Union workers were not satisfied with contract negotiations and walked off the job at a plant in Joliet….Comments »
With all of the talk by the Obama administration of the number of jobs they’ve created, I was surprised by the actual numbers:
Manufacturing has recovered only 21 percent of jobs losses, financial services 11 percent, retail and wholesale trade 25 percent, with construction faring the worst in the private sector, recovering only 1.1 percent of the 1.95 million job lost during the housing bust led recession.
Read the rest and see the charts here.Comments »
“Jobless Americans are using increased tourism as a pathway back to employment, finding jobs at hotels and motels as those facilities step up hiring to meet growing demand.
“With more people on the road, we’ll need more people working in hotels,” said Jan Freitag, a senior vice president at Smith Travel Research Inc. He cited a 4.1 percent increase in first-quarter hotel bookings from a year ago as a “very positive sign” that U.S. tourism is rebounding….”Comments »
“Surging unemployment rates from Spain to Italy and Greece are threatening efforts to quell the region’s debt crisis and keeping bond yields close to record premiums relative to benchmark German bunds.
Joblessness is soaring as European nations reduce spending, igniting strikes and protests fromAthens to Madrid. Unemployment in Spain surged to almost 24 percent, pushing the euro-region level to 10.8 percent in February, the highest in more than 14 years. Italy’s rate is at 9.3 percent, the most since 2001, hampering efforts to spur economic growth.
Deepening recessions in Italy and Spain contributed to a five-week slide in Italian and Spanish bonds as the shrinking tax base helped lead to both countries raising their deficit targets. The yield premium investors demand to hold Spanish 10- year debt over German bunds reached a four-and-a-half-month high this week.
“The higher the jobless rate, the more that has to be spent on benefits, creating the potential for a negative spiral,” saidChristian Schulz, an economist at Berenberg Bank in London and a former ECB official.
Berenberg Bank predicts euro-region unemployment will peak at 11.5 percent in September, he said….”Comments »
“WASHINGTON (AP) — Thousands of U.S. job hunters are losing out because employers use faulty background-check data drawn from shoddy records, consumer advocates say in a new report.
Those advocates want the government to make sure people know what information prospective employers see, so that errors can be corrected and abusive companies can be held responsible.
Use of criminal-background data is exploding as the economy struggles back from the worst job crisis in decades, the National Consumer Law Center says in the report, which is being released Wednesday. To meet surging demand, countless dubious companies have sprouted up, it says.
“It’s the Wild West for background-screening report companies,” says Persis Yu, lead writer of the report. “They’re generating billions in revenue, but they have little or no accountability.”
Nearly three-fourths of companies conduct criminal background checks for some job applicants, according to a 2010 study by the Society for Human Resource Management. They buy criminal-background data from providers of all sizes, including national names like Lexis-Nexis as well as upstarts that could include “anyone with a computer, an Internet connection and access to records,” the report says.
Data providers obtain information from online public records, private vendors, jails and police blotters, it says. Sloppy handling of that data can cause a search on one person to turn up a rap sheet about someone with a similar name, for example.
Other common errors include displaying criminal records that were supposed to be sealed or wiped clean, misclassifying minor offenses as major crimes and listing charges that have been dismissed, the report says.
The information is more widely available in part because local law-enforcement agencies are selling it to raise money, the group says. It says some data providers refuse to correct errors even when people can document inaccuracies.
That’s not an option for many people, Yu said, because employers often ignore laws requiring them to let people correct any false, negative information before making a hiring decision.
“It’s a source of confusion for many employers,” she said, and the law is hard to enforce because it’s impossible to know why a person’s job application was rejected.
Further muddying the picture, data providers aren’t registered with the government, so it’s impossible to get a full picture of the industry, Yu said.
The report is the first in-depth survey of consumer abuse by private companies that sell dodgy dossiers. Many of the issues it explores were first described last year in an investigation by The Associated Press.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has the authority to write rules governing data companies under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the law governing credit-report companies, the report says. Advocates want the agency to make data providers update their records annually, prohibit matches based only on name and take other steps aimed at making them more accurate.
The CFPB has proposed adding credit-report companies to the list of companies it will supervise closely. It has not discussed regulating consumer-data providers.
NCLC also wants the Federal Trade Commission to investigate data providers and employers to make sure they are complying with FCRA.”Comments »
“WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers posted slightly more job openings in February, suggesting that modest hiring gains will continue in coming months.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that employers advertised 3.5 million job openings in February. That was a slight increase from a revised 3.48 million in January but still below the three-year high of 3.54 million in December.
The fact that job openings remained steady in February suggests that the disappointing March jobsreport issued last week could be a temporary bump. It usually takes one to three months for employers to fill openings.
Employers added 120,000 jobs in March — half the average from the previous three months. Theunemployment rate fell from 8.3 percent to 8.2 percent in March, though that was mostly because people gave up looking for work. People who are out of work but not looking for jobs aren’t counted among the unemployed.
Many economists downplayed the weak March figures, noting that a warmer winter may have led to some earlier hiring in January and February.
There is still heavy competition for each available opening. With 12.8 million people unemployed, there are on average 3.7 people out of work for each open position. That’s much better than the nearly 7-to-1 ratio that existed in July 2009, just after the recession ended. But it’s worse than the 2-to-1 ratio that is more common in a healthy economy.
Tuesday’s report, known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTs, showed that more people quit their jobs and companies stepped up hiring in February…”Comments »
In March, the unemployment rate dropped from 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent. But that wasn’t because the economy added an enormous number of jobs.
Rather, as Sarah Kliff pointed out, it was largely due to the fact that 164,000 fewer people were actively looking for work — and they don’t count in the unemployment tallies. That raises the perennial question: Where did all these people go?
The Atlantic’s Matthew O’Brien passes along some handy survey data from Barclays that sheds a little light on this mystery. About 35 percent of the people who have dropped out of the labor force since the recession began in 2007 do want a job, but they’ve become too discouraged to fire off resumes. That’s not good. The other 65 percent are people who have left the labor force and don’t want a job. Some of them are young and perhaps decided to go back to school. But the biggest chunk, by far, seems to be composed of Baby Boomers who have decided to retire early.
Read the rest here.Comments »
“Employers in the U.S. added fewer jobs than forecast in March, underscoring Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s concern that recent gains may not be sustained without a pickup in growth.
The 120,000 increase in payrolls, the fewest in five months, followed a revised 240,000 gain in February that was bigger than first estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The March increase was less than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg News survey in which the median estimate called for a 205,000 rise. Unemployment fell to 8.2 percent, the lowest since January 2009, from 8.3 percent.
Faster employment growth that leads to bigger wage gains is necessary to propel consumer spending that accounts for about 70 percent of the economy. Today’s data showed Americans worked fewer hours and earned less on average per week, helping explain why policy makers say interest ratesmay need to stay low at least through late 2014.
“You’re going to see a slowing in the pace of job growth,” Neil Dutta, an economist at Bank of America Corp. in New York, said before the report. “Despite the much ballyhooed recovery in the labor market, we’ve seen more jobs and yet disposable income is weaker.”
Stock-index futures declined after the figures, with the contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in June falling 0.8 percent to 1,379 at 8:33 a.m. in New York. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.10 percent from 2.18 percent.
Payroll estimates from 80 economists in the Bloomberg survey ranged from increases of 175,000 to 250,000 after an initially estimated 227,000 gain the prior month. Revisions added a total of 4,000 jobs to payrolls in January and February.
Fewer Retail Jobs
The March data showed a 34,000 decrease in retail employment, the biggest decline since October 2009.
The unemployment rate, derived from a separate survey of households, was forecast to hold at 8.3 percent, according to the survey median.
The jobless rate dropped as unemployed workers stopped looking for work and left the labor force. The participation rate, which indicates the share of working-age people in the labor force, fell to 63.8 percent from 63.9 percent.
While a 0.9 percentage-point drop in unemployment since August may underpin PresidentBarack Obama’s standing leading up to the vote in November, only one president since World War II – – Ronald Reagan — has been re-elected with a jobless rate above 6 percent. Reagan won a second term in 1984 with 7.2 percent unemployment in the month of the election, after the rate had fallen almost three percentage points in the previous 18 months.
Private payrolls, which exclude government agencies, rose 121,000 in March after a gain of 233,000 the prior month. They were projected to climb by 215,000. Manufacturing payrolls increased by 37,000 after a 31,000 gain.
Strengthening demand is prompting companies like Ford Motor Co. (F), the second-biggest U.S. automaker, to bring in more workers. The Dearborn, Michigan-based manufacturer boosted its 2012 sales forecast to 14.5 million to 15 million vehicles from a previous projection of 13.5 million to 14.5 million.
“We’ve already announced some shift increases, some adds in terms of shifts this year,” Erich Merkle, sales analyst at Ford, said April 3 on a conference call with analysts. “So, certainly we’ll be adding some people to fill those shifts.”
Employment at service-providers increased 89,000 after a 211,000 gain in February. Professional and business service payrolls rose 31,000 last month, even as temporary hiring declined 7,500.
“We see modest growth inside the U.S. and demand for labor,” Carl Camden, president and chief executive officer of Kelly Services Inc. (KELYA), a Troy, Michigan-based staffing agency, said March 12 during a conference. The expansion is “a nice steady, not robust, not rock-and-roll, but a steady recovery, capable of producing a steady stream of jobs.”
At the Western Area Career and Technology Center in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, about 25 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, the job placement rate is 94 percent.
Some companies in the region, home to an energy boom related to shale gas drilling, are starting to compete for workers, Joseph Iannetti, the school’s director said April 4. Enrollment at the campus in Canonsburg, typically less than 400 students, is 430 this year, he said.
“We’re about to go into a really nice labor shortage here,” he said. “We’re seeing increasing demand for people with skill.”
Matt Stuckey, 42, sought work for several months in 2011. In February, the former U.S. Marine officer became a marketing director for the United Services Automobile Association, a San Antonio, Texas-based provider of financial services to military personnel.
“During the fourth quarter of last year it was very quiet,” he said in a March 27 telephone interview. “Then at the beginning of the year the job market just turned on.”
The Commerce Department last week said the economy expanded at a 3 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter after a 1.8 percent rate in the prior three months. Gross domestic product grew at a 2 percent pace in the first quarter, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists last month.
Today’s report also showed construction companies reduced payrolls by 7,000 workers last month after a 6,000 decrease. Government payrolls fell 1,000 in March.
Average weekly earnings fell to $806.96 in March from $807.56, today’s report showed. The average work week for all workers decreased to 34.5 hours from 34.6.
Wage increases are needed to help Americans weather gasoline prices that have increased by 66 cents this year through April 4, to $3.94 a gallon, according to data from AAA, the nation’s largest auto club.
The so-called underemployment rate, which includes part- time workers who’d prefer a full-time position and people who want work but have given up looking, decreased to 14.5 percent from 14.9 percent.
Bernanke, in a speech to economists on March 26, said the employment gains have been a “welcome development. Still, conditions remain far from normal, as shown, for example, by the high level of long-term unemployment and the fact that jobs and hours worked remain well below pre-crisis peaks.”
“We cannot yet be sure that the recent pace of improvement in the labor market will be sustained,” Bernanke said, adding he was particularly concerned about the number people out of work for six months or longer.
The report also showed a decrease in long-term unemployed Americans. The number of people unemployed for 27 weeks or more eased as a percentage of all jobless, to 42.5 percent from 42.6 percent.”Comments »
Mark L. Morze knows a good investment opportunity when he sees one, but he hasn’t pursued his fortunes quite the way the rest of us have. Morze, 61, hung his hat for 4 1/2 years at federal prisons in Lompoc and Boron, California, after pleading guilty to two counts of fraud for cooking the books at the infamous carpet-cleaning company ZZZZ Best (ZBSTQ) in the 1980s.
He says he’s baffled that President Barack Obama plans to sign a law tomorrow that amounts to an open invitation for fraud. “I wish legislators would consult with people like me before they write something like this,” he says, sounding dead serious about the offer. “I could tell them, ‘I know what your intent was with this wording, but we can get around it so easily, it cracks me up.”’
I’m sure the last thing U.S. lawmakers were looking for in their zealous bipartisan push for the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act was the inconvenient feedback of a seasoned investment fraudster — albeit one who says he’s rehabilitated and now lectures on the techniques scammers use. Though the JOBS Act was packaged as a plan to streamline rules to help small companies crank out jobs, even its cheerleaders have come up with scant evidence the law will boost employment much, if at all. In an election year when pragmatic politicians are laboring to come off as allies of deep-pocketed business donors, the JOBS Act is a slapdash attempt at securities-law deregulation, plain and simple.
Read the rest here.Comments »
“BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Unemployment in the euro zone reached its highest level in almost 15 years in February, with more than 17 million people out of work, and economists said they expected job office queues to grow even longer later this year.
Joblessness in the 17-nation currency zone rose to 10.8 percent – in line with a Reuters poll of economists – and 0.1 points worse than in January, Eurostat said on Monday.
“We expect it to go higher, to reach 11 percent by the end of the year,” said Raphael Brun-Aguerre, aneconomist at JP Morgan in London. “You have public sector job cuts, income going down, weak consumption. The economic growth outlook is negative and is going to worsen unemployment.”
February’s level – last hit in June 1997 – marked the 10th straight monthly rise and contrasts sharply with the United States where the economy has been adding jobs since late last year….”Comments »
“The jobless rate in the U.S. could drop to as low as 6 percent by the first half of 2013, a bigger decrease than most economists currently project, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The relationship between the number of Americans newly unemployed and those recently finding work indicates joblessness will continue to decline, according to economist Aysegul Sahin. The jobless rate held at a three-year low of 8.3 percent last month after falling by 0.8 percentage point in the year ended January, according to figures from the Labor Department.
“Simulations based on historical patterns suggest that the fall in the unemployment rate could be quicker than many forecasters predict,” Sahin wrote in a note on the bank’s Liberty Street Economics blog co-written by research associate Christina Patterson.
The analysis looked at flows into and out of unemployment since the end of World War II, likening it to water in a bathtub. The unemployment rate, or level of water in the tub, would be determined by the difference in the volume of water pouring in and draining out.
The number of those exiting unemployment, which include people finding a new job as well as those leaving the labor force, takes precedence in determining changes in joblessness at this stage of a recovery, the economists found.
The flow into and out of unemployment over the three prior recoveries indicates the jobless rate will decrease to 6 percent by at least the end of 2014, the economists said. Should the pattern be similar to that following the rebound from the 1990- 91 recession, the rate could get close to there by early next year.
Median Forecast…”Comments »
By David C. Levy, Published: March 23
No public expenditure has a more productive impact on a nation’s health than its investment in education. But college costs have risen faster than inflation for three decades and, at roughly 25 percent of the average household’s income, now strain the budgets of most middle-class families. They impose an unprecedented debt burden on graduates and place college out of reach for many. This makes President Obama’s recent statementthat college is “an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford” an especially urgent message.As a career-long academic and former university chancellor, I support this position. But I disagree with the next assumption, that the answer to rising college costs is to throw more public money into the system. In fact, increased public support has probably facilitated rising tuitions. Overlooked in the debate are reforms for outmoded employment policies that overcompensate faculty for inefficient teaching schedules.
Through the first half of the 20th century, faculties in academic institutions were generally underpaid relative to other comparably educated members of the workforce. Teaching was viewed as a “calling” in the tradition of tweed jackets, pipe tobacco and avuncular campus life. Trade-offs for modest salaries were found in the relaxed atmospheres of academic communities, often retreats from the pressures of the real world, and reflected in such benefits as tenure, light teaching loads, long vacations and sabbaticals.With the 1970s advent of collective bargaining in higher education, this began to change. The result has been more equitable circumstances for college faculty, who deserve salaries comparable to those of other educated professionals. Happily, senior faculty at most state universities and colleges now earn $80,000 to $150,000, roughly in line with the average incomes of others with advanced degrees.Not changed, however, are the accommodations designed to compensate for low pay in earlier times. Though faculty salaries now mirror those of most upper-middle-class Americans working 40 hours for 50 weeks, they continue to pay for teaching time of nine to 15 hours per week for 30 weeks, making possible a month-long winter break, a week off in the spring and a summer vacation from mid-May until September.
Such a schedule may be appropriate in research universities where standards for faculty employment are exceptionally high — and are based on the premise that critically important work, along with research-driven teaching, can best be performed outside the classroom. The faculties of research universities are at the center of America’s progress in intellectual, technological and scientific pursuits, and there should be no quarrel with their financial rewards or schedules. In fact, they often work hours well beyond those of average non-academic professionals.
Unfortunately, the salaries and the workloads applied to the highest echelons of faculty have been grafted onto colleges whose primary mission is teaching, not research. These include many state colleges, virtually all community colleges and hundreds of private institutions. For example, Maryland’s Montgomery College (an excellent two-year community college) reports its average full professor’s salary as $88,000, based on a workload of 15 hours of teaching for 30 weeks. Faculty members are also expected to keep office hours for three hours a week. The faculty handbook states: “Teaching and closely related activities are the primary responsibilities of instructional faculty.” While the handbook suggests other responsibilities such as curriculum development, service on committees and community outreach, notably absent from this list are research and scholarship.
I take no issue with faculty at teaching-oriented institutions focusing on instructional skills rather than research and receiving a fair, upper-middle-class wage. Like good teachers everywhere, they are dedicated professionals with high levels of education and deserve salaries commensurate with their hard-earned credentials. But we all should object when they receive these salaries for working less than half the time of their non-academic peers.
The cost for such sinecures is particularly galling when it is passed on to the rest of the middle class and to taxpayers in states that are struggling to support higher education. Since faculty salaries make up the largest single cost in virtually all college and university budgets (39 percent at Montgomery College), think what it would mean if the public got full value for these dollars.
An executive who works a 40-hour week for 50 weeks puts in a minimum of 2,000 hours yearly. But faculty members teaching 12 to 15 hours per week for 30 weeks spend only 360 to 450 hours per year in the classroom. Even in the unlikely event that they devote an equal amount of time to grading and class preparation, their workload is still only 36 to 45 percent of that of non-academic professionals. Yet they receive the same compensation.
If the higher education community were to adjust its schedules and semester structure so that teaching faculty clocked a 40-hour week (roughly 20 hours of class time and equal time spent on grading, preparation and related duties) for 11 months, the enhanced efficiency could be the equivalent of a dramatic budget increase. Many colleges would not need tuition raises or adjustments to public budget priorities in the near future. The vacancies created by attrition would be filled by the existing faculty’s expanded teaching loads — from 12 to 15 hours a week to 20, and from 30 weeks to 48; increasing teachers’ overall classroom impact by 113 percent to 167 percent.
Read the rest here.Comments »