Washington state employers added 20,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis last month according to the latest numbers out Wednesday from the state’s Employment Security Department.

Elizabeth Allen was at a happy hour for a San Francisco tech firm a couple of years ago, when a co-worker started forcing himself on her and the few other women at the party — again and again.

He was "giving us lots of hugs," Allen says, "trying to kiss me a few times; he grabbed my butt a couple of times." The women were outnumbered by men, some of whom looked on, bemused, as the women tried to signal their distress.

KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

An initiative before voters in Seattle this November would put a panic button in every hotel worker’s hand.

It’s one of a series of protections for a potentially vulnerable group of workers. They do heavy work, often alone. They are mostly women, and many of them are immigrants learning English, making them a voice that can be hard to hear.

The U.S. economy generated 156,000 new jobs in September, according to the monthly jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The results did not meet expectations: Economists had predicted between 170,000 and 176,000 new jobs for September.

Add to the list of worrisome economic trends what economists call "NEETs" — young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training.

Their numbers are growing, now 40 million in the 35 member countries of the OECD — the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. And two-thirds of them are not actively looking for work.

The figures come from the biennial OECD report, Society at a Glance 2016.

Out of 193 countries in the United Nations, only a small handful do not have a national paid parental leave law: New Guinea, Suriname, a few South Pacific island nations and the United States.

In the U.S., that means a lot moms and dads go back to work much sooner after the birth of a baby than they would like because they can't afford unpaid time off.

Jody Heymann, founding director of the World Policy Analysis Center at UCLA, says the global landscape for paid parental leave looks bright, but the U.S. is far behind.

Mike Cruse is the father of a new baby. His daughter Olivia was born in July. But like most fathers in the U.S., he doesn't get paid parental leave. That means his wife, Stephanie, will have to take care of the baby mostly herself — an already difficult task that may be even harder for her since she's dealing with postpartum anxiety.

Cruse, who manages the warehouse for a lighting company, had to take vacation days from his job to stay home and help for those first 10 days. Now he has no vacation left for the next calendar year.

On her first day back at work after giving birth, Tricia Olson drank copious amounts of coffee, stuffed tissues in her pocket, and tried not to cry. After all, her son Gus was just 3 weeks old.

Olson, 32, works for a small towing company and U-Haul franchise in Rock Springs, Wyo., and she could not afford to be away from work any longer.

"The house bill's not going to pay itself," she says, her voice breaking in an audio diary she kept as part of a series on the challenges facing working parents airing on NPR's All Things Considered.

There’s a lot of talk about “dark money” in politics these days. That’s money raised and spent by so-called “social welfare” organizations that don’t have to disclose their donors.

But sometimes these groups will reveal who’s giving them money -- if you ask.

Bill Radke speaks with Subway franchisee owner David Jones about secure scheduling rules passed by the city of Seattle on Monday. Jones says the new rules will make things much harder for businesses like his. 

KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

Seattle’s City Council has passed a measure that will ensure workers' schedules are predictable. It’s the latest in a series of low wage worker protections the council has passed. There’s been the $15 minimum wage, paid sick leave, and restrictions on criminal background checks.

Bill Radke speaks with Josh Feit about the behind the scenes politics of the City Council vote on a new secure scheduling law. Feit is the politics editor at Seattle Met and editor of their local politics blog PubliCola. 

Labor journalist Sarah Jaffe
Courtesy of Julieta Salgado

When it comes to the future of good jobs and a contented workforce in the United States, the outlook is tenuous at best. Workers left in the wake of off-shoring, financial crises and game-changing robotic technology developments know that all too well.

Journalist Sarah Jaffe says community movements are a key to better outcomes. “For the people taking part in them it is not a question of left or right, but of the powerless against the powerful.”

Seattle is one step away from adding worker scheduling rules to its workplace laws. A City Council committee unanimously approved secure scheduling legislation Tuesday, forwarding it to a full council vote next Monday.

KUOW Photo/Caroline Chamberlain

Bill Radke sits down with Seattle University professor Nancy Burkhalter to talk about her experience as an adjunct, or part-time professor, at the university.

More than half of all professors in the U.S. are adjuncts, and they receive far fewer benefits than their tenured or tenure-track colleagues who are essentially guaranteed employment for life. 

Last week, Seattle University adjunct professors voted to unionize, and a union is expected to be certified sometime next week.