It's a Left-Handed Show

Aug 13, 2015
Andreas Levers / Creative Commons

Lefties have been scorned as evil, and celebrated as superior. But, like so many things in life, being a southpaw is not so easily defined. 

Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET

The U.S. economy added 215,000 jobs last month, just shy of the number forecast by economists. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.3 percent.

Wages were up slightly, and the number of long-term unemployed remained the same as June.

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Ninety-five people will lose their jobs at the state Department of Labor as Connecticut officials attempt to save $16 million a year in costs. / Creative Commons

President Barack Obama scolded Congress last week at his signing of the latest federal stop gap transportation funding bill.

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The Connecticut state Department of Labor is expecting to issue layoff notices to dozens of its employees as the result of cuts in federal funding.

One of the nation’s most recognizable coffee chains, Dunkin’ Donuts, is expanding in the United States and abroad.

Dunkin’ Brands announced today that it opened 80 new Dunkin’ Donuts stores in the U.S. and 154 worldwide in the second quarter. The company is making a push into the coveted West Coast market, where the competition is brutal.

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The Connecticut economy gained 600 jobs last month,  according  to a new analysis from the state Labor Department. Unemployment fell to its lowest level since July of 2008 : 5.7 percent.

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A new federal designation is expected to help the state of Connecticut access more than $1 billion in federal funding for economic development and to boost manufacturing.

The state is one of twelve applicants to receive the designation by President Barack Obama's administration under the Investing in Manufacturing Committee Partnership Initiative. It's a federal program designed to strengthen manufacturing across the country and support states with long-term economic development strategies.

The buzzing phone or ding of an email from the bedside table might be standard these days. But a long-awaited proposal that would increase the number of employees eligible for overtime pay could mean more companies curtailing the use of work email after hours.

When Nicholas Castillo was hired as a bank branch manager several years ago, he was told his $30,000 salary came with expectations.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

While all the other members of Connecticut's congressional delegation voted against it, Jim Himes has been a strong supporter of "fast track" trade authority, which allows the president to negotiate with 11 other Pacific nations.

The U.S. economy keeps adding jobs at a steady pace, but the Labor Department report for June also shows more people are leaving the labor force and wages are not rising.

The economy added 223,000 jobs last month as unemployment fell to its lowest rate since 2008, the Labor Department said Thursday. The jobless rate dipped to 5.3 percent from 5.5 percent in May.

Obama To Expand Overtime Pay For Millions

Jun 30, 2015

President Obama announced this week that the Labor Department will expand overtime pay, in a move the administration estimates would impact 5 million U.S. workers. That would double the income threshold at which employers can avoid paying overtime.

Right now, only salaried employees earning less $23,660 a year are eligible for overtime. This rule would raise that threshold so that employees making up to $50,660 a year would get paid overtime.

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Connecticut could see its job growth actually decline this year and next, according to a dire new forecast from UConn’s Center for Economic Analysis.

A 4 / Creative Commons

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. says it will expand its presence in research centers in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and San Francisco, while cutting jobs in Connecticut.

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If the State of Connecticut was a college student, it would be the one who crams for every exam and writes every final paper the night before. We say this, because the fiscal year starts on July 1, and a special session to finish the details of the state budget is reportedly scheduled for the last two days of June.

Chris Potter / Creative Commons

Connecticut added 6,400 jobs in May, and the state’s unemployment rate fell to six percent. The figures mean so far in 2015, the state is showing its strongest performance since the post-recession recovery began. That’s despite the fact that the department also revised April’s figures from a 1,200 job gain to a 600 job loss. 

Hartford Healthcare

Hartford HealthCare will lay off hundreds of staff, saying the cuts are necessary because of reduced reimbursement for Medicaid patients. 

Chuck Miller / Creative Commons

Two big Connecticut corporations threatened to leave the state after a budget deal was reached before the end of the regular session. But were they empty threats? Governor Dannel Malloy didn't want to take any chances and announced last week a reduction in business tax hikes. This hour, our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse continues the budget drama, and other legislation that may be taken up during a special session. One of those, Malloy's "Second Chance Society" proposals were touted by the governor in Germany this week.

Homeowners interested in switching to solar energy will soon have the option to do so with no upfront costs. The nation’s largest rooftop solar installer is coming to Rhode Island. Starting this week, California-based SolarCity will offer Rhode Islanders loans to buy home solar systems.

Baystate Health, the largest employer in western Massachusetts, has announced a round of job cuts.

Twenty-four employees are being laid off, hours cut for 17 workers, and 45 vacant positions will go unfilled.  Baystate spokesman Ben Craft said the cuts are across the board and almost all at the flagship hospital in Springfield.

"Largely support and administrative positions in both the clinical and business areas of Baystate Health. There are  no physicians or bedside nurses affected. Ten management positions are included," he said.

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Sikorsky has announced it will close its Bridgeport plant, and consolidate all of its Connecticut operations in Stratford. One hundred eighty people will lose their jobs in the state, as the helicopter maker lays off 1,400 people worldwide -- just less than ten percent of its workforce.

Electric Boat

A workforce training effort in Eastern Connecticut could contain lessons for the rest of the nation, but the state’s congressional delegation said money will be the roadblock.

The economy may be struggling in Eastern Connecticut with the decline of the casinos, but submarine maker Electric Boat provides a bright spot — the company expects to hire 2,000 people this year alone in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

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Does firefighting cause cancer? That's a question at the heart of a bill at the state legislature that would make it easier for firefighters who have certain cancers to get workers comp benefits. 

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According to a 2014 report, more than 300,000 Connecticut households struggle to pay their energy bills. In fact, the average low-income household owes rougly $2,560 more in annual energy bills than it can actually afford.

Wage theft is rampant in the booming residential construction industry in Massachusetts, according to research from UMass Amherst.

     It has become standard practice in the home building industry in Massachusetts for subcontractors to illegally misclassify workers -- particularly immigrants — as independent contractors. The workers sometimes go weeks without pay, get no compensation for overtime, and are often paid less than they were promised. 

   Tom Juravich, a Umass Amherst labor professor detailed the abuses in a new paper.

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A Connecticut legislative committee has approved a legal settlement that would end a long-running federal court battle over former Governor John Rowland's decision to lay off 2,800 unionized state employees about 12 years ago. 

Click the above link to hear Joel Rose's Morning Edition report.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is casting his eye beyond the Big Apple — and is trying to cement his legacy as a progressive champion that could help boost his political future.

Updated at 9:55 a.m. ET

The U.S. economy added 223,000 jobs in April, hewing close to expectations from economists, but the numbers fell short of a threshold that forecasters believe would signal an early rise in interest rates.

The unemployment rate dipped to 5.4 percent, according to data released by the U.S. Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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The state legislature has approved a bill aiming to protect the online privacy of employees and job applicants, but state analysts expect the law to impact fewer than ten people per year.

The unpredictable schedules of retail and fast-food workers is a big issue in workers rights campaigns. Now, the New York attorney general is investigating the way some of the country's biggest retailers handle scheduling.

In New York, if a worker shows up for a shift that he doesn't end up being needed for, the law says he still is due four hours of pay. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says retailers, especially, rely heavily on systems that require workers to be ready to work a shift — regardless of whether they end up working. It's called on-call work.