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Union jobs in private sector plummet in city

NEW YORK — New York City may have regained all of the jobs it lost during the recession, but its labor unions have not and the steep decline in the past several years may signal a lasting erosion of one of the few remaining bastions of union power, according to the authors of a report to be released this week.

The number of city residents with union jobs in the private sector has dropped nearly 20 percent since the recession started in 2008, the report by scholars at the City University of New York shows. That amounts to a loss of about 95,000 union jobs and a decline twice as steep as that for the rest of the nation, said Ruth Milkman, a sociology professor who wrote the report with Laura Braslow.

“This is a big decrease” and it is not likely to turn around anytime soon, Milkman said. Indeed, as the city’s private sector has added jobs at a healthy rate for much of the past two years, the number of union jobs in the pubic sector rose but private-sector unions did not rebound, she said.

Their study coincided with another report from the Fiscal Policy Institute that found that most of the jobs that have been created in the city during the economic recovery have been in industries that tend to pay low wages, including restaurants, retail stores and home health care.

—Patrick Mcgeehan, The New York Times

With Obama ad, candidates spar over the middle class

As Democrats open their convention week in Charlotte, N.C., the Obama campaign has a new advertisement that doubles down on the president’s charges that Mitt Romney’s tax policies would harm the middle class.

“The middle class is carrying a heavy load in America,” a narrator says in the commercial as images of a forlorn-looking mother and a worker in a hard hat appear on the screen.

“But Mitt Romney doesn’t see it,” the narrator says, adding, “So Romney hits the middle class harder and gives millionaires an even bigger break. Is that the way forward for America?”

The ad repeats the claim that Romney’s economic plans would result in a tax increase for middle-class families while lowering taxes on people in the highest income brackets. A study by the left-leaning Brookings Institution found that to be the case.

The Romney campaign has sought to discredit that study, pointing out that its author served on the president’s Council of Economic Advisers.

“The middle class has been crushed under President Obama, but he doesn’t seem to get it,” said a Romney campaign spokeswoman, Amanda Henneberg.

—Jeremy W. Peters, The New York Times

iPhone announcement has Apple rivals jostling for spotlight

Back when Apple was an underdog, it had an easier time shrouding its product announcements in mystery and perhaps catching its competitors off guard. But now tech companies are watching every one of Apple’s moves — and scrambling to get out in front of them.

Several major tech companies are cramming product announcements into this holiday-shortened workweek. Nokia and Motorola Mobility, former leaders in the mobile race who are now also-rans, have scheduled events for Wednesday at which they are likely to unveil new smartphones. And the next day, Amazon is expected to introduce new Kindle devices.

Sony and Samsung, among others, got a jump on things last week with announcements of new tablets and phones at a consumer electronics conference in Berlin.

But next week, the tech event calendar is largely blank — with the exception of an Apple news conference that is said to be scheduled for Sept. 12, where the company will reveal its latest iPhone, according to a person briefed on the company’s plans, who declined to be named because those plans had not yet been made public.

—Brian X. Chen and Nick Wingfield, The New York Times

Obama takes a detour to visit hurricane site

KENNER, La. — President Barack Obama took a short detour from campaigning Monday to inspect the damage wrought by Hurricane Isaac last week and the government response, a stop that took on outsized political overtones in this campaign season.

His visit, after a Labor Day rally with union supporters in Toledo, Ohio, came three days after Mitt Romney toured the Louisiana coast Friday a day after accepting his party’s nomination in Tampa, Fla. Obama’s timing was decided in consultation with local officials, White House aides said, to avoid the presidential entourage getting in the way of the cleanup.

Even as both parties jousted about their respective responses to natural disasters, Obama sounded a nonpartisan note in remarks to reporters after his tour and discussions with officials and residents.

“When disasters like this happen, we set aside whatever petty disagreements we may have,” Obama said. “Nobody’s a Democrat or Republican. We’re all just Americans looking out for each other.”

—Jackie Calmes, The New York Times