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US Unemployment Numbers;

Aired May 7, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re Mr. Baltus` (ph) first year (inaudible) class in Allen (ph), Texas. This is for Teacher Appreciation Week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love Mr. Baltus (ph). He`s a great teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we learn a lot from him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back to you, Carl.


CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Thanks to Mr. Baltus` students for helping kick off Teacher Appreciation Week. Over the next several days, we are going to share some of the iReport videos that you sent in, and we`ll have more on Teacher Appreciation Week in a few minutes.

Right now, though, let`s get to the headlines. First up, we`re looking at the latest national unemployment numbers from the U.S. government. In April, the unemployment rate went down from 8.2 percent to 8.1.

It`s not because that many people got hired. It`s because hundreds of thousands of Americans dropped out of the labor force. If you stop looking for a job, you`re not counted in the unemployment rate. Edgar Treiguts looks at how this could impact this year`s presidential race.


EDGAR TREIGUTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Employment figures are crucial in an election year, and the numbers have not been in the president`s favor. The economy added just 115,000 jobs in April. That`s down from 154,000 in March.

The unemployment rate dropped slightly to 8.1 percent. But that`s only because the number of adults actively looking for work has fallen to the lowest level since 1981. Mitt Romney says the economy should be adding closer to 500,000 jobs a month.

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a sad time in America. When people who want work can`t find jobs --

TREIGUTS (voice-over): The Economic Policy Institute says 300,000 to 400,000 jobs should be added each month for the economy to recover, but President Obama insists the recovery is still alive.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, our businesses have now created more than 4.2 million new jobs over the last 26 months.

TREIGUTS (voice-over): Employment growth began to slow in March after three strong months in the winter. Some economists believe the slowdown is a seasonal adjustment, suggesting warm weather earlier in the year gave the economy an artificial boost. President Obama says next week he`ll urge Congress to come together and take steps to accelerate job growth.

OBAMA: There`s too much at stake for us not to all be rowing in the same direction.

TREIGUTS (voice-over): If the employment figures don`t stay afloat, the president will be paddling against a strong current ahead of the November election. I`m Edgar Treiguts reporting.


AZUZ: The first several months of this year have been focused on the Republican side of that election, through primaries and caucuses we now know that Governor Romney is that party`s presumptive nominee. Now his Democratic opponent has officially launched his campaign.


AZUZ (voice-over): President Obama, running for reelection, kicked off his campaign with rallies in Virginia and Ohio over the weekend. Those are expected to be big battleground state in November`s presidential election. At the events, the president talked about some of his accomplishments since he took office. He pledged to, quote, "finish what we started."

Governor Romney is scheduled to be in Ohio today, working to gather support in that battleground state. His campaign also talked about President Obama`s time in office, describing it as a time of, quote, "broken promises and ineffective leadership."

In Greece, voters cast their ballots yesterday for members of the nation`s parliament. Exit polls showed that the political parties in the coalition that has been in power were probably going to lose a lot of seats in parliament. The polls indicated that many voters were angry with the government`s efforts to cut spending. That`s been happening as Greece tries to get its massive debt crisis under control.

And France is going to have a new president. The man who just went inside that voting booth is Francois Hollande. And the results from yesterday`s runoff election indicate that he beat out Nicolas Sarkozy, who`s been in power since 2007. Hollande will be France`s first left-wing president. He`s a socialist. This means its first politically liberal leader since 1995.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Ms. Lindus` social studies classes at Portland Lutheran High School in Portland, Oregon. Which of these countries has the highest population density? Here we go. Is it China, Germany, Japan or the United States? You`ve got three seconds, go.

Of those countries, Japan has the highest population density with more than 800 people per square mile. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.


AZUZ: One of the challenges Japan`s government is facing is how to get enough electric power to all those people. Up until March of last year, part of the answer was nuclear power. That`s where nearly one-third of Japan`s energy came from.

But that changed after a meltdown at one of the country`s nuclear power plants. Kyung Lah examines the current state of Japan`s energy situation.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a wakeup call, literally, a nighttime visit at the front doorstep of Japan`s prime minister`s residence. Protesters demanding from the top that the world`s third largest economy stay free of nuclear energy.

"Restarting the nuclear reactors is the same as starting a war," says this protestor. "It`s the same as murder." That populist rage boiling more than a year after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, with reactors still spewing lethal radiation, tens of thousands of evacuees near the plant unable to return home, Fukushima is a worst-case scenario, unifying public fear of nuclear energy.

Post-Fukushima, reactors have come offline in Japan one by one. And when they`ve tried to turn them back on, politicians and utilities have faced a true fight from the community. Japan becomes the first major developed economy to see the modern era without any nuclear energy.

That may be easier said than done. Thirty percent of Japan`s energy came from nuclear. So what`s currently keeping the power on? What`s keeping Japanese factories running? Increased imports of foreign fossil fuels at a huge cost to this economy. And the government and corporate Japan is already saying that it won`t be able to keep up the pace this summer when energy demands peak.

A leading ruling party politician bluntly laid out the repercussions. "We must think ahead to the impact on Japan`s economy and people`s lives if all nuclear reactors are stopped," says Yoshito Sengoku.

Japan`s prime minister has promised a clear energy policy some time this year, perhaps this summer, right in the middle of the biggest test of energy any developed economy has ever seen -- Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.


AZUZ: Japan is an industrialized nation. It has several options available for ways to get energy. But what about smaller countries, where everyone doesn`t have easy access to an outlet? Two inventors came up with a unique way to generate energy. We think you might get a kick out of it, because that`s what you`d have to put into it -- a kick. Brooke Baldwin explains what this means.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Kick a soccer ball around, turn on a light.

JULIA SILVERMAN, COFOUNDER, UNCHARTED PLAY: The Soccket is a soccer ball that doubles as a portable generator. When you play with the ball, it harnesses the energy from play.

BALDWIN (voice-over): Created by two Harvard grads, the Soccket provides a power source for people in developing countries, a simple design based upon high school physics.

JESSICA MATTHEWS, COFOUNDER, UNCHARTED PLAY: We essentially have a stripped-down gyroscope inside of the ball that also harnesses the kinetic energy that`s generated when the ball`s rolling. A motor then powers a battery that stores that power. You can power a lamp, a cell phone charger. We`ve been prototyping things like hot plates, water sterilizers.

BALDWIN (voice-over): Thirty minutes of play gives you about three hours of power, depending on the device. The balls are now being donated and distributed by NGOs in places like Mexico and South Africa.

SILVERMAN: It`s, you know, an energy source, but it`s also a source of empowerment. It`s based on a sport that is so loved, and is grounded in this issue of energy, which is so critical to everyone`s lives.



AZUZ (voice-over): We don`t need to tell you what Teacher Appreciation Week is all about. We can tell you it`s all this week, Monday through Friday. And we`re looking to honor educators across the world. On our blog, there`s a post up that asks you to talk about the impact that your favorite teacher has had on your life. Check it out today and comment at


AZUZ: We`re going to wrap things up today with a little leisurely coincidence.


AZUZ (voice-over): Can`t believe all these people decided to walk their dogs at the same place, at the same time. Though not what happened. It`s a pooch parade. Hundreds of hounds and their humans took part in this event in Kansas City over the weekend. A lot of them got dressed up for it, too. They might want to tread lightly around this guy.

The goal was to set a new world record.


AZUZ: They didn`t manage to do that, but at "leash" they gave it a good try, and now they all have a fun "tail" to tell. That`s all the time we have for today. For CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz. Look forward to seeing y`all tomorrow. Bye-bye.