By Brian Winter SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Popular environmentalist Marina Silva looks capable of winning Brazil's presidential election in October but a major campaign gaffe and mounting attacks from other candidates and the media suggest the race is still wide open. Polls have shown Silva with a lead of about 10 percentage points over President Dilma Rousseff if the Oct. 5 election goes to a runoff, as seems likely. Silva's meteoric rise has led Brazilian stocks to rally 10 percent in the last three weeks on hopes she would be more business-friendly than Rousseff and help stir a stagnant economy.
This afternoon, Labor Secretary Tom Perez sent the message below to the White House email list, asking people to add their name in support of raising the federal minimum wage.
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Hi, everyone --
This Labor Day, I'm thinking about Austraberta.
I had breakfast at Austraberta Rodriguez's home in Houston two weeks ago. She's worked as a janitor for more than 30 years, and for most of that time, her wages put her below the poverty level. Every cent she's earned has gone toward providing the basics for her children and grandchildren. Today, she's still earning the minimum wage -- which, in Texas, is just $7.25 an hour.
Austraberta told me over breakfast that a national minimum wage increase would mean more bread for her family. She said a few more dollars an hour would be "incredible." That raise wouldn't just go toward making Austraberta's life a little better. It would improve the odds for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren too.
Austraberta's struggle is our struggle. On Labor Day, we celebrate all workers nationwide who contribute to our strength and prosperity. Because whether you made the burger or someone served it to you, whether you're driving the bus or riding on it, whether you're sweeping the floor or working in the clean office, you have a part to play.
So today, if you're ready for a country that does right by Austraberta and the nearly 28 million Americans who stand to benefit from a $10.10 minimum wage, then honor them by adding your name here.
The recent labor market data have been encouraging. Businesses have now added nearly 10 million jobs over 53 straight months of job growth, the longest streak on record. Total job gains have exceeded 200,000 in each of the last six months, the first time that has happened since 1997. And the unemployment rate has fallen rapidly since mid-2013 to reach 6.2 percent in July, 1.1 percentage point less than a year ago.
Of particular note, much of the decline in the unemployment rate has come as a result of declines in long-term unemployment. In fact, falling long-term unemployment accounts for more than 60 percent of the drop in the overall unemployment rate in the last 12 months. This is a disproportionately large share given that one-third of the jobless are long-term unemployed.
The long-term unemployment rate has been cut by more than half from a peak of 4.4 percent in April 2010 — the highest ever recorded — to 2.0 percent in July 2014. Of that 2.4 percentage point decline, 0.7 percentage point has happened since last July, an even larger decline than seen with the short-term unemployment rate. Nevertheless, because the long-term unemployment rate more than quadrupled as a result of the recession, the declines seen recently are still not yet sufficient to return long-term unemployment to pre-recession levels.