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Hiring Logjam Breaks as CEOs Plan Fastest U.S. Growth Since 2006

Bloomberg (01/13/12) Black, Thomas

Companies are adding U.S. workers, accelerating a rebound in hiring, as chief executive officers prepare for greater demand in a strengthening economic recovery. The hiring reflects optimism among chief executives that the economy will continue to strengthen and more workers will be needed to meet demand. Manufacturing has already been a bright spot in the labor market, with U.S. factory payrolls expanding by 225,000 jobs in 2011, more than double the total from a year earlier. “The ground seems to be set for a pretty decent near-term outlook for manufacturing,” says Stephen Stanley, chief economist for Pierpont Securities. “There’s still room for job growth there if demand continues to pick up.”

The U.S. may add 1.7 million jobs in 2012, the fastest pace since 2006, based on economists’ estimates compiled by Blue Chip Economic Indicators. Faster payroll growth should spur a 2.3% expansion in the U.S. economy this year, according to the median estimate of 84 economists compiled by Bloomberg. Hiring already started picking up in mid-2011 among employers seeking engineering and technology-related workers, notes Jesse Harriott, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer at Monster Worldwide Inc.

More Hires on the Horizon?

Maryland Gazette (01/13/12) Shay, Kevin James; Robbins, Lindsey

Coming off the state’s strongest year for job creation since 2005, many Maryland employers are cautiously optimistic they can build on that trend this year, even though many businesses continue to struggle. Temporary-help employers often serve as a bellwether for permanent hiring trends. Temporary help employment nationally for December was 4.4% higher than a year ago, according to federal figures. “Staffing firms added about 100,000 new jobs to the economy in 2011,” says Richard Wahlquist, president and CEO of the American Staffing Association. “And indicators remain positive for the year ahead.”

Wanda Smith, president and CEO of Symphony Placements—a Timonium, MD, staffing services firm—reports her company had a strong finish in 2011 and expects that to continue this year. Gross sales finished up 20%, while profits continued to increase over 2010 despite the continuation of high state tax assessments for unemployment. In 2011, staffing firms faced challenges in finding qualified individuals who were actually serious about finding a job, she says, noting that many did not want to jeopardize their unemployment benefits. “As the unemployment figures fall, this will continue to be a strong challenge,” Smith says. Clients are particularly using temporary-to-permanent hires to fill new openings, as well as to cover for long-term vacancies due to illness, she adds.

Role Reversal: Employers Say They Can’t Find Workers

MSNBC (01/13/12) Linn, Allison

Despite the high number of unemployed people seeking work, more than half of U.S. employers surveyed by the staffing firm ManpowerGroup say are having trouble filling job openings because they can’t find qualified workers. That represents a 38 percentage point increase from 2010, when only 14% said they were having trouble filling positions.

Melanie Holmes, a vice president with ManpowerGroup, says “employers have been spoiled by the recession.” She notes the high unemployment rate left many recruiters feeling they did not have to look very hard to find a great candidate. Also, with potential employees less willing to move because of the housing bust, many employers have not had the luxury of looking very far afield. Employers also may not be willing to spend the time or money training someone for a highly specialized job, or one that requires very unique skills. “Employers are getting pickier and pickier,” Holmes says. “We want the perfect person to walk through the door.”

Nelson Sells Majority Stake in WorkforceLogic

North Bay Business Journal (01/12/12) Verel, Dan

The Nelson Family of Cos. has announced the sale of a “majority and controlling interest” in its WorkforceLogic division to Orlando-based ZeroChaos, a work force solutions company, along with its financial partner Snow Phipps. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

110,000 Seasonal Jobs Opening Across the Country

WTVM-9 (Georgia) (01/13/12)

More than 100,000 people will get hired at the two top home improvement chains in the U.S. during this year’s spring selling season. Home Depot has announced it plans to hire 70,000 temporary workers this year, while Lowes will add 40,000 seasonal workers during 2012. Home Depot says many of the jobs will likely turn into permanent positions. About half of Home Depot’s 2011 seasonal hires stayed on in permanent positions.

ASA Quarterly Employment and Sales Survey Now Open

The ASA quarterly survey on temporary and contract staffing, which collects data on sales, payroll, and employment, is now open for the fourth quarter of 2011. The Web-based survey takes only about 15 minutes to complete. Participants receive a free exclusive report on the results, which includes payroll data available nowhere else. ASA research partner Inavero, a market research firm, administers the survey to ensure confidentiality of participant data.

Data are due Feb. 6, and results will be released Feb. 20. Register today to take the survey or download a sample questionnaire. For more information, contact Alexandra Karaer, ASA director of research, at 703-253-2048 or akaraer@americanstaffing.net.

States Introduce New Antidiscrimination and E-Verify Bills

American Staffing Association (01/13/12) Duffy, Anne

As state legislatures start to convene for 2012, new bills that could affect businesses are being introduced. Highlights this week include immigration bills in Florida, Kentucky, and New Hampshire that would require employers to verify the work eligibility of new hires through E-Verify, the federal government’s employment verification system.

Mirroring federal legislation that was introduced in 2011, California and Nebraska introduced bills that would prohibit employers and employment agencies from discriminating against unemployed individuals in hiring. Similarly, the bills further state that it is unlawful for an employer to direct an employment agency to take an individual’s unemployed status into account when screening and referring applicants.

For more information on pending federal and state legislation, visit americanstaffing.net.

‘Ban the Box’ Law Goes Into Effect Today in Philadelphia

CBS Philadelphia (01/13/12) Dunn, Mike

The so-called “Ban the Box” law restricting the ability of employers to ask applicants about criminal records goes into effect today in Philadelphia. The new law prohibits employers in the city from putting that checkbox on job applications and from asking about ex-offender status during a first interview. Such questions are allowed during a follow-up interview.

Supporters of the idea say the goal is help ex-offenders at least make a good impression before having to spell out a criminal history. Brian Anderson, president of the Judge Group, a computer consulting and staffing firm in West Conshohocken, PA, “think[s] it will be effective, and I think employers will find additional qualified talent that they may not have found in the past.” Anderson says it will particularly help people with minor offenses on their records get a start in their careers. Employers who keep using the checkbox on initial job applications could face $2,000 fines for each violation.

Labor Dept. Inspector General Identifies ‘Integrity of Foreign Labor Certification Programs’ as a Top Management Challenge

Seyfarth Shaw (12/28/11) Paparelli, Angelo; Mozes, Gabriel; Quill, John

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General has identified maintaining the integrity of foreign labor certification programs among the “most serious management and performance challenges facing the Department.” The OIG notes that the Employment and Training Administration, which administers the programs, faces challenges in maintaining the integrity of its H-1B and H-2B labor certification programs. The H-1B challenges include statutory limits on the ETA’s authority, making system improvements in H-1B labor condition application processing system to better identify incomplete and/or inaccurate applications, and uncertainty about the process for including individuals or entities debarred under the department’s labor certification programs on the government-wide excluded parties lists.

Employee or Independent Contractor? Enforcement Efforts Increase in the Home Health Care Industry

Lexology (01/12/12) Maciel, Kara

The U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service have intensified their enforcement efforts regarding worker misclassification, and audits have increased substantially, particularly within the home health industry. In September 2011, the DOL and IRS announced an effort to coordinate with each other and with several states by permitting the sharing of information to combat misclassification.

In the home health industry specifically, the vast majority of courts have concluded that under the Fair Labor Standards Act, private duty nurses should be classified as employees. A recent example is Lemaster v. Alternative Healthcare Solutions Inc., in which home health licensed practical nurses sued a staffing company that recruits nurses (as independent contractors) and refers them to home health agencies and nursing homes. The evidence disclosed that the company interviewed, hired, and set the nurses’ wages, as well as assigned the nurses their work, collected time sheets, and maintained personnel files. Based on these facts, the court concluded that the nurses were employees under the FLSA, and the staffing company and its owners were liable to the LPNs for damages.

With regulatory agencies and courts more closely monitoring independent contractor relationships, firms with large numbers of independent contractors should conduct an internal legal review to ensure proper compliance with federal and state laws before the federal or state government conducts an audit or a group of employees files a class action lawsuit.

Amid Downturn, More Older Americans Employed Than Ever Before

Washington Post (01/13/12) Whoriskey, Peter

The number of younger workers is declining, but more people older than 55 are employed than ever before, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor experts say one of the primary economic forces behind the surge of older workers is the increasing fear among older Americans that they lack the means to support their retirement needs.

The shift in retirement financing away from reliance on company pensions toward the adoption of 401(k) plans and other personal savings—combined with the recession—has dramatically increased the incentives to work longer. To the surprise of some experts, the need for older people to work has been strong enough to overwhelm the effects of the recession, which has thinned out the ranks of the employed among other generations. The number of people older than 55 who are working has actually risen by 3.1 million, or 12%, since the beginning of the recession. By contrast, the number of people between the ages of 25 and 54 who are working has decreased by 6.5 million, for a drop of 6.5%.

ASA Analysis Breaks Down ‘Beige Book’ Report by Region

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

The latest report from the Federal Reserve Board on regional economies for the most part shows favorable conditions and ongoing improvements in the 12 business districts. Other highlights include limited hiring across most sectors and upward wage pressures due to the number of active job seekers across the nation. ASA researchers break down the results by district and offer a brief analysis for member companies.