March Unemployment at 4.5%; Businesses Claim To Create 89k New Jobs

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Businesses claimed to create a net of 89,000 new jobs, while governments reported adding 9,000 more, all in local schools, a separate survey shows.

The number of jobless declined by 326,000 in March, BLS said, to 7.2 million. The jobless rate declined by 0.2 percent. And the rate covering the jobless, those so discouraged they stopped seeking work and those employed part-time who really want full-time work dropped by 0.3 percent, to 8.9 percent of all workers, or one of every 11.

“The unemployment rate has been slowly but steadily declining since the depths of the Great Recession,” said Economic Policy Institute analyst Elise Gould. “But it still has a ways to go before we can safely say we are at full employment.”

The jobless rate “sat at roughly 4 percent for two years, 1999 and 2000, without provoking inflation,” she added.

Slow job growth spread through various occupations.

Factories added 11,000 jobs in March, to 11.39 million, but that still left 614,000 factory workers (3.9 percent) jobless. Half of new factory jobs were in fabricated metal products (+5,500 jobs), while cars and parts (+3,100) accounted for much of the rest.

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Trump spurns working Americans by abandoning efforts to realign U.S.-China exchange rate

Robert E. Scott

Robert E. Scott Senior Economist and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Research, Economic Policy Institute

President Donald Trump recently told the Wall Street Journal that his administration won’t label China a currency manipulator in a semi-annual U.S. Treasury report that is due this week. Crucially, he has also forwarded no alternative mechanism to deal with the misaligned U.S.-China exchange rate. This essentially means that Trump has turned his back on working Americans who have lost millions of manufacturing jobs since China entered the WTO in 2001, and have experienced growing competition with imports from China and other low wage countries that reduced the wages of all non-college graduates by $180 billion per year in 2011 alone.

In a campaign speech in Monessen, PA last June Trump outlined a 7-step program that he “would pursue right away to bring back our jobs.” In step five, he promised to “instruct my Treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator,” a commitment he repeated many times last year.

There has been some debate over whether or not the Chinese is currently actively manipulating its currency. What there is no debate over is whether or not the U.S.-China exchange rate is severely misaligned, and that this misalignment costs jobs in U.S. manufacturing. While China has been a net seller of foreign exchange reserves over the past two years (meaning that it has not engaged in direct manipulation over this time), it maintains well in excess of $3 trillion in total reserves, which have a depressing effect on the value of its currency.

Other indicators highlight how misaligned the U.S.-China exchange rate is. For example, China reported a goods trade surplus of $544 billion in 2016, and its national savings rate is nearly 50 percent of GDP—far in excess of its domestic investment. As a result, China is generating large savings surpluses that are being exported to the rest of the world (but disproportionately to the United States), in a return of the global savings glut that fueled the housing and financial crises of the last decade. China’s currency remains massively undervalued after two decades of currency manipulation, subsidies, dumping and other unfair trade practices, including the widespread influence of state-owned enterprises in the Chinese economy. Recent years have seen private capital outflows from China to the United States on a large scale, further pushing up the value of the dollar. Some of these private outflows may in fact be driven in large part by intentional government policy (including relaxation of capital controls by China).

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Easter Message from Sean Spicer

Trump is already using his 2020 reelection bid to line his own pockets

Laurel Raymond

Laurel Raymond General Reporter, Think Progress

President Donald Trump is continuing to profit from campaigning, new Federal Election Commission disclosures filed on Friday show. In the first quarter of 2017, Trump’s 2020 campaign and party committees spent close to $500,000 at Trump brand properties, according to a tabulation by the Wall Street Journal.

According to the filings, the campaign spent more than $6.3 million in the first quarter of 2017. Six percent of that was spent at Trump properties, including nearly $300,000 in rent to Trump Tower, where the campaign is headquartered, nearly $60,000 for lodging at Trump’s West Palm Beach golf course, and almost $14,000 in rental and catering fees at his Las Vegas hotel.

The campaign also spent heavily in businesses owned by other top Trump-connected figures. $1.5 million went to a web-marketing firm owned by campaign digital director Brad Parscale. Parscale now works for a nonprofit aimed at promoting the administration’s agenda. Some money also went to a company owned by White House Senior Advisor Steve Bannon — nearly $30,000 for administrative and secretarial services.

The Trump campaign is legally required to pay market price for services, even at Trump-owned properties. It’s incredibly unusual, however, for a president to also own and profit from the businesses their campaign is patronizing. Despite the advice of the government’s independent ethics office and ethics experts, Trump has refused to divest from ownership of his businesses.

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The Ugly Truth About Trumponomics

Robert Reich

Robert Reich Former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Professor at Berkeley

When Donald Trump spoke at Boeing’s factory in North Charleston, South Carolina—unveiling Boeing’s new 787 “Dreamliner”—he congratulated Boeing for building the plane “right here in the great state of South Carolina."

But that is pure fantasy.

Trump also used the occasion to tout his “America First” economics, stating “our goal as a nation must be to rely less on imports and more on products made here in the U.S.A.”

Trump seems utterly ignorant about global competition—and about what’s really holding back American workers.

Start with Boeing’s Dreamliner itself. It’s not “made in the U.S.A.” It is assembled in the USA. Most of the parts and almost a third of the cost of the entire plane come from overseas.

For example:

The center fuselage and horizontal stabilizers came from Italy.

The aircraft’s landing gears, doors, electrical power conversion system—from France.

The main cabin lighting came from Germany.

The cargo access doors from Sweden.

The lavatories, flight deck interiors, and galleys from Japan.

Many of the engines from the UK.

The moveable trailing edge of the wings from Canada.

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