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Rising Oil Prices Haven’t Hurt US Economy

America’s rediscovered prowess in oil production is shaking up old notions about the impact of higher crude prices on the U.S. economy.

It has long been conventional wisdom that rising oil prices hurt the economy by forcing consumers to spend more on gasoline and heating their homes, leaving less for other things.

Presumably that kind of run-up would slow the U.S. economy. Instead, the economy grew at its fastest rate in nearly four years during the April-through-June quarter.

President Donald Trump appears plainly worried about rising oil prices just a few weeks before mid-term elections that will decide which party controls the House and Senate.

“We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices!” Trump tweeted Thursday. “We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!”

Members of The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, who account for about one-third of global oil supplies, are scheduled to meet this weekend with non-members including Russia.

The gathering isn’t expected to yield any big decisions — those typically come at major OPEC meetings like the one set for December. Oil markets, however, were roiled Friday by a report that attendees were considering a significant increase in production to offset declining output from Iran, where exports have fallen ahead of Trump’s re-imposition of sanctions.

OPEC and Russia have capped production since January 2017 to bolster prices. Output fell even below those targets this year, and in June the same countries agreed to boost the oil supply, although they didn’t give numbers.

Rising oil prices

Oil prices are up roughly 40 percent in the past year. On Friday, benchmark U.S. crude was trading around $71 a barrel, and the international standard, Brent, was closing in on $80.

The national average price for gasoline stood at $2.85 per gallon, up 10 percent from a year ago, according to auto club AAA. That increase likely would be greater were it not for a slump in gasoline demand that is typical for this time of year, when summer vacations are over.

The United States still imports about 6 million barrels of oil a day on average, but that is down from more than 10 million a decade ago. In the same period, U.S. production has doubled to more than 10 million barrels a day, according to government figures.

“Because the U.S. now is producing so much more than it used to, [the rise in oil prices] is not as big an impact as it would have been 20 years ago or 10 years ago,” said Michael Maher, an energy researcher at Rice University and a former Exxon Mobil economist.

The weakening link between oil and the overall economy was seen — in reverse — three years ago. Then, plunging oil prices were expected to boost the economy by leaving more money in consumers’ pocket, yet GDP growth slowed at the same time that lower oil prices took hold during 2015.

Other economists caution against minimizing the disruption caused by energy prices.

“Higher oil prices are unambiguously bad for the U.S. economy,” said Philip Verleger, an economist who has studied energy markets. “They force consumers to divert their income from spending on other items to spending on fuels.”

Since energy amounts to only about 3 percent of consumer spending, a cutback in that other 97 percent “causes losses for those who sell autos, restaurants, airlines, resorts and all parts of the economy,” Verleger said.

Pack leader

The federal Energy Information Administration said this month that the U.S. likely reclaimed the title of world’s biggest oil producer earlier this year by surpassing the output of Saudi Arabia in February and Russia over the summer. If the agency’s estimates are correct, it would mark the first time since 1973 that the U.S. has led the oil-pumping pack.

And that has made the impact of oil prices on the economy a more complicated calculation.

When oil prices tumbled starting in mid-2014, U.S. energy producers cut back on drilling. They cut thousands of jobs and they spent less on rigs, steel pipes and railcars to ship crude to refineries. That softened the bounce that economists expected to see from cheaper oil.

Now, with oil prices rising, energy companies are boosting production, creating an economic stimulus that offsets some of the blow from higher prices on consumers. Oil- and gas-related investment accounted for about 40 percent of the growth in business investment in the April-June quarter this year.

Moody’s Analytics estimates that every penny increase at the pump reduces consumer spending by $1 billion over a year, and gasoline has jumped 24 cents in the past year, according to AAA. That is “a clear-cut negative,” but not deeply damaging, said Ryan Sweet, director of real-time economics at Moody’s.

“Usually with gasoline prices, speed kills — a gradual increase [like the current one], consumers can absorb that,” Sweet said. Consumers have other factors in their favor, he added, including a tight job market, wage growth, better household balance sheets, and the recent tax cut.

Sweet said the boon that higher prices represent to the growing energy sector, which can invest in more wells, equipment and hiring, means that the run-up in crude has probably been “a small but net positive” for the economy.

“That could change if we get up to $3.50, $4,” he said.

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Rising Oil Prices Haven’t Hurt US Economy

America’s rediscovered prowess in oil production is shaking up old notions about the impact of higher crude prices on the U.S. economy.

It has long been conventional wisdom that rising oil prices hurt the economy by forcing consumers to spend more on gasoline and heating their homes, leaving less for other things.

Presumably that kind of run-up would slow the U.S. economy. Instead, the economy grew at its fastest rate in nearly four years during the April-through-June quarter.

President Donald Trump appears plainly worried about rising oil prices just a few weeks before mid-term elections that will decide which party controls the House and Senate.

“We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices!” Trump tweeted Thursday. “We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!”

Members of The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, who account for about one-third of global oil supplies, are scheduled to meet this weekend with non-members including Russia.

The gathering isn’t expected to yield any big decisions — those typically come at major OPEC meetings like the one set for December. Oil markets, however, were roiled Friday by a report that attendees were considering a significant increase in production to offset declining output from Iran, where exports have fallen ahead of Trump’s re-imposition of sanctions.

OPEC and Russia have capped production since January 2017 to bolster prices. Output fell even below those targets this year, and in June the same countries agreed to boost the oil supply, although they didn’t give numbers.

Rising oil prices

Oil prices are up roughly 40 percent in the past year. On Friday, benchmark U.S. crude was trading around $71 a barrel, and the international standard, Brent, was closing in on $80.

The national average price for gasoline stood at $2.85 per gallon, up 10 percent from a year ago, according to auto club AAA. That increase likely would be greater were it not for a slump in gasoline demand that is typical for this time of year, when summer vacations are over.

The United States still imports about 6 million barrels of oil a day on average, but that is down from more than 10 million a decade ago. In the same period, U.S. production has doubled to more than 10 million barrels a day, according to government figures.

“Because the U.S. now is producing so much more than it used to, [the rise in oil prices] is not as big an impact as it would have been 20 years ago or 10 years ago,” said Michael Maher, an energy researcher at Rice University and a former Exxon Mobil economist.

The weakening link between oil and the overall economy was seen — in reverse — three years ago. Then, plunging oil prices were expected to boost the economy by leaving more money in consumers’ pocket, yet GDP growth slowed at the same time that lower oil prices took hold during 2015.

Other economists caution against minimizing the disruption caused by energy prices.

“Higher oil prices are unambiguously bad for the U.S. economy,” said Philip Verleger, an economist who has studied energy markets. “They force consumers to divert their income from spending on other items to spending on fuels.”

Since energy amounts to only about 3 percent of consumer spending, a cutback in that other 97 percent “causes losses for those who sell autos, restaurants, airlines, resorts and all parts of the economy,” Verleger said.

Pack leader

The federal Energy Information Administration said this month that the U.S. likely reclaimed the title of world’s biggest oil producer earlier this year by surpassing the output of Saudi Arabia in February and Russia over the summer. If the agency’s estimates are correct, it would mark the first time since 1973 that the U.S. has led the oil-pumping pack.

And that has made the impact of oil prices on the economy a more complicated calculation.

When oil prices tumbled starting in mid-2014, U.S. energy producers cut back on drilling. They cut thousands of jobs and they spent less on rigs, steel pipes and railcars to ship crude to refineries. That softened the bounce that economists expected to see from cheaper oil.

Now, with oil prices rising, energy companies are boosting production, creating an economic stimulus that offsets some of the blow from higher prices on consumers. Oil- and gas-related investment accounted for about 40 percent of the growth in business investment in the April-June quarter this year.

Moody’s Analytics estimates that every penny increase at the pump reduces consumer spending by $1 billion over a year, and gasoline has jumped 24 cents in the past year, according to AAA. That is “a clear-cut negative,” but not deeply damaging, said Ryan Sweet, director of real-time economics at Moody’s.

“Usually with gasoline prices, speed kills — a gradual increase [like the current one], consumers can absorb that,” Sweet said. Consumers have other factors in their favor, he added, including a tight job market, wage growth, better household balance sheets, and the recent tax cut.

Sweet said the boon that higher prices represent to the growing energy sector, which can invest in more wells, equipment and hiring, means that the run-up in crude has probably been “a small but net positive” for the economy.

“That could change if we get up to $3.50, $4,” he said.

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US Official ‘Optimistic’ About Resolving Trade Dispute with China 

The United States is optimistic about finding a way forward in trade talks with China, but no date has yet been determined for further talks between the two countries, according to a senior White House official. 

The official told reporters Friday at the White House that China “must come to the table in a meaningful way” for there to be progress on the trade dispute. 

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said while there is no confirmed meeting between the United States and China, the two countries “remain in touch.”

“The president’s team is all on the same page as to what’s required from China,” according to the official. 

The Trump administration has argued that tariffs on Chinese goods would force China to trade on more favorable terms with the United States.

It has demanded that China better protect American intellectual property, including ending the practice of cybertheft. The Trump administration has also called on China to allow U.S. companies greater access to Chinese markets and to cut its U.S. trade surplus.

Earlier this week, the United States ordered duties on another $200 billion of Chinese goods to go into effect on September 24. China responded by adding $60 billion of U.S. products to its import tariff list.

The United States already has imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated on an equal amount of U.S. goods.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump threatened even more tariffs on Chinese goods — another $267 billion worth of duties that would cover virtually all the goods China imports to the United States.

“That changes the equation,” he told reporters.

China has threatened to retaliate against any potential new tariffs. However, China’s imports from the United States are $200 billion a year less than American imports from China, so it would run out of room to match U.S. sanctions.

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US Official ‘Optimistic’ About Resolving Trade Dispute with China 

The United States is optimistic about finding a way forward in trade talks with China, but no date has yet been determined for further talks between the two countries, according to a senior White House official. 

The official told reporters Friday at the White House that China “must come to the table in a meaningful way” for there to be progress on the trade dispute. 

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said while there is no confirmed meeting between the United States and China, the two countries “remain in touch.”

“The president’s team is all on the same page as to what’s required from China,” according to the official. 

The Trump administration has argued that tariffs on Chinese goods would force China to trade on more favorable terms with the United States.

It has demanded that China better protect American intellectual property, including ending the practice of cybertheft. The Trump administration has also called on China to allow U.S. companies greater access to Chinese markets and to cut its U.S. trade surplus.

Earlier this week, the United States ordered duties on another $200 billion of Chinese goods to go into effect on September 24. China responded by adding $60 billion of U.S. products to its import tariff list.

The United States already has imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated on an equal amount of U.S. goods.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump threatened even more tariffs on Chinese goods — another $267 billion worth of duties that would cover virtually all the goods China imports to the United States.

“That changes the equation,” he told reporters.

China has threatened to retaliate against any potential new tariffs. However, China’s imports from the United States are $200 billion a year less than American imports from China, so it would run out of room to match U.S. sanctions.

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NAFTA Deal Not Yet in Sight, Canada Stands Firm on Auto Tariffs

Canada and the United States showed scant sign on Thursday of closing a deal to revamp NAFTA, and Canadian officials made clear Washington needed to withdraw a threat of possible autos tariffs, sources said.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump wants to be able to agree on a text of the three-nation North American Free Trade Agreement by the end of September, but major differences remain.

“We discussed some tough issues today,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters after meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Freeland, who has visited Washington four weeks in a row to discuss NAFTA, gave no further details.

Market fears over the future of the 1994 pact, which underscores $1.2 trillion in trade, have been regularly hitting stocks in all three nations, whose economies are now highly integrated.

While multiple deadlines have passed during the more than year-long negotiations to renew NAFTA, pressure on Canada to agree to a deal is growing, partly to push it through the U.S. Congress before Mexico’s new government takes office on Dec. 1.

Canada says it does not feel bound by the latest deadline.

Asked whether time was running out, Freeland said her focus was getting a deal that was good for Canadians.

Trump came to power last year vowing to tear up NAFTA unless major changes were made to a pact he blames for the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Trump struck a side-deal on NAFTA with Mexico last month and has threatened to exclude Canada if necessary. He also said he might impose a 25 percent tariff on Canadian autos exports, which would badly hurt the economy.

​Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, who was briefed on the talks by Canada’s negotiating team, said Ottawa insisted that the tariff threat be withdrawn.

“Why would Canada sign a trade agreement with the United States … and then have Donald Trump impose a 25 percent tariff on automobiles?” Dias told reporters.

“That for us is a deal breaker. It doesn’t make a stitch of sense. … We are a small nation, we’re not a stupid nation,” added Dias.

Freeland said she would return to Canada on Thursday ahead of a two-day meeting of female foreign ministers she is co-hosting in Montreal. Early next week she will be in New York for a United Nations session.

Ottawa is under pressure from some sectors to abandon its insistence that a bad NAFTA is worse than no NAFTA.

Jim Wilson, the trade minister of Ontario — Canada’s most populous province and heart of the country’s auto industry — met federal negotiators on Wednesday and tweeted on Thursday, “It is imperative that the feds reach a deal.”

The Globe and Mail newspaper on Thursday reported that U.S. negotiators want Ottawa to agree to capping its auto exports to the United States at 1.7 million vehicles a year, something that Canadian industry sources dismissed as unacceptable.

Separately, a Canadian source directly familiar with the negotiations said, “We have not discussed a cap.”

Reuters and other outlets reported in August that a side letter with Mexico would cap tariff-free or nearly duty-free Mexican imports to the United States at 2.4 million vehicles.

U.S. automakers privately question why the United States would seek to cap Canadian exports to the United States, given that companies are unlikely to expand production in Canada compared with lower-cost Mexico.

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NAFTA Deal Not Yet in Sight, Canada Stands Firm on Auto Tariffs

Canada and the United States showed scant sign on Thursday of closing a deal to revamp NAFTA, and Canadian officials made clear Washington needed to withdraw a threat of possible autos tariffs, sources said.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump wants to be able to agree on a text of the three-nation North American Free Trade Agreement by the end of September, but major differences remain.

“We discussed some tough issues today,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters after meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Freeland, who has visited Washington four weeks in a row to discuss NAFTA, gave no further details.

Market fears over the future of the 1994 pact, which underscores $1.2 trillion in trade, have been regularly hitting stocks in all three nations, whose economies are now highly integrated.

While multiple deadlines have passed during the more than year-long negotiations to renew NAFTA, pressure on Canada to agree to a deal is growing, partly to push it through the U.S. Congress before Mexico’s new government takes office on Dec. 1.

Canada says it does not feel bound by the latest deadline.

Asked whether time was running out, Freeland said her focus was getting a deal that was good for Canadians.

Trump came to power last year vowing to tear up NAFTA unless major changes were made to a pact he blames for the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Trump struck a side-deal on NAFTA with Mexico last month and has threatened to exclude Canada if necessary. He also said he might impose a 25 percent tariff on Canadian autos exports, which would badly hurt the economy.

​Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, who was briefed on the talks by Canada’s negotiating team, said Ottawa insisted that the tariff threat be withdrawn.

“Why would Canada sign a trade agreement with the United States … and then have Donald Trump impose a 25 percent tariff on automobiles?” Dias told reporters.

“That for us is a deal breaker. It doesn’t make a stitch of sense. … We are a small nation, we’re not a stupid nation,” added Dias.

Freeland said she would return to Canada on Thursday ahead of a two-day meeting of female foreign ministers she is co-hosting in Montreal. Early next week she will be in New York for a United Nations session.

Ottawa is under pressure from some sectors to abandon its insistence that a bad NAFTA is worse than no NAFTA.

Jim Wilson, the trade minister of Ontario — Canada’s most populous province and heart of the country’s auto industry — met federal negotiators on Wednesday and tweeted on Thursday, “It is imperative that the feds reach a deal.”

The Globe and Mail newspaper on Thursday reported that U.S. negotiators want Ottawa to agree to capping its auto exports to the United States at 1.7 million vehicles a year, something that Canadian industry sources dismissed as unacceptable.

Separately, a Canadian source directly familiar with the negotiations said, “We have not discussed a cap.”

Reuters and other outlets reported in August that a side letter with Mexico would cap tariff-free or nearly duty-free Mexican imports to the United States at 2.4 million vehicles.

U.S. automakers privately question why the United States would seek to cap Canadian exports to the United States, given that companies are unlikely to expand production in Canada compared with lower-cost Mexico.

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Analysts: Poor Economy, Unemployment Lure Tunisians to Extremism

Seven years after the Arab Spring, little has been done to address youth unemployment in Tunisia, a key factor in extremist groups’ ability to recruit marginalized youth, rights groups and experts warn.

“Someone who is marginalized with nothing to lose, no stability in life, no vision of the future, no hope for change, can become a very easy target for terrorist groups,” Amna Guellali, director of Human Rights Watch’s Tunisia office, told VOA.

The Arab Spring was ignited in Tunisia, in part because of deteriorating economic conditions. A frustrated street vendor set himself on fire outside a local municipal office in Sidi Bouzid to protest repeated harassment from authorities, who often confiscated his goods or fined him for selling without a permit. 

Although economic conditions that force people to eke out a living on society’s margins play a big role in the unrest, Guellali said that unemployment is the central issue in Tunisia.

 “Unemployment stands at 15 percent, rising to 36 percent for Tunisians under 24 years old. Unemployed youths with diplomas are 25 percent, according to the last statistic of 2017,” Guellali added.

The World Bank, which has been helping Tunisia in its development, has also warned that unemployment among young people is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

Economic growth 

The World Bank says Tunisia has made progress in its transition to democracy and good governance practices, compared with other countries in the Middle East, but still grapples with growing its economy and providing economic opportunities. 

Tunisia’s economic growth in the post-Arab Spring era remains weak despite a modest increase in 2017. According to World Bank data, the economy grew by 1.9 percent in 2017 compared with 1.0 percent in 2016. Since the revolution, the economy has been growing by an average 1.5 percent annually, lower than previous years.

“Tunisian youth don’t see improvement; they actually see that the economic conditions have worsened more than the previous regime,” Darine El Hage, a regional program manager at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), told VOA. 

El Hage added that the institute’s field research indicates that Tunisian youth are both frustrated and feel hopeless, with some appreciating the previous government of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali for its relative stability. 

Mohamed Malouche, founder of the Tunisian American Young Professionals organization, agrees. He believes that ordinary Tunisians feel betrayed by the country’s politicians.

“The Tunisian public has been very patient, but they are not seeing that democracy is paying off. They all feel that they have been cheated by politicians,” Malouche said. 

Ripe for extremism

Terror groups such as the Islamic State group and al-Qaida have large numbers of Tunisians among their ranks and are active in various countries in the region.

Youssef Cherif, an independent Tunisian analyst, believes that when young people join militant groups, it is not due to ideological or religious preferences.

“Tunisian youth are trying to find a space where they can feel that they are important and feel a sense of identity and sense of belonging,” Cherif said.

Malouche agrees. “The lack of economic opportunities, the feeling of injustice and the lack of trust in the government institutions force Tunisian youth to take the extremism route,” he said. 

“Tunisia is becoming a fertile ground to extremism recruiters who are taking advantage of vulnerable young men by offering them money and promises,” he added.

Malouche said lack of political representation is also a factor.

“The Tunisian youth are not [seeing] themselves in the political process. They don’t feel that they are truly represented by the current people in power,” he said.

Root causes

Since the toppling of autocrat Ben Ali in 2011, nine Cabinets have been elected, none of which fully addressed high inflation and unemployment.

“The government has not addressed the root causes of the situation. They haven’t adopted comprehensive policies. They only adopted some cosmetic measures,” Human Rights Watch’s Guellali said.

The government is trying to encourage foreign investment, but continued instability has deterred investors, she said. 

Political division

Political differences between President Beji Caid Essebsi and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed further complicate efforts to bring about reforms.

In July, Essebsi urged the prime minister to step down, citing the country’s political and economic problems. Chahed ignored the call.

“A change of government will shake the confidence of Tunisia’s international partners … as economic data will begin to improve by the end of this year [2018],” Chahed told state news agency TAP, responding to the president’s call for his resignation.

The Tunisian government has taken a number of steps to try to address  inflation and unemployment, including efforts to strengthen small businesses in the country and exemption of foreign companies from taxation to encourage more foreign investment. But analysts, like USIP’s El Hage, believe that these solutions are at best easy fixes.

“There are some mobilizations at the level of the government. However, these mobilizations are short-lived and don’t reflect long-term and comprehensive economic reform policy,” El Hage said. 

Some of the information in this report came from Reuters.

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Analysts: Poor Economy, Unemployment Lure Tunisians to Extremism

Seven years after the Arab Spring, little has been done to address youth unemployment in Tunisia, a key factor in extremist groups’ ability to recruit marginalized youth, rights groups and experts warn.

“Someone who is marginalized with nothing to lose, no stability in life, no vision of the future, no hope for change, can become a very easy target for terrorist groups,” Amna Guellali, director of Human Rights Watch’s Tunisia office, told VOA.

The Arab Spring was ignited in Tunisia, in part because of deteriorating economic conditions. A frustrated street vendor set himself on fire outside a local municipal office in Sidi Bouzid to protest repeated harassment from authorities, who often confiscated his goods or fined him for selling without a permit. 

Although economic conditions that force people to eke out a living on society’s margins play a big role in the unrest, Guellali said that unemployment is the central issue in Tunisia.

 “Unemployment stands at 15 percent, rising to 36 percent for Tunisians under 24 years old. Unemployed youths with diplomas are 25 percent, according to the last statistic of 2017,” Guellali added.

The World Bank, which has been helping Tunisia in its development, has also warned that unemployment among young people is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

Economic growth 

The World Bank says Tunisia has made progress in its transition to democracy and good governance practices, compared with other countries in the Middle East, but still grapples with growing its economy and providing economic opportunities. 

Tunisia’s economic growth in the post-Arab Spring era remains weak despite a modest increase in 2017. According to World Bank data, the economy grew by 1.9 percent in 2017 compared with 1.0 percent in 2016. Since the revolution, the economy has been growing by an average 1.5 percent annually, lower than previous years.

“Tunisian youth don’t see improvement; they actually see that the economic conditions have worsened more than the previous regime,” Darine El Hage, a regional program manager at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), told VOA. 

El Hage added that the institute’s field research indicates that Tunisian youth are both frustrated and feel hopeless, with some appreciating the previous government of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali for its relative stability. 

Mohamed Malouche, founder of the Tunisian American Young Professionals organization, agrees. He believes that ordinary Tunisians feel betrayed by the country’s politicians.

“The Tunisian public has been very patient, but they are not seeing that democracy is paying off. They all feel that they have been cheated by politicians,” Malouche said. 

Ripe for extremism

Terror groups such as the Islamic State group and al-Qaida have large numbers of Tunisians among their ranks and are active in various countries in the region.

Youssef Cherif, an independent Tunisian analyst, believes that when young people join militant groups, it is not due to ideological or religious preferences.

“Tunisian youth are trying to find a space where they can feel that they are important and feel a sense of identity and sense of belonging,” Cherif said.

Malouche agrees. “The lack of economic opportunities, the feeling of injustice and the lack of trust in the government institutions force Tunisian youth to take the extremism route,” he said. 

“Tunisia is becoming a fertile ground to extremism recruiters who are taking advantage of vulnerable young men by offering them money and promises,” he added.

Malouche said lack of political representation is also a factor.

“The Tunisian youth are not [seeing] themselves in the political process. They don’t feel that they are truly represented by the current people in power,” he said.

Root causes

Since the toppling of autocrat Ben Ali in 2011, nine Cabinets have been elected, none of which fully addressed high inflation and unemployment.

“The government has not addressed the root causes of the situation. They haven’t adopted comprehensive policies. They only adopted some cosmetic measures,” Human Rights Watch’s Guellali said.

The government is trying to encourage foreign investment, but continued instability has deterred investors, she said. 

Political division

Political differences between President Beji Caid Essebsi and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed further complicate efforts to bring about reforms.

In July, Essebsi urged the prime minister to step down, citing the country’s political and economic problems. Chahed ignored the call.

“A change of government will shake the confidence of Tunisia’s international partners … as economic data will begin to improve by the end of this year [2018],” Chahed told state news agency TAP, responding to the president’s call for his resignation.

The Tunisian government has taken a number of steps to try to address  inflation and unemployment, including efforts to strengthen small businesses in the country and exemption of foreign companies from taxation to encourage more foreign investment. But analysts, like USIP’s El Hage, believe that these solutions are at best easy fixes.

“There are some mobilizations at the level of the government. However, these mobilizations are short-lived and don’t reflect long-term and comprehensive economic reform policy,” El Hage said. 

Some of the information in this report came from Reuters.

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Scrounge for Workers Sees US Jobless Claims Hit 48-Year Low

New U.S. claims for jobless benefits fell for the third week in a row, hitting their lowest level in nearly 49 years for the third straight week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The new figures suggest the U.S. economy’s vigorous job creation continued unabated this month as the data were collected during the survey week for the department’s more closely watched monthly jobs report, due out next week.

Amid a widely reported labor shortage, employers are reluctant to lay off workers who are difficult to replace.

For the week ended September 12, new claims for unemployment insurance fell to 201,000, down 3,000 from the prior week. Economists had instead been expecting a result of 209,000.

The result was the lowest level since November of 1969, whereas the prior week’s level had been the lowest since December 1969.

However, economists say that in reality the levels are likely the lowest ever, given demographic changes in the United States in the past half century.

Claims have now held below the symbolic level of 300,000 for more than 3.5 years, the longest such streak ever recorded.

Though they can see big swings from week to week, jobless claims are an indication of the prevalence of layoffs and the health of jobs markets.

In a decade of economic recovery, the United States has seen uninterrupted job creation, driving the unemployment rate to historical lows.

In light of these trends, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates next week to prevent inflation from rising too quickly.

 

 

 

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Scrounge for Workers Sees US Jobless Claims Hit 48-Year Low

New U.S. claims for jobless benefits fell for the third week in a row, hitting their lowest level in nearly 49 years for the third straight week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The new figures suggest the U.S. economy’s vigorous job creation continued unabated this month as the data were collected during the survey week for the department’s more closely watched monthly jobs report, due out next week.

Amid a widely reported labor shortage, employers are reluctant to lay off workers who are difficult to replace.

For the week ended September 12, new claims for unemployment insurance fell to 201,000, down 3,000 from the prior week. Economists had instead been expecting a result of 209,000.

The result was the lowest level since November of 1969, whereas the prior week’s level had been the lowest since December 1969.

However, economists say that in reality the levels are likely the lowest ever, given demographic changes in the United States in the past half century.

Claims have now held below the symbolic level of 300,000 for more than 3.5 years, the longest such streak ever recorded.

Though they can see big swings from week to week, jobless claims are an indication of the prevalence of layoffs and the health of jobs markets.

In a decade of economic recovery, the United States has seen uninterrupted job creation, driving the unemployment rate to historical lows.

In light of these trends, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates next week to prevent inflation from rising too quickly.

 

 

 

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