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U.S. Jobless Claims Remain Near Five-Year Low

MarketWatch (03/21/13) Jeffry Bartash

Applications for jobless benefits increased by 2,000 to 336,000 in the week ended March 16, remaining near a five-year low, the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected claims to rise to a seasonally adjusted 340,000. The average of new claims over the past month dropped by 7,500 to 339,750, the lowest level since February 2008.

Health Care Law Uncertainty Grips Small Businesses

Washington Post (03/20/13) J.D. Harrison

The implementation of the federal health care law is on the horizon, but federal regulators have yet to iron out rules for state-run insurance exchanges and qualified health insurance plans, among other things. Small-business owners are struggling with the uncertainty, bracing for a dramatic increase in premiums and the possibility that their coverage will fall short of the rules. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has issued proposals covering how firms can calculate their size to determine whether they will be assessed a penalty for failing to provide coverage, including formulas for part-time and seasonal workers, but a final rule is not expected until summer. However, a recent study by the human resources consulting firm Adecco indicates that the law has prompted close to 33% of employers to cease hiring or reduce their work forces.

Md. Urges Better Licensing Requirements, Other Changes in Response to Spread of Hepatitis C

Associated Press (03/20/13)

A report by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in response to the case of David Kwiatkowski, a traveling health care worker who allegedly exposed patients in several states to hepatitis C, recommends that staffing firms that place technologists be subject to the same licensing rules in the state as nurse staffing firms. Legislation that would institute such licensing rules is being considered by state lawmakers. The department says its investigation revealed that hospitals and staffing firms did not properly screen Kwiatkowski—whose employment history included allegations of drug use and theft—before hiring him and “either did not disclose Mr. Kwiatkowski’s conduct to one another, or favorably represented his job performance to one another, despite evidence of risky conduct, thereby obscuring the risks that Mr. Kwiatkowski posed.”

Free ASAPro Webinar Today—Embracing Change

Don’t miss today’s ASAPro webinar “Championing Change: How to Embrace and Thrive Amid Change,” from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern time. Linda Sasser of Impacting Leaders will teach you how to handle unexpected changes and create a culture that embraces change.

This webinar is free for ASA members and qualifies for continuing education hours toward ASA certification renewal. Register online at