Morning Must Reads: Chicago Teachers On Strike and Job Trends by President

A Picket At Lane Tech in Chicago 09/10/2012With no agreement reached last night between Chicago's teachers union and the Chicago Public Schools, 25,000 teachers are on strike today in the Windy City.

The Philadelphia Inquirer this morning examines recent trends in teacher strikes in Pennsylvania.

Though walkouts were never numerous, in most years, one or more of the 63 school districts in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties had teachers on picket lines.

Since the recession hit in late 2007, however, there has been a sharp drop-off in strikes.

As schools opened this month, 16 districts in the area — four in Bucks, five in Chester County, four in Delaware County, and three in Montgomery — still had unresolved labor agreements. But there have been no walkouts, and no immediate sign of any to come, though in one — Neshaminy — a strike could yet take place.

Since former President Clinton's speech at last week's Democratic National Convention, the media have focused new attention on the job growth performance of past presidential administrations, including The Philadelphia Inquirer which had a Sunday story on the topic.

We would add one point to Jane Von Bergen's story regarding the Obama administration's record on jobs and unemployment trends. When President Obama took office in January 2009, the nation's economic trajectory was headed "down, down, down." If you look at monthly trends in jobs compared to previous administration, there is only one parallel to January 2009: the Great Depression. Yet within a few short months, the downward plunge in jobs slowed and then reversed, albeit not fast enough.

I was struck by a passage in the story that called the 7.8% unemployment rate when Mr. Obama took office as "relatively benign." We and many other observers would agree an unemployment rate of 7.8% is much too high — which is part of the challenge President Obama faces now, despite the credit he, President Bush and the Federal Reserve deserve for righting the ship of our economy in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

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