Dining News

Restaurant Jobs Took a Hit in January as U.S. Economy Inched Forward

January was yet another month that told a familiar story for folks working in hospitality: The larger economy gained jobs while the struggling restaurant industry did the opposite. More specifically, as U.S. employers added a paltry 49,000 people to their payrolls, COVID-19-ravaged bars and restaurants lost 19,400 jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, a small and perhaps even encouraging decline compared to last month’s drop of over 400,000,

Still, it was the third straight month of job losses for restaurants. Just 9.94 million people now work in the restaurant industry, down 2.37 million from last February’s pre-pandemic levels.

Dining restrictions around the country have begun to ease, notably in California, Illinois, Philadelphia, the District of Columbia, and elsewhere, but it’s likely that any resulting employment gains didn’t occur in time for the January jobs report. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that indoor dining would return to the five boroughs on Valentine’s Day at 25 percent capacity as a variety of public health indicators, including hospitalizations and virus cases, fell throughout the city.

Safety concerns over the emergence of faster spreading COVID-19 variants notwithstanding, local owners and operators will likely see today’s numbers as a charge to push Cuomo to more quickly allow indoor dining to 50 percent capacity, the level it’s permitted at throughout the rest of the state. The labor department will release New York City-specific employment numbers for the hospitality industry later this month.

U.S. bar and restaurant unemployment was 14.4 percent in January, over double the full U.S. unemployment rate, which fell to 6.3 percent. Interestingly, the jobless number for bars and restaurants constituted an improvement from December’s rate of 16.1 percent, despite the fact that the industry lost nearly 20,000 jobs. It’s possible that technical factors accounted for that drop in unemployment. Folks who aren’t actively looking for work during the last four weeks — perhaps because they’re staying at home to protect their health or because they’re discouraged by the lack of job openings — aren’t counted as unemployed.

The picture for the larger economy wasn’t quite rosy either, as gains in business and professional services were offset by losses in retail trade, transportation, warehousing, and the greater hospitality industry. A particularly harrowing revelation was that the number of people unemployed for over half a year rose by 67,000 to just over 4 million, the highest that number has been since the pandemic began, and over three times higher than last January’s number of 1.2 million.

As always, gains and losses were not equal among different groups. Unemployment among white people dropped 0.3 percent to 5.7 percent, but men almost exclusively accounted for those gains; white women lost 132,000 jobs. Just the same, the Latinx population, who make up a significant portion of the hospitality industry, saw their jobless rate drop 0.7 percent to 8.6 percent. Still, Latinx men gained 116,000 jobs, while women lost 77,000 jobs.

Both black women and men gained jobs, but their overall unemployment rate remained the highest of any adult group at 9.2 percent, down from 9.9 percent in December.

The unemployment rate for Asian people increased, from 5.9 percent to 6.6 percent, with that group having lost about 14,000 jobs.

What’s particularly troubling about these demographic numbers is how they show a wider unemployment gap between white people, who have recovered jobs more quickly, and other groups, who have not. Last January, before the pandemic, the jobless rate for Asian folks was just 0.1 percent above that same rate for white people. Now, the difference is almost a full percentage point. And while the unemployment gap between white people and Latinx people was just 1.3 percent at this time last year, that figure has more than doubled to 2.9 percent.

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Biden Energy Secretary Pick Called Out By Republicans For Democrats’ Awful Record On ‘Green Jobs’ (VIDEO)

Every time Democrats take power, we hear the same song and dance about green jobs. Remember Solyndra?

Democrats are never satisfied with the energy jobs we have now. Those jobs have to be destroyed to make way for green jobs that never seem to pan out.

Republicans called out Biden’s pick for energy secretary Jennifer Granholm about this on Wednesday.

The Hill reports:

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Republicans press Granholm on fossil fuels during confirmation hearing

Republicans on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee pressed Energy Secretary nominee Jennifer Granholm on fossil fuel issues during her sometimes tense confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, will be tasked with helping implement the president’s goal of expanding clean energy as part of an effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050…

Republicans, particularly those from fossil fuel-producing states, expressed skepticism during the hearing about replacing oil and gas jobs.

In opening remarks, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who will be the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he won’t “sit idly by … if the Biden administration enforces policies that threaten Wyoming’s economy or the lifeblood of so many people in my home state.”

And Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) expressed concerns over how long it would take for the jobs to materialize.

“If you’ve lost a job that is putting food on your table now, it’s cold comfort to know that years from now, in a different state, perhaps with a different training … there will be another job available,” Cassidy said.

Take a look at the videos below:

Brutal questions, but totally fair.

Cross posted from American Lookout.

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CBO Estimates Biden Plan To Raise Minimum Wage To $15 Could Kill Almost 4 Million Jobs

Hundreds of thousands of businesses across the country are teetering on the brink of destruction because of the lock downs associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

What does Joe Biden want to do? Make it harder for them to stay in business. The last thing these business owners need is an increase in the minimum wage.

The Congressional Budget Office says this would kill jobs. Millions of them.

The Washington Examiner reports:

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Biden’s proposal to raise minimum wage to $15 could kill up to 3.7M jobs, CBO estimates

President-elect Joe Biden’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour could kill up to 3.7 million jobs, the Congressional Budget Office estimated.

The CBO said that some of the higher earnings from the $15 federal minimum wage could be offset by higher rates of joblessness.

The report found that 1.3 million workers who would typically be employed would be without jobs in an average week in 2025. A new federal minimum wage would also increase the pay of 17 million workers in an average week in 2025.

The increase in earnings would mostly affect low-income families, while a loss of business would affect higher-income families.

Families below the poverty line would receive an additional $8 billion in real income in 2025, while families above the poverty line would lose $16 billion in real income.

How many times do we have to explain to Democrats what a $15 an hour minimum wage really looks like?

Democrats think they’re helping people by raising the minimum wage.

It actually results in less jobs, especially at the entry level.

Cross posted from American Lookout.

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Dining News

The U.S. Lost 372K Bar and Restaurant Jobs in December as Resurgent Virus Takes Toll

The resurgent COVID-19 pandemic continued to ravage the hospitality industry workforce at the end of 2020, racking up heavy employment losses following months of stagnation, the U.S. Department of Labor reported in its December jobs survey this morning.

Nationwide food services and drinking places lost 372,000 jobs last month, as pandemic-stricken cities throughout the country continued to impose or extend restrictions on dining out. The industry’s unemployment rate jumped up 2.3 percentage points to 16.1 percent, erasing any jobs gains made since September.

U.S. employers cut 140,000 jobs in December overall, the first decline since April, with gains in other sectors like construction offsetting heavier hospitality losses.

Overall unemployment remained at 6.7 percent in December, well under half the restaurant industry rate, though that jobless number remained unequal across demographic groups. Teenage unemployment jumped up to 16 percent, while joblessness among the Latinx population, who make up a sizable portion of the food service workforce, rose nearly a full percentage point to 9.3 percent.

Undocumented workers are likely counted in official unemployment statistics, but are ineligible for most forms of state and federal aid.

The hospitality job losses shouldn’t come as a surprise. Gov. Andrew Cuomo reimposed an indoor dining ban in New York City in December following rising infection rates; scores of restaurants have gone into hibernation as the weather makes al fresco eating a tougher proposition than in the summer. Over 4,000 food service workers across New York State have filed initial unemployment claims each week for the past two weeks.

California, the country’s most populous state, has taken even stronger steps to fight the virus. In November of 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order that banned outdoor dining in regions in which hospital beds are critically short. At present, that ban includes every major city in California, including those in Los Angeles County and the Bay Area. Southern California has been hit particularly hard, with hospitals struggling to keep up with patient loads.

And yet, the devastated hospitality industry, unlike airline and entertainment venues, did not receive any special carve-outs in last month’s $900 billion stimulus package, though bars and restaurants will likely be able to access small paycheck protection loans within the coming weeks.

There is good news as the number of Americans working part time for economic reasons dropped by 471,000 to 6.17 million, though that’s still nearly 50 percent higher than what those levels were the previous winter. The ranks of the long-term unemployed however, continued to worsen, with folks out of a job for more than half a year rising by 27,000 to 3.96 million, more than triple last December’s number.

It’s almost certain that a large swath of the long-term unemployed come from the hospitality industry. Even at the peak of the recovery this fall, restaurant jobs were still down by more than two million over February’s highs. The New York City hospitality industry jobs market is even worse, where employment remains at just 59 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Many of those individuals have been subsisting on bare-bones state jobless aid since late July, when supplemental federal $600 jobless checks expired. The most recent stimulus package renewed that program, at $300 per week.

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to unveil another stimulus package to jolt the economy after taking office, with measures that are likely to include $2,000 direct payments to Americans.

Over 10.7 million Americans remained out of work last month, with another 7.3 million not included in that number because they weren’t actively looking for a job.

— With additional reporting by Eve Batey

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ER doctors on the front lines against covid struggle to find jobs

“We have been seeing really, really sick people,” he said. He had firsthand experience with the novel coronavirus, too — he caught it in March and recovered after a few feverish days.

Despite all that, the 29-year-old doctor cannot find a company in his hometown of Houston ready to hire him when he graduates next year. Durrani has searched since the summer, “getting on calls with recruiters and hospitals and whatnot,” he said. “And I haven’t locked anything down.”

Like him, many in this class of emergency medicine physicians — young doctors, called residents, who are training in this specialty — are struggling to find full-time employment, even while they work on the front lines treating covid-19 patients.

The dearth of jobs is the result of a domino effect: Many people stayed away from hospital emergency rooms this past year, wary of contracting the virus. As patient numbers dropped, emergency departments brought in less money. As a result, cash-strapped employers stopped recruiting new doctors.

“We’re putting our own lives at risk, our family’s lives at risk,” said emergency medicine physician R.J. Sontag, the president of the Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association. “We’re in, frankly, a financially precarious position with a ton of debt and limited income. And the fact of the matter is that employers just aren’t hiring.”

Scientists say the coronavirus variant discovered in the United Kingdom is more transmissible but does not make people sicker. (The Washington Post)

The pandemic exposed many perplexing vulnerabilities in the American medical system — as varied as critical staffing shortages of nurses and inadequate stocks of protective equipment. This is another one. Fewer places can afford newly minted emergency medicine doctors during a crisis in which it would seem they should be in high demand.

“Calling it a paradox is exactly right,” said Janis Orlowski, the chief health-care officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges. “There’s a need for more physicians. And yet we find ourselves in this situation.”

New contracts have vanished with the “significant shortfall” in hospital and physician practice dollars, she said. The result is that after four years of medical school and up to four years of residency, some new doctors have no place to go.

“It’s by far the tightest job market in emergency medicine that I’ve ever seen,” said Mark Reiter, the chief executive of the consulting group Emergency Excellence and director of the emergency medicine residency program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Nashville. By his conservative estimate, at least a quarter of residents are having trouble finding work.

About 2,500 new emergency medicine doctors enter the workforce each year, Sontag said. They do so heavily in debt, he said, with half of them owing more than $200,000 in school loans, and one-fourth owing over $300,000.

Many of the newest crop have had contracts altered, if not rescinded. “I have a good friend who signed a contract, bought a home, moved his wife across the country,” Sontag said, “and then he lost his contract after he’d already moved.”

The Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association does not have a tally of how many members are without jobs. But a survey from the American College of Emergency Physicians found that 20 percent of emergency medicine group practices laid off doctors this year, almost one-third furloughed them and more than half cut hours or wages.

“What we’re watching now is frightening for the residents,” said Mark Rosenberg, the American College of Emergency Physicians’ president.

Sontag, who attended the UT Health San Antonio residency program, said that only one of 12 final-year residents there has secured a job. In a typical year, all of them would have contracts by now.

Patients stay away for fear of covid-19

It wasn’t unusual for Angela Cai, a physician in her final year of residency at SUNY Downstate’s Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, to treat patients with strokes. But one man stood out — because he had waited nearly a day last April to call an ambulance.

“If people come in with strokes very early, ideally within three hours, there are some treatments you can offer to reverse the symptoms,” she said. “But that was totally out of the question for him. He wasn’t able to walk.”

She asked the man why he had delayed. “He said he was watching everything on the news and he was afraid,” she said.

That fear of catching the coronavirus fueled a sharp drop in visits to emergency departments. They plummeted by 40 percent in March and April, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s surveillance program, and children were kept away at even greater levels.

Although emergency departments in coronavirus hot zones are gateways to a flood of covid-19 patients, those zones have been distributed unevenly in time and space. Even in virus hotspots, Reiter pointed out, the pandemic can congest emergency rooms — some patients with covid-19 are kept in emergency department beds, which reduces capacity and causes waiting room delays.

The number of emergency department patients overall is 15 percent below last year’s levels, Reiter said.

“In the thick of it, I definitely wasn’t thinking about my job,” Cai said. “I didn’t really make the connection between how this unprecedented drop in [emergency department] volume would affect my job market.” Cai is still finalizing her plans for what she will do after graduation.

A ‘golden ticket’ no longer

Before the coronavirus, new emergency medicine doctors could expect to receive multiple offers in the last year of their residency programs.

“The residents had their pick of where they wanted to go,” Rosenberg said. If a particular hospital didn’t need more emergency staff, it was often the case another one nearby did.

Hospitals, outside of academic centers, rarely hire emergency doctors outright. Most medical centers instead have contracts with physician provider groups. Those can be small, doctor-run companies, or large corporations, backed by private-equity firms, that employ thousands of doctors who work at hundreds of hospitals.

More than half of the emergency doctors in the United States are employed by investment-firm-owned companies, Reiter said, and those companies have generally been “more aggressive” when cutting back doctors’ hours amid the pandemic.

In the past, recruiters representing employers flocked to residency programs, offering salary advances or to pay moving expenses.

“Residency-trained emergency medicine doctors, for a couple of decades, have had the golden ticket,” said Michael Belkin, a vice president at the physician-recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins. “They could call their shots; they could demand high dollars.”

Since 2008, the number of emergency doctors in the United States has grown from 40,000 to almost 50,000; there are fewer of these specialists per person, though, particularly at rural hospitals. In that same period, the number of doctors enrolled in emergency residency programs grew from about 4,500 to nearly 8,000.

That growth has also increased the competition for jobs, Reiter said.

One doctor in a Midwestern city, a recent graduate of an emergency residency program who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid potential career harm, described a fraught path to employment: Last fall, several clinician groups offered the doctor a job. The physician decided to join a small, doctor-run firm.

In the late spring, the emergency department where the doctor was completing a residency began to cut back shifts as non-covid-19 patients stopped coming. The doctor received a call from the new employer, expecting to hear the company was reducing hours, too.

Instead, the firm withdrew the job offer, exercising a 90-day termination clause in the contract. The doctor asked the other groups, whose offers the physician had declined in the fall, for work. None hired the doctor, who has more than $300,000 of student debt.

The doctor found a temporary position at a hospital where, during the first wave of the pandemic, few people visited the emergency department. Now, though, that city is experiencing a surge in patients from the pandemic.

“The acuity of illness has gone up quite a bit in the past few months, particularly with respiratory complaints related to the coronavirus,” the doctor said. “Our census within the hospitals has skyrocketed to pretty much 100 percent capacity.” Amid this rise, the original firm agreed to hire the doctor to begin early this year.

Some residents have opted to apply for emergency medicine fellowships, which provide additional expertise in toxicology, ultrasounds, wilderness medicine or other subjects at academic centers.

“All fellowships have become more competitive this year,” Sontag said. Opting for a fellowship also has financial consequences; the pay in a fellowship is closer to a resident’s salary — an average of about $59,000 — than it is to a full-time attending physician’s salary, an amount in the six figures.

A rough road to recovery

U.S. hospitals — many of them operating on thin margins before the pandemic — lost $50 billion per month in the period from March through June, not including government relief money, according to an estimate by the American Hospital Association. A drop in emergency patients was not the only factor. Scheduled and elective surgeries, previously consistent revenue streams, were canceled. Health-care providers also had to spend money on protective gear and ventilators.

“Cash conservation is probably key for most of these places,” said Kayla Cline, an expert in hospital finances at Texas A&M University.

Congress offered $175 billion of financial relief to the health-care system as part of the massive coronavirus aid packages passed earlier last year. But “often the money didn’t trickle down as it was intended” to practice groups that employ physicians, Sontag said. At least $1.5 billion of interest-free loans went to hospitals and staffing companies owned by well-funded investment firms, according to a Bloomberg News analysis.

One consequence of the pandemic, though, may work to the advantage of new doctors seeking jobs: Some emergency medicine doctors are retiring sooner than they otherwise might have.

The crisis has made a difficult job more challenging. “There’s a lot of depression, PTSD, suicide and the like,” Rosenberg said. “And a couple of things that people like to do after a long shift — maybe go out for a beer, hug a friend, cry on a shoulder — we can’t do any of them now.”

Doctors who work in emergency departments are more susceptible to burnout than average physicians. “There’s only so much trauma and so much — I don’t know how else to say it, but — patient loss that one can handle,” Belkin said.

Orlowski said that when elective surgeries were allowed to resume over the summer, with the drop in coronavirus cases, doctors told her “things were just going gangbusters.” She predicted that patients will similarly return to emergency departments as vaccines against the novel coronavirus become more widely available.

But the job market’s recovery could be slow.

“It’s going to take hospitals two, three, four years to get beyond the financial problems that will occur from this year,” Orlowski said. Until that happens, she said, she expects employers to be more conservative in hiring.

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Steve Jobs’ daughter Eve makes modeling debut for Glossier

Steve Jobs’ youngest daughter is all grown up – and gorgeous.

Eve Jobs, 22, stars alongside “Euphoria” actress Sydney Sweeney and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” runner-up Naomi Smalls in Glossier’s new holiday ad campaign.

In one of her self-photographed images, the equestrian relaxes in a bubble bath with a glass of wine, sporting the millennial-loved makeup line’s signature dewy glow.

In another, Eve slicks on red Glossier Lip Gloss ($14) while wearing under-eye masks.

“Biggest thanks to @emilyweiss & everyone at @glossier ! Go check out the collection 🖤,” she captioned the shots on Instagram.

In addition to being an accomplished show jumper, Eve is a student at Stanford University — the same school where her father and mother, Laurene Powell Jobs, first met.

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U.S. Economy Only Added 245,000 Jobs in November as Lawmakers Continue Work on Stimulus Deal

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the United States economy added just 245,000 jobs in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, 224,000 fewer jobs than had been projected.

Although November’s unemployment rate (6.7%) is lower than October’s unemployment rate (6.9%) this is because more workers left the workforce in November. Of those not counted among the workforce, 3.9 million people have been unable to look for work because of the Covid-19 pandemic’s disastrous effects on the job market.

In a note to clients, Michael Pearce, U.S. senior economist at Capital Economics, wrote, “The sharp slowdown in the pace of non-farm payroll gains to 245,000 in November underlines how the renewed surge in virus cases and restrictions is weighing on services demand, which will only intensify this month.”

The news comes as Congressional lawmakers continue to work on a stimulus package. There is hope in Washington that lawmakers can agree on coronavirus aid before the December 11 deadline for an omnibus spending bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mirch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed he’d spoken with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) about a stimulus deal, which many Americans are hoping to see before benefits officially expire later this month.

 “Yeah, well we had a good conversation. I think we’re both interested in getting an outcome, both on the omnibus and on a coronavirus package,” McConnell said.

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In Blue States and Red, Pandemic Upends Public Services and Jobs

The coronavirus pandemic has inflicted an economic battering on state and local governments, shrinking tax receipts by hundreds of billions of dollars. Now devastating budget cuts loom, threatening to cripple public services and pare work forces far beyond the 1.3 million jobs lost in eight months.

Governors, mayors and county executives have pleaded for federal aid before the end of the year. Congressional Republicans have scorned such assistance, with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, calling it a “blue-state bailout.”

But it turns out this budget crisis is colorblind. Six of the seven states that are expected to suffer the biggest revenue declines over the next two years are red — states led by Republican governors and won by President Trump this year, according to a report from Moody’s Analytics.

Those on the front lines agree. “I don’t think it’s a red-state, blue-state issue,” said Brian Sigritz, director of state fiscal studies at the National Association of State Budget Officers. The National Governors Association’s top officials — Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican — issued a statement this fall saying, “This is a national problem, and it demands a bipartisan and national solution.”

Efforts to forge a new stimulus bill gained momentum this week with a $900 billion proposal — offered by a bipartisan group of legislators and endorsed by Democratic leaders — that includes $160 billion for state, local and tribal governments. While short of plugging the widening fiscal gaps, such a sum would provide welcome relief. But the Republican leadership shows no sign of coming around on state and local aid.

In reality, the degree of financial distress turns less on which party controls a statehouse or a city hall than on the number of Covid-19 cases, the kinds of businesses undergirding a state’s economy, and its tax structure.

Wyoming, Alaska and North Dakota, Republican-led states that depend on energy-related taxes, have been walloped by the sharp decline in oil prices. Places where tourism provides a large infusion of revenues, like Florida and Nevada, face revenue declines of 10 percent or more, as does Louisiana, which relies on both tourism and energy.

Elsewhere, the steep falloff in sales and income taxes — which on average account for roughly two-thirds of a state’s revenue, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts — is forcing Republican and Democratic officials to consider laying off police officers, reducing childhood vaccinations and closing libraries, parks and drug treatment centers.

Even the most optimistic assumptions about the course of the pandemic point to fiscal consequences for states and local governments that “would be the worst since the Great Depression” and take years to dig out of, Dan White, director of fiscal policy research at Moody’s Analytics, concluded.

The squeeze at the state level reverberates in urban, suburban and rural counties in nearly every corner of the United States, and officials are making piercing choices.

In Casper, Wyo., someone from the district attorney’s office walks around the block to the Circuit Court building each week and fetches a large plastic garbage bag full of discarded paper clips to reuse.

The brief journey is just one way that the prosecutor, Dan Itzen, is cutting costs. He has also stopped prosecuting 17 types of misdemeanors — including assault and battery, first-time drunken driving, shoplifting, check fraud and property damage.

“Something had to give,” said Mr. Itzen, who handles about one-third of Wyoming’s criminal caseload and gets his funding from the state. “If I’m losing personnel, I cannot continue to prosecute as many cases.”

In Kansas City, Mo., with a municipal budget of $1.7 billion, the city manager has asked each department to draft a plan for cuts of more than 11 percent. That could mean laying off 200 police officers from the 1,300-member force and 180 firefighters and emergency medical technicians, said Dan Fowler, a City Council member.

“This is one of the things that keeps me up at night,” Mr. Fowler said, thinking about the impact on the city’s half a million residents. Such cuts could end up closing one or two police stations, even though crime is rising, he said.

Emergency response times are already slow, Mr. Fowler said, so even though he lives near a hospital, “if I have a heart attack, I’ll just crawl over there.”

From collecting garbage to issuing building permits, maintaining parks to fixing potholes, “everything’s going to slow down because we’re not going to have the people to do it,” he explained. A traffic study of a street in his district with a heavy accident toll has been delayed.

In New Orleans, Democratic city leaders are going through a similarly painful process, shrinking next fiscal year’s general fund by $92 million, down to $634 million.

To avoid layoffs, the city is cutting the pay of higher-level employees by 10 percent and requiring most other employees, including police officers, firefighters and emergency responders, to take 26 unpaid furlough days — one every two weeks — next year. The move amounts to a 10 percent pay cut, and comes on top of six furlough days imposed on the city’s roughly 4,000 employees through the end of this year.

On any given day, that will mean fewer people available to drive buses, respond to emergency calls or pick up trash.

“We are at the marrow,” said Gilbert Montaño, the city’s chief administrative officer. Every agency on average took a 21 percent cut on top of what they were already facing.

New Orleans, like most cities and localities, spends the bulk of its budget on its employees, which makes it nearly impossible to reduce spending without reducing the hours that people work.

State and local employees make up roughly 13 percent of the nation’s work force. For women and Black workers, in particular, the public sector has historically offered more opportunities than the private sector for a stable income and reliable benefits.

“These are folks that are providing essential public services every single day, risking their lives,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, “and now there’s a good possibility that many are going to be faced with a pink slip.”

So far, an overwhelming majority of state and local job losses have been in education. Though many of the layoffs have been characterized as temporary, educators and parents worry that they could become permanent. In a new survey of mayors, 45 percent said they expected “dramatic” cuts for their school budgets.

Public schools overwhelmingly rely on property taxes. States often provide additional funding, but many have cut their education budgets.

Most states managed to hobble along until the summer, a typical endpoint to the fiscal year. There had been strong growth before the pandemic struck in March, and the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which Congress passed in early spring, kept many households afloat. In spots, the extra federal money could be used to cover some state and local pandemic-related expenses in health care and education.

Both of those cushions are fading. In most places, the 2020-21 fiscal year will play out in the shadow of the pandemic and a stumbling economy. And federal emergency money for extended unemployment benefits that has helped families meet housing and food expenses expires at the end of December, putting even greater demand on public services.

Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, and many economists have warned that reducing state and local spending will further drag down a weak recovery, as it did after the Great Recession. Spending by state and local governments accounted for about 15 percent of the nation’s economic activity, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, part of the Commerce Department.

While the federal government can run budget deficits to cover both regular and unexpected expenses, states generally cannot.

In Wyoming, Mark Gordon, the Republican governor, acknowledged the fallout on the economy after announcing a new round of cuts for the coming fiscal year. He said 160 private-sector jobs depended on every 100 state employees, who spend money on haircuts, children’s sports and restaurants.

Although Wyoming is facing one of the worst budget shocks, it also has one of the biggest rainy-day funds, which states built up after the last recession to help weather downturns. Several states — including Louisiana, Nevada, New York and Illinois — have little or nothing left in reserve.

Even so, Wyoming’s governor has said he doesn’t want to burn through the state’s safety net with years of hard times potentially lying ahead. The fund may also be needed to plug an additional $300 million deficit related to the state’s public schools. So Mr. Gordon has proposed cutting programs dealing with childhood vaccinations, substance abuse and mental health.

Meg Wiehe, deputy executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, said Wyoming at least was dealing with the painful reality.

“The bigger kind of cuts that will resonate with people are all going to come to a head in the early part of next year,” Ms. Wiehe said. “We’re staring down some deep and very devastating cuts.”

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Biden was right. Trump will have worst jobs record in history—and it was mediocre even before COVID

Trump’s first 44 months are historically awful, reflecting his presidency overall.

The Washington Post fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, dissected the data on jobs created under each president, and included the September jobs report released today. The U.S. has only been tabulating such data since 1945, so we can compare the records of the previous 13 presidents, starting with Harry Truman.

We can look at the raw numbers of jobs created, or at the number of jobs as a percentage of the population—which is more accurate because it takes population growth into account. The first way puts Bill Clinton at the top of the heap, with over 22 million jobs created. The second sees Truman leading the way, with an increase in jobs of 22% of the population. With either measure, two things are true: Democratic presidents dominate the top of the list, and the bottom five spots are held down by Republicans—with Trump always bringing up the very rear.

Today’s jobs report, in case you were wondering, didn’t change the reality of what Biden said on Tuesday. Job creation in September came in well below expectations (661,000 jobs created versus 859,000 expected). As a reminder, the economy lost 22 million jobs in March and April. Including the September jobs report, we’ve only gained back half of those. In other words, more than 10 million of those jobs have not returned.

Trump would say that it’s not fair to blame him for a recession caused by COVID-19 (never mind his responsibility—despite his denials thereof—for making COVID-19, and thus the recession, far worse in the U.S. than it needed to be). In fact, it was only in January that he was bragging about our economy being “the greatest in the history of our country.” Did I say bragging? Sorry, I meant lying.

February 2020 represents Trump’s high point on jobs. So, painting his record in the best possible light by pretending COVID-19 never happened, how exactly did he do? Even the pace he had achieved to that point would only have put him in the middle of the pack, right around the same level as President Obama—who inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression and handed Trump an already strong level of job creation. In other words, even before COVID-19, Trump’s jobs record was meh.

But you know what, COVID-19 did happen, and 200,000-plus Americans have lost their lives. And it happened on Trump’s watch. Lives are more important than jobs of course. But jobs, and job creation, is one of the ways we can compare the economic performance of different presidents. Trump has lied about his record on jobs and the economy (and on everything else as well).

Just like Biden said, the American economy will have fewer jobs at the end of Trump’s presidency than when it started—at least that will be true as long as we do everything we can to ensure that presidency comes to an end after one term.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh’s Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)

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Jobs report and other economic data show deep inequality of Pandemic Recession’s impacts

One red flag can be found in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ labor force participation rate, which fell a sharp 0.3% to 61.4% in September. What’s worse is that of the 1.1 million people who stopped working or stopped looking for work last month, 865,000 were women, as The Washington Post reported.

Many economists say it’s a clear sign of the child-care burden falling mainly on working mothers.

Mothers like April Smith are facing impossible decisions, as they must choose between earning money during an unprecedented economic crisis, and staying home to shepherd their children through chaotic virtual classes.

An annual study published by Lean In found that 25% of surveyed women were thinking about downsizing their careers because of the pandemic, the first time in six years of research that the study found evidence of women planning to leave their jobs at higher rates than men.

Chabeli Carrazana at The 19th reported:

September and the start of school added another ingredient to that bitter cocktail. Public sector job loss has already started, leaving many teachers out of work. Last month, government employment dropped by 216,000 jobs, most of that driven by losses in education. Many districts have returned to school in a hybrid model, meaning parents have also had to make arrangements for kids who are spending at least part of the week in virtual instruction. […]

Of the women who dropped out of work last month, 324,000 were Latinas and 58,000 were Black women.

Inequality becomes more apparent during recessions than in good economic times, with women, people of color, and people under 34 faring the worst. But, as The Post reported earlier this week, the Pandemic Recession “is the most unequal in modern U.S. history.” Latinos saw the worst initial employment losses, and they are still farthest behind in getting back to where they were in February. And while white Americans have recovered well over half the jobs they lost in the pandemic, African Americans have only recovered about a third of the jobs they’ve lost.

White women, for example, have recovered 61 percent of the jobs they lost — the most of any demographic group — while Black women have recovered only 34 percent, according to Labor Department data through August. And workers with college degrees are 55 percent recovered, compared with less than 40 percent for workers with high school degrees. […]

“It’s an even more unequal recession than usual,” said Ben Bernanke, who led the Federal Reserve through the Great Recession. “The sectors most deeply affected by covid disproportionately employ women, minorities and lower-income workers.”

Job recovery chart

In the third quarter running from July-September, 23% of the long-term unemployed were Latinos and 21% were African Americans, in both cases well beyond their share of the population. According to Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist at S&P Global Ratings, “It will be much harder to bring back that workforce in an economy that’s moving into a long, slow recovery A lot of the businesses where those workers lost jobs are now gone.”

Elise Gould at the Economic Policy Institute predicts that the slowdown shown in the latest jobs report means full recovery could be years away. 

Unfortunately, the labor market distress is long from over. The economic pain easily extends to over 30 million people in the economy today. That doesn’t include people who had lost their jobs and regained employment but got behind on their bills—or those who lost loved ones and providers to illness. The pandemic continues to spread, including into the White House, and may worsen in the winter months along with increasing numbers of evictions. Further, recent reports of impending layoffs (for instance, here and here) suggest even more trouble on the horizon.

It is a simple fact that the labor market damage would be significantly lessened by vital public health investments and economic relief for today’s workforce as well as state and local governments. There were large losses in the public sector in September, not only because of the decrease of temporary Census workers, but more acutely because of the losses in local K-12 education. Education employment was already suffering prior to the current economy crises. School systems need more, not fewer, resources in these challenging times.

Instead of providing those resources, state and local policymakers are seeing their tax revenues plummet, and public sector jobs are starting to go the same direction, with those 216,000 government layoffs tallied in the September report. Without additional federal assistance, that situation will almost certainly worsen. 

What should be remembered is that when the pandemic and the Pandemic Recession are over, the economic inequalities will lessen, but they won’t disappear. Comprehensive new policies, not just tweaks around the edges, will be required to accomplish that.

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