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Snow operators and snow shovelers, surprisingly enough, were a measured part of the upsurge in hiring due to heavy snows in the East and Midwest portion of the US.
US employers add 311,000 jobs in hiring hot streak
By KEVIN LESSMILLER, Contributing Writer
ST. PAUL (CN)—The U.S. economy gained 311,000 jobs in February, a sign the labor market has been unfazed by the government’s attempt to slow economic growth through higher interest rates.
While the increase is a drop from the revised 504,000 jobs added in January, payroll growth is continuing to beat expectations. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had predicted about 225,000 new jobs last month. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, ticked up from a half-century low of 3.4 to 3.6 percent, accord- ing to a Labor Department report released March 10.
"The labor market continues to defy expectations as employers add jobs at a rapid pace and unemployment remains low," wrote Nick Bunker, economic research director for North America at career site Indeed. "Today’s report is chock full of data showing a labor market with high levels of demand for workers and historically low levels of joblessness."
The jobs market has remained strong over the past year despite the Federal Reserve raising its benchmark interest rate eight times in a desperate bid to cool down the economy in the face of high inflation. The central bank is expected to hike rates again when it meets at the end of the month.
Wages were up 0.2 percent in February from the month before, compared to a 0.3 percent monthly increase in January, and 4.6 percent over the past year.
Paul Ashworth, chief North America economist at Capital Economics, said the slower monthly wage growth is one positive sign in the Fed’s battle to pump the brakes on the economy.
"The above-consensus 311,000 increase in payroll employment last month confirms that the super-sized 504,000 gain in January wasn’t just a seasonal distortion, but the rest of February’s report will provide some comfort to the Fed—with the unemployment rate rebounding, average weekly hours worked dropping back and average hourly earnings increasing by a muted 0.2 percent [month over month]," Ashworth wrote.
He said the jobs report "was not a knockout blow for either the Fed hawks or the doves," and predicted the central bank’s next rate hike decision on March 21-22 will come down to February’s consumer price index report, which is set to be released next week.
"We still think the Fed will stick with a 25 [basis point] increase but acknowledge that, after Chair Jerome Powell’s hawkish testimony this week, it’s a very close call," Ashworth said, suggesting the benchmark rate would move up from to a range of 4.75 percent to 5 percent.
The leisure and hospitality industry led the way in hiring again last month with the addition of 105,000 positions, including 70,000 at food and drinking establishments. Despite averaging 91,000 new jobs monthly over the past six months, the sector is still down 410,000 compared to its pre-pandemic level.
Retail payrolls rose by 50,000 in February while professional and business services added 45,000 positions, continuing an upward trend. The health care sector added 44,000 jobs last month, inclu- ding 19,000 in hospitals and 14,000 in nursing and residential care facilities. In addition, there were 24,000 more jobs in construction and 19,000 more in social assistance.
Not every field saw gains, however. The information sector lost 25,000 jobs, including 9,000 in the motion picture and sound recording industries and 3,000 in telecommunications. There were also 22,000 fewer transportation and warehousing positions in February.
The public sector, meanwhile, added a total of 46,000 jobs. That includes a robust gain of 37,000 in local government and more modest gains of 7,000 and 2,000 at the federal and state levels, respectively. Overall, the American economy is averaging 343,000 new jobs a month over the past six months.
Bunker pointed to moderating wage gains and a rise in workforce participation as signs of a solid economic foundation.
"Job gains this strong and unemployment this low might be concerning in the face of stubbornly high inflation, but there are signs that the labor market is heading toward a strong, stable, and sustainable pace of growth," he said.
President Joe Biden touted another better-than-expected jobs report in remarks from the White House on March 10, saying the economy is "headed in the right direction" and inflation is slowing.
"It’s no accident. It means our economic plan is working," Biden said.
Forum on racial covenants in
housing set in April
BROOKLYN PARK, MN (MNS)—The 10th annual Community Forum on Race is scheduled for April 11, from 6-8 p.m., at Hennepin Technical College, 9000 Brooklyn Blvd., Brooklyn Park. The event will be preceded by dinner at 5:30 p.m.
The free community event, titled, "Just Deeds and the Legacy of Racism in Housing," will focus on the history of discriminatory racial covenants—their impact then and now, and will take a specific look at racially restrictive covenants in Brooklyn Park.
Long, dark history
Racially restrictive covenants in property deeds were just one part of a suite of policies, used at all levels of government, to control who was able to live in specific locales, with a far-reaching impact on who was able to build wealth over the course of the past century. Efforts like the University of Minne- sota's Mapping Prejudice Project, the Just Deeds Project, and their partners are working to confront this history.
Racial covenants, also referred to as Jim Crow policies of the North, were used for decades to control who could buy or live on certain properties. They were used to suggest to banks which properties were worthy of investment. Through the University of Minnesota's Mapping Prejudice project, more than 26,000 property records with racially restrictive covenants have been identified in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties.
Racial covenants are clauses that were specifically and stretegically inserted into property deeds to prevent non-Whites from buying or occupying land https://mappingprejudice.umn.edu Covenants in some Brooklyn Park property records included language like the following:
"No lot, plot, or parcel shall be sold, leased, mortgaged, used or occupied, nor any right thereto be granted, given, or permitted to any person, other than a member of the Caucasian race, except that this covenant shall not prevent occupancy by persons of other races in domestic service upon such premises. Said premises shall not be occupied by any person other than those of the Caucasian race
Subject to mineral rights reserved by the State of Minnesota and building and racial restrictions of record, if any. Said premises shall not be occupied by Negroes or Jews."
Mapping Prejudice began as an experiment at the University of Minnesota, which sprouted as a desire to learn whether a new awareness of racial covenants would help people see what Ibram X. Kendi calls the "racism behind those racial disparities."
Minnesota had a need for a project like this, said Kendi. While very diverse, "Minnesota has some of the [widest] racial disparities in the nation. These disparities are especially notable in housing. In the Twin Cities, 78 percent of White families are homeowners, compared to 25 percent of Black families."
According to the Mapping Prejudice mission, it "identifies and maps racial covenants, clauses that were inserted into property deeds to keep people who were not White from buying or occupying homes. From our base in the University of Minnesota Libraries, our interdisciplinary team collaborates with community members to expose the history of structural racism and support the work of reparations."
Covenants and deeds on homes were historically closely related to redlining , the practice of separ- ating neighborhoods that were predominantly White or Black. Some of the best known use of deeds was the Levittown housing development of Long Island, New York.
Levittown: Separate and Unequal
Neighborhoods like Levittown, which was made for soldiers returning from World War II, contained deeds that prevented anyone outside of the Caucasian race from owning a home. Levittown, backed by the government, would even waive down payments for veterans, even though the homes were relatively cheap, so cheap even prospective Black homebuyers could afford them.
Examples set by developments like Levittown were the backbone of the racist housing history in the United States. These historical, racist policies continue to affect the demographics and homeowner- ship of homes with deeds, especially when there are many in one area. It becomes important to recognize now these historical policies, though no longer in effect, still have impacts on certain neighborhoods, schools, and wealth and funding of communities previously affected by deeds or redlining.
Those planning to attend the Community Forum on Race, must RSVP by calling (763) 493-8394.
Rep. Ilhan Omar condemns violence in
Israel's West Bank
WASHINGTON—Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) released the following statement on the violence in the West Bank.
"I am horrified by the rampage of Israeli settlers in the Palestinian villages of the West Bank that led to the torching of dozens of cars and houses, took an inno- cent life and injured over 100.
"This comes against the backdrop of massive settle- ment expansion and de facto annexation of the West Bank by the most rightwing Israeli government in history—moves that would erase any hope for a two-state solution.
"Violence only begets violence. These violent out- bursts have taken innocent Palestinian and Israeli lives and traumatized many.
"I am heartened by the pro-peace, pro-justice demon- strations of both Jewish and Arab-Palestinians across Israel right now.
"The US must seek full accountability for any viola-
Rep. Ilhan Omar. Courtesy US House 55 Dist.
tions of international law, and ensure that our US tax dollars are not funding human rights violations.
"Truly putting human rights at the center of foreign policy and supporting a rules-based international order means demanding accountability for any violations, whether they are our allies or adversaries."
Over $5 million focuses on opioid addiction
in disproportionately impacted communities
ST. PAUL—As opioids continue to devastate people and families across Minnesota, a new set of state grants focuses on the communities bearing the greatest burdens of the crisis.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services is awarding $5.7 million to 12 grantees to expand the services available to support people suffering from opioid use disorder and make it easier to get help. Almost all the funding is going to organizations primarily serving Native communities, Black commu- nities and communities of color disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic.
The new investments will address gaps in Minnesota’s continuum of care for Native people and people of color with opioid use disorder, and help inform future changes to better serve all Minnesotans. Organizations receiving grants serve the Twin Cities metropolitan area, greater Minnesota and Tribal Nations, while others provide services statewide.
More and more Minnesotans are losing their lives to opioid use disorder. The number of opioid-involved deaths in Minnesota reached 924 in 2021, up from 343 in 2018. American Indians and Black Minnesotans are experiencing the opioid epidemic more severely. American Indians are seven times more likely to die from a drug overdose than White Minnesotans, while Black Minnesotans are twice
as likely to die from a drug overdose.
“Minnesota cannot and will not accept this continued pain and heartbreak for families and communi- ties,” said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “With this funding, our partners can save lives now and in the years to come through a range of programs that are person-centered, trauma-informed and culturally responsive.”
The new grants will support culturally specific practices, including primary prevention and overdose prevention, workforce development and training, and expansion and enhancement of the continuum of care. The funding includes $1 million for services focused on the East African population.
Gov. Tim Walz’s budget proposal to the 2023 Legislature includes a package of measures addressing the opioid epidemic. His recommendations, totaling $21.5 million over four years, include stronger representation of disproportionately impacted communities on the state Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council, ongoing funding for traditional healing and overdose prevention grants, and more education for opioid treatment professionals.
The current awards are the second set of grants recommended by the Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council, after an earlier round totaling approximately $5 million in 2022.
“I’m proud of the work we have been focused on over the past three years. Providing over $10 million to tackle many different objectives across the state is what we have worked for,” said Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, the council’s chair. “Our needs are endless, but we must deploy resources and help support families facing this deadly crisis.”
The council selected the current grantees after extensive review, with a focus on increasing access to treatment, reducing opioid overdose-related deaths, and addressing unmet needs for prevention, treat- ment and recovery services. The Department of Human Services and the council requested proposals in April 2022.
“Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear of [an] verdose attributed to this heartbreaking horror,” said Sen. Mary Kunesh, DFL-New Brighton, who serves on the council. “Minnesota must dedicate every resource available to deal with this opioid epidemic and look at addiction more broadly. How would we not just stop the current epidemic, but prevent the next crisis? This is our mission.”
In the coming months, the Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council will announce additional funding recommendations and begin soliciting proposals for new funding.
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