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Context of 'May 2008: Jobless Rate Rises in 48 States'

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The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), or the “Motor Voter” Bill, signed into law by President Clinton, increases opportunities for voter registration. It particularly impacts minority and low-income voters. The NVRA requires states to provide for voter registration by mail, to allow voters to register when they receive driver’s licenses, and to allow voter registration at state agencies such as welfare and unemployment offices. The NVRA provides for the Justice Department to use federal courts to ensure compliance, and gives the Federal Election Commission (FEC) the responsibility of helping the 50 states develop mail-in voter registration forms. (In 2002, that responsibility will be shifted to the Election Assistance Commission under the Help America Vote Act—see October 29, 2002.) The NVRA takes effect on January 1, 1995, in all but six states—Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming—because they have no voter registration requirements, or they have election-day registration at polling places. Arkansas, Vermont, and Virginia are given extra time to comply with the NVRA because they need to modify their state constitutions. Many states, including California, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, New York, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia, will refuse to comply with the NVRA, and the resulting court cases will establish the constitutionality of the NVRA, and the Justice Department will order the states to drop their objections and comply with the act. [American Civil Liberties Union, 2012; US Department of Justice, 2012]

Entity Tags: Help America Vote Act, Election Assistance Commission, Federal Election Commission, US Department of Justice, William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton, National Voter Registration Act

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

The Senate learns that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) collected information on the political party affiliations of taxpayers in 20 states during extensive investigations into tax dodgers. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a member of an appropriations subcommittee that oversees the IRS, calls the practice “an outrageous violation of the public trust.” The IRS blames the information collection on a third-party vendor who has been told to screen out the information, and claims that it never used the party information it did collect. IRS spokesman John Lipold says, “The bottom line is that we have never used this information. There are strict laws in place that forbid it.” Murray says she learned of the practice from the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). The IRS is part of the US Treasury Department. Colleen Kelly of the NTEU says that several IRS employees had complained to the NTEU about the collection of party identification, but that the IRS officials she informed about the practice claimed not to know anything about it. Deputy IRS Commissioner John Dalrymple told Kelly that the party identification information was automatically collected through a “database platform” supplied by an outside contractor that used voter registration rolls, among other information sources, to find tax dodgers. “This information is appropriately used to locate information on taxpayers whose accounts are delinquent,” Dalrymple claimed. But Murray and Kelly are skeptical. “This agency should not have that type of information,” Murray says. “No one should question whether they are being audited because of party affiliation.” Kelly worries that such improper information collection will continue, especially in light of the fact that the IRS will soon begin using private collection agencies to go after US citizens delinquent on their tax bills. “We think Congress should suspend IRS plans to use private collections agencies until these questions have been resolved,” Kelly says. Murray says that the twenty states in which the IRS collected party affiliation information were Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. [Tacoma NewsTribune, 1/6/2006]

Entity Tags: Internal Revenue Service, Colleen Kelly, John Dalrymple, John Lipold, National Treasury Employees Union, Patty Murray, US Department of the Treasury

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties, Elections Before 2000

Environment California releases a report concluding that carbon dioxide emissions have increased dramatically since 1960. The study was based on data collected by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The report’s major findings include the following:
bullet Between 1960 and 2001, US carbon dioxide emissions increased by 95 percent from 2.9 billion to almost 5.7 billion metric tons.
bullet The steepest rates of increase in carbon dioxide emissions during that period occurred in the Southeast and Gulf South, which grew by 163 and 175 percent, respectively.
bullet Texas was the leading polluter of carbon dioxide in 2001. In that year, the state was responsible for 12 percent of the nation’s total carbon dioxide emissions. Between 1960 and 2001, the state’s emissions increased 178 percent from 240.7 million to 668.5 million metric tons.
bullet During the period under review, carbon dioxide emissions more than doubled in 28 states. The increases were highest in Texas, Florida, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Missouri, and Arizona. [California, 6/2006 pdf file; Environment California, 6/20/2006]

Entity Tags: Environment California

Timeline Tags: US Environmental Record

May 2008: Jobless Rate Rises in 48 States

Unemployment rates in several states rise to their highest levels since 1976. The states are California, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. There is also a year-on-year increase in unemployment in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. As in all prior months, Michigan leads the nation with 14.1 percent, up from 12.9 percent in April; Oregon is second with 12.4 percent, up four-tenths of a percent from the previous month. Thirteen other states post rates above 10 percent. In recent months, the manufacturing sectors in Michigan and Rhode Island have been decimated, and Chrysler and GM plant closings in early May are particularly devastating to Michigan. Only Vermont has no change in its rate, while Nebraska’s rate decreases 0.1 of a percentage point to 4.4 percent. Both Nebraska and North Dakota tie for lowest unemployment rates while, nationally, the unemployment rate hits a 26-year high as it rises to 9.4 percent, from 8.9 percent in April. The highest regional jobless rate of 10.1 percent is reported in the West, followed by the Midwest at 9.8 percent. Not since September 1983, when the Midwest posted a 10.1 percent rate, has any region recorded a rate of 10 percent or more. The Pacific and South Atlantic regions also post record highs in May. [CNN News, 6/19/2009]

Timeline Tags: Global Economic Crises

As more EU companies lay off workers, unemployment rises to its highest level in more than two years. The EU jobless rate rises from a revised 8.1 percent in December, and above the 7.3 percent figure in January 2008, according to a report from the BBC. Annualized inflation in the 16-nation area falls to 1.1 percent in January, its lowest in nearly a decade, down from 1.6 percent in the year to December 2008. According to EU officials, the EU has been in recession since September 2008. The latest unemployment and inflation figures increase pressure on the European Central Bank (ECB) to further cut interest rates in an effort to bolster the economy and bring inflation closer to its 2 percent target. The ECB trims rates by half a percentage point to 2 percent in January, the fourth reduction since September, when rates stood at 4.25 percent. “January’s rise in unemployment and further fall in core inflation support our view that ECB interest rates have much further to fall,” says Jennifer McKeown, an analyst at Capital Economics. “The downturn in the labor market, and indeed the wider economy, points to a further fall in core inflation in the coming months.” Unemployment among European Union nations is highest in Spain, at 14.8 percent, and lowest in the Netherlands, at 2.8 percent. [BBC, 2/27/2009]

Entity Tags: Capital Economics, Jennifer McKeown, European Central Bank

Timeline Tags: Global Economic Crises

According to the US Labor Department, August jobless rates rise to record highs in California and Nevada; 27 other states see a rise in unemployment as well. Unemployment numbers climb to 12.2 percent in California and 13.2 percent in Nevada. With its unemployment rate rising to 15.2 percent in August, Michigan continues to lead all states, with Rhode Island rounding out the top four states with the highest unemployment since data collection began in 1976. Economists predict that the national unemployment rate will reach 10 percent in 2009, an indication that the recovery will not be led by consumers, although the job market is reportedly showing signs of stabilization, and economic growth may resume in the third quarter. States reporting at least 10 percent unemployment fell from 15 to 14 with Indiana’s rate dropping below the threshold. For a fourth consecutive month, joblessness in the District of Columbia exceeded 10 percent as well, rising from 10.6 percent to 11.1 percent. Nationally, unemployment climbed to a 26-year high, to 9.7 percent. According to Steven Cochrane, director of regional economics at Moody’s Economy.com: “There’s still a fair amount of weakness in some of the larger states. State finances are probably going to be among the last of all the various components of the broad economy to turn around.” Since the recession began in December 2007, the US economy has lost 6.9 million jobs. It is the largest national job loss since the Great Depression.
Jobless Benefits Claims - Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics says first-time unemployment claims have to drop by 100,000 to about 432,000 to be steady with company payrolls. He expects a reasonable decline in first-time claims by next spring. Initial claims categorize those filing their first week of unemployment benefits, while continuing claims reflect those filing each week until the end of their 26-week benefit year. Jobless figures generally do not include those who have moved to state or federal extensions, nor do the figures include those whose benefits have ended. [Bloomberg, 9/18/2009; CNN, 9/24/2009]

Entity Tags: Ian Shepherdson, California, High Frequency Economics, US Department of Labor, Rhode Island, District of Columbia, Moody’s Economy (.com), Nevada, Steven Cochrane

Timeline Tags: Global Economic Crises

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia join a brief filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asking the US Supreme Court to reaffirm Montana’s ban on corporate spending. The brief is in response to an upcoming Court hearing on the Montana Supreme Court’s upholding of the Montana ban, which contradicts the 2010 Citizens United ruling (see January 21, 2010, December 30, 2011 and After, January 4, 2012, February 10-17, 2012, and April 30, 2012). The brief is signed by Schneiderman, a Democrat, and 22 other attorneys general, both Democrats and Republicans. In the brief, Schneiderman writes, “The Montana law at issue here, like many other state laws regulating corporate campaign expenditures in state and local elections, is sharply different from the federal law struck down in Citizens United, and the Court need not revise its ruling in Citizens United in order to sustain the challenged Montana law.” Referring to briefs asking the Court to reverse the Montana high court ruling without a review, Schneiderman writes, “Even if the challenged Montana law were identical to the federal statute struck down in Citizens United—and, as shown below, it is far from identical—disposing of this case on the merits would require a fully considered analysis that takes these constitutional distinctions into account.” The states with Democratic attorneys general include Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia. States with Republican attorneys general include Idaho, Utah, and Washington. [International Business Times, 5/21/2012; Think Progress, 5/21/2012]

Entity Tags: US Supreme Court, Montana Supreme Court, Eric Schneiderman

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

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