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Labor Report

Unemployment Pulse

OnHoldWhen companies are hiring, economists say new claims for unemployment benefits hover around 300,000. Some 2,250 new jobless claims were made across the nation this week, but the total number is a “still low” 304,750.

"Initial jobless claims edged up by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 291,000 in the period stretching from March 8 to March 14, the Labor Department said Thursday. New claims have tracked below 300,000 for the second straight week after spiking to a 10-month high of 325,000 at the end of February in what now appears to have been a weather-related quirk,” MarketWatch’s Jeffrey Bartash reported this week.

In Pennsylvania, the change in total employment eclipsed the 1 percent mark in January (1.08 percent). With 62,400 more people working in January 2015 compared to January 2014, the commonwealth is 41st in the country for this category.

Our February jobless count ticked up to 5.2 percent from January’s 5.1 percent. In February 2014, the state’s unemployment rate was 6.2 percent.

Compared to states’ total employment performance from January to January when it comes to the minimum wage, Pennsylvania is still lagging behind most others.

Twenty-three states with higher minimum wage rates have created larger percentage improvements to their total employment numbers. While PA upped its total employment by 62,400, many states did better:

  • Florida ($8.25 an hour), ranked 3rd nationally, counted 274,100 more workers
  • Texas ($8.05), 4th, 392,900
  • Washington ($9.47), 6th, 100,100
  • California ($9), 8th, 498,000
  • Arizona ($8.05), 12th, 68,000

Speaking of the Minimum

MoneyDelaware lawmakers are expected to begin their consideration next week of a bill that would up its minimum wage to $10.25 by 2019. The Democratic proposal of Sen. Robert Marshall would also seek an annual cost-of-living increase.

About time you say? Delaware is already requiring base rates of $7.75 and that will move to $8.25 June 1.

As market analysts expected, Target said this week it will soon raise its minimum wage to $9 – just like Walmart, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and others.

Wondering when fast food companies will follow suit?

McDonaldsSpeaking of Fast Food

A group that’s calling itself “Fast Food Forward” is adding worker safety to its list of grievances against McDonald’s Corp.

“The group … backed by the Service Employees International Union, announced on Monday a series of complaints it has filed to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleging violations by 19 McDonald's franchisees and nine McDonald's Corp.-owned stores,” reported.

Fast Food Forward is also deep in the fight to get fast food restaurants to pay their workers a “living” minimum wage.

Fair Wage Business of the Week

LancasterEnthusiasm for healthy food is a good thing, but passion for helping those less fortunate is an even better thing. That’s what makes the Lancaster Food Co. such a standout business. Located in Lancaster, PA, the Lancaster Food Co. is home to local, organic breads and spreads made from fresh ingredients without any chemical additives. The Lancaster Food Co. is featured as the Fair Wage Business of the Week because this is an employer that practices what it preaches. It strives to do right by its customers and employees, while reaching out and contributing to those in need. Not only does this company pride itself on producing delicious foods that are good for you, but also, it supports the payment of fair, livable wages like those its own workers receive.

As a business that is actively involved in communities within Lancaster County, the Lancaster Food Co. supports local farmers and businesses and aims to improve access to healthy foods, so that everyone is able to partake in their goodness. In consideration of its wholesome products and business practices, I think the Lancaster Food Co. serves as another great example of a company that will never leave you feeling unsatisfied but will certainly make you want to return for more.