Tag: Reuters

Zimbabwe fires 16,000 striking nurses for ‘politically motivated’ move
Unemployment

Zimbabwe fires 16,000 striking nurses for ‘politically motivated’ move

Thomson Reuters HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe said it had sacked 16,000 striking nurses as the new government seeks to keep a lid on labor unrest in the build-up to the first elections since the fall of Robert Mugabe.
The nurses walked out on Monday over unpaid allowances and other issues, leaving hospitals understaffed.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga accused the nurses of staging a “politically motivated” walkout and said they would be replaced by retired and unemployed staff.
The nurses’ union told its members to stay calm as it considered its response.
The Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) said it had given its employer, the Health Services Board, until 1400 GMT on Thursday to reverse the mass dismissal or face legal action.
ZINA said it was open to talks with the government and that its grievances had not yet been resolved.
He did not say which political group he thought was behind the strike.
Mugabe regularly accused opposition groups of trying to undermine his government by encouraging the public sector strikes that punctuated his 37 years in power.
A doctors and lawyers union said the government decision was illegal.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced Mugabe in November, will stand in elections set for July against a revitalized opposition Movement for Democratic Change party led by 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa.

Fed can keep rate hikes gradual without risking inflation: Evans
Unemployment

Fed can keep rate hikes gradual without risking inflation: Evans

Thomson Reuters CHICAGO (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve can stick to a series of gradual U.S. interest-rate increases over the next couple of years without much risk of an unhealthy surge in inflation, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said on Tuesday. “I don’t foresee an outsized risk of a breakout in inflation,” Evans said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Chicago Rotary Club. “As long as this picture continues, the (Fed) can increase rates gradually while monitoring any rising inflationary pressures.”
The Fed in December 2015 embarked on what is emerging as the slowest rate-hike cycle in its 100-year history, with its target range for short-term borrowing costs now at 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent despite what Evans called an economy that is firing on all cylinders.
Some economists have warned that the Fed may need to raise rates faster to prevent inflation from accelerating, now that unemployment is at 4.1 percent and expected to fall further as consumer and business spending, along with expansionary fiscal policy, fuel economic growth.
But to Evans, there is little risk the Fed will repeat the mistakes of the 1970s, when policymakers allowed the labor market to overheat, unleashing inflation and forcing the central bank to jack up rates aggressively in response.
A recession ensued.
This time around, Evans said, inflation and inflation expectations are low and it is difficult to imagine escalating inflation without sharp wage gains that are not in evidence.
If low unemployment continues to put little pressure on inflation, he said, the Fed may indeed be able to make smaller adjustments to rates. “I think we have the opportunity to more patiently read – and react to – the incoming data,” Evans said.

Merkel looks at ways to tackle Germany’s east/west disparities
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Merkel looks at ways to tackle Germany’s east/west disparities

Thomson Reuters BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday said government subsidies were needed to address lingering disparities in the quality of life in the states of former Communist East Germany and West Germany 28 years after unification.
In a video webcast, Merkel said the government needed to look at ways to address the structural differences that would remain after a solidarity tax introduced in 1990 to support poorer eastern states runs out at the end of 2019. “We continually have to ask how we can balance systemic, structural differences between east and west in the area of research, in regard to the headquarters of large companies, and in the field of structural unemployment,” Merkel said.
In a statement releasing Merkel’s comments, her office said, “The federal government wants to use a programme of subsidies to help ensure equal living standards in all of Germany.”
Merkel said in the webcast that per capita gross domestic product in the former east was now around 73 percent of the level seen in the west, and tax revenues were also uneven.
Pensions were around 96 percent of the western level, but would not reach 100 percent until July 2024, she said.
Merkel’s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats, both worried by a rightward lurch in September’s national elections, have agreed to focus more on addressing structural disparities in the former east, and other structurally weak parts of Germany.
In the eastern state of Saxony, for instance, the AfD was the overall winner, even beating Merkel’s conservatives.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal.
Editing by Jane Merriman)

Union chief upbeat on prospects for deal in German wage talks
Unemployment

Union chief upbeat on prospects for deal in German wage talks

Thomson Reuters BERLIN (Reuters) – The head of Germany’s public sector union said he was upbeat about reaching a compromise with employers in a third round of wage talks due to begin on Sunday, after a week of strikes by more than 150,000 union members.
Verdi leader Frank Bsirske told German newspaper Handelsblatt the two sides had been far apart in the previous two rounds of wage talks, but he was more optimistic going into the third round.
Verdi, with 2.3 million members, and the dbb assocation of civil servants, which represents 344,000 public servants, have been pressing for a pay raise of 6 percent for their next 12-month contract, or least 200 euros more a month.
Ulrich Silberbach, head of the dbb and the lead negotiator for the labour side, said the unions were ready to negotiate, but it was up to Seehofer to present a counter-offer. “After the long negotiations on forming a government, we can’t afford to also have long wage conflicts,” he said in a statement.
Verdi’s Bsirske said surging German tax revenues meant the pay deal should definitely be higher than one struck two years ago, when workers got an initial 2.4 percent increase, followed by a 2.35 percent increase. “Last time we had a 2 before the comma.
Inflation edged up to 1.5 percent in March.
Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is in solid shape, with buoyant tax revenues and a record budget surplus.
Falling unemployment, inflation-busting pay rises and low borrowing costs are fuelling a consumer-led upswing.

Fed’s Evans says he’s optimistic on inflation, wants rate hikes
Unemployment

Fed’s Evans says he’s optimistic on inflation, wants rate hikes

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans, one of the Fed’s most dovish policymakers, said Saturday that he is optimistic inflation will reach the Fed’s 2 percent goal and that slow, gradual rate increases will be appropriate. “Fiscal policy has been much more supportive of further growth and so the need for accommodative monetary policy is less than it was before,” Evans told reporters in comments after a talk at the University of Chicago Graduate China Forum.
The Fed next meets to set policy in June.
If it remains on track for 2 percent, and inflation expectations rise, “continuing our slow, gradual increases will be appropriate to get us to the point where monetary policy isn’t really providing more lift to the economy.”
China warned on Friday it was fully prepared to respond with a “fierce counter strike” of fresh measures if the United States follows through on President Donald Trump’s threat to slap tariffs on an additional $100 billion of Chinese goods.
Asked about the effect of the trade conflict on his rate-hike view, Evans suggested that while he is mindful of the potential impact and sees stable and predictable trade policy as supportive for business, it is too soon to see anything in the data. “Even the fiscal policy effects are mostly in the future,” he said.
In December, Evans cast one of two votes against the Fed’s decision to raise rates, saying he wanted to give the economy more time to rev up and lift inflation and inflation expectations, which continued to linger below the Fed’s target even as unemployment dropped to levels not seen in 17 years.
Saying he would be surprised if inflation did not reach the Fed’s goal, given the “very strong” national economy and labor market, Evans suggested he would be on board with the three or four rate hikes for this year that most of his colleagues expect.
(Reporting by Tom Polansek, writing by Ann Saphir, Editing by Franklin Paul)

US weekly jobless claims increase modestly
Unemployment

US weekly jobless claims increase modestly

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell discusses the strength of the job market and why the Fed decided to raise the federal funds rate.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but the increase was marginal, suggesting strong job growth in March that should underpin consumer spending.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 229,000 for the week ended March 17, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Claims have now been below the 300,000 threshold, which is associated with a strong labor market, for 159 straight weeks.
The U.S. central bank raised interest rates on Wednesday and forecast at least two more hikes for 2018, in a vote of confidence in the economy.
The claims data covered the survey period for March non-farm payrolls.
The four-week average of claims fell 1,750 between the February and March survey periods, suggesting another month of solid job gains.
Economists are optimistic that tightening labor market conditions will start boosting wage growth in the second half of this year.
The claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid declined 57,000 to 1.83 million in the week ended March 10.
The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims dropped 11,750 to 1.88 million.

Employment Falls In September After Hurricanes Harvey And Irma Undercut Economic Activity
Unemployment

Employment Falls In September After Hurricanes Harvey And Irma Undercut Economic Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct 6 (Reuters) – U.S. employment fell in September for the first time in seven years as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma left displaced workers temporarily unemployed and delayed hiring, the latest indication that the storms undercut economic activity in the third quarter.
The drop in payrolls was the first since September 2010.
The Department said Harvey and Irma, which wreaked havoc in Texas and Florida in late August and early September, had reduced “the estimate of total nonfarm payroll employment for September.” Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls increasing by 90,000 jobs last month.
Leisure and hospitality payrolls dived 111,000, the most since records started in 1939, after being unchanged in August.
Harvey and Irma did not have an impact on the unemployment rate, which fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.2 percent, the lowest since February 2001.
It showed 1.5 million people stayed at home in September because of the bad weather, the most since January 1996.
About 2.9 million people worked part-time as a result of the bad weather.
With the hurricane-driven temporary unemployment concentrated in low paying industries like retail and leisure and hospitality, average hourly earnings increased 12 cents or 0.5 percent in September after rising 0.2 percent in August.
Annual wage growth of at least 3.0 percent is need to raise inflation to the Fed’s 2 percent target, analysts say The mixed employment report should not change views the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in December.
Growth estimates for the July-September period are as low as a 1.8 percent annualized rate.

US jobless claims fall as labor market strengthens
Unemployment

US jobless claims fall as labor market strengthens

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 226,000 for the week ended March 10, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Claims dropped to 210,000 during the week ended Feb. 24, which was the lowest level since December 1969.
That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller.
The economy created 313,000 jobs in February.
Economists are optimistic that tightening labor market conditions will start boosting wage growth in the second half of this year.
That should help to underpin consumer spending, which slowed at the start of the year.
Data on Wednesday showed retail sales fell in February for a third straight month, prompting economists to lower their gross domestic product growth estimates to as low as a 1.7 percent annualized rate from as high as a 2.6 percent pace.
The economy grew at a 2.5 percent pace in the fourth quarter.
The claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose 4,000 to 1.88 million in the week ended March 3.
The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims fell 17,250 to 1.89 million, the lowest level since early November.

US jobless claims unexpectedly drop to near 45-year low
Unemployment

US jobless claims unexpectedly drop to near 45-year low

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, dropping to its lowest level in nearly 45 years as the labor market tightened further, bolstering expectations of faster wage growth this year.
That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller.
The Labor Department reported last week that average hourly earnings jumped 2.9 percent year-on-year in January, the largest gain since June 2009, after advancing 2.7 percent in December.
Strong wage growth supports optimism among Federal Reserve officials that inflation will increase toward the U.S. central bank’s 2 percent target this year.
U.S. financial markets expect the Fed will raise interest rates in March.
The Fed has forecast three rate increases for this year, but much will depend on the inflation outlook and financial conditions.
U.S. financial markets were little moved by the claims data.
The Labor Department said claims for Maine were estimated last week.
Last week, the four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, declined 10,000 to 224,500, the lowest level since March 1973.
The claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 33,000 to 1.92 million in the week ended Jan. 27.

US jobless claims drop to near 45-year low
Unemployment

US jobless claims drop to near 45-year low

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to a near 45-year low last week, pointing to strong job growth in February, which should continue to underpin the economy.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 for the week ended Feb. 17, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
While that probably distorted last week’s data, the underlying trend in claims was consistent with a robust labor market. “Firms are extraordinarily unwilling to part company with workers reflecting, in all likelihood, the difficulty of replacing them,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 2,250 to 226,000 last week.
The four-week average of claims dropped 17,500 between the January and February survey weeks, suggesting solid job growth this month.
Payrolls increased by 200,000 jobs in January.
Strong employment gains in February would seal the case for an interest rate increase next month.
The Fed has forecast three rate increases this year.
The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims fell 16,250 to 1.93 million.