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

Saving the Nation’s Parks

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

The wildfires ravaging the West Coast not only pose imminent danger to iconic national parks like Crater Lake in Oregon and the Redwoods in California, but threaten the future of all of America’s beloved scenic places.

As climate change fuels the federal government’s need to spend more of National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Forest Service budgets on wildfire suppression, massive maintenance backlogs and decrepit infrastructure threaten the entire system of national parks and forests.

A long-overdue infusion of funds into the roads, bridges, tunnels, dams and marinas in these treasured spaces would generate jobs and preserve landmark sites for generations to come.

The infrastructure networks in the nation’s parks long have failed to meet modern-day demand. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave parks a D+ rating in its 2017 infrastructure report card, citing chronic underfunding and deferred maintenance.

Just this year, a large portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is owned and managed by the NPS, collapsed due to heavy rains and slope failures. Projects to prevent disasters like this one get pushed further down the road as wildfire management squeezes agency budgets more each year.

Congress recently passed the Great American Outdoors Act,  allocating billions in new funding for the NPS.

But that’s just a first step in a long yet vital process to bring parks and forests to 21st-century standards. America’s big, open spaces cannot afford to suffer additional neglect.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work