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December 2, 2013 | By Michael Hiltzik
State and local governments haven't always used their role as the "laboratories of democracy" wisely or for the general good. (The phrase reaches us indirectly from the great progressive Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.) But the expanding movement to increase state and local minimum wages is an encouraging sign of wisdom in the grass roots. The most recent example comes from the small Washington city of SeaTac, which as you might surmise is the location of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
November 24, 2013 | By Teresa Watanabe
The savory smell of nutmeg and cinnamon wafts through the Azusa bakery, where dozens of workers in blue gloves and hairnets cook up L.A. Unified's newest star product. The "Glorious Morning" muffin is chewy and moist, packed with whole wheat, raisins and carrots - along with flaxseed for heart health and brain development. The muffin is good for children but also for the bakery's business. The Los Angeles Unified School District's order with Buena Vista Food Products Inc. to bake 4 million servings of muffins, coffeecake and corn bread every month has doubled the firm's business and created 100 jobs this year.
November 22, 2013 | By Rebecca Keegan
In the 1937 promotional film "How Walt Disney Cartoons Are Made," an announcer describes some of the intricate work going into the studio's first feature-length film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," in a department called Inking and Painting. "Here, hundreds of pretty girls in a comfortable building all their own, well-lighted, air-conditioned throughout, cover the drawings with sheets of transparent celluloid," the announcer says, over images of white-gloved young women preparing male animators' drawings for the screen.
November 19, 2013 | By Don Lee
  WASHINGTON -- U.S. labor costs grew at a slightly more subdued pace in the third quarter, as employers continued to hold the line on payment to workers -- a trend that doesn't bode well for consumer spending. Overall, employer compensation costs, which include wages, salaries and benefits, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in the July-September period compared with the second quarter, when those costs increased 0.5%, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Third-quarter labor costs were up 1.9% from a year earlier, unchanged from the prior four quarters and just a tick above the annual rate of increase in the core consumer price index in recent months.
November 15, 2013 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO - Late payments, glitch-prone computers and swamped call centers aren't the only problems bedeviling California's unemployment insurance program. The insurance fund that pays state jobless benefits - run by the Employment Development Department - owes nearly $10 billion to the federal government. That's because the state has been paying far more in jobless benefits than it receives in employer-paid taxes, and the feds make up the difference. "The whole system is really whacked out right now and needs a fix," said Assemblyman Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills)
November 8, 2013 | By Don Lee
WASHINGTON -- The American job market showed a burst of life in October as employers added a healthy 204,000 jobs over the month, far exceeding analysts' expectations that had been lowered in part by the partial federal government shutdown. The Labor Department said Friday, however, that the unemployment rate last month edged up to 7.3% from a five-year low of 7.2% in September. Officials said there was an unusually large drop in the so-called labor force, those working or actively looking for jobs.
November 7, 2013 | By Michael A. Memoli
WASHINGTON - A bill to extend historic new protections to gays in the workplace won easy Senate approval Thursday, bolstered by rare bipartisan support that illustrated the dramatic shift in the politics around gay rights amid growing public acceptance for same-sex marriage. Seventeen years after a similar proposal failed by a single vote in the Senate, 10 Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic bloc to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, known as ENDA, which would prohibit public and private employers, employment agencies and labor unions from using sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for decisions about employment, promotion or compensation.
November 6, 2013 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO - Officials in charge of California's troubled unemployment insurance program said they underestimated the gravity of a computer meltdown that has left thousands of jobless workers scrambling to pay bills and feed their families. Testifying in front of state lawmakers at a hearing in the Capitol on Wednesday, top brass from the Employment Development Department said it took two weeks for them to grasp the problem's severity following the troubled launch of a systems upgrade over Labor Day weekend.
November 5, 2013 | David Lazarus
Suzanne Dinatale lost her job as sales manager for a biotech company in July. She applied almost immediately for unemployment benefits to help cushion the blow. Dinatale, 41, of Manhattan Beach, said she had no problem receiving the forms she needed to get the ball rolling with California's Employment Development Department. "After that, nothing," she told me. "I called them and got hung up on. I sent emails that got no responses. " Dinatale is now dipping into her retirement savings to get by. "This is the first time I've ever needed unemployment," she said.
November 5, 2013 | By Ricardo Lopez and Marc Lifsher
Panicked Californians inundated the state's unemployment agency with 20 times the normal volume of phone calls after a botched computer upgrade delayed jobless checks and crippled parts of the department's website. Call attempts surged after the Labor Day launch of a new system to process ongoing benefits claims. At its peak, nearly 6 million calls were made in just one week. The crush of calls was so heavy that people had to dial an average of 40 times just to get through to a recorded message.
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