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Recovery Redraws Labor Landscape

Wall Street Journal (02/04/12) Ben Casselman

The jobs report released Feb. 3 reveals that nearly every industry added workers in January, with restaurants, health care, manufacturing, and professional and business services registering the biggest hiring gains. Since mid-2011, around 164,000 health care jobs, 167,000 leisure and hospitality jobs, and 94,000 manufacturing jobs have been added. Over the same period, 109,000 temporary workers were hired. However, the construction and manufacturing industry have yet to recover all of the jobs lost during the recession, and the public sector continues to shed jobs.

Low-wage sectors account for most of the recent increases in hiring, such as nursing aids and technicians in the health care industry and secretaries and temporary workers in the business services industry. Expert say the economic downturn was devastating for low-skilled workers, and the recent gains are making up for jobs lost during the recession. Some economists are concerned that the economy is leaning more toward low-skill, low-wage jobs due to the shift from manufacturing to services.

Latinos, Hit Hard by Job Losses, Are Making Strong Comeback

Los Angeles Times (02/06/12) Don Lee

As the economic rebound picks up a bit of steam, Latinos are scoring bigger job gains than most other demographic groups and proving to be a bright spot in the fledgling recovery. Figures from the U.S. Labor Department show that while Latinos make up only 15% of the country’s work force, they have racked up half the employment gains posted since the economy began adding jobs in early 2010.

The latest Latino jobless rate of 10.5% remains higher than the overall rate of 8.3% for the nation and 7.4% for whites. The construction industry remains weak, but other sectors in which Latinos have a relatively large share of jobs—such as mining support services, hotels, food services, health care, and manufacturing—are seeing more robust job growth. Latinos also appear to be more willing to take low-wage, temporary jobs, and to be more mobile, willing to move from one county to another to get a job.

Factory Orders Jump 1.1% as Businesses Invest in Heavy Machinery

New York Times (02/04/12)

Orders to factories increased in December, supported by a rebound in business investment in capital goods. In addition, service companies grew at the fastest pace in 11 months in January as companies started hiring to keep up with rising demand. Factory orders rose 1.1% in December after gaining 2.2% in November, the U.S. Commerce Department reported. For the year, total orders were up 12.1% after a gain of 12.9% in 2010. Orders for so-called core capital goods increased 3.1% to a record high.

Separately, the Institute for Supply Management said on Friday that its index of nonmanufacturing activity jumped to 56.8% in January from 53% in December. The survey’s employment index soared to its highest level since February 2006. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Learn About Locum Tenens Trends—ASAPro Webinar Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Feb. 7, from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern time, attend the ASAPro Webinar “Have Stethoscope, Will Travel—The Growing Use of Locum Tenens,” presented by Kurt Mosley of AMN Healthcare. He’ll offer practical guidelines about the use of locum tenens physicians.

ASAPro Webinars are free for ASA members ($295 for nonmembers) and qualify for continuing education hours toward ASA certification renewal. Register online at

ASA Quarterly Employment and Sales Survey Deadline Extended

The deadline for the ASA quarterly survey on temporary and contract staffing, which collects data on sales, payroll, and employment, has been extended to Feb. 13.

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.

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

Get a Model Contract for Staffing Agreements

Do you feel pressured to accept clients’ contracts? Are your clients asking to be indemnified against various types of liability? To help ASA members and their attorneys deal with these and other issues, ASA has developed suggested contract language that spells out the staffing firm’s and the client’s responsibilities.

The model contract for general staffing can be offered in lieu of the client’s standard contract form. It is based on the principle that each party is responsible for the risks associated with its own business, and that each party has a duty to indemnify the other only for those risks.

Sample formats for rate schedules, employee confidentiality agreements, and more are also available at The model contract for general staffing provides suggested language but is not intended as legal advice.

Payroll-Tax Cut Backup Plan Prepared in Case Negotiations Fail

Bloomberg (02/03/12) James Rowley

Senate Democrats are devising a backup plan to extend a payroll tax cut and emergency unemployment benefits that are scheduled to expire in coming weeks if discussions with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives do not culminate in a deal. The House-Senate negotiators “understand there is a backup plan” being drafted by Senate Democratic leaders, says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). “If we have to put it forward, we will.” If Congress does not make a decision by Feb. 29, the payroll tax for employees will increase by two percentage points.

NLRB Report: Employers’ Social Media Policies Must Be Narrow, Must Not Restrict Right to Engage in Protected Activities

Lexology (01/30/12) Jillian Collins

The U.S. National Labor Relations Board has released a new report providing guidance on the rules employers are allowed to place on employees when discussing work on social media. The NLRB says that “employer policies should not be so sweeping that they prohibit the kinds of activity protected by federal labor law, such as the discussion of wages or working conditions among employees.” However, “an employee’s comments on social media are generally not protected if they are mere gripes not made in relation to group activities among employees.”

The key takeaway for companies is that the NLRB takes the position that broad policies that substantially limit social media communications may violate Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which protects an employee’s right to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of mutual aid and protection. Employers, especially nonunion firms that handle labor issues less frequently, should be mindful of the requirements of Section 7 of the NLRA when crafting social media policies. Employees must be allowed to discuss with each other the terms and conditions of their employment, regardless of the social media platform.

DHS Outlines Plans to Reform Visa Processes to Keep Highly Skilled Immigrant Workers

Government Security News (02/01/12) Mark Rockwell

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is working to change some administrative practices to make the visa process easier for highly skilled immigrants who want to come to or remain in the U.S. for work purposes. DHS says the changes are in support of President Obama’s efforts to meet the country’s national security and economic needs. Obama supports legislative measures that will attract and retain highly skilled immigrants, including creating a “Startup Visa,” shoring up the H-1B program, and “stapling” green cards to the diplomas of some foreign-born graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Out of Time: Majority of Large Customers Use Term Limits

Staffing Industry Review (02/01/12) Craig Johnson

The number of staffing clients saying they let temporary workers go because of assignment time limits in 2011—66%—was up from 55% that said they had assignment limits in 2009, according to a survey of staffing buyers by Staffing Industry Analysts. A majority of buyers cited “legal/co-employment risk” concerns as a reason for assignment limits, with “union agreements” and “historical decision of previous managers” also often cited. The survey polled 236 staffing buyers from large firms that employ more than 1,000 people.

The specter of the lawsuit Vizcaino v. Microsoft also lingers. In that case, from more than a decade ago, independent contractors sued Microsoft after a U.S. Internal Revenue Service audit ruled they were common law employees. The workers sued the company for unpaid benefits, and Microsoft ended up settling the “retro-benefits” case for $97 million.

Self-Employed Key to Economic Recovery; Help Them

San Francisco Chronicle (02/02/12) Carl Camden

Carl Camden, chief executive officer of Kelly Services Inc. and a member of the Business Roundtable, says a new approach is needed to create work in the U.S. economy, “one that acknowledges the sea change in what employment means. The time is ripe to overhaul rules, regulations, obstacles and policies that hinder individuals from working on a contract basis and that block businesses from hiring the talent they need.” Camden notes the size of what he calls the self-employed “free agent” work force now encompasses about 44% of the overall work force, or nearly 80 million people, according to Kelly’s research.

Camden cites the difficulties a self-employed entrepreneur faces, including uncertain U.S. Internal Revenue Service definitions, buying health insurance, and saving for retirement. He calls on government to streamline regulations covering free agents, and expand programs that help new entrants to the labor market understand the alternatives to conventional employment.

Workers Focusing On Personal Debt

Investor’s Business Daily (02/04/12)

A survey by finance, accounting, and staffing firm Accounting Principals finds that U.S. workers are concerned about their personal short-term finances rather than long-term investments in 2012. Paying down personal debt, such as credit cards and other outstanding bills, is a top priority for 43% of respondents, according to the survey. Only 27% of workers plan to put money away in an emergency savings fund, while 23% plan to contribute to their company’s 401(k) plan.

IT Staffing Is Specialty for St. Louis-Area Temporary Firms

St. Louis Business Journal (02/03/12) Nicholas Ledden

Half of the firms cited on the list of the St. Louis area’s largest temporary staffing firm have an information technology staffing focus. The 15 firms on this year’s list sent out close to 35,000 W-2s combined and kept anywhere from a dozen to more than 12,000 temporary or contract employees available for placement last year. The top five St. Louis-area staffing firms for 2011 were Rose International, Aerotek Inc., Byrne Software Technologies Inc., Adecco Group, and Technology Partners Inc. The list does not measure total employment numbers but aims to gauge a firm’s size.