August 2017 US Unemployment Rate

Minimum Wage – St. Louis, MO

St. Louis gave minimum-wage workers a raise. On Monday, it was taken away, By Melissa Etehad, August 28, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Ontario Pope has long struggled to stretch his McDonald’s paycheck to cover the basics and provide for his four young children. But even after more than nine years with the fast-food chain, the 31-year-old St. Louis man said he still lived with relatives or in motels, the fear of becoming homeless never far from his thoughts.  Pope was hopeful when the city passed an ordinance in May that raised the minimum wage from the state’s $7.70 to $10…”

Ex-Offenders and Employment

‘Ban the Box’ laws may be harming young black men seeking jobs, By Rebecca Beitsch, August 22, 2017, Stateline: “‘Ban the box’ laws, which bar employers from asking job applicants whether they have a criminal record, may be harming some of the people they are intended to help.  Twenty-nine states prevent state and sometimes city and county employers from including a criminal history box on job applications. Nine states have extended the ban to private employers as well…”

Minimum Wage – Minnesota

Minnesota minimum wage set to rise with inflation in 2018, By Erin Golden, August 17, 2017, Star Tribune: “Minnesota’s minimum wage will increase next year by 15 cents to keep up with inflation, rising to $9.65 per hour for workers at many businesses across the state.  The increase, announced Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, is effective Jan. 1, 2018. It’s the result of a 2014 law that boosted the minimum wage to $9.50 and required the state to begin calculating automatic inflationary increases for each year, starting with 2018…”

Youth Job Training and Education

  • Seeing hope for flagging economy, West Virginia revamps vocational track, By Dana Goldstein, August 10, 2017, New York Times: “In a sleek laboratory at Marshall University last month, four high school teachers hunched over a miniature steam-electric boiler, a tabletop replica of the gigantic machinery found in power plants. They hooked the boiler to a small, whirring generator and tinkered with valves and knobs, looking for the most efficient way to turn coal, natural gas, nuclear or solar energy into electricity. The teachers, who were attending a summer training program, are helping West Virginia in another kind of transformation. Long one of the poorest states, it is now leading the way in turning vocational education from a Plan B for underachieving students into what policy makers hope will be a fuel source for the state’s economic revival…”
  • ‘Millennial Bill’ could help at-risk youth secure jobs, By Donna Owens, July 29, 2017, NBC News: “Taj Jackson dreamed of college after graduating from a Maryland high school in 2014, but didn’t think his family—headed by a single mother who worked multiple jobs—could afford it. Then they both learned about a national nonprofit called `Year Up.’ It provides young adults in urban communities with skills training, work experience, educational opportunities and mentoring, aimed at helping them achieve professional careers within a year…”

Low-Income Employment

After years of stagnation, low-income jobs join the recovery, By Story Hinckley, August 4, 2017, Christian Science Monitor: “What do waitresses in California, security guards in Tennessee, and hairstylists in Virginia have in common? All of these employees are starting to get bigger paychecks, economists say. The Great Recession of 2008 triggered a double-digit spike in the US unemployment rate, which led to lower wages as employers were not obligated to offer competitive salaries. The national unemployment rate has decreased every year since 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), causing most paychecks to rise. Low-income workers, however, missed out…”

July 2017 US Unemployment Rate

  • U.S. job growth surges in July, By Ana Swanson, August 4, 2017, Washington Post: “The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July, according to government data released Friday morning, surpassing economists’ expectations and suggesting the economy continues to thrive after an extended streak of job gains in recent years…”
  • U.S. economy adds 209,000 jobs in July; unemployment dips to 4.3 percent, By Scott Neuman, National Public Radio: “The U.S. economy created an estimated 209,000 jobs in July, representing a modest slowdown from the previous month but coming in better than many economists had expected. The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent…”

Retirement Savings for Low-Income Workers

Trump Administration ends low-income retirement savings plan, By Paul Davidson, July 28, 2017, USA Today: “The Trump Administration said Friday it’s shutting down an Obama-era program aimed at encouraging low- and moderate-income households to save for retirement because the scant participation didn’t justify the cost…”

Prisoner Reentry

To reduce recidivism, states scrap barriers for ex-offenders, By Rebecca Beitsch, July 27, 2017, Stateline: “To ease prison crowding and rein in corrections spending, state legislatures are trying to help ex-offenders re-enter society with the goal of ensuring they don’t return to prison. People exiting prison often struggle to find work and housing, and many legislators say the law continues to punish them as they are hit with court debt and barred from entering certain professions and, in some places, from getting public assistance…”

Minimum Wage

  • Here’s why you can expect a higher minimum wage in January, By Jim Miller, July 20, 2017, Sacramento Bee: “Barring a surprise sag in the state’s employment picture, California’s hourly minimum wage will increase as scheduled on Jan. 1. The hourly wage is scheduled to go from $10.50 to $11 at workplaces with 26 or more employees and from $10 to $10.50 at smaller workplaces…”
  • Report shows who was affected by St. Louis minimum wage change, By Uliana Pavlova, July 20, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “St. Louis’ minimum wage will soon to drop to $7.70, but who benefited from the short-lived increase to $10 an hour? Economist Charles Gascon and Senior Research Associate Daniel Eubanks looked into the issue and their findings were released in May by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis…”

State and Local Minimum Wages

  • In many states, a long-awaited raise for low-paid workers, By Tim Henderson, July 14, 2017, Stateline: “In 44 states, jobs paying roughly $30,000 were among those that got the largest salary bumps since 2010 — evidence that the steady but modest economic growth of the past half-decade may be reaching people at the bottom of the income ladder…”
  • St. Louis businesses pressured to keep $10 minimum wage, By Jim Salter (AP), July 13, 2017, Washington Post: “The $10 per hour minimum wage law in St. Louis will be short-lived, but an effort launching Friday will encourage and pressure businesses to honor the higher wage even if state law doesn’t require it…”

Prisoner Reentry – Los Angeles, CA

“I tried to assimilate. And I couldn’t:’ Ex-cons struggle to re-enter the workplace. Now L.A. County trying to help, By Nina Agrawal, July 12, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “When Lily Gonzalez was released from Valley State Prison in Chowchilla in 2012, all she wanted to do was put incarceration behind her. She hoped to go back to work, continue her education at Cal State Northridge and reconnect with her 11-year-old daughter. ‘I tried to assimilate,’ she said. ‘And I couldn’t.’  Gonzalez had been convicted of multiple felonies for falsifying signatures on documents — ‘something stupid I did when I was 18 years old,’ she said. Instead of returning to her old life, including a job with the county’s Department of Consumer Affairs, Gonzalez found herself stuck…”

Child Care Subsidies – Connecticut

State cuts into child-care subsidies, By Rob Ryser, July 9, 2017, Danbury News Times: “State cuts to a program that helps needy families afford child care has left 6,500 kids across Connecticut without a quality place to go while their parents are working. Child care subsidies for 235 children have been dropped in greater Danbury since cuts to the Care 4 Kids program began in August. Advocates say the result will be more children who are less prepared for kindergarten, and more parents who stop working and apply for government assistance, because they cannot afford child care…”

June 2016 US Unemployment Rate

Job growth surged in June, By Ana Swanson, July 7, 2017, Washington Post: “The U.S. labor market rebounded in June, new government data showed Friday, as employers surpassed the expectations of most economists by adding 222,000 jobs. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.4 percent, from 4.3 percent in May, but it did so for a good reason — more people joined the labor force to look for work. The Labor Department also revised its estimates for job gains in April and May, raising the combined figure by 47,000 jobs…”

Paid Family Leave – Washington

Paid family and medical leave fast tracked through Legislature, By Jim Camden, July 3, 2017, Spokesman-Review: “Late Friday night, with great emotion but relatively little fanfare, the Legislature moved Washington into the forefront among states that provide financial help to parents after childbirth or when a family member is seriously ill or dying. In strong bipartisan votes, the House and Senate moved quickly to approve a state-regulated program for paid family and medical leave…”

State and Local Minimum Wages

  • The minimum wage is going up in D.C., two states. How California’s compares, By Nick Perez, June 28, 2017, Sacramento Bee: “On July 1, the minimum wage will increase in Oregon, Maryland and Washington, D.C. – but California will still have fourth-highest minimum wage in the country. The District of Columbia pays minimum wage workers the most – $12.50 per hour, as of July 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nineteen states increased their minimum wages at the beginning of 2017…”
  • A ‘very credible’ new study on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has bad news for liberals, By Max Ehrenfreund, June 26, 2017, Washington Post: “When Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour, they’d hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers. Yet according to a major new study that could force economists to reassess past research on the issue, the hike has had the opposite effect. The city is gradually increasing the hourly minimum to $15 over several years. Already, though, some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go, the study found…”

Minimum Wage – Seattle, WA

Latest study: Seattle’s wage law lifted restaurant pay without shrinking jobs, By Janet I. Tu, June 20, 2017, Seattle Times: “Seattle’s minimum-wage law has led to higher pay for restaurant workers without affecting the overall number of jobs in the industry, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley. Indeed, employment in food service from 2015 to 2016 was not affected, ‘even among the limited-service restaurants, many of them franchisees, for whom the policy was most binding,’ according to the study, led by Berkeley economics professor Michael Reich…”

May 2017 US Unemployment

  • May jobs report: 138,000 more on payrolls; unemployment dips slightly, By Bill Chappell, June 2, 2017, National Public Radio: “The U.S. economy added 138,000 jobs in May, according to the monthly jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning. The national unemployment rate nudged lower, to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent — a 16-year low. The 4.4 percent level had been the lowest since since 2007, before the recession hit…”
  • Unemployment rate dips to 4.3 percent; US employers add modest 138K jobs, Associated Press, June 2, 2017, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “U.S. employers pulled back on hiring in May by adding only 138,000 jobs. Hiring was still enough to help keep pushing unemployment lower. The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent. But the rate declined mainly because people stopped looking for work last month and so were no longer counted as unemployed…”

Minimum Wage

  • New minimum wage study has fodder for both sides of debate, By David Nicklaus, June 2, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “From St. Louis to Jefferson City to Washington, debates over the minimum wage center on one question: Does it kill jobs? Proponents of a higher minimum paint a picture of workers happily spending their bigger paychecks, while opponents tell a tale about former workers joining the unemployment line. Dozens of studies have attempted to settle the question, but definitive answers don’t come easily…”
  • Passage of Illinois minimum wage bill generates worker optimism, employer anxiety, By Lauren Zumbach, Greg Trotter and Gail MarksJarvis, June 1, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Illinois moved a step closer to raising its minimum wage this week, a development that raised hope among some low-wage workers and concern from businesses worried about ballooning payrolls.  The Illinois Senate approved a bill late Wednesday — just a day after the House passed the same measure — that would gradually raise Illinois’ minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years. The measure now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who called the bill ‘extreme’ in a Thursday interview…”