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Boston Methadone Mile latest: Questions arise over new encampments, Tompkins prepares mobile courtroom

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Boston Methadone Mile latest: Questions arise over new encampments, Tompkins prepares mobile courtroom

Mass and Cass plans continue to move forward, with Acting Mayor Kim Janey’s recent moves being generally well-received — albeit with some questions over whether the homeless will just move onto other neighborhoods — and preparations continuing at the Suffolk County jail for a mobile courtroom and treatment space.

The city-run Mass and Cass Task Force met Thursday afternoon — behind closed doors, as usual — in a session that largely consisted of a rundown of Janey’s announcement that all tents must go from earlier in the week, with the possibility for the assembled members to ask questions, per people on the call.

Multiple people on the task force voiced concerns about how to keep the crackdown on tent encampments from simply shuffling the problem from one place to another.

“It’s going to be really important for us to make sure that the encampments suddenly don’t begin popping up in other locations,” Steve Fox of the South End Forum neighborhood group said afterward.

City Councilor Ed Flynn, who’s on the task force, said, “It is critical we do not push this crisis from the Mass and Cass area, to another neighborhood in Boston.”

Sue Sullivan of the Newmarket Business Association, who also was on the call, said she’s optimistic about the new plans, but the plans will require the authorities to be “very vigilant” to disrupt any new tent clusters as soon as there’s any sign of them.

“It’s very, very difficult once they’ve set up and are entrenched,” she said.

Janey rolled out a five-point plan on Tuesday in an attempt to tackle the crisis in the South End, where a dirty and violent open-air drug market has taken hold and worsened. Among her moves is to begin to get people out of tents and into treatment and to go after people committing major crimes there.

Sullivan said she thinks it’s already having a positive effect. Her organization pays homeless to do cleanup work, and three men who regularly do the work for her told her Thursday that these changes will prompt them to leave.

“They said to me, ‘I gotta get out of here — I’ve got to go into treatment,’” she said. “‘I’ve got to get to a better place.’”

Janey and company presented the plan on Wednesday in what have become the weekly occurrences of high-powered meetings of decision-makers — a room with her, Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins, Suffolk Sheriff Steve Tompkins and representatives from the courts and public defenders offices.

Tompkins said he’s “guardedly optimistic” about all this because it seems “that the city and the state will wrap their arms around this” and make it work.

Tompkins has been advancing his own plan to house some people at a now-vacant building on his South Bay jail campus right near Mass and Cass, and he said that continues, though there hasn’t been a firm decision to send people there. He also said he’s working on setting up a “mobile courtroom” so people with warrants can get them disposed of there, and either go to jail, go to this new mandated treatment area or home, as the court decides.

“We are preparing as if this is going to happen” by the middle of November, Tompkins said.

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U.S. employers added a sluggish 210,000 jobs in November

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U.S. employers added a sluggish 210,000 jobs in November

WASHINGTON — America’s employers slowed the pace of their hiring in November, adding 210,000 jobs, the lowest monthly gain in nearly a year.

But Friday’s report from the Labor Department also showed that the nation’s unemployment rate tumbled from 4.6% to 4.2% evidence that many more people reported that they had a job. That is a historically low jobless rate though still above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5%.

Overall, the November jobs figures point to a job market and an economic recovery that look resilient though under threat from a spike in inflation, shortages of workers and supplies and the potential impact of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

For months, employers have been struggling with worker shortages because many people who lost jobs in the pandemic have not, for various reasons, returned to the workforce. But last month, more Americans came off the sidelines to look for jobs and were generally hired quickly.

That positive trend suggests that November was a healthier month for job growth than the modest 210,000 gain the government reported Friday in its survey of businesses. The unemployment rate is calculated from a separate survey of households. This survey found that a much larger 1.1 million more people reported that they were employed last month. The results of the two surveys typically match up over the long run but sometimes diverge sharply in a given month, as they did in November.

The survey of households found that the number of unemployed Americans sank in November to 6.9 million, not far above the pre-pandemic number of 5.7 million. And average wages, which have been rising as employers try to attract or keep workers, increased a strong 4.8% from a year ago.

The government’s survey of businesses showed a slowdown last month in hiring at restaurants, bars and hotels, which added just 23,000 jobs, down from 170,000 in October. That could reflect the effects of an uptick in COVID-19 cases last month and a reduction in outdoor dining.

Retailers cut 20,000 jobs, a sign that holiday hiring hasn’t been as strong as in previous years. But transportation and warehousing firms added 50,000 positions, which indicates that online retailers and shippers anticipate healthy online shopping.

The jobs outlook for the coming months has become hazier with the emergence of the omicron variant. Little is definitively known about omicron, and widespread business shutdowns are considered unlikely. Still, omicron could discourage some Americans from traveling, shopping and eating out in the coming months and potentially slow the economy.

For now, though, Americans are spending freely, and the economy is forecast to expand at a 7% annual rate in the final three months of the year, a big rebound from the 2.1% pace in the previous quarter, when the delta variant hobbled growth.

Nearly 600,000 people joined the workforce last month, increasing the proportion of Americans who are either working or looking for work. If that much-anticipated development continues, it could point to stronger job growth ahead.

The proportion of Americans who are in the workforce rose from 61.6% to 61.8%, the first significant increase since April.

Even as the jobless rate has steadily declined this year, the proportion of Americans who are working or looking for work has barely budged. A shortage of job-seekers tends to limit hiring and force companies to pay more to attract and keep employees. Higher pay can help sustain spending and growth. But it can also feed inflation if businesses raise prices to offset their higher labor costs, which they often do.

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MSP Airport gets $12 million from FAA to build fire and rescue aircraft facility

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MSP Airport gets $12 million from FAA to build fire and rescue aircraft facility

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has been awarded a $12 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to build a facility to house fire and rescue aircraft, officials announced Friday.

The award, which follows a busy wildfire season in Minnesota, will help MSP meet FAA safety requirements and is just the beginning of a larger project to build out an emergency operations center to house airport firefighting, police and 911 dispatch departments, according to a news release issued by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith.

“Investments in our airports serve as down payments on the long-term economic well-being of our state and country by boosting the tourism industry, creating jobs, and making it possible for people to travel to see family and friends,” Klobuchar said in the news release. “After unprecedented wildfires in our state this summer, constructing a new aircraft rescue and fire fighting station is critical to supporting the airport’s infrastructure and ensuring the safety of all residents and visitors.”

The FAA also awarded more than $200,000 to six airports in northeastern Minnesota, including Duluth and Cloquet.

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Ravens vs. Steelers staff picks: Who will win Sunday’s Week 13 game in Pittsburgh?

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Ravens vs. Steelers staff picks: Who will win Sunday’s Week 13 game in Pittsburgh?

Here’s how The Baltimore Sun sports staff views the outcome of Sunday afternoon’s Week 13 game between the Ravens (8-3) and Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5-1) at Heinz Field:

Jonas Shaffer, reporter

Ravens 27, Steelers 20: Heinz Field is not the fortress it has been in years past. The Cincinnati Bengals and Las Vegas Raiders won handily in Pittsburgh, and the Detroit Lions got a tie. Lamar Jackson and Ben Roethlisberger both need bounce-back games, but the Ravens’ line is far more trustworthy at this point, and their are receivers arguably more talented. If T.J. Watt can’t play Sunday, the spine of this slumping Steelers defense gets even weaker.

Mike Preston, columnist

Ravens 24, Steelers 17: This used to be a hard-hitting rivalry, but let’s just call it a rivalry now. Both teams used to rely on defense, but that’s not the case anymore. Regardless, the Ravens have quarterback Lamar Jackson, who will make more plays than his counterpart, veteran Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers can’t throw deep and can’t rush the passer. If the Ravens can pound the football, this game could be a blowout in Baltimore’s favor.

Childs Walker, reporter

Ravens 30, Steelers 20: The Ravens have not lit the NFL world on fire in recent weeks, but they have rarely entered a game against the Steelers with so many matchup advantages. They will look to grind out long drives against a surprisingly fallible Pittsburgh defense and limit Ben Roethlisberger to underneath strikes. Lamar Jackson cannot be as bad as he was in Week 12, and if he plays well against a front seven that might be without T.J. Watt, the Ravens could roll.

Ryan McFadden, reporter

Ravens 24, Steelers 14: I can’t imagine Lamar Jackson will be as bad as he was against the Browns. Jackson and the running game have a chance to take advantage of the Steelers’ defense if star pass rusher T.J. Watt is unable to play. Time has officially caught up to Ben Roethlisberger, so the Ravens’ defense won’t have to worry about too many big plays down the field.

C.J. Doon, editor

Steelers 21, Ravens 20: Call this a gut feeling, and nothing more. The Ravens are lucky to be 8-3. How else do you explain winning on an NFL-record 66-yard field goal as time expires or beating an AFC North rival despite throwing four interceptions? Division matchups are often a great equalizer, and the Steelers are a proud team coming off a humiliating loss to the Bengals. The Ravens have advantages across the board, but you know the old saying about rivalry games and record books. Lamar Jackson is just 2-2 in his career against Pittsburgh with a 59.2 passer rating, by far his worst against any opponent. Coach Mike Tomlin somehow finds a way to beat John Harbaugh in their 30th meeting.

Tim Schwartz, editor

Ravens 24, Steelers 14: The Ravens are bit of a mess offensively right now, but they’re heading into a favorable matchup with a Steelers defense that gave up 34 points to the Bengals and allowed Joe Mixon to run for 165 yards and Tee Higgins to finish with 114 receiving yards. This isn’t the Steelers from yesteryear, and without outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who is on the COVID-19/reserve list, is there anything there that keeps the Ravens up at night? There’s always a chance Ben Roethlisberger turns back the clock and has a big game, but I think it’s more likely Baltimore’s defense continues its trend and has a dominant performance while Lamar Jackson and Co. figure things out.

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