Sluggish Growth in August
The US added 128,000 jobs in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Healthcare recorded the largest increases, adding 35,000 positions nationwide. Jobs in professional and business services were up 26,000, though the prior three months had averaged twice that number. Education added 25,000 jobs and construction gained 17,000, mostly in nonresidential specialty trades. Other significant increases were in government (+17,000), leisure and hospitality (+10,000), and financial activities (+10,000). Major job losses hit retail trade, which dropped 14,000 positions, half of them in department stores. Manufacturing shed another 11,000 jobs after losing 23,000 in July. Transportation and warehousing was down 7000. The national unemployment rate held steady at 4.7 percent.
Labor Day Resolutions
It seems like a cruel joke, but Labor Day is the start of a season of insecurity for workers. According to recent history, more layoffs occur from now through December than at any other time of year. Some corporate downsizing is unavoidable, dictated by circumstances beyond your control. However, in many situations your fate is determined by your supervisors and department heads, who have been told to trim a certain number of their staffers to meet cost constraints.
"In such scenarios, the best way save your job is to become a franchise player – someone too valuable to let go," counsels John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. "You have a small window of opportunity to build a reputation as someone who is willing to do things others are not. A prime example is promoting your willingness to travel or relocate." Another image-building tactic is to give up telecommuting in favor of face time at the office. While many companies advocate telecommuting programs, the fact is telecommuters are more likely to miss key impromptu meetings, such as brainstorming sessions, which are when rising stars usually shine brightest.
Challenger offers the following Labor Day resolutions to help workers survive year-end job-cutting. Do not let work expand to fill the time. Resolve to get projects done ahead of schedule and then request new assignments or projects. Find ways to save money that require your efforts. For example, figure out a way to accomplish work in less time while maintaining output of the same or better quality. Do not criticize the company or anyone in it. Even in the best of times, employers do not like complainers. Become a problem solver. Increase your recognition as a problem solver by requesting difficult assignments. Individuals who gear their work lives in this direction can help make themselves "untouchable" during a downsizing or reorganization. Do not hide. Everyone, from CEOs on down, is busier with his or her own agenda, so to assume that someone is keeping track of your accomplishments would be a grave miscalculation. Prepare a monthly memo, updating your supervisor on the status of your projects and the major "victories" you have achieved.
HR Worries About Labor Shortage
Thanks to a growing economy and a shrinking workforce, human resources personnel are starting to worry about where their next new hire is going to come from. Nearly half of all HR staff interviewed by Express Personnel Services, a Oklahoma City staffing company based in 47 states, said employee retention was their number-one concern. Organizations that step up and boost their retention strategies will come out ahead, increasing productivity, profitability and employee loyalty, advises Melissa Elliott, Express spokesperson. "There is more to retention than offering competitive salaries, paid time off and insurance benefits," she continues. "By building trust, providing regular feedback and giving appropriate reviews and rewards, managers can give their employees a greater sense of commitment."
Surprising Six-Figure Careers
Think you have to be an executive to earn $100,000 or more? A recent Forbes article says otherwise. Some of the magazine’s more surprising tax-bracket busters included court reporters (depending on the city), mining supervisors (no degree required), printing press operators in some big-city markets, and professional business coaches (helping struggling entrepreneurs be successful, for example). Forbes is quick to point out that not all people in these professions earn six figures, but many with experience and overtime bring home hefty paychecks.