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employment

There were 236,000 jobs added to payrolls in February — many more than expected — and the jobless rate unexpectedly dropped by two-tenths of a point, to 7.7 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

Nationally the private sector added 5 million jobs since a low point in June of 2009. But during that same time period the public sector cut 721,000 jobs. What effect is the shrinking public sector having on the economy? And what’s the story here in Washington state?

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President Obama thinks E-Verify should be mandatory as part of his plan for immigration reform. Is this a good idea? How accurate is E-Verify? What happens if someone comes up negative? Is immigration contacted immediately? Ross Reynolds talks with CEO Roy Beck of Numbers USA, and Policy Analyst David Bier.

Big changes to US immigration policy could mean more temporary work visas for people with skills like computer programming. Employers in the Northwest including Microsoft say there aren’t enough US workers to meet demand. Now, a bipartisan group of Senators wants to expand the number of temporary worker visas from 65,000 to 115,000. But critics say those jobs can and should be filled by qualified US workers. Ross Reynolds talks with public policy advocate and political strategist Maria Cardona and president of the Programmers Guild, Kim Berry about the ongoing issue of temporary worker visas.

A proposed bill in Olympia aims to crack down on employers who shortchange their workers. The measure would create harsher penalties for business that skimp on minimum wage, overtime pay, or just flat out fail to hand over a paycheck.

This type of  underpayment is often referred to as “wage theft.” Advocates of the bill, HB 1440, say the victims of wage theft tend to be low-income workers and undocumented immigrants.

Job growth continues to be sluggish, but there’s one big exception: temporary work.  The number of temp and contract jobs has increased by nearly 30 percent since early 2009, according to the American Staffing Association. 

Ross Reynolds takes a closer look at the new temping economy with Steven Greenhouse, the  labor reporter for The New York Times.

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