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The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index Declines Again

The Conference Board (05/29/2012)

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined slightly in April, fell further in May. The Index now stands at 64.9, down from 68.7 in April (1985=100). The Expectations Index declined to 77.6 from 80.4, while the Present Situation Index decreased to 45.9 from 51.2 last month.

“Consumers were less positive about current business and labor market conditions, and they were more pessimistic about the short-term outlook,” says Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board. “However, consumers were more upbeat about their income prospects, which should help sustain spending. Taken together, the retreat in the Present Situation Index and softening in consumer expectations suggest that the pace of economic growth in the months ahead may moderate.”

Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also less positive. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 15.8% from 16.9%, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 21.0% from 18.4%. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes improved to 15.2% from 13.9%.

Intuit: Small Businesses Added 40,000 Jobs in May

Dow Jones Newswires (05/30/12) Mia Lamar

Small businesses added approximately 40,000 new jobs in May, adding to the recent pace of tentative employment growth, according to the latest monthly small business employment index from Intuit Inc. Small-business employment increased 0.2% through May 23, equating to an annualized rate of 2.5%, Intuit said. Average monthly pay declined to $2,688 in May, down slightly from the April revised figure of $2,692. Small-business hourly employees worked an average of 106.4 hours in May, down from the revised figure of 107.1 hours in April and making for a 24.6-hour workweek.

“We need growth at this level for two more years for small-business employment to return to the level we saw in early 2007,” says Susan Woodward, an economist working with Intuit.

How to Make Recruiters Work for You

Time (05/29/12) Jak Phillips

Recruiters and headhunters are becoming an increasingly vital contact as the economy continues to sputter and the unemployed outnumber job vacancies by six to one, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2011 recruiters and headhunters helped nearly 13 million U.S. workers find temporary, contract, or permanent jobs, reports the American Staffing Association.

ASA Quarterly Survey to Track Staffing Sales by Sector

In the fourth quarter of 2011, temporary and contract sales were $26.2 billion, up 10.0% from the same quarter the previous year. Would you like to know whether the trend continued in the first quarter of this year? ASA is currently gathering data on temporary and contract staffing sales, payroll, and employment for its quarterly Staffing Employment and Sales Survey.

For the first time, ASA will begin tracking temporary and contract staffing sales and gross margin data by sector. Survey participants are asked to provide data for all of the sectors in which their firm operates. All U.S. staffing firms can participate in the survey.

Staffing firms that complete the survey receive an exclusive report on the results, which includes payroll data available nowhere else. There are no fees to participate.

Register to take the survey or view a PDF version of the questionnaire at This survey is conducted by ASA research partner Inavero.

Free ASAPro Webinar Tomorrow—Hiring Military Veterans

Don’t miss tomorrow’s ASAPro Webinar “Hiring Heroes: Transitioning From the Military to the Civilian Work Force–Research Findings of the Apollo Research Institute,” 3–4 p.m. Eastern time. It will focus on a study by the Apollo Research Institute that aims to assist businesses in hiring military veterans.

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

Employers May Not Be Entitled to Full Disclosure of Potential EEOC Class Action Before Suit Is Filed

JDSupra (05/24/2012) Pete Land

Employers often believe that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission must spell out the scope of a potential class action and give the employer a chance to resolve the matter before expanding a single-employee EEOC charge into a class-action lawsuit. However, a recent Illinois district court decision in EEOC v. Union Road Towing Inc. indicates that the EEOC can expand a case without giving the employer an opportunity to resolve class-wide claims. This ruling contradicts a decision by the Eighth Circuit in EEOC v. CRST Van Expedited Inc., issued a week earlier, that offered employers protection against class-action lawsuits. Employers in Illinois and elsewhere in the Seventh Circuit are urged to confirm the scope of potential class claims before terminating conciliation discussions in the absence of a Seventh Circuit or U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the matter.

Age Discrimination and the RFOA Defense: What Is Reasonable? (05/22/12)

Employers can make business decisions based on “reasonable factors other than age,” but to avoid age discrimination claims, it is important for them to understand what constitutes “reasonable.” In response to a final rule by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission effective April 29, 2012, employers using an RFOA defense must show that “the practice at issue was both reasonably designed to further achieve a legitimate business purpose” and that it “was administered in a way that reasonably achieves that purpose in light of the particular facts and circumstances that were known, or should have been known, to the employer,” says Brian Kurtz, attorney at Chicago-based Ford & Harrison LLP.

Two Medical Conditions Can Equal One FMLA Serious Health Condition

JDSupra (05/23/2012) Jeff Nowak

In the case Fries v. TRI Marketing, the court said employers may violate the Family and Medical Leave Act by terminating an employee for taking leave for two conditions that are not serious health conditions on their own, but when combined can be “temporarily linked” and impact the “same organ system.” Thus, employers assessing an employee’s medical condition under the FMLA should look at the cumulative, adverse effects of related medical conditions. Moreover, they should not indicate in a termination letter that the decision was based, in part, on the employee’s intention to sue; they can avoid claims of retaliation by naming a nondiscriminatory reason for the termination.

An Inside Job: More Firms Opt to Recruit From Within

Wall Street Journal (05/30/12) Rachel Emma Silverman; Lauren Weber

Responding to research indicating that hiring outsiders can lead to costly missteps, firms are ramping up internal hiring efforts and investing in new career sites to boost intra-office movement. Companies say those efforts are helping to cut recruiting costs and retain high performers. A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School found that external hires were paid some 18% more than internal employees in equivalent roles, but fared worse in performance reviews during their first two years on the job. Hiring managers often “underestimate how hard it is to integrate new people,” says Matthew Bidwell, a Wharton assistant professor whose study examined six years of employee data at a financial services company’s U.S. investment banking unit.

Cisco Systems Inc. has developed an internal career program, called Talent Connection, that seeks to identify “passive candidates,” qualified employees who aren’t necessarily looking for a job. The system is designed to help recruiters approach internal candidates the way they do external ones, says Mark Hamberlin, a Cisco vice-president of global staffing. Talent Connection has saved the company “several million dollars” in search-firm fees and other recruiting costs, according to Hamberlin, while employee surveys show workers’ satisfaction with career development has risen by nearly 20 percentage points.

The 10 Hardest Jobs to Fill in America

Forbes (05/29/12) Jacquelyn Smith

The seventh annual talent shortage survey of more than 1,300 employers in the first quarter by ManpowerGroup indicates that even as the U.S. unemployment rate remains above 8%, 49% of employers are having a hard time filling vacant positions. The 10 hardest jobs to fill are skilled trades, engineers, information technology, sales representatives, accounting and finance, drivers, mechanics, nurses, machinists and machine operators, and teachers.

Melanie Holmes, a vice president at ManpowerGroup, attributes the trend to a talent mismatch, noting, “They are looking for people who have multiple skill sets and varied backgrounds, and those individuals are hard to find, especially among individuals who have been out of the job market for an extended period of time.” Among the employers having a difficult time filling jobs, 55% cite a lack of applicants, 54% cite applicants seeking higher pay, and others cite a lack of experienced applicants. Holmes says employers need to “leverage flexible work force models that integrate a dynamic mix of workers; advance contemporary people practices that redefine how talent is hired, rewarded, engaged, and developed; and improve talent pipelines by tapping different resources of talent and re-skilling current employees.”

Moderate Job Creation to Continue, Predict America’s Hiring Managers

MarketWatch (05/30/12)

A survey of more than 1,000 hiring professionals by Dice Holdings Inc., which provides specialized career Web sites for professional communities, indicates that 51% of respondents plan to hire more workers during the second half of the year, up from 47% anticipating additional hiring in the first half of 2012. The number of hiring managers and recruiters planning to pull back on hiring dropped from 30% six months ago to 23%. As of May, only 36% have seen a jump in voluntary departures, which is less than the 41% of respondents who predicted such an increase six months ago. According to the survey, 47% of respondents report a rise in salaries for newly filled positions, and 45% say salaries for existing workers have increased. Scot Melland, chairman, president, and chief executive of Dice Holdings, says, “When confidence in available career opportunities is high and mobility restored, the retention race will heat up.”

Turning to Headphones to Tune Out the Noise

Wall Street Journal Online (05/29/12) Sue Shellenbarger

Co-workers stopping by your desk to chat is the leading on-the-job distraction, cited by 27% of 500 executives in a recent survey by Creative Group, a Menlo Park, CA-based staffing company specializing in creative, advertising, and marketing professionals. While many employers are using open-plan offices, with low or no walls between co-workers to aid collaboration, the trend also can fuel distractions. Walling oneself off by wearing earbuds or headsets is an increasingly popular solution, but supervisors complain that too many are using the devices to retreat into a private world.