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Bernanke’s Stimulus Spurring U.S. Employment in Housing

Bloomberg (02/25/13) Joshua Zumbrun; Steve Matthews

U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s strategy of holding interest rates low and pressing on with bond purchases of $85 billion a month has led to job growth in the auto and housing industries. Consumers rely on loans to buy cars and homes, so these segments of the economy are among the most responsive to the effort.

“The rate-sensitive sectors, most notably housing and autos, are kicking into a higher gear,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics Inc. Zandi predicts total job growth this year of “close to two million,” about the same as last year. “But I expect closer to three million more jobs in 2014 and the same in 2015.” Much of the increase will come from “more housing construction, consumer spending driven in part by rising house prices, and more auto production,” he adds.

Flu Season Amplifies Call for Paid Sick Leave

Wall Street Journal (02/23/13) Melanie Trottman

Amid the worst flu season in recent years, lawmakers in at least a half-dozen cities and states are intensifying a push for laws requiring paid time off when workers take sick days. Approximately 39% of private-sector workers are not entitled to paid time off when they fall ill, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 11% of state and local government workers lack the benefit. Low-wage and part-time workers are among the least likely to get paid sick time.

Democratic lawmakers and their allies in Maryland, Washington, and Massachusetts, and in cities including New York, Philadelphia, and Portland, OR, are trying to advance measures that would make paid sick time a legal requirement for most firms. In Congress, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) plans to reintroduce a federal paid-sick-leave bill this spring. Such efforts started before this year, but a vicious flu season that sidelined many workers has given them new urgency. Opponents of codifying paid sick leave say such laws weigh on businesses and ultimately hurt workers.

White House Releases State-by-State Breakdown of Sequester’s Effects

Washington Post (02/25/13) Zachary A. Goldfarb; Paul Kane; Sean Sullivan

On Feb. 24, the White House issued a detailed breakdown on how the sequester, set to take effect on March 1, would impact each state and the District of Columbia as President Barack Obama tried to encourage congressional Republicans to compromise on a deficit-reduction plan. Republicans and Democrats are expected to introduce their own proposals this week to avert the sequester, but neither side is expected to get enough votes to pass their proposals before the cuts take effect.

Bipartisan House Immigration Group Reports “Incredible Progress”

The Hill (02/22/13) Russell Berman

A bipartisan House group is making “really good progress” on immigration reform legislation despite missing a target date for an agreement, a top Republican participant says. “I am now more sure than ever that we’re going to have a bipartisan bill,” says longtime advocate of comprehensive reform, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL). “We’re making incredible progress.”

Diaz-Balart is a member of a House group that includes more than a half dozen liberal and conservative lawmakers who have been working for years behind closed doors on an immigration overhaul. As talks accelerated in recent months, people involved in the effort said the group had hoped to announce an agreement around President Obama’s State of the Union address. Now aides say that while the talks are ongoing, participants are not setting a deadline or target date for releasing legislation. Diaz-Balart says that the group hopes to unveil a bill soon but, as would be expected with any sensitive effort of this magnitude, lawmakers do not want to go public prematurely.

Upcoming Education From ASA

The next few weeks will be full of educational opportunities from ASA. These upcoming ASAPro webinars can help you manage conflict in your office, prepare for a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation, and more.

Feb. 28—”Minimize the Drama in Your Office
Business consultant Linda Sasser of Impacting Leaders describes how to minimize distractions in the workplace so that teams can work together and communicate effectively.

March 7—”2013 ASA Compensation Survey
The 2013 ASA Staffing Industry Compensation Survey collects information on salaries, variable pay, and benefits for 29 positions specific to the staffing industry. Attend this ASAPro webinar for an overview, including how to get started and how to create custom reports.

March 14—”Be Prepared for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Investigations
Is your company prepared to receive a Notice of Inspection from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Helen L. Konrad, Esq., of McCandlish Holton PC will explain how to prepare for investigation by ICE and how to make sure that your company has the required documents—and that they are complete and accurate.

ASAPro webinars are $295 for nonmembers and qualify for continuing education hours toward ASA certification renewal. Join ASA and enjoy ASAPro webinars for FREE.