This Weekend's News and Commentary — October 26-27
The long-term unemployment rate — the percentage of the labor force that has been out of work for more than a year and is still seeking employment — is down to 1.9 percent, the New York Times reports. While this is down from a peak of 3 percent in 2010, the figure is still higher than any period before 2009. It suggests that there are now more people who have been out of work for a year than there are who have been out of work for four weeks or less — a pattern that until 2009 had not happened since World War II.
The Labor Department is investigating the pay practices of Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants and Miami Marlins, reports the Wall Street Journal. The nature of the inquiry is unclear, although a representative for the Giants suggests that the Labor Department is interested in the organization’s internship program, which used to pay students with monthly stipends but now pays them at or above minimum wage.
Also in California, a federal judge has granted class-action status to a lawsuit that alleges Apple, Google, Intel, and Pixar illegally suppressed wages by conspiring not to poach one another’s employees, the L.A. Times reports. The litigation has uncovered messages such as a 2007 email between Apple’s Steve Jobs and Google’s Eric Schmidt in which Jobs said he “would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop” recruiting an Apple engineer. The case is In re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, before Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California.
The New York Times reports that California has levied $100,000 in fines from the high-tech Chinese company BYD for paying workers in yuan an amount less than California’s minimum wage of $8 an hour. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had heavily recruited BYD to build its American headquarters in California, but the minimum wage violations are only the latest disappointment for the state and company’s stated goal of employing hundreds of high-paying green-collar jobs in Los Angeles.