Employment

Employers added 255,000 jobs last month while wages for private-sector workers matched their strongest annual pace of growth in seven years. More Americans joined the labor force, keeping the jobless rate steady at 4.9%.

That’s part of the best two months of hiring all year.  This is all good news, right?

Not so much.

The increase in the labor force participation rate was only a tenth of a point to 62.8%, still the lowest rate in 40-ish years—two generations.

A Court Gets One Right

In a sexual orientation case involving an adjunct professor who claimed she was denied “full time employment and promotions based on sexual orientation,” the 7th Circuit ruled unanimously that her employer can, indeed, do exactly that.  In particular, Title VII, under which the case was brought, does not apply to sexual discrimination in the workplace.

The reason the Court got this one right has little to do with discrimination—and everything to do with it—rather, it’s centered on what the law actually says, and what the judges said about what the law actually says.

The Other Supreme Court That’s in the Election Balance

This one is the National Labor Relations Board, a Democrat/union-dominated entity that is nearly the last word on what employers are allowed and required to do.

It’s the NLRB that threatened Boeing with labor unrest expensive lawsuits for its effrontery in wanting to build an aircraft manufacturing plant in the right-to-work state of South Carolina and forced Boeing to keep primary manufacturing in the union state of Washington.

It’s the NLRB that decided that franchise employees actually are jointly employed by the franchise—a McDonald’s burger joint, for instance—and the franchisor—McDonald’s corporate headquarters, for instance—a complete rewrite of the prior NLRB view of franchise employment.

Labor Costs Up, Prices Up

Starbucks is sharply raising its total compensation for its employees in the Seattle area.  Total compensation from wages and stock options is going up some 5% to 15%.  Carefully buried in the very last paragraph of The Seattle Times piece is this little nugget:

Last July, Starbucks raised its prices 3.5 times as much in Seattle as in the rest of the country.  It raised the price of its typical coffeeshop purchase across the U.S. by 1%, but in Seattle by 3.5%.

Hmm….

Tony Blair Misunderstands

Great Britain’s Ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair has sensed danger from the Brits’ vote to leave the European Union.

Blair said in a Friday column in The Daily Telegraph that the future of the United Kingdom is at stake as the country faces negotiations on the terms of leaving the European Union.

Of course there’s danger—there always is when a change as large as this is embarked on.  But Great Britain didn’t get to be as great as it was and still is by being timid.  This move is a great opportunity for the nation, much more so than it is a risk, however real that risk is.

Another Government Overreach?

Before the government can measure the size of the gig economy—or is it the sharing economy? The digital economy?—the sector needs to be defined.

No, it doesn’t.  It doesn’t even need to measure the size of the gig economy; government has shown it’s not going to do anything useful, or freedom-promoting, with that measurement.

And this misconception, by Commerce Department Acting Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Justin Antonipillai:

In order to have good policy making, you have to have good data[.]

Again, no.  Government doesn’t need to make any policy in this area.  Not at all.  Government just needs to butt out, and let American entrepreneurs make their own way.

Time to Decertify the Local

Some employees of Cablevision in Brooklyn, members of the Communication Workers of America union, were at a company BBQ circulating a petition to decertify their local, 1109.  Naturally the local’s officials objected, and they threatened the petition circulators.

I just want you to understand, to be perfectly clear that CWA we’re probably going to personally sue y’all[.]

[W]e’re going after y’all personally[.]

It’s especially serious when an NLRB administrative judge objects to the union local’s behavior, ruling these union officials had violated Federal labor law with their threats.  It’ll be interesting to see how the NLRB board itself rules on the union’s inevitable appeal.

States Competing for Corporations

Competition is at the heart of America’s economic success, but not every type of contest benefits society.  Consider the growing trend of businesses cajoling states and politicians to compete for who can dole out the most corporate welfare.  It’s especially frustrating because there are already plenty of ways to promote job growth without robbing taxpayers.

And

States could start with eliminating tax carve outs and replacing them with lower-overall tax rates and lighter regulatory burdens.  Federal lawmakers could also do their part by lowering America’s highest-in-the-developed-world corporate tax rate.

And

Embracing these policies would protect taxpayers…multinational firms with multimillion-dollar profit margins.

Minimum Wage Laws and Special Groups Impact

Fast-food workers and civil rights groups in Birmingham, AL, are mounting a constitutional challenge to a recent state law that bars cities from setting their own higher minimum wages, alleging the law violates the workers civil rights.

The plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the state’s Republican Gov Robert Bentley, claiming the bill he signed into law in February was tainted with “racial animus” toward the predominantly African-American city.

One of the lawsuit’s main claims is that the state law disproportionately impacts minority residents who live and work in Birmingham, many in low-wage, fast-food industry jobs that leave them impoverished and on public assistance.

Minimum Wage Revisited

Kevin Williamson, at National Review, had a thought that’s only now percolating to the surface of thinking Americans and that still is avoided by the American Left.

Properly understood, raising the minimum wage—and having a minimum wage at all—is camouflage, something to talk about and fight about while we’re not talking about and fighting about the more important underlying issue.  Declaring that all American workers shall be paid at least $15 an hour is not the same as ensuring that all American workers produce $15 an hour worth of value, and, eventually, the disconnect between those two considerations must make itself felt.