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Solid Economy Causes Small-Business Optimism to Surge

Wall Street Journal (01/01/15) Angus Loten; Ruth Simon

Fifty percent of small-business owners anticipate improvements in economic conditions in the coming year, up from 38% at the end of 2013, according to a survey of 830 small-business owners and executives by the Wall Street Journal and Vistage International. However, as the job market becomes more competitive, it will put pressure on wages and make it difficult for small companies to locate qualified applicants, especially if they lack a dedicated human resource department. Small businesses also must contend with such issues as health care, hiring, and access to capital in the new year, which could put a damper on their positive outlook.

Overseas Headwinds Test U.S. Economy

Wall Street Journal (01/01/15) Josh Zumbrun

The U.S. economy has gained momentum as it enters 2015, with 2.7 million jobs added in 2014 through November and economic output having its best six-month stretch since 2003. Claims for jobless benefits are at their lowest level since 2000, and the economy has recovered all the jobs lost during the recession. If recent trends continue, the labor market in 2015 will reach the U.S. Federal Reserve’s estimates for what is considered full employment. However, the domestic economy will face challenges this year because a number of overseas economies continue to be sluggish. Furthermore, the labor-force participation rate is near the lowest level seen since the 1970s, wage growth is tepid, and many part-time workers want full-time employment but can’t find it.

Philadelphia Fed’s Plosser Warns Delay for Rate Increases Carries Risk

Wall Street Journal (12/31/14) Ben Leubsdorf

The U.S. Federal Reserve will have to be more aggressive about rate increases the longer it waits to lift them from near-zero, according to a new paper co-authored by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia president Charles Plosser. He has opposed the Fed’s efforts to stimulate economic growth in recent years and believes the bank should adopt a formal rule to guide policy.

“Delaying liftoff well into 2015 runs the risk of requiring more aggressive future monetary policy than would otherwise be needed,” the paper’s authors concluded, though they added such risks should “be balanced with the prospect that inflation could run persistently below target.”

Fed’s Policy-Setters Likely to Be More United

Wall Street Journal (01/01/15) Pedro Nicolaci da Costa

Experts believe that the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee is likely to appear more united next year despite growing internal debate over when to raise interest rates. None of the three officials who cast dissents at last year’s meetings will be on the panel in 2015 because the voting seats rotate among regional Fed bank presidents. This shift is expected to result in a panel that sides more consistently with chairman Janet Yellen.

Free ASA Webinar Next Week—Successful Onboarding for Staffing Professionals

Are you providing opportunities for your corporate employees to learn and succeed? Learn how to improve your company’s onboarding process and deliver a program that new hires will value during the ASA webinar “Tips on Implementing a Successful Onboarding Program for Staffing Professionals.” It takes place Tuesday, Jan. 8, 3–4 p.m. Eastern time.

All ASA webinars are free for ASA members, and most qualify for continuing education hours toward ASA certification renewal. To learn more and to register, visit

Welcome New ASA Members

The ASA board of directors and staff welcome the following new members, which joined during the week of Dec. 22.

AMJ Staffing Inc.
Dexter, MI

Ascot Staffing
San Ramon, CA

Creative Financial Staffing
Boston, MA

Merito Group LLC
McLean, VA

Park Plaza Executive Services Inc.
Greenwood, SC

Quest Service Group LLC
Garden City, NY

Temps Today Inc.
New Orleans, LA