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America’s CEOs See Increased Momentum for U.S. Economy

Business Roundtable (03/28/2012)

Business Roundtable’s first-quarter CEO Economic Outlook Survey indicates an increase in expectations for sales, capital spending, and hiring during the next six months, with the CEO Economic Outlook Survey Index rising to 96.9 in the first quarter from 77.9 in the fourth quarter of 2011. In terms of employment changes during the next six months, 42% of chief executives expect an increase, up from 35% in the fourth quarter. Another 43% of respondents anticipate no changes in employment, up slightly from 42%, and 16% expect employment to decrease, down from 24%. Jim McNerney, chairman of Business Roundtable, says oil prices, political uncertainty in the U.S., and economic weakness in Europe are among factors that could hinder U.S. economic growth.

Jobless Claims in U.S. Decline to Lowest Since April 2008

Bloomberg (03/29/12) Lorraine Woellert

The number of Americans who filed requests for jobless benefits fell by 5,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 359,000, the U.S. Labor Department reported today, the lowest number since April 2008. The median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for 350,000 claims. The four-week moving average fell to 365,000 last week from 368,500.

Free ASAPro Webinars Next Month—Powerful Interviews, Direct Hire Fees, and Cloud-Based Recruiting

Don’t miss the ASAPro Webinars in April on hot topics that can improve your operations and increase profits for your firm.

Tuesday, April 3, is the ASAPro Webinar “The Art and Process of the Conscious and Powerful Interview.” You’ll get tips for attracting and identifying top performers. This Webinar is sponsored by People 2.0.

Thursday, April 12, catch “How to Never Negotiate Direct Hire Fees Again.” Learn how to raise your fees and earn more money. This Webinar is sponsored by People 2.0.

Tuesday, April 24, attend the ASAPro Webinar “Recruiting in the Cloud.” Explore cloud technology as it relates to how you recruit and interact with clients.

All Webinars take place from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern time. They’re free for ASA members ($295 for nonmembers) and qualify for continuing education hours toward ASA certification renewal. Register online at

Reduce Workplace Hazards With Employee Safety Best Practices From ASA

Through the establishment and implementation of employee safety best practices, staffing firms and employees can benefit from fewer workplace hazards and exposures, as well as fewer worker injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Moreover, research shows that worker satisfaction, productivity, collaboration, recruitment, and retention all increase dramatically when employers foster safe and healthy work environments.

ASA created Employee Safety Best Practices and Operating Information to help staffing firms promote and ensure employee safety. These corporate and field-level policies and procedures have proven to increase productivity and the quality of the workforce, as well as decrease turnover and reduce insurance costs. There are three versions of the document for firms operating in industrial staffing; nurse staffing; and office–clerical, professional–managerial, and technical–information technology staffing.

To view the Employee Safety Best Practices and Operation Information, visit

Congressional Democrats File Brief on Arizona Immigration Law

Associated Press (03/28/12)

Approximately 60 Democratic members of Congress have filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court expressing their opposition to Arizona’s 2010 immigration enforcement law and urging that the court uphold earlier legal rulings that bar the state from enforcing the law’s most controversial sections. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has asked the Supreme Court to overturn a lower-court ruling that, among other things, barred a requirement that police—while enforcing other laws—question the immigration status of those they suspect of being in the country illegally. The Democratic members of Congress assert that federal immigration law trumps state law. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the Arizona law on April 25.

Alabama Businesses Face April 1 Deadline for E-Verify Enrollment Under Immigration Law

Associated Press (03/29/12)

Alabama companies must enroll in E-Verify, the federal government’s electronic employment eligibility verification program, by April 1. All companies must comply, regardless of size. Companies that fail to comply may lose their licenses.

Connecticut Staffing Company Settles Hiring Discrimination Claim

Associated Press (03/28/12)

The U.S. Justice Department has reached a settlement with Wilton, CT-based Onward Healthcare over allegations that it posted discriminatory advertisements limiting jobs to U.S. citizens. The health care staffing company has agreed to pay $100,000 in civil penalties and change internal policies and manuals to reflect laws protecting noncitizens who are legally authorized to work. Authorities say Onward Healthcare limited applications to U.S. citizens over the course of a year even though lawful permanent residents and others should have been allowed to apply.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Signs Bills Giving Florida Businesses More Than $1 Billion in Tax Cuts Over Three Years

Palm Beach Post (Florida) (03/28/12) John Kennedy

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed into law a measure that will save businesses $800 million in unemployment payments over the next three years. The new law assesses lower taxes on companies for the benefits paid to unemployed workers and provides training to workers who receive low scores on a work skills test.

We Don’t Need No Education: EEOC Says High School Diplomas Can’t Always Be Required

Lexology (03/22/12)

New guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicates that employers could be in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act if they require a high school diploma for certain jobs, particularly if they screen out applicants whose learning disability made it impossible for them to obtain a diploma and they cannot demonstrate that a diploma is job-related and necessary to the business. In a November 2011 letter, which is clarified in the new guidance, the EEOC said employers should determine whether applicants with learning disabilities could perform the job’s essential functions with reasonable accommodation. The guidance says employers should permit these individuals to demonstrate in a way other than with a high school diploma that they qualify for the position. However, employers considering multiple applicants do not have to give preference to the applicant with a disability if another applicant could do the job better.

Charting H-1B Users, as Attention Shifts to L-1

Computerworld (03/28/12)

The U.S. Congress has not yet changed the H-1B visa cap, which stands at 85,000, including 20,000 visas for individuals with advanced degrees. A separate legislative move to make green cards somewhat automatic for individuals with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math-related subjects has also stalled. However, use of the L-1 visa has been increasing. There is no L-1 cap, although L-1 visa applicants must have specialized knowledge, which is defined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as “beyond the ordinary and not commonplace within the industry.”

USCIS is considering broadening the definition of specialized knowledge. However, the Economic Policy Institute cautions that a broader definition could result in job losses for highly skilled American workers and exert downward pressure on wages. EPI says its data indicate that top users of the L-1 program are outsourcing companies “whose business model is to first hire L-1 workers to learn the work done by Americans, then to transfer that work overseas.”

NLRB Rule Could Create Stir in the Break Room (03/23/12) Cynthia Foster

The U.S. National Labor Relations Board mandate that companies hang a poster in lunch and break rooms notifying workers of their right to join a union and bargain collectively is being viewed by some management-side attorneys as a headache. The notice may spur questions from workers, and management may not respond appropriately to those questions, because much of the U.S. management force is “unsophisticated” when it comes to labor relations, says employment law attorney Fred Alvarez. A questionable response from management could be viewed as anti-union speech and trigger an unfair labor investigation. The poster is scheduled to be hung in most workplaces on April 30.

The Unemployment Divide

Daily Yonder (03/28/2012) Bill Bishop

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says unemployment rates in rural counties rose to 9.1% in January from 8.4% in December, though the increase is part of an annual trend due to the laying off of seasonal workers. In fact, the rural unemployment rate has fallen 1 percentage point per year since 2010. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in exurban counties climbed to 8.6% in January from 7.9% in December. The national unemployment rate in January was 8.8%. Unemployment rates along the coasts and in the Southeast generally are above the national average, while in the middle of the country, especially in the Dakotas and Nebraska, unemployment rates are lower than the national average.

Lawmakers in South Dakota have passed legislation permitting the state to hire a recruitment agency to fill jobs across the state with 1,000 out-of-state workers. ManpowerGroup will be given the assignment, receiving $3,000 for every worker placed with a base salary under $40,000 and $5,100 for every worker placed with a base salary between $40,000 and $80,000.

Hiring for Mechanical Engineers Gets a Power Boost

Wanted Analytics (03/28/12) Abby Lombardi

More than 9,000 job advertisements for mechanical engineers were posted online in February, a 10% increase from a year earlier. Companies in Detroit posted the highest volume of job ads for mechanical engineers, many in engineering services, automobile manufacturing, and automobile part manufacturing. Many of the jobs require applicants to have computer-aided design skills. Recruiters in Detroit are facing a shortage of qualified talent and likely will see a longer time-to-fill than other regions of the country. Other cities with high demand for mechanical engineers include Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston.