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BLS: Staffing Employment Holds Steady in May

Seasonally adjusted jobs data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that staffing employment remained relatively unchanged, up 0.4% from April to May (9,200 jobs). In a year-to-year comparison, temporary help employment for the month was 8.5% higher than in May 2011.

Overall U.S. nonfarm employment showed little growth, increasing by 69,000 jobs from April to May. During the first three months of 2012, the average rate of monthly job creation was 226,000; by contrast, the monthly average for April and May was 73,000.

“A disappointingly dreary start to the summer jobs season, but not a surprise because overall employment lags economic trends, and gross domestic product for the first quarter has been adjusted downward,” said Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer of the American Staffing Association. “The nonseasonally adjusted numbers for temporary help employment, which provides a real-time snapshot of what’s going on in the economy, suggests continued—albeit agonizingly slow—improvement.”

Nonseasonally adjusted BLS data, which estimate the actual number of jobs in the economy, indicated that the staffing industry added 73,000 jobs (up 3.0%) from April to May. On a year-to-year basis, there were 8.4% more staffing employees in May compared with the same month in 2011.

Health care employment increased by 33,000 (mostly in ambulatory health care services); transportation and warehousing rose by 36,000 jobs; and wholesale trade added 16,000 jobs over the month. Employment declines were noted in construction (-28,000), with most of the job losses concentrated in specialty trade contractors and in heavy and civil engineering construction.

U.S. Employers Add 69,000 Jobs in May, Fewer Than Forecast

Bloomberg (06/01/12) Timothy Homan

The U.S. added just 69,000 jobs in May, the smallest increase in a year, the government reported Friday. The increase was less even than the most-pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. The median estimate called for a 150,000 May advance. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, rose to 8.2% from 8.1%, mainly because more people entered the labor force even as hiring slowed. The average workweek fell 0.1 hour to 34.4 in May, while average hourly earnings climbed two cents to $23.41. Employment gains for April and March were revised lower. The number of new jobs created in April was reduced to 77,000 from an original estimate of 115,000, while March’s figure was trimmed to 143,000 from 154,000.

Monster Employment Index Rises 3% Year-Over-Year

Monster Worldwide Inc. News Release (06/01/12)

The Monster Employment Index grew 3% in May, an increase of 1% month-over-month. Transportation and warehousing continued to outpace all sectors in recruitment growth, while finance and insurance gained momentum. Educational services, utilities, and public administration registered double-digit negative growth. Among the metro markets tracked by the index, Indianapolis and Detroit gained notable momentum, while Chicago eased. Monster is an ASA corporate partner.

Analysis: for Big U.S. Companies, Hiring Is Three Steps Forward, One Step Back

Reuters (05/31/12)

An analysis of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies indicates that close to 75% are hiring, with the number of new employees up 4.2% over the past 12 months. Scott Wren of Wells Fargo Advisors says, “A very broad swath of industries have been hiring people. They just have not been hiring that many people.” The National Federation of Independent Business says small businesses have been creating jobs more slowly, with “little improvement on Main Street in optimism or hiring and spending this year.” Still, hiring among large corporations will depend on revenue growth, which dropped to 5.2% in the first quarter and is predicted to fall to 2.5% for the second quarter.

Federal Employment Drops After Years of Explosive Growth

USA Today (06/01/12) Dennis Cauchon

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports seven consecutive months of declines in federal employment, with the number of federal workers falling by 11,600 in April 2012 from the same month last year. From the start of the recession in December 2007 through September 2011, private and state and local government employment slipped 5% and 2%, respectively, while federal employment rose 13%. John Palguta, vice president of the Partnership for Public Service, attributes the decline in federal employment to political and financial pressures, noting, “Budget challenges are becoming real.” The U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have reduced their staffs. President Obama’s budget would increase the federal work force slightly, but Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he would slash federal employment by 10%.

Setting Standards

Human Resource Executive (05/31/12) Tom Starner

The Society for Human Resource Management’s efforts to develop an “investor metric” standard to “help the investment industry determine the value of human capital and report on it easily” is receiving criticism from some in the HR community. The proposed standard calls for companies to disclose almost every corporate cost associated with the hiring, retention, and training of employees and contingent workers, plus detailed information regarding how the company is organized and staffed.

Both the American Staffing Association and the HR Policy Association have asked SHRM to drop efforts to create an investor-metric standard. Their opinions were sent by letters during a 45-day comment period—that ended May 24—following the release by SHRM of a first draft of the proposed standard on April 10. Lee Webster, director of HR standards at SHRM, says his organization will continue to work with the other members of a task force of 166 HR practitioners, line managers, academics, and consultants, and review all comments. He also sent a letter to ASA and HR Policy, thanking them for their comments.

ASA Quarterly Survey Will Report Average Gross Margins by Sector

Curious about which staffing sectors are leading gross margin earnings? Would you like to know how your firm’s gross margins compare with those of other firms in the industry? 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 This survey is conducted by ASA research partner Inavero.

Share Your Expertise as a Knowledge Network Moderator

Volunteer to teach—and learn from—your peers as a table moderator for the Knowledge Network at Staffing World® 2012, Oct. 9-11 in Las Vegas. Staffing World attendees consistently rate the roundtable session one of the most popular educational opportunities at the ASA annual convention.

This participant-driven interactive session, which will take place Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2:15–3:30 p.m., involves targeted small group discussions. Knowledge Network moderators introduce the topic, offer appropriate opening comments, encourage group participation, and guide discussions. Moderators must be registered to attend Staffing World 2012.

Aug. 1 is the deadline to volunteer to become a Knowledge Network moderator. For more information about the Knowledge Network, visit or contact ASA at 703-253-2020 or

Understand Unemployment Insurance Issues

The National UI Issues Conference takes place June 20–22 in Denver. The conference, presented by UWC–Strategic Services on Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation, explores the major unemployment insurance issues that businesses face every day.

ASA government affairs counsel Toby Malara will join Lisa Harris, director of accounting for TrueBlue, and Matt Harvill, vice president for unemployment at Kelly Services, to facilitate a workshop on UI issues that staffing firms face. They will focus on best practices in forecasting state unemployment tax costs, and how firms can communicate with, educate, and prepare their clients for rising costs. For more information and to register, visit

Discrimination Lawsuits Double as Definition of ‘Disability’ Expands

Washington Times (06/01/12) Luke Rosiak

Federal records indicate that the number of employment discrimination lawsuits under the Americans With Disabilities Act has nearly doubled in the past five years, and seen a sharp increase in recent months, as the definition of “disability” has expanded. The increase follows changes to the law in 2008, when Congress said that courts had interpreted the definition of “disability” more narrowly than it desired.

In the last fiscal year, disability-related complaints lodged with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also increased to their highest level, at 26,000, and payouts to complainants through that process nearly doubled from 2007 to $103 million. That does not include money paid out to those who took their complaints to court. The increase also comes as federal agencies have added more stringent requirements for disability accommodation and offered expanded interpretations of what it means to be disabled. “Employers are facing a barrage of frivolous cases, and each one costs $30-, $40-, $50,000,” says Mike Eastman, executive director of labor policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

What Is a ‘9/80’ Pay Plan?

Fisher & Phillips LLP (05/28/12) John E. Thompson

In a “9/80” pay plan, the workweek and nonexempt employee schedule under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act is compressed so that employees work nine days in a two workweek period but not more than 40 hours in either workweek. Generally, nonexempt employees will work four nine-hour days; an eight-hour day divided in half, with the first four hours ending the first workweek at mid-day; and then another four nine-hour days to finish the second workweek. Employers do not have to pay overtime under the FLSA for either workweek if the employee adheres to this schedule, but overtime pay would be due to any nonexempt employee who works more than 40 hours in either workweek. Employers altering the FLSA workweek to implement 9/80 plans would be wise to use a U.S. Department of Labor protocol to determine whether employees are owed FLSA overtime for the pay period in which the changes were made.

FMLA Retaliation Claim Fails Where Employer Believed Claimant Was Abusing Leave

SHRM Online (05/24/12) W. Kevin Smith

The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that where an employer had a good-faith belief that an employee out on leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act was engaged in disability fraud, the trial court properly dismissed the employee’s retaliation claim. The employee, who worked for the Cincinnati Bell Telephone Co., felt pain and numbness in his leg, and took an extended FMLA leave. While on leave, the employee received disability pay under a Cincinnati Bell policy.

After the employee was seen walking separately by several co-workers at a public event, Cincinnati Bell management initiated an investigation into his medical condition. The results of the investigation suggested that the employee’s claims of pain were inconsistent with his actions. Consequently, the employee was suspended and later discharged for overstating his pain level so as to avoid light-duty work, and thus obtain full disability benefits. In response, the employee sued Cincinnati Bell, asserting that his discharge was in retaliation for taking FMLA leave. The district court granted summary judgment to Cincinnati Bell.

Twentysomethings Entering Tight Job Market Lean Toward Unpaid Internships, but Employers Walk a Tightrope in Labor Law

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (06/01/12) Anna Orso

A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers indicates that internship hires will rise 8.5% from last year, when just under 50% of internships were unpaid. Although more college graduates and current students are willing to accept unpaid internships to obtain experience at a time when the unemployment rate for the 20-24 age segment is about 13%, experts note that some unpaid internships could violate federal law.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, unpaid internships must be similar to training and benefit interns; cannot displace regular positions, be immediately advantageous to employers, or guarantee job offers; and must involve a mutual assumption by the employer and the intern that the position is unpaid. Much of the dispute over unpaid internships centers on whether employers receive “immediate advantages,” which is interpreted differently by government officials, employers, and attorneys. To ensure compliance, some experts say employers should pay interns the minimum wage, protecting themselves in the event that the work is seen as advantageous to the employer.

Randstad U.S. Employment Report: Workers Uncertain About Job Market; Index Remains Above 50

PRNewswire (05/31/12)

U.S. worker confidence pulled back slightly in May, decreasing 1.1 points to 53.2, according to the latest Randstad U.S. Employee Confidence Index. Across the board, the survey reveals that more employees took a middle of the road stance when it comes to the economy, job market, and their personal employment situation.

“Despite the slight decrease seen in our latest report, we shouldn’t disregard the fact that our Index is still indicative of positive confidence levels,” says Joanie Ruge, senior vice president and chief employment analyst for Randstad Holding. “Clearly, what we are seeing in our survey, as well as in other broader economic indicators, is caution being exercised from both an employee and employer perspective. Although this is to be expected given the depth of the recession, the slower pace in U.S. job creation seen over the last few months, and headlines around the European financial crisis, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the economy is still improving.”

Hiring in Engineering Services Growing Again

Wanted Analytics (05/30/12) Abby Lombardi

The number of online job ads in the engineering services industry has steadily increased in 2012. During April, more than 38,000 jobs were seen advertised online in the engineering services sector—up 17% compared with April 2011 and more than 57% compared with April 2010. The five metropolitan areas with the highest volume of online job ads within engineering services companies during April were Washington, Houston, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Washington saw the greatest volume of online job ads by engineering services companies, up 54% compared with the same time period in 2011.