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Payrolls in U.S. Climb 227,000; Jobless Rate Holds at 8.3%

Bloomberg (03/09/12) Alex Kowalski

The U.S. created 227,000 jobs in February and more people found work in the prior two months than previously reported, suggesting the economy’s recent momentum is likely to continue, according to data released today by the U.S. Department of Labor. The jobless rate held at 8.3%. Job growth over the past six months was the strongest since 2006. The median projection of economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for a 210,000 rise in February employment.

The jobless rate held steady even as the survey showed the labor force grew. Employment climbed by 428,000 in February, while the labor force rose 476,000. The participation rate, which indicates the share of working-age people in the labor force, rose to 63.9% from 63.7%. Private payrolls, which exclude government agencies, rose 233,000 in February after a revised gain of 285,000 the prior month. They were projected to climb by 225,000. Manufacturing payrolls increased by 31,000.

AMN Healthcare Announces Full Year and Fourth Quarter 2011 Results

AMN Healthcare Services News Release (03/08/12)

AMN Healthcare Services Inc. has announced financial results for the full year and the fourth quarter of 2011. Net fourth-quarter income from continuing operations was $1.7 million, a 68% change from the third quarter of 2011. Net full-year income from continuing operations was $5.0 million. The results were at the higher end of management’s expectations, the company said.

The amounts were adjusted to reflect the impact of the discontinued operations associated with the disposal of the Home Healthcare Services segment in January 2012.

Analyst: Jobs Not Part of Manufacturing Recovery

Greenville News (South Carolina) (03/09/12) Jenny Munro

Manufacturing is generating jobs, but it needs fewer workers because the sector has increased productivity and certain jobs are no longer housed under the factory roof, according to Bruce Yandle, an economist at Clemson University. Manufacturing went through a tough period during the recent recession, notes Yandle, and traditionally, the sector closes its older plants and refurbishes others. That reduces the job numbers but tends to increase the productivity of the remaining employees.

Production in the U.S. is nearly back to prerecession levels, but there has been “hardly any recovery in manufacturing employment,” Yandle says. Another part of the structural change in the manufacturing sector is the move to outsource many of the nonmanufacturing elements of the process. Many plants now use temporary employees to fill some of their positions, saving the companies money and giving management more flexibility. U.S. staffing companies employed an average of 2.8 million temporary and contract workers per day in 2011, up 8% from 2010, according to data recently released by the American Staffing Association.

Get Ahead With Social Media—ASAPro Webinar Next Week

Staffing and recruiting professionals have to understand social media to stay competitive. Learn trends and ideas for your firm’s Web presence Tuesday, March 13, 3–4 p.m. Eastern time, during the ASAPro Webinar “Social Media Marketing Must-Do Trends—Stay Ahead of Your Competition.”

Jennifer Abernethy, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Media Marketing, will teach you what needs to be on your Web site, what your firm should be doing on Facebook and LinkedIn, and more.

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

Signing Client Contracts Can Be Costly

American Staffing Association (03/09/12) Ed Lenz

Staffing firm clients increasingly demand to be indemnified against a broad range of potential liabilities, and there is intense competitive pressure for staffing firms to agree to these demands. But doing so could result in a nasty surprise and significant liability.

A 2002 appellate court decision involving a temporary employee on a construction assignment, who caused an explosion while moving propane tanks, illustrates this danger. In defending against the lawsuit brought by the client, the staffing firm argued it was not liable because the temporary employee was under the client’s control at the time of the accident. The district court agreed, but the appeals court reversed the decision.

Staffing firms should not be expected to cover risks beyond those inherent in the staffing business. Staffing firms should not assume risks related to the client’s business, including liability for the client’s products and services. 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.

Appeals Court Blocks Two More Parts of Alabama Immigration Law

Los Angeles Times (03/09/12)

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked two sections of Alabama’s new immigration law. These sections would prevent courts from enforcing contracts involving illegal immigrants and would make it a felony for illegal immigrants to do business in the state. The panel said it would wait until the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on the legality of Arizona’s immigration law before making a decision on the rest of Alabama’s law; oral arguments in the Arizona case will be heard by the Supreme Court April 25. Other sections of Alabama’s law were blocked by the Appeals Court panel in October.

2013 Budget Approves Special Funding for the DOL to ‘Detect and Deter’ the Misclassification of Workers as Independent Contractors

Lexology (02/27/12)

The fiscal year 2013 budget recently proposed by President Obama earmarks $14 million in funding for the U.S. Department of Labor to “detect and deter” companies from misclassifying employees as independent contractors, with $10 million to be given as grants to states to uncover instances of misclassification and recoup unpaid taxes and $4 million for the DOL to launch investigations into misclassification. The DOL’s 2013 budget devotes funding to hiring another 35 full-time investigators to handle misclassification, with the agency noting that it will maintain an “increased presence in those industries where the misclassification of employees as independent contractors is prevalent.” Therefore, companies would be wise to ensure right now that they are in compliance with rules governing independent contractors.

Minimum-Wage Hike Advances in New Jersey Senate

Philadelphia Inquirer (03/08/12) Joelle Farrell

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would hike the minimum wage by $1.25 to $8.50 per hour, with the Senate Labor Committee approving the measure on March 8. Proponents of the bill insist it will bolster the economy by giving working families money to purchase things they need, but critics worry that hitting businesses with a payroll increase right now will prompt them to lay off workers or move business to nearby states with lower minimum wages.

Analysis: Quirks in Jobless Data Could Bite Obama

Reuters (03/08/12) Jason Lange

Some economists are asserting the government is mismeasuring seasonal shifts in the labor market, and suggest the jobless rate’s sharp winter drop is partly an illusion. The unemployment rate has fallen six-tenths of a percentage point from October’s level of 8.9%, an unusually rapid decline that has puzzled analysts who question whether the economy was growing fast enough to bring unemployment down so quickly.

Several Wall Street economists have crunched the unemployment numbers and now believe the deep 2007-09 recession left a lasting impact, distorting the outcome of the government’s adjustments for normal winter lulls in employment. If their research is correct, the unemployment rate could change little in the coming months, potentially hurting President Obama’s chances for re-election.

Even the U.S. Federal Reserve has been surprised by the sharp declines in the jobless rate, and economists at the central bank are studying what lies behind the recent apparent improvements in the labor market. The government analysts who produce the data defend their methods for adjusting the numbers, noting that some real shifts in seasonal employment may have taken hold during the recession, meaning the winter of 2008-09 may not have been an anomaly.

CFOs Expect to Boost Hiring

Wall Street Journal Online (03/07/12)

U.S. chief financial officers expect to increase hiring by slightly more than 2%, according to a quarterly survey by Duke University and CFO Magazine. The survey for the period ended March 1 showed an improvement from the 1.5% growth expected in the previous quarter, according to CFO Magazine’s Kate O’Sullivan. “It indicates that national unemployment should fall below 8% in 2012,” she says.

More than two thirds of U.S. chief financial officers are trying to fill open jobs, and almost 50% of them are having trouble filling some jobs. However, the U.S. CFO Optimism Index rose to 59 from 53 sequentially, marking a return to the index’s long-term average.