Today's News & Commentary – May 11

Published May 11th, 2015 -  - 05.11.1514


The unemployment rate in the American Midwest is declining, but not because there is widespread economic recover, The Wall Street Journal reports.  In fact, the unemployment rate has been rapidly decreasing in part because workers are “disappearing: moving away, retiring or no longer looking for a job.”  Recovery remains uneven: in twenty metropolitan areas where unemployment fell by at least 2.7 percentage points in the past year, sixteen of those urban area, half of which were in Illinois or Michigan, also saw their workforces shrink over the same period.

The Wall Street Journal’s opinion columnists take on the “anti-immigration” wing of the Republican party, claiming that not only are Republicans in Congress targeting immigration, but they also have taken a public stance against legal immigration and global markets.  Particularly, Senator Jeff Sessions opposes the bipartisan effort to pass trade promotion authority which is “rooted in the same hostility to markets and globalization that animates the slow-growth Democratic left.”  The authors believe that Senator Sessions is a symptom of a return of an anti-growth strain within the GOP that wants to turn away “thousands of the world’s brains who want to be American” and “use tax policy not to promote faster growth but to tilt the tax code to help Republican constituencies.”

The New York Times writes that as the American middle class fades, politicians have decreased use of the term on the 2016 presidential campaign trail.  Candidates and their strategists realize that “the phrase, long synonymous with the American dream, now evokes anxiety, an uncertain future and a lifestyle that is increasingly out of reach.”  Instead of a middle class, the new economy is like an “hourglass” with a concentration of wealth at the top and low-paying service jobs at the bottom and “a spectacular loss of median-wage jobs in the middle,” said William Julius Wilson, a sociologist and Harvard professor.

The New York Times Editorial Board wrote a fascinating explanation of being transgender at the CIA.  The article, focused around a young officer named Jenny, explores the history of transgender employees working in federal government, including a 2008 federal “test case,” EEOC rulings, and guidelines Office of Personnel Management.

Buzzfeed News analyzed a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies that showed that while black women represent one of the country’s most unionized demographics, they remain grossly underrepresented in union leadership positions.  Less than 3% of the respondents in the study said they had held elected leadership positions, and nearly half said they felt there were structural barriers to their advancement into leadership roles.  The report also says that a “colorblind” method of organizing black women workers misses the mark.  In response to the report and current trends in the market, large unions like United Steelworkers and American Federation of Teachers have pledged to do more to promote black women to leadership roles.

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