reports that a New York City woman has filed a lawsuit charging that "Starbucks' summery fruit drinks are not as fruity as their names suggest … She claims the refresher drinks are all predominantly made with water, grape juice concentrate and sugar."

The litigant is seeking class action status for her suit.  Fast Company notes that she "doesn’t say in her suit how she determined the ingredients were missing."

Starbucks has not yet commented on the accusations.

• reports on a trend in New Jersey that has emerged since the state enacted a strict plastic bag ban - people are stealing stores' handheld plastic shopping baskets and not returning them.

The problem is forcing retailers to not allow the baskets to leave their stores.

The story actually gets it right - that "customers are flouting basic shopping rules and common decency by stealing handheld baskets."  Eliminating single use plastic bags is an intelligent move in terms of the environment, and it is a mark of people's selfishness and perceived victimhood that they would not practice common decency.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - the fabric of our society is unraveling.  I am less sure with every passing day that the it can be rewoven.