National / International News

Despite strong jobs report, wages still flat

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 02:19

[UPDATED: FRIDAY, MAY 2, 2014, 9:58am ET]: The April 2014 jobs report from the Department of Labor shows much stronger employment growth than economists expected, and a significantly lower unemployment rate. The unemployment rate fell 0.4 percent to 6.3 percent in April.

Nonfarm private- and public-sector payroll jobs rose by 288,000 in April. The consensus expectation was 215,000. Job gains came across the board, in white- and blue-collar jobs: Professional and business services (+75,000), temporary employment (+24,000), retail trade (+35,000) with car dealerships particularly strong. Bars and restaurants added 33,000 jobs and construction added 32,000 jobs, a welcome recovery for a housing sector that has seemed weak in recent months. Health care and mining also rose strongly. Manufacturing and government jobs were both essentially unchanged.

The unemployment rate decline appears very favorable on its face -- 6.3 percent is the lowest unemployment rate since September 2008, as the financial crisis was raging. It hit a peak of 10 percent in October 2009, before beginning its painstakingly slow, steady decline to April 2014’s level.

One force driving the unemployment rate down is a decline in the labor force participation rate -- to 62.8 percent in April. The number of people in the civilian labor force -- those either working, or unemployed and actively looking for work -- declined by 806,000, after increasing by 503,000 in March. Data from the household survey -- the source of labor force measures -- is considered more volatile than the job-creation numbers derived from the Establishment Survey, and it might be a few months before these trends settle out more clearly.

Job gains turn out to have been better than previously reported during the winter, when the economy slowed dramatically amid severe weather events. February’s figure was revised up from +197,000 to +222,000, and March was revised from +192,000 to +203,000. That puts the three-month average at 238,000. That could signal a moderate, but significant, acceleration of job-creation in the economy. At some point, faster wage growth could even follow.

Finally, April was a 'pretty good' month for jobs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 02:19

[UPDATED: FRIDAY, MAY 2, 2014, 8:35am ET]: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported domestic employers added 288,000 to non-farm payrolls in the month of April, bringing the current unemployment rate down to 6.3 percent. 

Chances are, today's Employment Situation Summary for April from the Labor Department will be a pretty good report.

Job growth is expected to have improved compared to mid-winter's labor-market polar vortex. The consensus among economists (Bloomberg) is 215,000 new jobs created in April, and unemployment falling 0.1 percent to 6.6 percent. Job growth has come in around 175,000 non-farm payroll jobs per month since February (3-month average).

For the past six months, economists have had a hard time determining underlying labor-market strength. Nearly every monthly report has been skewed by anomalous or seasonal effects: the partial government shutdown in the fall; expiration of long-term federal unemployment benefits after the New Year (maybe people stopped looking, and getting counted?); severe winter weather in the Northeast and Midwest and Southeast and Northwest that suppressed consumer spending, travel, and hiring nationwide.

In recent weeks, economic signals have been mixed: a strong April private-sector jobs report from payroll processing firm ADP; higher first-time claims for state unemployment benefits (rising to a nine-week high in May 1 report); consumer spending up 0.9 percent in March to a four-year high. Meanwhile, GDP barely cleared the flatline in the first quarter (+0.1 percent preliminary, compared to 2.6 percent in Q4/2013). Home sales and building construction have all but stalled.

Mark Hamrich, who tracks the economy for personal finance website Bankrate.com, says the labor market hasn't changed very much in the past two years. Job creation has averaged , just below 200,000 every month and the unemployment rate has fallen gradually to below 7 percent. That represents slow, steady improvement—without, however, much acceleration in job creation.

"I call it a 'more, please' job market," says Hamrich. He says that's stressful for middle-income Americans--suffering from the lingering effects of the financial crisis, and the precipitous fall in assets such as retirement savings and home values.

Hamrick says income has largely stagnated. "Even for those who have been employed," he says, "many have had to put up with sub-standard wage gains on an annual basis. That leaves people feeling like they aren't making much progress."

Finally, April was probably a 'pretty good' month for jobs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 02:19

Chances are, today's Employment Situation Summary for April from the Labor Department will be a pretty good report.

Job growth is expected to have improved compared to mid-winter's labor-market polar vortex. The consensus among economists (Bloomberg) is 215,000 new jobs created in April, and unemployment falling 0.1 percent to 6.6 percent. Job growth has come in around 175,000 non-farm payroll jobs per month since February (3-month average).

For the past six months, economists have had a hard time determining underlying labor-market strength. Nearly every monthly report has been skewed by anomalous or seasonal effects: the partial government shutdown in the fall; expiration of long-term federal unemployment benefits after the New Year (maybe people stopped looking, and getting counted?); severe winter weather in the Northeast and Midwest and Southeast and Northwest that suppressed consumer spending, travel, and hiring nationwide.

In recent weeks, economic signals have been mixed: a strong April private-sector jobs report from payroll processing firm ADP; higher first-time claims for state unemployment benefits (rising to a nine-week high in May 1 report); consumer spending up 0.9 percent in March to a four-year high. Meanwhile, GDP barely cleared the flatline in the first quarter (+0.1 percent preliminary, compared to 2.6 percent in Q4/2013). Home sales and building construction have all but stalled.

Mark Hamrich, who tracks the economy for personal finance website Bankrate.com, says the labor market hasn't changed very much in the past two years. Job creation has averaged , just below 200,000 every month and the unemployment rate has fallen gradually to below 7 percent. That represents slow, steady improvement—without, however, much acceleration in job creation.

"I call it a 'more, please' job market," says Hamrich. He says that's stressful for middle-income Americans--suffering from the lingering effects of the financial crisis, and the precipitous fall in assets such as retirement savings and home values.

Hamrick says income has largely stagnated. "Even for those who have been employed," he says, "many have had to put up with sub-standard wage gains on an annual basis. That leaves people feeling like they aren't making much progress."

Teacher murder accused in court

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 02:13
A 15-year-old boy charged with the murder of a teacher who was stabbed in front of her pupils appears before Leeds Crown Court.

VIDEO: Opera lovers on making their music

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 02:03
Opera's Mr and Mrs Ailyn Perez and Stephen Costello on their first album together

Maidana no pushover - Mayweather

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:51
Floyd Mayweather says he will need to be at his best to maintain his unbeaten record against Marcos Maidana in Las Vegas.

Bank warns on housing 'correction'

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:49
The recent surge in UK house prices could end in a crash, the Bank of England deputy governor who oversees financial stability warns.

Coalition split over knives policy

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:43
A proposal to bring in tougher penalties for criminals convicted of knife crimes prompts disagreements within the coalition government.

Blue star guilty of criminal damage

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:32
Singer Lee Ryan pleaded guilty to failing to provide a specimen after being caught driving erratically.

Dozens hurt in S Korea subway crash

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:19
Dozens of people have been injured after two subway trains collided in the South Korean capital Seoul, officials say.

Five monkeys stolen in zoo break-in

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:16
Five monkeys have been stolen during a "targeted" break-in at Blackpool Zoo, police say.

Many Seniors Accepted To First-Choice Colleges Go Elsewhere

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:16

Almost half of college freshmen surveyed last year had enrolled in schools that weren't at the top of their list — not because they didn't get in, but because of costs.

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Agribusiness Funds 'Farmland' To Counter Hollywood Message

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:16

Films like Food Inc. and King Corn highlight the evils of big agriculture. Now farmers are hitting back with their own movie, Farmland. It was funded by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.

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Patient health board complaints soar

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:09
Serious concerns are raised over the increase in the number of patient complaints to health boards in Wales.

Obamacare Sign-Ups Show Wide Variation By State, Ethnicity

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:09

Nearly half the 8 million people who bought health insurance through the state and federal exchanges signed up in the last six weeks. Florida enrolled 39 percent of those eligible, despite opposition.

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The history of the marketing of Cinco de Mayo

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:05

Technically, Cinco de Mayo falls on a Monday this year. But beer companies want people to get an early start, celebrating over the weekend.

But celebrating what, exactly? What does Cinco de Mayo mean for marketers and consumers?

Many in Los Angeles celebrated Cinco de Mayo last weekend. Tens of thousands of Latinos attended a street fair that big corporations saw as a marketing opportunity, even if their message was a little fuzzy.

At the Ford booth, I spoke with Marie, a 'brand ambassador.' I asked her to make the connection between the car company and Cinco de Mayo.

"Ford, to me, is about the people. And people need to drive to get around this city and Ford is a great way to do that," said Marie.

She struggled to make the connection. But, to be fair, it is sort of a hazy holiday.

After all, May 5 commemorates an obscure battle where the Mexican underdogs defeated the French.

"In Mexico, we don't really do Cinco de Mayo," said Marie. "It's more of an American-ized holiday."

In this case, 'American-ized' meant commercialized. Festival goers moved from line to line, waiting for free samples and gift bags. A fiesta of freebies from McDonald's and Palmolive and Colgate.

"The consumer products companies have been the early-adopters of understanding that this is the market that is going to move the needle, and they've really fought hard to create brand recognition," said Xavier Gutierrez with Meruelo Group, one of the event's sponsors.

While some companies try to connect with Latinos, beer companies try to get everyone to party.

According to Nielsen, the market research company, Americans bought more than $600 million worth of beer last year for Cinco de Mayo. That's more beer than was sold for the Super Bowl or St. Patrick's Day.

"Beer companies have been largely responsible for the commodification of Cinco de Mayo. I mean, they spend millions and millions of dollar in Spanish-language advertising," said Jose Alamillo, a professor of Chicano studies at California State University Channel Islands.

Alamillo said the beer industry ignores alcohol related health issues that affect the Latino community.

He'd like to see Cinco de Mayo promoted as a history lesson, instead of -- as critics allege -- an excuse to sell booze.

Pulis & Wickham handed April awards

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:05
Tony Pulis of Crystal Palace is named Manager of the Month for April, with Sunderland's Connor Wickham Player of the Month.

Ukraine Forces Seek To Retake Slovyansk

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:05

Ukraine launched what appeared to be its first major assault against pro-Russian forces who have seized government buildings in the country's east.

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Rooney injury not a World Cup worry

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:02
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney will miss the Premier League visit of Sunderland after picking up a fresh injury.

Car bomb rocks Nigeria's capital

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 01:00
A car bomb attack in the Nigerian capital Abuja, the second in recent weeks, kills at least 19 people and injures dozens more.
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