US State Unemployment

  • Unemployment rates hit record lows in 3 states, By Josh Boak (AP), May 19, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Solid hiring nationwide led unemployment rates to touch record lows in three U.S. states last month. Unemployment rates declined in 10 states in April, increased in one — Massachusetts — and held relatively stable in the other 39, the Labor Department said Friday. A significant number of the job gains occurred in nine states, led by Texas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Indiana was the only state to see a significant decrease in jobs last month…”
  • 9 years after recession began, some states still unrecovered, By Jeff Amy (AP), May 18, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Call them the unrecovered — a handful of states where job markets, nine years later, are still struggling back to where they were before the recession. That’s true in Mississippi, where job numbers and the overall size of the economy remain below 2008 levels. Unlike states that have long since sprinted ahead, Mississippi is struggling with slow economic growth and slipping population in a place that’s rarely at peak economic health…”

Wage Theft – Ohio

Wage theft report finds many in Ohio paid below minimum wage, By Olivera Perkins, May 11, 2017, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Ohio ranked second among large states for the share of workers whose employers failed to pay them minimum wage, according to a recently released report. In Ohio, 5.5 percent of workers experienced this type of ‘wage theft,’ according to the analysis released Wednesday by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Ohio’s current minimum wage is $8.15 an hour…”

States and Job Training

Why some states are making short-term training free, By Sophie Quinton, May 3, 2017, Stateline: “Community colleges are known for their associate degree programs. But these days, many community colleges award more certificates than degrees. Certificates typically take less than two years to complete and promise to prepare students for entry-level jobs in fields such as medical insurance coding or welding. Now Kentucky and Indiana have created scholarships that would make some certificates tuition-free. The new grants draw inspiration from the free college idea pushed by Democrats like former President Barack Obama and embraced by Oregon, Tennessee and New York. But they’re less focused on reducing soaring tuition prices and more focused on training students for jobs that are sitting open…”

Job Searching and the Unemployed – Illinois

More jobless Illinoisans are giving up the job search, study finds, By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, May 10, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Though people often focus on unemployment rates as a measure of economic health, another telling data point is how many people are so discouraged with the job search that they’re dropping out of the labor force altogether. A newly released survey found good news: Fewer unemployed Americans are giving up looking for work. But that’s not the case in Illinois, where more people seem to be throwing up their hands…”

April 2017 US Unemployment Rate

  • Economy adds strong 211,000 jobs, unemployment at 10-year low, By Paul Davidson, May 5, 2017, USA Today: “The labor market bounced back in April amid milder weather as employers added 211,000 jobs, providing evidence that weakness the prior month was a blip that likely won’t keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates in June. The unemployment rate, which is calculated from a different survey, fell from 4.5% to 4.4%, a new 10-year low, the Labor Department said Friday…”
  • Unemployment rate drops to lowest level in a decade in April as economy adds 211,000 jobs, By Ana Swanson, May 5, 2017, Washington Post: “The U.S. job market rebounded strongly last month and the unemployment rate fell to the lowest level seen in a decade, government data released Friday morning showed, calming fears that had bubbled up in the past month about the state of the economy…”

Minimum Wage – St. Louis, MO

New St. Louis minimum wage goes into effect Friday, By Kevin McDermott, May 4, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The city’s new minimum wage of $10 per hour for most jobs will take effect Friday, Mayor Lyda Krewson’s office announced today. The ordinance for the new wage — which is well above the minimum of $7.70 in the rest of Missouri and $8.25 in neighboring downstate Illinois — was passed in 2015 but held up in court until now. Under the ordinance, the wage will rise again on Jan. 1, 2018, to $11 an hour…”

Early Childhood Education

How child care enriches mothers, and especially the sons they raise, By Claire Cain Miller, April 20, 2017, New York Times: “As many American parents know, hiring care for young children during the workday is punishingly expensive, costing the typical family about a third of its income. Helping parents pay for that care would be expensive for society, too. Yet recent studies show that of any policy aimed to help struggling families, aid for high-quality care has the biggest economic payoff for parents and their children — and even their grandchildren. It has the biggest positive effect on women’s employment and pay. It’s especially helpful for low-income families, because it can propel generations of children toward increased earnings, better jobs, improved health, more education and decreased criminal activity as adults…”

Ex-Offenders and Employment

Matching ex-offenders with hard-to-fill health care jobs, By Sophie Quinton, April 19, 2017, Stateline: “Collie Thomas sat in the courtyard outside the Johns Hopkins Hospital and marveled at her luck. She works as an orderly in one of the most prestigious hospitals in the country. She was promoted about a year ago. She just moved into a snug new row house. ‘I stayed 10 years in prison, and I worked hard in prison for like a dollar, dollar fifty — for so little,’ said Thomas, 51, her bedazzled pink smartphone glinting in the April sunshine. ‘So when you get these kinds of jobs here, you work your best.’  With unemployment falling and workers hard to find, a growing number of health care employers are following Johns Hopkins’ lead and giving people with criminal records a second chance — hiring them mainly into entry-level jobs in food service, janitorial services and housekeeping. Studies show that employees with records stay in their jobs longer and are no more likely to commit workplace crimes than hires without them…”

Prisoner Re-entry – Colorado

Homelessness, criminal histories create barriers for those seeking to re-enter Colorado society, By Amelia Arvesen, April 15, 2017, Denver Post: “On paper, Glenn Allan Tefft was sure he qualified for an open position at a Longmont, Colorado, printing plant even with his criminal background. But his spirits were low after he believed he was judged on his appearance during what he thought was a suspiciously brief interview. ‘People won’t even look at you,’ he said a week before the opportunity arose. ‘You can tell I’m homeless.’ Almost 39, a three-time felon who’s been to jail but not prison, Tefft is struggling to defy the odds also faced by 95 percent of the prison population that the Congressional Research Service expects will reintegrate back into the greater community at some point…”

March 2017 US Unemployment Rate

  • U.S. hiring slumped in March as employers added only 98,000 jobs, By Ana Swanson, April 7, 2017, Washington Post: “The momentum in the U.S. labor market flagged in March, new government data showed Friday, with the private sector and the government adding only 98,000 jobs, the lowest gain in nearly a year, as winter storms weighed on economic activity…”
  • Job growth loses steam as U.S. adds 98,000 in March, By Nelson D. Schwartz, April 7, 2017, New York Times: “Job growth turned in a disappointing showing in March, according to data released on Friday by the Labor Department. It is the latest official snapshot of the state of the American economy…”

Working Households and Basic Needs – Michigan

Report: Michigan makes little progress in lifting working poor to financial stability, By Lindsay VanHulle, April 4, 2017, Crain’s Detroit Business: “To make ends meet as a four-person family in Michigan, with a child in preschool and a baby at home, it’s practically mandatory that both parents work full time and make at least $14 per hour each. A single breadwinner in that same family would have to make at least $28 per hour. And that’s just to afford basic living needs, like housing, child care, transportation and medical bills. Yet Michigan’s job market is disproportionately made up of low-wage jobs — 62 percent of the state’s jobs in 2015 paid less than $20 per hour, according to new research on the state’s working poor to be released Tuesday by the Michigan Association of United Ways…”

Rural Employment

  • In search of rural jobs, states weigh strategy with checkered past, By Jen Fifield, March 30, 2017, Stateline: “In rural communities across the country, jobs are disappearing and people are moving away, driving a desperation that helped elect Donald Trump president. But as state lawmakers look for ways to bring life to these long-struggling areas, many are falling prey to a complex economic development approach, pushed hard by investment firms that stand to benefit, that has failed to live up to its promises…”
  • Disabled, or just desperate?, By Terrence McCoy, March 30, 2017, Washington Post: “The lobby at the pain-management clinic had become crowded with patients, so relatives had gone outside to their trucks to wait, and here, too, sat Desmond Spencer, smoking a 9 a.m. cigarette and watching the door. He tried stretching out his right leg, knowing these waits can take hours, and winced. He couldn’t sit easily for long, not anymore, and so he took a sip of soda and again thought about what he should do.  He hadn’t had a full-time job in a year. He was skipping meals to save money. He wore jeans torn open in the front and back. His body didn’t work like it once had. He limped in the days, and in the nights, his hands would swell and go numb, a reminder of years spent hammering nails. His right shoulder felt like it was starting to go, too…”

State and Local Minimum Wages – Iowa

GOP’s minimum wage rollback headed to Branstad’s desk, By William Petroski, March 27, 2017, Des Moines Register: “The Iowa Senate gave final approval Monday to a bill that freezes the state’s minimum wage at $7.25 an hour, although Democrats angrily denounced the bill, accusing Republicans of failing to support poor Iowans. House File 295 rolls back minimum wage increases already approved in four counties, including Polk, Johnson, Linn and Wapello. In addition, Lee County supervisors have been in the process of approving a minimum wage hike…”

Ex-Offenders and Occupational Licenses

To help ex-offenders get jobs, some states reconsider licenses, By Sophie Quinton, March 8, 2017, Stateline: “Robert Lewis didn’t think it would be hard to get a job selling insurance. He was a car salesman for decades and sold insurance for a while after graduating from college. But in Lewis’ home state of Illinois, felons can’t get a license to sell insurance. And in 1985, Lewis was arrested for felony theft.  Lewis says he long ago kicked the drug habit that contributed to his arrest, and these days the 62-year-old can often be found running around after his grandkids.  ‘I was a whole other person back then,’ Lewis said of his Reagan-era brush with the law. But the criminal record derailed his recent job application…”

February 2017 US Unemployment Rate

  • U.S. added 235,000 jobs in February; unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent, By Ana Swanson, March 10, 2017, Washington Post: “The U.S. economy added a healthy 235,000 jobs in February, according to government data released Friday morning, surpassing economists’ expectations and likely clearing the way for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this month. The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.7 percent, compared with 4.8 percent in January, and wages rose by 6 cents to $26.09 in February, after a 5-cent increase the month before…”
  • U.S. gains a healthy 235,000 jobs in February; unemployment rate falls to 4.7%, By Don Lee, March 10, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Warm weather and rising business optimism helped the U.S. economy to create another burst of job growth last month, giving President Trump an early confidence boost and all but assuring that the Federal Reserve will nudge up interest rates next week.  Employers added 235,000 jobs in February, about as many as in January and well above analysts’ expectations and the average monthly payroll growth for all of last year, the Labor Department said Friday…”

Minimum Wage – St. Louis, MO

Minimum wage hike in St. Louis would be blocked by bill passed by Missouri House, By Celeste Bott, March 9, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “When the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a minimum wage increase in St. Louis last week, Bettie Douglas thought she was getting a raise.  Douglas works at a McDonald’s in St. Louis, making $7.90 an hour — 20 cents above Missouri’s minimum wage of $7.70.  But citing concerns over an inconsistent patchwork of wage laws that could prove burdensome to businesses, Republican lawmakers promptly filed bills that would require all Missouri cities to stick to the statewide standard…”

State Minimum Wage – Pennsylvania

Pa. minimum wage hike a possibility, By Marc Levy (AP), February 20, 2017, York Dispatch: “Years of pressure by Pennsylvania Democrats could yield a state minimum wage increase this year, although it likely will require substantial concessions in the Republican-controlled Legislature.  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is proposing hiking the hourly minimum from $7.25 to $12. That would be the nation’s highest…”

Unemployment Benefit Programs – Missouri, Ohio

  • Missouri lawmakers vote to slash unemployment benefits, By Austin Huguelet, February 23, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The Missouri House on Wednesday reaffirmed its commitment to a plan that would cut the amount of time people can claim jobless benefits to one of the shortest periods in the country…”
  • Unemployment fraud still costing state millions, By Cornelius Frolik, February 21, 2017, Dayton Daily News: “Ohio has significantly reduced fraudulent overpayments to people collecting unemployment insurance since instituting measures designed to identify and recover money from benefit cheats…”

Retirement Savings for Low-Income Workers – California

Congress targets a California law that aims to give low-income workers retirement security, By Evan Halper, February 9, 2017, Los Angeles Times: ” An ambitious California law intended to help create retirement security for low-income workers is in the crosshairs of the Trump-era Congress, which is moving to block the state and others from launching programs to automatically enroll millions of people in IRA-type savings plans…”