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More U.S. Employers Using Temporary Labor to Vet New Hires

Reuters (03/09/12) Nick Zieminski

Companies that provide temporary labor are seeing more contract workers hired as permanent employees, in a sign job gains may be broadening as U.S. employers gain confidence in the recovery, staffing executives report. The staffing sector added 45,000 jobs in February, while temporary job gains in January and December were stronger than initially estimated, data from the U.S. Department of Labor showed. The percentage of temporary workers in the U.S. labor force, at 1.86%, marked the eighth straight monthly increase. Employment analysts expect that metric to pass its April 2000 peak above 2.0% as more employers embrace temporary labor in an uncertain economic climate.

Companies are using temporary employees to try out candidates for permanent jobs, says Jeff Joerres, chief executive of ManpowerGroup. “Our temporary to permanent conversions are very high,” Joerres says. Taking on temporary workers “also is a way of being agile and cautious, so if something happens in the Middle East and demand goes down precipitously, (they) have a way to adjust without affecting the permanent work force.” Small and mid-size companies are stepping up use of temporary workers as easier access to credit allows them to invest, notes Randstad employment analyst Joanie Ruge. “It is robust,” Ruge says. “Companies are going to look for more flexibility in their work force. They will expand and contract as their demand fluctuates.”

Joel Capperella, vice president of Yoh, points out that wages are still flat. A Yoh index of wages for skilled temporary workers found only a 1% gain over a year ago. “Wages aren’t really moving a whole lot,” Capperella says. “Clients of our services are in the driver’s seat. Things are good but you have to temper it.”

Piecing Together the Job-Picture Puzzle

Wall Street Journal (03/12/12) Jon Hilsenrath

The unemployment rate has fallen 0.7 percentage point from a year earlier, companies have expanded payrolls by more than 200,000 a month for the past three months, and the number of people filing claims for government unemployment benefits has fallen. Despite all this, the economy is barely growing, with many economists in the past few weeks having again reduced their estimates of growth. The economy by many estimates is on track to grow at an annual rate of less than 2% in the first three months of 2012.

Traditionally, economists have believed that when the economy grows faster than its long-run trend, the unemployment rate tends to fall by about half as much as the additional growth in percentage terms. So growth of 3.5% in a year—one percentage point above a long-run trend of 2.5%—would bring down the unemployment rate by a half percentage point in that year. However, that rule has been unreliable lately.

Christina Romer, President Barack Obama’s former chief economic adviser, has a theory for why the jobless rate rose more than predicted during the recession and why it has fallen more than the rule predicted since the recession: She believes that company managers were so shocked by the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 that they fired workers more aggressively than they would in a conventional downturn. Over the past six months, she continues, as fear and uncertainty have dissipated, firms appear to have reversed course and gone back toward more normal staffing levels. Romer worries that these overshoots might soon run their course and that the traditional rule will reassert itself, potentially keeping the unemployment rate at high levels because the economy isn’t growing fast enough to justify more hiring.

More Younger Workers Finding Jobs

USA Today (03/12/12) Paul Davidson

Job prospects for younger workers are improving. In February, jobs for 25-to-34-year-olds rose by 116,000 to 30.5 million. The unemployment rate for these workers declined from 9% in January to 8.7% in February, the lowest level since January 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Meanwhile, the employment-to-population ratio for these workers rose from 74.5% to 74.7%.

Monster Employment Index U.S. Rises 11% on Annual Basis

MarketWatch (03/09/12)

Monster Worldwide Inc., parent company of ASA corporate partner Monster, reveals annual growth of 11% in its Employment Index U.S. in February. Positive annual growth trends were recorded in 19 of 20 industries, with transportation and warehousing up 36%, retail trade up 22%, wholesale trade up 22%, finance and insurance up 21%, and professional, scientific, and technical services up 17%; the biggest decline of 8% was recorded in public administration. Demand for workers increased in 22 of 23 occupational categories on a year-over-year basis, with transportation and material moving up 33%, legal up 23%, architecture and engineering up 23%, computer and mathematical up 19%, and management up 14%. Regionally, all 28 metro markets showed positive annual growth, ranging from 21% in Washington, DC, to 7% in Los Angeles.

Get Ahead With Social Media—ASAPro Webinar Tomorrow

Staffing and recruiting professionals have to understand social media to stay competitive. Learn trends and ideas for your firm’s Web presence tomorrow, 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

NLRB Weighs in on Social Media Activity in the Workplace

American Staffing Association (03/12/12) Anne Duffy

In recent months, there has been a flurry of opinions issued by the National Labor Relations Board that address employees’ right to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment through social media outlets.

The National Labor Relations Act applies to virtually all employees, regardless of whether they are represented by a union, and protects their right to seek mutual aid and support regarding the terms and conditions of their employment. Lafe Solomon, acting general counsel of the NLRB, has sued employers under the NLRA, alleging that their social media policies were overbroad and unlawfully restricted employees’ protected activities—such as using online tools to complain about or discuss their disciplinary actions or pay with other employees.

NLRB, in turn, has ruled that employer social media policies cannot be so sweeping as to prohibit or restrict social media activity protected under the NLRA.

In light of the recent NLRB ruling, the law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP has provided an updated sample social media policy for ASA members. This policy is not intended as legal advice, and staffing firms should review and, as warranted, modify the policy upon the advice of their legal counsel to ensure compliance with the law.

E-Verify—It’s Yes, It’s No!

Lexology (03/06/12) John Fay

Some observers believe states that have passed legislation dealing with the E-Verify system are motivated by economic and migration factors and that those requiring its use have large foreign-born populations, but U.S. Census Bureau data show otherwise. Foreign-born residents make up 25% of California’s population, yet the state passed a law prohibiting a requirement that employers enroll in the E-Verify program. Illinois, where foreign-born residents account for 13.7% of the population, passed a law banning state agencies from enrolling in the program. Meanwhile, foreign-born residents make up about 6.36% of the population in the nine states that have passed laws requiring employers to enroll in E-Verify. Moreover, rather than institute such a mandate for economic or migration reasons, a bill up for consideration in New Hampshire that would prohibit the use of the E-Verify system cites federalist concerns.

H-1B Petitions April 1 Deadline

Lexology (03/08/12) Benjamin T. Kurten

Companies that want to sponsor a first-time H-1B employee may file their petitions to do so beginning April 1, and should file as close to that date as possible, before the H-1B “cap” is reached. Employees that are “cap exempt” include those who already have an H-1B visa and want to extend the duration of their stay in the U.S.; those who, in the past six years, have been counted toward the cap, unless they would be eligible for an additional six years of admission because they have been outside the U.S. for at least one year since they last had H-1B status; and those who are current H-1B visa holders who want to work simultaneously in a second H-1B job.

States Hardest Hit by Housing Lead Jobs Recovery

Bloomberg (03/10/12) Steve Matthews

The states that were most hurt in the real estate collapse over the past five years—Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada—added 222,100 jobs from August through December, accounting for 28% of the increase in U.S. employment in that period. Their outperformance may continue, say economists at Moody’s Analytics Inc. and IHS Global Insight.

Households in these states—where homes have lost on average half of their value since the 2006 peak in the housing bubble—are healing after cutting debt and bolstering their net worth, says Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Their stabilization may signal a broader improvement by U.S. consumers that supports a faster expansion in employment growth. Meanwhile, the broadening national recovery is helping local industries, including gambling in Nevada, tourism in Florida and Arizona, and social networking in California.

7 Reasons the Job Gains in 2012 Could Prove More Durable Than Last Year’s

Chicago Tribune (03/11/12) Paul Wiseman

Job gains since the start of the year look promising, and observers believe these gains are more sustainable this year than they were in 2011. They point out that companies will continue to hire more workers because they cannot increase output at current staffing levels. Also helping to sustain job gains are increased consumer spending, an ease of tensions in Congress that led to a payroll tax extension, signs of recovery in the housing market, an ease in concerns about Europe’s debt crisis, and a jump in lending to businesses by U.S. banks. Additionally, state and local governments appear to be adding jobs, with 10,000 jobs added at the state level so far this year and 2,000 jobs added by local governments last month.