business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From the Associated Press:

"The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week rose to its highest level in a year-and-a-half, though jobs remain plentiful by historical standards even as companies cut costs as the economy slows.

"Applications for jobless aid for the week ending May 6 rose by 22,000 to 264,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s up from the previous week’s 242,000 and is the most since November of 2021. The weekly number of applications is seen as roughly representative of the number of US layoffs.

"Many employers appear to have put a premium on retaining workers after some of them were caught short-handed by the rapid post-COVID-19 economic recovery. As a result, most economists don’t envision waves of layoffs even if a recession were to strike later this year as many expect.

"The four-week moving average of claims, which evens out some of the weekly volatility, rose by 6,000 to 245,250. Analysts have pointed to a sustained increase in the four-week averages as a sign that layoffs are accelerating, but are hedging their bets on whether any spike in layoffs is imminent."

•  The National Grocers Association (NGA) yesterday "announced its support for the Save Local Business Act. Introduced by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the legislation would codify into law the traditional joint employer standard, which conditions employment liability on the clear and predictable standard of 'direct, actual, and immediate control over workers’ terms and conditions of employment' … The Save Local Business Act amends the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act to clarify that two or more employers must have 'actual, direct, and immediate' control over employees to be considered joint employers."

Last year, NGA points out, "the National Labor Relations Board announced proposed regulation on the joint employer standard that would expand the current standard of what constitutes a 'joint employer,' putting independent community grocers at risk of legal uncertainty and increased litigation."

•  From the Associated Press:

"The Supreme Court on Thursday backed a California animal cruelty law that requires more space for breeding pigs, a ruling the pork industry says will lead to higher costs nationwide for pork chops and bacon.

"'While the Constitution addresses many weighty issues, the type of pork chops California merchants may sell is not on that list,' Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in an opinion for the court.

"Industry groups have said the law would mean expensive, industry-wide changes even though a majority of the farms where pigs are raised are not in California, the nation's most populous state, but instead in the Midwest and North Carolina."

According to the story, "The case before the court involved California’s Proposition 12, which voters passed in 2018. It said that pork sold in the state needs to come from pigs whose mothers were raised with at least 24 square feet of space, with the ability to lie down and turn around. That rules out confined 'gestation crates,' metal enclosures that are common in the pork industry."

•  From Marketing Daily:

"Warby Parker may have started as a digital brand, but the latest results prove its reinvention as an old-school retailer is paying off.

"For the first quarter, the New York-based company says net revenue climbed 12.2% to $172 million, compared with $153.2 million in the first quarter of last year.  Warby Parker trimmed its losses to $10.8 million, versus the $34.1 million it lost in the comparable period. In part, that’s due to a 35% reduction in marketing spending.

"Both sales and profits exceeded Wall Street forecasts. Sales have 'been encouragingly stable despite a choppy consumer spending backdrop and a pullback in marketing, and management appears to be progressing towards profitability targets,' writes Mark Altschwager, an analyst who follows the company for Baird. He continues to rate it as likely to outperform its peers."

Just want to get this on the record.  I'm a huge Warby Parker fan, and I was thrilled the other day when they opened a store a couple of miles from my house.  But this just feels like they are overbuilding, and that the pace could end bringing down the whole enterprise.  I hope I'm wrong, but it just feels that way.