With coronavirus lockdowns easing and unrest sweeping the nation, the United States got some encouraging news on the nascent jobs market recovery, but confirmation that racial inequality continues to be a feature of the US labour market.
The economy gained 2.5 million in jobs in May – by far the biggest monthly spike on record – the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday, pushing the unemployment rate down by 1.4 percentage points to 13.3 percent.
Floyd protests: Charting US racial inequality
Another 1.87 million Americans filed for jobless claims last week
How long will it take the US economy to recover from coronavirus?
The headline numbers were a huge shock to most analysts who were expecting millions more job losses. They were also immediately seized upon by President Donald Trump who has largely pinned his re-election campaign on his stewardship of the economy
Trump tweeted: “Really Big Jobs Report. Great going President Trump (kidding but true)!”
While Trump touted the numbers, some analysts responded with cautious optimism.
“With more states moving to loosen their lockdowns in the coming weeks, particularly in the populous Northeast, employment looks set to continue rebounding in June and beyond,” wrote Capital Economics senior US economist Michael Pearce in a note to clients, “although we still think it will be a long time before the labour market is anywhere near back to its pre-virus state.”
The chief US economist at Oxford Economics, Gregory Daco, underscored how much ground the jobs market needs to reclaim in order to regain its pre-pandemic strength.
“Even as we look for the economy to recoup about 60% of lost jobs by year-end, the unemployment rate will still likely be around 8-10%,” he wrote in a note to clients.
May’s job gains mostly reflect laid off workers who were recalled to their jobs as coronavirus containment measures are rolled back across the country. The number of unemployed workers who were on temporary layoff decreased by 2.7 million in May to 15.3 million.
More than half of May’s job gains were in the food services and drinking sector as restaurants started reopening.
Broken out by race, the white unemployment rate edged down from 14.2 percent in April to 12.4 percent in May, while the unemployment rate for African Americans ticked up slightly from 16.7 percent to 16.8 percent.
That racial divergence in joblessness is nothing new. The African American jobless rate has been higher than the white unemployment rate since the government started recording that data back in 1972.
Tens of thousands of people have participated in protests since the death of unarmed Black man George Floyd in policy custody in Minneapolis last month. Though centred on police brutality, the outcry is also an expression of mounting frustrations with deeply entrenched social and economic inequalities that the current economic downturn could likely exacerbate.
“We must remember that we’re in the middle of a pandemic that has hurt many of our Black workers hardest, and they will continue to feel the brunt of the health and economic consequences, unless policymakers take decisive action,” Elise Gould, senior economist with progressive think-tank the Economic Policy Institute told Al Jazeera.
“It is imperative that policymakers do not take this as a sign that it’s time to stop providing necessary relief to workers, their families, and state and local governments. The economic pain will be long-standing without additional aid,” Gould added.
The jobs market is just one area of the economy where African Americans and other minorities have the odds stacked against them. From the value of an education to gaining access to credit to buy assets like houses to grow wealth over time, and myriad other metrics, there is a concrete, consistent pattern of racial discrimination in the US economic ecosystem.
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Iran says ‘internal agents’ may be responsible for Natanz blast |NationalTribune.com
Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year. On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the…
Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year.
On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the roof to collapse and parts of the building were blackened by the blaze.
“One of the strong theories is based on internal agents being involved in the incident,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters at a news conference, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA).
“The issue is being seriously reviewed by the country’s security organisations and we will announce the results after things are clear.”
It is the first time an Iranian official specifically pointed to the possibility of an inside job for the blast.
In late August, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization confirmed the damage to the facility was the result of “sabotage”.
“But how this explosion took place and with what materials … will be announced by security officials in due course,” spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said at the time, citing “security reasons” for not disclosing further information.
‘Sabotage is certain’
In early September, Kamalvandi announced Natanz saboteurs “have been identified” but refrained from discussing further details, including whether internal agents were complicit.
On Tuesday, Rabiei also reiterated that “sabotage is certain” but the incident still needs to be investigated due to its complexities.
The desert Natanz site, much of which is underground, is one of several Iranian facilities regularly monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog.
Following the explosion, international media reports indicated Israel may have been behind the attack. Israel has been deliberately vague, neither confirming nor denying involvement while stressing the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.
“Everyone can suspect us in everything and all the time, but I don’t think that’s correct,” Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said days after the attack.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi also said “Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear capabilities”, adding to that end, “We take actions that are better left unsaid.”
September’s announcement that Iran knows the saboteurs behind the Natanz explosion came one week after IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi visited the country.
The trip was successful, leading to Iran granting access to two suspected former nuclear sites that the UN watchdog wished to inspect.
“In this present context, based on analysis of available information to the IAEA, the IAEA does not have further questions to Iran and further requests for access to locations other than those declared by Iran,” the IAEA and Iranian officials said in a joint statement following the visit.
In a speech during the 64th session of the General Conference of the IAEA on Monday, the president of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi referred to the Natanz incident.
“These malicious acts need to be condemned by the agency and member states,” he said via video conference, adding “Iran reserves its rights to protect its facilities and take necessary actions against any threat as appropriate.”
Salehi also urged the UN watchdog not to compromise its “impartiality, independence and professionalism”.
Iran, UN and the United States are locked in a major disagreement centred around the landmark 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers, which US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned in May 2018.
The US on Sunday declared it reinstated all UN sanctions on Iran, an announcement that was roundly rejected by the United Nations Security Council as lacking legal basis.
The US is trying to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name of the nuclear deal.
Iran, which has always maintained it never pursued nuclear weapons, accepted the nuclear deal that removed all UN sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.
The US reneged on the deal, unilaterally imposing a harsh campaign of sanctions that have hit almost all the productive sectors of the Iranian economy. US sanctions have also targeted Iranian officials and organisations.
In response, starting exactly one year after US sanctions were imposed and other parties failed to guarantee economic benefits promised Iran under the deal, Iran started gradually scaling back its nuclear commitments.
Palestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel deals |NationalTribune.com
Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel. Palestinians see the deals that the United…
Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel.
Palestinians see the deals that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed with Israel in Washington a week ago as a betrayal of their cause and a blow to their quest for an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory.
Earlier this month, the Palestinians failed to persuade the Arab League to condemn nations breaking ranks and normalising relations with Israel.
Palestine was supposed to chair Arab League meetings for the next six months, but Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a news conference in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah that it no longer wanted the position.
“Palestine has decided to concede its right to chair the League’s council [of foreign ministers] at its current session. There is no honour in seeing Arabs rush towards normalisation during its presidency,” Maliki said.
In his remarks, he did not specifically name the UAE and Bahrain, Gulf Arab countries that share with Israel concern over Iran. He said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit had been informed of the Palestinian decision.
Palestinians rally against Bahrain-Israel normalisation
The Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on the de facto borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem.
Arab countries have long called for Israel’s withdrawal from illegally occupied land, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and a settlement that leads to the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state, in exchange for establishing ties with it.
In a new move addressing internal Palestinian divisions, officials from West Bank-based President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Gaza-based Hamas movement were due to hold reconciliation talks in Turkey on Tuesday.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah forces during a brief round of fighting. Differences over power-sharing have delayed implementation of unity deals agreed since then.
Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies
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