Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. As winter's icy grip begins to wane, America's economic engines may be warming up.
New Labor Department data shows the nation's unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent. The national jobless figure has fallen nearly a full percentage point in the last three months alone - the most rapid improvement in nearly 28 years.
Private sector businesses added 222,000 jobs -- their best hiring month since April 2010. Meanwhile, state and local governments slashed 30,000 jobs.
The Institute for Supply Management, a private trade group, reported its factory index rose .06 percent in January. While that may sound modest, the increase reveals the manufacturing sector grew in February at its fastest pace since May 2004.
Manufacturers also reported higher prices for raw materials, including steel, plastics, and oil which COULD push inflation higher.
Like much of the manufacturing sector, America's food producers strive for greater profit margins between raw materials and a final product. But raising and processing excellent grain or meat isn't enough in an economy driven, at least partially, on a product's marketability to consumers. And this week, the sloganeers of one of the globe's largest sources of protein changed its quarter-century long strategy.
It was a slogan well known by rural and urban Americans alike….
The Other White Meat campaign debuted in 1987 and gradually established pork as a predominant protein source for much of the world.
But the pork industry's nearly 25-year old slogan was semi-retired this week as officials unveiled a new marketing strategy for the world's most popular meat.
The new slogan: "Pork, Be Inspired" is tailored to generate more interest towards incorporating the meat into daily meals.
While pork is the WORLD'S most popular meat, it still lags behind beef and chicken in the United States. USDA data shows pork consumption fell to a 14-year low of 48 pounds per capita this past year. By comparison, beef consumption fell slightly…dropping to 59.7 pounds – that is the lowest since records began in 1958. However, chicken consumption grew in the past year - largely due to increased availability in domestic markets.
Many pork industry experts blame the inaccurately labeled "swine flu" epidemic of 2009 and 2010 for misinforming consumers on pork products. Despite well-documented evidence and numerous education campaigns that proved H1:N1 COULD NOT be contracted from eating meat, many consumers stayed away.
According to the National Pork Board, the new slogan "Pork Be Inspired" is focused on promoting a "deeper engagement with existing pork consumers." But the "Other White Meat" slogan won't disappear entirely as industry officials aim to use it in nutrition education materials.