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Private-Sector Union Membership Grows in 2013, but Attacks on Public Employees Take Toll

Private-Sector Union Membership Grows in 2013, but Attacks on Public Employees Take Toll

The number of workers in unions in 2013 rose by 162,000, with the increase of 281,000 workers in private-sector unions offset by the decrease of 118,000 public-sector union members, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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It Was the Best of Times; It Was the Worst of Times

The 400,000 drop in labor union membership announced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last week is discouraging. The bigger story is that at the center of the drop is the decline in employment for public-sector workers, most notably local government workers. This has been the weakest sector of the economy.  And that largely reflects the decline in teachers. So, this is not so much about unions losing, but the continued lack of focus of American economic policy on maintaining investments for America’s future in the face of the ongoing weak economy. The myopic debates on the fiscal deficit and cutting budgets to meet the educational needs of America’s children (in order to preserve tax cuts for the currently wealthy) is not a plan to make America succeed in the long run.

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June Jobs Grew by 80,000, Unemployment Rate Stays at 8.2%

Sierra Romero

The number of new jobs rose by 80,000 in June and the unemployment rate stayed at 8.2 percent, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data out this morning. The boost in jobs is less than the 100,000 needed per month to keep up with the growing workforce, and far short of what’s needed to replenish the millions of jobs that have never been regained since the recession’s onset.

Private employment, which excludes government agencies, increased by 84,000 in June, the weakest in 10 months. In fact, the number of those working for public-sector jobs decreased by 4,000.

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Krugman: Challenge to Nation's Economy Political, Not Technical

Krugman: Challenge to Nation's Economy Political, Not Technical

It’s not technically hard to put millions of unemployed workers back on the job—the real challenge is political, says Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. Even returning the public-sector jobs that have been slashed at the state and local levels could lower the unemployment rate to nearly 7 percent or under, he said.

Krugman spoke this week at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and on a variety of media outlets around the nation to promote his new book, End This Depression Now! In short, says Krugman:

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Cuts to Public-Sector Jobs Harm Women, African Americans Most

EPI

When public-sector jobs at the state and local levels get cut, women and African Americans suffer the most. A new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) details just how devastating recent cuts to such jobs have been.

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Public-Sector Job Cuts: It’s a Red-State Thing

Just over a year ago, the 2010 midterm elections saw Republicans seize control of both branches of the legislatures in 11 states. Then, while talking up the notion of job creation, they set about cutting their state and local public workforces with a ferocity unseen in decades.  The most recent numbers, according to the Roosevelt Institute, are stark.

The 11 states are Alabama, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Together, they eliminated 87,900 state and local public jobs—more than 40 percent of the total cut.

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Overall Union Membership Notches Up from 2010 to 2011

Overall union membership increased by 49,000 from 2010 to 2011, including 15,000 new 16- to 24-year-old members, according to new U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data out this morning. An increase of 110,000 in the private sector was partially offset by a decline of  61,000 in the public sector, making the rate of union membership essentially unchanged at 11.8 percent, with some 14.8 million U.S. workers union members.

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50 Years Ago, JFK Opened Door for Federal Employees to Join Unions

Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order opening the door for 2 million federal employees to join unions. His action set the stage for expanding these rights under Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter—a bipartisan recognition that federal employees should have a voice on the job.

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June Job Growth Appalling: 18,000

The nation gained a stunningly small number of jobs in June–18,000–while the U.S. unemployment rate rose from 9.1 percent in May to 9.2 percent last month, according to Department of Labor data released this morning. Analysts had predicted jobs would grow by 100,000 in June. This is the third consecutive month the unemployment rate has worsened and the worst unemployment rate of the year. Hiring by companies, which excludes government agencies, was the weakest since May 2010.

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Women, Black Workers Hard Hit by Attacks on Public Employees

The improved jobs figures out last Friday obscured the ongoing decline in public-sector jobs. As the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted when releasing the March unemployment data:

Employment in local government continued to trend down over the month. Local government has lost 416,000 jobs since an employment peak in September 2008.

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