FROM Gabriel Thompson
Income Inequality, Economic Anxiety and the Minimum Wage Fast food workers are back on the streets in 100 cities today. Walmart saw strikes on Black Friday. Yesterday, in a speech about the economy, President Obama said "the defining challenge of our time" is the decline of upward mobility, and called for a hike in the minimum wage. It's all about income inequality, a growing trend since before Great Recession. Instead of upward mobility into the Middle Class, many newly created jobs don't give workers enough to live on — even when they're full-time. We look at reality in some American workplaces and at the politics of restoring the American Dream.
Is Temporary Employment the New Normal? It used to be a given that a rise in temporary employment was a sign of economic recovery and that permanent hiring would not be far behind. In recent months, temporary hiring is on the rise, but the old pattern does not seem to be holding. Employers are not only keeping their temps longer, they're even using them for professional jobs and executive positions. The consequences could be very different at different ends of the income scale. We look at the potential consequences, which may be very different for blue-collar workers than they are for professionals or in the executive suites.
Is Temporary Employment the New Normal? It used to be axiomatic that a rise in temporary employment was a sign of economic recovery and that permanent hiring would not be far behind. In recent months, temporary hiring is on the rise, but the old pattern does not seem to be holding. More temps are being hired and they're being kept longer, but fewer employers are making them permanent. So there's flexibility for the employers, but instability for the employees. Temps are now being hired for high-skilled professions -- from engineering to finance to information technology — even at the executive level. Will temporary work be a permanent feature of the new economy? Will some workers choose nomadic careers while others struggle to fend for themselves?
In Janesville, WI, Middle America meets the new American dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn't prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. We hear what's happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.