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More U.S. Part-Timers Find Full-Time Jobs

Bloomberg (01/09/12) Homan, Timothy

An increasing number of U.S. workers are moving from part-time to full-time jobs. While the number of people putting in a full week rose to 113.8 million in December, the most since February 2009, 8.1 million worked fewer hours because they could not find a full-time job, the least since January 2009. “It’s what will traditionally happen when the job market overall is beginning to improve,” says Tig Gilliam, chief executive officer of Adecco Group North America.

The underemployment rate, which includes part-time employees who would prefer a full-time job, dropped from 16.4% to 15.2%. “By moving into more permanent positions, you get a more productive work force,” says Michael Gapen, a senior U.S. economist at Barclays Capital Inc. “It makes labor more valuable and that means moderate wage growth, even with the unemployment rate at 8.5%. That translates into better consumption momentum entering this year.”

Gilliam says his industry “is still seeing double-digit growth in permanent placements and conversions” from part-time and temporary to full-time employment. “When the market gets that much better, the direct hiring accelerates even more,” he says.

Contract Lawyers in Hot Demand

Crain’s New York Business (New York) (01/09/12) Fioravante, Janice

An increasing number of New York City law firms are turning to contract help. The economic climate has prompted many corporate law firms to run so lean that they have to outsource legal work. According to the National Law Journal’s April survey, almost 2,900 fewer lawyers worked for the nation’s largest 250 law firms in 2010; about 6,600 attorneys departed such employment in 2009.

With so many large law firms located in the city, there is a wide talent pool, extending from laid-off lawyers to recent law school graduates with prestigious degrees who are having difficulty obtaining associate positions. While $60 to $80 an hour was the prerecession norm for contract lawyers, current rates have dipped to between $32 and $40, and sometimes are as low as $25. Providers of contract help say that they see no signs of the trend slowing down, as staffing firms outbid each other to be the lowest-cost suppliers of legal talent, in a process called reverse bidding.

“Corporations are refusing to pay $250 an hour for first- or second-year attorneys,” says Courtney Sapire, a co-founder of RFx Legal, which automates the process of finding contract lawyers and offers other services. “They want the level of expertise to match the task that they’re billing for.”

Recession Holds Down Health Spending

New York Times (01/10/12) Pear, Robert

National health spending increased by a slight 3.9% in 2010, reports the Obama administration, as Americans delayed hospital care, doctor’s visits and prescription drug purchases for the second year in a row. Lingering effects of the recession reduced the explosive growth of health spending, which totaled $2.6 trillion in 2010. Health spending normally grows much faster than the economy, but in 2010 growth rates were similar, so that health care accounted for the same share of total economic output in 2009 and 2010.

“U.S. health spending grew more slowly in 2009 and 2010” than at any other time in the 51 years the government has been collecting such data, said Anne Martin, an economist in the office of the actuary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Medicare spending grew in 2010 by 5%, the smallest rate of increase in more than a decade, the report said, citing a slowdown in spending for the managed care program known as Medicare Advantage. Government economists said President Obama’s health care overhaul had little impact on the overall level of health spending and, in some cases, simply shifted payments from one source to another.

Challenger: Holiday Retail Hiring Jumped 15% On Year, Nearing 2007 Levels

Dow Jones Newswires (01/09/12) Lamar, Mia

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. reports that retail hiring for the holidays jumped 15% over the same period in 2010. The sector recorded a net gain of 718,500 workers over the final three months of the year, according to the firm’s analysis of employment data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, just short of the 720,800 workers added in 2007, when the U.S. economy was still relatively strong.

Job gains in the retail sector this year were better than anticipated, according to the firm’s chief executive, John Challenger, who noted early sales and strong performance on the Black Friday sales day likely contributed to added workers in December. Still, he cautioned those gains could fade in the months ahead. “Now, the question is whether the consumer will go into post-holiday hibernation. Several retail experts have predicted that this year could see particularly weak January sales, as Americans try to recover from holiday spending, much of which was on credit cards,” Challenger stated.

New ASA Certifications Increase 170% in 2011

The industry is getting smarter, savvier, and more competitive. By the end of 2011, 612 staffing professionals were newly certified by ASA—a 170% increase over new certifications in 2010.

To date, more than 6,000 individuals have earned the ASA Certified Staffing Professional™ or Technical Services Certified™ credential. Those with the CSP™ or TSC™ designation earn, on average, nearly 10% more in base pay than their uncertified counterparts.

Make 2012 the year you and your staff join the ASA-certified elite. Certified individuals who are employed by an ASA member firm receive free professional development, including the continuing education they need for certification renewal.

Labor Board Swears In Three New Members

Wall Street Journal (01/10/12) Trottman, Melanie

The National Labor Relations Board swore in three new members Jan. 9 as Republicans continue to argue the recess appointments made by President Barack Obama are illegal because they say the Senate was not technically in recess. The new members are Democrat Richard Griffin, previously general counsel of the International Union of Operating Engineers; Democrat Sharon Block, former Labor Department deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs; and Republican Terence Flynn, who was chief counsel to Republican board member Brian Hayes.

The three members join two others on the board, Democratic Chairman Mark Pearce and Hayes, to restore a Democratic majority and full powers to the group. It recently lost its quorum—and most of its decision-making abilities—when Democrat Craig Becker’s term expired. The board can now resume deciding a backlog of about 175 cases. The board can also continue to make major new rules that shape union-organizing and workplace policies, which it resumed doing last year for the first time since the 1980s, citing a need to modernize and streamline dated processes under the decades-old National Labor Relations Act.

DOL, Knoxville Firm Reach Agreement on Security Guards’ Back Pay

Knoxville News-Sentinel (01/10/12) News Sentinel Staff

Knoxville, TN-based Custom Security Solutions Inc. has agreed to pay $62,038 in back wages to 34 security guards as a result of an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. The regulatory agency found the employees were improperly classified as independent contractors and denied minimum wage and overtime wages due under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The Wage and Hour Division said its investigators determined that the 34 employees were paid a “straight time” rate for all hours worked instead of time and one-half their hourly rates for hours over 40, as required by the FLSA. “The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is an alarming trend, particularly in industries that often employ low-wage, vulnerable workers and in which the Wage and Hour Division historically has found significant wage violations,” the Labor Department said in a statement.

Search and Placement Employment Slips in November

American Staffing Association (01/10/12) Karaer, Alexandra

Recent employment data, released last Friday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that search and placement employment in November was down 3.1% from October, totaling 253,600 for the month. In a year-to-year comparison, November employment was up 2.9% from the same month in 2010.

BLS employment estimates for search and placement firms are available on a nonseasonal basis only, and reports lag by one month.