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…”

The US Structurally Unemployed

The new face of American unemployment, By Jeanna Smialek and Patricia Laya, February 7, 2017, Bloomberg: “Even at so-called full employment, some 20 million Americans are left behind.  They’re looking for work, out of the labor force but unhappy about it, or report working part-time when they’d prefer more hours, according to data released last week. Their plight comes even as the U.S. flirts with what economists consider the maximum level of employment for the first time since before the recession, having added 15.8 million jobs since the start of 2010. While some of America’s jobless are simply between gigs, those persistently stuck out of work are called the structurally unemployed…”

January 2017 US Unemployment Rate

U.S. starts year with job surge, but pay gains are weak, By Patricia Cohen, February 3, 2017, New York Times: “Job growth was quick out of the gate in the new year, the government reported on Friday, as employers added a healthy 227,000 workers to their payrolls in January. But despite a surge of local minimum-wage increases in states across the country, wage growth was meager.  The official jobless rate rose slightly, to 4.8 percent, but for good cause: More people were lured back into the work force…”

December 2016 US Unemployment Rate

U.S. economy creates a modest 156,000 jobs in December, By Don Lee, January 6, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Job growth slowed at the end of last year while the unemployment rate ticked higher — signs that the tight labor market is resulting in diminished hiring even as it is pushing wages higher. The U.S. economy added 156,000 net new jobs last month, down from an upwardly revised 204,000 created in November, the Labor Department said Friday…”

November 2016 US Unemployment Rate

U.S. economy added 178,000 jobs in November; unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent, By Ana Swanson, December 2, 2016, Washington Post: “The U.S. economy added 178,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent, a level not seen since August 2007, according to government data released Friday morning. The first employment report since voters went to the polls last month shows an economy in strong shape as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office…”

October 2016 US Unemployment Rate

Final jobs report before election shows promising wage growth, By Don Lee, November 4, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “The last monthly jobs report before Tuesday’s presidential election offered some encouraging news for workers: Job growth remains steady and pay is rising at a faster rate.  Employers in October added 161,000 jobs, a little less than analysts’ average forecast but still a solid pace consistent with a healthy labor market. That’s more than enough to absorb new entrants to the workforce and keep the jobless rate from rising…”

Job Training and Employment

  • Once jobless and uncounted, eager workers could slow Fed rate hike, By Howard Schneider, October 18, 2016, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The crammed-to-capacity parking lot at a job training center in this St. Louis suburb is exhibit A for why the Federal Reserve remains at odds over the health of the U.S. labor market and how quickly interest rates should rise.  Among those in the building on a recent fall day, Joshua Goodson, 23, described his recent work history as a ‘dead end.’ Motivated by the prospect of a firm career foothold, he is now in a program at the Family and Workforce Centers of America that includes both a curriculum in heating and air conditioning installation, and the ‘soft’ social skills needed to keep steady employment…”
  • Nonprofit seeks to fill skills gap of low-income high school graduates, By Akilah Johnson, October 21, 2016, Boston Globe: “Eye contact was made with each visitor, who was greeted with a firm handshake. Pleasantries were exchanged, with a smidgeon of small talk.  But there was also direction and discipline for those Year Up students whose professional attire was deemed a bit too trendy for the buttoned-down business world. It’s these types of behaviors and approaches that the job-training program seeks to teach thousands of disconnected youth…”

SNAP Job Training Program – Baltimore, MD

New job training program targets food stamp recipients, By Lorraine Mirabella, August 15, 2016, Baltimore Sun: “A new state program aims to help Baltimore residents reduce their dependence on food stamps by training them for jobs that can lead to careers in manufacturing, green construction and health care.  About 260 low-skilled and under-educated people in the city are expected to receive training through a network of six workforce development groups in fiscal year 2017, officials with the state Department of Human Resources announced Monday…”

Connecting the Homeless to Services

This Republican mayor has an incredibly simple idea to help the homeless. And it seems to be working, By Colby Itkowitz, August 11, 2016, Washington Post: “Republican Mayor Richard Berry was driving around Albuquerque last year when he saw a man on a street corner holding a sign that read: ‘Want a Job. Anything Helps.’  Throughout his administration, as part of a push to connect the homeless population to services, Berry had taken to driving through the city to talk to panhandlers about their lives. His city’s poorest residents told him they didn’t want to be on the streets begging for money, but they didn’t know where else to go.  Seeing that sign gave Berry an idea. Instead of asking them, many of whom feel dispirited, to go out looking for work, the city could bring the work to them…”

Cost of Living for the Urban Poor

To cut down poverty, cut down the cost of living, By Laura Bliss, August 4, 2016, City Lab: “Proportionally speaking, Americans living in poverty pay more for basic necessities. On energy bills, the poorest 20 percent of Americans spend more than seven times the share of their income than do the wealthiest. Dividing American incomes into three, households in the bottom third spend twice the portion of their incomes on transportation than the top third. High housing costs are hurting everyone—but they’re hurting poor Americans the most…”

June 2016 State Unemployment Rates

18 states see significant job gains, but unemployment rises, By Josh Boak (AP), July 22, 2016, Albany Times Union: “Unemployment rates ticked up noticeably in six states in June, even as employers continued to add jobs and the hiring outlook improved. The unemployment rate in 21 states is now significantly below the national figure of 4.9 percent, while it’s higher in 14 states…”

Unemployment Benefits – Illinois

State: No unemployment benefits without posting resume, By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, July 13, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “People filing for unemployment insurance in Illinois will no longer be able to receive benefits unless they post a resume to the state’s job search site.  The Illinois Department of Employment Security announced it is stepping up enforcement of an existing legal requirement that individuals actively seek employment to be eligible for unemployment benefits…”

US Underemployment

Nearly half of U.S. workers consider themselves underemployed, report says, By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, June 28, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “If you majored in physical education and find yourself working as a dog groomer, consider yourself a poster child of the underemployed. Nearly half of U.S. workers consider themselves underemployed, according to a survey of more than 960,000 people by PayScale, an online provider of salary information. Three-quarters of those who label themselves as such say they’re not working in a job that uses their education and training. One quarter say they are working part time but want full-time work…”

Unemployment Insurance – North Carolina

North Carolina ranks among top-five worst states for the jobless, By Richard Craver, June 20, 2016, Winston Salem-Journal: “North Carolina’s inclusion among the five worst states for unemployment insurance beneficiaries may be a source of shame or pride, depending on the value placed upon the drastic cuts that went into effect in July 2013. The state was ranked 46th by research firm 24/7 Wall St. in a report released June 11. Louisiana is listed as the worst state, followed by Alabama, Mississippi and Alaska. In a report released Thursday, North Carolina ranked 49th in terms of what percentage of UI applicants receive benefits at 12.4 percent for 2015. That study comes from the Center for American Progress, Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, and National Employment Law Project…”

Jobs with Driver’s License Requirements

No driver’s license, no job, By Alana Semuels, June 15, 2016, The Atlantic: “Ask conservatives what the poor need to do to get out of poverty, and the answer usually involves something like, ‘Get a job.’ That was the crux of the anti-poverty plan Paul Ryan revealed last week to shrugs, and has been the gist of many anti-poverty efforts over the past two decades.  But for many people, there is one very specific—and often overlooked—reason why that’s not so easy: They don’t have a driver’s license.  Not all jobs require a driver’s license, particularly those that pay very low wages. But having one is a very common requirement for the sorts of job that can actually lift people out of poverty—those in construction, manufacturing, security, and unions jobs including electricians and plumbers, says Mark Kessenich, who runs WRTP Big Step, a Milwaukee center that trains low-income workers to enter jobs in construction and manufacturing that pay a starting wage of $15 and up…”

Welfare Reform and the Disconnected

The Disconnected, By Krissy Clark, June 3, 2016, Slate and Marketplace: “I met Laura Grennan on a cold morning this past winter in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In a gray sweatshirt, her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, Grennan was pushing her daughters in a double stroller. Angel is her 2-year-old, and her 3-year old is named Isis—like the Egyptian goddess, Grennan is quick to explain. ‘I love Egyptian mythology,’ she says, ‘so I just picked the name out of a hat, and I thought it was beautiful—until, of course, all the news of the terrorist group came out.’ She sighs. ‘But we work around it.’  ‘Working around it’ is something Grennan, 30, has had to become very good at in her life. Grennan grew up in foster care. Moved around a lot. Dropped out of high school. By her mid-20s, she had found some degree of stability—gotten her GED, held a series of jobs she liked…”

Internet Access and Unemployment – Detroit, MI

Unemployed Detroit residents are trapped by a digital divide, By Cecilia Kang, May 22, 2016, New York Times: “In downtown Detroit, start-ups and luxury retailers are opening up and new office buildings are being built as the city works to recover from its deep economic problems. Six miles to the north, in the neighborhood of Hope Village, residents like Eric Hill are trying to participate in that progress but are running into hurdles. His difficulties were apparent on a recent Tuesday when he entered a crowded public library to use the computers to look for a new job. With no Internet service at home or on his mobile phone, Mr. Hill had few options to search work listings or file online job applications after losing his stocking job at a pharmacy five months ago…”

Low-Wage Manufacturing Work

  • A staggering number of people with factory jobs still need government help, By Jim Tankersley, May 10, 2016, Washington Post: “Philadonna Wade works the night shift at the Detroit Chassis plant in Avon, Ohio, finishing off truck axles before they ship off to one of the big Ford factories nearby. It is heavier work than her last job, which was stocking shelves at a Family Dollar store, and Wade says it’s helping her get in shape. ‘I enjoy the job, I enjoy the people I work with,’ she said in an interview recently. ‘But the thing is, when you go to a job, it’s not about enjoying the people you work with, it’s about earning more for your family.’  At the plant, Wade has the sort of job that Americans often associate with a blue-collar American Dream. But she’s paid more like a low-level service worker: $9.50 an hour, with no benefits. She is officially a temporary worker, sourced through a staffing agency, and she doesn’t earn nearly enough to feed, clothe and house her four children. Taxpayers help her make up the difference. ‘I get energy assistance, I get food stamps, I get Medicaid,’ she said. ‘Every bit of public assistance there is, I get it…'”
  • One in three US manufacturing workers are on welfare: Study, By Jeff Cox, May 12, 2016, CNBC: “Philadonna Wade’s story plays out across middle America on a daily basis but is seldom told. It’s the story of the working poor who labor in tough jobs — like Wade’s position as an assembler for a Ford Motor plant — that don’t pay enough to keep them off public assistance.  In fact, fully 1 in 3 Americans who work in the manufacturing sector are receiving some form of public assistance, according to a study released this week by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. Of those who came to their positions through temp agencies, a category in which Wade falls, half are on some type of safety net program…”

Youth Employment

It’s a tough job market for the young without college degrees, By Patricia Cohen, May 10, 2016, New York Times: “For seniors graduating from the University of Michigan this month, employers have been lining up since the fall to offer interviews and boast of their companies’ benefits. Recruiters would ask when their competitors were coming, said Geni Harclerode, the university’s assistant director of employer development, and then they’d say: ‘Well, we want to come the week before.’  ‘This has been one of our largest seasons of hiring,’ she said. ‘The job market has been very good.’  The outlook for many high school graduates is more challenging, as Vynny Brown can attest. Now 20, he graduated two years ago from Waller High School in Texas, and has been working for nearly a year at Pappasito’s Cantina in Houston, part of a chain of Tex-Mex restaurants. He earns $7.25 an hour filling takeout orders or $2.13 an hour plus tips as a server, which rarely adds up to more than the minimum, he said. He would like to apply to be a manager, but those jobs require some college experience…”