Jobless Claims in U.S. Surge in Week After Thanksgiving Holiday
Bloomberg (12/12/13) Victoria Stilwell
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits rose by 68,000 to a two-month high of 368,000 in the week ended Dec. 7, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted a rise to 320,000 claims. The four-week moving average of claims increased to 328,750 from 322,750 the week prior.
Jobless Aid Splits Parties, Experts
Wall Street Journal (12/11/13) Josh Mitchell
The budget agreement hammered out by federal lawmakers excludes an extension of jobless benefits, which has upset many Democrats. According to White House estimates, when the program ends on Dec. 28, around 1.3 million jobless workers will lose their unemployment payments. Republicans insist that after more than five years, it is time to end the extended benefits, which they believe offer a disincentive for people to find jobs.
The debate now centers on whether the economy has improved to the point where an extension is not necessary, with Democrats arguing that the labor market remains weak and long-term unemployment remains at historically high levels. Economists say the aid has added as much as one percentage point to the unemployment rate, and they note that the expiration of the extended benefits would only modestly impact the U.S. recovery.
SeaTac, WA, Businesses Stung by $15-an-Hour Pay
Wall Street Journal (12/11/13) Sarah E. Needleman; Daniel Lippman
The minimum wage in SeaTac, WA, will increase 63% to $15 per hour in January, making it the highest municipal minimum wage in the country. The wage only applies to hospitality and transportation workers, excluding employees of airlines, but local businesses worry that they cannot offer high enough wages to prevent their employees from leaving for hospitality or transportation jobs. Washington’s state minimum wage is $9.19 per hour, the highest state minimum wage in the country.
Businesses—particularly small businesses—in SeaTac are concerned about the massive increase in labor costs. Some economists say increasing the minimum wage causes small businesses to reduce their employees’ hours and scale back hiring; others counter that it increases employee retention and consumer spending. President Obama has announced his support for raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Fast food workers recently have been protesting in support of a $15-per-hour wage.
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