10-23-2019  12:12 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Washington State Ecology Director Objects to EPA’s Proposed Clean Water Act Rule

Ecology Director Maia Bellon submitted formal objections in which she calls the proposal ill-advised and illegal

Washington State to Vote on Affirmative Action Referendum

More than two decades after voters banned affirmative action, the question of whether one's minority status should be considered in state employment, contracting, colleges admissions is back on the ballot

Merkley Introduces Legislation that Protects Access to Health Care for Those Who Cannot Afford Bail

Under current law, individuals in custody who have not been convicted of a crime are denied Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits

New County Hire Aims to Build Trust, Transparency Between Community and Public Safety Officials

Leneice Rice will serve as a liaison focused on documenting and reporting feedback from a community whose faith in law enforcement has been tested

NEWS BRIEFS

U.S. Census Bureau Hosts Job Recruitment Events in Portland

There are several opportunities to ‘Meet the Employer’ today through Saturday for more information or to apply for 2020 census...

GFO Offers African Americans Help in Solving Family Mysteries

The Genealogical Forum of Oregon is holding an African American Special Interest Group Saturday, Oct. 19 ...

Third Annual NAMC-WA Gala Features Leader on Minority Business Development

The topic of the Washington Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors' event was 'Community and Collaboration' ...

Building Bridges Event Aims to Strengthen Trust Between Communities

The 4th Annual Building Bridges of Understanding in Our Communities: Confronting Hate will be held in Tigard on...

The Black Man Project Kicks Off National Tour in Seattle

The first in a series of interactive conversations focused on Black men and vulnerability takes place in Seattle on October 25 ...

Woman sues Oregon clinic over claims of past abuse by doctor

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A woman who says she was repeatedly sexually abused by her pediatrician has filed a jumi million lawsuit against the doctor's former medical clinic in Oregon.The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Tuesday that the woman says the abuse occurred in the 1980s and early 1990s at...

Police: Body found is missing university student

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland police say a body found near the St. Johns Bridge in Northwest Portland is a missing University of Portland freshman.Police on Tuesday evening said that the medical examiner's office had conducted an autopsy and positively identified the body as Owen...

AP Top 25: Ohio State jumps Clemson to 3rd; Wisconsin falls

Ohio State edged past Clemson to No. 3 in The Associated Press college football poll and Wisconsin dropped to 13th after being upset ahead of its showdown with the Buckeyes.Alabama remained No. 1 on Sunday in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank, receiving 24 first-place votes. No. 2 LSU held...

Vaughn scores twice, Vandy upsets No. 22 Missouri 21-14

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Derek Mason wants it known he's the best coach for the Vanderbilt Commodores.Riley Neal came off the bench and threw a 21-yard touchdown to Cam Johnson with 8:57 left, and Vanderbilt upset No. 22 Missouri 21-14 on Saturday with a stifling defensive...

OPINION

Atatiana Jefferson, Killed by Police Officer in Her Own Home

Atatiana Jefferson, a biology graduate who worked in the pharmaceutical industry and was contemplating becoming a doctor, lived a life of purpose that mattered ...

“Hell No!” That Is My Message to Those Who Would Divide Us 

Upon release from the South African jail, Nelson Mandela told UAW Local 600 members “It is you who have made the United States of America a superpower, a leader of the world" ...

Rep. Janelle Bynum Issues Response to the Latest Statement from Clackamas Town Center

State legislator questions official response after daughter questioned for ‘loitering’ in parking lot ...

Why Would HUD Gut Its Own Disparate Impact Rule?

"You can’t expand housing rights by limiting civil protections. The ’D’ in HUD doesn’t stand for ‘Discrimination’" ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Farewells to US Rep. Elijah Cummings to begin in Baltimore

BALTIMORE (AP) — Constituents, friends and other mourners are set to gather at a historically black college in Baltimore to honor the life of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings in the first of a series of planned services.The Maryland congressman and civil rights champion died Thursday of...

Trump claim brings new pain to relatives of lynching victims

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Willie Edwards Jr., a black truck driver, was killed by Ku Klux Klansmen who forced him to jump off a bridge in Alabama in 1957. Two years earlier, white men had bludgeoned black teenager Emmett Till to death in Mississippi. No one went to prison for either...

Trump 2020 targeting Hispanic vote in nontraditional places

YORK, Pa. (AP) — President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is making contrarian appeals in the most unusual places, trying to win over Hispanic voters in states not known for them, like Pennsylvania.His second campaign, far better financed and organized than his first, is pressing every...

ENTERTAINMENT

Liam Gallagher talks solo rise, family feud and rock music

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Spend a few minutes with Liam Gallagher and it's clear the rocker hasn't lost any of his bravado, right down to counting himself among the greats in rock history.But Gallagher does acknowledge that one band breakup — not, Oasis, but rather the demise of Beady Eye in...

Lori Loughlin, other parents charged again in college scheme

BOSTON (AP) — "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband and nine other parents faced new federal charges Tuesday in a scandal involving dozens of wealthy parents accused of bribing their children's way into elite universities or cheating on college entrance exams.A...

Celebrities to get drag makeovers in RuPaul's new VH1 series

LOS ANGELES (AP) — RuPaul is giving a dozen celebrities the chance to get drag makeovers for charity and bragging rights.VH1 said Tuesday that "RuPaul's Celebrity Drag Race" will air as a limited series next year.Each of the four episodes will feature a trio of stars competing for best drag...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Is the stethoscope dying? High-tech rivals pose a threat

CHICAGO (AP) — Two centuries after its invention, the stethoscope — the very symbol of the medical...

Boris Johnson inches toward securing Brexit but delay likely

LONDON (AP) — For a brief moment Tuesday, Brexit was within a British prime minister's grasp.Boris Johnson...

Russia, Turkey seal power in northeast Syria with new accord

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Russia and Turkey reached an agreement Tuesday that would cement their power in...

Botswana votes as ruling party faces surprising challenge

GABORONE, Botswana (AP) — Polls opened in Botswana on Wednesday as the long-peaceful southern African...

Boris Johnson inches toward securing Brexit but delay likely

LONDON (AP) — For a brief moment Tuesday, Brexit was within a British prime minister's grasp.Boris Johnson...

Canada's Trudeau wins reelection but faces a divided nation

TORONTO (AP) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau begins his second term facing an increasingly divided...

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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