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Entries in Public Sector (3)

Friday
May062011

Payrolls Add 244,000 Jobs in April; Unemployment Back at 9%

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The nation’s employers increased payrolls by 244,000 during the month of April, beating economists’ expectations, a government report showed Friday.

The private sector, which factors out government layoffs and hiring, saw 268,000 workers added to payrolls -- the best monthly jobs growth from the private sector since February 2006.

The nation’s unemployment rate jumped, however, from 8.8 to 9 percent.

"The reason you get that," said economist Hugh Johnson, "is even though you get a very strong increase in the number of jobs, you get a much bigger increase in the labor force," or the number of those who are actively pursuing work.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Saturday
Mar052011

State of Labor: Wisconsin Showdown Puts Unions Back in National Spotlight

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's been nearly three weeks since the showdown began between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, and state Democratic lawmakers over a budget bill that would strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights.

Public employees have protested inside and around the state Capitol building in Madison, putting their cause squarely in the national spotlight and raising the profile of the labor movement to a level not been seen in decades.

The Wisconsin teachers' union and state workers unions have agreed to reductions in their benefits but only on the condition that they be allowed to keep their collective bargaining rights.

Walker has dug in his heels, saying the state fiscal situation is so dire that he has no room to negotiate.

But the standoff between Republican lawmakers and unions is not unique to Wisconsin. Similar fights are taking place -- or brewing -- in Indiana, Ohio and New Jersey, where governors have made it clear that they are looking to cut the benefits and wages of public sector employees as a solution to their massive budget deficits.

In New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie -- in his campaign to reform education and bring the state's massive budget deficit under control -- has made his battle against the state teachers' union one of the signature elements in his stump speech.

In an extensive profile in the New York Times Magazine, reporter Matt Bai said Christie had found "the ideal adversary" in public sector unions.

"Ronald Reagan had his 'welfare queens,' Rudy Giuliani had his criminals and 'squeegee men,' and now Chris Christie has his sprawling and powerful public-sector unions — teachers, cops and firefighters who Christie says are driving up local taxes beyond what the citizenry can afford, while also demanding the kind of lifetime security that most private-sector workers have already lost," Bai wrote.

Given the divide between the two sides, and the battle for public opinion, union activists and labor historians say that the stakes are enormously high.

Joe McCartin, a history professor at Georgetown University and the director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, said what is happening in Wisconsin has "caught almost everyone by surprise.

"Certainly [it] has elicited a reaction unlike any in a generation around the defense of workers' rights, to collectively bargain," said McCartin.

But McCartin said that the labor movement had lost strength compared to a generation ago, a story told in the raw numbers.

According to a January report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership in 2010 was 11.9 percent of the American work force, down from 12.3 percent in 2009. The number of employees belonging to a union declined by 612,000, to 14.7 million.

Nearly 30 years ago, that percentage was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers. In the mid-20th century, 35 percent of the work force was in a union.

But Daniel DiSalvo, a political science professor at City College of New York who studies the U.S. labor movement, said the distinction between public- and private-sector unions is important when looking at the numbers.

While private-sector union membership has declined steadily, public union membership has remained strong. More than one-third of government workers (about 7.6 million of them) belong to a union, compared with 7 percent of private-sector workers (or 7.1 million), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Even with declining membership, the rise and increase in political power of public sector unions has helped stabilize ... the labor movement," DiSalvo said. "The heart and soul right now of the labor movement is public employees."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio ´╗┐

Friday
Mar042011

Unemployment Rate Drops to Lowest Level Since April 2009

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Employers added 192,000 jobs in February, bringing the unemployment rate down from 9 to 8.9 percent -- its lowest level since April 2009.

The private sector, factoring out government layoffs, saw 22,000 workers added to payrolls.

Economists were expecting to see approximately 185,000 new jobs added, slightly fewer than the government reported on Friday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio