Job Growth Slows to a Trickle
California’s lackluster job growth in recent months took a turn for the worse in July, as employers in the state added only 900 jobs. It was the worst performance since April, when employers eliminated 4800 positions. California has added 64,800 jobs this year. Government was the strongest sector in July, adding 8300 new positions, followed by trade, transit and utilities (+3200), other services (+3100), leisure and hospitality (+2600), financial (+500), and mining (+200). Education and health services lost the most jobs (-6900), followed by information (-5600), construction (-2100), manufacturing (-1300), and professional and business services (-1100). On the bright side, California’s jobless rate, which is usually higher than the nationwide figure, managed to drop from 4.9 percent to 4.8 percent, matching the US rate.
A Lull in Layoffs
Job-cut announcements fell to a six-year low in July, but if history is any indication, the nation’s workers may simply be enjoying a brief respite before downsizing begins anew. Labor Day kicks off what is typically the heaviest downsizing period of the year, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., the outplacement firm that has been tracking layoff announcements since 1993. According to Challenger data, in six out of the ten previous years, the last four calendar months have seen the most job cuts. Roughly 38 percent of all layoffs occur after Labor Day. Employers announced 37,178 job cuts in July, the lowest monthly total since June 2000. "The lower-than-expected figure in July could be the calm before the storm. In our daily tracking, we have seen several warnings of heavier job cuts in the coming months," CEO John Challenger warns. "The end of the year is a precarious time for workers. Companies are scrambling to meet earnings goals. At the same time, they are making decisions about the coming year budget, expansion plans, etc. All of these factors weigh into determining staffing levels – whether to add workers, eliminate workers or both." He urges workers to make themselves too valuable to be let go by putting forth extra effort whenever possible.
On the Job Front
NATIONWIDE – A new study by the Pew Hispanic Center has found no evidence that large increases in immigration since 1990 led to higher unemployment among Americans. In addition, states with big increases in immigration were just as likely to have low unemployment rates as states with little immigration. The report found that economic growth plays a larger role . . . US productivity, the amount of work produced per hour, slowed in the spring. The annual rate of increase slowed from 4.3 percent in the first three months down to 1.1 percent in the second quarter. In addition, the Labor Dept reported that wages rose at an annual rate of 4.2 percent, up from 2.5 percent the first three months of the year . . . Wal-Mart is raising starting pay by 6 percent at 1200 of its outlets. At the same time, the world’s largest retailer is capping pay ranges. Once an employee hits the top of the pay range, their hourly rate will be frozen, without cost-of-living adjustments . . . Northwest Airlines flight attendants are free to launch mini-strikes against the beleaguered air carrier as early as this coming Friday. So ruled the bankruptcy judge overseeing the airline’s bankruptcy case. The decision could be overruled by a higher court or become moot if flight attendants and the airline can reach agreement. The attendants are fighting attempts by the airline to reduce pay packages.
CONCORD – More than 400 healthcare workers at the John Muir Medical Center are considering a two-day strike starting Aug 28th. LVNs, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, dietary aides and other workers hope to force management back to the bargaining table.
EAST PALO ALTO – Home Depot wants to make its current outlet in this city the biggest in the nation. The chain has submitted plans to acquire an adjacent business so it can expand and remodel the store from its present 97,000 sq ft to 200,000 sq ft. They hope to open in April.
OAKLAND – The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that Union Pacific Corp must pay a former East Bay worker $67,500. The worker had alleged she was fired for filing a discrimination lawsuit against the railroad, which agreed to the settlement while denying any wrongdoing.
SACRAMENTO – Officials plan to hire 32 new employees in January in order to expand the city’s Matrix program, which streamlines the approval process for developers. Twenty-two of the new employees will join the Development Services Dept, while ten will be divided between several other departments . . . Target has purchased the land for a new store in West Sacramento, expected to open in March 2007.
AFL-CIO to Work for Day Laborers
A national network of day laborers has formed a pact with the powerful AFL-CIO in an effort to influence immigration reform and advocate for workers rights. It is a startling alliance since day laborers are not unionized. The National Day Laborer Organizing Network typically represents undocumented laborers and helps them find temporary work. The AFL-CIO, on the other hand, has represented countless union workers in winning well-established pay and benefit packages for American workers. However, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said the effort to improve the working conditions of day laborers is the most vibrant part of the labor movement today. "Worker centers make good on the core American belief that even the shunned and excluded should and can fight back," he noted.
Are You Ready to Job Search?
Think it’s time to move on career-wise? Don’t dally. "It’s better to lay the groundwork for a job search before you get burned out," notes David Patton, editorial director of CareerJournal.com. ’It’s often easier to find a new job while you are still employed." He offers many safe techniques that will let you network without alerting your employer you are job hunting. Look before you leap – You may want to explore employment opportunities within your own company before deciding to look for a job elsewhere. Make yourself visible discreetly – The Internet has made it easier to raise your career profile through sites such as Linkedin.com and Zoominfo.com. Connect with colleagues at companies you’re interested in and raise your visibility without quitting your job. Work your industry associations – Participating in a business organization won’t raise eyebrows. You can network by mingling at the monthly meetings. Network like a headhunter – Target ten or 15 companies. Track down employees and former employees via company websites. Phone them and learn all you can about the company, the department you are interested in, and your potential boss. Rebuild your network – Ex-bosses, old friends and classmates, and even former co-workers can provide excellent leads to new work. Call them on a casual basis before your formal job search gets underway. Do some self-assessment – Think about what you really want to do. Take into account your strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Ask yourself what you want more and less of so you can pursue a more satisfying career. More suggestions for managing your career can be found at CareerJournal.com.