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Economy

Brooks applauds 304,000 new jobs in January

Brandon Moseley

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Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) praised the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics January jobs report on Friday.

“On the plus side, the economy produced 304,000 new jobs in January and 2.2 million new jobs over the past year,” Brooks said in a statement. “Both are excellent numbers. Similarly, the monthly labor participation rate improved from 63.1 percent to 63.2 percent, with a very good .5 percentage point annual improvement. Notably, January marks an all-time record 100th straight month of job growth. This record streak began in October 2010 and is more than twice as long as the second best 48-month streak that ended in June 1990.”

“On the troubling side, America’s unemployment rate increased for the second month in a row, from 3.9 percent to 4 percent,” Brooks said. “November’s unemployment rate was a much better 3.7 percent. The apparent conflict in strong job creation with improving labor participation rate data but with a worsening unemployment rate is likely attributable to more Americans entering the work force and seeking jobs coupled with a continued surge in illegal aliens taking jobs from American families.”

“Thankfully, wage growth, albeit relatively weak, continued in January,” Brooks continued. “Average hourly non-farm worker wages rose by three cents, to $27.56 per hour, seven cents less than December’s strong 10-cent hourly improvement but still a healthy 85 cents an hour better than a year ago.”

Brooks warned against dramatic economic policy changes.

“So far, Democrat’s threatened 70 percent tax rates, massively unaffordable ‘Medicare-for-All’ Socialized healthcare system, and the job-killing ‘Green New Deal’ have not significantly damaged America’s economy because the Republican Senate and White House are bulwarks preventing their passage, but employers and job creators are surely watching to see what radical job killing Socialist policies House Socialist Democrats and Socialist Democrat presidential candidates propose in the coming months,” Brooks said. “The open question is whether America’s education system has enabled the voting public to understand how bad Socialism is and how free enterprise has been instrumental in making America the greatest and most prosperous nation in world history.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics America’s economy added 304,000 new, non-farm payroll jobs in January 2019. The labor participation rate climbed to 63.2 percent. America’s January unemployment rate is at 4.0 percent. The White House attributed the slight uptick in the inflation rate to the hundreds of thousands of government workers affected by the partial government shutdown. Over the past year, the average weekly earnings for all non-farm American workers increased by 85 cents (to $27.56/hour).

The White House was jubilant with the information that the economy gained 304,000 jobs, despite the partial government shutdown and the end of the Christmas shopping season, surpassing expectations.

“We added 304,000 jobs, which was a shocker to a lot of people,” said President Donald J. Trump. “It wasn’t a shocker to me.”

America’s economy continues its streak of job gains. January 2019 marks the 16th month in a row with employment growth of at least 100,000 new jobs.

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Numerous sectors experienced job growth in January, including mining and logging (7,000 jobs), transportation and warehousing (27,000), construction (52,000), education and health services (55,000) and leisure and hospitality (74,000).

The U.S. economy has added 4.9 million jobs since January 2017 and 5.3 million jobs since Trump was elected in November 2016.

The employment cost index, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases quarterly, showed a 3.1 percent gain in the wages and salaries component in the fourth quarter of 2018. That’s up from 2.9 percent in the third quarter and tied for the biggest gain since the third quarter of 2008, right before the onset of the Great Recession.

Overall, the employment cost index, which also includes benefits costs, rose 2.9 percent for the quarter, which also tied the highest level since the third quarter of 2008.

The Federal Reserve Board voted not to raise interest rates in January. A statement released Wednesday after this week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting indicated that “market-based measures of inflation compensation have moved lower in recent months” though “survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed.”

A household survey released by BLS shows that the labor force participation rate for prime-age adults, ages 25-54, increased by 0.3 percentage points to 82.6 percent. The last time it was this high was April 2010.

The stock market boomed in January after a volatile fourth quarter that saw stocks slide following all-time highs in September.

The S&P 500 index lost 9.6 percent of its value in December, the worst December performance since 1931. The S&P 500 climbed back in January gaining 7.9 percent despite the partial government shutdown. This was the best January for the index since 1987. The S&P 500 has gained 15 percent since Dec. 26. The Dow Jones showed similar gains, closing January a fraction of a point below 25,000 after closing December at 23,327.

Brooks is serving his fifth term representing Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District.

Original reporting by CNBC and the Wallstreet Journal contributed to this report.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Economy

NAALC to hold public union event in Madison

The event will allow a variety of labor union members and officials to meet and discuss pertinent issues and planning. 

Josh Moon

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The North Alabama Area Labor Council will hold a solidarity event on Saturday in Madison, with several area labor union members present to answer questions from the public. 

The event, which will start at 9 a.m. at the Steamfitters and Pipefitters Union Hall on Madison Blvd., also will allow a variety of labor union members and officials to meet and discuss pertinent issues and planning. 

According to a press release from the NAALC, a number of current representatives from area unions will be present, including members from the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1858, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local 44, IAMAW Local 2766, Ironworkers Local 477, International Alliance of Theatrical and Stagehand Employees Local 900, American Postal Workers Union Local 259 and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Employees Local 27.

The union reps plan to discuss basic issues with anyone interested, such as the basic benefits of union membership and how to form a union at your local workplace. 

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Economy

New unemployment claims decreased last week

Fewer people joined the unemployment rolls last week compared to the week before.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

There were 7,964 new unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, down from 8,581 filed the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. 

Of the claims filed between Oct. 11 and Oct. 17, there were 4,032 related to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s 51 percent, compared to 36 percent the previous week.

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Economy

Governor announces auto supplier IAC plans Alabama expansion

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Monday that International Automotive Components Group North America Inc. plans to invest over $55.9 million in expansion projects that will create 182 jobs at two Alabama facilities.

“International Automotive Components is a leading global auto supplier, and I am pleased that this world-class company is growing significantly in Alabama and creating good jobs in Cottondale and Anniston,” Ivey said. “IAC’s growth plans show that Alabama’s dynamic auto industry continues to expand despite today’s challenging environment.”

Nick Skwiat is the executive vice president and president of IAC North America.

“Alabama was the logical choice due to its skilled workforce and proximity to the customer,” Skwiat said. “We are excited to see the continued growth of the automotive industry in Alabama and we plan to grow right along with it. We thank the Governor and Secretary Canfield for their leadership in this sector.”

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County. This facility will produce door panels and overhead systems for original equipment manufacturers. That project will create 119 jobs at the production site in Cottondale.

IAC also plans to invest $21.6 million at its manufacturing facility located in the former Fort McClellan in Anniston. That East Alabama project will create another 63 jobs.

This project builds on a milestone 2014 expansion that doubled the size of the Calhoun County facility. There IAC manufactures automotive interior components and systems. Key components produced at the Anniston plant include door panels, trim systems and instrument panels for original equipment manufacturers.

IAC Group is a leading global supplier of innovative and sustainable instrument panels, consoles, door panels, overhead systems, bumper fascias and exterior ornamentation for original equipment manufacturers.

IAC is headquartered in Luxembourg and has more than 18,000 employees at 67 locations in 17 countries. The company operates manufacturing facilities in eight U.S. states.

“With operations around the globe, IAC is the kind of high-performance company that we want in Alabama’s auto supply chain to help fuel sustainable growth,” said Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “We look forward to working with IAC and facilitating its future growth in this strategic industrial sector.”

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Danielle Winningham is the executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority.

“International Automotive Components is a valued part of Tuscaloosa County’s automotive sector,” Winningham said. “We are grateful for IAC’s investment in our community and the career opportunities available to our area workforce as a result of their investment.”

“The City of Anniston is excited that IAC has made the decision to expand here. I have enjoyed working with the leadership at IAC, the Calhoun County EDC, and the state of Alabama to get this project finalized,” said Anniston Mayor Jack Draper. “This is even further evidence that Anniston is indeed open for business.”

Only Michigan has more automobile manufacturing jobs than the state of Alabama. Honda, Mercedes, Hyundai, Polaris, Toyota and soon Mazda all have major automobile assembly plants in the state of Alabama.

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Courts

Aderholt fully supports Barrett’s confirmation process

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Robert Aderholt

Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, updated his constituents on the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Aderholt said, “I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms.”

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

“Senate Democrats are not seriously questioning Judge Barrett on her credentials, instead they have decided to attack her character and her beliefs,” Aderholt said. “I am disappointed to see this unfold on the national stage, but I think Judge Barrett stood strong and did well during this first week of hearings.”

“While I do not have a vote in her confirmation process, I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms when she is officially sworn in as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” Aderholt said.

Barrett is a Notre Dame graduate, has served on the U.S. Seventh Court of Appeals and is a former clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate,” Barrett said. “His judicial philosophy is mine, too: A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”

Barrett vowed to keep an open mind on any matter that comes before the court, though Democrats fear she is prepared to overturn Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.

That the Republican controlled committee will recommend that Barrett be confirmed appears certain. A vote to confirm Barrett to the nation’s highest court by the full Senate could occur just days ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump has been the president of the United States for less than four years but if Barrett is confirmed, then he will have selected one third of the U.S. Supreme Court. Barrett fills a place created by the death of the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces Democratic nominee Rick Neighbors in the Nov. 3 general election.

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