For American Workers, Bad TPP News Dwarfs Poor January BLS Report

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

February 5, 2016

Last month, as Wall Street anticipated, only 151,000 nonfarm payroll jobs were created, with 70 percent of the new jobs driven by low paying work in retail, food services and drinking places – clerks, waiters and bartenders. The January report represents a large drop from December’s much stronger jobs report, even after revised down to 262,000 from an initially reported 290,000.

TPP may cost as many as 448,000 American jobs by 2025.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said that the economy needs to create at least 100,000 new jobs monthly just to match population growth. Factor in the roughly 90,000 newly employment-authorized legal immigrants that enter the labor pool each month, and the economy is, at best, treading water.

But, the weak January Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report was not the month’s most troubling news for American workers. The more worrisome story came from 7,000 miles away when President Obama’s trade representative signed the 5,544-page Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Despite overwhelming public resistance, Congress voted to fast-track TPP, which is so unpopular that the administration signed the agreement in New Zealand, far away from congressional critics’ disapproving eyes.

A Tufts University Global Development and Environment Institute study found that TPP will eventually lead to employment losses in all countries, with a total of 771,000 lost jobs. The United States would be the hardest hit, with a loss of 448,000 jobs.” Other negative TPP consequences include increased global income inequality, and net GDP losses in Japan and the U.S.

The last thing American workers need during feeble domestic job growth is competition from TPP that will displace tens of thousands of U.S. employees. American interests should be put first, something the Obama administration seems to have trouble doing.

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Also from the January jobs report: the labor force participation rate, the employment-population ratio and the discredited unemployment rate were little changed at 62.7 percent, 59.6 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively. The U-6 unemployment rate remained at 9.9 percent. On a brighter note, average hourly earnings increased by 12 cents to $25.39. Over the year, however, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5 percent, still anemic.

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