Today's News & Commentary – November 14
According to The New York Times, Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen has suggested that economists should look not only to data reflecting new jobs but also to the “quit rate” of workers. This rate is the “proportion of workers who quit their jobs in any given month.” A higher quit rate may indicate that workers are confident that they can secure alternative employment and be rehired elsewhere, therefore indicating economic recovery. The quit rate had stagnated at 1.8% in the past few months but jumped to 2% in September. Still, the article notes that the overall numbers of the quit rate and unemployment data “suggest the labor market recovery remains unfinished work.”
In developing immigration news, Obama announced that he would likely take executive action to issue partial immigration reform and protect as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation. Obama indicated that he would announce the contours of the plan as early as next week. Officials suggest that one significant component will allow many parents of U.S. citizen or legal resident children to obtain employment authorization. The White House is still debating whether to limit eligibility of the plan to undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years or ten years. The former would affect as many as 3.3 million immigrants, and the latter 2.5 million. As the White House continues to discuss the idea, Republicans are already gearing up to oppose the executive action. Republican leaders want to use a budget next month as a bargaining chip and only agree to pass it if it expressly prohibits the president from enforcing “executive amnesty.”
Politico reports that President Obama has withdrawn his nomination of Sharon Block to the National Labor Relations Board. Block’s appointment had previously been invalidated by the Supreme Court in Noel Canning v. NLRB because she had been a recess appointee. We recently covered Obama’s nomination of Block and the implications of the midterm elections here. Instead, the president will nominate Lauren McFerran, the chief labor counsel for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). The move comes after partisan resistance by Republicans.
The Wall Street Journal notes that unemployment rates across the 34 nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) declined for the second month in a row in September. The September unemployment rate of 7.2% is the lowest recorded since January 2009, when the rate was 7.1%. Although this data is encouraging, the jobless rate is still “well above” the levels recorded before the financial crisis in 2008. Currently, 44.2 million people in the OECD are still unemployed, which is 9.6 million more than the numbers recorded in July 2008. The OECD reported that the unemployment rate decreased in the U.S. and Canada, increased in Japan, and has remained relatively unchanged in the eurozone. The financial crisis has spurred concerns about young workers who have a difficult time finding work, leading some to call them the “lost generation.”