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Staffing Shares Mixed After Slow Jobs Growth

Reuters (04/09/12) Lynn Adler

After the release of the March jobs report, indicating the lowest level of hiring since October, shares of several staffing firms fell on April 9. ManpowerGroup’s shares were down 2.6%, while Robert Half International fell 3.1%, Kelly Services dipped 1.7%, and TrueBlue Inc. declined 3%. However, shares rose 1.4% for Hudson Highland, 1.2% for Adecco, 2.7% for Randstad, and 0.9% for Michael Page. Jeff Joerres, chief executive of ManpowerGroup, says, “The trend we’ve seen over the last three or four months continues, which is a slow, kind of trudging, clawing out of the hole that we’ve been in. For the second half, we expect more of the same—slow, having some spurts of better months than not.”

J.P. Morgan analysts reported on April 9 that flexible staffing as a percentage of nonfarm payrolls reached 1.87% last month, up from 1.75% in July 2011 and 1.34% in June 2009, noting, “In our view, penetration will continue to increase as the memory of the Great Recession continues to spur businesses to look to flex staffing as a source of agility.” Most of the new jobs are in accounting, finance, and information technology, according to Joanie Ruge, chief employment analyst at Randstad Holding U.S., and many of them are long-term projects that could lead to permanent employment.

Skilled-Worker Visas See a Surge in Demand

Wall Street Journal (04/09/12) Miriam Jordan

In a development that may signal that the economy is improving, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service says it has seen a sharp increase in petitions for H-1B visas this year. USCIS has received 25,600 petitions for the visas since April 2, almost twice as many as it received for the entire first month of last year’s application period. Some 17,400 of the petitions received in the first week were in the general category of skilled workers, while 8,200 were in the advanced category, for workers with an advanced degree. The increase in visa applications reflects an increase in activity for related businesses such as technology companies.

After Six Months of Increases, Small-Business Optimism Drops for Main Street

NFIB Small-Business News (04/10/12)

The National Federation of Independent Business’ Small-Business Optimism Index dropped nearly two points to 92.5 in March, with nine of 10 index components—including hiring—posting declines. However, the job creation component of the index was the one bright spot, with 10% of small-business owners surveyed adding 3.1 workers per firm on average during the past few months on a seasonally adjusted basis. About 44% of respondents hired or attempted to hire workers, but 32% said there were few or no qualified applicants. Although actual hiring figures indicated that March was the best job creation month in a year, there are concerns about weakness in the job market given that the percentage of owners with hard-to-fill job openings and those expecting to boost the number of employees decreased.

Raising the Floor on Pay

New York Times (04/09/12) Steven Greenhouse

Pressure to boost the minimum wage is rising as the economy recovers at a slow pace and income inequality becomes a focus of the presidential campaign. The federal minimum wage rose to $7.25 per hour in July 2009, but lawmakers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, and other states are taking steps to raise it even higher. Washington currently has the highest minimum wage of $9.04 per hour, but in Massachusetts, a measure was approved by the joint committee on labor to boost the minimum wage to $10 per hour. Meanwhile, some labor groups are pushing for U.S. Senate Labor Committee chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) to lead a charge to boost the federal minimum wage to $9.80 per hour over the next two years.

One Week to the ASA Staffing Law Conference

The ASA Staffing Law Conference, a program devoted to legal and regulatory issues facing staffing firms, is next week: April 17–18 in Washington, DC.

You can’t afford to miss this opportunity to learn how to protect yourself and your business. The conference features Charlie Cook, the pre-eminent authority on U.S. elections and political trends; senior-level representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and U.S. Department of Justice; a special session to discuss the effects of federal health care reform; and more.

To register, visit americanstaffing.net.

Showcase Your Membership With the ASA Logo and Graphics

Market research shows that clients recognize membership in ASA as an indicator of excellence. By displaying the ASA member logo, you promote your membership and show your commitment to legal, ethical, and professional practices. Use the ASA member logo on your Web site, stationery, and business cards, and in your ads and brochures.

The ASA member logo kit makes it easy. The logo kit includes an assortment of member logos in both color and black and white, which are available for download in multiple formats at americanstaffing.net. Additional graphics are also available to showcase your Certified Staffing Professional™ or Technical Services Certified™ credentials, and help promote Staffing World® or National Staffing Employee Week.

USCIS Releases Lists of Employers Enrolled in E-Verify Program

National Law Review (04/02/12) Dawn Lurie

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has released lists of the more than 345,000 companies enrolled in E-Verify, the federal government’s electronic employment eligibility program. USCIS has also offered some caveats to be considered when searching the lists. The lists only include companies and federal contractors that have reported their company has five or more employees. Not all of a company’s business locations may be listed. The lists will be updated quarterly.

ICE Is Back With a Brand New Mission

Lexology (04/02/12) Dustin J. O’Quinn

In-depth audits by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can be triggered by “no match” letters issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration. No match letters inform companies that their wage documentation is inconsistent with SSA information. A summary of ICE’s increased enforcement and investigative activities can be found here.

ETI Declines Slightly in March

The Conference Board News Release (04/09/12)

The Conference Board Employment Trends Index decreased 0.18% in March to 107.28, down from the revised figure of 107.47 in February. The March figure is up 5.2% from the same month a year ago. March’s decline in the ETI was driven by negative contributions from three of the eight components—the percentage of firms with positions they are not able to fill right now, percentage of respondents who say they find “jobs hard to get,” and number of employees hired by the temporary help industry.

Randstad Healthcare Employment Report

Randstad News Release (04/09/12)

The Randstad Healthcare Employee Confidence Index was 58.4 in the first quarter of 2012, according to a recent online survey. Eighteen percent of survey respondents report that more jobs are available, but 47% of health care workers believe there are fewer opportunities available. Fifty-eight percent of health care workers are confident they could find a job, and 66% feel confident about the financial health of their company.

Business Exclusive: Uptick in Temporary Jobs Good Indicator of Hiring Rebound

Fort Myers News-Press (Florida) (04/08/12)

U.S. staffing companies were responsible for employing approximately 2.8 million temporary and contract workers per day in 2011, an 8% increase from a year earlier, according to the American Staffing Association. Staffing companies in Florida are seeing a modest uptick in demand for their services. “Health care has been the steady Eddie sector. But we’re seeing demand start to come back in construction and real estate,” says Jamie Conley, Fort Myers-based regional vice president for Robert Half International. He says the “purely temporary” positions are growing more quickly than the “temporary to permanent” positions being offered in Southwest Florida.

Five Reasons the U.S. Hiring Slowdown in March Might Signal a Weakening Job Market

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (04/09/12) Paul Wiseman

Although economists attributed the drop in hiring in March to unseasonably warm weather in January and February that prompted construction firms and other employers to hire workers earlier than they would have otherwise, some observers believe there are reasons to be concerned about the job market. They believe economic growth is not strong enough to sustain the average 246,000 jobs added per month from December to February, with a 2.5% anticipated economic growth rate only able to sustain the addition of 140,000 jobs per month. They also worry about rising gas prices and the fact that workers’ hours are being cut and that incomes are not keeping up with inflation. Furthermore, they point out that millions of Americans have stopped looking for jobs and that the economy still has not recovered all of the jobs lost since the recession. Around 8.8 million jobs were lost between January 2008 and February 2010, but just 3.6 million jobs have been regained since then.

Will Strong Car Sales Bring More Hiring by Auto Manufacturers?

Wanted Analytics (04/09/12) Abby Lombardi

Despite recent strong automobile sales, hiring in the auto manufacturing sector was down 13% in the first quarter of 2012 compared with a year earlier. However, hiring demand in the Detroit metro area has doubled during the last three months compared with 2011. Demand for production workers has risen 46% over the past year, while demand for technology workers has declined 3%—although the volume of job ads for electrical engineers has risen about 20%.