Liberal champion Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Sunday delivered a stirring defense of Black Lives Matter, characterizing it as a modern and necessary civil rights movement.
The full-throated defense of the movement contrasted with comments from other national politicians, whose remarks on Black Lives Matter have ranged from cautiousto missing the point — like when Martin O’Malley said that “all lives matter.”
One of the most powerful moments in the speech came when Warren criticized opponents of Black Lives Matter, who say the movement to end racial disparities in the criminal justice system is inciting violence. “Watch them march through the streets, ‘hands up don’t shoot’ — not to incite a riot, but to fight for their lives,” she said at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. “To fight for their lives.”
Warren: It goes even deeper than criminal justice disparities
Fifty years after John Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out, violence against African Americans has not disappeared. And what about voting rights? Two years ago, five conservative justices on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates ever wider for measures designed to suppress minority voting. Today, the specific tools of oppression have changed — voter ID laws, racial gerrymandering, and mass disfranchisement through a criminal justice system that disproportionately incarcerates black citizens. The tools have changed, but black voters are still deliberately cut out of the political process. …
Today, 90 percent of Americans see no real wage growth. For African-Americans, who were so far behind earlier in the 20th century, this means that since the 1980s they have been hit particularly hard. In January of this year, African-American unemployment was 10.3 percent — more than twice the rate of white unemployment. And, after beginning to make progress during the civil rights era to close the wealth gap between black and white families, in the 1980s the wealth gap exploded, so that from 1984 to 2009, the wealth gap between black and white families tripled.
Updated Sept. 4, 2015 1:14 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON—U.S. employment growth slowed in August but the jobless rate fell to the lowest level since 2008, a mixed labor-market reading that leaves the Federal Reserve with a challenging decision on whether to raise short-term rates at its September meeting.
Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 173,000 in August, the Labor Department said Friday. Revisions showed employers added 44,000 new jobs in June and July than previously estimated.
However, the unemployment rate, which comes from a separate survey of U.S. households, fell to 5.1%, from 5.3% the previous month. The unemployment rate is now lower than at any point since 2008 and right in the middle of the Fed’s long-run projections.
The decline in the unemployment rate strengthens the case for an interest rate increase at the Fed’s Sept. 16-17 meeting. It suggests that slack in the economy is getting eaten up rapidly, which is central to the Fed’s view that inflation will eventually start rising toward its 2% objective after running below the goal for more than three years.
Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker, in a Friday morning speech, called the payrolls gain a strong number. “I’d call this a good, right down the middle of the fairway” jobs report, said Mr. Lacker, a vocal proponent of raising interest rates.
Fed officials have said they will take Friday’s unemployment report into account as they weigh whether to raise interest rates. The August report is the last major indication they will get of the health of the labor market before this month’s meeting.
Economists once thought the Fed was poised to act in September, but recent turmoil in global financial markets has muddied the outlook. And Friday’s report could serve as ammunition both for those Fed officials who want to raise interest rates in September and for those who would prefer holding off.
Although the number of new jobs fell below the 218,000 monthly average recorded between January and July, the unemployment rate is now below the 5.2% to 5.3% range where officials thought it would be by year-end. Moreover, its descent shows little sign of slowing down. It has fallen by one percentage point from a year earlier. In their June projections, Fed officials projected the jobless rate wouldn’t fall much more in the next two years. For example, they projected it would be between 4.9% and 5.1% by the end of 2016 and the end of 2017. It is already effectively there. Broader measures of unemployment which include part-time and discouraged workers also continue to fall.
As the jobless rate falls, faint glimmers of firming in wages might be appearing. Average hourly earnings of private-sector workers rose by 8 cents to $25.09 last month, a 2.2% increase from a year earlier. The gain suggests a mild acceleration in worker’s pay. Wages had been advancing at a modest 2% pace since 2010.
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo.—Federal Reserve officials emerged from a week of head-spinning financial turbulence largely sticking to their plan to raise U.S. interest rates before the end of the year.
During the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s annual economic symposium here, many policy makers signaled that stock-market volatility and China’s woes haven’t seriously dented their view that the U.S. job market is improving, and that domestic economic output is expanding at a steady, modest pace.
Inflation might remain low for longer thanks to falling oil prices and a strong dollar. Officials will continue to keep a close watch on markets and China. But they hope U.S. consumer-price inflation will start inching toward their 2% annual target as the economy’s untapped capacity gets used up, leaving them in position to start raising rates after several months of forewarning.
“There is good reason to believe that inflation will move higher as the forces holding inflation down—oil prices and import prices, particularly—dissipate further,” said Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer in comments delivered to the conference, which ended Saturday.
The Fed has said it will raise rates when it is reasonably confident the inflation rate will rise again to 2%. Mr. Fischer’s comments suggested he believed the economy is closer to that point, although he pointedly avoided sending a signal about whether the Fed will act at its next meeting.
“I will not, and indeed cannot, tell you what decision the Fed will reach by Sept. 17,” Mr. Fischer said.
Unemployment rates among veterans are declining, but former service members are still struggling to enter the labor force.
Holly Mosack intended to go into the Army Reserve once she graduated from Northwestern University in 1997. A Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarship helped pay Mosack’s way through college, but a three-week stint at the U.S. Army Airborne School between her junior and senior years changed her course.
“While it was only three weeks, that’s just where I fell in love with the Army and the people,” says Mosack, who after her senior year was commissioned as an officer in the Army. “Just being around the soldiers is what I love.”
Fast-forward to 2004. Mosack had just concluded a seven-year military career and was in the process of what many veterans describe as the daunting transition into the civilian labor force.
“That transition was very difficult. My life was the military. The people I knew were the military,” Mosack says. “While I knew I had some credentials – I went to Northwestern, a great school – I didn’t have the confidence. What can I do in this civilian world? I got this degree in journalism several years ago. I don’t think I want to go into that. What am I going to do?”
Many veterans ask that very same question upon entering the civilian world. The Labor Department on Wednesday estimated 21.2 million veterans were living in the U.S. at the end of 2014, making up about 9 percent of the civilian noninstitutional population – those who are not on active military duty or in mental health facilities or jails – at least 18 years of age.
And while the military has some programs in place to help with reacclimation, the career counselors and guidance afforded to the average college student as they shape the rest of their lives far exceeds the help many veterans of the same age receive, especially if their military skill sets don’t translate well into the civilian labor force. Many veterans need to fend for themselves to get a job while adjusting to life back home.
“They do have a transition process. Every service member goes through this – how to write a resume and whatnot,” says Mosack, who is now a director of employee communications at Advanced Technology Services, a company that specializes in improving workplace productivity, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
“But you’re so used to, when you’re in the military, those processes. When you go to the doctor, you don’t have a copay. You don’t have to do anything,” she says. “You’re kind of catered to, and when it comes time to find a job, people are expecting that same help, and it’s not there. And I think that sends a lot of veterans into a world of panic once they’re getting out.”
WHITESVILLE, W. Va. — Only minutes after turning off Interstate 64, cell service disappears and a world that seems untouched by time appears in the fog-covered valleys that unfold along sinuous Coal River Road.
There are none of the chain businesses that make towns across America look disconcertingly similar. The houses that dot the roadside were last updated long ago, and many of the arteries that branch off the main thoroughfare and into the hills above remain unpaved.
Though so much wealth has been extracted from these once coal-rich mountains, there are no visible traces of any windfall to the people or the land that made it possible. There is no sign that any thought was ever given in preparation for a day that could have been foreseen, a day when coal wouldn’t be king in the country’s choice of energy sources and when the people here wouldn’t be needed.
Instead, now that coal can be blown out of the mountains rather than mined from within, and natural gas is cleaner and cheaper to use, what’s easiest to see is the bust that hit in the wake of the boom times.
Yet despite its national decline, coal still rules here.
Time of course hasn’t stood still, but limbo does mark the lives of the 24,000 and dwindling inhabitants of these Appalachian hollows in Boone County, southern West Virginia.