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U.S. GDP Up 1.9% in First Quarter, Revised Lower

MarketWatch (05/31/12) Greg Robb

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimated today that the economy grew at a 1.9% pace in the first quarter, slower than the 2.2% rate initially reported. The figures are seasonally adjusted and adjusted for price changes. The revisions come from more complete data than were available at the first estimate. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had been expecting a downward revision to 1.8%.

Economists are forecasting slightly stronger growth—about 2.2% on an annualized basis—in the second quarter ending June 30. The economy is slowly improving, analysts said, but remains held back by too much consumer indebtedness.

ADP Employer Services Says U.S. Added 133,000 Jobs in May

Bloomberg (05/31/12)

Private-sector payrolls increased 133,000 in May, led by small businesses and the service-providing sector, according to the ADP Employer Services employment report released today. The April level was revised to a gain of 113,000 from a prior estimate of 119,000. The median estimate of 39 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a May advance of 150,000.

Weekly Unemployment Claims Rise Modestly

Associated Press (05/31/12)

The number of Americans who filed requests for jobless benefits climbed by 10,000 last week to 383,000, the highest level in five weeks, the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 373,000 from 370,000. The four-week average increased for the first time in a month to 374,500.

Unemployment claim applications had leveled off at about 370,000 for four weeks. That decline suggested that hiring could pick up in May. Applications below 375,000 typically suggest that hiring is strong enough to reduce the unemployment rate.

Online Labor Demand Dips 45,000 in May but Upward Trend Remains Strong

The Conference Board (05/30/2012)

Online advertised vacancies dipped 45,700 in May to 4,714,800, according to the Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine Data Series released on May 30. Its supply/demand rate stands at 2.6 unemployed for every vacancy. In May the number of unemployed was 7.7 million above the number of advertised vacancies—compared with 10 million above in the fall of 2011.

“After rising 564,000 over the last five months, labor demand dipped in May. Despite this drop, strong employer demand has created growing opportunities for both job-changers and the unemployed and has also helped significantly lower the unemployment rate,” says June Shelp, vice president at the Conference Board. More than half of states posted advertised vacancies in May that were above their prerecession highs. The largest gains were in the Midwest, with Michigan up 53% from its prerecession high. Other Midwestern states with increases above 40% include North Dakota (46%), Indiana (44%), and Ohio (41%).

Unemployment Rates Fall in Most Metro Areas

USA Today (05/31/12) Christopher S. Rugaber

The U.S. Department of Labor reports a decline in unemployment rates in 356 of the 372 biggest metro areas in April, up from 339 showing decreases in April 2011. The number of cities with unemployment rates under 7% rose to 163 from 100, while the number with jobless rates above 10% slipped from 79 to 41. The lowest unemployment rate in the nation is 2.8% in Bismarck, ND, and the highest is 26.8% in El Centro, CA. Of the 49 biggest U.S. cities, Oklahoma City, has the lowest unemployment rate at 4%, and Riverside-San Bernardino, CA, has the highest at 11.7%.

Free ASAPro Webinar Today on Hiring Military Veterans, Plus Resources for ASA Members

ASAPro Webinar Today
There is still time to register for today’s ASAPro Webinar “Hiring Heroes: Transitioning From the Military to the Civilian Work Force–Research Findings of the Apollo Research Institute.” Taking place from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern time, the Webinar features a panel of experts convened by the Apollo Research Institute who will discuss a range of topics related to transitioning from the military to the civilian work force.

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

How You Can Help—Resources for ASA Members
Helping veterans with career counseling and employment has been a top priority over the past several years for many ASA members. ASA is proud of the important contributions that the staffing industry has made, but recognizes that there is still a problem to overcome–unemployment among U.S. veterans is 12%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

ASA is encouraging all its members to get involved in helping veterans find employment and has gathered some resources to help your staffing firm get started.

ASA Quarterly Survey: Track Performance by Company Size

Interested in tracking sales growth by company size? Participate in the quarterly ASA Staffing Employment and Sales Survey now and receive an exclusive report on the results. There are no fees to participate, and all U.S. staffing firms are invited to complete a survey.

For the first time, ASA will be 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 firms operate.

ASA is currently gathering data on temporary and contract staffing sales, payroll, and employment for the first quarter of 2012.

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

Justice Department Settles Lawsuit Against New Jersey Information Technology Company for Retaliation

U.S. Department of Justice (05/30/12)

The U.S. Department of Justice on May 30 reached a settlement with Whiz International LLC, an information technology staffing company in Jersey City, NJ, regarding allegations that the company violated the antidiscrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act when it terminated an employee in retaliation for expressing opposition to Whiz’s alleged preference for foreign nationals with temporary work visas. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the company has agreed to pay $21,780 in monetary relief to the injured party, along with a $1,000 civil penalty. The company has also agreed to be subject to three years of monitoring and reporting by DOJ.

Employee-Friendly Pregnancy Rules Could Get Even More So

Corporate Counsel (05/24/12) Amanda Bronstad

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing is holding hearings on new rules that could toughen the state’s pregnancy discrimination laws by deeming lactation, morning sickness, prenatal or postnatal care, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, preeclampsia, post-partum depression, childbirth, loss or end of pregnancy, and recovery from childbirth as pregnancy-related conditions that require employers to make accommodations. These accommodations could include leave, a transfer to another department, more rest breaks, or lighter duties, among other options. Laura Reathaford, special employment law counsel at Los Angeles-based Proskauer Rose, notes, “These regulations do not allow for that employer defense of undue hardship, nor do they outline an interactive process between an employer or an employee.”

When Is Cancer a Workplace Disability? What Employers Should Know

HR.BLR.com (05/23/12) Jonathan R. Mook; Alan G. Rosmarin

The Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act expands the definition of a disability such that someone diagnosed with cancer likely would be considered disabled. Furthermore, a condition such as depression could accompany the cancer and become a disability as well. Some accommodations companies would need to provide to someone diagnosed with cancer might include reduced hours, a change in hours, or a flexible schedule; rest periods and a place to rest during the day; the ability to work from home; reassignment of nonessential job duties; modification of the office temperature; and a leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act, if applicable.

Manufacturers Push Skills Certificate as Good Jobs Go Unfilled

Charlotte Observer (North Carolina) (05/30/12) Kevin Hall

Though thousands of manufacturing jobs are there for the taking, companies are currently unable to hire sufficiently skilled workers. “Five percent of manufacturing jobs go unfilled every day because we can’t find the skilled work force,” says Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers. In an attempt to reduce the number of unfilled posts, manufacturers in 2010 began pushing creation of a portable skills certificate, one that would be recognized nationwide.

In 2011, the Manufacturing Institute’s Manufacturing Skills Certification System yielded almost 85,000 of the portable certificates that the group hopes to have recognized nationwide, nearly one-fifth of the trade association’s goal of 500,000 such certificates by 2016. The system provides what are actually known as “stackable” secondary education and post-secondary skills that employers have identified as necessary in order to get a job in manufacturing and advance up the career ladder. The “stackable” skills certificates cover everything from welding and applied math to demonstrable understanding of metalworking, packaging, construction, electronics, and die casting. To date, 113 colleges nationwide have partnered with the Manufacturing Institute, a number that is rising as more community colleges in particular participate.

Software Screening Raises Bar for Hiring

Wall Street Journal (05/31/12) David Wessel

Peter Cappelli, a professor of management and human resources at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, dismisses the widely held belief that finding workers with the right skills is a real challenge for employers these days. “The real culprits are the employers themselves,” he asserts. “It is part of a long-term trend, and the recession caused employers to be able to be pickier, to get even more specific in the skills they think they can find outside the company and to cut back on training.”

Cappelli says that in many companies, software has replaced recruiters, so “applicants rarely talk to anyone, even by email, during the hiring process.” At a time of widespread unemployment, the volume of applications is swamping human resource departments, many of which have been downsized to cut costs. That has led employers to further automate hiring—and to become very specific about experience and skills they seek. Screening software weeds out anyone whose application lacks particular key words. Neal Grunstra, president of the staffing firm Mindbank Consulting Group, calls this trend “looking for a unicorn.”

U.S. Executives Reveal Third-Quarter Professional-Level Hiring Plans

Robert Half International (05/31/12)

Nearly nine in 10 (88%) executives surveyed for the quarterly Robert Half Professional Employment Report said they anticipate no changes to the size of their teams in the next three months. Five percent of respondents plan to add full-time, professional-level staff in the third quarter, while another 5% indicated they will make personnel reductions. Recruiting challenges continue to surface for executives—69% of those interviewed said they are having difficulty finding people with the skills they need, up eight points from the second-quarter survey.