Jobs surge in April, unemployment rate falls to the lowest since 1969
The U.S. jobs machine kept humming along in April, adding a robust 263,000 new hires while the unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, the lowest in a generation, the Labor Department reported Friday.
Nonfarm payroll growth easily beat Wall Street expectations of 190,000 and a 3.8% jobless rate.
Average hourly earnings growth held at 3.2% over the past year, a notch below Dow Jones estimates of 3.3%. The monthly gain was 0.2%, below the expected 0.3% increase, bringing the average to $27.77. The average work week also dropped 0.1 hours to 34.4 hours.
Unemployment was last this low in December 1969 when it hit 3.5%. At a time when many economists see a tight labor market, big job growth continues as the economic expansion is just a few months away from being the longest in history.
Read more in CNBC.
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David Tours Scotts Miracle-Gro Plant In Butts County
Larry Stanford, The Rockdale-Newton Citizen
Georgia Senator David Perdue toured the Scotts Miracle-Gro Growing Media Plant on Ga. Highway 42 in Jenkinsburg Wednesday afternoon and said it is a place lawmakers in Washington need to visit to understand the working people in America.
“Having been an old manufacturing guy, I always look forward to invitations from manufacturing plants in Georgia,” Perdue said. “Georgia is the best place in the country to do business. Part of that are companies just like Miracle-Gro. When they look at the investments they make down here, they continue to grow.
“We’ve worked hard from a federal level to get the economy going again, and these people are certainly benefitting from that,” he added. “And I wanted a chance to come see the operation and meet the people here and get a lay of the land. I heard a little bit about it a few weeks ago and wanted to see it for myself.”
Headquartered in Ohio, Scotts Miracle-Gro is the world’s largest marketer of branded consumer products for lawn and garden care. The company recently expanded operations at its Jenkinsburg facility. The plant has been open for more than 40 years and employs 56 full-time and 45 seasonal workers. It produces 110,000 bags of mulch a day, with an average of 150 tractor-trailer loads of fertilizer leaving the plant daily.
Perdue said the Scotts Miracle-Gro facility is representative of what Georgia has to offer in both products and people.
“This is Georgia. Ag is about half of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product), and they’re using God-given raw material from right here out of our forests,” Perdue said. “Having been a big consumer of Miracle-Gro in the past, I know their mediums and mulches are really high quality. You can see the safety procedures they have in the plant, and this is what it is really all about.
“A lot of people in Washington who make these rules about business have never been in a place like this. These are the honest-to-goodness working men and women of America. They’re right here in Georgia, and this is how I grew up, how these people grew up, and this is a great job for this area – one of the largest employers in the area – so I’m delighted with their success here.”
Plant Manager Adam Davis took Perdue, along with State Sen. Burt Jones, Butts County Commission Chairman Ken Rivers, Butts County Sheriff Gary Long and Chief Deputy Arthur White and others on the tour and said his employees were happy Sen. Perdue wanted to see their plant.
“We’re excited the senator visited the facility today,” Davis said. “We showed him around, showed him what we do, showed him our operation. This facility has been in the community for 40-plus years. It is a big contributing economic factor out here. We’re excited to have him out.”
‘High-tech’ Dublin production plant offers training, apprenticeships
U.S. Senator David Perdue of Georgia toured Valmiera Glass Group’s production plant in Dublin on Thursday.
He also met with employees and says the company is helping out the midstate economy.
“Just last year they hired over 450 people. Brand new jobs here in Dublin. It is a highlight of what I get to do, I am excited about what is going on here, these people are on a growth trajectory. There is new technology, new equipment coming here, new training, new people and it is just a vibrant part of our economy,” Purdue said.
Valmiera Glass produces glass fibre fabrics that are used for many technical applications and industries worldwide. Purdue
“I asked them, ‘So why are you here?’ and they said, ‘Well it is a good job, they train you.’ In fact they sent 100 people just over the last year back to Latvia to be trained in this process. It is a very high-tech, very specialized process. You don’t find a lot of companies doing that anywhere in the world,” he says. “This is the best combination here in Valmiera, of apprenticeships, training, technical school cooperation and training, and follow up here inside with employees.”
Read more in WGXA.
Sen. David Perdue column: Savannah Harbor deepening key to Georgia’s success
By U.S. Sen. David Perdue
March 25, 2019
For the past 20 years, career politicians have been trying to deepen the Port of Savannah five feet to accommodate new, larger post-Panamax ships. In the real world, people would have been fired for not getting the job done sooner.
Fortunately, President Donald Trump has broken through the gridlock in Washington, D.C.. He has announced full funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) for the third straight year. After 20 years of delays at the federal level, we are finally on track to complete this project by 2022.
This is huge news for Georgia and advances our country’s ability to compete globally.
The Port of Savannah is the most efficient container port in North America. It’s the third largest, and fastest growing, port in the entire country. The port consistently shatters records for container cargo moved, including a record 4.35 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) last year.
In 2018, total trade between Georgia and the world reached a new high at $139.3 billion. This would not have been possible without the Port of Savannah.
The new post-Panamax container ships now coming into the Savannah Port are three times the size of traditional ships. Today, these ships have to use the Savannah Port at about half their capacity. With a deeper port, these ships could double or triple the number of containers they transport today, which would bring shipping costs down dramatically.
Out of all port projects around the country, SHEP has the highest benefit to cost ratio: 7.3 to 1. The State of Georgia has already paid more than its fair share to make this opportunity become a reality. With President Trump’s commitment to this project at the federal level, the finish line is now on the horizon.
Our ability to grow exports is a prerequisite to grow our national economy. President Trump has consistently taken action to level the playing field and negotiate better trade deals with our partners around the world. The President has also made SHEP a top infrastructure priority in order to reach new markets and share American-made products with the world.
Of course, the Port of Savannah’s ability to excel is dependent upon a network of railways, roads, and warehouses to transport freight to and from the port. This is where Georgia really shines.
Georgia is currently building some of the most impressive supply chain infrastructure in the world. Two major railroads, CSX and Norfolk Southern, have locations at the Port of Savannah and are able to offer some of the fastest rail transit times in the country.
The Cordele and Appalachian Inland Ports provide direct rail routes to the port. Each container moved to and from these inland ports saves between six and eight million truck miles annually. An additional inland port in Gainesville is on track to be completed in 2021.
The Port of Savannah provides immediate access to two major interstates, I-16 and I-95. From there, trucks can reach 80 percent of the country in less than two days of driving time.
In addition, over three million square feet of warehouse space is available within 30 miles of the port.
Under the leadership of Govs. Sonny Perdue, Nathan Deal, and Brian Kemp, Georgia has become the No. 1 state in the country in which to do business. The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project will play a major role in continuing Georgia’s record of economic success, and its impact will be felt in every corner of our state.
Empty promises from politicians in Washington have previously kept the Port of Savannah from reaching its full potential. Completing this project will be a huge win for Georgia and our nation. Ultimately, on-time completion of SHEP is key to increasing our exports and continuing to grow the economy, and it is finally becoming a reality.
Read more in The Savannah Morning News.
Perdue Stands Firm With Trump In Battleground Georgia
James Arkin and Burgess Everett
Some Republicans facing tough 2020 elections are weighing a break with President Donald Trump on foreign policy or his border wall-driven national emergency declaration.
David Perdue is going the other way.
“Republicans have made a mistake in the past by running away from this president. I don’t see any need to do that,” Perdue, the first-term Georgia senator, said in an interview. “I support this agenda. I don’t support everything he says or how he says it, but this agenda is working.”
It’s a confident early stance from a Republican facing one of the toughest reelection races in the country next year — especially if he faces Stacey Abrams, the Democrat who lost the 2018 gubernatorial race by 1.4 percentage points. Democrats argue Georgia has shifted rapidly into battleground territory since Perdue romped to victory in 2014 over Michelle Nunn, the daughter of a legendary senator. And Perdue’s reelection is critical for Republicans to hold their Senate majority in 2020.
“It’s very competitive,” acknowledged Perdue’s Georgia colleague, GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson. “It’s going to be a horse race. You’re not going to be bored.”
Nevertheless, Perdue is pitching himself as the co-pilot of Trump’s first term. The CEO-turned-politician boasts about how his pull with the president has benefited Georgians on a variety of issues, including a disaster relief package currently working through Congress; the defeat of a border adjustment tax; and limits on potential additional tariffs. As one of the president’s top allies on Capitol Hill, Perdue rarely, if ever, seeks public separation from the commander in chief.
“I influence this president,” Perdue said.
Perdue doesn’t plan to run solely as a Trump ally, however, but to lean on his own record as a businessman still new to politics. He said he thinks he can maintain his status as an outsider even as an incumbent, running as someone “in the belly of the beast.”
Perdue pledges that if he wins his next term will be his last, but he’s running like his “hair’s on fire” as he prepares for the second campaign of his life. The Republican conceded he could lose, but believes his path to a second term is through framing his race as a debate between Trump’s policies in office and proposals from Democratic presidential aspirants, which the Republican senator boiled down to a “debate between free enterprise and socialism.”
“Nothing is for granted, nothing is guaranteed,” Perdue said. He added that when Georgia voters are “exposed to the facts about the ethos of what Democrats are perpetrating right now versus what is actually being proven to work, they’ll get past whatever I said or whatever Trump said or anything else, and they’ll do the right thing.”
Democrats eyeing Perdue’s seat aren’t so sure.
“Six years ago, I knew which base in Georgia is stronger — it wasn’t ours,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said of the effort to defeat Perdue. “We don’t know the answer to that question today.”
Perdue seems to understand that his state has morphed from fertile GOP terrain into a true battleground, as Democrats pursue a suburban strategy they believe will resonate in diverse Sunbelt states. But that doesn’t mean he will tack to the center politically: He’s essentially backing Trump’s agenda at every turn in the Senate and says if he disagrees with the president, he will do so in private.
Former Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) lost last year after initially equivocating over supporting Trump on Obamacare repeal, which Republicans say informs their future political plans. They say if senators are going to win red-leaning states, it’s going to be by riding with the president — and there’s no upside to breaking with him.
“Probably not in Georgia,” said GOP Sen. Richard Shelby of neighboring Alabama. “In California or Massachusetts, I’d think it would be a plus.”
Perdue fashions himself as a businessman, not a career politician, and has pushed internal proposals that have annoyed his more veteran colleagues. He’s led the charge to ax August recesses for the past two years, pushed major changes to government funding procedures and sought to change the GOP conference’s rules to more readily punish Republican chairmen that stray from the party line.
Last month, Perdue was overwhelmingly defeated on an internal vote that would have made it easier to strip GOP senators of committee chairmanships, a proposal he’s discussed in the past. GOP committee chairs Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and John McCain of Arizona voted against Obamacare repeal in 2017, and last year Murkowski opposed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“We have to vote our conscience, and it was disappointing for him to think that a war hero like John McCain should be stripped of his chairmanship of the Armed Services Committee over a disagreement on policy,” said Collins.
Perdue said his proposal was about more accountability and not aimed at a particular person. But he acknowledged he’s rubbed some of his colleagues the wrong way: “I don’t want this to sound arrogant, but I’ve got enough friends in Georgia.”
Back in Georgia, however, there are pockets that are increasingly difficult battlegrounds, said state Republican Party Chairman John Watson. Ground zero is the Atlanta suburbs, where Perdue won significant support in 2014 but voters moved away from the Republican Party in 2016 and last year.
Perdue said he thinks he’ll be able to win back some of those suburban voters. He argued that Trump hardly campaigned in Georgia during the presidential race, and Brian Kemp, the GOP governor, didn’t message to them, instead focusing on rural Republican turnout after emerging late from a primary runoff. Democrats flipped one suburban Atlanta House district and only narrowly lost in a second. But Perdue plans to target suburban voters rather than just ceding them to Democrats.
“They only heard one side of this argument in ’16, and they only heard one side of the argument in ’18,” Perdue said. “They’ll hear both sides of the argument in ’20.”
“He has worked the Atlanta suburbs over his tenure and continues to work them very hard,” said GOP Rep. Rob Woodall, who is retiring next year from his suburban Atlanta district after a surprisingly narrow victory in 2018. “While the governor’s race had a Republican rural strategy, David is working in every corner of the state to make sure he’s turning out the vote.”
“His values and achievements are ones that align very closely with Georgians,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Todd Young of Indiana. “He’ll end up winning.”
Democrats argue that Perdue’s embrace of Trump and the president’s position at the top of the ticket will continue the erosion of GOP support in those areas.
“In the suburbs, there’s a lot of potential for the Democratic vote,” said J.B. Poersch, president of Senate Majority PAC, a top Democratic outside group.
Watson, the GOP chairman, said Perdue’s embrace of Trump is a positive in the red-leaning state in a presidential year. But he also has little choice.
“For the senator to walk away would be just like so many other politicians that people can’t stand,” Watson said. “He’s raised his hand for this president, this party and Georgia is very favorable to the president and to change paths now would be very insincere.”
Perdue’s path will get significantly more difficult if Abrams joins the race — she is considering a Senate or presidential campaign, or another run for governor in 2022, and will decide in the coming weeks. But Perdue dismissed Abrams as a “state personality” and a career politician, saying she’d “never had a real job that I can tell.”
“I don’t think it matters who the candidate is, the issues are going to be the same,” Perdue said.
In 2016, Perdue told Trump he would safely win Georgia and should focus his efforts in Midwestern states even as Democrats started to talk up the Peach State as a potential battleground. Trump won it by 5 points, down from Perdue’s 8-point victory. Last year, Kemp won by just 1.4 points. Perdue says the trend doesn’t concern him.
“The ethos in Georgia is still there that elected Donald Trump. Don’t let anybody kid you about that,” Perdue said.