Today's News & Commentary – November 28
According to The New York Times, there are five positive economic trends to be thankful for this year. The price of gasoline, natural gas, fuel oil, and electricity is decreasing; job growth continues to be on the rise (with higher wages hopefully in the horizon); more Americans are quitting jobs voluntarily which reflects their confidence in their ability to get new jobs; home prices are rising not at an exponential but at a sustainable rate; and American household debt levels are on a comfortable rise and at a level much lower than their peak in 2008.
The Boston Globe highlights the situation of retail workers who, as an “unwritten rule,” usually work on Black Friday. The article notes that “[w]hether or not this day is the worst day of the year for these workers depends on their required duties, and how the store’s management prepares in advance.” Employers that provide food or coffee in stock rooms and allow employees to have some say in determining which hours they want to work have happier workers and customers.
France is reconsidering its official national 35-hour workweek. The rule is more than a decade old and is in contrast to those of most European countries that mandate 40 hours a week. However, the reality is that the average employee in France works 39.5 hours a week due to loopholes in the law. In fact, French workers’ productivity level is about 13% higher than that of the eurozone average. Despite these statistics, the government is considering repealing the law as an effort to combat economic stagnation.
The LA Times reports that Republicans are contemplating action in response to President Obama’s executive action on immigration. John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has suggested that he does not wish to impeach the president or shut down the government. However, the article notes that there are other possible routes Republicans may take. For example, Congress could increase funding for deportation and pressure Obama to use it, decrease funding for programs they do not like, or pass another immigration law. On the state-level, Republicans can attempt to sue the president by arguing that the executive order imposes a financial burden on them to provide services for newly legalized immigrants.
The United Kingdom is likewise dealing with issues of immigration. According to The Wall Street Journal, Prime Minister David Cameron is in a difficult position as new data shows the recent ineffectiveness of his plan to curb immigration. More than 250,000 more people came to Britain than left in the first half of 2014. Moreover, an increasing number of immigrants are from other European nations. Cameron faces pressure from his party as well as criticism from countries in the European Union who accuse him of restricting the “free movement of people.”