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

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