200,000 and counting…

U.S. adds 200K jobs in Dec; unemployment rate drops to 8.5%

By Michael A. Fletcher, Updated: Friday, January 6, 9:11 AM, The Washington Post
The nation’s gloomy jobs picture continued to brighten in December as employers added 200,000 jobs, pushing the unemployment rate down to 8.5 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday.

Private employers added 220,00 jobs, moving the total of private-sector jobs created in 2011 to 1.9 million. Governments, particularly at the local level, cut jobs, holding overall job growth for the year to 1.6 million.

Still, the jobless rate has declined by 0.6 percent since August, and it now stands at its lowest level in nearly three years.

The improvement in the labor market is surely welcome news for President Obama, who has been widely criticized for the nation’s poor labor market. With the 2012 presidential campaign intensifying, Obama has struggled to win public approval for his handling of the economy, and steady job creation can only boost his political standing.

The upbeat jobs report capped an up-and-down 2011 for the U.S. labor market.

After brisk growth in the beginning of the year, the labor market stalled in the wake of higher energy prices, the Japanese earthquake and the political fight over raising the nation’s debt limit. But the job market improved significantly in the final quarter of the year.

Even with the positive report, stubborn problems remain. Some 5.6 million Americans — 42.5 percent of the unemployed — have been jobless for more than six months, a figure that was unchanged in December.

Also, minority joblessness remained at catastrophic levels: the black unemployment rate was 15.8 percent in December, and the jobless rate for Hispanics was 11 percent.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) cheered the report, even as he noted that the nation’s labor market remains troubled.

“It’s good news that more Americans found work last month despite a sluggish economy, but both parties must come together and do more to address the ongoing uncertainty that small businesses face,” he said in a statement. “Today marks the 35th consecutive month of unemployment above eight percent, and too many Americans continue to struggle to find their next job.”

The jobs report builds on a several new indicators pointing toward an economy on the upswing.

The government reported Thursday that claims for unemployment benefits declined in the final week of December, moving the average over the past four weeks to its lowest level in more than three years.

The Institute for Supply Management reported this week that its employment index for December was 55.1, the highest reading since June. A reading above 50 means that more companies are creating jobs than cutting them.

The nation’s factories have added more than 300,000 jobs since the beginning of 2010 — about 13 percent of what was lost during the recession — marking the first sustained increase in manufacturing employment since 1997, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Auto sales in December were up, continuing their substantial improvement from the summer. And for all of 2011, vehicle sales rose 10 percent.

On Thursday, several analysts cautioned not to make too much of the good news too soon.

Bernard Baumohl, chief economist for the New Jersey-based Economic Outlook Group, said that regardless of what happens with the December unemployment number, the economy faces major hurdles in 2012.

Europe’s economy is teetering on the edge of recession, and China’s roaring economy is beginning to cool, he said, developments that pose substantial risk to U.S. economic and employment growth. In addition, he said, oil prices are likely to rise next year as tension increases in the Persian Gulf and the broader Middle East.

Meanwhile, he added, business and individual consumers are likely to cut back, after a relative spending binge that helped increase economic growth by an estimated three percent in the final months of 2011. “The recent uptick in shopping, while cathartic, is simply unsustainable,” the firm wrote in its 2012 economic forecast.

Any or all of those factors could slow job growth in the early months of 2012.

“I have my concerns that the pace of job growth will likely slow in the first half of this year as the economy slows,” Baumohl said. “We just do not have a basis for optimism that the economy or job market has turned the corner.”

Jobs Jobs Jobs

Posted at 09:39 AM ET, 09/02/2011

More reasons for Obama to go big on jobs

By 

If anyone doubted that we need a much more aggressive effort to create jobs — and if anyone doubted that our eight-month-long obsession with debt reduction was a giant distraction — today’s jobs numbers should clear away any misapprehensions.

As the Associated Press reported this morning:

Employers added no net workers last month and the unemployment rate was unchanged, a sign that many employers were nervous the U.S. economy is at risk of slipping into another recession.

The Labor Department says total payrolls were unchanged in August, the weakest report in almost a year. It’s the first time since February 1945 that the government has reported a net job change of zero. The unemployment rate stayed at 9.1 percent.

And notice something inside the numbers. This is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report itself:

Government employment continued to trend down over the month (-17,000). Despite the return of about 22,000 workers from a partial government shutdown in Minnesota, employment in state government changed little in August (+5,000). Employment in local government continued to decline. Since employment peaked in September 2008, local government has lost 550,000 jobs.

I added the italics to make a point: The Obama administration’s original stimulus plan wasn’t big enough, but it did create and save millions of jobs, and one reason was the assistance it gave to state and local governments to prevent layoffs. That assistance is running out, and if there is one big “job-killer” out there, to use the Republicans’ favorite phase, it is all those government cutbacks in states and counties, cities and towns around the nation.

We don’t know for certain how much debate there still is inside the administration about how big the president’s jobs proposal will be. But those who want to make it bigger are right, and these numbers should bolster their position.

This isn’t just a matter of politics and the next election. For the sake of the country and the jobless, President Obama really needs to change the debate and make clear that it’s not just liberals who think the economy needs a boost right now. The ranks of those who believe in more stimulus include business people, investors and economists of many political stripes. Now more than ever, Obama needs to think and act big.

Progressives to Obama: Go Big or Go Home

Obama Jobs Plan: Progressive Groups Urge President To ‘Go Big’

 The Huffington Post      Posted: 8/30/11 06:10 PM ET

Sixty-seven major progressive organizations have penned an open letter to President Barack Obama, asking him to “go big” as he prepares a new jobs plan, which he will announce in a major speech just after Labor Day.

The groups — including MoveOn, Democracy for America, Rebuild the Dream and the National Council of Women’s Organizations — commend Obama for presenting a jobs plan at a “crucial moment,” but also stress the negative impact of Congress’s failure to provide a fix for the nation’s high unemployment rate:

A problem this serious needs a plan to match it in scope. Tax cuts and incentives for corporations have repeatedly failed to put Americans back to work. It is time to move beyond these half-measures designed to appeal to a narrow ideological minority who have repeatedly shown their unwillingness to negotiate and their disinterest in real solutions. History — and proven economics — tells us that any plan to solve our job crisis needs to be big, bold, and create jobs directly.With 25 million Americans out of work, or only able to find part-time work when they want and need full time jobs, aggressive action is needed. Representative Jan Schakowsky’s “Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act” is an example of the kind of bold step that we need to take as a country and that you should include as part of your broader jobs agenda. It would decrease unemployment 1.3 percent by directly creating more than 2 million jobs, including jobs for construction workers to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and for educators, health care workers, firefighters, and police, to strengthen our communities.

The progressive groups have reservations about Obama’s intention to dedicate part of his speech to deficit reduction, according to a press release from Campaign for America’s Future.

They are also concerned that Obama’s plan may not be large enough to be taken seriously — the plan is expected to be significantly less ambitious than the $825 billion stimulus of 2009.

According to the Associated Press, economists who advocate for government intervention in the economy estimate that it would take a package of at least $300 billion to avoid backsliding, and even more to boost the economy significantly. It is unlikely a plan that large would be accepted by Congress, which was divided on fiscal issues during the recent debt ceiling debate.

Unions Sitting Out of the 2012 DNC

Aug 12, 3:12 PM EDT

APNewsBreak: Some unions to skip 2012 convention

By SAM HANANEL, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — About a dozen trade unions plan to sit out the 2012 Democratic convention because they’re angry that it’s being held in a right-to-work state and frustrated that Democrats haven’t done enough to create jobs.

The move could pose a larger problem for President Barack Obama next year if an increasingly dispirited base of labor activists becomes so discouraged that it doesn’t get the rank-and-file to the polls in the usual strong numbers.

The unions – all part of the AFL-CIO’s building and construction trades unit – told party officials this week they are gravely disappointed that labor was not consulted before Democrats settled on Charlotte, N.C., where there are no unionized hotels.

“We find it troubling that the party so closely associated with basic human rights would choose a state with the lowest unionization rate in the country due to regressive policies aimed at diluting the power of workers,” Mark Ayers, president of the building trades unit, wrote in a letter to Democratic Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The decision by the building trades came after a vote by leaders of the unit’s 13 affiliate unions, including the Laborers, Painters and Electrical Workers unions. Overall, they represent about 2.5 million members.

“There is broad frustration with the party and all elected officials, broad frustration with the lack of a union agenda,” said Michael Monroe, chief of staff of the building trades division. “People are looking for outlets to express that frustration.”

DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell said the organizers “look forward to working with labor leaders from across the country to make the convention a success.”

“We were thrilled to have the support of local labor leaders including the (state) AFL-CIO for Charlotte’s bid,” Roussell said.

Despite the strong language in the letter, at least one of the 13 unions says it is still considering whether or not to go.

“The Teamsters Union has not gone through our own internal decision process about the Democratic National Convention,” said spokeswoman Leigh Strope.

Monroe said the decision doesn’t preclude individual members of the unions from running as delegates, and some of the unions apparently are still considering how to proceed.

Many of the largest and most prominent unions, including the National Education Association and the Service Employees International Union, still plan to be active participants in the convention. And local labor leaders in North Carolina have praised the site choice.

But the angst goes beyond the trade unions. The International Association of Machinists, which is not part of the building trades, said it has also decided to skip the convention after participating for decades.

“This is the union that came up with the idea for Labor Day and this convention starts on Labor Day in a right-to-work state,” said IAM spokesman Rick Sloan. “We see that as an affront to working men and women across this country.”

Monroe said the unions are being careful not to use the term “boycott” because they don’t want to damage Obama’s re-election prospects. He said money is also a major factor, when unions are spending millions trying to beat back efforts by Republican lawmakers to curb union rights in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states.

“It would be disappointing to our members to see us doing business as usual, diverting resources that we know are scarce, when we should be laser-like focused on getting elected officials focused on the jobs agenda,” Monroe said.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka warned earlier this year that unions would focus more of their energy and money on shoring up infrastructure in the states and less on boosting a single political party.

In the past unions have donated millions of dollars for sky boxes and other sponsorships that usually help underwrite the convention. But this year, the Democratic National Convention Committee announced it would no longer accept contributions from lobbyists, corporations and political action committees, including unions. Individuals are limited to $100,000 in donations.

The choice of North Carolina in February provoked immediate outrage among labor leaders, who said it was another indication that Democrats take union support for granted. But Democrats defended the decision, saying it’s part of party’s push to win crucial swing states in the South, including a state that Obama carried in 2008.

Organized labor and Democrats had a similar squabble over the choice of Denver for the 2008 convention. That gathering was held at the nonunion Pepsi Center and Denver had few unionized hotels. At one point, Teamsters President James Hoffa threatened to “blow up” the convention with picketing and protests if union issues were not worked out.

But the two sides ultimately struck a deal to staff the Pepsi Center with union employees.

American Dream Movement vs. Tea Party

Progressives Say American Dream Movement Rivals Tea Party

Wednesday 10 August 2011
by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report

As Americans face the economic fallout of the recent debt deal in Washington, members of the burgeoning American Dream Movement on Tuesday announced the Contract for the American Dream, a new agenda for economic recovery supported by a grassroots movement that progressive leaders say will rival the Tea Party in size and impact.

The contract is a list of ten sweeping policy proposals drawn from suggestions made by 131,203 Americans who gathered online and in neighborhood meetings to discuss solutions to the nation’s economic woes. The contract demands what Democrats conceded in the recent debt deal: investment in jobs, education and infrastructure and higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

MoveOn.org Director Justin Ruben told reporters that most Americans want jobs instead of spending cuts, and the people who contributed to the American dream contract are frustrated with both parties. He said the American Dream Movement has spread from the demonstrations in Wisconsin to a dozen other states where “people are fighting against Republican attacks on the middle class.”

“We’ve been critical of both parties, including the president,” Ruben said. “There is a an enormous opportunity for politicians to step up … because people are desperate.”

The American Dreamers are already being compared to the divisive Tea Party that made countless headlines and shook up the GOP in recent years. Like the Tea Partiers on the right, promoters of the American Dream contract said Washington is out of touch with the views and needs of the rest of America.

“Too many people in Washington are giving up on the American dream, but the American people are not,” Ruben said.

Rebuild the Dream President Van Jones said the American Dream Movement is “real,” unlike the Tea Party, which was created with the help from “Fox News and Koch Brothers.” Jones said the American Dreamers are starting out with twice as many numbers as the Tea Party had in its early days, and the broad grassroots movement could “help DC as a whole do a major reset.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) said that she is working with members of the House progressive caucus to advance the contract’s agenda. Schakowsky recently introduced legislation that would increase spending on new jobs and raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but the bills are expected to face strong opposition in a divided Congress.

Schakowsky said the Obama administration has not indicated if it will support the legislation during the next Congressional session.

Still Waiting for Those ‘Jobs’ Bills, GOP

In 200+ Days The House GOP Has Voted To Kill 1.9 Million Jobs And Created 0

July 25, 2011

By Jason Easley, PoliticusUSA


It has been 202+ days since Republicans took back control of the House and promised to create jobs. During this time they have passed legislation that killed 1.9 million jobs and created 0.

Instead of creating jobs, House Democrats contend that the GOP has passed legislation that would kill 1.9 million US jobs:

Before you get the wrong idea, the GOP has passed legislation since they have taken control of the House. Here is a partial list of House Republican accomplishments:

Voted to repeal health care reform on behalf of the health insurance industry;

For big polluters, Republicans passed a bill to undermine our ability to provide a healthier environment for our children, eliminating every tool EPA has to address serious public health threats from carbon pollution, including increased childhood asthma;

Voted to protect taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil and speculators driving up gasoline prices, and against gasoline anti-price gouging legislation for consumers;

Voted to provide more tax cuts for millionaires, and protect tax breaks for corporations shipping jobs overseas;

Voted to strengthen the role of special interests in our elections (by ending the Presidential Election fund that promotes small campaign donations) and against disclosure of foreign countries, companies, or individuals donating to presidential campaigns;

Voted to cripple public radio stations, particularly in rural areas, while not saving taxpayers one dime;

Voted to cut off key federal funding for Planned Parenthood — devastating the primary source of health care, especially preventive services like contraception, cancer screenings, breast exams, and HIV testing, for millions of women across the country; and

Voted for an unprecedented, radical assault on women’s health care – for the first time restricting how women with private insurance can spend private dollars in purchasing health insurance.

So far the big signature achievement of this GOP majority was the vote to kill Medicare, but they may soon top themselves if they do not vote to raise the debt ceiling and allow the US to default.

The House GOP has also vote against 10 Democratically proposed job creation bills including:

An American jobs effort to end government contracts rewarding corporations that ship American jobs overseas. [Vote 19]

Build America Bonds to Create Jobs Now Act – leveraging public dollars to strengthen the private sector, growing our economy by rebuilding America’s schools, hospitals, and transit projects, supported by American businesses, the construction industry, mayors and governors. [Vote 38, Vote 30, Vote 189]

American Jobs Matter Act – to give preference in federal contracts to U.S. manufacturers that create jobs here at home. [Vote 257]

National Manufacturing Strategy Act, which calls on the President to lay out a plan to help ensure American manufacturers can compete, grow, and thrive. [Vote 279]

Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing Technology Act to help ensure the cars of the future are built here in the U.S., by investing in a broad range of near-term and long-term vehicle technologies to improve fuel efficiency, support domestic research and manufacturing, and lead to greater consumer choice of vehicle technologies and fuels. [Vote 310]

Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act to provide our government with effective tools to address unfair currency manipulation by countries like China, which could help create 1 million American manufacturing jobs by leveling the international playing field for American workers and businesses. [Vote 9, Vote 199]

The House GOP has passed more bills related to defunding Planned Parenthood (1) than they have passed to create jobs (0).

The day after the GOP took base the House, John Boehner said, “As you heard me say last night, we are humbled by the trust that the American people have placed in us and we recognize this is a time for us to roll up our sleeves and go to work on the people’s priorities: creating jobs, cutting spending and reforming the way Congress does its business. It’s not just what the American people are demanding — it’s what they are expecting from us.”

We are a little past the 200 day mark and the House GOP have yet to pass a bill that would create a single job. The only spending they are willing to slash is related to the poor, the disabled, women, Social Security and Medicare, but they have changed the way that the Congress does business by being so hardline that House of Representatives is irrelevant as a policy making body and has become an obstacle to agreement on even the most basic of legislation.

House Republicans have pulled a bait and switch on the American electorate. They ran a campaign based on job creation, but once elected set out to implement a corporatist and socially conservative agenda. This is no different than the bait and switch that Rick Snyder and Scott Walker pulled on voters in Wisconsin and Michigan.

How many Americans would have voted Republican in 2010 if they knew on Election Day that the GOP agenda was not to create jobs, so that they could possibly defeat Obama in 2012?

The truth is that House Republicans have no interest in creating jobs, because a prosperous economy would mean the reelection of Barack Obama. For this reason alone, it is a safe bet that the number of bills that House Republicans will introduce to create jobs between now and November 2012 will remain at zero.

Dennis Kucinich Takes The Floor [Video]

GM Investment in Flint, MI

General Motors to make major investment in Flint, MI

SAT JUL 16 at 12:45 PM PDT by Dante Atkins for Daily Kos
General Motors—which still exists as a manufacturing entity thanks to the Obama administration—is set to do something that should make native son Michael Moore very happy: make a major manufacturing investment in Flint, MI:

General Motors Co. is expected to announce Monday it will invest about $300 million to build a new full-size truck at its Flint Assembly plant, according to sources familiar with the plans.The investment will create or retain hundreds of jobs, the sources said.

GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter declined to comment other than to say: “We have some exciting news and we look forward to sharing it on Monday,” when company and union executives have scheduled a morning news conference in Flint.

Now, let’s remember who thinks those jobs shouldn’t exist because GM received government assistance. Starting with Michele Bachmann:

We all know GM is now Government Motors because it’s owned by the American people. It’s been nationalized. There is no private corporations the way we used to think of GM. Now, the main stockholder is the American Government.

Or how about the Republican National Committee, which produced a 90-second web adattacking Obama for his decision to save the American auto industry?

Then there’s second-tier presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty:

“Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty criticized the decision to use the $700 billion rescue fund to restructure two domestic automakers.Pawlenty told a group of reporters today at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor that the Obama administration was wrong to swap billions of dollars in loans for equity stakes in General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.

“I strongly opposed the government taking over the auto companies,” said Pawlenty.”

And there’s plenty more out there from just about every conservative website in existence. Not just criticizing the use of taxpayer money, but openly wishing for General Motors to fail and even calling the bailout an anti-capitalist conspiracy to allow Obama to restrict the use of cars to control our movements like an authoritarian communist government. If General Motors had failed, however, no doubt the entire conservative movement would have started railing about how Obama let a titan of American industry die because he hates capitalism.

Where Did Those 10 Years of Job Growth Go?

This Republican Recession Has Eliminated Almost Ten Years Of Job Growth

July 5, 2011
Addicting Info

The Republican recession took a little over two years to eliminate almost an entire decade of job creation (2000- 2007) and now the GOP wants President Obama to create ten years worth of jobs in 3 years of his first term. The problem is this President was forced to comply with Republican demands of tax cuts and other supply side mechanisms in order to stimulate the economy.

Let’s take quantitative easing for example. This was a federal reserve program that essentially flooded the big commercial banks with cheap money. Wall Street banks could approach the Fed and borrow cash at rates unseen in the regular market, approximately 1% or less. These funds that the huge commercial banks had borrowed are really your tax dollars that the Fed bought from the Treasury. The plan was to give money to big banks and it would filter down to your local, smaller banks and ultimately into the local economy. This unfortunately didn’t happen.

What happened was, Wall Street sat on it. They bolstered their capital on hand, but rather than using their own profits to increase financial stability, they used your tax dollars. Interestingly, the Tea Party is still quiet about this. Over ONE TRILLION dollars of your money is stashed on Wall Street. Essentially, making job creation VERY difficult for small business due to tight credit. Many businesses take out loans just to pay employees. If the businesses can not access credit, they can’t hire, even if their demand for their products increases.

Again, with out regulations, or rules to force corporations and banks to do the right thing, they won’t do it. That money Wall Street has from (QE) is completely separate from any stimulus the President wanted.

The fact that every single Republican running for President blames President Obama for the longevity of their party’s recession is completely dishonest.

This quote from the fiscal times sheds the light on what has been lost since the Great Republican recession,

The real job losses are greater than the estimate of 7.5 million. They are closer to 10.5 million, as 3 million people have stopped looking for work. Equally troublesome is the lower labor participation rate; some 5 million jobs have vanished from manufacturing, long America’s greatest strength. Just think: Total payrolls today amount to 131 million, but this figure is lower than it was at the beginning of the year 2000, even though our population has grown by nearly 30 million.

It took almost an entire decade to increase jobs by 10 million (2000-2007), now the Republicans in power want President Obama to do it in 3 years? That is a little absurd, but at least private sector jobs are being created, just not at the rate we need to get out of this Wall Street-manufactured, GOP-induced recession.

What President Obama and the government need to do is by-pass the banks entirely, create 50 state banks, just like North Dakota has. North Dakota missed the credit crisis. Capital is flowing to business and their unemployment rate is 3.5%. This Wall Street manufactured recession can only be cured with government intervention and NOT the free market.