May 03, 2013
April Unemployment Data
The Department of Labor released its April unemployment report today and, overall, it was a good one. The unemploymetn rate went down a tenth of a percent, to 7.5% on an increase of 165,000 last month. The revised numbers for the past two months were also quite good, with an overall increase of 114,000 jobs. And the rate wentdown despite an additional 210,000 entering the job market last month. The job increases were also broadly spread out with only construction and government (yet again) showing job losses.
March 19, 2013
EEOC Report on Obstacles Faced by Black Federal Employees
The EEOC has just issued its "African American Workgroup Report," which paints a picture of the many obstacles faced by black federal workers. The report is organized around seven main obstacles, with background information and recommendations for each. The obstacles:
- Unconscious biases and perceptions about African Americans still play a significant role in employment decisions in the federal sector.
- African Americans lack adequate mentoring and networking opportunities for higher level and management positions.
- Insufficient training and development assignments perpetuate inequalities in skills and opportunities for African Americans.
- Narrow recruitment methods negatively impact African Americans.
- The perception of widespread inequality among African Americans in the federal workforce hinders their career advancement.
- Educational requirements create obstacles for African Americans in the federal workforce.
- EEO regulations and laws are not adequately followed by agencies and are not effectively enforced.
You can also read the Washington Post's take on the report here.
March 08, 2013
February Unemployment Data
Today, the Department of Labor released its February employment numbers and (I'm not sure the last time I wrote this) they were quite good. The headline figures: 236,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate down .2 of a percent to 7.7%. Revisions of the previous two months' new jobs' numbers were down by a total of 15,000 jobs, leading to an average monthly job gain over the past three months of 195,000. Average earnings ticked up a few cents this month, with gains over the past year at 2.1%. Also, the construction industry was one of the biggest job gainers, perhaps indicating that the housing industry is finally back.
February 05, 2013
Happy 20th Anniversary FMLA
And for some reform links, from the add paid leave camp: National Partnership for Women and Families Agenda for the 113th Congress. And from the reform abuse of leave camp: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Absence abuse and Medical Leave.
February 01, 2013
January Employment Data
The Department of Labor issued its January employment data today. The big numbers: 157,000 jobs added, with the unemployment rate at 7.9% (from 7.8% the previous month). But perhaps the more important figures from the report were revisions in previous months' data, with significant uptick. The DOL revised its November data to show that 247,000 jobs were added in that month and 296,000 jobs in December--an additional 127,000 jobs than initially reported in those two months. Most sectors saw job gains, with one of the exceptions being public-sector jobs, which continues to be a drag on employment. The number of discouraged workers also dropped by 255,000 in a non-seasonally adjusted comparison to last year. All in all, that's not bad, particularly the previous months' revisions.
January 23, 2013
2012 Union Density
The Department of Labor released its data on union density for 2012 and the news was not good for unions. Among the highlights (or lowlights, depending on your view): private sector membership dropped from 6.9% to 6.6%; public sector membership dropped from 37% to 35.9%; and the number of union members fell by 400,000, despite a 2.4 million increase in jobs. Moreover, both Wisconsin and Indiana saw huge drops following their anti-union legislation. Steven Greenhouse, at the New York Times, has a good article exploring those state issues as well as the overall trend.
For those of you interested in comparing the historical numbers and other breakouts of the data, I'll put a plug in for unionstats.com (full disclosure: my father is one of the authors), which provides a more user-friendly version of the DOL stats (it obviously hasn't been updated with the new numbers yet).
Ban on Women in Combat Positions To Be Lifted
Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are apparently going to announce tomorrow that they are lifting the ban on women serving in combat positions with a goal towards integration by 2016. In November, four servicemembers represented by the ACLU sued to lift the ban, arguing that women were already serving in most combat roles but just weren't getting recognized for it. Advancement to the highest levels of military service depends on service in combat.
This move comes via a recommendation from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which earlier this month issued a "Women in Service Implementation Plan" calling for this change; that memo stated in part, "[t]he time has come to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service."
For more information see the news stories here, here, here, and here. Mandatory regisration with the Selective Service Administration does not appear to be addressed by the recommendation; perhaps that is not widely enough seen to be a gender-based barrier to service.
This is a big step forward potentially for sex equality in the military, although full implementation will take some time. I hope that part of that implementation involves addressing the serious problem of sexual violence in the military as part of a comprehensive plan. I also think that the effect of this change in policy does a lot to expand women's rights more broadly in this country. To the extent that military service is one of the responsibilities of full citizenship, and I think most people agree that it is in at least some cirumstances, allowing women to serve the same way men do solidifies our claim to citizenship and authority to set national policy.
December 07, 2012
November Employment Data
The Department of Labor released its November employment data today. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.7% (from 7.9%), with 146,000 jobs added. However, some of the drop in unemploymetn appears to be because of people not looking for work. The previous two months' gains were revised downward by 49,000 jobs. Basically, we remain in a slow and steady improvement.
November 02, 2012
October Employment Data
In case you hadn't heard, the Department of Labor released its October employment figures today. Overall, it was better than expected. Job gains were estimated at 171,000 and the unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a point to 7.9%; the unemployment rate is largely viewed as positive because of the increase in people looking for work. Perhaps more important were revisions to the previous months, which were revised up by a total of 64,000 jobs. The trend lately of upward revisions suggests that there may be continual improvement in the labor market as the early job estimates are unable to fully capture th eincrease in jobs. But we'll have to see if it keeps up.
October 05, 2012
September Employment Data
If you've managed to find your way to this post, you've no doubt already seen that the unemployment rate dipped fell below the 8% psychological barrier to 7.8% (from 8.1% the previous month). This does not appear to the result of a people falling out of the job market. According to the Department of Labor, 114,00 jobs were added in September and modest wage increases were seen. Moreover, for the first time in long time, government payrolls actually increased. And, perhaps most significant, the two previous months' job gains were revised upward by 88,000 jobs.
September 19, 2012
Federal Whistleblower Protections Report
Jon Shimabukuro and Paige Whitaker, both legislative attorneys for the Congressional Research Service, have posted online Whistleblower Protections Under Federal Law: An Overview. Here's the abstract:
Legal protections for employees who report illegal misconduct by their employers have increased dramatically since the late 1970s when such protections were first adopted for federal employees in the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. Since that time, with the enactment of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, Congress has expanded such protections for federal employees. Congress has also established whistleblower protections for individuals in certain private-sector employment through the adoption of whistleblower provisions in at least 18 federal statutes. Among these statutes is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act).
In general, claims for relief under the 18 federal statutes follow a similar pattern. Complaints are typically filed with the Secretary of Labor, and an investigation is conducted. Following the investigation, an order is issued by the Secretary, and a party aggrieved by the order is generally permitted to appeal the Secretary’s order to a federal court. However, because 18 different statutes are involved in prescribing whistleblower protections, some notable differences exist. For example, under the Department of Defense Authorization Act of 1987, individuals employed by defense contractors who engage in whistleblowing activities file complaints with the Inspector General rather than the Secretary of Labor. Under some of the statutes, including the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Dodd-Frank Act, the Secretary’s preliminary order will become a final order if no objections are filed within a prescribed time period.
This report provides an overview of key aspects of the 18 selected federal statutes applicable to individuals in certain private-sector industries. It focuses on the protections provided to employees who believe they have been subject to retaliation, rather than on how or where alleged misconduct should be disclosed. In addition, the report also includes an overview of the Whistleblower Protection Act. While state law may also provide whistleblower protections for employees, this report focuses only on the aforementioned federal statutory provisions.
Hat tip: Carol Furnish.
September 07, 2012
August Employment Data
The Department of Labor released its employment data for August today and it was more of the same--not awful, but not good either. There were 96,000 jobs added the last month; 103,000 jobs in the private sector and 7,000 less government jobs. The two previous months were revised downward by about 20,000 jobs a month. Given the number of people dropping out of the labor market, the unemployment rate dropped from 8.3% to 8.1%.
This may spur the Federal Reserve to take more aggressive actions, but we'll see . . . .
September 05, 2012
EEOC Seeks Input on Draft Strategic Plan
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released for public comment a draft of its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). Comments must be submitted by 5:00 pm ET on September 18, 2012 at email@example.com or received by mail at Executive Officer, Office of the Executive Secretariat, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 131 M Street, NE, Washington, D.C. 20507. The Commission plans to vote on the draft plan at the end of this fiscal year.
. . .
For general inquiries about the plan, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 663-4070/(TTY: 202-663-4494). For press inquiries, please contact the Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs at (202) 663-4191 or email@example.com. If you are seeking EEOC information, please call (202) 663-4900 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
And I got word of this from Commissioner Feldblum's twitter feed. If you don't follow her, you should: @chaifeldblum.
August 03, 2012
July Employment Data
The Department of Labor just released its July employment data. The numbers are still mediocre, but showed an improvement from the last few months. There were 163,000 jobs added in July (compared to a revised 64,000 in June). But because of growth in the labor market, the unemployment rate went up by a tenth of a point to 8.3%.
July 08, 2012
June Unemployment Report
As many of you have probably already seen, the Department of Labor released its June employment data on Friday. Things are still muddling on, with an addition of 80,000 jobs and the unemployment rate steady at 8.2%. The average hours per workweek increased slightly, as did hourly pay. In other words, not much change from the previous month.
June 01, 2012
May Unemployment Data
The Department of Labor's May unemployment numbers are out, and they're disappointing. Employment increased by a net 69,000 jobs, with the rate ticking up a tenth of a point to 8.1%. Last months job gaines were revised from 115,000 to 77,000. This seems to be a replay of the Spring-Summer unemployment blues we've seen the last few years. Health care and transportation/warehousing saw the biggest job gains, with construction showing the biggest losses. But overall, there wasn't much significant change in any of the numbers. Therefore, it's the disappointment that the labor market isn't picking up steam that's the real problem.
May 06, 2012
April Unemployment Data
The Department of Labor recently released its April unemployment data. There was job growth of 115,000 and the unemployment rate dropped slightly to 8.1%, but this wasn't as good as many had expected. However, the previous months' numbers were revised upward.
One interesting debate surrounding the unemployment rate, which will only heat up as the presidential race gets closer, is the labor force participation rate. I never thought that would be a hot political topic, but it's a number that I've mentioned frequently with the unemployment data releases. The participation rate is relatively low, which contributes to keeping the unemployment rate low. The question is whether this is the result of discouraged workers dropping out of the labor market or as consequence of baby boomers retiring. The answer includes both, but the degree of impact is unclear. Ibe theory is that retirements are a major piece of the participation rate, which means that we may not see the uptick in the unemployment rate that some have predicted when discouraged workers return to a healthier job market. The Washington Post's Wonkblog has done a nice job following this issue.
March 09, 2012
February Unemployment Data
The Department of Labor released its February unemployment data today. The short version: the unemployment rate is unchanged at 8.3%, but there were an additional 227,000 jobs this past month. The disparity between the two is due in large part to more people re-entering the workforce as jobs become more available. Not great for the unemployment number, but a good sign for the economy. Other good signs from the report: the Dec. and Jan. job gains were revised up by 61,000; government employment declined by only 6,000 (the previous month was 22,000); hourly wages increased some; and there was a big increase in temp jobs, which often lead the way for other job gains. Still a ways to go, but things still going in the right direction.
January 06, 2012
December Employment Report
The Department of Labor released the December employment report today. I don't think I've written this for several years, but it looks pretty good. The headline is the unemployment rate dropping to 8.5%, from a revised 8.7% the previous month. There was 200,000 jobs added (220,00 in the private-secotr offsetting public job losses). Other measures showed improvement. The underemployment rate, while still a high 15.1% is still down. Also, wages and hours worked are up--all goods signs for the future. Finally, lest you think this is all Christmas sales, growth was seen in manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, retail,and even construction.
December 02, 2011
November Unemployment Report
The Department of Labor was released its November unemployment figures. The good news is that the unemployment rate is down to 8.6%, from 9.0%. Moreover, last month's numbers, like the previous few months have been revised to show increased job growth (see this for a nice chart on the recent revisions). The bad news is that part of the story is that fewer people are looking for work and, therefore, are not counted as unemployed. Nevertheless, 120,000 jobs were added last month; not great, but not bad either and better than expectations. Perhaps more importantly, the trend seems to be moving positively, although we'll have to wait and see if that's true.