Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

LEHIGH VALLEY MSA’s unemployment rate unchanged from previous report

04.03.15

APRIL 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployment rate unchanged from previous report

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, March 20th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Center for Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is tied with the Williamsport MSA and the Erie MSA for the fourth highest unemployment rate within Pennsylvania at 5.4 percent.

The MSA includes Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties of Pennsylvania and Warren County, New Jersey. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was at 6.4 percent.

There are eight-teen MSA’s in Pennsylvania, increasing by four since the previous report. The Department of Labor and Industry added the Bloomsburg/Berwick MSA; the Chamberburg/Waynesboro MSA; the East Stroudsburg MSA; and the Gettysburg MSA since their previous reporting period.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA has the third highest unemployment in the state at 6.0 percent, the first time in nearly five years the region has not had the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania. The newly created East Stroudsburg MSA has the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 6.5 percent while the Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 6.4 percent. The Philadelphia MSA has the fifth highest unemployment within Pennsylvania at 5.7 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.9 percent. The State College MSA traditionally has the lowest unemployment within the state, however, the MSA also has one of the smallest workforces with 76,600 civilians.

The Lancaster MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate at 4.1 percent, while the Lebanon MSA and the Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA are tied with the third lowest at 4.5 percent followed by the newly created Bloomsburg/Berwick MSA at 4.7 percent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Pennsylvania was reported to be at 5.1 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report, while decreasing by one and two-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before.

There are 322,000 Pennsylvania residents without jobs, but that number does not include residents that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and stopped looking for work. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted workforce of 6,365,000 and 6,043,000 of them have employment.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 5.7 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. The national unemployment rate was down nine-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before, partly because of workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits. After workers exhaust their unemployment benefits they are no longer counted within the civilian labor-force.

There are 8,979,000 civilians nationwide without employment, but that number also does not include workers that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and stopped looking for work.

The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 424,400 civilians, rising by 100 from the previous report and decreasing by 1,400 during the past twelve months. There are 22,900 civilians without employment within the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA, increasing by 100 from the month before and decreasing by 4,400 from one year ago.

The Philadelphia MSA has the largest seasonally adjusted labor force in Pennsylvania at 3,032,300 with 171,500 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,206,100 with 62,500 without jobs. The Harrisburg/Carlisle MSA has the fourth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 291,300 and 13,000 are jobless while the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA is fifth at 281,000 civilians and 16,900 are unemployment.

Within the MSA, Carbon County has the highest unemployment rate at 5.7 percent, dropping by two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous report and decreasing by one and five-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Carbon County has a civilian labor force of 31,500, the smallest within the MSA, with 1,800 without employment, decreasing by 500 from twelve months ago.

Northampton County has the lowest unemployment rate within the MSA at 5.3 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by one and two-tenths of a percentage point from the twelve months ago. Northampton County has a civilian labor force of 154,500 with 8,200 jobless.

Lehigh County’s unemployment rate is 5.4 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by one eight-tenths of a percentage point from one year before. Lehigh County has a civilian labor force of 180,900, the most within the MSA, with 9,800 without jobs, the highest within the MSA.

Pennsylvania liquor store system again facing privatization

04.03.15

MARCH 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Pennsylvania liquor store system again facing privatization

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 5th- The pro-business anti-union Republican members of Pennsylvania General Assembly have yet again proposed the selling-off of the State Wine and Spirits Stores.

Their latest measure passed the Republican controlled House of Representatives last month that would sell licenses to sell booze which they estimated would bring in $1 billion.

Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf promises to veto the legislation should it reach his desk. He has proposed a plan for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which operates the system, to “modernized” the system by extending Sunday hours and Holiday sales, improve store locations, having more flexible pricing, create a system of competitive pricing, and more customer engagement.

However, as expected Mr. Wolf’s plan was greeted was skepticism by Republicans, business-people that want to purchase a license, and some within the media, including Times-Shamrock Communications, the parent publishers of the Scranton Times-Tribune, the Citizens’ Voice, and the Hazleton Standard-Speaker.

The newspapers’ would benefit financially should the stores be privatized by creating advertising competition between license owners and perhaps even the publishers plan to purchase one of the licenses and go into the booze business. Recently, several family members of the publishers of Times-Shamrock became part owners of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Railriders baseball team, breaking away from the media business.

Net profits of the latest reporting period under current system was $123.68 million on gross revenue of $2.27 billion, amounting to a net profit margin of 5.44 percent. Under Mr. Wolf’s proposal he estimates the system would be even more profitable creating an additional annual profit of $185 million by fiscal 2018.

The selling of the system will put more than 5,000 family sustaining jobs in harms way. The United Food and Commerical Workers (UFCW) Union represents the majority of the stores employees, including clerks and shelve stockers. UFCW Local 1776 represents the workers within the eastern part of Pennsylvania while UFCW Local 23 represents the western part.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union represents mainly the office employees of the system including the PLCB auditors, which operates the stores.

There are currently 600-plus wine and spirit stores within the current system statewide.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s retail jobs decreases from the previous year

04.03.15

MARCH 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

MSA’s retail jobs decreases from the previous year

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM
REGION, March 4th- According to data provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, (DOL) Center of Workforce Information and Analysis in Harrisburg, within the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the retail trade sector lost more jobs in 2014 from the year before than any other job sector.

The DOL 2014 job report indicated that the retail job sector decreased by 600 jobs during that period with general merchandise stores leading the way with a net job loss of 300 from the previous year. Also, grocery store jobs dropped by 200 during the period.

The DOL also reported that the MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania. However, the current unemployment rate of 5.9 percent is the lowest it has been since May 2008 when it was at 5.8 percent. The MSA has had the highest unemployment rate within Pennsylvania consecutively for more than six and half years. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 8.4 percent.

The Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 4.8 percent, decreasing by three-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,367,000 with 309,000 not working. Pennsylvania has 6,058,000 civilians with employment. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate decreased by two full percentage points over the past twelve month.

The Johnstown MSA has the second highest unemployment rate at 5.7 percent, the Philadelphia MSA has the third highest unemployment rate at 5.5 percent while the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the state at 5.2 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 3.8 percent. The Lancaster MSA and the Lebanon MSA are tied for the second lowest at 3.9 percent while the Harrisburg MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 4.2 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fifth largest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 274,200 civilians. There are 16,100 civilians without employment, decreasing by 400 from the previous report. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor-force in Pennsylvania at 2,974,900 with 163,400 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor-force at 1,241,700 with 57,500 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor-force at 426,300 with 22,300 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor-force in Pennsylvania with 63,100 civilians and 3,200 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor-force with 64,100 civilians with 2,900 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor-force of 65,200 and 3,700 of them are not working.

Meanwhile, transportation, warehousing and utilities jobs showed the largest gain within the MSA during 2014, increasing by 1,700 jobs overall. The mining, logging and construction sector gained 900 jobs during the period while professional and business services jobs dropped by 1,100 combined together.

According to the data, there were 22,400 leisure and hospitality jobs in the MSA in 2014, increasing by 200 from 2013. Hospital jobs dropped by 100 in 2014 to 9,100. Also, there were 65,200 trade, transportation, and utilities jobs within the MSA during the period. The number of jobs within the sector were the highest ever reported for the MSA.

Government jobs overall decreased by 100 in 2014 from 2013. However, federal jobs did increase during the year by 200 to 4,200 while state government jobs dropped by 200 to 19,000. Also, local government jobs decreased by 100 to 6,300.

Manufacturing jobs during 2014 decreased by 100 to 27,400.

Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation hires new Staff Representative

04.03.15

MARCH 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation hires new Staff Representative

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 5th - The Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation (NEPA-ALF), O’Neill Highway in Dunmore, a labor federation with approximately seventy-five labor organizations from throughout Northeast Pennsylvania are affiliated, named David Carey Jr. of Nanticoke, Luzerne County, as their next Staff Representative. Mr. Carey is a member of the United Steel Workers (USW) Union Local 5652, Union Street in Wilkes-Barre. The previous Staff Representative resigned in August 2014.

Mr. Carey will be the fourth Staff Representative since the Northeast Pennsylvania Area Labor Federation was created approximately 12 years ago.

There are six Central Labor Council’s (CLC’s) and one Labor Chapter affiliated with the NEPA-ALF including: the Five-County CLC; the Northern Tied CLC; the Lehigh Valley CLC; the Schuylkill CLC; the Greater Wilkes-Barre CLC; and the Scranton Central Labor Union. The Carbon County Labor Chapter is also affiliated with the NEPA-ALF. The labor federation is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

The labor federations are made-up of unions that represent workers employed in Lehigh, Northampton, Schuylkill, Union, Snyder, Montour, Clinton, Bradford, Lycoming, Columbia, Northumberland, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Carbon, Monroe, Pike, Wyoming, Wayne, Sullivan, and Susquehanna Counties of Pennsylvania.

Corey Lockard, Chairperson of the NEPA-ALF, who is also the Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union District Council 86, New Columbia, which represents AFSCME members throughout north-central Pennsylvania including the Williamsport region, stated after conducting interviews with more than ten applicants for the position, Mr. Carey was selected by the organizations’ executive board, which is made-up of members affiliated with the NEPA-ALF.

The NEPA-ALF Staff Representative is a full-time paid position that is the go-between the labor federation and their affiliated labor organizations. The person meets with elected political officials to better communicate on issues that are important to the labor community. Also, the Staff Representative is there to assist the labor community in organizing campaigns, protests, public at-large events, community projects and overall helps mobilize the labor community.

Mr. Lockard became the third Chairperson of the NEPA-ALF mid-summer 2014.

Verizon selling part of hardline phone business to Frontier

04.03.15

MARCH 2015, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Verizon selling part of hardline phone business to Frontier

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, March 2nd- The once very profitable copper wire land-line telephone business, which most was operated by Verizon Communications, still makes money but has seen the use of the wireline decreased by around twenty-five percent over the past several decades because of the increase of wireless services.

Recently it was announced that Verizon Communications Inc., a mostly unionized company, has agreed to sell about a quarter of its hardline telephone business to Frontier Communications Corporation.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Union and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union represent thousands of Verizon Communications workers.

Verizon Communications stated that they will sell part of their system to Frontier Communications. After the deal is completed Verizon will not operate wireline telephone service in three states, Texas, California and Florida. The remaining phone business of Verizon Communications will be mostly in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The deal must still be approved by federal regulators.

The selling of the assets to Frontier Communications will continue what Verizon began several years ago, selling off much of their land-line telephone business that they received in 2000 after Bell Atlantic merged with GTE, forming Verizon Communications.

According to Verizon, sixty-nine percent of the $127 billion of annual revenue is created through their wireless business. However, despite the need of more infrastructure in the hard-line telephone business, it still makes money.

Verizon Communications landline business is unionized. Throughout the region CWA Local 13000 represents line-repair workers while CWA Local 13500 represents mostly office workers.

Meanwhile, the CWA does represent some of the Frontier Communications Corporation workers, depending on where the employees work.

Approximately 11,000 current Verizon Communications Inc. employees will become Frontier Communications employees after the deal is completed. The majority are represented by the CWA.

Verizon Communications and Frontier Communications stated the purchase price of the network is around $10.5 billion.

Current Verizon Communications Chief Executive Lowell McAdam is the first non-hardline phone business person to lead the company. He worked within the cellular phone business.