The Nation Adds 108,000 jobs
US payrolls ended the year on solid footing. Not only did employers add 108,000 jobs in December, the Dept of Labor
revised November job growth to 305,000 (an increase of 90,000). Several industries added jobs in December, including food services (+36,000), professional and business services (+33,000), healthcare (+21,000) and manufacturing (+18,000). Construction, which created 246,000 jobs for the year, did not add crews in December, as increasing mortgage rates slowed residential home building. The national rate of unemployment inched downward, from 5 to 4.9 percent. Another positive note in December: The number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits fell to its lowest level in more than five years.
Chamber Warns of Labor Shortage
The answer to the looming US labor shortage is providing better education for current citizens and changing immigration law to allow employment of more foreign workers. Those are the recommendations of the US Chamber of Commerce
, which warned that the country is ill-equipped to deal with the pending retirement of 77 million baby-boomers. “We have yet to secure an adequate supply of working taxpayers to run a growing economy and support an explosion of retirees,” warned chamber president Thomas Donohue. The chamber is supporting a federal proposal to create a guest worker program. Donohue embraced school reform after learning that China and India graduate eight and five times respectively the number of engineers as America.
Many Jobseekers Pessimistic
How confident are jobseekers that they will find a job in the next three months? Not very. On a scale of 1 to 10, callers to a recent national job-search advice hotline rated their confidence level at five, demonstrating how much uncertainty about the strength of the job market remains even after 24 months of solid employment gains. Pessimists outnumbered the optimists among callers to the two-day public service help line conducted annually by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas
. During the call-in, just 23 percent rated their confidence between eight and ten. 75 percent expressed high confidence during the 2004 call-in. “We were surprised, considering that recent economic indicators, including job creation figures, have been very positive,” noted CEO John Challenger. “Even among the employed callers, who are typically more optimistic, the confidence level was a lukewarm 5.5.” The recent spate of large-scale job-cut announcements may have contributed to the decline in confidence.
On the Job Front
NATIONWIDE – What do US workers want the most? A raise, according to a survey by Adecco Staffing
. About one-quarter of respondents cited getting more money as their top New Year’s resolution, followed by 17 percent who wanted to boost their productivity, 13 percent who wanted a new job, and 9 percent who wanted a promotion . . . The college class of ’06 will enjoy the best job market in four years, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Firms plan to hire 14.5 percent more college grads than they did a year ago, according to the association’s job outlook report . . . Kmart will lay off an unspecified number of employees after it reevaluates staffing at its 1400 stores nationwide, according to the parent Sears Holding Corp. Evaluations could result in adding staff at some stores as well . . . McGraw-Hill publishing is slashing 500 jobs worldwide, and will be relocating some California jobs elsewhere.
STATEWIDE – In his state of the state address, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed $200 billion worth of infrastructure spending. If such a massive effort can be funded, it would build schools, science labs, levees, courthouses, prisons, and mass transit systems, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs . . . Even though the money to develop stem cell research in California remains tied up in court, top research universities in the state are hiring scientists and building labs. USC
has committed $10 million to recruiting faculty, while UCLA
has said it will spend at least $20 million over five years, according to the LA Times.
DAVIS – The University of California is proposing the construction of a $250-million health-services research park. Who will fund the project remains a mystery.
SACRAMENTO – First Banks Inc
plans to hire 25 more workers to staff a new business service center aimed at winning more Small Business Administration loans.
SAN FRANCISCO – A labor-policy think tank has praised the SF minimum wage hike to $8.82 this year as positive for the city’s economy and businesses. The Institute of Industrial Relations
at UC Berkeley found that the city’s gradual increase in the minimum wage did not spur layoffs or cause business closures. Restaurant owners, however, complained that the hike resulted in higher menu prices.
SANTA CLARA – Intel
, the world’s largest maker of microchips, is seeking permission to build a $605-million manufacturing plant in Vietnam.
More Workers on Meth
2005 witnessed a rise in workplace methamphetamine abuse, a disturbing trend since meth use contributes to workplace accidents and work-related violence. Although overall drug use declined, according to a Drug Testing Index released by Quest Diagnostics
, the number of positive tests linked to meth increased 13% in safety-sensitive workers. Federal regulations require routine drug testing of pilots, bus and truck drivers, and nuclear power plant workers. Methamphetamine use is also common in the construction and manufacturing industries, where long, strenuous work hours make it the dangerous drug of choice for some workers. In the coming years, more employers will conduct tests that scan specifically for the drug, predicts a drug testing service provider, Bull Safety Equipment. “We are seeing a significant increase in the number of companies incorporating on-site drug screening,” reports Darryl Fuhrman, safety equipment principal.
Global Workforce Divorced
Most workers in 16 different countries throughout the world share something in common: they’re not in love with their work. The majority of the global workforce feels divorced from their company and workplace, unwilling to put in the extra effort to help their company succeed, according to a new worldwide survey by Tower Perrins HR Services
. Surprisingly, engagement levels in Asia are lowest, reaching into the single digits, with Japanese workers ranking as the least interested in pushing themselves for their company. The country with the most passionate workers is Mexico, with 40 percent willing to give it their all. US workers make an average effort at 21 percent. In America, workers tend to be cynical, doubting whether their relationship with their company is mutual. “Employees in the US feel they’ve hung in during the tough years,” comments Julie Gebauer, managing director of Tower Perrins’ Workforce Effectiveness Practice. “They don’t think they’ve seen enough in terms of pay raises, incentives or other rewards.” Businesses wanting to fully engage their workers need to improve their personnel relationships and communications.