October Jobless Rate Falls to 4.1 Percent; 252,000 Jobs Created

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The U.S. unemployment rate declined to 4.1 percent in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. Businesses claimed to create a net of 252,000 new jobs last month, a separate survey said, but much of that came from restoring jobs lost to hurricanes. Governments added 9,000, all in local schools and the federal government.

The figures do not reflect the full impact of the hurricanes, as jobless numbers for the states don’t come out until later in November and BLS doesn’t survey Puerto Rico. But private surveys there, in data before two of the hurricanes smashed the commonwealth to smithereens, showed a jobless rate triple that of the mainland U.S.

On the mainland, the number of jobless declined by 281,000, to 6.52 million, BLS said. But other statistics were not as positive.

One of every four jobless workers has been out more than 26 weeks, meaning they’ve exhausted their unemployment benefits. The biggest job gains were in the lowest-paying sectors of the economy, all as usual in services: +88,500 in bars and restaurants, which is the lowest of all, followed by +22,000 jobs in health care and the hiring of 18,000 more temps.

“The black unemployment rate is at 7.5 percent, compared with 3.5 percent for whites,” Economic Policy Institute analyst Heidi Shierholz added in a tweet. “As usual, the black rate is around twice as high. There are huge disparities in our labor market.”

Factories added 24,000 jobs in October, mostly in computers and electronics (+4,700), fabricated metals such as steel (+4,000), chemicals (+4,000 each) and cars (+3,400). There were 12.481 million factory workers in October, and 501,000 jobless factory workers (3.2 percent).

Construction firms added 11,000 jobs in October, to 6.93 million, all in building new homes and at specialty trade contractors. There were 418,000 jobless construction workers (4.5 percent). But construction union presidents say the official figures understate joblessness in their industry, since a worker toiling for one day during the survey week is counted as working for the entire month.

Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Home Health Care Workers Under Attack

By Bethany Swanson
USW Intern

Home health care workers have important but difficult jobs that require them to work long hours and chaotic schedules to care for the country’s rapidly growing elder population.

Instead of protecting these workers, the vast majority of whom are women and people of color, the current administration plans to make it harder for them to belong to unions, stifling their best chance for improving working conditions and wages.

The anti-union measure would roll back an Obama-era rule that allows home care workers, whose services are paid for through Medicaid, to choose to have their union dues deducted directly from their paychecks.

The goal of the rule, like the recent Janus decision and other anti-union campaigns, is to starve unions out of existence, so they can no longer protect their members.

Home health care workers bathe, dress, feed and monitor the health of the sick and elderly, but they often cannot afford to provide for their own families.

On average, they make little more than $10 an hour and more than half rely on some sort of public assistance. Most receive few or no benefits, even though home care workers and other direct care workers have some of the highest injury rates of any occupation.

That’s why many home care workers have turned to labor unions.

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The Dirty Truth about Janus

The Dirty Truth about Janus