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Unemployment Rates Fall in 45 States in November

USA Today (12/21/12) Paul Davidson

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says 45 states and the District of Columbia saw their unemployment rates drop in November, while the jobless rate held steady in five states. The biggest declines were recorded in Louisiana, where the unemployment rate slipped from 6.6% to 5.8%, and Nevada, where the rate fell from 11.5% to 10.8%. Nevada and Rhode Island had the highest jobless rates, while North Dakota’s 3.1% rate was the lowest. The national unemployment rate dipped to 7.7% from 7.9%, which does not indicate robust job growth as 350,000 U.S. workers exited the labor force last month.

Construction Jobs Set to Build

Wall Street Journal (12/23/12) Conor Dougherty

With home prices rising in the second half of 2012, experts believe construction jobs could increase in the near term. The housing bust and the recession resulted in a loss of 2.2 million construction workers, and the sector added only 58,000 jobs between January 2011 and November 2012. However, economists and construction firms are optimistic, given that single-family building permits are on the rise and the average workweek for production and nonsupervisory construction workers rose to 39.4 hours last month, marking a six-year high and indicating that companies will have to hire more workers shortly. “The indications are that the market is starting to turn around and that will drive our hiring up—provided it’s sustained,” says Doug Bellamy, president of Escondido, CA-based Alta Drywall.

Many Still Untested for Hepatitis C After Tech’s Arrest

Associated Press (12/22/12) Holly Ramer

Despite the fact that hospitals across the country recommended hepatitis C testing for about 7,900 patients last summer after a traveling medical worker was accused of stealing drugs and infecting patients with tainted syringes in New Hampshire, nearly half of those who were possibly exposed to the liver-destroying disease in other states have yet to be tested five months later. David Kwiatkowski is accused of stealing syringes of the powerful painkiller fentanyl from the cardiac catheterization lab at New Hampshire’s Exeter Hospital and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his own blood.

Kwiatkowski was fired a few weeks into his temporary job. Within days, Kwiatkowski was starting a new job at the Baltimore VA Medical Center, where one patient also has since been diagnosed with hepatitis C linked to Kwiatkowski. That facility, and two other Maryland hospitals where Kwiatkowski worked also have completed their testing, with no diagnosed cases of hepatitis C matching Kwiatkowski. But at a fourth, the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, four patients have recently been diagnosed with the strain of disease linked to Kwiatkowski. About 500 of the 1,567 patients notified by Johns Hopkins have yet to be tested, according to hospital spokeswoman Kim Hoppe. Kwiatkowski had been referred by a staffing company that assured Johns Hopkins that it had followed a vigorous vetting process, Hoppe says. He worked there for two 13-week stints, from July 2009 to January 2010.

Business Groups Grow Frustrated Over Impasse in Fiscal Cliff Talks

The Hill (12/23/12) Vicki Needham

Business leaders are growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress in talks to head off billions in looming tax increases and spending cuts they say will harm the nation’s economy. The increasing likelihood of that possibility sunk in after lawmakers left Washington on Dec. 21 for the Christmas holidays with neither a broad bipartisan agreement nor a back up plan that could, at the very least, prevent more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to begin in January. Collectively, business groups generally have pushed for the sides to agree to a sizeable deficit-reduction package that also prevents tax hikes on most taxpayers. Big and small businesses have sometimes been at odds during the talks, with corporate CEOs offering more support for higher tax rates and small business groups arguing that would hurt their members. Many hoped the talks could provide a framework for tax reform next year, something that has long been a priority for the corporate world.

Staffing Today Returns Dec. 26

In observance of Christmas, Staffing Today will not be delivered Tuesday, Dec. 25.