Hiring Slows as Labor Pool Shrinks
The US economy continues to add jobs, but not at the pace economists had hoped for. Last month, US employers added 121,000 jobs, substantially less than the 185,000 forecast. The figures highlighted concerns about a slowdown in the US economy. "It is not surprising that hiring is weakening," notes John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. "At 4.6 percent unemployment, the economy is near full employment. Unemployment for workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher is 2.1 percent." That amounts to an extremely shallow pool of skilled workers, forcing companies to scale back expansion and new-product development plans, thus minimizing total job creation. This shortage of workers is leading to one bright spot for employees – average hourly earnings rose 3.9 percent from a year earlier – the largest gain in five years.
Working Long Hours Worse for Women
A British study has found that working long hours has a greater negative impact on women than men because it makes them more likely to smoke, drink coffee and eat unhealthy foods, particularly snacks. "Women who work long hours eat more high-fat and high-sugar snacks, exercise less, drink more caffeine and, if smokers, smoke more than their male colleagues," observes Dr. Daryl O’Connor, a researcher at Britain’s Leeds University. Specifically, the results show that one or more stressful events, such as making a presentation, a meeting with the boss, or missing a deadline, was linked to eating more between-meal snacks and fewer or smaller portions of fruits and vegetables. "Stress disrupts people’s normal eating habits," explains Dr. O’Connor, who adds that women workers "when they feel anxious or emotionally aroused or negative about themselves, they try to avoid these negative feelings by turning their attention to food."
On the Job Front
STATEWIDE – Registered nurses in Oakland and LA held protests last week in opposition to a pending ruling by the National Labor Relations Board. Nurses fear the NLRB plans to limit the number of nurses who would be able to unionize . . . Meanwhile, the University of California filed unfair-labor-practice charges against the California Nurses Association, claiming the labor group is not negotiating in good faith.
ROSEVILLE – Nurses at Sutter Roseville Medical Center have ratified a new four-year contract. The 537 nurses will receive a 5-percent raise each year through 2008, followed by 6 percent in 2009. Other pluses: a no-premium health plan, additional paid time off, and more tuition reimbursement.
SANTA CLARA – Chipmaking giant Intel is cutting 1000 management jobs as part of an overall reorganization it announced earlier this year. Increased competition and reduced sales of PCs prompted the pullback.
SILICON VALLEY – Salesforce.com, makers of a customer-management database, has shut down plans to expand its SF workforce and is looking to lease more office space in Silicon Valley instead.
Gas Hike Fuels 4-Day Work Week
In an effort to counter the high cost of gas, city leaders in Cocoa, Fla, have closed City Hall on Fridays in order to cut their other utility bills. City Hall now operates from 7am to 6pm four days a week, eliminating a full day of electricity usage. Some employees complain the four-day week doesn’t work for them. "For those employees who have a legitimate reason why they cannot [change to a four-day week], we will work with them on a case-by-case basis," said deputy city manager Wendy Widmann said. The effectiveness of the new work week will be reviewed in six months.
Japan May Need You
America isn’t the only country with an aging workforce about to retire by the millions. According to USA Today, Japan expects to lose 30 million workers starting next year, and is looking at ways to forestall the inevitable. The country is encouraging more women to pursue careers, and the official retirement age may be raised from 60 to 65. But then there is the inevitable – easing immigration in order to bolster its workforce. Currently, in a country where outsiders are generally mistrusted, only 1 percent of the workforce is comprised of immigrants (compared to 15 percent in the US). Some officials insist that Japan must change if it hopes to sustain its growing economy.
Ethics Rarely Discussed
Less than half of companies encourage discussion of moral dilemmas and conduct in the workplace, according to a survey by the International Association of Business Communicators Research Foundation. The survey, however, also found that 70 percent of respondents said their organization makes it clear to employees what is ethically acceptable and what is not. Still, only 61 percent of companies encourage openness about ethical or unethical conduct in their organizations, and only 46 percent of companies encourage discussion of moral dilemmas and misconduct. Sixty-eight percent also said that companies would readily reprimand someone for unethical conduct, unless it resulted in corporate gain. Then only 51 percent would consider a reprimand.
The Value of an MBA
Recruiting on business school campuses was reportedly up this year, with 60 percent of schools polled saying they are seeing a big increase in job offers to MBA students. In addition, 70 percent report a jump in starting salaries and signing bonuses. Much of the demand is coming from the traditional sectors of consulting, financial services, and consumer goods companies. In a global economy, recruiters are increasingly looking for graduates with international experience. In particular, China needs tens of thousands of trained managers to fuel the economic growth it is currently experiencing.
Tech Jobs Growing, but . . .
Although the US high-tech industry is on the road to recovery, it has yet to recoup the job losses suffered earlier this decade. Less than a quarter of the tech jobs lost have been recovered in the past two years, according to a labor union’s study. Technology workers lost 395,600 jobs in the three years ended March 2004, according to a report by the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Through February, 88,600 positions had been recouped, according to the survey conducted for the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech). "It is far too soon to celebrate a strong recovery," Nik Theodore, a University of Illinois professor and one of the study’s coauthors, declared in a statement. "Moreover, the impact of offshoring is considerable." WashTech, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America, has been critical of plans by companies such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM, to cut US jobs and hire workers overseas. Technology professionals in Seattle and San Francisco have fared better than those in Boston, Chicago, Dallas and San Jose which have seen only modest recovery. Employment in Los Angeles "continues to fall significantly," the study said.