What we’re reading: unemployment rate plummets, Omar released from committee



A worker passes a hiring sign at a construction site, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Portland, Maine. On Thursday, the Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

By Georgie London

Unemployment rate at 50-year low

Biden is responsible for the addition of around 500,000 jobs and the lowest jobless rate in over 50 years.

Despite an estimated 517,000 jobs that became available in January, jobless rates plummeted as low as they have been since 1969, according to The New York Times. The unemployment rate is 3.4%, which amounts to around 5.7 million people who are jobless, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The hospitality industry led job gains, while the manufacturing industry had the fewest number of additions.

One of the reasons for this staggering low unemployment percentage could be a pattern of low participation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The labor force participation rate, which measures those who are working or actively looking for a job, stands at 62.4% as of January, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The Fed likely won’t place too much weight on this report in formulating policy,” economist Anna Wong said.


Alleged Chinese spy balloon spotted in Montana

A balloon labeled as Chinese property was spotted near the Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, according to AP. The base houses many of the United States’ nuclear missile silos.

The Chinese foreign ministry validated claims that they sent the balloon, but denied that it was a surveillance device.

“It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological purposes. Affected by the westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.

This was not the first time that a balloon with surveillance technology was seen on U.S. territory. This instance caught the public’s eye due to recent claims of similar Chinese balloons in Hawaii and Guam, according to CNN.

Despite China’s response, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has canceled his trip to China, which was originally scheduled for next week, according to BBC.

Chinese balloon seen above Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. (Photo courtesy of AP.)

Domestic violence gun law overturned

On Thursday, a federal appeals court ruled that the government cannot prevent those with domestic violence restraining orders from owning guns.

The ruling overturns a law passed 30 years ago which stated that “a person who is subject to a court order that restrains him or her from threatening an intimate partner or child cannot lawfully possess a firearm,” according to Bloomberg.

This action reflects the makeup of the current Supreme Court: currently, the Supreme Court consists of a majority of conservative members, according to AP.

In June, the Supreme Court overturned a New York law that criminalized carrying a concealed firearm without a license, loosening US gun laws amidst a string of mass shootings, according to CNN.

Thursday’s ruling vacates a Texas man’s conviction of violating a protective order that banned him from contacting his ex-girlfriend or their child, as well as from possessing firearms.

The court reasoned that the law was an “outlier that our ancestors would have never accepted,” according to AP.


Ilhan Omar released from Foreign Affairs Committee

The majority-Republican House Foreign Affairs Committee voted Thursday to oust Rep. Ilhan Omar, citing a past statement she made in 2019 about donors paying politicians to support Israel.

Jewish Americans interpreted Omar’s statement as anti-Semitic, sparking bipartisan disapproval, according to NBC. Omar has apologized for her previous statements.

Democrats believe the motive behind Omar’s release is reflective of the Republicans’ desire for power and feelings of vengeance.

These beliefs were strengthened by Rep. George Santos acquiring seats. Santos was accused of falsifying information on his resume and about his identity.

The Democrats view the actions of the Republicans as hypocritical, according to CNN.

Omar reacted to the decision with a powerful speech about her resilience and the necessity of her role on the committee, according to CNN.

Rep. Ilhan Omar exits her office following the committee’s vote in favor of her termination on Feb. 2, 2023 (Photo courtesy of USA Today.)

“My leadership and voice will not be diminished if I am not on this committee for one term. I am here to be a voice against harms around the world and advocate for a better world,” Omar said.