Economy Shows Surprising Bounce
Wall Street Journal
(03/23/13) Brenda Cronin
U.S. businesses and consumers have shown surprising strength in recent weeks, despite concerns about the impact of higher taxes, a flare-up of trouble in Europe, and the budget cuts that took hold this month. Gauges of employment, retail sales and manufacturing all have notched solid gains, prompting many economists to ratchet up estimates for first-quarter growth. In a Wall Street Journal
survey last week, economists raised their estimate of gross domestic product for the first quarter to an average annual rate of 2.2%, up from a 1.7% estimate in January.
What is unclear is whether the momentum can be sustained in an environment where there is deep mistrust of lawmakers’ ability to clear obstacles to growth. Some of the factors that threatened consumers at the start of the year are expected to recede in the second quarter. Gas prices climbed almost 50 cents in January and February and have been falling in March. Consumers are adjusting to the bite from higher payroll taxes. Tax refunds, some delayed by wrangling over the fiscal cliff, failed to mute February’s retail sales and could help lift March’s numbers. Meanwhile, confidence has been buoyed by rising home values, the bull market in stocks, and easier access to credit.
Fed’s Raskin: Low-Wage Nature of Jobs Recovery Threatens Economy
(03/22/13) Pedro Nicolaci da Costa
Too much of the recent growth in U.S. employment has been concentrated in low-wage and contingent jobs, leaving the recovery on shaky ground, Sarah Raskin, a member of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s board of governors, said on March 22. Citing a sharp post-recession rise in poverty, Raskin said, “Our country cannot achieve prosperity without addressing the powerful undertow created by flat wages and tenuous financial security for so many millions of Americans.”
Even as Companies Rely More on Technology, IT Jobs Aren’t Inherently Secure
(03/24/13) Steven Overly
Although companies in every industry rely on technology for customer service and internal operations, information technology jobs are not inherently secure, and some IT professionals—like Web development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing—are more in demand than others. According to a survey of 100 chief technology officers in the Washington, DC, region by Robert Half International, 16% planned to expand their IT departments in the second quarter and 63% expected to fill vacant positions, but 18% put a freeze on hiring for the second quarter and 2% expect layoffs.
Maxim Employee Forged Email to State in Hepatitis C Case
(03/23/13) Andrea K. Walker
Maryland investigators have issued a report indicating that a staffing firm owned by Columbia-based Maxim Healthcare Services forged an email from the Maryland Board of Physicians thanking Maxim for informing it of the unprofessional and unethical conduct of David Kwiatkowski, a contract worker accused of exposing hundreds of Maryland patients to hepatitis C when he worked at four hospitals in the state from 2008 to 2010, and stating that the board would investigate the matter. Investigators learned that the email was never sent to Maxim when it looked at why the board failed to respond to the firm’s complaint about Kwiatkowski; Maxim later terminated the employee who created the email. Although the report criticizes staffing firms for failing to disclose problems with Kwiatkowski, Maxim claims that he tested negative on a drug test conducted after an employee made an allegation about his drug use, but it would have terminated his employment and reported his conduct had it been notified of a 2008 drug test by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in which he tested positive for narcotics.
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