Month: June 2017

Another Terror Attack Strikes London

Tragedy struck London once again, this time when a man used a van as a weapon of terror against a group of Muslims just after midnight Monday morning, leaving one man dead and ten others injured.

As Ramadan prayers ended, groups of Muslim worshippers scattered from the Finsbury Park Mosque in London. Witnesses report that a white van drove at high speeds down Seven Sisters Road before it veered into a crowd of Muslims on the sidewalk near the mosque. Witnesses were able to detain the suspect—a 48-year-old white male—until police arrived at the scene. Witnesses reported seeing two other men flee from the van, but police believe that the driver acted alone. Although police have not yet released the name of the man in question, the van displays the logo and telephone number of a van rental company in South Wales.

Police found one man dead at the crime scene, although his cause of death is still unknown. Witnesses report that the man had felt ill and collapsed in the street, and bystanders had begun giving him aid before the incident ensued. According to UK Prime Minister Theresa May, eight people required hospitalization, including two who incurred serious injuries. First responders treated two others with minor injuries at the crime scene.

Police are treating the attack as an act of terror and will continue investigation.

Senate Remains Divided Over a Bill to Replace Obamacare

Nearly 5 months into Donald Trump’s Presidency, and Congress remains divided over a bill to repeal Obamacare, which was President Trump’s number one campaign promise. Holding 52 of 100 Senate seats, Republicans are trying to pass the bill using the budget process of reconciliation to avoid a Democratic filibuster.

Fearing the possibility that the bill may not pass the Senate, Republican leaders have focused their attention on appealing to the moderate members within the caucus. GOP Senators have already conceded several key issues, including the the continuation of several Obamacare taxes and prohibiting states from repealing a health insurance rule known as community rating, which protects those with pre-existing conditions. Other issues in question are Medicaid expansion and increased tax credits for low-income Americans to buy insurance.

So far, the approach of appeasing the Senate GOP moderates stands in stark contrast to the approach of the House last month, when House leaders relented on several key issues to appease the most conservative lawmakers in the House.

As the Senate continues negotiations, President Trump is urging lawmakers to begin work on other legislation such as infrastructure and tax reform. However, lawmakers are more divided. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seeks to protect swing state Republican Senators whose seats are up in 2018. Many Republicans, including Senator John Thune of South Dakota, are concerned about the consequences if lawmakers are unable to make good on President Trump’s campaign promises in 2017.  

For now, the Senate will continue its painstaking efforts on the American Health Care Act.

A Department of Labor report reveals the number of available jobs in the U.S. rose to 6 million

The number of job openings in the U.S. rose to 6 million according to an April 2017 report the Department of Labor released today. The United States is operating at full employment as the unemployment rate stands at 4.3%. This rate leaves the number of Americans searching for work around 6.9 million according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For years, economic reporters and employers have contributed the discrepancy between available jobs and the unemployment rate, in part, to the “skills gap,” but the latest “Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary” from the Department of Labor suggests that conclusion may be incorrect. Of the 259,000 jobs added to the national total, the greatest increase occurred in the food service industry and accommodation subsector, which together provided 118,000 jobs. Portions of the food service industry and the accommodation subsector support numerous low-skill or entry-level positions, raising questions about how the skills gap interacts with current unemployment and job availability statistics.

The same report by the Labor Department states that jobs increased in both the Northeast and the Midwest. This is evidenced by the shifting focus from job creation to workforce development in states within those areas. During his 2017 State of the State Address, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin remarked, “Our biggest challenge is not creating jobs, but finding people to fill them. We went from a focus on ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ to talking about ‘workforce, workforce, workforce.’ This is my top priority for 2017 – and beyond.”

The success or failure of a growing emphasis on workforce development may be manifested by future Labor Department economic news releases and state employment trends.