U.S. jobless claims jumped last week, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The news is a bit of a surprise considering the generally rosy employment numbers reported last week by the government.  It’s not clear what led to the spike.  Some have attributed the numbers to post-holiday layoffs in the retail industry, but the numbers are adjusted to reflect this seasonal change.  Others have surmised that the numbers might reflect seasonal construction layoffs, which would normally be reported in December but were delayed due to warm weather extending the construction season.

As the price of solar power drops, the solar industry is becoming an important job creator in the American economy, according to the Christian Science Monitor.  One out of 83 jobs created in 2015 came from the solar industry, which currently employs 208,859 Americans.  The growing solar labor force challenges the narrative that environmentalism is a jobs killer.  The gains in the solar industry also run counter to trends in the fossil fuel sector.  Although the traditional energy sector remains a behemoth, their growth appears to be contracting.

The GOP debate yesterday featured some pointed sparring on jobs, according to Fox Business.  The candidates spent a significant amount of time refuting President Obama’s optimistic economic outlook and decried the hits the middle class has taken during his administration.  The debate also an substantive exchange between the candidates on tariffs.  Donald Trump advocated taxing Chinese goods coming into the country in response to China’s taxes on imports and currency devaluation.  Senator Marco Rubio challenged Trump’s position, arguing that any tax on imports would fall to American consumers.