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Unemployment Update

HelpThe national unemployment picture remained mostly the same as last week even though first-time claims for UC benefits ticked up by 3,000 displaced workers. Economists say there is no reason to fear the uptick because the number of unemployed across the country continues to hover around the 2000’s level of joblessness.

In Pennsylvania, the trend in unemployment continues to be good.

Sixty-five of the state’s 67 counties opened the door to lower unemployment rates in September while the other two counties’ jobless numbers stayed the same as the month before.

The top 10 counties for high unemployment are:

  1. Philadelphia County - 6.9 percent
  2. Cameron County - 6.8
  3. Forest, Pike and Luzerne counties - 6.7
  4. Huntingdon and Monroe counties - 6.6
  5. Potter and Wyoming counties - 6.5
  6. Bedford, Cambria and Somerset counties - 6.4
  7. Armstrong and Carbon counties - 6.2
  8. Fayette and Lackawanna counties - 6.1
  9. Clearfield, Clinton and Fulton counties - 6.0
  10. Clarion, Lawrence, Mercer, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Tioga counties - 5.9

Minimum Wage Update

WageDespite the mountains of historical evidence in support of an increase in the minimum wage in Pennsylvania, the United States and worldwide, stories still percolate about concerned business owners.

I read these stories and talk to a few people who are concerned about higher base hourly rates because I need to have the best understanding of where their fears are emanating.

One such story this week was published on Southern California Public Radio’s website and it shared the feelings of the owner of a relatively famous deli in Hollywood.

In business since 1926, Jeff Kavin, the current owner of Greenblatt’s Deli-Restaurant & Fine Wine Shop, said the local proposal to increase Los Angeles’ minimum wage to $13.25 an hour by 2017 represents the biggest historical threat to his shop’s existence.

Upping the minimum to $13.25 an hour would be a hard nut to swallow if LA was starting at $7.25 an hour, but the city’s minimum is $9 and Greenblatt’s waiters are the only ones making that $9. They’re also still collecting tips, which I was glad to read.

However, comparing Los Angeles to Harrisburg shows that the cost of living there makes that $9 an hour just about the same as the $7.25 here.

This is a company that has weathered dozens of minimum wage increases and it makes me wonder where Kavin’s concern is originating.

While he’s saying the hike is worrisome, he’s also saying he is not sure what will happen. Why wouldn’t he know? Greenblatt’s has been in business for 88 years.

Scaremongering appears to be the source of stories like these. proved this week that alarmism has been behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s opposition to an increase in his state’s $7.25 an hour minimum, and the reason he actually called the paltry hourly stipend a living wage:

“The Republican governor’s administration, after examining the issue, announced earlier this month that it found “no reasonable cause” for the complaint,” Salon reported yesterday. “That official government finding was supposed to come from a dispassionate investigation. Yet, documents reveal that it was largely based on information provided by the state’s restaurant lobby, which represents major low-wage employers including fast-food companies.”

See the probable LA-Wisconsin connection?

I agree that restaurants and fast-food places are critical providers of employment but most of their concerns are unwarranted, weakened by historical evidence and fly in the face of real statistics that show their executives earn hundreds times more than their frontline employees.

The U.S. isn’t Canada, but a new study released this week by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that there has been “almost no evidence of any connection whatsoever between higher minimum wages and employment levels in Canada” between 1983 and 2012.

So-called “red states” in this country understand the positive impact of higher minimum wage rates. Pennsylvania, unfortunately, continues to believe and behave like Wisconsin.

Fair Wage Business of the Week

AILDuring the past year, the hourly rate of pay for the lowest-paid workers has become a hot topic around the globe. From North America to Europe and Asia, low wage workers everywhere are beginning to stand up to their employers and demand fair pay for their hard work and time. Not only is a hike in the minimum wage long overdue, but also, the current struggle to enact such an increase emphasizes the importance of tying future wages to inflation.

Thanks in part to a growing number of employers who are coming to their senses and rallying alongside employees and other advocates, workers receiving the lowest hourly pay rate allowed by law may see more money on their paychecks sooner than they expected.

One company that Pennsylvania residents can rely on for support in raising the minimum wage and for their insurance needs is American Income Life Insurance Company (AIL). Operating in the U.S. and overseas since 1951, this employer offers financial security for its customers and their loved ones in the event of death or certain illnesses.

AIL also values the work of its agents, ensuring they are well-compensated and union-represented. This pro-union, pro-labor attitude is most visible through the work of its Labor Advisory Board, which assists the company in supporting the labor movement and the needs of its members.

During good times and bad, AIL has shown its dedication to workers, families and their future wellbeing. For a stand-out company that is bringing workers one step closer to a higher minimum wage, I encourage you to check-out American Income Life Insurance Company.