Weekend News and Commentary: January 11-12
The L.A. Times says that Friday’s weak jobs report could push Congress on extending unemployment insurance. A bill proposing a three-month extension of benefits advanced in the Senate on Tuesday.
Last year in Texas, state legislators passed a bill adding drug-screening procedures as an eligibility requirement for certain unemployment benefits. The New York Times reports that the new program, slated to begin on February 1st, will be delayed due to a lack of required regulations from the United States Labor Department. (Under Texas’ new program, applicants in some professions must submit to a drug test, if their screening questionnaire indicates possible drug use. Applicants with positive results would be ineligible for unemployment benefits for at least a month. Mississippi and Kansas have passed similar bills.)
The Anchorage Daily News reports that the Alaska Supreme Court has green-lighted a union-led referendum to repeal certain collective bargaining laws. The laws, which had limited wage raises and the right to strike for municipal workers, will be on hold until the referendum.
Last fall, a much discussed arbitration ruling doubled the pay of casino workers in New York. The story came to a less than happy end for 175 of those workers, who were told this weekend that they’d lost their jobs, the New York Times reports.
Nobel Prize winning economist Dale Mortensen has died. As Bloomberg reports, Mortensen’s work on the labor market found that even in robust economies, “labor-market rigidities can cause unemployment as job-seekers look for the best work at the highest pay.” Mortensen’s research, and its potential implications for debates on unemployment insurance, is further discussed in the Washington Post.