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U.S. Economy Created 200,000 Jobs in December

Dow Jones Newswires (01/06/12) Sparshott, Jeffrey; Barkley, Tom

The U.S. economy gained 200,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5%, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday. Private companies added 212,000 jobs, while the public sector shrank by 12,000. The unemployment rate, obtained by a separate survey of U.S. households, sank to 8.5% in December, its lowest level since February 2009. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a gain of 155,000 in payrolls and a jobless rate of 8.7%.

December Planned Layoffs Lowest in Six Months: Challenger

Reuters (01/05/12) Leong, Richard

Planned layoffs by U.S. employers in December declined to its lowest level since June, according to a new report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Employers announced 41,785 planned job cuts in December, down 1.6% from 42,474 in November. Despite the decrease toward the end of 2011, the figure in December was still a 31% increase over December 2010.

“Job cuts in 2011 were dominated by the government and financial sectors. These two alone accounted for 41% of all the job cuts announced last year,” said John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger. The 183,064 government job cuts in 2011 represented a record high for that sector since Challenger began tracking it in 2002.

Services Activity Edges Up in December: ISM Survey

MarketWatch (01/05/12) Goldstein, Steve

The Institute for Supply Management’s services index rose in December to a reading of 52.6% from November’s 52.0%, showing growth for the 25th straight month. Of key subcomponents, employment increased from 48.9% to 49.4%. Eleven industries, including retail trade and finance, reported growth, while seven, including health care and real estate, reported contraction. The service sector employs about 90% of all workers.

Five Best Businesses to Get In for 2012

Yahoo! Finance (01/05/12) Kulikowski, Laurie

According to the International Franchise Industry’s 2012 Business Outlook report, among the hottest industry segments going into 2012 is outsourcing/staffing. Terry Mackin, managing director at Generational Equity, a mergers and acquisitions firm, says that as businesses learn the value of technology in their operations, “not only do they get leaner and meaner, but they don’t have to rehire.” This creates a lot of opportunity for outsourcing, particularly when it comes to staffing, because “businesses have found they now can take advantage of concentrating on their core competency while bringing in other [part-time or temporary] professionals who have expertise in other areas,” Mackin notes.

Sara Sutton Fell, founder of, says companies specializing in alternative staffing will see lots of growth as employers look to hire on a project basis as opposed to permanent. “The long-held full-time job was proven not so secure a few years ago,” Sutton Fell says. There is “a lot of skepticism now in putting all your eggs in one basket where employers don’t owe you anything. The perception of a full-time job and what kind of security that actually lends has changed.”

NFIB Jobs Statement: No Rally in Jobs at Close of 2011, But Small Business Is Cautiously Optimistic About 2012

NFIB Small-Business News (01/05/12)

Chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business William Dunkelberg on Jan. 5 issued a statement on the December job numbers—based on NFIB’s monthly economic survey that will be released on Jan. 10—indicating that “December’s jobs numbers fizzled, with the net change in employment per firm turning negative again.” He noted that small businesses lost an average 0.15 workers per firm. According to Dunkelberg, “45% of owners hired or tried to hire in the past three months, but 34% of them reported few or no qualified applicants for the position(s).”

“The good news is that the number of owners cutting jobs has ‘normalized,'” added Dunkelberg. “In the past several months, reports of those cutting workers have been at the lowest levels since the recession started in December 2007. … Given this trend, reports of new job creation should see a slight uptick in the coming months.”

New Employer Health Care Provisions Take Effect in San Francisco

The San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement announced key changes in the city’s health care security ordinance (HCSO), which took effect Jan. 1. Among the new provisions are requirements that “covered employers” post an Official OLSE Notice regarding the HCSO at every workplace. For more information, visit

ASA Issues Revised Wage Notice Form for Complying With New California Law

American Staffing Association (01/06/12) Lenz, Ed

In the Jan. 5 issue of Staffing Today, ASA provided a link to a sample ASA notice form that staffing firms can use to comply with the new California wage notice law in lieu of the form provided by the state’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. The ASA form has been revised to reflect the most current information.

Pro-Union Boycott Hits Indiana House

Wall Street Journal (01/06/12) Nicas, Jack

For the second consecutive year, Indiana House Democrats are boycotting their chamber to block a state right-to-work bill, which in Indiana would ban labor contracts that require all employees to pay union dues, weakening unions’ finances and clout in the workplace. Supporters of the bill, including Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma and Gov. Mitch Daniels, say it would make the state more attractive to employers, while opponents maintain it is an attack on unions and would drive down wages.

Bosma unsuccessfully tried to call for a quorum twice on Jan. 5. The state Constitution requires 67 of the 100 House members to answer the roll call to begin the session. Three of the 40 House Democrats joined Republicans in the chamber Thursday, leaving the House four members short. Bosma says he will invoke fines against Democrats for boycotting the chamber, “if necessary.”

Staffing Firm Settles Lawsuit Filed by Amazon Applicant

Allentown Morning Call (Pennsylvania) (01/06/12) Kennedy, Sam

Integrity Staffing Solutions has settled a discrimination lawsuit brought by an African-American man convicted of manslaughter almost 30 years ago, after Integrity denied him a job at because of his criminal record. “Employment policies that impose a blanket exclusion on people with past convictions, without any consideration of the relationship of the conviction to the job in question, can constitute unlawful discrimination,” says Jennifer Clarke, executive director of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.

The Public Interest Law Center says ISS “has reaffirmed its policy of providing equal employment opportunity for people with past criminal convictions” and “also has further reemphasized to supervisors and personnel engaged in the hiring process the importance of and appropriate review of a job applicant’s criminal convictions.” ISS declined to discuss the matter.

Employers Rush to Court to Block Labor Board’s New Election Rule: Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (12/20/11)

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 20 filed suit in federal court to block the National Labor Relations Board’s “ambush” election rule, which would change the process for union representation elections. The new rule effectively shortens election time frames, limiting employees’ opportunity to hear from employers and make an informed choice and diminishing employers’ due process. The complaint seeks to enjoin the NLRB from enforcing the final rule.

CDW chairman Geoffrey Burr said, “Instead of putting fairness first, the NLRB bowed to special interests by abandoning longstanding rules governing union-representation elections for this new rigged system where employees have less information and employers have fewer legal rights and a diminished due process.” He continued, “Big Labor’s paid union organizers seeking more dues-paying members spend months making their pitch. Employees deserve to hear from employers too—employees deserve the full story.” Burr concluded that the only way to block the rule was to take legal action.

With Public Employment Stagnant, Groups Urge Lawmakers to Let Private Sector Grow

Maryland Gazette (01/06/12) Shay, Kevin James

With federal budget cuts making private-sector job creation more important than ever, small businesses in Maryland want to see a “do no harm” policy from legislators, says Ellen Valentino, the state director for the National Federation of Independent Business. “The economy is still very unsettled,” she notes. “We may see more measured action with respect to considering laws that could adversely impact businesses.”

Valentino is looking for a “strict” implementation of the federal health insurance reform law to “make sure that Maryland doesn’t go beyond” it. Business are also concerned about a number of tax proposals, such as combined reporting or even imposing a sales tax on certain professional services. The Maryland Chamber of Commerce has specifically warned against proposed legislation that expands the grounds to sue employers or contributes to the company’s legal costs.

In U.S., a Cheaper Labor Pool

Wall Street Journal (01/06/12) Hagerty, James R.; Linebaugh, Kate

U.S. manufacturing has become more competitive globally thanks to minimal wage growth and the ability of manufacturers to use more-flexible work practices and increased automation to make the same amount of goods with far fewer people.

U.S. manufacturing labor costs per unit of output in 2010 were 13% below the level of a decade earlier as workers became more productive, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. outperformed Germany, where unit labor costs increased 2.3%; Canada, where they rose 18%; and South Korea, up 15%.

“Manufacturing in the U.S. is more and more attractive,” said Daniel Meckstroth, chief economist for the research group Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation. Meckstroth expects the U.S. to remain mainly a services economy but thinks manufacturing is likely to stop shrinking.

Supercharging Productivity Through Work Force Innovation (01/05/12) Gardner, Dave

Management consultant Dave Gardener notes that the relationship between information technology and a company’s human resource department is more important than ever. Chief information officers now have to take an active role in employee satisfaction and staffing, recruiting new talent, and retaining existing talent.

The demand for mobility is increasing. By 2013, 1.2 billion people are expected to be in the mobile work force, an increase of 35% from current figures. A Dell employee survey indicates that remote employees are the most satisfied employees, due in part to employees being able to time-shift events in their days.

The real challenge CIOs face is to harness the power of information technology to supercharge productivity and to enable the social enterprise, connecting employees and customers. CIOs directly impact the happiness of employees by enabling the mobile work force, while information technology plays a critical role in enabling more effective and efficient collaboration.