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Employment Trend Index Increases in May

Conference Board News Release (06/04/12)

The Conference Board Employment Trends Index increased 0.29% in May to 108.34, up from the revised figure of 108.03 in April. The May figure is 7.6% higher than a year ago. “While growth in employment has slowed significantly in recent months, the Employment Trends Index does not signal further slowing in the coming months,” says Gad Levanon, Director of Macroeconomic Research at the Conference Board. “Employers have been very cautious in hiring in the past two months, but at the moment, economic activity in the U.S. is just strong enough to require a modestly growing work force.”

Outlook for U.S. Economy Darkens After Disappointing Reports on Hiring, Housing, and Factories

Associated Press (06/05/12)

The faltering U.S. job market has prompted economists to take a much dimmer view of the country’s growth prospects in recent weeks. “The latest economic data have been decisively disappointing,” Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan Chase, wrote in a client note. JPMorgan Chase sharply reduced its growth forecast for the July-September quarter to a 2% annual rate, down from 3%. It cited the weaker U.S. hiring and a likely drop in U.S. exports related to slower growth overseas. JPMorgan Chase now forecasts growth of 2.1% for 2012, down from 2.3%.

As a general rule, it takes about 2.5% growth to generate enough hiring to keep up with population growth and prevent the unemployment rate from rising. The reduced forecasts suggest that hiring may not strengthen much this year. After months of fitful expansion since the recession ended three years ago, many analysts had expected the economy to begin strengthening steadily. In April, the Federal Reserve raised its forecast for growth this year to nearly 2.7%, from a January estimate of 2.5%. Now, it looks as if the recovery is stumbling again.

Why Aren’t Companies Hiring?

Forbes (06/04/12) Mary Ellen Biery

Brian Hamilton, chief executive of Sageworks, says it is uncertain why job creation is so slow while the economy is growing, noting that “privately held companies, which actually produce the vast majority of new jobs, are performing quite well.” However, he says business owners remain worried about the economy, citing a Sageworks survey of accountants, bankers, and other professionals in which 32% of respondents attributed the lack of hiring among their clients to economic concerns. Additionally, 22% say private companies have lingering anxiety from the last recession, and 23% say increases in efficiency have put a damper on hiring needs. Other reasons for stagnant job creation could be late customer payments and slow movement of inventory tying up cash that would be used to hire new workers, a skills gap, more people dropping out of the work force, and the effects of the housing market downturn.

Free ASAPro Webinar Thursday—The Art of Social Recruiting

This Thursday from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern time, don’t miss the ASAPro Webinar “Persuade Passive Candidates Using the Art of Social Recruiting.” Human resource consultant Peter Weddle will offer tips on networking with passive candidates and connecting with high-caliber talent.

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

ASAPro Spotlight—New EEOC Enforcement Guidance

ASAPro—the ASA online professional development center—posts new courses monthly to help you in your professional development. Most ASAPro courses are free for ASA members. Check out the recent course “New EEOC Enforcement Guidance—Employers’ Use of Arrest and Conviction Records.”

During this ASAPro course, Pamela Devata, Esq., partner in the labor and employment practice group of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, provides a comprehensive analysis of new guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and offers steps that employers can take to reduce the risk that they will be accused of discrimination.

The course is free for ASA members and qualifies for 1.0 legal continuing education hour toward ASA certification renewal. To view this course, log in to your ASAPro account and search for the course by title, then click the “View” button. For more information, contact ASA at 703-253-2020 or

New Economy Fallout—’Wage Theft’ From Paychecks

McClatchy Newspapers (06/04/12) Tony Pugh

Workers’ rights advocates assert that “wage theft,” the practice of underpaying or not paying workers for their labor, is a growing trend in today’s economic climate. More companies are trying to cut labor costs to stay afloat in a weak business climate, and budget-cutting state and federal governments do not enforce wage laws as aggressively as they once did.

The enforcement vacuum has caused state lawmakers to weigh in. Last year, Texas lawmakers closed a loophole that let employers escape prosecution if they pay workers only a portion of the wages they are owed. In January, California’s Wage Theft Prevention Act took effect, requiring that new hires get written notice of pay rates and how their pay is determined. The new law also increased penalties for nonpayment.

Business groups acknowledge that some violators do so intentionally, but they say most violate wage laws by accident. In Massachusetts, for example, the law requires general contractors to treat subcontractors as direct employees, even though they may only need their services for a short time. Confusion over the legal definition of subcontractors causes unintentional violations, says Jack Mozloom, northeast spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business. “We want to work with the regulators and policy makers in all the states to make sure we have something in place that protects workers, but which doesn’t discourage opportunities and employment for both contractors and subcontractors,” says Mozloom.

How ACA Could Hit Massachusetts

Politico (06/01/12) Jason Millman

If most of the Affordable Care Act is implemented in 2014, there is concern about the viability of the Massachusetts Health Connector, the state’s health insurance exchange. Connector board member Nancy Turnbull estimates that if the national law’s Medicaid expansion goes into effect, and the state takes up a new option to move some poor residents into a Medicaid-like program, the Connector will lose 70% of the people it currently covers. The big question is what happens to the Connector’s power to negotiate with insurers if more than two-thirds of its members are removed from the insurance pool in less than two years.

Observers say the Connector will have to build up the small-group market to make up for the shrinking individual market, but note that the Connector’s inability to attract small businesses despite several years of effort has been the biggest failure of the Massachusetts reform. Small firms have not had much to gain from buying into the Connector. Brokers have a good relationship with small businesses in the state and businesses have more options outside the exchange than in. Even a defined contribution program—in which a small business made a fixed, predictable payment toward a worker’s coverage—was shut down after just about a year. The state’s largest insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, has started selling to small businesses in the exchange. The Connector is also counting on employer wellness incentives and small-business tax credits—available only through the exchange—to boost businesses’ interest.

Emergency Provisions for All: How to Ensure All Employees Remain Safe in Any Emergency Situation

National Law Review (05/29/12) Darlene Clabault

One of the first steps you can take to ensure that all employees—including those with disabilities—remain safe during an emergency is to identify possible emergencies that may occur at your facility. This should include natural occurrences such as tornadoes, floods, and thunderstorms, along with occurrences such as acts of workplace violence or accidents. From there, identify those who may need assistance during the emergencies identified.

CA Bill Would Help Job-Seekers Move Into Self-Employment

Modesto Bee (California) (06/04/12) Darrell Smith

In California, Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) has proposed the Entrepreneurial Training Improvement Act of 2012 to enable would-be entrepreneurs to obtain training from local Workforce Investment Boards. Capps says U.S. Department of Labor guidelines for Workforce Investment Boards focus on traditional job creation and placement, but her bill aims to help job seekers create their own businesses. The Kauffman Foundation’s Index of Entrepreneurial Activity reveals that 543,000 businesses were created per month last year on a national basis; California ranked first among states, with 440 adults per 100,000 establishing businesses each month in 2011.

Core 25-54 Employment Rates Still Near Historic Lows

Investor’s Business Daily (06/05/12) David Hogberg

While the jobless rate officially stands at 8.2%, actual employment rates of core working age Americans suggest the true jobs situation is even worse. From mid-1987 until the recent recession, the employment-to-population ratio of 25- to 54-year-olds usually ranged from 78.5% to 80%. It never fell below 78.2% even during the 1990-91 and 2001 slumps. Now, three years after the recession ended in June 2009, that ratio stands at just 75.7%.

“This is probably a better measure than the unemployment rate,” says James Sherk, senior policy analyst in labor economics at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “There are so many people dropping out of the job market and the unemployment rate, bad as it is, doesn’t pick that up. The ratio gives a better idea of employment opportunities.” Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute, says the employment-to-population ratio “sidesteps a lot of structural issues, like baby-boomers retiring. You are looking at prime-age workers and it gives you a better sense of the weakness in our current job market.” In the past few months the core employment-to-population ratio has improved, rising from 74.8% in October 2011 in part due to an unseasonably warm winter.

On the Job: Here Come the ‘Supertemps’

CBS News (06/05/12) Suzanne Lucas

The Harvard Business Review indicates that 58% of companies expect to employ temporary workers during the next few years, and not just in low-level jobs. The report says high-level temporary workers will earn incomes similar to those of employees or partners, especially if they have specialized skills that are in high demand. Some of these so-called “supertemps” are women with high levels of education and plenty of experience who want both a family and a career. Although temporary employment offers employers flexibility and even cost savings, companies could face the risk of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service retroactively classifying independent contractors as employees. For temporary workers, the lack of health insurance coverage and the need to search for a new position every few months pose some challenges.

Hiring for the ‘Best Computer Job For the Future’—Mobile App Developers

Wanted Analytics (06/04/12) Abby Lombardi recently named mobile app developers as the “Best Computer Job for the Future.” More than 1,400 tech job ads called for mobile app developer skills in May, a 52% increase over the same month in 2011. The position is considered hard to fill by recruiters, due to the level of demand and the limited talent pool. Mobile app developers often require a wide variety of skills—in addition to need programming and software development knowledge, candidates need to know the different operating systems—specifically iOS and Android platforms.