Jobless Rate Rose .1 Percent in August

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The U.S. unemployment rate rose 0.1 percent in August, to 4.4 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Businesses claimed to create 165,000 new jobs last month, while governments shed 9,000, a separate survey showed.

Some 151,000 more people joined the jobless rolls, raising the number of unemployed to 7.132 million, and the number of people not in the labor force rose by another 128,000 to 94.79 million.

“The unemployment rate rose slightly, and not because more workers were looking for work: Labor force participation held steady, while the employment-to-population ratio fell slightly,” Economic Policy Institute analyst Elise Gould said.

“Nominal wages, meanwhile, grew 2.5 percent over the last 12 months -- where they have been for the last several months. This level of wage growth is below the rate of 3.5-4 percent we would see in a healthier economy.”

Factories added 36,000 jobs in August, rising to 12.48 million. The big gainers were in cars (+13,700 jobs), food plants (+6,600) and fabricated metals, such as steel (+5,200). Some 596,000 factory workers (3.9 percent) were jobless.

Construction added 28,000 jobs, rising to 6.92 million. More than half of the gains (+15,200) were at specialty trade contractors. That still left 448,000 jobless construction workers (4.7 percent), but building trades leaders say the official jobless numbers understate unemployment, since a worker who toils for one day in the BLS survey week is counted as on the job for the whole month.

As usual, two low-paying job categories in the service sector led the way in job creation: Health care (+20,200 jobs) and bars and restaurants (+9,200). Associations and membership groups added 12,300 jobs. Overall, service firms claimed to create 95,000 jobs in August.  The government job losses were at the state and local levels.

BLS said Hurricane Harvey did not affect the jobless numbers, as it hit at the end of August and the agency conducts its surveys in the first week. Harvey’s impact, it explained, will show up in the September numbers. 

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Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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