According to the Wall Street Journal, the LA Times, and AP, President Obama recently gave a speech at a Wal-Mart store in California in which he praised the company for its efforts to reduce energy consumption. The speech came as part of the President’s focus on combating climate change using executive action along with cooperation from the private sector. However, several prominent labor unions have objected to Obama’s change in tone on Wal-Mart; during the campaign the President said he refused to shop there because of the litany of employee abuses alleged against the company. The unions accused the President of sending mixed messages, noting the contradiction between his commitment to worker rights and income inequality and his new focus on climate change.
The New York Times reports that “the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, indicating that the labor market was strengthening despite a run-up in initial applications in previous weeks.” The unemployment rate has fallen to 6.3% (compared with 6.7% at the end of 2013), though the decline has been aided by people dropping out of the labor force.
As part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to use executive power to repair the immigration system, the Department of Homeland Security announced a rule change that allows spouses of highly-skilled temporary workers to obtain jobs in the US. Many of these spouses “have similar educations and skills [to their partners], but under current law they are forbidden to hold jobs themselves. That makes living in the United States harder on these families, and allows the spouses’ technical skills and career prospects to languish.” The New York Times reports that while the extent of the new rule is limited, it should alleviate some of the problem these workers have in remaining in the US.