Hot on the heels of news that the U.S. grew at a decent 4 percent annualized clip in the second quarter of 2014 comes news of strong job growth, too.
The U.S. economy added a decent 218,000 jobs in July according to a survey by the private firm ADP. That may have been down on the 281,000 added in June, but it still indicates that the economic recovery remains robust.
The job gains were across multiple industries. Construction added 12,000 workers. Retail, shipping, and utilities gained 52,000. Professional and business services gained 61,000. Manufacturing was the weakest sector, adding just 3,000 jobs.
"It feels to me like the job market is humming," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, told the Houston Chronicle.
That sounds about right. If the official government jobs numbers, due Friday, match up to ADP's figures, we could see a drop in unemployment to just 6 percent. While that isn't as low as the Federal Reserve would like to see — Janet Yellen is targeting an unemployment rate below 5.5 percent — it would be much closer to that level than the 9.9 percent unemployment seen in the depths of the recession in 2009. John Aziz
Conventional wisdom says the 2016 presidential race is about personality. Is Donald Trump too offensive? Is Hillary Clinton too imperious? Would voters like to have a beer with them? Does either of them have any idea what a beer costs? I mean, it's one beer — what could it cost? Ten dollars?
But a new study by Martin Wattenberg, a political scientist at the University of California at Irvine, finds voters are increasingly uninterested in matters of personality. Instead, partisanship and policy are the primary determining factors for candidate selection in the United States today.
As Wattenberg explains at The Washington Post, "over the last 60 years, presidential candidates’ personal attributes have actually become less important to voters and less correlated with election outcomes." In 1952, for instance, eight in 10 Americans described personal qualities (like character, appearance, and personal history) when discussing why they liked their candidate. That personal interest has steadily declined up through 2012, the most recent year of available data, when only six in 10 offered similar answers to the same question.
To the extent that voters care about personal qualities today, their perception is heavily colored by partisanship. "In our increasingly polarized politics, people have come to hold more black-and-white views of the candidates," Wattenberg says, "and judge personal character through the lens of political bias." Bonnie Kristian
After an awkward gaffe during an MSNBC townhall event Wednesday, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson has gotten some good news from Michigan. The Detroit News on Thursday gave Johnson its endorsement for president, a big break from 143 years of backing only Republican candidates.
"Since its founding in 1873," the editorial board explained, the paper "has backed a Republican every time it has made a presidential endorsement." But in 2016, "We abandon that long and estimable tradition this year for one reason: Donald J. Trump."
While critiquing Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the endorsement essay also devotes considerable space to highlighting Johnson's own merits. "We recognize the Libertarian candidate is the longest of long shots with an electorate that has been conditioned to believe only Republicans and Democrats can win major offices," the paper admits. "But this is an endorsement of conscience, reflecting our confidence that Johnson would be a competent and capable president and an honorable one." Bonnie Kristian
The average cost of health coverage for an employer-provided family plan rose to $18,142 in 2016, up 3 percent from the previous year's $17,545 annual premium cost. Employees paid 30 percent of the premiums this year, The Wall Street Journal reports, up from 29 percent in 2015.
Analysts said that this slow growth in coverage costs was partly the result of companies continuing to shift workers into high-deductible plans, a strategy that typically keeps premium costs low. This year 29 percent of covered workers had health plans with higher deductibles, up from 24 percent last year. And in a historic first, more than half of covered workers had a $1,000 deductible for a single-person plan this year; the share of covered workers paying that much was just 46 percent last year.
Here's the bad news: Cartoon Network's beloved animated television series Adventure Time is coming to an end. The good news: The ninth season, currently in production, will be completed, which means you still get to enjoy new episodes through 2018.
"Adventure Time changed the definition of what a kids' TV series could be, and it's had a resounding impact upon popular culture around the world," the chief content officer for Cartoon Network, Rob Sorcher, told The Hollywood Reporter.
The show's creator, Pendleton Ward, added: "Adventure Time was a passion project for the people on the crew who poured their heart into the art and stories. We tried to put into every episode something genuine and telling from our lives, and make a show that was personal to us, and that had jokes too! I'm really happy that it connected with an audience for so long. It's a special thing, I think."
The show first debuted in 2010, and found a cult following among millions of fans. It went on to win six Emmys. By the end of its final season, Adventure Time will boast 142 half-hour episodes in all. Jeva Lange
The voice actor for Futurama's Zapp Brannigan, Billy West, doesn't have to do much more than simply read parts of Donald Trump's presidential debate remarks verbatim for them to suddenly sound hilarious and absurd:
Zapp presents Donald J Trump quotations from the presidential debate. pic.twitter.com/z7aIQD2adO
— Billy West (@TheBillyWest) September 28, 2016
Zapp presents: Presidential Debate Quotes from Donald J Trump! pic.twitter.com/a9R1wFmbIl
— Billy West (@TheBillyWest) September 28, 2016
It just goes to show — sometimes the jokes really do just write themselves. Jeva Lange
Megyn Kelly knows a thing or two about what it is like to be on the receiving end of Donald Trump's misogynistic comments about women, and she certainly wasn't letting his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, off the hook about her candidate's sexist history Wednesday night.
"You raised the question about, he made a couple comments over 25 years," Kelly said. "You know that's not true. You know. You know he has repeatedly made comments about women, about their looks, about their size, their weight. Even in this campaign, talking about Carly Fiorina's face, retweeting a negative picture about Heidi Cruz's face, criticizing Hillary Clinton and her 'look.' And Kellyanne, this is an issue for him, is it not?"
As Conway attempted to respond, criticizing Hillary Clinton for latching onto the issue, Kelly again grew frustrated. "[It's] because she's killing him with women," Kelly interrupts. "And she sees an advantage there and she's trying to exploit it. And my question to you is whether [Trump] needs to come up with a better answer than telling Fox & Friends, 'Well [Alicia Machado] gained a bunch of weight when she won Miss Universe and she was a real problem."
It's a merciless interrogation, and one in which Conway is clearly stumbling to keep up. Watch the takedown, below. Jeva Lange
A New Jersey Transit commuter train crashed Thursday morning at a station in Hoboken, New Jersey. More than 100 people are injured, with many in critical condition; at least one person is confirmed dead.
"I got off my train on the way into work and as I was walking through the station, we could see that a train had come through the place where it's supposed to stop, all the way into the station — not into the waiting room but into the outdoor part," said Nancy Solomon of New York radio station WNYC. Photographs of the crash show significant damage to the station, including a partial collapse of the roof.
My train just ran full force into Hoboken Station. pic.twitter.com/iumbXaXGvq
— jaydanahy (@jaydanahy) September 29, 2016
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) September 29, 2016
— ABC News (@ABC) September 29, 2016
The crash happened at the height of the morning commute, around 8:30 a.m., though the number and severity of injuries is still unclear.
This post has been updated throughout. Jeva Lange