Morning Report: Disappointing Jobs Report; France Eyes 'Google-Tax'

Employers once again slashed a substantial number jobs off their payrolls in December.

The government reported on Friday that the economy lost another 85,000 jobs last month, but that the unemployment rate held steady at 10 percent.

Many economist and policymakers were hoping for a net gain in new jobs last month so the extent of job losses is surprising. Politically, President Obama and Congressional leaders may use the news to push for a more aggressive government spending program aimed at spurring hiring, particularly with congressional mid-term elections looming.

Construction and manufacturing, two sectors of the economy particularly hard hit during the recession, again suffered large job losses in December. Construction lost 53,000 jobs while employment in manufacturing fell by 27,000 jobs.

Retail employment fell by 10,000 jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis, even with the holiday shopping season in full swing. The leisure and hospitality industries cut 25,000 workers.

One small bit of good news: the payroll number for November was revised to a net gain of 4,000 jobs. That's the first increase in jobs in nearly two years. The government had previously indicated that 11,000 jobs were lost in November

France is considering a so-called Google tax to fund subsidies for musicians and newspapers struggling in the digital era.

"The world of culture is not only turned upside-down but profoundly threatened by the development of the Internet, and we hope that our action doesn't intervene too late," music producer Patrick Zelnik told the French daily Liberation on Thursday.

A government-commissioned report, published this week, outlines programs to encourage buying books, music and films online rather than viewing them for free.

The levy could raise up to 50 million euros (70 million dollars) this year, according to the plan.

And here's a warning to Apple lovers. The Los Angeles Times has a story about thieves who target people just as they are leaving Apple stores.

Thieves have been taking a big bite out of Apple Store customers by snatching computers in more than 100 "follow-away" burglaries across the region, authorities said.

Last month, the Orange County district attorney's office charged three Los Angeles residents — Garzon Diaz, Louis Lopez and John Rodriguez — with burglary and grand theft in connection with 28 cases of thieves breaking into vehicles and stealing computers from customers who had visited Apple.

Manhattan Beach Police Sgt. Brian Brown said Tuesday that detectives were continuing their investigation into 15 similar cases since September. The laptop and desktop computers were stolen from the vehicles of customers who had visited the Apple Store on Sepulveda Boulevard.

The suspects stake out an Apple store and choose a customer as their target, according to police.

They follow the victim as he or she drives away from the store. If the consumer stops and leaves the vehicle without taking the computer, the thieves strike.

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