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Consumer Confidential: Jobs picture brightens (sort of), Facebook gift cards

September 1, 2010 | 10:15 am

Here's your whoppingly Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Some interesting news on the jobs front (no, not Steve Jobs). The latest data suggest that companies have stopped firing people. The only problem is that they aren't really hiring people back, at least not yet. Private-sector employers cut 10,000 jobs last month -- a drop from the 37,000 jobs they added the month before, according to a report by payroll processing firm Automatic Data Processing. But a separate report from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas showed employers' plans for future job cuts have sunk to a 10-year low. Planned job cuts fell to 34,768 in August, the lowest level since June 2000 and down 17% from the previous month. What's all this mean? It means things are still ugly out there. But maybe, hopefully, not for too much longer.

--The problem with Facebook is that it's just not enough a part of people's lives. Luckily, there's a solution: Everyone's favorite social-networking site will offer gift cards at Target good for buying online stuff such as virtual goodies for Facebook games. The cards, which go on sale Sept. 5, will be available in increments of $15, $25 and $50. Of course, the idea of spending real money at a real store to purchase virtual products at a virtual store might strike some as a bit loony. But who am I to judge?

-- David Lazarus

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