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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: unemployment

To Fix The Labor Shortage, Start With The Wage Shortage

A recent newspaper article had an astonishing headline: "Labor shortages end when wages rise."

Gosh, Captain Obvious, what an amazing discovery! Someone notify the Nobel Prize committee, for this revolutionary revelation about How-Things-Work surely will win this year's prize in economics. Better yet, someone notify Sen. Mitch McConnell and that whole gaggle of Republican governors whose theory of labor economics begins and ends with the medieval demand that workers be whacked with a stick to make them do what the bosses want.

At issue is the furious complaint by restaurant chains, nursing homes, call centers, Big Ag, and other low-wage employers that they have a critical labor shortage. It seems that millions of workers today are hesitant to take jobs because there's no affordable child care, or the jobs they're offered expose them and their families to illness and death from COVID-19, or the work itself is abusive and demeaning... or all of the above.

Business chieftains wail that, with the economy reopening, they've been advertising thousands of jobs for waiters, nursing assistants, poultry workers, and such, but they can't get enough takers. So, the Congress critters and governors who obsequiously serve the corporate powers have rushed to their rescue. Shouting, "Whack 'em with a stick!" these mingy politicians are stripping away jobless benefits for America's workers, trying to leave them with no choice but to take any crappy job they're offered. It gives new meaning to the term "workforce."

In fact, the bosses themselves already have an honest way to get the workers they need without calling in government muscle: Offer fair wages! As the owner of a small chain of restaurants in Atlanta notes, the struggle to find the staff he needs suddenly turned easy when he stopped lowballing wages, going from $8 to $15 an hour. Not only did he get the workers he needed, but he says, "We started to get a better quality of applicants." That translated to better service, happier customers, and more business.

The real economic factor in play here is not wages; it's value. If you treat employees as cheap, then that's what you'll get. But if you view them as valuable assets, then that's what they'll be — and you'll all be better off.

At a recent congressional hearing on America's so-called labor shortage that corporate bosses have been wailing about, mega-banker Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, offered this insight: "People actually have a lot of money, and they don't particularly feel like going back to work."

Uh... Jamie... a lot of money? Most people are living paycheck to paycheck, and since COVID-19 hit, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, savings and even homes. So, they're not exactly lolly-gagging around the house, counting their cash.

Instead of listening to the uber-rich class ignorance of Dimon (who pocketed $35 million last year), Congress ought to be listening to actual workers explaining why they're not rushing back to the jobs being offered by restaurant chains and poultry factories. They would point out that there is no labor shortage; there's a wage shortage.

More fundamentally, there's a fairness shortage. It was not lost on restaurant workers, for example, that while millions of them were jobless last year, their corporate CEOs were grabbing millions, buying yachts, and living large. Yet more than half of laid-off restaurant workers couldn't get unemployment benefits because their wages had been too low to qualify. Then there's the high risk of COVID-19 exposure for restaurant employees, an appalling level of sexual harassment in their workplace, and demeaning treatment from abusive bosses and customers.

No surprise, then, that more than half of employees said in a recent survey that they're not going back to those jobs. After all, even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked!

So rather than demanding that government officials force workers to return to the old exploitative system, corporate giants should try the free-enterprise solution right at their fingertips: Raise pay, improve conditions, and show respect. Create a place where people want to work!

For a straightforward view from workers themselves, go to the advocacy group, OneFairWage.site.

To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Federal Reserve Expected To Maintain Low Rates Despite Rising Prices

Washington (AFP) - Even in the face of rising inflation, the lackluster progress on restoring jobs lost during the pandemic means the US Federal Reserve is unlikely to budge on monetary policy when it meets next week. Central bank chief Jerome Powell has made it clear the Fed will hold the line on its massive bond buying program and rock-bottom lending rates until data reflect lasting improvement in employment across all economic strata. But the recent surge in inflation in the world's largest economy is ramping up the pressure on policymakers to begin to pull back on stimulus programs. Hints ...

As Job Growth Doubles, Republicans Insist Biden ‘Failed’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Republicans spent Friday morning attacking President Joe Biden over the latest jobs numbers, suggesting the figures, which were slightly lower than predicted, constituted a failure.

The U.S. economy in fact added 559,000 jobs in May — more than double the number added the month before. The improving employment data comes as new unemployment claims have dropped to new pandemic lows in recent weeks, in the wake of Biden's American Rescue Plan and a successful COVID-19 vaccination drive.

Though the new job totals were slightly below the economists' predictions of around 650,000 new jobs, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.8 percent — better than those same economists' 5.9 percent expectation.

House Republicans tried to spin this progress as a great disappointment.

"Economy falls short of expectations with 559,000 jobs added in May," the official House Republican twitter account complained.

"As we emerge from the virus, our economy should be booming, but today's lackluster jobs report shows President Biden's policies have stalled our recovery," wrote House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. "Bidenomics is bad for America."

"Yet again, President Biden's jobs report misses the mark - further proof that the Democrats' socialist economic agenda DOES NOT WORK," Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the House Republican Conference chair, tweeted.

"Joe Biden's economy misses again," tweeted Colorado Rep. Ken Buck. "This is what happens when you disincentivize work."

"The May jobs report missed the mark by 100k jobs. Enough is enough," saidRep. Barry Moore of Alabama. "It's time for Biden to stop incentivizing unemployment and get Americans back to work."

Without evidence, Republicans blamed disappointing April jobs numbers — added employment of just 266,000 — on the $300-a-week emergency unemployment insurance payments provided under Biden's American Rescue Plan, suggesting they were somehow encouraging workers to stay home.

But William Spriggs, the AFL-CIO's chief economist, noted that was not actually happening. "Labor force flow data show we are in a steady pattern of unemployed workers being able to land jobs. The early exits last Spring reflected the large share of temporary layoffs," he wrote. "The flat trend shows there is nothing related to UI benefit supplement changes."

After strong job growth under President Barack Obama, Donald Trump saw a net loss of about 3 million jobs during his term — the worst numbers since Herbert Hoover. While Trump presided over job growth prior to the coronavirus and its resulting economic shutdown, even his best month pre-pandemic was just 378,000 new jobs (in February 2018).

Biden has already regained a substantial number of the jobs Trump lost: more than 2.1 million in just four months.

He has also proposed an American Jobs Plan which would create and sustain millions more jobs over the next decade. Republicans have objected to it, instead offering just a small fraction of the new investments in infrastructure Biden requested.

Despite sustained GOP attempts to label Biden a failure, the American public is simply not buying it. A Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, released last Monday, found that 62 percent approve of his job performance and the same number approve of his handling of the economy.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Congressional Republicans Frustrated As Biden Rides Strong Approval Ratings

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Congressional Republicans have repeatedly tried to claim that President Joe Biden is already a failure, just a few months into his presidency. But a new poll shows the American public is not buying it.

"It took less than 5 months for President Biden and Speaker Pelosi's Socialist Democratic Agenda to fail," New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the new chair of the House Republican Conference, tweeted on Tuesday. "Unemployment is up, inflation is rising, & our economy is crippled by unnecessary spending."

Unemployment is actually down since Donald Trump left office in January and the economy is growing.

But that has not stopped numerous Republicans from making similar attacks on Biden.

Tennessee Rep. David Kustoff tweeted Thursday that Biden's "policies are failing the American people. We need a President who will open up our economy and get people back to work."

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene claimed Friday — incorrectly — that "Biden is failing so fast that his own voters are ready to vote for Trump in '24," apparently unaware of Biden's strong approval ratings.

Some GOP lawmakers have specifically singled out his immigration policies for ridicule.

"The border policies of the Biden Administration are a complete failure and are leading to a massive increase in illegal immigration – with no end in sight," Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina charged on May 11.

Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn on May 6 claimed a drop in deportations was "a failure of leadership."

Others have attacked Biden's handling of jobs and the economy.

"The Dems' 'COVID' recovery plan to pay people MORE on unemployment assistance than they made in their previous job is killing small businesses," wrote Rep. Jodey Arrington of Texas on April 26. "This socialist policy was doomed to fail."

"In just four months, Biden has created four crises," claimed Alabama Rep. Barry Moore, citing the "Biden Border Crisis, Economic Crisis, Energy Crisis, National Security Crisis," as alleged examples. "This administration is failing the American people."

But the repetition of the claim does not appear to have swayed the public.

A new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, released Monday, found 62 percent job approval for Biden.

His handling of immigration (53 percent approval), the economy (62 percent), stimulating jobs (62 percent) and curbing the pandemic (70 percent) also enjoy broad approval.

This comes as unemployment claims have dropped to pandemic lows and most American adults are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Still, despite the strong public support for Biden, Republicans are fighting against his agenda. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on May 5 that ""One-hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration."

And Republicans reportedly are pulling back from infrastructure talks, upset that Biden wants to spend $1.5 trillion more than they do. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) told Politico on Tuesday that Republicans won't come up to "anywhere near the number the White House has proposed" for the American Jobs Plan.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

To See How Cruel Trump Republicans Are, Look At Other Countries

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The failures of the United States to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and its attendant economic challenges is well documented. More than that, millions of Americans are living those failures every day: The $600 in expanded unemployment insurance that expired in July and wasn't renewed. The Paycheck Protection Program that didn't reach many of the businesses that needed it most. (Disclosure: Kos Media received a Paycheck Protection Program loan.) The state unemployment benefits extension that will expire soon, and the eviction protections similarly expiring. The struggling industries that didn't get bailed out. It's disaster after disaster, and "failure" is a generous word since it's the result of a refusal by Senate Republicans and Donald Trump to do the right thing.

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Is America Turning Into A 'Failed State’?

These past few months, it's grown ever harder to recognize life in America. Thanks to Covid-19, basic day-to-day existence has changed in complicated, often confusing ways. Just putting food on the table has become a challenge for many. Getting doctors' appointments and medical care can take months. Many schools are offering on-line only instruction and good luck trying to get a driver's license or a passport renewed in person or setting up an interview for Social Security benefits. The backlog of appointments is daunting.

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Kudlow Hails Mass Unemployment As ‘Gales Of Creative Destruction’

Larry Kudlow, Donald Trump's top economic adviser, celebrated the tens of millions of job losses fueled by Trump's failure to contain the coronavirus, calling mass unemployment a "great part of American capitalism."

Kudlow made the comments in an interview with Fox Business host Stuart Varney on Friday morning.

"I saw something else today, one of the smart Wall Street people are talking about it. And it's an odd thing because the talk is that a lot of folks who became unemployed, all right, most regrettably but they're sticking with it and starting new businesses. They're going to be small businesses. But that's the great part of American capitalism, gales of creative destruction. I just love that new business start-up story," Kudlow said.

Kudlow did not name the "smart Wall Street" person who made this point to him, but that person appears to have their facts wrong.

Months into the pandemic, more than 12 million people remain unemployed, with eight million falling into poverty, thanks to the virus's impact on the economy and the GOP refusal to extend jobless aid.

The job losses have hit the poorest workers the hardest, with nearly 40 percent of people earning less than $40,000 a year losing their jobs at the peak of the coronavirus economic downturn, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank.

Those are the kind of workers that don't have enough money to put food on the table, let alone the savings to start up a business as Kudlow suggests.

Kudlow's tone-deaf comment comes as permanent layoffs increase and the recovery is stalling.

The poor economy further imperils Trump's already flailing reelection bid.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Trump Economy Began Decline Even Before Pandemic

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

There's fresh evidence that the robust economy Donald Trump inherited from Barack Obama was faltering before the pandemic.

State personal consumption spending growth slowed sharply in 2019 compared to the year before, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday morning. The growth rate plummeted by a fifth.

Personal expenditures grew in 2019 but by only 3.9 percent, down from 4.9 percent in the previous year.

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