News Day: Reading the job numbers – carefully / Slash and burn the cities / Eviction, filesharing / Get out of town

jobs on a white background with a magnifierReading the numbers – carefully AP today picks up on the crucial bit of analysis reported right here yesterday: Lower numbers of people receiving unemployment benefits is NOT good news. It simply means that more workers have been unemployed for so long that they have exhausted their benefits.

In Minnesota, the Strib headline State jobless figures show signs of stabilizing and MPR touts a Dramatic slowdown in job losses last month.

Again, looking beyond the numbers shows a different story. Overall, the state had a net job loss of 1,600. And it was small enough to be called any kind of “slowdown,” only because of gains in the tourism and hospitality industries (7,100 jobs), offset losses in trade, transportation, utilities and manufacturing. Quick now – which sectors have seasonal, low-pay, and part-timel jobs? Which sectors pay a living wage year-around? And does the fact that summer is here, with an increase in tourism and hospitality workers, mean that the real MN job picture is “stabilizing”? (MPR also notes that, even with the gain of 7,100 jobs, the tourism and hospitality industry still employs fewer people now than a year ago at this time.)

Slash and burn the cities Steve Perry in PIM and Paul Demko in the Minnesota Independent detail the crippling impact of LGA unallotments, city by city. In Minneapolis, that’s a 19% cut in LGA this year and a 39% cut next year — but that’s not the worst. Rochester faces a 28% cut this year and 59% next year. With cuts of this magnitude affecting not only the Twin Cities, but cities and towns across the state. Property tax levy limits will be lifted, but that’s not going to save cities.

“We lost money in 2008 [through unallotment],” notes [Gary] Carlson [of the League of Minnesota Cities]. “We will lose money in ’09. Couple those with the 2010 cuts and cities have three years worth of cuts to levy in one year.

“Practically speaking, a lot of cities have told us they can’t do that. With the economy in the shape it’s in, a lot of cities can’t raise taxes that much. They’re going to have to absorb the cuts through budget reserves in the cases where they’re able to do so, but also through program cuts and personnel cuts. There will be some huge [city budget] cuts coming.”

The League of Minnesota Cities provides a detailed, city-by-city breakdown.

Legal updates: Eviction, Filesharing Rosemary Williams, fighting to stay in her home of 26 years, was dealt another defeat on Thursday, when a judge ordered her out within seven days. Williams supporters had sued to enjoin the eviction, arguing that allowing foreclosed homes to sit vacant creates a public nuisance, but the court dismissed their claims. Madeleine Baran, who previously reported this story for the TC Daily Planet, continues to follow it from her new vantage point at MPR. Negotiations between Williams and lender GMAC Mortgage continue.

Minnesotan Jammie Thomas-Rasset was ordered to pay $1.92 million dollars in the first music filesharing case to go to trial in the country, reports AP. This is a retrial – the first trial ended in an order for $222,000 payment, and Thomas-Rasset won a retrial on appeal. That’s $80,000 per song for the Brainerd mother of four, who said “there’s no way they’re ever going to get that” because she just doesn’t have the money. Recording industry spokespersons said they were willing to talk settlement, but named no specific figures.

Get out of town I’m heading off for a week of vacation, in and out of town. So … no more News Day blogs until June 29 or 30. Ciao!

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