November Job Growth Surprising
Job growth continued at a healthy pace in November with US payrolls adding 132,000 positions. Economists, anticipating an economic slowdown, had forecast just 112,000 new jobs. The good news was enhanced by the fact that job estimates for September and October were revised upward by a net 42,000 jobs. The latest report buoyed the belief that if there is a recession, it will be mild. "The idea of the economy hitting a hard landing or falling into recession just doesn’t carry water when you get these kinds of unemployment reports. It’s not here now," Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial, told Marketwatch.com. "You’d need a lot weaker job growth to say the economy has fallen into a painfully slow period of economic growth." In November, professional and business services added 43,000 jobs, followed by healthcare (+28,000), and leisure and hospitality (+34,000). On the down side, construction jobs declined by 29,000, followed by a drop of 15,000 jobs in manufacturing. The jobless rate nudged upward from 4.4 to 4.5 percent.
Afraid to Ask For a Raise?
Career coach Wren Withers believes employees should not shy away from seeking their fair salary, even if a boss seems reluctant to talk money. Her five-point advice, as outlined in a recent Newsweek article, urges employees to sell yourself by give your boss a list of your greatest achievements, do your homework by finding out your worth at another company, act now rather than waiting for your boss to bring up the pay issue, grab a bonus by finding out if your boss has say over who may be getting onetime annual awards, or go for a promotion as coach Withers did herself by presenting a well-rehearsed case on why she was as good as those ahead of her. For more information on Withers, go to NegotiateYourSalary.com. Who knows, such tactics might help you earn a raise larger than the 3.6 percent projected for most workers in this coming year.
On the Job Front
NATIONWIDE – Nancy Pelosi, incoming house speaker, plans to fast-track efforts to boost the federal minimum wage by avoiding committee hearings and bringing the legislation directly to the House floor in January. The bill will probably call for a phased-in increase in the current federal minimum wage of $5.15 to $7.25 an hour. The legislation would not affect California, where the minimum wage is already $6.75 and will go to $7.50 on January 1.
BAY AREA – Top executives in the region are bullish about the economy. The Bay Area Council found that 45 percent of the CEOs surveyed feel the economy will improve in the next six months. For every CEO that plans to cutback their worforces, four say they will expand their hiring.
STATEWIDE – California’s Division of Workers Compensation is proposing rules that would let it fine insurers or employers who use the "utilization review" process to delay or deny treatment for an injured worker. A decision may not come before February.
SAN JOSE – Layoffs at the San Jose Mercury News totaled 35, about half the number first forecast. A total of ten staffers from the newsroom and 25 from the business side were laid off. Under a two-year agreement with the Newspaper Guild, workers will get a 2 percent annual raise, but must pay a larger share of their medical costs.
SAN FRANCISCO – Local schools will lose one third of all their principals over the next five years. In response, the local school board will spend $3 million recruiting and training potential principals from the ranks of their current instructors . . . PRNewswire, a service that distributes promotional news releases to the media, is relocating some of its SF local operations. Nine reporters who have opted not to move to Cleveland or Albuquerque are leaving the company. Eight are relocating . . . By May 2009, the SF Chronicle will no longer print its own newspaper. The paper has contracted with a Canadian firm to handle printing of the daily after the firm completes construction of a printing plant somewhere in the Bay Area. The 230 pressmen now employed by the Chronicle can then apply for jobs with the printing company, but the Canadian firm is making no promises.
Discriminating Employers? Si
Imagine reading a help-wanted ad that sought "a female aged 20-28, single, with excellent presentation. Please include photo." While US firms cannot run such ads in America, they can run them in Mexico, according to the Los Angeles Times. Jobs are scarce and enforcement of antidiscrimination laws is virtually nonexistent, the paper reports, giving companies carte blanche to run ads that often violate their own corporate policies north of the border. When contacted for comment, US companies denied any knowledge of the ads or blamed them on local managers or third parties, the Times noted.
Corporations More Gay Friendly
A gay rights organization recently reported that US corporations have dramatically improved their support of gay and lesbian employees over the past five years. In its annual report, The Human Rights Campaign evaluates companies on how they treat gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees by looking at a firm’s domestic partner benefits, discrimination policies, advertising, marketing and other areas. In California, 27 companies (25 in the Bay Area) scored 100 percent. Bay Area companies earning perfect scores included many tech firms, Chevron, Charles Schwab, Kaiser Permanente, Levi Strauss and Wells Fargo. Nationwide, three companies scored a zero – Exxon Mobil, Perot Systems, and grocery chain Meijer Inc. To see a complete listing, go to hrc.org and click on "workplace".
Democrats Get Union Wish List
Organized labor spent millions and rallied countless volunteers to help Democrats get what they wanted – control of Congress. Now unions want the Democrats to give them what they want – a hike in the minimum wage, as well as other pro-labor relief. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney sees the elections as a "mandate for a union agenda." That agenda includes changes in the Medicare prescription drug program (to allow price negotiations with pharmaceutical companies), changes in bankruptcy laws to prohibit companies from abandoning pension and healthcare commitments to workers, trade agreements to protect workers, improved mining safety, better retirement protection, and expanded healthcare.
Stressed? Don’t Blame Your Boss
What’s the number-one cause of workplace stress? It’s not the workload or the public or the thermostat – it’s co-workers. That’s the opinion of 55 percent of workers surveyed by ComPsych, which runs employee health services. Participants complained of colleagues who annoy, dump on, compete with, or otherwise create problems that make for an unpleasant work environment.