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Jobless Rates Decline in Key States

Wall Street Journal (03/14/12) Josh Mitchell

Joblessness remains high but has fallen in a handful of states expected to be closely contested in this November’s presidential election. The biggest job gains have come in the industrial Midwest—places such as Ohio and Michigan—where manufacturers have stepped up hiring in response to a surge in auto sales and other exports. The unemployment rate in Michigan fell more sharply than in any other state, to 9% in January, down nearly two percentage points from a year ago. The jobless rates in Colorado and Ohio fell by at least a percentage point each to 7.8% and 7.7%, respectively. In all, six of 10 states expected to be closely contested in the election have a jobless rate below the national average.

Nevada and North Carolina, two states hit hard by the housing bust, each saw their unemployment rate fall by more than a percentage point over the past year, but both states were still stuck in double digits in January, the most recent month for which data are available. U.S. Federal Reserve officials project U.S. unemployment will be between 8.2% and 8.5% by the end of the year.

Confidence at U.S. Small Companies Climbs to One-Year High

Business Week (03/13/12) Shobhana Chandra

The National Federation of Independent Business reports its optimism index increased to 94.3, the best reading since February 2011 and the sixth consecutive monthly gain, from 93.9 in January. The pickup in confidence was broad-based as more small companies also said they are increasing wages, anticipating better sales, and planning to grow inventories. The results are “good news for economy watchers,” says William Dunkelberg, the group’s chief economist. Small businesses are “mostly headed in the right direction, just at a glacial pace.” Measures on hiring and investment were a bit less promising. The small-business gauge of plans to add to payrolls dropped one point to net 4%, and those intending to make capital purchases over the next three to six months fell a point, the first decline in five months, to net 23%.

Staffing Law Conference Update: Rooms Available at the Hotel Helix

Rooms at the Westin City Center Hotel, Washington, DC, have sold out for the 2012 ASA Staffing Law Conference, which takes place at this hotel April 17–18. However, ASA has secured a block of rooms at the Hotel Helix, which is about a 10-minute walk from the Westin. The exact distance between the hotels is 0.3 miles.

Make reservations by calling the Hotel Helix at 800-706-1202 and asking for the 2012 ASA Staffing Law Conference group rate. The group room rate, available until March 23, is $259 (plus tax) per night for single or double occupancy (includes complimentary Internet access), and is subject to room availability.

After March 23, reservations may be accepted at the hotel’s prevailing rate, space permitting. Check-in starts at 3 p.m.; check-out is 12 noon. For more information about the 2012 ASA Staffing Law Conference, visit

New EEOC Task Force Aims to Help Small Businesses

Business Management Daily (03/13/12)

To help small-business owners without expert legal advice or experienced human resources professionals comply with federal antidiscrimination laws, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has created a small-business task force. The task force will determine how to broaden outreach to small businesses via technology, create technical assistance and training initiatives for small businesses, and develop approaches that specifically target firms with 50 or fewer employees and those owned by women or minorities. It also will enhance the EEOC’s Web site to improve small-business training.

Court: Worker Can Sue Supervisor as Individual in Medical Leave Claim

Mondaq (03/12/12) Peter L. Frattarelli

A ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals for the Delaware Valley adds the federal Family and Medical Leave Act to the list of employment laws for which supervisors and managers can be held individually liable, meaning that they can face lawsuits from employees dissatisfied with how their FMLA requests have been handled. In Haybarger v. Lawrence County Adult Probation and Parole, an employee sued her employer and her supervisor for allegedly terminating her in retaliation for work that was missed for medical reasons. While the trial court dismissed the claim against her supervisor because she only has the ability to recommend termination, the appeals court broadened the FMLA definition of “employer” to include individuals that have supervisory authority over the employee making the complaint and that are wholly or partly responsible for the alleged violation. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. Supreme Court will make a decision on the matter, but in the meantime, experts stress that employers ensure supervisors and managers receive sufficient training in handling FMLA requests.

One in Four Attorneys Plans to Hire in Second Quarter, Robert Half Legal Survey Finds

Robert Half International News Release (03/13/12)

More than one-quarter (26%) of the attorneys interviewed for the quarterly Robert Half Legal Hiring Index plan to hire full-time legal staff during the second quarter of 2012, while 4% anticipate staff reductions. The net 22% increase in hiring activity compares with a net hiring increase of 27% predicted in the first quarter of 2012. Some 57% of attorneys polled expect no change in staff levels in the next three months. More than half (59%) of the attorneys say it is challenging to find skilled legal professionals, up eight points from the previous quarter. Hiring activity is expected to take place predominantly at law firms, and bankruptcy or foreclosure, litigation, and general business or commercial law are the practice areas expected to see the most growth in the coming months.

Marketing and Advertising Executives Reveal Second-Quarter Hiring Plans: The Creative Group

Robert Half International News Release (03/13/12)

Some 13% of marketing and advertising executives plan to add full-time staff in the next three months, according to the Creative Group Hiring Index for Marketing and Advertising Professionals, and 3% predict reductions in staff. Most survey respondents, 80%, expect to make no changes to the size of their teams; this is up four points from the previous quarter’s forecast. The net 10% of executives planning to hire in the second quarter is up one point from the same time period in 2011 and down four points from the first-quarter 2012 forecast. Account services, Web design or production, and brand or product management are the specialties in greatest demand, according to survey respondents.

The Sky Is the Limit for Cloud Hiring

Wanted Analytics (03/13/12) Abby Lombardi

More than 5,000 cloud computing job ads were placed online in the U.S. last month, according to Wanted Analytics. Hiring demand for people with cloud skills has spiked dramatically, up 92% compared with February 2011 and 400% compared with February 2010. More than 3,400 of the ads placed last month were for tech talent, a 99% increase from a year ago. Other jobs that increasingly require cloud experience include marketing managers, sales managers, management analysts, and financial analysts.

Auto Parts Suppliers Hiring as Fast as They Can

NPR Online (03/14/12) Tracy Samilton

Automakers are creating thousands of new jobs amid a sales boom, and their suppliers are racing to keep up with the industry’s growth, adding tens of thousands of new jobs. In a dramatic reversal, many suppliers, after improving efficiency—through downsizing and buyouts—find themselves short-handed.

With the memory of the recent deep recession still so fresh, companies are still wary about hiring too freely. However, Sean McAlinden—an economist with the Center for Automotive Research—says there actually is a danger of having a shortage of parts and workers. He says the supplier industry will need 174,000 additional workers by 2015, and the pace of hiring right now appears to be too slow.

9 to 5—at 75

SmartMoney (03/13/12) Anne Kadet

For millions of workers, retirement has been delayed for years, with some saying they may never retire. The number of working people over age 65 reached an all-time low in 2001, when just 13% held a job. Now that rate is rebounding, and fast; last summer, it hit 18%, the highest level since 1962.

Some employers are beginning to appreciate the unique strengths—people skills, accrued wisdom, and a strong work ethic—that seniors can bring to the table. Principal Financial created a formal staffing program that brings retirees back for part-time temporary work while they continue to collect pensions. “They know the culture and they know their way around,” says human resource director Polly Heinen. The typical employee returns three to six months into retirement, taking short-term assignments doing clerical or administrative work for 10 to 20 hours a week. However, according to the Society for Human Resources Management, just 6% of U.S. companies offer formal “phased retirement” programs, down from 13% in 2006.

Executives Fear Leadership Shortage

IndustryWeek (03/14/12) Jonathan Katz

Employers have long fretted about a lack of applicants with the necessary skills to meet modern labor demands, but executives say they are now also having difficultly filling leadership roles within their organizations. Nearly a third of executives polled by Right Management, the talent and career management experts within the ManpowerGroup, cited a lack of high-potential leaders in their organization as their most pressing human resource challenge.

The sluggish economic climate has hampered recruiting efforts, says Michael Haid, senior vice president of talent management for Right Management. “Lean times make it hard for organizations seeking to recruit, retain, or develop future leaders,” he says. “And they’re keenly aware of the tough competitive environment they’re in and the need to hold onto and build leadership.”