Entries in Labor Day (5)


Labor Day 2012: Unemployment Remains a Struggle, Especially for Long-Term Unemployed

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Labor Day honors workers after labor protestors were killed in a railroad strike over wages and work hours in 1894. The protests began in Pullman, Ill. and spread across the country. This Labor Day, unemployment remains a concern not just for the labor movement but the entire country.

The median duration of unemployed persons is 16.7 weeks, according to the most recent data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for July 2012. The figure has been improving but the long-term unemployment remains a widespread challenge to the recovering economy.

Over 5.1 million people have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more, according to July 2012 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released in August.

There have been the most number of U.S. jobs lost in local government and education, according to the Labor Department: 77,000 jobs or 1 percent of those jobs. There have been 38,000, or 1.3 percent, lost jobs from the federal government.

Younger workers continually face labor challenges. The unemployment rate for those ages 20 to 24 is 61.7 percent according to BLS data for January released in August. Economists stress that "the discouraged worker effect" can skew unemployment rates to appear smaller than they actually are because those who have given up looking for work have been are considered not in the labor force.

The health care sector has seen some of the biggest increases in jobs: up 299,000 or an increase of 2.1 percent from July 2011 to July 2012.

Job losses from contracting and closing establishments are down relative to pre-recession levels. "Companies are already lean," said Stephen Bronars, chief economist with Welch Consulting. "The weak companies have already failed. Job gains are coming back for growing companies but they are still below pre-recession levels."

All eyes will be on the Labor Department's monthly unemployment report on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, including both political parties, for fodder in examining the state of the U.S. economy before November's presidential election. If and how the unemployment rate of 8.2 percent changes before November could determine the election, some political analysts say.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fed Remarks Help US Stocks to Third Monthly Gain

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The markets head into the long Labor Day weekend recovering some of their losses from Thursday. A statement by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke likely gave the indexes a boost to end the week.
Advancing for the third straight month, the Dow closed up 90 points at 13,090.84 on Friday. The Nasdaq gained 18 points to close at 3,066.96, and the S&P jumped 7.1 points to 1,406.58.

The markets will be closed on Monday and reopen on Tuesday.
Bernanke says the central bank can do more to help the economy.  He told a Fed conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Friday that continued high unemployment and a slow economic recovery are becoming more unacceptable and that the Fed "will provide additional policy accommodation as needed."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Labor Day 2012: 8 Biggest Layoff Announcements

PRNewsFoto/Verizon Wireless(NEW YORK) --  It seems it's going to be another tough Labor Day for labor. The U.S. unemployment rate is 8.2 percent, with most jobs lost this year from local and federal government.

In the private sector, many companies are shedding headcount not so much due to a flailing economy, as in previous years, but because of the state of its business or industry, said John Challenger, CEO of executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

While many companies quietly and slowly reduce headcount, here are some of the biggest layoff announcements this year that crossed news headlines, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

1. Hewlett-Packard Co.
Technology company Hewlett-Packard announced in May that it expects "approximately 27,000 employees to exit the company, or 8.0 percent of its workforce, as of Oct. 31, 2011, by the end of fiscal year 2014."

The multi-year restructuring plan that included the reduction came after HP reported lower-than-expected third-quarter financial results. The company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., had 350,000 employees as of Oct. 31, 2011.

With competitive pressure from other computer makers, HP is facing a big legacy in a slow growth business, Challenger said.

2. American Airlines
American Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy in November, had initially announced in February that it would eliminate 13,000 positions in a restructuring process, but it has since narrowed those cuts to 10,000.

"American Airlines is restructuring its business and must significantly reduce its labor costs, which will be done by implementing new, consensual labor contracts and changes via a court-supervised process," the company said in a statement to ABC News. "Over time, the company will eliminate 10,000 positions, which is substantially fewer than originally contemplated earlier this year. Fortunately, through voluntary separation programs, we expect far fewer people to be affected than the number of positions."

The company has been negotiating with its pilots' unions over contracts. American and American Eagle have almost 88,500 full-time and part-time employees worldwide, according to its website, while 77 percent of them are represented by one of three labor unions: Allied Pilots Association, Association of Professional Flight Attendants and Transport Workers Union.

3. PepsiCo
PepsiCo hasn't had an easy summer in its Purchase, N.Y., headquarters.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in June he wanted to ban large soft drink sales from the city. And this week, the state attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, announced he's opened an investigation into the energy drink industry. Last month, Schneiderman issued a subpoena to PepsiCo, maker of AMP Energy.

Food and beverage company PepsiCo announced a number of strategic changes in February, such as increasing advertising by $500 to $600 million this year and reducing headcount by 8,700 across 30 countries. The reduction represents about three percent of its global workforce and less than two percent domestically.

4. Food Lion
In January, grocer Food Lion, owned by Delhaize America based in Salisbury, N.C., announced 4,900 employees were exiting the company, some related to the closure of 113 Food Lion stores. The company has about 74,000 total employees.

A spokeswoman for the company said they were able to find retail jobs for a number of the individuals affected by the announcement.

5. Procter & Gamble
Last year, consumer products company Procter & Gamble announced plans to reduce its global non-manufacturing enrollment by 10 percent, or about 5,700 roles, over two years ending June 30, 2013.

In February, the company said it planned to cut 1,600 jobs of the 5,700 by June. The company has reduced 3,000 roles to date, a company spokeswoman told ABC News.

6. Old Country Buffet Inc. (Buffets Inc.)
In January, Buffets Inc., the owners of Old Country Buffett and HomeTown Buffet, said it was filing for bankruptcy and it planned to close 81 restaurants nationwide, which Challenger, Gray and Christmas estimates is leading to a cut of 3,000 positions.

Buffets Inc. did not return a request for comment.

Buffets Inc. filed for bankrupty previously in January 2008, closing 51 restaurants and laying off 2,300 employees.

7. Albertsons (Nevada & California)
In June, grocer Albertsons announced it was laying off up to 2,500 workers in California and Nevada beginning that month.

Albertsons and Food Lion face similar struggles, as they are reflective of very thin margins in the food business, Challenger said.

The supermarket chain has more than 450 locations in about nine states and is a subsidiary of SuperValu, based in Boise, Idaho.

Albertsons did not return a request for comment.

8. Best Buy Co. Inc.
In July, electronics retailer Best Buy announced it was laying off 2,400 workers, including 600 Geek Squad (aka tech support) representatives.

The company has struggled with sales, reporting earlier this month a near 90 percent drop in profit in its second quarter.

Challenger said tight sales margins are in part due to competition from companies like Amazon and the ability of consumers to quickly compare prices between stores.

Best Buy did not return a request for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gas Up, Airfare Down for Labor Day Travel

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Thirty-three million people will travel at least 50 miles from home this Labor Day weekend, a 2.9 percent increase from last year, according to AAA.  The vast majority -- 85 percent-- will go by automobile, a 3.1 percent increase compared with last year.

The increase in automobile travel comes despite rising gas prices, up 16 cents per gallon as of Tuesday from a year ago.

Decreased airfare may play a part in the rising number of air travelers this holiday weekend, expected to rise 3.7 percent.  AAA reports average domestic airfare is down 4 percent from last year.

That decrease in airfare is even deeper to some of the nation's most popular vacation destinations.  Orbitz flight booking data found airfare was flat or down to most of its top 10 Labor Day destinations.  Airfare to Anaheim, Calif., saw the most dramatic drop at 11 percent.  Las Vegas airfare decreased 9 percent and airfare to Atlanta, 6 percent.

The vast majority of holiday weekend travelers are opting to stay stateside, turning the three-day weekend into an all-American holiday.  That's according to online booking giant Priceline, which compiled the top 50 Labor Day destinations based on bookings.  Some 47 of the top 50 destinations are domestic; Niagara Falls, Montreal and Toronto are the only international spots on the list.

"It appears that the Olympics hype and favorable exchange rates didn't do enough to offset high international airfares for the holiday," Priceline spokesperson Brian Ek said in a news release.  "Major U.S. cities, however, are going to be crowded over the long weekend, as visitors get in their back-to-school and fall shopping, and enjoy the restaurants, theaters and museums."

New York, Seattle and Las Vegas appear four times each on the top 50 list, while Chicago, San Francisco and Boston make three appearances each.  Philadelphia, with four spots on the list, and Hawaii, with two spots, failed to make the top 50 list in 2011.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fewer Americans Expected to Travel on Labor Day Weekend

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(AURORA, Ill.) -- As Labor Day weekend approaches, fewer Americans appear to be planning on hitting the road for one last trip to celebrate the unofficial end of summer.

AAA estimates that 31.5 million Americans will travel during this year's holiday weekend, which begins on Sept. 1 and runs through Sept. 5.  The latest projection is down 2.4 percent from the 32.3 million who got behind the wheel in 2010.

AAA's Heather Hunter says "the decrease in expected travelers is a result of a mixed economic outlook.  We've had some recent poor economic news that has come out and also [high] gas prices."

Among those traveling, more will be doing so via automobiles.  According to AAA, 87 percent of holiday travelers -- or close to 27.3 million Americans -- will be hitting the roads, while eight percent will be opting to fly.  The remaining five percent will be reaching their destinations using other modes of transportation, like trains or watercraft.

If they do take to the road, travelers will be staying closer to home this year.  AAA says Americans will travel an average distance of 608 miles, down from 635 miles the year before.  They will, however, spend slightly more than last year despite the shorter distance -- $702 compared to $697 -- mainly due to the rise in fuel and transportation costs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio