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Cool, cool summer: 164K jobs added in July

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The labor force hit a record high, but otherwise the July jobs report was rather unspectacular. The addition of 164,000 new jobs landed almost squarely on economists’ expectations, and wages grew slightly better than expected. However, the pace of job creation remains slower than in 2018:

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 164,000 in July, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Notable job gains occurred in professional and technical services, health care, social assistance, and financial activities. …

In July, the number of persons unemployed less than 5 weeks increased by 240,000 to 2.2 million, while the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined by 248,000 to 1.2 million. The long-term unemployed accounted for 19.2 percent of the unemployed. (See table A12.)

In July, the labor force participation rate was 63.0 percent, and the employment-population ratio was 60.7 percent. Both measures were little changed over the month and over the year. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) declined by 363,000 in July to 4.0 million. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. Over the past 12 months, the number of involuntary part-time workers has declined by 604,000. (See table A-8.)

The unemployment rate stayed steady at 3.7%, but it ticked up slightly in some subcategories. The biggest jump was a 0.7% increase among Asian-Americans, followed by a 0.2% increase among Hispanic workers. Unemployment ticked up among college graduates too, although that was offset by gains among workers with high school diplomas or less. The U-6 unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in nearly 20 years to 7%, however, a good sign that the overhang from the Great Recession has finally evaporated.

The same kind of mixed signals runs through the entire report. While the pace of job creation in July surpasses that needed to keep up with population growth, it doesn’t surpass it by much. It’s a maintenance pace, not anywhere near a breakout rate suggesting sharper upward growth or much optimism by employers for such. The revisions to the previous two months also shaved off 31,000 net new jobs, making 2019 look much less impressive than last year:

Westlake Legal Group bls-2019-07 Cool, cool summer: 164K jobs added in July workforce participation rate wages The Blog jobs report Economy 2020 Elections

In 2018, the US economy had more than half its months at or above 200K jobs added and two near-misses. Thus far in 2019, we have only had one with one near-miss. The labor market has tightened, to be sure, which is why wage growth continues upward and why July set a new record for the size of the labor force. However, the pressure for new jobs seems to have plateaued, and that should concern the Trump administration as it heads into a re-election campaign.

CNBC’s Jeff Cox sees the glass half full:

The Labor Department reported Friday that payrolls increased 164,000 during the month, just 1,000 below the 165,000 Dow Jones forecast. This also was about the average monthly gain for the year. In 2018, the economy created 223,000 jobs a month.

Wages also continued to increase, with the 3.2% year-over-year gain topping expectations by one-tenth of a percentage point. Average weekly hours edged lower to 34.3.

Economists had expected the unemployment rate to drop to 3.6%, which would have tied a 50-year low, but an influx of 370,000 new workers to the labor force brought the participation rate up to 63%, its highest since March. The total labor force of 163.4 million is a new record. …

The report comes amid worries that the U.S. economy could slide into recession in 2020, owing to a weaker global outlook and worries over the escalating trade war with China. Federal Reserve officials voted Wednesday to cut their benchmark interest rat a quarter percentage point, citing the global slowdown as well as concerns over weak inflation.

Reuters takes the glass-half-empty approach:

U.S. job growth slowed in July and wages picked up moderately, which together with an escalation in trade tensions between the United States and China could give the Federal Reserve ammunition to cut interest rates again next month. …

The U.S.-China trade war is taking a toll on manufacturing, with production declining for two straight quarters. Business investment has also been hit, contracting in the second quarter for the first time in more than three years and contributing to holding back the economy to a 2.1% annualized growth rate. The economy grew at a 3.1% pace in the first quarter.

July payrolls marked a further deceleration in job growth from an average of 223,000 per month in 2018. Economists say it is unclear whether the loss of momentum in hiring was due to ebbing demand for labor or a shortage of qualified workers.

Still, the pace of job growth remains well above the roughly 100,000 needed per month to keep up with growth in the working-age population. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7% in July.

Real wage growth continues, so it may be more of a lack of labor. With so many people jumping into the labor force now, however, that wage growth may not sustain itself for too much longer without a new round of dynamic job creation. For an administration that makes Main Street economy its calling card, the lukewarm jobs reports in 2019 should start being a big concern.

The post Cool, cool summer: 164K jobs added in July appeared first on Hot Air.

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Economy slows to 2.1% GDP, but still beats expectations; Trump: “Not bad”

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It’s not great news for the White House, but it could have been a lot worse. The US economy’s growth slowed to 2.1% in the second quarter, down a full point from Q1. However, with economists predicting a recession right around the corner, the growth is still substantial enough to look positive:

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the second quarter of 2019 (table 1), according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 3.1 percent.

The Bureau’s second-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see “Source Data for the Advance Estimate” on page 2). The “second” estimate for the second quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on August 29, 2019.

The increase in real GDP in the second quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), federal government spending, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by negative contributions from private inventory investment, exports, nonresidential fixed investment and residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased (table 2).

The deceleration in real GDP in the second quarter reflected downturns in inventory investment, exports, and nonresidential fixed investment. These downturns were partly offset by accelerations in PCE and federal government spending.

One point was unalloyed good news for Donald Trump. Disposable personal income leaped upward by almost 5% in Q2, the result of a tight labor market and continued economic expansion. It follows a similar jump in Q1 and is at least one factor in the best increase in consumer spending in nearly two years.

There are other glimmers of hope as well. Final sales of domestic product increased by 3.0% in Q2, which suggests that retailers burned through inventory backlogs over the last three months. If consumer spending stays high, new orders should begin to make up that difference. Yesterday’s durable-goods report showing an increase of 2.0% in June, following a -2.3% decline in May, suggests that better news is on the way. Also, exports took a big hit in Q2, dropping 5.2% while imports stayed mainly static. If that’s a one-time glitch, then Q3 should be cheerier, but that might depend on whether Trump can draw his trade wars to a close.

No other issue is more important to Trump than the economy. Despite all of the other controversies and noise around Trump, some of them created and stoked by Trump himself, none of them are as do-or-die as the economy. As long as the economy keeps growing and producing real wage increases for workers, Trump can win re-election. Any kind of slowdown makes him vulnerable, and even this 2.1% rate might raise eyebrows.

So far, though, the media is breathing sighs of relief. CNBC’s Jeff Cox notes that recession fears will likely recede now:

Growth decelerated in the second quarter, but not by as much as Wall Street thought, as tariffs and a global slowdown weighed on the U.S. economy, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

GDP increased 2.1%, down from 3.1% from the first quarter, the weakest increase since the first quarter of 2017 as President Donald Trump took office. Dow Jones estimates were for 2% growth.

However, the underlying numbers in the report seemed to take steam out of the recession fears that have been much of the talk among economists and policymakers at the Federal Reserve.

“The recession talk was always overstated,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors. “Those that were doing the Chicken Little, the sky is falling, we’re headed for recession talk were clearly early in that assessment. The economic data continue to suggest that the economy isn’t near recession, at least in the next year or so.”

Trump needs that to be more like … eighteen months. To get that, though, he’ll have to settle accounts with China and get the USMCA passed in Congress.

Update: Stock markets are sharply up as this update is being written, with investors apparently agreeing with Trump’s overall assessment:

“Not bad” is a little bit of an understatement, actually. It’s pretty good, especially in the context of the global economy. That’s the bigger anchor, especially the trade disputes that at least for one quarter hit our exports hard.

The post Economy slows to 2.1% GDP, but still beats expectations; Trump: “Not bad” appeared first on Hot Air.

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Oh yes: Bernie Sanders’s campaign hit with … federal labor complaint

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What can one say about this?

Except that it’s the greatest day in American political history, I mean.

Am I still an atheist after reading it? I don’t know. I just. don’t. know.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 2020 presidential campaign has been hit with an unfair labor practice complaint alleging illegal employee interrogation and retaliation against staffers.

The July 19 complaint to the National Labor Relations Board, filed by an unnamed individual in Indiana, was posted to the agency’s website late July 22. It comes as tense negotiations between the Sanders campaign and the union representing staffers recently boiled over publicly. The Washington Post reported July 23 that unionized organizers for the campaign had won a pay raise and reached a compromise to reduce the hours of some workers.

A copy of the charge has not yet been made public, but the agency’s July 22 docket lists five potential violations of the National Labor Relations Act. The charge also alleges that the campaign unlawfully discharged an employee, modified a labor contract, and engaged in illegal discipline.

Illegal employee interrogation, eh? On the one hand, Bloomberg notes that anyone can file a complaint with the NLRB. Conceivably this could be nothing more than baseless mischief-making by a political enemy aiming to capitalize on public attention to Team Bernie’s labor troubles lately, knowing that righties like me are going to snuggle this story like a new puppy. File the complaint, generate the bad headline, and trust that no one will be paying attention when it turns out a month from now that there was nothing to it. Damage done.

But there’s also this recent quote from Bernie himself when he was asked about not paying his field organizers an (average) $15 hourly wage, which of course he believes should be the statutory minimum as a matter of national policy:

“It does bother me that people are going outside of the process and going to the media,” he said. “That is really not acceptable. It is really not what labor negotiations are about, and it’s improper.”

So management was mad at labor for leaking to the press, and now here’s a complaint claiming that managers interrogated employees illegally and even retaliated against them. Hmmm.

We’re like two days away from Bernie sending in Pinkerton goons to crack heads.

Actually, and alas, the fun we’ve been having with the Sanders campaign’s labor problems seems to be ending. Top officials reached a deal with the union this afternoon to boost the pay of field organizers to $42,000 per year in return for extending the work week from five days to six — with an important caveat:

The deal would extend the workweek from five days to six days. But it also would clarify that the expected hours worked each week would be 50. The changes would mean that if the organizers are working 50-hour weeks, then they would make an annual salary equivalent to more than $15 per hour, which Sanders has said for years should be the federal minimum. But if they work longer hours, which the union said could happen, even voluntarily, then the equivalent hourly rate could drop below that threshold.

Sounds to me like all they did here was give everyone a raise in exchange for labor agreeing to maintain the fiction that they’re only working 50 hours a week on average going forward. That solves everyone’s political problem by producing an average hourly wage greater than $15, but in reality, now that they’re coming into the office six days a week instead of five, they’re going to end up working more than 50 hours weekly “voluntarily.” They were already working an average of 60 before this dispute began, in fact. Maybe private employers could use that dodge if and when they get stuck with a national $15 hourly minimum wage. Workers get $15 an hour for their first 30 hours, say, and then the next 10-20 after that consists of “volunteering.” Sounds like a plan.

The post Oh yes: Bernie Sanders’s campaign hit with … federal labor complaint appeared first on Hot Air.

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Union to Bernie, Inc: Give us the $15 per hour you’re promising everyone else

Westlake Legal Group SandersBernieGrimace715Editd Union to Bernie, Inc: Give us the $15 per hour you’re promising everyone else wages union The Blog minimum wage Bernie Sanders

If you have any leftover popcorn from the Wokeback Mountain War, time to get it out. Bernie Sanders has demanded an immediate increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour for years, and has been a persistent advocate for unions. When the union representing his campaign workers demanded that wage for Bernie’s own employees, however, the Washington Post discovers that Bernie Inc has much different ideas about wages and unions:

Unionized campaign organizers working for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential effort are battling with its management, arguing that the compensation and treatment they are receiving does not meet the standards Sanders espouses in his rhetoric, according to internal communications.

Campaign field hires have demanded an annual salary they say would be equivalent to a $15-an-hour wage, which Sanders for years has said should be the federal minimum. The organizers and other employees supporting them have invoked the senator’s words and principles in making their case to campaign manager Faiz Shakir, the documents reviewed by The Washington Post show.

Sanders has made standing up for workers a central theme of his presidential campaigns — this year marching with McDonald’s employees seeking higher wages, pressing Walmart shareholders to pay workers more and showing solidarity with university personnel on strike. The independent from Vermont has proudly touted his campaign as the first presidential effort to unionize its employees, and his defense of the working class has been a signature element of his brand of democratic socialism and a rallying cry for the populist movement he claims to lead.

The Sanders campaign has been fighting this demand since May, according to the internal communications reviewed by the Washington Post. After being asked for comment, both the campaign and the union lauded the unique nature of the union-employer relationship in the campaign industry. The union bragged about the “myriad protections and benefits” accorded to members through its contract, and Team Bernie declared that their willingness to work with a union showed that Sanders is “the most pro-worker and pro-labor candidate running for president.”

All of which is arguably true, as it’s still the only presidential campaign to organize its workforce. But what about the wages? After all, Bernie wants to force all American employers to pay a base rate of $15 per hour. Is he willing to put his money where his mouth is?

So far, no, and the union plans to make people aware of the “poverty wages” being provided by that exploiter of the proletariat:

A draft letter union members earlier had prepared to send Shakir as soon as this week said that the field organizers “cannot be expected to build the largest grassroots organizing program in American history while making poverty wages. Given our campaign’s commitment to fighting for a living wage of at least $15.00 an hour, we believe it is only fair that the campaign would carry through this commitment to its own field team.”

The draft letter estimated that field organizers were working 60 hours per week at minimum, dropping their average hourly pay to less than $13. It said that “many field staffers are barely managing to survive financially, which is severely impacting our team’s productivity and morale. Some field organizers have already left the campaign as a result.”

This gets to a little deception from Team Bernie that any real employer could have warned would eventually backfire. The union contract guarantees a salary of $36,000, not a base hourly wage. (Interns get paid by the hour at $15, however.) As anyone who has transitioned from hourly to salary knows, employers like to pay salaries because they can demand more hours worked without paying for overtime. The $36K level, divided by the normal annual work hours in a year (2,080), comes to $17.31 per hour. If Bernie Sanders’ field organizers are working 60 hours a week, however, that comes to 3,12o hours in a year and drops their per-hour rate to … $11.54 per hour. These workers would literally do better working at Wal-Mart, one of Bernie’s bêtes noires.

But wait — there’s more! This hourly-to-salary dodge is well known and usually treated harshly by the National Labor Relations Board and the Department of Labor. Most employers would get called on the carpet for putting non-supervisory employees — and sometimes non-management — on salary with constant demands for overtime work. However, since Team Bernie employees set their own terms through their union representation, they may not be able to sue for back wages in the way that other employees might in the private sector for misclassifying their compensation.

Why would a union negotiate a contract for front-line employees that denied them access to legitimate overtime? This sounds like a sweatshop arrangement, not a breakthrough for political campaigns. It’s trapping their members in exploitative work conditions. Isn’t that what unionizing is supposed to prevent?

So much for the Bernie Sanders workers’ paradise. And so much for the benefits of union representation, especially when the unions have a bigger investment in the employer than the employee.

The post Union to Bernie, Inc: Give us the $15 per hour you’re promising everyone else appeared first on Hot Air.

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Nicky Morgan: The danger of Putin and the danger of populism

Nicky Morgan is Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, a former Education Secretary, and MP for Loughborough.

In 2016, Michael Fallon, then Defence Secretary, said to the Defence Select Committee that leaving the EU would be an “extraordinarily irresponsible thing to do at a very dangerous moment”, adding that it would be “absolutely applauded in Moscow”.

It is notable that Vladimir Putin chose the G20 summit to denounce liberalism and trumpet the growth of national populist movements. The challenge for those of us who think that liberal democracy is still the right path to follow is how we push back against the Russian President’s statements.

Whether Brexit is a symptom or the cause of the rise of populism in the UK is a moot point. But the UK is not immune from the growth of populism, which can also be seen in the US and in other EU countries.

And there is no doubt that, for a number of reasons, the political and wider ‘establishment’ has either created or not addressed the conditions in which populism flourishes. The MPs expenses scandal, the financial and banking crisis, the resultant lack of wage growth, the seeming unwillingness to address people’s concerns about immigration have all contributed to a feeling that ‘the people at the top’ just aren’t listening.

Into that mix, it is easy to see how a few strong voices claiming to represent ‘the will of the people’, and denouncing the ‘metropolitian liberal elite’, have stoked the flames of populism.

Already we begin to see the dangers of accepting that liberalism has run its course. On Friday night, David Gauke had to face a no-confidence motion tabled by some in his local Party. Such a motion stems from the notion amongst some new(ish) members of our Party that if you aren’t a full-blooded Brexiteer then there should be no place for you in the Conservative Party of 2019. This is wrong.

A liberal, tolerant and open approach to our politics and to national debate is being repeatedly challenged until those who believe in it are left weary and feeling isolated. The populist approach is always to find an ‘other’, which more and more people to criticise until that ‘other’ is left isolated and lacking in support – witness the fact that being reconciled to Brexit isn’t enough: we are now expected to actively believe in it.

This is not a problem confined merely to the right of British politics. Local Labour parties have been testing the commitment to Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum for a while, and are now preparing to de-select those who don’t pass the test.

We are at a dangerous crossroads in Western politics. Our future Conservative Party leadership needs to address both quickly and effectively the problems which have led to the rise of populism, but they need to do so in a way which doesn’t fan the flames.

So, for example we need an approach which makes it clear that we can both control immigration whilst recognising that our economy needs immigrants, and that we have a proud track record of welcoming many millions of people who have chosen to make the UK their home. We need to work out a way to update our representative parliamentary democracy whilst recognising that it is still the best system of governance (a tip: let’s avoid any further referendums).  We need to work out a way to sustain and enhance wage growth while updating the skills of many workers who left education a long time ago. And we need to work out a way to value multiculturalism whilst being clearer and less apologetic about our own British values.

Conservative Party MPs and members have several choices before them. The key one is not actually who becomes leader: it is about whether we choose to allow Putin to write off our liberal democratic system, or show that we will do what we do best as Conservatives – keep the bits that are working and find a way to update the bits that aren’t, without acceding to the siren voices of populism.

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In Hilarious Turn of Events, Vox Employees Walk Out Over Wages After Targeting Steven Crowder

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If you’ve been on the internet the past two days, you probably know about Vox’s crusade against Steven Crowder. Carlos Maza, host of a silly show called “Strikethrough,” got his feelings hurt over a few jokes and decided it was his duty to try to banish Crowder from YouTube.

In what’s been a confusing back and forth, YouTube has settled on demonetizing Crowder’s channel until he deletes the link to a “socialism is for figs” t-shirt.

(Steven Crowder Live Streams Update on His Situation As Carlos Maza Keeps Freaking Out)

Today, Vox got a break from going after conservative content creators though, and it wasn’t exactly voluntary.

Writers from the site are even telling people not to click on Vox links.

Other employees at Vox took to Twitter to share their stories of not being paid a living wage (by D.C. and NY standards).

Inject this directly into my veins.

Not only is it hilarious to see Vox taking punches internally after they spent the past two days desperately trying to get Steven Crowder banned from YouTube, but it also exposes an incredible hypocritical that exists at the NBC backed outlet.

Vox is as liberal as it gets. They constantly push the idea of a “living wage” and support Democrat politicians who stump for such policies. They are also an outfit that’s had no problem targeting other companies in the past for supposedly not paying enough.

Yet, here they are paying people $30K a year to work in one of the most expensive cities in the country. It’s your typical “do as I say, not as I do” situation that permeates throughout left-wing politics.

I for one support the full unionization of Vox and all left-wing media outlets. Let them actually have to live under the system they promote and we’ll see how far they get.

In the meantime, Steven Crowder has to be laughing his head off at this turn of events.


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The post In Hilarious Turn of Events, Vox Employees Walk Out Over Wages After Targeting Steven Crowder appeared first on RedState.

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Survey: ‘Confident’ Employers Expect to Give and to Take in 2019 Bargaining

“Employers are nearly always confident that they will achieve their objectives in overall bargaining.”

Unionized employers negotiating contracts in 2019 expect to pay more in wages, while getting concessions on health care, according to Bloomberg Law’s annual Employer Bargaining Objectives survey [in PDF].

The survey, which is in its third decade of publication, reveals that, thanks to wage pressures due to the economy, unionized employers realize they will need to provide more in compensation than they have in years past.

“About three-quarters of management representatives (74%) will propose first-year pay increases in the range of 2% to 3.9% That’s up from 64% in 2018, and the highest mark since 2002,” notes Bloomberg’s Daily Labor Report (DLR).

While that is good news for unionized workers, on the flip side of the coin is the fact that “if management gains concessions on health care, that money may come straight back out again, in the form of higher premiums, deductibles, or out-of-pocket maximums,” the DLR reported.

“Almost all responding employers said they were either ‘fairly confident’ or ‘very confident’ about achieving their bargaining goals this year. This is a consistent trend in the data collected in this survey: Employers are nearly always confident that they will achieve their objectives in overall bargaining.”

Given the economy is considered to be in ‘full employment‘ with 5,762,175 job openings right now, and 89% of small manufacturers not able to fill job openings, it is not surprising that unionized firms are experiencing the same pressures to raise wages in order to fill jobs as union-free firms are.

However, as non-union earnings are rising twice as fast as union earnings, the pressure on unionized firms with expensive union health plans may be more acute.

“Jobs that saw some of the largest pay increases over the past year included cashier at 4.5 percent, a pharmacy technician at 7.8 percent, restaurant manager at 4 percent, truck driver at 5.2 percent and bank teller at 4.2 percent,” according to FoxBusiness.com


“Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.”
Andrew Breitbart 1968-2012

Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com.

The post Survey: ‘Confident’ Employers Expect to Give and to Take in 2019 Bargaining appeared first on RedState.

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Pauline Latham: Why I am voting for McVey

Pauline Latham is MP for Mid Derbyshire.

The political class has exhausted the country over the last couple of years. Deadlock in Parliament and our failure to grapple with delivering the historic referendum result has ensured that our Party has been pounded in the recent elections.

Not only do people feel ignored, but the Brexit stagnation has meant that we haven’t been able to focus on other important areas, such as health, housing, local transport, education and policing. We can’t continue blindly marching on in the same way as before. If we do, we may as well crown Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister today.

We have had a great record as a Party over the last nine years. We’ve seen the fastest growth in wages in almost a decade, record amounts of money going to the NHS, high employment levels and economic growth.

But we have become inward-looking, and seem to have stopped listening to what people out there are saying. We must re-connect, start listening to voters, remember why we’re in the political business in the first place, and start to renew that fragile bond of trust with the British people. And the way to start this is by delivering Brexit.

We need a leader who believes in Brexit, and who is passionate about us making a success of our future as an independent, self-governing nation. They must be prepared to rule out, unequivocally, any extension to our leaving date of October 31st. Businesses have prepared, the country is ready to leave the EU and it’s only politicians who seem to be lagging behind, causing endless fatigue and uncertainty for people and businesses.

The EU and our excellent civil servants have spent months agreeing an array of mini-deals so that we won’t be operating under World Trade Organisation rules alone from November 1st. Deals will be in place ensuring that planes fly, lorries can move their goods and business can continue.

So we need a clean break: no resurrecting the botched Withdrawal Agreement and no more talk of backstops. We are tired of it, we’re ready to do without a Withdrawal Agreement deal – and the only candidate who is calling for this is Esther McVey, which is why I am backing her for the leadership of our Party.

Esther is one of the rare politicians I’ve met who is able to communicate authentically with voters in all parts of the country. People hate it when politicians are not completely straight with them, and we need a leader who can reach out beyond our core supporters, and who say it as it is. We need someone who doesn’t hide behind bland, non-committal, political waffle; who isn’t posturing on Twitter but who’s out there, talking to real people and saying exactly what she thinks and what her values are. That’s the kind of straight-talking politics the public are crying out for.

Labour has been taking its northern heartlands for granted and has abandoned hard-working families and communities, who used to vote for them in favour of their metropolitan members. This is an opportunity for us as a Party ,and Esther will be able to capitalise on it. She will be able to articulate how Corbyn’s socialist plans will destroy these voters’ jobs and leave them worse off, and her Blue Collar Conservatism project demonstrates that she shares their values too.

Esther has been out in the country, talking to voters to hear what their priorities are as we move beyond Brexit. There’s one thing that people are saying, time and time again, and that’s that they want us to stop the cutting the amount of money we give to our police and schools.

The Conservatives have already made changes in education that have been transformational, but we are now risking all that by under-funding our schools. Classrooms are creaking at the seams and, whilst more money is not the answer to everything, it will make a real difference to teachers.

And our police are becoming increasingly stretched as well. There’s nothing officers in my constituency want more than to be able to do the best possible job in keeping our streets safe and stemming the tide of rising violent crime. But we have cut their budgets to the bone.

So Esther has pledged an extra £7 billion for our police and schools, allowing our public servants and communities the chance to breathe. £4 billion will go towards making up for shortfalls in the education budget and £3 billion a year extra will go our police. This works out as a huge 25 per cent boost on the current funding we are giving to the police, and nine times what the Home Secretary has promised. This debate shouldn’t involve politicians setting headline-grabbing, arbitrary numbers of police officer numbers. It should be about making a transformative shift in priorities so that the police, themselves, can develop a force that’s fit to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

And Esther has now gone further than this. She wants to enshrine the nation’s thanks to the police – for all the tireless work they do to keep us safe and to protect us – in a new Police Covenant, similar to the one we developed for our Armed Forces. We expect so much from our police and it’s time we treated them with some respect. The Police Covenant will support officers during their service and in their retirement and, importantly, part of the £3 billion will be used to ensure that officers’ pay rises in line with inflation.

This is what Blue Collar Conservatism is all about: practical, Conservative policies that will make a real difference to the lives of our hard-working communities. And it’s exactly the direction our Party needs to take, under Esther’s leadership, if we are to become a fighting force at the next election.

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Boom, ctd: Unemployment falls to 49-year low as 263,000 jobs added in April

Westlake Legal Group boom-ctd-unemployment-falls-to-49-year-low-as-263000-jobs-added-in-april Boom, ctd: Unemployment falls to 49-year low as 263,000 jobs added in April wages Unemployment The Blog jobs report Economy donald trump

Westlake Legal Group Trump-announcement Boom, ctd: Unemployment falls to 49-year low as 263,000 jobs added in April wages Unemployment The Blog jobs report Economy donald trump

The surprising GDP boom in the first quarter doesn’t look like a fluke at all. Job creation had its biggest gain in April since the first of the year, adding 263,000 jobs and sending unemployment to a 49-year low. The latter might have more to do with the vagaries of the BLS Household survey, but don’t expect the White House to quibble with those details:

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 263,000 in April, and the unemployment rate declined to 3.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Notable job gains occurred in professional and business services, construction, health care, and social assistance. …

The unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 3.6 percent in April, the lowest rate since December 1969. Over the month, the number of unemployed persons decreased by 387,000 to 5.8 million.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates declined in April for adult men (3.4 percent), adult women (3.1 percent), Whites (3.1 percent), Asians (2.2 percent), and Hispanics (4.2 percent). The jobless rates for teenagers (13.0 percent) and Blacks (6.7 percent) showed little or no change.

Among other good news, the revisions for the last two months added 16,000 jobs to the 2019 total. However, one part of the good news comes with a grain of salt. The first hint that the significant drop in the U-3 unemployment rate might not be exactly what it means comes in the workforce ratio measures. If unemployment dropped that significantly, one or both of these measures should have increased. Instead, one actually declined:

The labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 62.8 percent in April but was unchanged from a year earlier. The employment-population ratio was unchanged at 60.6 percent in April and has been either 60.6 percent or 60.7 percent since October 2018.

So what happened? The Household survey showed a decline in the workforce of 490,000, with 646,000 exiting the workforce in April. These are numbers that routinely produce fairly significant swings. This survey is basically a phone poll, while the Establishment survey gets harder data from employers. The number of jobs added comes from the Establishment survey, which shows the 263K added jobs that BLS reports as its top-line figure. At the same time, the Household survey actually shows 103,000 fewer employed people, but the big drop in the workforce creates the lower U-3 unemployment rate.

That’s not to discount the 263,000 jobs added, which is a much more reliable figure anyway. However, it’s best not to get too excited about sudden drops in the unemployment rate unless they hold through a few months first.

Even the less-rosy aspects of the report have an upside. Hours worked declined slightly, as did average weekly aggregate earnings, although hourly earnings increased just a bit. That might mean that inflation remains in check, Bloomberg notes, calling the result a miss on wages even if the rest of the report was more of an expectations-beater:

U.S. hiring topped forecasts in April as the jobless rate dipped to a fresh 49-year low and wage gains were slightly cooler than projected, suggesting the still-healthy labor market can continue to support growth without fueling inflation. …

“It’s clearly telling you this economy is still chugging along very nicely,” Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities, said on Bloomberg Television. “It is inflationary in the sense that wages did go up but they didn’t go up as much as we had expected.”

“Goldilocks is the best description of this,” Slok said.

Still, wages look like a good story in the longer term, analyst Charlie Bilello argued on Twitter:

Barron’s called it “a stunningly good jobs report,” and also pointed to the flat wage growth as a sign that that the economy wasn’t “overheating.” Reuters reported it as evidence of “solid economic growth.” As Bilello notes above, workers are still making gains on economic power if not wages explicitly.

If the White House wants an argument for re-election, this is as good as it gets — assuming it continues.

The post Boom, ctd: Unemployment falls to 49-year low as 263,000 jobs added in April appeared first on Hot Air.

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Potemkin legislation

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-04-17-at-07.25.35 Potemkin legislation Work Women and equality Women wages Treasury ToryDiary Stella Creasy MP sport Sam Coates (The Times) Sajid Javid MP rent Public Sector Northern Ireland NHS Local government and local elections Local Elections (general) Liz Truss MP Julian Assange jobs James Brokenshire MP immigration housing Home and family Highlights healthcare Health football Family and relationships exports employment Elizabeth Truss MP Economy DUP divorce disability Diane Abbott MP David Gauke MP David Blanchflower Conservatives Abortion

The ten most recent subjects covered by the Conservative Party’s Twitter feed are as follows: record employment, the provision of free sanitary products in primary schools, Conservative councils recycling more than Labour ones, more statistics about work and wages, record women’s employment, workers’ rights, an exports increase, more disabled people in employment, an end to no fault evictions, Conservative councils fixing more potholes than Labour ones, banning upskirting, funding more toilets at motorway service areas to help people living with complex disabilities, Sajid Javid criticising Diane Abbott over Julian Assange, kicking out racism in football, and a new law to protect service animals.

One might pick out three main themes, local election campaigning aside.

The first is the vibrancy of Britain’s jobs market and the country’s robust recent record on employment.  The aftermath of the Crash and the Coalition’s slowing of public spending growth, a.k.aa “austerity”, didn’t bring the five million unemployed that David Blanchflower believed possible.  The Government has to keep shouting about our employment rates because people have got used to them.  A generation is growing up that cannot remember the mass unemployment of the 1980s.

Then there are a battery of announcements aimed disproportionately at younger women voters, who were more likely to switch to Labour at the last election.  Those of a certain disposition will argue that some of these are trivial, and that women and men both want government to get on with addressing big issues: Brexit, health, the economy, immigration, education and so on.  But part of the point of banning upskirting, say, or providing more free sanitary products is gaining “permission to be heard”, in order to make some voters, in this case younger female ones, more receptive to what Conservatives are doing more broadly and widely.

Which takes us, third, to law-making – not admitttedly the only means, or even necessarily the main one, by which government can act, but indispensable none the less.  Under which category we find a new law to protect service animals and the proposed end to no fault evictions, about which James Brokenshire wrote on this site recently.  The two may seem to have nothing in common but, on closer inspection, tell part of the same story.

Namely that, as Sam Coates keeps pointing out, the Government can’t get any plan which is remotely contentious through the Commons.  Only the most uncontested ideas, such as providing police and other service dogs with more protections, can make it through the House. And this new service animals measure isn’t even Government leglislation.  It came about through a Private Members Bill tabled by Oliver Heald and then backed by Ministers.

Meanwhile, the proposal to end no fault evictions isn’t contained in a Bill at all.  The headline on gov.uk about the plan refers to an “end to unfair evictions” and “the biggest change to the private rental sector for a generation”.  But the text of the announcement refers to “plans to consult on new legislation” and refers to an earlier consultation, on Overcoming the barriers to longer tenancies in the private rented sector, to which it has now published a response.

As with housing, so with divorce.  On ConservativeHome today, Frank Young makes the point, in his article on the Government’s plans to ensure that no fault divorce can take place more frequently, that “it remains to be seen if the Justice Department’s enthusiasm for new legislation will be matched by government business managers and the ability of the current government to get any legislation through”.  For David Gauke has unfurled not a new Bill, but a White Paper.

Ditto Liz Truss’s announcment on a £95,000 cap on exit payments when public sector workers leave their jobs. “Six-figure taxpayer-funded public sector exit payments to end,” gov.uk’s headline declares.  The sub-heading is more candid than the one beneath the housing headline.  “A consultation has been launched outlining how the government will introduce a £95,000 cap to stop huge exit payments when public sector workers leave their jobs,” it says.  The Treasury confirms that legislation will be required.

Now think on.  As Sam goes on to say, Theresa May’s successor may take against these ideas or indeed all of them.  In which case, they will doubtless be quietly put to sleep.  And that successor may be in place soon.  (Regretfully, we have to add: as soon as possible after European Parliament elections, assuming these happen, please.)

Conservative MPs don’t want a general election.  Nor do we.  But the more one ponders the state of this Parliament, the more one sees why one is the natural solution to this impasse – and would be knocking on the door, were it not for the Fixed Terms Parliament Act.  These recent announcements are Potemkin Legislation.  They cannot be put to the Commons without risk of them being amended out of their original intention.

Nor can the Government legislate easily elsewhere.  Consider any proposals affecting women – to take us back to near where we started.  Up would pop Stella Creasy, looking for a means of changing the abortion laws in Northern Ireland.  Which would further strain the Conservatives’ relationship with the DUP, such as it is.  Prepare, when Brexit isn’t before the Commons, for many more Opposition Days.

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