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Labor Report

PA Jobless Rate, Hmm

Pennsylvania’s workforce hit a new record size in March: 6,501,000.

More Pennsylvania workers (17,000) were out of jobs however and the state’s unemployment rate skipped up to 4.9 percent.

Welcome to the job market conundrum.

More than half of the suddenly unemployed (8,900) worked in the mining and logging sector while 24,600 new workers found jobs in the education and health services camp. Total nonfarm jobs also increased by 15,300 to a record 5,891,700.

Perhaps the unemployment rate increased because more longtime out of work Pennsylvanians are returning to look for jobs? Time will tell as the Department of Labor & Industry’s report is preliminary.

Across the U.S., fewer people sought UC benefits last week.

Minimum Wage, Harrumph

A Northeast PA newspaper quoted the spokesman for the House majority leader this week as saying it would be a waste of time to increase the commonwealth’s minimum wage to the $10.10 I’ve proposed or the $10.15 the governor has ordered for state employees and the employees of businesses that contract with PA or the $8.75 Sen. Scott Wagner has proposed.

“We think the legislative energies should be spent to transition people from minimum wage jobs to better paying jobs with benefits,” added (Stephen) Miskin. “Changing the minimum wage is not going to eradicate poverty. It’s mind-boggling all the energy trying to keep people at these minimum wage jobs.”

That’s a wonderful notion, but Republicans have led the charge in stripping job creation programs that would help overworked minimum-wage workers land better paying jobs with benefits.

No one is trying to keep people earning the lowest hourly rate by law. Well, except, maybe, some Republicans who appear to want to keep minimum wage earners pocketing a measly $7.25 an hour.

moneyBut don’t take my word for it!

None other than International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said recently called for a federal increase in the $7.25 minimum as part of a series of “family friendly” policy changes that includes the expansion of the earned income tax credit, or EITC.

Lagarde also called for Congress to take measures that would place more women in the workforce … and earning better pay.

What would the impact be if policies were adopted that promote gender equality? McKinsey Global Institute’s answer: $12 TRILLION.

“We believe that the world, including the private sector, would benefit by focusing on the large economic opportunity of improving parity between men and women,” the McKinsey report’s authors wrote.

If everyone buys into the concept of gender equality?

“We consider a ‘full potential’ scenario in which women participate in the economy identically to men and find that it would add up to $28 trillion, or 26 percent, to annual global GDP by 2025 compared with a business-as-usual scenario,” the report said.

Right to Work, Harangue

We could soon be fighting another attempt to quiet workers throughout Pennsylvania.

Some of the state’s staunchest conservative Republicans came out last week with a so-called “Open Workforce Initiative” to “protect individual freedoms of Pennsylvania’s working citizens.”

This isn’t about workers. It’s about businesses. Too many of these same businesses are the ones who don’t want to pay their workers more than $7.25 an hour and have been working with Republicans to kick the American worker back to the 19th century.

Labor Corner

Important minimum wage and labor-related news to share with you, without comment:

In Victory for Unions, Law on Dues Is Struck Down in Wisconsin

Ninety Percent of the World's Domestic Workers Lack Social Security Protection

Labor fight threatens inmate health care

The new US ban on slave labor imports appears to have teeth