U.S. employers added an average of 244,000 new workers over the past six months. That’s the best performance in eight years, but July came in weaker than expected and the gain wasn’t enough to hold the line on unemployment.
According to the Labor Department, employers added 209,000 new workers to their payrolls last month. But the U.S. unemployment rate inched UP a-tenth-of a point to 6.2 percent as more Americans began actively looking for work. While most were unsuccessful finding a job, the increase suggests optimism is growing.
And for good reason: Consumer spending is on the rise, manufacturing is strengthening and auto sales have grown significantly in recent months.
President Obama cited Friday’s payroll figures as evidence that his Administration is getting America back to work. But critics say some Obama policies are actually hampering job growth – including an especially controversial proposal to limit carbon emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants.
Hundreds voiced their opinions this week over proposed changes to federal guidelines and clean energy standards governing power companies.
The Environmental Protection Agency held hearings in a handful of cities on the reforms.
In June, President Obama called for a 30 percent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The overall goal is to reduce climate change.
Speakers were limited to five minutes to make their case to the EPA in Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Washington.
The topic of air pollution traditionally sets off a loud debate over environmental values and economic vitality in the West. Three of the top 10 coal-producing states are in this region of the country.
Joe McCabe, utility company stockholder: "I'm a stock holder at many electric utilities and I think, uh, they're not going about the environment the correct way. There's a new business model happening and they're asleep at the wheel.'
Renewable Energy Systems Americas Incorporated is invested heavily in green power, held a press conference to promote their clean tech agenda.
Anna Giovinetto, VP corporate affairs, Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. "The United States didn't singlehandedly create the global climate crisis, and we can't singlehandedly reverse it either. But as a nation we must stand up and take a leadership role in addressing it and the clean power plant is a significant step forward.'
Despite new federal guidelines, states would have wide latitude in choosing how to meet the administration’s aggressive goals. That leaves an uncertain fate for some of the West’s coal-fired power plants.
Arch Coal is active in the western U.S. and one of the largest coal producers in the world.
Greg Schaefer, spokesman, Arch Coal: "EPA has done a good job with these listening sessions but I'm afraid they're not listening. So if they would try to engage the coal industry as opposed to try to put them out of business I think they'd go a long way with our ability to sit down with them and work, work in a joint manner.'