Today’s News and Commentary – February 7

Published February 7th, 2014 -  - 02.07.141


The U.S. economy added a meager 113,000 jobs in January, reports the L.A. Times, in new statistics released this morning. The weak numbers are fueling fears that the U.S. economy may be slowing after its strong finish in 2013.

The Wall Street Journal chronicles the debate between businesses over whether mandatory paid sick time, which has been adopted or proposed in numerous cities and states in recent years, is the right thing to do or will hurt their bottom line.

While causing trouble for many, wintry weather is a boon to the unemployed, at least in New York City. The New York Times reports on the city’s snow laborers program, through which the Department of Sanitation hires hundreds of temporary workers, often the poor and unemployed, to supplement regular employees in their snow clearing efforts.

In what it describes as “a rare instance when a nonunion company is joining with the union that is trying to organize its workers,” the Wall Street Journal suggests that Volkswagen and the United Auto Workers union are coordinating their messaging and communications efforts, and have reached an agreement on post-election scenarios. Employees are scheduled to vote on unionization from February 12 to 14, and if the UAW wins the vote then negotiations on a contract would begin.

After falling one vote shy of breaking a Republican filibuster yesterday, the Washington Post suggests that the Senate is still deeply divided over proposals to extend unemployment benefits. There is no clear path forward for the legislation, as even if the Senate hurdles are overcome there is no indication that the Republican-dominated House would take up and approve such an extension. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal argues that the expiration of benefits is actually beneficial, pointing to the increasing employment in North Carolina since benefits in that state expired.

Paul Krugman in The New York Times weighs in on the debate over the Congressional Budget Office’s projection that Obamacare will induce a reduction in the total number of work hours in the economy by 1.5 to 2.0%, representing a decline in full-time job equivalents of 2 million jobs.

Sasha Volokh in The Washington Post continues his series of op-eds on the “California Rule”, which gives constitutional protection to the quantity and terms of public sector pensions in that state.

Floyd Norris in The New York Times charts the decline of pensions in this country, and analyzes two proposals from leading Democrats that seek to reverse the trend and restore retirement security for Americans.

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