Wednesday morning headlines

Falling stocks: The second quarter started out with the Dow down around 100 points, but it's now on the plus side.

Another big job drop: The March unemployment numbers are due out on Friday, but a new report by payroll giant ADP is not encouraging. It shows that 742,000 private-sector jobs were lost last month, more than expected. From the WSJ:

"Despite some recent indications that stock prices, consumer spending, and housing activity may be bottoming out, employment, which usually trails overall economic activity, is likely to remain very weak for at least several more months," said Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers.

Crime stats defy recession: When times get tough, crime is supposed to increase, right? Not in L.A., at least so far this year. Property crimes, such as burglary and auto theft, were down 6.4 percent over the same period last year, while violent crimes, including homicides and rapes, were down 4.9 percent. The only increase was a 1.6 percent rise in robberies. From the LAT:

The last time the U.S. economy faltered over a prolonged period, Los Angeles fared badly. In 1991 and 1992, crime soared to levels roughly three times the current figures. At the time, the unemployment rate in the city hovered between 8% and 10% and the crack cocaine epidemic was in full swing. The population also had a higher percentage of young males, who are most likely to commit crimes. Crime rose significantly in other Southland areas at the time as well.

Sales tax goes up: Today we start paying an extra 1 percent, part of the state budget compromise. In some parts of L.A. County, the total tax is 10.25 percent. Car dealers are especially worried about losing business because of the higher tax. It will generate $5.8 billion before expiring on July 1, 2011. (AP)

More news at KTLA: The Tribune-owned station will be adding newscasts at 4:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekdays and 6:30 p.m. on the weekends (a 6:30 p.m. newscast during the week was added a while back). All told, more than eight hours of news programming are being added. (LAT)

News Cop. names digital head: As expected, it's former AOL chief Jonathan Miller. He will oversee MySpace, IGN Entertainment and Photobucket, among other ventures (most all is based in L.A.). News Corp. is in the midst of a high-level reorganization after the decision by President and COO Peter Chernin to step down. (NYT)

Box office stays strong: Movie admissions are up by as much as 9 percent so far this year - another indication that bad times are bringing more folks to the multiplex. Motion Picture Association of America CEO Dan Glickman presented his annual state of the industry message at the ShoWest conference in Vegas. From Variety:

[Glickman] did, however, take some heat from the media for not following tradition and including the average cost of producing and marketing a studio pic in the MPAA's annual report. Insisting there was no move to deliberately withhold those stats, Glickman said that it has become nearly impossible to calculate average costs when studios have so many co-financing deals.

Local firms buy Johnson Products: That's the Woodland Hills-based company specializing in African American hair products. Procter & Gamble acquired it in 2003 and it's now being sold to an investment group backed by Rustic Canyon/Fontis Partners of Pasadena and St. Cloud Capital of Westwood. No terms announced. From the Business Journal:

The company has annualized sales of more than $23 million, according to RCJP. It was founded in 1954 by George Ellis Johnson, Sr. and originally had headquarters in Chicago. In 1971, the company became the first minority-run enterprise to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
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Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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