Category Archives: Labor

Trump Ends DACA: Will Congress Save Dreamers?

Undocubus

Undocumented workers and students protested at the DNC in 2012. (That’s me in the turquoise dress before the cops told me to move.)

Our country’s most ill-prepared president just lobbed one of our country’s stickiest problems into the court of the country’s least effective Congress, ever. What could go wrong? The dreams of nearly one million young people.

On Sept. 5, 2017, Attorney General and long-time anti-immigration advocate Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s decision to rescind President Obama’s executive order that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Implemented five years ago, DACA was supposed to be a stop-gap measure to shield children and young adults, who were brought to the US illegally as minors by their parents. The plan was that Congress would move on immigration reform while DACA protected these young people from immediate deportation.

Roughly 800,000 young adults under DACA could face deportation if Congress fails to act within the next six months. The crux of the problem is that DACA was created because Congress shirked its duty on meaningful immigration reform. For 16 years, Congress has failed to pass any immigration reform– let alone comprehensive reform, which is sorely needed. Even the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) — which outlined a path to citizenship for Dreamers– has died a bipartisan death in Congress multiple times, since it was originally proposed in 2001.

Will Congress have the guts to save the Dreamers now?

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August jobs report shows weakness

Steve Benen has the monthly jobs report for August. Job numbers fall short of expectations in August:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in August, which is down from June and July totals, and fell short of expectations. The unemployment rate, while still low, inched up a little to 4.4%.

AugustJobs

In fact, overall, this is not a heartening set of data. The revisions for June and July were both lower, and combined they show a net loss of about 41,000 jobs. (In case you’re curious, the BLS report explained at the outset, “Hurricane Harvey had no discernible effect on the employment and unemployment data for August.”)

All told, if current averages keep up, we’re on track to see the U.S. economy add about 2.1 million jobs this calendar year, which isn’t bad, but which would fall short of last year’s totals. In the first eight months of last year, 1.55 million jobs were created, while in the first eight months of this year, the total is 1.4 million.

Here’s another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.

AugustPrivate

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Jared Bernstein: The whys of increasing inequality

I posted about this chart last week, Inequality in One Chart, and our “usual suspects” posted their utterly nonsensical defenses of faith based supply-side “trickle down” GOP economics in the comments.

Today, economist Jared Bernstein weighs in at the Washington Post, The whys of increasing inequality: A graphical portrait:

The graph below, based on the work of economists Gabriel Zucman, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, has been receiving considerable attention since it appeared in the New York Times last week. It shows the rate of annual income growth for adults at each percentile in the income distribution — from those who have the lowest incomes to those who have the highest incomes — over two time periods: the mid-1940s to 1980, and 1980 to 2014. Over the first period, post-tax income growth was fastest at the bottom, about 2 percent per year for the “middle class” (the 40th to the 80th percentiles), and a little slower among the wealthy.

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The growth pattern over the second 34-year period looks very different: The richer you were, the faster you got ahead. Incomes grew less than 1 percent for the bottom 50 percent and less than 2 percent for the next 45 percent. They then took off for the richest Americans, with the growth rate for the richest adults ending up about six times that of those in the middle.

The chart is a clear, intuitive way to show the increase in income inequality over the past few decades, and an important reminder that growth for the rich cannot be expected to trickle down to everyone else.

But it doesn’t show why inequality has grown. What explains this portentous change, one that has had profound effects on our society, our living standards, and our politics?

In fact, there are many perps, each of which is captured in the “Inequality’s Causes” slide below. They do, however, share a theme: Many of the factors that enforced a more equitable distribution of growth in the earlier period have been eroded. Moreover, that erosion is neither an accident nor the benign outcome of natural economic evolution. It is often the result of policies that have reduced workers’ bargaining power and supported the upward redistribution of growth.

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Inequality in One Chart

David Leonhardt of the New York Times reports on the latest research from Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman. Our Broken Economy, in One Simple Chart:

Many Americans can’t remember anything other than an economy with skyrocketing inequality, in which living standards for most Americans are stagnating and the rich are pulling away. It feels inevitable.

But it’s not.

A well-known team of inequality researchers — Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman — has been getting some attention recently for a chart it produced. It shows the change in income between 1980 and 2014 for every point on the distribution, and it neatly summarizes the recent soaring of inequality.

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The line on the chart (which we have recreated as the red line above) resembles a classic hockey-stick graph. It’s mostly flat and close to zero, before spiking upward at the end. That spike shows that the very affluent, and only the very affluent, have received significant raises in recent decades.

This line captures the rise in inequality better than any other chart or simple summary that I’ve seen. So I went to the economists with a request: Could they produce versions of their chart for years before 1980, to capture the income trends following World War II. You are looking at the result here. [Interactive graphic – see the article.]

The message is straightforward. Only a few decades ago, the middle class and the poor weren’t just receiving healthy raises. Their take-home pay was rising even more rapidly, in percentage terms, than the pay of the rich.

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‘Trump TV’ parrots RT network with state propaganda

In December of last year, there was a concern that the the National Defense Authorization Act now allowed Voice of America access to U.S. audiences (previously banned by law). This was stoking fears that Donald Trump could wield a powerful new propaganda arm. From fake news to the Trump ministry of propaganda. Those particular fears have not (yet) come to fruition.

In January, POLITICO reported Pro-Trump TV Network Has Big-League Dreams:

The clunky, black Panasonic PS2 belonging to Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN), a year-old conservative media startup based in Alabama, made a habit of filming the teeming crowds at Trump rallies and developed a cult following in the process, with Trump supporters regularly holding up makeshift “I love RSBN” signs and seeking out the RSBN cameramen to wave.

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The RSBN operation, which now employs 14 full-time employees and three contractors, began in July 2015, when Seales, a stay-at-home father at the time, grew frustrated with the lack of raw Trump rally footage online. He hired a freelancer to film what became the network’s first Trump rally broadcast and posted it on YouTube. When the video quickly amassed a million views, Seales realized that there was a robust demand for pure Trump footage—a feed that wasn’t clipped or talked over by mainstream outlets . . . That was when, borrowing from a phrase he’s fond of using—“being on the right side of history”—Seales started Right Side Broadcasting Network, originally a livestream operation airing on YouTube. He later added two call-in talk shows to the network’s YouTube channel, one hosted by conservative commentator Wayne Dupree, the other hosted by televangelist Pastor Mark Burns, a Trump surrogate.

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At the same time, the openly pro-Trump RSBN—which bills itself as a “ragtag bunch of media outsiders” seeking to deliver news to the common man—has been quietly attempting to transform itself from a small live-stream operation into a major and diverse digital media outlet, just in time to cover the Trump White House.

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July jobs report exceeds expectations

The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July, according to government data released Friday morning, surpassing economists’ expectations. U.S job growth surges in July, as U.S. fully regains jobs lost in recession:

The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.3 percent, compared with 4.4 percent in June, and wages rose by 2.5 percent from the year before to $26.36 in July.

“It was pretty solid across the board,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JP Morgan. “It suggests there is really no slowing in the momentum of the labor market.”

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President Trump greeted the report as evidence of his administration’s success, tweeting Friday morning, “Excellent Jobs Numbers just released – and I have only just begun.”

Remember when this carnival barker con man dismissed the official unemployment rate published by the Labor Department as “such a phony number,” “one of the biggest hoaxes in American modern politics” and “the biggest joke there is”? He variously described the real rate as 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30 and 35 percent. In August 2016, he told Time magazine that the “real unemployment rate is 42 percent.” Trump called the government’s job numbers ‘phony.’ What happens now that he’s in charge of them? The man is a shameless liar who frequently takes credit for things he has had nothing to do with. Trump says he created 600,000 jobs. Not true.

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