All Articles Tagged "unemployment"
More jobs numbers today and, as has been the case for the last long while, the results are a mixed bag.
Applications for unemployment benefits went up by 38,000 for the week ending January 26, bringing the figure to 368,000. However, the four-week average was 352,000, which is actually a four-week low.
“The volatility reflects the government’s difficulty adjusting the data to account for layoffs after the holiday shopping season. Job cuts typically spike the second week in January as retailers dismiss temporary employees hired for the winter holidays. Layoffs then fall in the second half of the month,” writes USA Today.
The article references analyst predictions that, for the month of January, 155,000 jobs were added and the unemployment rate will remain at 7.8 percent.
The last jobs figures for the black population earlier this month show a rise in unemployment, with joblessness among African Americans reaching 14 percent in December. It was 13.2 percent in November.
These figures show persistent economic softness, which isn’t helped by the rising cost of some items, and rising taxes. Social Security payroll taxes rose back to 2010 levels at 6.2 percent this year, which is biting into middle and lower income budgets.
Then, in case you’re still sending things via snail mail (every once in a while, I guess you have to), a first-class stamp is now 46 cents.
More significantly, fees for credit card use can now be levied in 40 states. Individual businesses in these states can choose to charge four percent more if a customer uses a credit card. The new charge is the result of a $6 billion settlement between the banks, credit card companies, and merchants. The fee is equal to the cost of accepting the card. Reuters points out that the fee is illegal in a number of states including New York and California.
But not everything is so doom and gloom. Thirteen states, including New Jersey and Maryland, have put minimum wage increases in place. The federal minimum wage is $7.25, but places like Rhode Island have a minimum of $7.75. “A 2011 summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 73.9 million American workers over the age of 16 were paid at hourly rates, of which 1.7 million earned minimum wage,” writes USA Today in a separate article.
New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie rejected a proposal to raise the minimum wage in his state bu $1.25 immediately, instead proposing a dollar increase phased in over three years. Democratic Senator Tom Harkin has suggested a federal minimum wage increase to $9.80 over three years along with cost of living adjustments. Some say the increased wages would put businesses, particularly small businesses, in a bind. But the article says the increases reflect a “transition” from recession to an economy in recovery.
In fact, CNNMoney says the economic turnaround is so positive, it’s part of the reason energy prices are going up. Although it’s expected that, for the year, the price of gas will top out at $3.25 to $3.50 per gallon, lower than last year’s average. Housing prices, construction and other indicators are also pointing in a positive direction.
A quick look online shows that while there are signals that the economy is coming around, it’s still a slow, hard slog that’s going to require diligence, good policy, and strategy on a national level. It’s going to require the same thing individually in our personal bank accounts and budgets.
Whether a job cut is expected or unexpected, it can be a harsh blow. Rent is due on the 1st, the car insurance in due on the 2nd, and possibly baby number three is due in a couple of months. When the unexpected happens and your financial lifestyle is threatened, it could be unnerving, leaving you feeling powerless and and fearful for the not-so-distant future.
Don’t feel trapped by the binds of finances and money. Prepare better for unexpected financial situations that could put you in a bind, like unemployment, children or a sudden rent increase with a few of these money-tightening techniques.
It may be time to move if you live in one of these cities. Although the unemployment numbers are improving, there are some places where it is extremely difficult to get a job.
According to the latest data, the number of Americans requesting unemployment benefits fell to a five-year low of 330,000, reports financial news and opinion website 24/7 Wall St. The site reviewed the 10 metro areas with the highest unemployment rates in the country by using the latest figures available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Natural disaster played a part in the loss of jobs in two of the cities on the list — Atlantic City and Ocean City, New Jersey — both of which were in the path of Superstorm Sandy. “Unemployment skyrocketed in November in both cities. In Ocean City, the jobless rate jumped from 11.8% in October to 14.5% in November,” writes the website.
Southern and central California, and southern Arizona are other areas that had high unemployment rates. “These areas, unlike the New Jersey cities, have low income populations and extremely high poverty rates. In El Centro, California, which had the second-highest unemployment rate in the country of 27.5% in November, more than one quarter of the population is living below the poverty line,” found 24/7 Wall St.
When determining the 10 metropolitan statistical areas with the highest unemployment rates, 24/7 Wall St. also included U.S. Census Bureau data for poverty, income, high school and college attainment levels, and employment by sector, all from 2011.
Here are the top 5:
1. Yuma, Ariz.
12-month unemployment change: 1.2 percentage points
Percentage of population living below poverty line: 21.8%
More than 10 percent of the metro Yuma labor force works in agriculture, which are mostly seasonal jobs. 24/7 Wall St. found that the median household income was also quite low at $38,390 — more than $12,000 below the national median.
2. El Centro, Calif. (Alexis)
12-month unemployment change: -2.3 percentage points
Percentage below poverty line: 26.8%
Things haven’t gotten much better the El Centro. “In November 2011, El Centro had an unemployment rate of 28.9%, then the highest of any metropolitan area in the U.S. Twelve months later, El Centro’s unemployment rate was still the nation’s second-highest, at 26.6%,” writes 24/7 Wall St. Like Yuma, most of he jobs in this city are seasonal.
3. Yuba City, Calif.
12-month unemployment change: -0.8 percentage points
Pct. below poverty line: 16.3%
Like the top two cities, Yuba City’s economy is very dependent on agriculture. But things seem to be improving here because of an increase in construction work. Employment in this area actually rose 24 percent between August 2011 and August 2012, more than all metro areas in the country, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
4. Merced, Calif.
12-month unemployment change: -0.7 percentage points
Pct. below poverty line: 27.4%
Despite the high unemployment number, the rate had fallen by 0.7 percentage points over the twelve months ending in November. Seasonal agricultural work along with a lack of formal education are big problems here. “As of 2011, just 65.2% of the area’s residents had at least a high school diploma versus 85.9% for the U.S. as a whole,” says 24/7 Wall St.
5. Atlantic City-Hammonton, N.J.
Unemployment: 14.5% (tied-5th lowest)
12-month unemployment change: 2.2 percentage points
Pct. below poverty line: 13.4%
Things could turn around a bit as construction work increases as they start to rebuild the city. Unfortunately, according to 24/7 Wall St., many of the construction workers will come in from out of the state.
Rev. Jesse Jackson, Wall Street Project Economic Summit To Address Financial Issues Facing the Black Community
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Citizenship Education Fund are hosting the 16th Annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit, a gathering that will bring together politicians, business leaders, academics, and others to discuss the economic issues facing the black community and how to overcome them.
Among the familiar names that will be in attendance are President Bill Clinton, Rev. Al Sharpton, New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and California Rep. Maxine Waters. Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, will be the special honoree at a fundraiser gala. And the topics up for discussion include career management, “the business of hip hip,” public contracts and procurement, advertising and minority media, and building minority businesses. The event is taking place Wednesday, January 30 to Friday, February 1. Madame Noire will be there, reporting back all the interesting info we gather.
Before that, Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, held a teleconference with the media today to talk about what we can expect from the event. Media outlets participating besides Madame Noire included The Huffington Post and The Grio.
“Our politics are up, but our economy is down,” Rev. Jackson said during his opening remarks. Some of the afflictions that ail minority businesses and neighborhoods are the lack of access to capital, credit, and investment, he continued.
“There’s a focus on the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling, but we’re still facing poverty,” he said. He also emphasized the devastating effect that personal financial ruin are having on black-owned businesses and black communities.
“When plants close… when homes are targeted and foreclosed on, and people driven to bankruptcy, there’s no market. The community dries up,” he said. He was responding to a question we asked about the need for black businesses to hire blacks as a way to lower the persistently high unemployment rate among African Americans.
In poverty-stricken areas, Rev. Jackson called for “day care, transportation, job training, and jobs.” He also highlighted the effect of “devastating redlining” and other practices at financial institutions that have been detrimental.
For more information about The Wall Street Project Economic Summit, click here.
Some people will find a fatter paycheck for 2013. At the start of the year, 10 states raised their minimum wage: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The states raised wages between 10 and 35 cents, which will result in an extra $190 to $510 per year into the pocket of the average minimum-wage worker, according to Reuters.
A recent National Employment Law Project study found that the wage increase for the ten states will affect pay for 995,000 American workers. African-Americans make up about 15.1 percent of the 73.9 million minimum-wage earners in the U.S., reports The Grio.
But according to some, the minimum wage increase may not be good news for African Americans. Past data has shown that with minimum wages increases, employment drops, reports The Grio in a separate story. And African Americans have a higher unemployment rate than others.
A research study by David Neumark of the Employment Policies Institute, found that even “a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage will decrease minority employment by 3.9 percent, with the majority of the burden falling on minority teenagers by 6.6 percent,” the story says. The study also found that for “every 10 percent increase in the minimum wage, African-American or Hispanic males aged 16 to 24 and 20 to 24 experienced a decrease in employment by 6.3 percent and 5.5 percent respectively.”
December jobs numbers remained steady, with the unemployment rate for the month holding at 7.8 percent. A total of 155,000 jobs were added for the month.
There had been fears that the fiscal cliff impasse was going to drive unemployment higher. But, the Los Angeles Times says, rebuilding following Hurricane Sandy probably had a positive impact on hiring in the construction area, with 30,000 jobs added. Manufacturing numbers were aided by robust car sales, with 14.5 million cars sold, a 13 percent increase on the year.
Also on the good side: layoffs are on the decline, the housing market is picking up, and fewer people are signing up for unemployment benefits.
But overall, hiring isn’t picking up fast enough to surpass 2011 figures, the article notes. USA Today has a chart that showcases the decline in the unemployment rate over the past year. But, keep in mind, some people have left the workforce. Overall, the country added 1.8 million jobs for the year, the same total as 2011. According to CBS News, the five years of this “Great Recession” have seen a loss of 3.9 million jobs, 75 percent from the private sector. There were eight million job losses in 2008 and 2009 with 4.7 million recovered over the past three years.
Experts predict that the unemployment rate will fall a little more in 2013, to 7.7 percent. CBS provides a breakdown of the sectors that are hiring the most (retail lost 11,000 jobs).
a numberWith these numbers in mind, people are getting very resourceful about making money, starting jobs, creating jobs, and doing a little something on the side to make some extra cash. We’ve written about of people who are doing just that (and we’re always looking for more great ideas).
Past deadline and kind of grudgingly, the House of Representatives passed legislation last night that will avoid big tax increases on the middle class, stopping our fall down the fiscal cliff. You’ll remember that technically, this was supposed to happen before January 1. But better late than never right? (Wrong, but OK.)
The margin for passage was 257 to 167; 85 Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner and former Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan voted in favor, The New York Times reports. However, Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor (VA) and the number three Representative from California, Kevin McCarthy, did not. The Senate approved the legislation the day before by a margin of 89 to 8, and there was some fear that the House was going to let it die amid amendments and debate. A rejection of the legislation would’ve meant not only a rejection of something that the Democrats and President Obama largely supported, but also a rejection of House Speaker Boehner and the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, who played a big role in crafting the legislation. (The Speaker already had one of his proposals voted down by his fellow Republicans.) Many policy experts and pundits on Twitter argued that if the deal hadn’t passed, the Republicans would take the blame. Even with the legislation’s passage, there are many who say this process will reflect poorly on the Republicans in the long run.
For the first time in 20 years, income taxes on the wealthiest will rise. Those individuals with an income over $400,000 and families with an income over $450,000 will pay more taxes. The tax cuts for those below that level are permanent. Payroll taxes, however, will increase. Politico has a breakdown of how that will impact your paycheck, via the AP and the Tax Policy Center. A sample:
Annual income: $40,000 to $50,000 — Average tax increase: $579 … Annual income: $50,000 to $75,000 — Average tax increase: $822 … Annual income: $75,000 to $100,000 — Average tax increase: $1,206 …
Unemployment benefits will also continue for two million people who were at risk of losing them. And spending cuts that were supposed to start today have been put off until March. “Conservatives complained bitterly that the legislation would raise taxes without making any significant cuts in government spending,” The Washington Post says. We’ve also avoided the dairy cliff, so go ahead and keep on drinking milk America!
During a press conference last night with Vice President Joe Biden, President Obama said the legislation will result in $620 billion in revenue for the country. But in just two short months, the fight will be on again as Congress discusses raising the debt ceiling (a debate that had everyone on edge in 2011) and sequestration, aka spending cuts.
There are also concerns that with these fights looming, the President won’t be able to address some of the other important issues that need to be tackled, like immigration, gun violence, and other changes to the tax code.
“Others are more optimistic, though, suggesting that even contentious issues such as immigration won’t be as politically perilous as raising taxes. Rewriting immigration laws is a complex task, but many Republicans and Democrats are motivated to pass legislation in an effort to appeal to the growing number of Hispanic voters,” writes The Wall Street Journal.
Social networks aren’t just for socializing. Increasingly, there is a mandate for using one’s social network for professional advancement. Unfortunately, African Americans are reluctant to do that. Or their social networks lack the power to help the unemployed find a job.
According to the National Journal, these weak networks create “concentrated disadvantages.” There are some who simply don’t use their networks to their advantage. And others who try, but face hurdles.
“One is just numbers: Few blacks are in top positions empowered to make hiring decisions, notes Algernon Austin, director of the race, ethnicity, and the economy program at the Economic Policy Institute,” the article says.
Add to that the racism and stereotypes that exist and you have a situation where the high black unemployment rate (about double that of whites) could stick around until 2015, a half-century trend for the black population.
“[E. Faye] Williams reminds members of the National Congress of Black Women to broaden their networks and to not discount anyone, even those in entry-level positions, when developing professional networks,” the article says.
Just recently, we offered these tips for getting the most out of your LinkedIn account. National Journal also suggests a proactive approach to the job search; having resumes at the ready and submitting them, even if there explicitly isn’t a job opening available.
We’d also suggest that you make the most of industry groups. Many professions have an organization that hosts networking events, mixers, and classes that offer the opportunity to meet people and get your name out there. Oftentimes, there are even more than one that you can join — one for the profession as a whole and others for ethnic groups within the profession. Even if it costs a little bit, the annual fee is worth it. And be sure that you’re using your face time to push your professional credentials. Making friends is fine, but the reason you (and everyone else) is there is for career advancement. In this case, it’s totally acceptable to be all business.
More jobs numbers…
Unemployment claims figures for the week ending December 22 fell to their lowest point since March 2008, with the number of first-time applicants decreasing to 12,000 from 350,000. But those numbers could have been impacted by the holiday, with the Labor Department unable to pull together all data from offices that were closed on Monday and Tuesday.
“The recent decline in unemployment benefit applications suggests companies are not yet slashing jobs because of concerns over the ‘fiscal cliff,’” the AP (via USA Today) reports. “Still, unemployment remains high and companies are reluctant to ramp up hiring.”
Last we checked, monthly unemployment numbers (a better barometer for the state of the economy) had reached a four-year low of 7.7 percent in November. The AP notes that there are other signs of improvement, like orders coming in for manufactured goods, and more construction jobs, signaling a stronger housing market.
But stymied holiday sales numbers indicate that consumers are still worried about whether their taxes are going to go up if we go over that aforementioned fiscal cliff.
Unemployment numbers for the black community have consistently been higher (in some cases, double) those of the nationwide average. Right before Christmas, BET founder Robert Johnson called on President Obama to do something about closing that gap.
“Johnson, the billionaire chairman of the RLJ Companies and founder of Black Entertainment Television, said the disparity could be narrowed if Obama encouraged U.S. corporations to voluntarily embrace a plan to interview at least two qualified minority candidates for every job at the vice president level or above,” reported The Washington Post. “He said companies should also interview two minority-owned firms for vendor supply and other contracts.” A similar rule is in effect for the National Football League, the article continues.
There has been much publicity this shopping season about supporting black-owned stores. It was made a little easier for shoppers with the Around the Way app that locates black-owned businesses in your area, but here’s a site you might want to keep in mind for the final hours of your gift hunt –Ujamaa Deals.
Ujamaa Market is the online store for Ujamaa Deals, which is a daily deals site and online store that features products from black-owned companies. And you get a discount as an added incentive to support them.
Ujamaa deals was founded to not only encourage consumers to shop at black-owned businesses, but on the concept that if more people frequent these businesses it would boost employment in the black community.
“My business partner, Lawrence Watkins, and I both recognized the need to make it easier for African Americans to support black-owned businesses and we didn’t think simply creating another black business directory was enough. We looked at the daily deals model (e.g. Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.) and thought that would be a good approach, so that’s where we started. Since then we’ve evolved to a more traditional e-commerce site, so while we still feature deals from time to time, customers can purchase the products we feature even after the deal ends,” Tre Baker, CEO of Ujamaa, explained to us in an email.
The partners wanted to combat this staggering statistic: African Americans spend more than 90 percent of their money with businesses they don’t own.
Ujamaa is on a mission. “Black-owned companies are more likely to hire black employees,” said Baker. ”Therefore, the best way to increase black employment is not to beg or demand that other companies hire so-called ‘minorities’ like Bob Johnson suggests, it is to support our own companies so they can grow and afford to hire more people. Affirmative action style policies can only take us so far. We need to start relying on ourselves for full employment.”
Ujamaa finds black-owned businesses via their own research and through submissions. “Once we’ve decided that their products would be a good fit for us, we verify their ownership and upload their products to our site,” Baker says of the process. “There are some key product categories we want to focus on. Right now our attention is on bath and body products so we’ll eventually have the largest online selection of soaps, lotions, hair products, etc., from black-owned companies.”
According to Baker, there is an increase in consumers looking to patronize black-owned businesses as the site is seeing more and more requests. “But our biggest challenge has been finding quality black-owned businesses with great products that people want to buy and convincing them to join us,” said Baker. “It’s going to be a long process, but as long as we keep supporting other businesses before our own, we’ll always have a problem with employment and wealth inequality. I think most African Americans understand this and just need a convenient way to support black businesses. “
Have you patronized black-owned businesses this holiday season?