07-04-2020  3:49 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Police Union Contract Extended, Bargaining to Continue

Negotiations will resume in January 2021.

Inslee Heckled Off Stage During Tri-Cities Appearance

Speaking outdoors in Eastern Washington, the governor was repeatedly interrupted by hecklers as he urged residents to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Portland Police Declare Riot, Use Tear Gas

Several arrests were made as protests continued into early Wednesday morning.

Oregon Legislature Passes Police Reform Package Amid ‘Rushed’ Criticism

Six new bills declare an emergency in police protocol and are immediately effective. 

NEWS BRIEFS

Trump Blows His Twitter Dog Whistle on America’s Fair Housing Policies in the Suburbs

The president could be Tweeting on unemployment or COVID-19 infections but instead pushes housing discrimination ...

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Awards Historic $100,000 Founders' Centennial Scholarship

Zeta celebrates 100 years with largest single recipient scholarship awarded by a historically Black Greek-lettered sorority or...

Nominations Being Accepted for the Gladys McCoy Lifetime Achievement Award

Gladys McCoy Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 1994 to honor Multnomah County residents who have contributed outstanding...

Shatter, LLC Launches to Elevate Diverse Voices in Progressive Politics

A collaboration of leading female political strategists aims to fill a void in the world of political consulting ...

New Director Takes Helm at Oregon Black Pioneers

In its 27-year history, the organization has never had an executive director, and has expressed confidence and optimism in Zachary A....

Surge in state COVID-19 cases driven by eastern Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Cirio Hernandez Hernandez was thinning apple trees on a June morning in Yakima, grabbing a fistful of tiny apples and knocking off all but one that was left to grow to a marketable size.It wasn't the Yakima Valley's hot temperatures, or the strenuous work, that was...

Violence mars Portland protests, frustrates Black community

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Protesters in this liberal, predominantly white city have taken to the streets peacefully every day for more than five weeks to decry police brutality. But violence by smaller groups is dividing the movement and drawing complaints that some white demonstrators are...

Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner hurt in jet ski accident

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner sustained serious injuries when he and a passenger on a jet ski collided with a boat on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.According to a police report, Koerner and Cole Coffin were hurt at about 6:30 p.m. Friday when their watercraft...

Missouri football program pushes again for racial justice

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Ryan Walters had just arrived at the University of Missouri to coach safeties for the football program when a series of protests related to racial injustice led to the resignations of the system president and the chancellor of its flagship campus.The student-led movement...

OPINION

Editorial From the Publisher: Vote as Your Life Depends on It

The Republican-controlled Senate won’t pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, no matter how hard Oregon’s senators and others work to push for change. ...

Banana Republic or Constitutional Democracy? The US Military May Decide

Will the military, when and if the chips are down, acts in accord with the Constitution and not out of loyalty to its commander-in-chief? ...

To Save Black Lives, and the Soul of Our Nation, Congress Must Act Boldly

For too long, Black people in America have been burdened with the unjust responsibility of keeping ourselves safe from police. ...

Racial Inequalities - Black America Has Solutions; White America Won't Approve Them

The problem is we have to secure approval of the solutions from the people who deny the problem's existence while reaping the benefits from it. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Protesters return to St. Louis area where couple drew guns

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Several hundred protesters made a peaceful return trip Friday to the St. Louis mansion owned by a white couple whose armed defense of their home during an earlier demonstration earned them both scorn and support.Protesters marched along the busy public boulevard called...

K-State players end threat of boycott over Floyd tweet

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State football players have called off a threatened boycott in response to an insensitive tweet by a student about the death of George Floyd.The decision, announced on social media by several players, follows moves by the school to address diversity concerns....

Violence mars Portland protests, frustrates Black community

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Protesters in this liberal, predominantly white city have taken to the streets peacefully every day for more than five weeks to decry police brutality. But violence by smaller groups is dividing the movement and drawing complaints that some white demonstrators are...

ENTERTAINMENT

Hugh Downs, genial presence on TV news and game shows, dies

NEW YORK (AP) — Hugh Downs, the genial, versatile broadcaster who became one of television’s most familiar and welcome faces with more than 15,000 hours on news, game and talk shows, has died at age 99.Downs died of natural causes at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Wednesday, said...

Review: A master class by Catherine Deneuve in 'The Truth'

Family may be the great subject of Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, but he doesn't draw straightforward portraits. In Kore-eda's hands, family is more malleable. He tends to shift roles around like he's rearranging furniture, subtly remaking familiar dynamics until he has, without you knowing...

Union tells actors not to work on pandemic film 'Songbird'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The union that represents film actors told its members Thursday not to work on the upcoming pandemic thriller “Songbird,” saying the filmmakers have not been up-front about safety measures and had not signed the proper agreements for the movie that is among...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

More fireworks in Americans' hands for July 4 raises risks

ATLANTA (AP) — For many Americans, the Fourth of July will be more intimate this year. It also could be...

The Latest: Barcelona basilica reopens for health workers

BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona’s iconic La Sagrada Familia basilica has reopened its doors for visits...

Cops fired over photos of chokehold used on Elijah McClain

AURORA, Colo. (AP) — Three officers were fired Friday over photos showing police reenact a chokehold used...

The Latest: Barcelona basilica reopens for health workers

BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona’s iconic La Sagrada Familia basilica has reopened its doors for visits...

Heavy rain floods southern Japan; over a dozen presumed dead

TOKYO (AP) — Heavy rain in southern Japan triggered flooding and mudslides on Saturday, leaving more than a...

Pints poured, unkempt hairdos cut as England eases lockdown

LONDON (AP) — The pints are being poured and the unkempt hairdos are being cut and styled as England...

McMenamins
By Tom Foreman CNN












Graph shows hiring over the last year (Department of Labor)


The Mississippi River rolls muddy and wide beneath a gray, spitting sky. The St. Louis Arch, symbol of the once unimaginable promise of the nation's westward expansion, looms above the barges pushing past and the summer traffic below. Across the water, at 35 years old, Lolanda Ohene is staring at the skyline and wondering what has happened to her future.

"I thought I'd be more successful right now," she says, "have better health insurance, better (working) conditions, just better everything, because I'm in America." She laughs softly. "We're supposed to have better quality everything here, but we don't."

Ohene is a forklift operator at a warehouse and one of the countless working Americans struggling with the long, slow economic recovery, characterized by the latest jobs report, which once again shows unemployment above 7 percent. The rate has not dipped below that number since November 2008, two months before Barack Obama became president. His defenders point out that the nose dive in jobs began under President Bush; his detractors counter that Obama has not exactly proven a wizard at reversing the trend.

Forget the politics: The bottom line is that sustained unemployment of more than 7 percent is wreaking havoc in ways that many economists fear are being overlooked as the nation grows numb to the dreadful monthly numbers.

"It's a total employers' market," says John Schmitt, a senior economist at the progressive Center for Economic and Policy Research. He argues that the first and foremost effect is an erosion of the bargaining positions for workers everywhere. "If you are looking for a job, you take whatever is offered. If you have a job, you don't complain. If wages are going to be frozen, if benefits are going to be cut, you suck it up. There's not much you can do."

Other profound changes emerging from the 7 percent landscape: The Labor Department reports four times as many workers are now being offered temporary or part-time positions than full-time jobs; reports have abounded for many months about how even the full-time positions now don't pay as well as those lost in the Great Recession.

Certainly, President Obama is sensitive to all that. He has been barnstorming the country in recent weeks leading sing-along choruses of "The Let's Save the Middle Class Rag," the song that got him re-elected. But aside from the politics, there are practical reasons he, his Democrats, and Republicans, too, need to see the 7 percent floor broken, and soon. As Schmitt puts it, "Seven out of a hundred workers that would like to have a job don't have one. That's an enormous amount of lost resources in the economy. That means people aren't producing goods and services, aren't consuming goods and services. ..."

And they aren't paying taxes. At least not at the rate that governments require to keep up with benefits for a population trying to claw out of an economic hole. That's why, back in St. Louis, Mayor Francis Slay gets agitated over people growing accustomed to such a high unemployment rate.

"For people to accept that as the norm would be very, very dangerous," he tells me as we sit in the office of St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, who chimes in. "I think it is not the American way of life. We can do better than that. We've got to continue to invest in our infrastructure. You've got to have amenities." And both men know, you can't do any of that with a crippling unemployment rate hanging around year after year. Missouri, by the way, has a current unemployment rate just under 7 percent, but across the river in Illinois, it's over 9 percent.

To be sure, some progress is being made. Look at the charts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and you'll see creeping improvements in the jobs numbers over the past few years. But the National Conference of State Legislatures in its spring report said while most states are no longer teetering on the edge of economic calamity, there is still "a dose of uncertainty, as states continue to plod their way through an extended economic recovery."

What everyone wants, of course, is "full employment." That's a term economists don't like much because while it describes a simple idea (everyone who wants a job has one), the details are squishy. For starters, "full employment" does not and will never mean 0 percent unemployment. People are always changing jobs, looking for new positions, or taking breaks, so some percentage of the population is expected to be out of work at any given time.

Furthermore, some economists -- not many, but some -- believe that whenever an unemployment rate stabilizes for a period of years at any number, like say 7 percent or above, that is by definition "full employment" because the economy is essentially "full" of workers or it would hire more.

William Dickens, however, is not one of them. "I have a lot of problems with that."

Dickens is a distinguished professor of economics at Northeastern University in Boston, who has written and researched extensively into the causes and effects of unemployment. "Before the recession, (full employment) was typically estimated to be in the range of 4 to 6 percent. Since the recession, there are indications that number may have gone up. My own estimates suggest it is somewhere between 5 and perhaps a little bit over 6 percent now, although nowhere near 7 or 7½ percent."

The ways in which those numbers can change are complicated. Imagine a chalkboard filled with elaborate, baffling equations and you'll get the gist even if you don't get the picture.

But it all comes down to the idea that 7 percent is not even close to "full employment" in the eyes of most economists, and some parts of the population are disastrously far from even that mark. Last year, for example, African-American males faced an unemployment rate of 15 percent.

And here is the thing: Young workers -- all those bright-eyed, optimistic kids with their iPhones -- who are being pounded by the employment situation now, will likely never recover from the beating. Read that again: They will never recover. "There is evidence that entering a troubled labor market has a permanent scarring effect," Dickens says. "Somebody who enters a labor market during a downturn, they're going to see lower wages throughout their career."

All that is the damning legacy of that stubborn 7 percent-plus that keeps coming out each month. Blame whomever you wish politically, but even if the number has started looking benign after all these months, there is no denying the economic tidal wave rumbling beneath it.

Even now, it is washing around Lolanda Ohene, as she stands on the riverbank while her friend Vernon Glenn roams up. He is 27, works in a factory and has a strategy for economic survival: "Just got to try to keep your head up high and save all you can, if you can."

She smiles and turns back to the river. Until that number changes, it is as good a plan as any.

 

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