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Jobs Data Reveals Unexpectedly Good News

Wall Street Journal (04/02/12) Justin Lahart

For the three months through February, the U.S. added an average of 245,000 payrolls, marking the strongest gains since 2006. Economists are expecting Friday’s jobs report for March to show a gain of 210,000 jobs. Observers say the actual employment picture may be even better than the headline job figures have shown.

The jobs data can have a hard time capturing the scope of employment gains when the job market is recovering, and evidence is increasing that is what is now happening. The payroll survey only polls established firms, and so misses employment gains at the very young companies that have historically fueled U.S. job growth. A separate survey of households that the unemployment rate is based on suggests stronger job gains, as does a census of employment in the third quarter that the Labor Department released last week, covering nearly the entirety of the U.S. job market.

Engineers Find New Hope for Jobs in Michigan

Detroit Free Press (04/02/12) Katherine Yung; John Gallagher

The demand for technical professionals and engineers in Michigan has increased, but a shortage of highly skilled workers is threatening to stall newfound growth for business and the state economy, even as millions across the country are looking for work. Attracting professionals back to Michigan is one of the strategies companies and the state now pursue to fill open positions. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has formed teams for five areas: manufacturing; health care; alternative energy and utilities; information technology and media; and agriculture.

In manufacturing alone, U.S. employers have not been able to fill 600,000 skilled positions, according to a late summer survey of the manufacturing industry from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute. The situation is putting upward pressure on salaries for many technical workers. For engineers, “the pay levels are beginning to increase across the board in all states, including Michigan,” says Todd Soulier, talent acquisition manager for EASi, a Detroit-based engineering staffing firm.

Official Sentenced for Staffing Firm Bribes

Workforce (03/30/12)

New Jersey labor investigator Joseph Rivera has been sentenced to 60 months in prison for taking $1.86 million in bribes from temporary staffing firms. Rivera, a senior investigator with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, took bribes from certain firms to not inspect the firms and falsely certify firms were in compliance with wage and hour laws. At least 20 firms were involved. The incidents occurred between 2002 and 2008.

ASAPro Webinar Tomorrow—The Conscious and Powerful Interview

Don’t miss the ASAPro Webinar “The Art and Process of the Conscious and Powerful Interview,” Tomorrow, April 3, 3–4 p.m. Eastern time. Margaret Graziano, CPC, CTS, of Keen Talent Management will give you tips for attracting and identifying top performers. This Webinar is sponsored by People 2.0.

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

Hear the Best Business Speakers at Staffing World® 2012

Staffing World 2012, Oct 9–11 in Las Vegas, is shaping up to be an exciting educational event with three exceptional keynote speakers: author and business consultant Jim Collins, Liz Wiseman of the Wiseman Group, and We First founder Simon Mainwaring. These world-renowned business experts headline three intense days of high-level interactive learning and industry-specific content.

Back by popular demand, Collins invites staffing executives to be Great by Choice—that’s the title of his newest bestseller, which the Financial Times describes as “a sensible, well-timed and precisely targeted message for companies shaken by macroeconomic crises.” Collins will teach Staffing World attendees about the principles for building a truly great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous, and fast-moving times.

Wiseman will share leadership strategies presented in her best-selling book, Multipliers—How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. Byron Pitts of 60 Minutes called it “A must-have manual for anyone in a leadership position or aspiring to become a leader.” In this acclaimed book, Wiseman evaluates how leaders use their intelligence to amplify the smarts and capabilities of the people around them.

Mainwaring is one of the world’s foremost experts on branding and social media. Drawing from best practices and case studies of Fortune 500 brands, Mainwaring will lead a session designed to give companies the confidence—and action steps—to become social technology leaders.

At Staffing World 2012, you’ll get the best industry information and learn the latest trends to help your company succeed and remain competitive. For more information and to register, visit staffingworld.org.

Are Your Non-Exempt Employees Being Compensated Correctly for Travel Time?

Lexology (03/23/12) Jordan B. Schwartz

Whether a nonexempt employee’s travel time for business-related events must be compensated and constitutes overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act depends on certain factors. Travel time during normal work hours is considered work time, and because it is being substituted for the duties the employee would otherwise perform, he or she must be compensated. However, travel time outside of regular work hours does not have to be compensated; the law does require employees to be compensated for travel that occurs on weekends and other nonworking days, but only during the hours of the day they would be working if it was a weekday. Moreover, if the employee has already completed a 40-hour work week, the travel time should be considered overtime and compensated accordingly. The law includes layovers as travel time, but meal times can be deducted. These rules do not apply to the commute to and from the airport, train, or bus station, nor do they apply to everyday work commutes.

New EEOC Regulation Subject U.S. Employers to More Scrutiny

Seyfarth Shaw (03/30/12)

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released new Age Discrimination in Employment Act regulations indicating increased scrutiny of employers seeking to downsize or otherwise lower employment-related costs, spelling out how actions that adversely affect older workers must be justified. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Smith v. City of Jackson (2005) stated that a “reasonable factor other than age” must be the reason for such an action, which the EEOC has expanded to require employers to show that such actions are both rational and reasonable in design.

The five factors that must be considered when determining whether an employer has acted “reasonably” are: “the extent to which the factor is related to the employer’s stated business purpose; the extent to which the employer defined the factor accurately and applied the factor fairly and accurately, including the extent to which managers and supervisors were given guidance or training about how to apply the factor and avoid discrimination; the extent to which the employer limited supervisors’ discretion to assess employees subjectively, particularly where the criteria that the supervisors were asked to evaluate are known to be subject to negative age-based stereotypes; the extent to which the employer assessed the adverse impact of its employment practice on older workers; and the degree of the harm to individuals within the protected age group, in terms of both the extent of injury and the numbers of persons adversely affected, and the extent to which the employer took steps to reduce the harm, in light of the burden of undertaking such steps.”

However, the EEOC says that the list is nonexhaustive but also that employers may not have to prove that they took all of the factors into consideration. Thus, it remains to be seen whether the regulations will be challenged in court and whether they will hold up, nor is it clear whether the regulations are retroactive and what employers must do to comply.

Homeland Security Continues Enforcement Efforts Against Companies Employing Undocumented Workers

Lexology (03/26/12)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is continuing its crackdown on U.S. companies that fail to properly verify their employees are authorized to work in the U.S. In fiscal year 2011, ICE conducted I-9 audits of 2,496 companies, up from 503 in fiscal year 2008; launched 3,291 work site enforcement cases; criminally arrested 221 employers; issued 385 Final Orders for $10,463,987 in fines; and debarred 115 individuals and 97 companies.

Employers Grow Optimistic on 2012 Hiring

Right Management News Release (03/15/12)

One in three companies predict renewed growth and increased hiring in 2012, according to a survey done by Right Management, a dramatic increase from 2011, when only one in five U.S. employers reported feeling confident about growth or hiring. Approximately 36% of the companies surveyed said 2012 will be a year of growth and recovery, marked by increased hiring and new talent development initiatives; 55% said it will be similar to 2011 with sluggish hiring and postponed HR initiatives; and 11% said it will be a year of stagnation with more cutbacks and restructurings.