All Articles Tagged "stimulus"
US Added Just 88K Jobs In March, But Unemployment Rate Among African Americans Drops To 13.3 Percent
The latest monthly employment numbers are out, and though the country did add jobs, the number of them — 88,000 — is not enough to make an impact on the widespread joblessness that still plagues the U.S. Still, the unemployment rate dropped by a tenth of a percent to 7.6 percent.
Even better, the unemployment rate dropped .5 percent for African Americans in the past month, going from 13.8 percent to 13.3 percent (seasonally adjusted). It had been as high as 14 percent in December 2012.
The New York Times points out that the economy has been adding jobs for the past 30 months. However, compared to the 268,000 added in February, 88K is pretty paltry. There are 11.7 million people out of work.
“The slight decrease in the unemployment rate occurred not because more unemployed people got jobs, but because the number of people active in the labor force — i.e., working or looking for work — fell,” the paper reports. Since the black unemployment rate fell as much as it did, it looks like this could be having an impact on that figure. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, among African Americans, the employment participation rate also went down from 61.7 percent in February to 61.2 percent in March. “The labor force participation rate has not been this low since 1979, when it was also 63.3 percent, at a time when women were less likely to be working.”
The government continues to shed jobs while areas like professional services, business services, and healthcare continue to add staff. Unfortunately, jobs paying low wages, like restaurant work, have added the most staffers. Temp work is also relatively robust, but those jobs aren’t leading to full-time work, as they usually do. Manufacturing and retail have cut jobs, 3,000 and 24,000 respectively.
“This is an extremely troubling labor-market report, given how strongly stocks have rallied and how much expectations have been lifted with optimism around the consumer and housing,” Bank of the West economist Scott Anderson tells The Wall Street Journal. He adds that higher taxes and the sequester are already having an impact.
The Journal says that average wages went up by a penny to $23.82 and the average workweek went up .1 hour to 34.6.
by Tyrus Townsend
On Thursday evening, President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to propose his $447 billion American Jobs Act, which he hopes will lower the deficit, create new jobs and revive economic growth. If you are asking you if this feels like déjà vu, that’s because in some ways, it is.
If you may recall in 2009, President Obama proposed the original stimulus bill which involved a variety of tax cuts for small businesses, working individuals, increased spending on infrastructure, education and extended unemployment benefits. This new bill, however, will piggy back on his previous efforts and expand on the original proposal.
Of the $447 billion plan, $253 billion of that will go to tax cuts while the remaining $194 billion will specifically target new spending which includes infrastructure, modernizing our educational properties, surface transportation and much more. But what does this mean in laymen’s terms? According to CNN Money, “payroll tax cuts of 3.1%, $8 billion in tax credits to businesses, $50 billion in immediate funding for highways, transit, rail and aviation, working with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lower mortgage plans” and much more.
President Obama opened his speech by emphasizing the state of American suffering: “This past week, reporters have been asking, ‘What will this speech mean for the President? What will it mean for Congress? How will it affect their polls, and the next election? But the millions of Americans who are watching right now, they don’t care about politics. They have real-life concerns. Many have spent months looking for work. Others are doing their best just to scrape by — giving up nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage; postponing retirement to send a kid to college.”
But did President Obama miss one key element during his mark when he addressed unemployment, specifically for the state of Black America? According to Rep. Maxine Waters, Obama chose not to highlight the African-American community, even though they make up 26% of the current unemployed or underemployed population. “I wanted him to say something about the intolerable rate of unemployment in the African-American community. He didn’t quite get there,” Waters told CBS News’ Scott Pelley in an interview on CBSNews.com immediately following the speech. “But he talked about long-term unemployed, he talked about disadvantaged youth.”
“I would have had even bigger plans, but it was a big plan and it included some of the ideas we have been pushing,” she said. And by ‘we’, she means the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who have been extremely vocal about high unemployment rate in our community. Though extremely critical, the congresswoman seemed optimistic and supportive of our president in this time of economic crisis. “I do think we have a chance to do something substantive and to get at this terrible unemployment in this country,” Waters told Pelley. “I think he got it right.”
And for the sake of our country and our future, one can only hope so.
(Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama plans to propose sparking job growth by injecting more than $300 billion into the economy next year, mostly through tax cuts, infrastructure spending and direct aid to state and local governments. Obama will call on Congress to offset the cost of the short-term jobs measures by raising tax revenue in later years. This would be part of a long-term deficit reduction package, including spending and entitlement cuts as well as revenue increases, that he will present next week to the congressional panel charged with finding ways to reduce the nation’s debt. Almost half the stimulus would come from tax cuts, which include an extension of a two-percentage-point reduction in the payroll tax paid by workers due to expire Dec. 31 and a new decrease in the portion of the tax paid by employers. Obama is set to lay out his plans in an address to Congress tomorrow as unemployment remains at 9.1 percent more than two years after the official end of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Payroll growth stalled last month.
(New York Times) – Labor Day must seem like the movie “Groundhog Day” to President Obama. On Monday, for a third year he celebrated the holiday that honors workers with union members and their families in a political swing state, promising job-creation measures to reduce a 9 percent unemployment rate and calling on the Republican opposition to “put country before party.” Mr. Obama, speaking to a riverfront crowd estimated by the police to number 13,000, said he would propose “a new way forward on jobs” in his speech on Thursday to a joint session of Congress, which returns this week from its August recess. Mr. Obama did not provide details — “Tune in on Thursday,” he teased — but he said millions of unemployed construction workers would be able “to get dirty” building roads, bridges and other public works under his infrastructure proposals.
By Nola Ogunro
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is doing a tour of major metro areas bringing information about jobs to unemployed workers. Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West are covering the lands on their “Poverty Tour” to highlight the way recent spending cuts are undercutting the quality of life for all. Underscoring both of these efforts is the constant call for President Obama to enact programs that address the unemployment needs of the African-American community specifically. The president believes that improving the economy overall is the best solution for the black unemployment crisis, but experts disagree. The Center for American Progress states: “There are structural barriers to employment in the labor market affecting African Americans alone—obstacles that impede the advancement of African Americans.” Many agree that we need government assistance in fighting ongoing unemployment issues caused by reasons beyond our control. Let’s examine the top 9 reasons for an economic stimulus program that targets the black community.
(Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama is seeking to revive a version of the so-called grand bargain with congressional Republicans that would combine long-term U.S. deficit reduction through entitlement benefit cuts and tax increases with immediate steps to boost job growth. Obama plans to press Congress for billions of dollars in fresh spending to reduce unemployment as he also pursues a compromise on long-term deficit cuts. He will begin by laying out his ideas in a speech shortly after the U.S. Labor Day holiday, which is Sept. 5. With the U.S. unemployment rate at 9.1 percent and economic growth slowing, Obama’s aides are working on a mix of tax cuts and infrastructure spending beyond the measures he has been promoting over the last several weeks, an administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because details for the speech haven’t been completed.
As black unemployment hovers near 16%, activists are examining the specific forces at work keeping blacks from finding positions in their local communities. Factors like the overall weakness of the economy and the above-average presence of ex-felons in our group are significant contributors to the problem. Yet, organization like the National Urban League believe other causes are being underestimated, particularly entrenched discrimination in key industries such as construction. Breaking into local economies on these levels will be essential for blacks seeking better economic futures. The Grio reports that:
Further, according to black-owned contractors, a “good old boy” network has existed to ensure that white-male-owned contractors, well connected and extensively networked, continue to secure the highly coveted contracts. And when black-owned businesses are denied these opportunities — aggressively shut out of the market or removed from existing contracts — they cannot hire people and help uplift the community. As a result, the black community suffers and its problems of unemployment and poverty persist. That has been the case for years in cities such as Philadelphia.
For example, Holley Enterprises, a black-owned construction company, claims that James J. Anderson Construction unfairly terminated their contract as subcontractor on a subway repair project. According to Holley, Anderson brought on the black-owned firm to meet minority participation requirements for the project, and unfairly terminated Holley two months later.
Minority businesses suggest that the pervasiveness of discrimination demonstrates the continued need for affirmative action to give minority businesses a fair chance and bring them into the economic mainstream.
Without entities to properly enforce laws that prevent race-bias, African-Americans might never be able to escape the double-digit unemployment trap. Construction jobs, for example, are given by firms that often receive large government contracts. It has been widely reported that minority-owned companies received few of the government contracts that were granted as part of President Obama’s stimulus package. Acts of discrimination such as these prevent jobs from funneling down to lower levels of our community.
Concrete examples of the effect of this phenomenon are striking. In example given by The Grio in its report, one black neighborhood in DC must idly witness a bridge being built in their neighborhood by outsiders, even though the area faces an unemployment rate of 30%.
The Congressional Black Caucus has joined the National Urban League in criticizing President Obama’s administration for not doing enough to adequately address such systemic causes of black joblessness. Both groups have presented detailed proposals to ameliorate the situation, including steps like funding stimulus programs targeted towards communities of color. Their ideas aim to create jobs where people of color live, and empower black-owned businesses to hire people from their backyards.
President Obama is famous for responding to such suggestions by saying “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Yet, it is hard to agree with the assertion that specific programs for blacks are not necessary, if the economy is doing well. The fact that black unemployment is usually twice the national rate regardless of the nation’s economic state points to the fact that other elements are at play. While African-Americans need to take more responsibility for making themselves employment-ready, the sad fact is that even the college educated are considered less attractive to many employers than white ex-cons.
Facts like these cannot be ignored. The crime of persistently higher black unemployment must be addressed. But instead of looking to President Obama, perhaps blacks should take their leaders to task at the local level. That is where the failure of politicians to address our needs is hitting home.
(Network Journal) — Here’s a happy fact: For most Americans, paychecks are getting a tad bigger this year. How much bigger? Starting this month, the typical employee making $50,000 a year will take home an extra $83 a month, or roughly $1,000 a year. The bump in take-home pay, enacted in late December as part of Congress’ tax-cut extension bill, drops Social Security contributions — for this year only — from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent on wages up to $106,800.
(Washington Post) — As a key piece of President Obama’s signature tax-cut package begins boosting paychecks this month, American workers will confront a critical question that could determine the pace of country’s economic recovery: Spend or save? One of the most visible components of the $858 billion plan passed by Congress is a 2-percentage-point reduction in the federal payroll tax for all workers that will last through the year. The administration hopes the increase in take-home pay – about $1,000 for an average family, according to White House estimates – will boost consumer spending, which in turn drives the nation’s economy.
(Chicago Sun Times) — A stimulus program that has given job training and work experience to 26,000 low-income Illinoisans will end today unless Congress extends its funding. Gov. Quinn extended the “Put Illinois to Work” program for two months past its original Sept. 30 expiration date by allocating $75 million in state money on Sept. 29. Now that the state money is set to expire, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. package Durbin (D.-Ill.) said the senator would like to see funding to extend the program included in today’s talks at the White House and in Congress about extending the Bush-era tax cuts.