Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

Tunisia deploys army, makes 300 arrests as violent unrest continues

January 11, 2018

Riot policemen hide behind a wall during anti-government protests in Tunis, Tunisia, Jan. 10, 2018. Tunisian authorities say 300 people were arrested and dozens of others injured across the country in recent days as violent protests against government-imposed price hikes spread to more cities and regions. (AP)

TUNIS: Tunisian protesters burned down a regional national security headquarters near the Algerian border, prompting authorities to send in troops after police retreated, witnesses said, as unrest over prices and taxes continued nationwide.

Over 300 protesters were arrested overnight and the army was deployed in several cities to help quell violent protests in Tunisia seven years after the overthrow of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in the first of the Arab Spring revolts.
In Thala, near the Algerian border, soldiers deployed after crowds torched the region’s national security building, forcing police to retreat from the town, witnesses told Reuters.
Tunisia’s unity government — which includes extremists, secular parties and independents — has portrayed the unrest as driven by criminal elements, and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has accused the opposition of fueling dissent.
Rejecting that accusation, Tunisia’s main opposition bloc, the Popular Front, called for a major protest in Tunis on Sunday to coincide with the seventh anniversary of Ben Ali’s fall.
Tunisia’s Football Association said it was postponing all weekend matches because of the disturbances.
Anti-government protests have flared in a number of Tunisian cities and towns — including the tourist resort of Sousse, since Monday against price and tax rises imposed to cut a ballooning deficit and satisfy international lenders.
While Tunisia is regarded as the only democratic success story in the Arab world, it has also had nine governments since Ben Ali’s overthrow, none of which have been able to deal with growing economic problems.
The army has been deployed in several cities, including Sousse, Kebeli and Bizerte, to protect government buildings that have become a target for protesters.
“Three hundred and thirty people involved in acts of sabotage and robbery were arrested last night,” Interior Ministry spokesman Khelifa Chibani said. That brought the total number of detainees since the protests began to around 600.
“What is happening is crime, not protests. They steal, intimidate people and threaten private and public property,” he added.
Many of the protests have been peaceful, however, with demonstrators expressing their anger and frustration over deepening economic hardship since the 2011 uprising.
“It is true that some protesters burned and stole during last night’s protests, but the rulers steal and destroy Tunisia in the morning and at night with their frustrating decisions,” said a teacher who was shopping in the capital and only gave his first name, Mohamed.
“We expected things to improve after Ben Ali was ousted, but it seems that after seven years of the revolution, we’ll give our salaries each month to Prime Minister Chahed for him to spend them,” he said.
The 2011 revolt and two major Islamist militant attacks in 2015 damaged foreign investment and tourism, which accounts for eight percent of Tunisia’s economic activity.
Unemployment nationally exceeds 15 percent, and is much higher in some marginalized regions of the interior. Annual inflation rose to 6.4 percent in December, the highest rate since July 2014.


Shirin Ebadi on Iran protests: ‘Government cannot silence the hungry forever’

January 5, 2018

Anti-government protests in Iran have grabbed global headlines over the past several days. In a DW interview, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi urges Iranians to pressure Tehran to hold a referendum on their political future.

Iran, Teheran, Protest (Getty Images)

The unrest in Iran in recent days has turned the world’s attention to the state of affairs in the Islamic theocracy. At least 21 people have died and hundreds have been arrested since December 28, as protests over economic woes turned into anger against the regime, with attacks on government buildings and police stations.

Iran’s political establishment has closed ranks against the unrest, with even reformists condemning the violence. The government, and above all Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has insisted that the protests are being orchestrated from outside the country.

The government has reported that it has put an end to the “sedition,” and Thursday saw massive pro-government marches and a very heavy police presence across the country.

Meanwhile, online messaging and photo sharing platforms Telegram and Instagram have been blocked on mobile phones, having been interrupted soon after protests began. At the request of the United States, the UN Security Council is holding an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the wave of protests in Iran.

In an interview with DW, Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi spoke about the demonstrations and the political reform process in Iran.

DW: Anti-government protests in Iran seem to have waned, due to the massive presence of security forces everywhere. Do you believe these demonstrations have the potential to turn into a major movement?

Shirin Ebadi: The presence of the Iranian people on the nation’s streets is supported by the rights guaranteed to them by the constitution of Iran. According to the constitution, marches and gatherings do not require permission. But the Iranian government has always ignored the rights of the people. At the moment, because of the suppression and violence of the government, the presence of people on the streets has diminished.

But I must say that in the small towns, people are still out on the streets demonstrating. Even those that have returned to their homes will go back on to the streets again and that time is not far away.

They will shout openly that they are idle, hungry and lacking economic prospects. The government cannot silence the hungry forever and have to listen to the people.

The vast majority of society has not joined hands with the anti-government protesters. The middle class has stayed away and remains skeptical. Why?

Iranische Anwältin und Menschenrechtsaktivistin Shirin Ebadi (picture alliance/Photoshot/ Luciano Movio/Sintesi)Ebadi: ‘My recommendation to the people is to avoid violence, but to use their legal rights and to raise pressure on the government’

The middle class has supported the protests in their own way. But the political leadership was in the hands of neither the middle class nor the economic elites.

The elites supported the protests by publishing a statement. Human rights defenders, lawyers and writers issued statements in support of the protesters. Some artists expressed their support, too. But do not forget that the popular uprising was intense this time round, as people protesting on the streets had nothing to lose. In contrast, people who have something to lose are always more cautious. The middle class has not starved like the people coming on to the streets. But they also backed the protests.

In Iran, it appears that most people are dissatisfied about the present state of affairs, but many say they don’t see an alternative to the current political set up. As a human rights activist, what in your view should be the first steps that government has to pursue to reform the political system?

There are clear demands. The Iranian people want a referendum held freely under the auspices of the United Nations to express their demands and say what kind of government they want.

Read more: Opinion: Is the end near for Iran’s theocracy?

It is natural that the government did not care for the demand of referendum until now. But people must peacefully address their demands by engaging in a civil struggle and pressuring the government to hold a vote and implement the will of the people.

My recommendation to the people is to avoid violence, but to use their legal rights and to raise pressure on the government. For example, if they have money in the bank, they should withdraw the money from the bank. Such a move would damage the economics of the state banks – and they would get to the brink of bankruptcy.

Or do not pay for water, gas, taxes and municipality services to pressure the government economically. This form of non-violent protest is not dangerous, because no one is killed or arrested, but the government is under pressure and forced to give in to the will of the people.

Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, a former judge and human rights activist. For her contributions to democracy and human rights, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.

The interview was conducted by Shabnam von Hein.

Saudi Aramco launches ship manufacturing venture

December 31, 2017

Major production and services are expected to start in 2019 and the project will be fully operational by 2022. (Courtesy: saudiaramco)

DHAHRAN: Saudi Aramco on Friday launched a joint venture in marine international industries with Lamprell plc, the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri), and Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. to establish, develop and operate a world-class maritime yard.

The new project will provide one of the world’s largest maritime integrated service complexes, with completion expected by 2022.

The new joint venture will localize important workshops in Saudi Aramco’s supply chain associated with offshore drilling and shipping, reduce costs, response time and increase flexibility for the company and its partners.

The new facility will be able to manufacture four offshore drilling platforms, build more than 40 vessels, including 3 giant oil tankers, and annually service more than 260 marine products.

Saudi Aramco’s vice president for finance, strategy and development, and chairman of the International Marine Industries Company, Abdullah Al-Saadan, said: “The global marine industry will serve Saudi Aramco’s strategic goal of becoming the global leader in energy and chemicals by meeting the company’s needs in production and shipping.” He added: “The company offers a combination of technology, supply chain efficiency and sustainable partnership, enabling it to become a world-class company offering competitive services to customers.”

Al-Saadan noted: “The world marine industry is unique in its combination of industrial and operational leadership through a consortium of four global and regional entities in the field of energy and marine industries, and the International Maritime Industries Company has valid applications for the manufacture of more than 20 platforms and the construction of 52 ships over the decade.”

Major production and services are expected to start in 2019 and the project will be fully operational by 2022. The project will contribute to the development of national expertise in the field of marine industries and employment generation.


Chinese Imports And The ‘Deaths’ of American Factories

December 15, 2017


After years of denial, it is now widely known that the opening of the U.S. market to Chinese imports was devastating, inflicting deep and lasting damage to many areas in the U.S. Regions most exposed to competition from China not only lost manufacturing jobs, they saw overall employment decline and never recovered. Areas with higher exposure have also been shown to have more people relying on food stamps and disability payments, more people addicted to opioids, lower rates of marriage, higher rates of political polarization, and higher rates of incarceration.

New research suggests that one of the main reasons the damage has been so deep and lasting is that the jobs lost from Chinese imports were not just from companies downsizing or becoming more efficient but from closing manufacturing plants altogether. The paper by four economists — Brian Asquith of the National Bureau of Economic Research and University of California at Irvine’s Sajana Goswami, David Neumark, and Antonio Rodriguez-Lopez — finds that the so-called “China shock” operated mainly through “deaths of establishments.”

This makes the job losses from the China shock fundamentally different from other adverse shocks, such as recessions, that can hit the U.S. labor market. In those situations, job losses are primarily from contractions of the number of people employed at a plant, rather than the outright closing of a plant.

“From a local-labor markets point of view, regional economies are likely to suffer more from deaths than from contractions (which tend to be one-off events or cyclical) because closed establishments can more permanently reduce local employment,” the authors write.

The economists say that many of the workers thrown out of work because of “establishment deaths” are later “reabsorbed” into the “nontradeable” sector, mainly through the births of new establishments. What is not explored in the paper is that many of these nontradeable sector jobs, however, a likely to be lower-paying service sector jobs.

Young South Koreans increasingly giving up job search

December 14, 2017


By Jennie Oh  |  Updated Dec. 14, 2017 at 5:33 AM
A record number of South Korean youth gave up on looking for a job last month. Photo by Yonhap/UPI

SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 14 (UPI) — A record number of South Koreans youth have given up on looking for a job, according to Statistics Korea.

Last month, 1.72 million South Koreans didn’t seek employment, the highest number seen for the month of November.

The number also marked an increase of 219,000 from the same month last year.

Among the demographic, there was a notable increase in the number of young people in their twenties. Those who gave up on the job hunt came to 284,000, up by nearly 20 percent on year.

“This reflects the overall employment situation for young people which isn’t very good,” an official at Statisics Korea said.

The number of unemployed youth between the ages of 15 and 29 grew by 46,000 in November, driving up the jobless rate for young people by a percentage point on year to 9.2 percent.

It seems fewer jobs were available, as the number of young people who found jobs last month was 39,000 less than the previous year, JoongAng Ilbo reported.

The real jobless rate which includes those with the potential to seek a job and those with unsteady employment conditions reached 21.4 percent.

U.S. Economic Expansion Could Become Longest on Record

December 13, 2017

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal see 43% probability of a recession in the next three years

A stack of the current income tax regulations sits on the dais during a House Ways and Means Committee markup of the Republicans' Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the Longworth Building in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 6
A stack of the current income tax regulations sits on the dais during a House Ways and Means Committee markup of the Republicans’ Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the Longworth Building in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 6 PHOTO: TOM WILLIAMS/CQ ROLL CALL/ZUMA PRESS


Forecasters are increasingly optimistic the U.S. economic expansion could continue beyond the 2020 presidential election, aided by Republican tax legislation that is expected to lift growth over the next several years.

The slow-but-sturdy expansion that began in mid-2009 already is the third-longest in U.S. history and, if it continues into the second half of 2019, will exceed the 10-year record set by the 1990s economic boom.

Most of the private-sector economic forecasters surveyed in recent days by The Wall Street Journal said the odds of a new recession by late 2020 were below 50%. The average probability of a recession in the next year was 14%, with the odds creeping up to 29% in two years and 43% in three years.

Economists were more pessimistic about the outlook before Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016. In the Journal’s October 2016 survey, economists on average saw a 58% probability of a recession starting in the next four years.

The lower recession odds could reflect a number of factors, not least the economy’s strong performance over the past year. Another possible contributor is legislation overhauling the tax code that Congress may soon send to Mr. Trump’s desk.

Some 90% of economists surveyed said the tax bill would increase the pace of growth for the next two years, with most seeing a modest boost to the annual growth rate for gross domestic product. Forecasters remain split over its likely long-term effects: Nearly half, 47%, said growth in the long run would be unchanged or weaker than its current trend.

Those results were similar to economists’ predictions in October, when the tax plan was in an earlier form.

A plurality of economists surveyed, 42%, said they believed the tax bill, if enacted, would make a recession in the next three years less likely than it would have been had the tax code remained in its current form.

“Tax reform will foster greater capital formation and economic growth,” said Thomas Kevin Swift, chief economist at the American Chemistry Council.

Some 37% said the tax bill would make no difference and 22% said it would make a recession more likely by late 2020.

Some of the economists who warned the tax overhaul would increase the odds of a recession pointed to the possibility of aggressive interest-rate increases from the Federal Reserve if the central bank feels fiscal stimulus will cause the economy to overheat and generate damaging inflation.

“Tax-cut stimulus, if fully realized as its framers claim, will make for a very aggressive Fed response, upsetting the apple cart,” said Rajeev Dhawan, director of Georgia State University’s Economic Forecasting Center.

As 2017 draws to a close, forecasters predicted this year’s strong growth would continue into 2018, and the odds of a near-term downturn continued to fall.

On average, economists projected GDP growth of 2.5% this year and 2.6% in 2018, followed by a return in 2019 and 2020 to the roughly 2% trend that has prevailed since the 2007-09 recession. Economists saw the pace of hiring moderating over the next year and the unemployment rate dipping below 4% by the end of 2018.

Some 68% of economists said risks to the outlook for growth were tilted to the upside, while 23% saw risks tilted to the downside and 9% said the risks were balanced. Upside risks included fiscal stimulus, while disruptions to foreign trade were listed by a number of forecasters as a downside risk.

The Journal’s latest survey of 62 business, academic and financial economists was conducted Dec. 8-11. Not every economist answered every question.

Write to Ben Leubsdorf at

Goldman says this may become the longest economic expansion in history


The longest expansion period in the U.S. economy may be underway

4:59 PM ET Mon, 8 May 2017 | 00:53

Since the financial crisis, the economy has never been called robust, but it may be in the longest expansion on record, with a couple more years to go.

Goldman Sachs economists said, in a recent note, that their model shows an increased 31 percent chance for a U.S. recession in the next nine quarters. That number is rising. But it’s a good news, bad news story, and the good news is there is now a two-thirds chance that the recovery will be the longest on record.

“The likelihood that the expansion will break the prior record is consistent with our long-standing view that the combination of a deep recession and an initially slow recovery has set us up for an unusually long cycle,” they wrote.

The current expansion has already lasted 95 months, now the third-longest in U.S. history in 33 business cycles going back to 1854, the economists said.

“Only the expansions from March 1991 to March 2001 [120 months] and from February 1961 to December 1969 [106 months] were longer,” they wrote.

The Goldman economists also say the medium-term risk of a recession is rising, “mainly because the economy is at full employment and still growing above trend.” They define a recession as a quarter of negative growth.

“The most obvious way to keep risk from rising much further would be a slowdown of output and employment growth to a trend pace before too long,” the economists wrote. This would require more Federal Reserve tightening than is currently priced in the bond market, they wrote.

April’s strong jobs report last Friday provided some comfort that U.S. economic growth isn’t flatlining, after a stream of economic data that fell below expectations. U.S. GDP grew at just 0.7 percent in the first quarter, and economists expect second-quarter GDP to be as much as 3 percent or even more.

While many economists were encouraged by the 211,000 jobs created last month and 4.4 percent unemployment rate, the Goldman economists, in a separate note, wrote that they see the potential for the labor market to overheat.

The economists say their model says “that recession risk at the 1, 5, and 9-quarter horizon is well explained by lagged GDP growth, the slope of the yield curve, equity price changes, house price changes, the output gap, the private debt/GDP ratio, and economic policy uncertainty.”

Britons pessimistic about Brexit outcome, new UK poll says — Only 19 percent thought Britain would get a good deal

December 6, 2017

In the most recent polling only 19 percent thought Britain would obtain a good deal from Brexit negotiations, the polling found. (AFP)

LONDON: Britons are increasingly critical of the government’s handling of Brexit negotiations and pessimistic about their outcome, according to new polling on Wednesday.

The National Center for Social Research found that the proportion of Britons who think the government is handling talks badly rose from 41 percent in February to 55 percent in July to 61 percent in October.
The number predicting Britain would get a bad deal in Brussels also rose from 37 percent in February to 44 percent in July to 52 percent in October.
In the most recent polling only 19 percent thought Britain would obtain a good deal, the polling found.
The results were based on a survey of 2,200 people.
“It might be thought the increased pessimism is primarily the result of Remain voters becoming increasingly disenchanted with the Brexit process,” senior research fellow John Curtice said.
“However, this is not what happened. Rather, pessimism has become much more widespread among those who voted Leave” in last year’s Brexit referendum.
But Curtice added that voters criticize the Brexit process “rather than draw the conclusions that the act of leaving is misguided.”
“A difficult Brexit could simply prove politically costly for (British Prime Minister Theresa) May and her beleaguered government rather than a catalyst for a change of heart on Brexit,” he said.

Amid a Dearth of Workers, New Hampshire Taps Recovering Addicts for Jobs

November 27, 2017

State tackles two acute problems: low unemployment and high levels of opioid addiction

Portsmouth, N. H.—At a recruiting event in a sunlit parish hall here, job seekers from sober houses streamed in, looking for opportunities from a range of employers all willing to look beyond gaps in resumes, criminal records and messy pasts.

Making the rounds at the “recovery-friendly job fair” was Ben Gale, who said it was tough getting work when he had to explain his history with drugs. “A lot of places look at you very differently,” said the 25-year-old, now sober from a heroin addiction.

“A lot of them don’t want to give you a chance.”

Mr. Gale clutched an application from Turbocam International, a Barrington, N.H. engine-parts manufacturer that has 15 openings, some vacant for months. “Metal trades is like my dream job,” Mr. Gale said. “I’ll show up early. I’ll stay late.”

The event was part of an effort by Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu to tackle two acute struggles facing the state: extremely low unemployment and extremely high levels of opioid addiction.

Mr. Sununu estimates that as many 15,000 recovering opioid addicts are sidelined from the workforce. He says people climbing out of addiction need, and often want, the stability, financial independence and purpose that steady jobs can offer.

“We want to re-instill that level of self worth that so many people in recovery have lost,” he said in an interview. At the same time, Mr. Sununu said, “we need those able-bodied working adults. We need that workforce in the state.”

New Hampshire is among seven states with unemployment rate below 3% in October, ranking third-lowest in the nation at 2.7% along with Colorado and Nebraska. Jobless rates at that level make it hard for employers to find the workers they need to expand, a dynamic that can potentially boost wages and inflation.

New Hampshire is also one the hardest hit states in the opioid crisis with fatal drug overdoses in 2016 more than doubling from three years earlier. Nationally, opioids such as fentanyl, heroin, oxycodone and hydrocodone killed more than 34,500 people last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Public officials increasingly view employment as an essential part of recovery because they say it improves the chances that addicts will stay sober—and steady pay also reduces reliance on public funds.

In the coming weeks, the governor’s office will begin a program to certify willing New Hampshire businesses as “recovery friendly”—with plans for a state website that job seekers in recovery can mine. The state will offer training and consultation to businesses that want to participate.

Experts agree on the most effective way to help opioid addicts: Medication-assisted treatment. But most inpatient rehab facilities in the U.S. don’t offer this option. WSJ’s Jason Bellini reports on why the medication option is controversial and, in many places, hard to come by. Image: Ryno Eksteen and Thomas Williams

Similar matchmaking efforts are brewing in other states battling the opioid crisis. Massachusetts and Tennessee help recovering drug abusers prepare for job searches. In late October, Ohio’s Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine unveiled a plan to give businesses incentives to hire people who have successfully completed a treatment program.

“It’s a win win,” Mr. DeWine said in an interview. “It helps employers who can’t find workers and helps people who, as part of their recovery, really need to get back to work.”

Such endeavors illustrate the economic toll of the opioid epidemic. A report released last week by Altarum, a health-research organization, estimated that the total cost of lost earnings and taxes as well as health care, legal and social service costs of the opioid crisis reached $95 billion in 2016.

Paul Roberts, the owner of Two Dog Diner in Longmont, Colo., said he has seen both rewards and risk from hiring people recovering from addictions.

Last year, Mr. Roberts recruited a man who was trying to break free from alcohol and opioids; the hire stemmed from an initiative in the Boulder area, where unemployment was 1.9% in September to help former substance abusers get back on track.

At first, the new hire was very motivated, but within months, his attitude deteriorated and he stopped showing up. He had relapsed, which created a disruptive situation that forced other employees to pick up the slack, Mr. Roberts said. He remains open to hiring more employees in recovery but is aware of the challenges.

In New Hampshire, Dana Lariviere, president of Chameleon Group LLC, a Portsmouth telemarketing company, began recruiting people recovering from addictions after a good experience hiring a recovering heroin addict who rose to management.

To support the employees, Chameleon has held 12-step recovery meetings in its conference room at lunch, and it is starting to host probation meetings on-site as a way to eliminate midday absences among workers.

Mr. Lariviere said that amid the opioid epidemic, transparency is an advantage. “We all hire addicts,” he said. “I just know who they are.”

In Portsmouth, the recovery-friendly job fair—organized in part by Safe Harbor Recovery Center, whose director advises the governor—recovering addict Steve Ricker filled out an application at a booth run by a building contractor. The 29-year-old is in recovery from heroin dependence and living in a homeless shelter.

“I gotta get something,” Mr. Ricker said. “Work to me offers stability. I can buy my kids stuff. I can go back to being a dad and not a drug addict.”

—Jon Kamp contributed to this article.

Write to Jennifer Levitz at


See also:

There is HOPE for NH addicts in recovery

New Hampshire Sunday News
September 12. 2015 8:38PM

Bryan Patriquin of Manchester, who attends the HOPE recovery center, dresses sharply, in a shirt and tie — sometimes even a matching pocket square. Tattooed on his forearms is a quote from Shakespeare: “To thine own self be true.”

With the state “losing a generation” to an opioid epidemic, advocates here are pushing an urgent message:

Recovery is possible.

In fact, at the HOPE Manchester Recovery Community Center, it’s a daily reality.
“This is a place where you can find your own pathway to health and wellness,” said Holly Cekala, the director of recovery support services at the center and its only full-time employee.

Created by the nonprofit group HOPE for New Hampshire Recovery, the center is open weekdays in a Millyard office. In its first two months of operation, nearly 300 individuals have stopped in.
For some, the road to recovery may involve a 12-step meeting or faith-based group, Cekala said. For others, it could mean finding a job, a college or a yoga class.
Whatever the pathway, the recovery coaches who volunteer at the center offer peer support to get folks the resources they need.

A recovery center is not a clubhouse, Cekala stressed.

“It’s a community center with a twist,” she said. “The twist is that there are people in here that are working on their recovery and they’re helping each other out to achieve their goals.”
Manchester restaurateur Melissa Crews chairs the HOPE board; she’s been in recovery for 22 years. “I was 23 when I got sober,” she said.

A long-time volunteer at the Farnum Center, Crews was frustrated by the lack of services available for those getting out of rehab or jail. “I would watch these girls leave. We’d hug them and give them a chip and say, ‘good luck,’” she recalled.
Then Crews saw the film “Anonymous People,” which featured a recovery center in Rhode Island. “We need that in Manchester,” she thought.

Crews recruited Cekala from Rhode Island, where she had started and manages centers. They rented office space from Families in Transition at the corner of Canal and Market streets.
They’re already looking for a new location that can accommodate larger gatherings, job training and other services. And they’re working with other communities to open centers of their own.

Cekala, a Nashua native, has been in recovery for more than 12 years.
After she broke her neck, back and ribs in a drunk-driving crash, she swore off drinking forever, she said. “But I left the hospital with an opiate habit.”

Returning to her home state, Cekala said she’s been shocked by the number of middle-class young people whose lives — and families — are being destroyed by the opioid epidemic here.
“You’ve got parents cashing in their 401K plans in New Hampshire to get their children help,” she said.

“This is not one person’s struggle. This is many people’s struggles.”

Getting better

On a recent afternoon, volunteers were at the HOPE center putting together materials for a “We Believe in Recovery” Rally on Sept. 26 in Concord’s White Park. They chatted and joked as they worked, like lifelong friends.
Bryan Patriquin of Manchester dresses sharply, in a shirt and tie — sometimes even a matching pocket square. Tattooed on his forearms is a quote from Shakespeare: “To thine own self be true.”

Just 25, he’s been in recovery for four years.
Patriquin grew up in a household without alcohol or drugs; his father was a recovering alcoholic. But he still ended up addicted, to alcohol and pills.

His addiction cost him his parents, his wife. But still, “I didn’t want to stop,” he recalled. “I felt like I was going to miss something.”
It’s hard to imagine, but he weighed over 500 pounds back then, he said. He tried to quit using on his own, and wound up in the hospital after a near-fatal heart attack.

After 18 months of sobriety, his parents invited him to live at their home again while he went back to college, “It brought me to tears,” he said.
Today, he says with a smile, “I’m half the person I was, and twice the man.”

Patriquin is majoring in addiction counseling at NHTI, where he is a straight-A student and on the Dean’s List. He’s doing his internship at the recovery center.
Lisa Noonan of Weare will celebrate three years of sobriety on Oct. 15. She’s 30 years old.

Her addiction started with Percocet, after a doctor prescribed the drug post-surgery. “I used them as prescribed, but then I was seeing all my friends getting high off it,” she recalled.
Like so many others, Noonan got addicted to heroin. She overdosed twice, the second time ending up in a coma.

She’s been faithfully following a 12-step program, and volunteers at the recovery center. “It gives me a lot of hope,” she said. “It’s like another home, where I feel safe.”
Her daily prayers are full of gratitude: “For my sobriety. For my happiness. For the strength that I have right now. For my kids, my family.”

Seeing himself

Dave Cote, a Manchester business owner, is a part-time staff member at the recovery center. He was 25 years old when he got clean; that was 25 years ago.
What was his drug of choice? “Yes,” he replied with a wry smile. “Put it this way, it was never no.”

When he looks at the young people coming to the recovery center, he sees himself, Cote said. Patriquin, he points out, “was born the year I sobered up.”
“We’re losing a generation, we really are,” he said.

Cote has a daughter who is 12 years old — “the age I started using at.” He brings her to recovery rallies and discussion panels. And he tells her: “If you never start, you never have to stop.”
He prays it’s enough, and fears it won’t be.

Substance use disorder, he said, doesn’t discriminate. “As the saying goes, Yale or jail. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it can affect you.”

Cote blames doctors who are too quick to prescribe narcotics, even to young children. When his daughter had oral surgery, the doctor gave him a prescription for 20 Percocets. “I handed it back to him.”
For now, the HOPE center relies for funding on private foundations, grants and fundraising events.

A benefit spaghetti supper next Saturday at the American Legion Sweeney Post will help defray expenses for 60 people from the HOPE center to attend the “Unite to Face Addiction” rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 4.
Cekala said she doesn’t mind raising money in this way. “We have no problem digging in and doing hard work; that’s what people in recovery do,” she said.

Still, she said, “It would be nice if people could see the benefits to funding streams that work to keep these places open.”
Recovery centers save states “enormous amounts” in criminal justice and medical costs, she said.

While New Hampshire is “on the right track in building a vibrant recovery community,” she said, “There’s still a long way to go.”
Cekala insists there is cause for hope.

With 23 million Americans in recovery, she said, “It’s not just possible. It’s a reality,” she said.

And opening more recovery centers can help, she said. “It’s a safe place to be. You’re surrounded by like-minded people who are trying to maintain their recovery.”
“Nobody says we’ve got the answer. Nobody does,” she said. “But we’re part of the solution, I can guarantee you that.”

HOPE is offering a week-long training for new recovery coaches starting Sept. 21. Visit:

San Francisco’s Problem Isn’t Robots; It’s the $15 Wage Floor — The law of unintended consequences

November 26, 2017

The city fears automation will replace workers—but its own policies make low-value jobs illegal.

San Francisco City Supervisor Jane Kim during an interview at City Hall, June 26.
San Francisco City Supervisor Jane Kim during an interview at City Hall, June 26. PHOTO: JEFF CHIU/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Amazon recently received proposals from cities hoping to host its second headquarters. A number of California localities—including Los Angeles, Sacramento, Pomona and Chula Vista—were in the mix. But the tech titan should tread carefully in the Golden State, where policy makers are studying punitive measures against companies that use workplace robots.

The latest example is a statewide campaign launched this fall by Jane Kim of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Ms. Kim intends to raise money to support a statewide ballot measure that would penalize private enterprise for embracing automation in the workplace, as Amazon has done in its warehouses.

“The idea is simple: if an employer replaces a human worker with a robot or algorithm, he or she would pay a tax,” according to the “Jobs of the Future Fund” website. It continues, “If we can expect millions of Californians may lose their job, it is our responsibility to prepare now through a modest tax on the robots and algorithms taking their place.”

While Ms. Kim would like to tax the robots, some of her colleagues would prefer to eliminate them. Earlier this year San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee   proposed a ban on delivery robots. “Our streets are made for people,” he proclaimed. In an interview, Mr. Yee said he was concerned that “many delivery jobs would disappear” if such a ban were not enacted. He later amended the proposed ordinance to create a robot permitting process with geographic restrictions.

The workplace trend toward self-service and automation has indeed made some occupations obsolete. Customers have been accustomed to bagging their own groceries for at least a decade. Restaurant chains such as McDonald’s and Panera Bread are now rolling out kiosks that allow customers to place their own orders. And the automated delivery devices targeted by Mr. Yee will render some delivery jobs obsolete.

Employees displaced by technology might appreciate that these San Francisco politicians are concerned, but an apology might be more appropriate. Over the past few years, San Francisco in particular, and California in general, has increased the cost to hire and train employees at risk of being automated. The minimum wage will rise to $15 an hour in San Francisco in 2018. The rest of California will get there four years later. On top of San Francisco’s hourly wage mandate are requirements for health care, paid leave and employee scheduling.

These added costs give employers with already slim profit margins a strong incentive to automate or embrace self-service. In an interview with Forbes, the founder of a delivery robot company linked his product’s value proposition to a rising minimum wage: “At something like $10 per delivery, the majority of citizens will not use [human delivery]. It’s too expensive.”

The empirical evidence supports the anecdotes: An August study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research linked a rising minimum wage to an increase in unemployment for workers in jobs that require a large number of routine tasks. The authors reported that it wasn’t just service-industry jobs at risk. A rising minimum wage also had a negative effect on job opportunities for older, less-skilled employees in manufacturing.

Instead of spurring self-reflection among advocates for new labor mandates, these consequences have inspired them to propose new laws to solve the problems caused by old ones. Consider the irony: San Francisco voters were promised in 2014 that the minimum-wage initiative backed by Ms. Kim would increase consumer spending by north of $100 million—without affecting employment. Now money from the new robot-tax proposal will be used to offset a reduction in job opportunities, in part caused by the rising minimum wage.

These misconceptions put the livelihood of employers and employees at risk. Mr. Yee’s suggestion that a ban on delivery robots would help save drivers’ jobs is a dangerous confusion of consequence and cause. If customers are unwilling to underwrite a $15 hourly wage for food delivery, and employers are prohibited from embracing an automated alternative, they’ll either stop delivering food or close their doors.

This is already happening in San Francisco. A study this year from Harvard Business School and Mathematica Policy Research economists found an increase in the closure of median-rated restaurants associated with the city’s rising minimum wage.

Automation can’t be stopped, and it will change more than the service industry. Earlier this year a PricewaterhouseCoopers report estimated that nearly 40% of U.S. occupations are at a high-risk of automation in the next two decades. But states like California are accelerating the trend by creating labor-cost mandates that exceed the productivity of employees to which they apply. It’s futile to try to resist the downward slope of the labor demand curve. Instead California’s do-gooder legislators should study up on the law of unintended consequences.

Mr. Saltsman is managing director at the Employment Policies Institute.

Singapore Starts Mandatory “Settling-in Program” for New Immigrants

November 26, 2017

 Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting

Foreign workers taking photos at a photo booth at a Manpower Ministry appreciation dinner on Nov 26, 2017.ST PHOTO: SEOW BEI YI

SINGAPORE – From the second half of next year, new foreign workers will attend a mandatory Settling-in Programme (SIP), similar to that for first-time domestic workers.

This is to help them learn about Singapore’s social norms, laws, as well as their employment rights and obligations, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said on Sunday (Nov 26). It will also inform them how and where they can seek help.

The move was welcomed by non-governmental organisations that help foreign workers, saying that employers not paying their employees their salaries or compensating them for work injuries continue to be an issue here and that the new programme will help newcomers know what they are entitled to and where to turn to for assistance.

The programme, to be rolled out in phases, will start with first-time foreign workers in the construction sector, Mr Lim said. Malaysians will be excluded.

He was speaking at a Manpower Ministry (MOM) appreciation dinner for more than 300 partners, including employers, dormitory operators and non-government organisations.

The SIP will be extended progressively to other sectors such as marine, process, as well as manufacturing and services.

About 2,000 foreign workers in the construction sector are expected to attend the SIP each month, according to MOM. Employers will be responsible for registration and course fees.

The ministry conducted a pilot from June to October last year, which involved close to 1,900 workers.

Besides feedback that the course was useful and helped workers understand how MOM can help when they have employment issues, a post-course evaluation found that the workers showed a more positive work attitude after the course.

Of Singapore’s one million or so work permit holders, about 700,000 are non-domestic foreign workers, Mr Lim said at Sunday’s event.

He stressed the need to take strong action against irresponsible employers and employment agencies, adding that Singapore has strengthened its laws and policies in this area over the years.

In 2011, under the Employment Agencies Act, the fine for those operating without a valid licence was raised from a maximum of $5,000 to $80,000 for first-time offenders.

Last year, itemised pay slips and key employment terms in writing also became compulsary, he said.

In April this year, the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) was set up to strengthen dispute resolution mechanisms here.

“In the first six months of operations, we received 2,500 salary claims from foreign workers. Of the claims that have concluded mediation, about 90 per cent recovered their unpaid salaries in full,” said Mr Lim.

“All foreign workers with valid salary claims are also allowed to change employers. In the first six months of 2017, about 600 of such foreign workers indicated that they wished to change employers and of these, about half found new jobs in Singapore,” he added.

In the first nine months of this year, over 99.9 per cent of the 11,500 injured workers had their cases successfully resolved, he said.

The remaining cases were not resolved because the employers had failed to buy work injury compensation insurance and were facing financial difficulties, he added.