September Job Losses First in Seven Years

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The nation’s jobless rate in September was 4.2 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, down 0.2 percent from August. But firms shed 33,000 net jobs, with 104,700 lost in bars and restaurants alone, a separate survey shows. The agency said that reflected the impact of hurricanes. It was the first monthly job loss in seven years.

The number of unemployed declined by 331,000 to 6.8 million, BLS said. There was little change in the number of jobs in factories (-1,000), construction (+8,000) and government (+7,000 jobs, almost all in local government).

BLS said the job losses were apparently confined to the Southeastern states, and Tropical Storm Nate is headed their way, as of October 6. But bar and restaurant job losses also led to higher workers’ pay year-on-year, as that’s the lowest-paying occupation of all.

Neither the jobless rate nor overall numbers include Puerto Rico, smashed to smithereens by Hurricane Maria two weeks ago. Even before the storm, joblessness there was 10.4 percent, a separate lagging survey shows.

“Even accounting for hurricanes, such a loss…is still concerning for an economy still recovering” from the Great Recession, said Economic Policy Institute analyst Elise Gould. “We are still not at genuine full employment.”        

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

An Invitation to Sunny Miami. What Could Be Bad?

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

If a billionaire “invites” you somewhere, you’d better go. Or be prepared to suffer the consequences. This past May, hedge fund kingpin Carl Icahn announced in a letter to his New York-based staff of about 50 that he would be moving his business operations to Florida. But the 83-year-old Icahn assured his staffers they had no reason to worry: “My employees have always been very important to the company, so I’d like to invite you all to join me in Miami.” Those who go south, his letter added, would get a $50,000 relocation benefit “once you have established your permanent residence in Florida.” Those who stay put, the letter continued, can file for state unemployment benefits, a $450 weekly maximum that “you can receive for a total of 26 weeks.” What about severance from Icahn Enterprises? The New York Post reported last week that the two dozen employees who have chosen not to uproot their families and follow Icahn to Florida “will be let go without any severance” when the billionaire shutters his New York offices this coming March. Bloomberg currently puts Carl Icahn’s net worth at $20.5 billion.

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