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The Jobs Picture Is Still Far From Rosy

Wall Street Journal (01/20/12) Edward Lazear

Edward Lazear, chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers 2006-2009, warns that while there has been good news of late on the jobs front, “the labor market is still very depressed and is likely to remain so for quite some time.” He cites the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey’s conclusion that the number of monthly hires today, at a little over four million, is just slightly higher than it was in January 2009. “Hires need to increase by over 30% to get back to 2007 peak levels,” Lazear notes, but “during the three years since January 2009, they have increased by 4%.”

Staffing Opportunity

Gulf Coast Business Review (01/20/12) Alex Mahadevan

Hire Partners LLC, a private equity company launched at the end of 2011 by John West and Mark Whittington, is building a rapidly growing holding company for firms in the resource personnel outsourcing and staffing industry. The new firm already wholly owns Atlanta-based Hire Velocity LLC and owns a majority of Washington, DC-based TSC LLC.

West says there is great potential in the staffing industry, especially in the information technology sector, in the near future. While the unemployment rate was 8.5% for December, for management, professional, and related occupations—on which West says the firms he will target are focused—it was only 4.2%. Whittington adds that “companies who stocked up on permanent people 10 years ago aren’t willing to do the same today.” After the two recessions over the last decade, he expects firms to rely heavily on temporary staffing firms. “Outsourcing temporary staffing firms will become a permanent part of their business,” he says.

Chicago’s Job Outlook Is Cause for ‘Mild Optimism’

Crain’s Chicago Business (01/20/12) Abraham Tekippe

The chief executives of some of Chicago’s largest staffing and outplacement firms say many employers in the area are hiring, but are being more selective about which applicants they select. “I don’t think (employers) are generally optimistic, but I don’t think they’re pessimistic; I think they’re being realistic,” says Tom Gimbel, chief executive of staffing firm LaSalle Network. “I call it cautious optimism.” Gimbel says he has seen both temporary and permanent hiring increases in recent months, adding that while he expects hiring to be “consistently inconsistent” throughout the year, overall he considers Chicago’s job outlook to be “very good,” especially in industries such as technology, logistics, and customer service.

Fed Holds Off for Now On Bond Buys

Wall Street Journal (01/20/12) Jon Hilsenrath

The U.S. Federal Reserve is taking a wait-and-see approach on the economy before deciding whether to kick off another round of bond purchases. Since the crisis began, the central bank has bought more than $2 trillion of securities as part of a campaign to stimulate investment, foster economic growth, and curb unemployment. It meets again Jan. 24-25, at which time officials are expected to unveil a new communications strategy featuring two main elements: their interest-rate projections and a statement explaining their objectives for inflation and new job creation.

Differentiate Your Firm—ASAPro Webinar Next Week

Thursday, Jan. 26, 3–4 p.m. Eastern time, attend the ASAPro Webinar “Gain a Competitive Advantage With ASA Certification” to learn how ASA certification programs can help you differentiate your firm from your competition and protect your firm by avoiding missteps that could result in legal liability.

This Webinar, presented by ASA staff members Stephen Dwyer, Esq., general counsel; Karen Donald, senior manager, certification programs; and Emily Lawson, manager, distance learning, is free for ASA members and nonmembers.

Are you already ASA certified? This ASAPro Webinar qualifies for 0.5 legal and 0.5 active continuing education hours toward ASA certification renewal. Visit to register.

Know the Facts So You Can Answer Clients’ Questions

When you want to promote your business and the staffing industry to clients and candidates, you can get the information you need from ASA.

Staffing Facts features the industry’s five key messages—jobs, flexibility, bridge, choice, and training—with data that support the messages. The Staffing FAQs sheet provides field-tested responses that have been proven to effectively answer the most frequently asked questions about the industry.

These free resources can help you communicate with employees, clients, and reporters. Check out the Staffing Facts and Staffing FAQs at for the most up-to-date data about staffing.

When a Company Sounds Suspiciously Like a Law Firm

Wall Street Journal Online (01/19/12) Joe Palazzolo

Legal staffing companies, hired by law firms to provide temporary lawyers to review documents in huge pieces of litigation, have dramatically expanded the scope of their services. A question has arisen over what services these firms can provide without violating regulations that prohibit them from practicing law. A regulatory committee of the Washington, DC, Court of Appeals recently drafted an opinion on the issue to give guidance to companies on the “permissible scope of services that may be performed without engaging in the practice of law.”

The opinion says the staffing companies may not provide legal advice to their clients or hold themselves out to be able to provide legal services, and they should avoid “broad statements that a company can manage the entire document review or discovery process” because they “have a serious potential to mislead.”

Workers’ Right to Sue Employers Over Pay, Other Conditions in Flux

Huffington Post (01/19/12) Janell Ross

In June 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that companies can hold customers to arbitration agreements in which the customers gave up their right to sue as a class to resolve problems. Employers and worker advocates interpreted that ruling to include workers who have signed similar arbitration agreements. However, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board earlier this month ruled that workers with arbitration agreements do have the right to sue as a class. NLRB says such employees are still able to sue, even with agreements in place that waive that right, because federal law gives employees the right to assertively advocate for their interests in cases of overtime pay or the federal minimum wage and other work related conditions that are set by law.

A current case on the issue involves Labor Ready, a temporary staffing company. A group of workers filed suit in 2010 contending that the company’s pay system often left them with less than the federal minimum wage and that other company practices such as charging workers for rides to their work site violated various state and federal labor laws. Labor Ready, one of several temporary services owned by Tacoma, WA-based TrueBlue Inc., does not pay workers less than the federal minimum wage, says Stacy Burke, a TrueBlue spokeswoman. Labor Ready has denied any wrongdoing. As many as 35 million American workers have signed binding arbitration agreements, says Alexander Colvin, an associate professor at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations who specializes in workplace dispute resolution.

WHD Regional Offices Reach Settlements; Pursue Ongoing Enforcement Actions Against Employers

Wolters Kluwer (01/18/2012)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division reports that the Temp Team Inc., a Dallas-based temporary staffing company, has agreed to pay $244,104 in back wages to 252 current and former employees after an investigation found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and record-keeping provisions. An investigation by the Dallas district office found that 250 Temp Team employees worked as many as 79 hours a week and were paid a straight-time rate, instead of an overtime rate, for hours worked over 40 in a week. The company violated FLSA record-keeping provisions by failing to maintain accurate records of its employees’ total work hours and wages. Under FLSA, DOL notes, employees who are placed by a staffing company at a client site are typically considered jointly employed by the staffing firm and the client(s), and joint employers are responsible for ensuring FLSA compliance.

Employees Score Win in War Over the Applicability of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in the Workplace

Seyfarth Shaw (01/05/12) Scott Schaefers

In the age of social media and networking, where employees use their company-issued computers to network with clients, suppliers, colleagues, and friends, a question has arisen over whether employers can claim an interest in their employees’ LinkedIn accounts, or other social networking accounts, which the employees use in part to grow and maintain their relationships for the benefit of their employers. In Eagle v. Morgan, No. 11-4303, 2011 WL 6739448, a federal court in Philadelphia held that an employer may claim ownership of its former executive’s LinkedIn connections where the employer required the executive to open and maintain an account, the executive advertised her and her employer’s credentials and services on the account, and where the employer had significant involvement in the creation, maintenance, operation, and monitoring of the account.

The court refused to dismiss the employer’s counterclaims for “misappropriation of an idea” and unfair competition against its former chief executive, who allegedly accessed and used her company-generated LinkedIn account three weeks after she was terminated. Employers and their lawyers should consider getting more involved in their employees’ social-networking activities, particularly to the extent that such activities are used for company business and where employees are required or expected to promote themselves on behalf of the company using these networking sites.

One Time Minneapolis Temporary Firm Owner Admits Cheating Feds Out of $425,000

Minneapolis Star Tribune (01/19/12) Paul Walsh

The owner of Minneapolis-based Olen Staff Co., Doris Ruiz, pled guilty in federal court on charges that she failed to pay $150,000 in payroll taxes and $276,987 to cover the employers share of FICA taxes. In 2008, federal investigators shut down Olen after court affidavits alleged that Ruiz placed illegal immigrants with regional businesses, provided false documentation, and did not pay taxes for herself or workers for several years. Ruiz faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when she is sentenced.

Average Hourly Earnings Increase in December

U.S. Department of Labor News Release (01/19/12)

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that real average hourly earnings for all employees rose 0.2% from November to December, seasonally adjusted. Real average weekly earnings rose 0.5% over the month, as a result of the increase in real average hourly earnings and a 0.3% rise in the average workweek. Since reaching a peak in October 2010, real average weekly earnings have fallen 1.1%.