TIME poverty

Greater Unemployment Benefits Can Reduce the Suicide Rate

Job Seekers Look For Work At Career Fair In Detroit
People seeking employment attend a job fair at the Matrix Center, April 23, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Joshua Lott—Getty Images

Paying out bigger benefits in lean times is literally a lifesaver for the jobless

A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology finds that greater unemployment benefits can decrease the rate of suicides.

The research team, led by Jon Cylus at the London School of Economics, acknowledged that suicide was caused by a variety of factors, but determined that income loss and loneliness predicated by unemployment were key.

The 2008 financial crisis suggested a correlation between suicides and the availability of employment — with the suicide rate in North America and Europe increasing by an estimated 10,000 people per year from 2007 to 2010, compared with prior years. When Cylus and his team examined the allocation of unemployment benefits from 1968 to 2008, however, they found that greater cash assistance reduced the burdens caused by joblessness.

Although suicide is the most severe outcome of unemployment, financial distress can also lead to mental and health issues — which the team also noted could be mitigated by improved benefits.

The study concluded that more financial assistance at times of need could save lives. “If the unemployment rate increases, having better benefits is going to buffer the effect,” Cylus told HuffPost.

[HuffPost]

MONEY Federal Reserve

WATCH: Will the Fed Raise Interest Rates?

Federal Reserve watchers are waiting to see if Janet Yellen will propose an interest rate increase.

TIME

The Single Most Depressing Thing About the Recession Has Just Been Put Out of Its Misery

The most depressing jobs graph in more than 60 years has finally kicked the bucket thanks to the latest jobs report

The economy gained 217,000 jobs in May, bringing the total number of workers back to its pre-recession peak and finally putting one of the glummest graphs of job creation out of its misery. The graph created by Calculated Risk, below, shows that jobs in our current recession (the red line) took a longer and deeper dive than at any other point since WWII.

EmployRecMay2014

Now, with total employment 98,000 jobs higher than pre-recession levels, the red line is officially history, and hopefully won’t return any time soon.

Not that total employment is the final measure of workforce well-being. After all, the population has grown alongside the job market. The percentage of the working age population in the workforce is still at a decades-long low-point, as Calculated Risk shows compliments of another worrisome graph. There are still plenty of dipping lines to worry about yet.

EmployPopMay2014

Source: Calculated Risk

TIME Fatherhood

Most Stay at Home Dads Not There By Choice

Lynn Koenig—Getty Images/Flickr RF

More dads are raising their kids full time, but that's not necessarily good news.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of fathers staying at home with their kids in the last 25 years, but most of them are not doing it voluntarily. More than a third of full-time non-working dads are there because of illness or disability.

While the at-home dad has become a popular cultural figure, the reality is a little different. A new analysis of Census data from the Pew Research Center has found that in 2012, only 7% of all fathers who live with their kids were at home full time. That’s about 2 million dads at home, down from 2.2 million right at the end of the recession in 2010 but up compared to the 4% in 1989.

But only 21% of the dads now at home say their primary reason for staying home is to take care of their family. The biggest share of them, 35%, say their health prevents them from working, and another 23% say they’re not able to find work. The other quarter are in school or retired or home for other reasons such as working for no pay for a family business.

The large numbers of dads who are home unwillingly is reflected in the economic wellbeing of those families. Almost half of all stay at home fathers live below the poverty line. A fifth of them don’t have a high school diploma. A recent Pew study found that a third of stay at home mothers lived in poverty too, but the figure among non-working dads is much higher.

Fathers who’ve voluntarily eschewed a career in favor of raising their kids full time are still nowhere near the norm, but the numbers are growing. They represent 21% of all stay home dads in 2012. In 1989 they were 5%. Even more surprisingly about half of working dads say they would stay at home to look after their kids if they didn’t have to work, which is roughly the same as the number of moms who say that.

But those pioneering dads still face something of an uphill battle for respect. While Pew has found that about half of the population thinks that the ideal family arrangement is to have mom home with their kids, only 8% of Americans feel that way about dads.

TIME Economy

Job Market Dropouts May Be Rejoining the Workforce

People who had given up on looking for a job may be re-entering the the job market, an encouraging sign for the recovery.

Even as unemployment rates have inched towards pre-recession levels, recovery skeptics have pointed to the high number of people who have given up looking for a job and are, as a result, left out of official employment numbers.

Now, there’s some evidence to show even that trend is reversing, Reuters reports.

The share of people who have a job or are looking for one rose in a majority of U.S. states in the six months leading up to April of this year, according to a Reuters analysis of government data, marking the first upswing in those numbers in six years.

The rising participation rate likely means that people who had given up on looking are now confident enough to re-enter the job market, an encouraging sign for the economic recovery.

The data is not conclusive, according to Reuters. But participation rates appeared to have risen in a diverse set of states, including Texas, Florida and West Virginia. The 32 states where the figures rose also represent a majority of the U.S. population.

[Reuters]

TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are the Jobs Employers Are Desperate to Fill

Are you a skilled tradesperson? A teacher? Even a waiter or waitress? If so, you’re in luck: These all came up on ManpowerGroup’s newest annual Talent Shortage Survey as occupations employers around the country are scrambling to fill.

Overall, 40% of U.S. companies responding to ManpowerGroup’s survey saying they’re having trouble filling positions, just one percentage point more than last year.

There are some notable differences, though: The biggest reason companies cite is a lack of technical skills, but the percentage of companies who say that’s a culprit has dropped a little bit since last year. Meanwhile, employers are more likely to say this year that they can’t fill positions because workers want more money than they’re willing to pay, they can’t find people with the right experience or there’s a lack of applicants entirely.

“Talent shortage is clearly having a negative impact on employers’ abilities to drive value for their customers,” says Rebekah Kowalski, principal consultant with Right Management, a ManpowerGroup company.

This is pushing some companies to reevaluate how much they’re willing to pay for good workers, she says. “Employers are looking at salaries and making adjustments. I regularly talk with employers that are looking at their pay and workforce models and making strategic modifications,” she says.

Comparatively, American businesses are having a tougher time filling jobs than their overseas counterparts; globally, only 36% of companies say they’re struggling to fill open positions.

Here is ManpowerGroup’s complete rundown of the most hard-to-fill jobs in the United States, in order:

-skilled trade workers
-restaurant and hotel workers
-sales reps
-teachers
-drivers
-accounting and finance professionals
-laborers
-IT Staff
-engineers
-nurses

Tellingly, this year’s top 10 is not dominated by highly technical jobs; although fields like accounting and IT are still struggling with a shortage of good workers, companies in a much broader array of industries are looking for workers today.

“Restaurant and hotel positions are in demand and this is the first time these positions have been on our top 10 hardest jobs to fill list since 2010,” Kowalski says. “We view this demand as a good sign — consumers are spending more on entertainment, travel and dining.”

And Kowalski says that talent gap companies find when they try to fill those math and tech jobs is fueling demand for teachers, a job that jumped up six spots on this year’s top 10 list from last year. “It’s not a surprise there is an increase in demand for teachers; it reflects the need to develop bigger pipelines of qualified talent,” she says.

TIME Careers & Workplace

47% of Unemployed Americans Have Just Stopped Looking for Work

Job Fair Held At Sun Life Stadium In Miami
People looking for work stand in line to apply for a job during a job fair at the Miami Dolphins Sun Life stadium on May 2, 2013 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle—Getty Images

New survey finds the unemployed are losing hope

Nearly half of unemployed Americans have “completely given up” looking for a job, a new survey has found.

Pollsters for job staffing company Express Employment Professionals asked 1,500 unemployed American adults how they were faring in their job hunts. A startling number were, in a word, fed up.

Hopeless
Source: Express Employment Professionals

83% expressed a willingness to accept a job that would pay less than their previous position, and 45% blamed the economy for producing what feels to them like a jobless recovery.

“After searching for four years and being unsuccessful, I am tired of trying,” one respondent said, according to the surveyors.

Despite the troubling numbers, 91% agreed with the statement “I’m hopeful that I will find a job I really want in the next six months,” indicating that they still held out hope that they could land a job, even if the search felt beyond their control.

TIME South Africa

South Africa Goes to the Polls Amid Protests and Unemployment

Voters queue to cast their ballots in Bekkersdal near Johannesburg
Voters queue to cast their ballots in the election in Bekkersdal near Johannesburg on May 7, 2014. Mike Hutchings—Reuters

The governing ANC party is expected to maintain its two-thirds majority, but dissatisfaction with the jobless rate and recent corruption scandals may cause it to lose ground, especially among young voters

Voting has begun in South Africa’s fifth general election since apartheid ended two decades ago, and the first in which the generation born after the end of apartheid casts its ballots.

Though the governing African National Congress is expected to maintain its nearly two-thirds majority and grant Jacob Zuma another five years as President, the party is also expected to lose voters, BBC reports.

Polls have shown that many South Africans are dissatisfied with the government over a series of corruption scandals and ongoing high unemployment, which is currently about 25%.

Protests over the failure of local officials to deliver on basic services are also steadily worsening. A University of Johannesburg report recorded 470 such demonstrations in 2012, compared with just 13 in 2004.

Results of the voting are expected on May 10.

[BBC]

TIME Economy

Girl Hands Michelle Obama Her Dad’s Resume During Q&A

The first lady was spending time with the children of executive branch employees at the White House's Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

+ READ ARTICLE

Michelle Obama was reportedly “taken aback” when a 10-year-old girl handed the first lady her father’s resume Thursday during a question and answer session with children.

“My dad’s been out of a job for three years and I wanted to give you his resume,” the girl seated in the front row said as she handed Obama a folded piece of paper. Obama hugged the girl and told the others gathered, some of whom may not have heard the exchange, that the matter was “a little private” but the girl was “doing something for her dad.”

Michelle Obama was spending time with the children of executive branch employees on Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day at the White House, the Associated Press reports.

 

TIME Food and Beverage Industry

How Breakfast Became the Most Important Meal of the Day

It's not just Taco Bell and McDonald's who are duking it out to win over America's early diners. Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, Jack in the Box, Hardee's and Carl's Jr. have all stepped up to the plate recently with new marketing campaigns or menu items

Fast food chains generate the vast majority of their revenues during the lunch and dinner hours. So why does it seem all the industry’s biggest players care about lately is breakfast?

It’s been a nasty couple of weeks in the fast food world. Not due to any new “pink slime” type scandals, but thanks to an increasingly aggressive, in-your-face ad and social media showdown between Taco Bell and McDonald’s. The war is all about breakfast, and it kicked off when Taco Bell featured Ronald McDonald—actually, a whole bunch of guys really named Ronald McDonald, not the McDonald spokesclown—in a commercial giving Taco Bell over-the-top endorsements for its new breakfast.

McDonald’s countered by enticing the morning crowd with a promise of free coffee for a couple of weeks, followed up more recently by the launch of the McGriddle as a tempting new pancake-wrapped alternative to Taco Bell’s waffle-wrapped breakfast taco. The battles have continued on with braggy Tweets and more ads, and while plenty of smack has been talked, there’s something contrived about all of the bickering. Both of the combatants involved, of course, are well aware that they both stand to benefit thanks to the attention showered upon them.

What’s somewhat overlooked amid this colorful smackdown is that the players are fighting about a meal that has traditionally been something of an afterthought for fast food—but that has taken on enormous importance lately.

(MORE: Why Fast Food Chains Wish the Dollar Menu Would Disappear)

It’s not just Taco Bell and McDonald’s duking it out over breakfast. As Nation’s Restaurant News summed up earlier this year, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jack in the Box, and sister chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. have all stepped up their breakfast game recently, rolling out new marketing campaigns and introducing new menu items. Likewise, Businessweek took note of White Castle’s new Belgian Waffle breakfast sandwich, which is available not only in the morning like you’d guess, but after midnight for the chain’s celebrated late-night munchers.

Why does it seem like breakfast has become the most important meal of the day among fast-food competitors? Why is it that the traditional marquee battlegrounds, lunch and dinner, seem to have taken a step back in terms of fast food priorities?

The answer is simply that throughout the fast food world, lunch and dinner sales have been flat for years, while breakfast sales have climbed steadily—up 4.8% annually from 2007 to 2012, according to The Motley Fool. Meanwhile, the food and beverage research firm Technomic just reported that fast food “burger chains have finally reached maturity” in the U.S., with minimal or nonexistent growth it terms of both sales and number of locations.

When it seems impossible for fast food outlets to increase sales during lunch and dinner, and it also seems impossible or at least infeasible to create more fast food franchise locations, there’s still one way to boost sales—and that’s to pull in more customers into existing restaurants at times other than the usual lunch and dinner periods. These other “dayparts,” as they call them in the business, include the post-dinner time, which has gotten a push with late-night menus and greasy “craver” snacks, and, of course, breakfast.

(MORE: Drinkers, Stoners, Insomniacs Wanted: Fast Food Expands Late-Night Menus)

“This decade, visits to restaurants have slowed, and especially during the recession they declined for two years—but the morning meal was the bright spot,” said Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant analyst for NPD, which released a study earlier this year indicating breakfast sales increased 3% in 2013 across the entire restaurant industry, according to QSR Magazine. “It continues to grow strongly while the other dayparts are not.”

And why has breakfast been the anomaly? The frantic, on-the-go, no-time-to-cook nature of modern life is one reason. The Egg McMuffin-unemployment connection offers another explanation, showing a correlation between fast food breakfast sales and the jobs market. Basically, the theory holds that more people swing by the drive-thru in the morning when they actually have jobs to drive to—and when they’re jobless, there’s less reason to get out of bed, let alone feel compelled (or financially able) to fork over cash for a prepared morning meal.

What’s interesting is that the post-recession era has been notable in that the unemployment rate has declined, and that a disproportionate number of the jobs created lately have been low-paying gigs. Both of these factors actually bode well for restaurant breakfast sales because 1) when people have jobs, they’re more likely to eat breakfast out of the house on the way to work (see above); and 2) breakfast is the most affordable meal to eat at a restaurant, so it’s more within reach of today’s typical low-wage worker.

“It’s the cheapest meal you can get at a restaurant outside of a snack,” said the NPD’s Riggs. Among consumers, demand is high and rising for a fast, inexpensive restaurant breakfast, so it’s understandable that so many players in fast food want to win the battle for this growing, increasingly important time of day. “Those who are best able to meet consumers’ wants and needs at that daypart are the ones that will win market share.”

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