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Showing posts from May, 2010

Thoughts On Memorial Day

I hope you're enjoying your Memorial Day weekend. As I'm knocking around the house today -- hey, we are in recession! -- I'm thinking about all the soldiers who had their lives taken by war. I'm also thinking about loved ones who have passed away and how much they meant to me.

Enjoy your day and be thankful for what you have, and for those who have made it possible for you to have it.

I thought Andy Rooney said it best on 60 Minutes last night. Thanks, Mr. Rooney, for reminding us that our soldiers didn't "give their lives" but that their lives were taken away.

Need a Job? Ohio Might Have One For You

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas lead the way in job gains in April 2010.

Here's the breakdown:
Ohio: 37,300 jobs added
Pennsylvania: 34,000 jobs added
New York: 32,700 jobs added
Texas: 32,500 jobs added
The three states with the largest drop in employment between March and April 2010 were Maine (‑6,500), Rhode Island (‑4,400), and New Hampshire (‑4,100).

In Ohio, data show the service sector is the engine of job creation. The state's professional and business services added 6,300 jobs while leisure and hospitality added 5,200 jobs. Other sectors with employment gains included educational and health services (+2,600); trade, transportation, and utilities (+1,300); and financial "activities" (+600).

But it doesn't stop there: Ohio manufacturing companies added 12,300 jobs between March and April. Even the construction industry added 5,500 workers.

What is going on in Ohio? For one thing, Ohio voters got behind an economi…

Friday Funnies: Shred-O-My

I wonder if use of this shredder is aut-o-matically accompanied by five to 25 years at a federal correctional institution.

2009 Was a Very Bad Year For U.S. Families

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report entitled "Employment Characteristics of Families" today that explores household unemployment levels.

What BLS concludes isn't unexpected but it's depressing: More U.S. families include someone unemployed than at any time in the 16 years since BLS began collecting these data. There are slightly more than 78 million families in the United States (78.4 million families, to be exact) and 80.4% of them had at least one person working in 2009. In 2008, 82.2% of households had at least one person working.

I found this paragraph rather striking:

Forty-four percent of all families included children (sons, daughters, step-children, and adopted children) under age 18. Among the 34.8 million families with children, 87.8 percent had an employed parent in 2009, down from 90.0 percent in 2008. The mother was employed in 67.8 percent of families maintained by women with no spouse present in 2009, and the father was employed in 76.6 perc…

Google's Pac-Man Tribute Was a Time Toilet

If you used Google last Friday, you probably saw the Pac-Man logo in honor of the game's 30th anniversary.

Well, the folks at RescueTime did the math and figured out Google visitors played Pac-Man for an average of 36 seconds each, or a cumulative 4.82 million hours.

That's nearly 5 million hours wasted last Friday running away from Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde instead of calculating spreadsheets and making sales calls. Or job hunting, as the case may be.

Still, RescueTime concludes the vast majority of Google visitors didn't realize they could click on the Pac-Man artwork and play the game, which no doubt has managers everywhere breathing a sigh of relief that most employees didn't have a pocket full of quarters and were headed for the arcade, so to speak.

Wednesday Warblings: Woman Minds Criminal Minds Interruption

I did a few TV news internships as a journalism student to see if it was for me.

I had the misfortune of starting one of my TV news internships on the day of the OJ Simpson car chase through Los Angeles. The TV station was carrying the whole thing live and it was interrupting hours of scheduled programming. My new supervisor asked me to man the phones (hey, he wasn't stupid!) to talk down angry callers wondering why Wheel of Fortune had been replaced by aerial shots of some football player being followed down the freeway by what seemed like the entire cast of CHiPs.

Listening to this angry viewer brings back a lot of memories of that day and it makes me thankful once again for print media. What's left of it, anyway.

On another note, there's something to be said for using internships as a way to figure out what you don't want to do with your life. Something might seem like a dream career on the surface but then you do a few internships and realize your skills are best ap…

Today Is World MS Day

Today is World MS Day, a day to raise awareness of Multiple Sclerosis.

It's estimated that 2 million people around the world suffer from Multiple Sclerosis and many of them are in the workplace. In honor of World MS Day, the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation conducted an online MS survey of 8,681 people from 125 countries.

Here's a snapshot of the workplace-related survey results:
96% surveyed were between ages 19 and 60 and 42% had been diagnosed within the last five years;

59% of respondents with MS were employed and 68% worked full time;

67% said MS has affected their work, either by reducing hours on the job or forcing a change in occupations or in necessitating the taking of short-term or long-term leaves;

41.5% of MS patients who were still working said they did so sitting down;

37% said flexible working hours would be important for them;

49% identified supportive employers and colleagues;

83% of those currently not working said they had stopped due to the disease;


The State of Green Jobs Is...California

So I'm sitting here watching cable news coverage of the BP spill at the same time I'm looking at a new report about green jobs.

Yes, I see the irony here but please bear with me., a website that lists "green job" job openings, just released a study that ranks the top five states for green jobs. Maybe I could find a way to use the word "job" one more time in the preceding sentence but I'm feeling lazy.

Green Job Spider arrived at its main conclusions by tallying the states with the "most current green job openings online" as of May 2010. Here are Green Job Spider's top five states for green jobs:

1. California
2. Washington, DC
3. New York
4. Texas
5. Colorado

Surprised? I asked my spouse to guess the top five green job states as he was making himself some breakfast. California? Check. Colorado? Check. Hawaii? Guess again. How about Wyoming? Uh, no. He said he was just kidding about Wyoming. Then he thought he'…

Monday Workplace News Roundup

Here are some headlines catching my eye today:

Did you catch the series finale of Lost? I did, and I was completely lost. That's what I get for giving up after the first two episodes.

The full spectrum: The Indian government is auctioning off broadband licenses and received $500 million in bids on the first day.

Dark roast: A Maine man got so mad at his girlfriend for working at a topless coffee shop that he allegedly burned down the whole business.

It ain't over: 79% of Americans in a recent ConAgra Foods survey think the Great Recession isn't over yet. Curiously, 79% plan to keep clipping coupons and cooking at home.

A tenth Foxconn employee jumps off the company's Chinese dormitory and dies. Critics cite poor living and working conditions at Foxconn's Chinese facility, which manufactures products for Apple and Sony.

The juicy details: Unionized employees of fruit juice company Mott's went on strike this morning against parent company Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group. The …

Employers Continue Hopeless Quest For the Perfect Hire

I've been reading Manpower's latest talent shortage study that asked employers in 36 countries about their hiring challenges.

Manpower found that almost one-third (31%) of employers surveyed are having a hard time finding talented employees:

"Unemployment levels remain high in the United States, yet employers continue to have difficulty filling select positions," said Jonas Prising, Manpower president of the Americas. "The issue is not a lack of candidates, but rather a talent mismatch. There are not enough sufficiently skilled people in the right places at the right times. Compounding the issue is the fact that employers are seeking ever more specific skill sets, or a rare combination of skill sets, and are less willing to engage in anticipatory hiring. This paradox adds up to a very challenging and frustrating situation at a time when people need work and employers need talent."

But is a lack of "sufficiently skilled people" the real problem, or ar…

The Recession Is Making Workers Fat

Have you put on a few pounds lately? If so, you're not alone.

A new CareerBuilder survey of more than 4,400 U.S. workers finds 43% have gained weight at their current job. They're stressed out and hitting the vending machines. Funyuns, here we come!

From the CareerBuilder press release:

A quarter of employees report they have gained more than ten pounds and 12 percent say they gained more than 20 pounds while in their present positions. Comparing genders, women are more likely (48 percent) than men (39 percent) to say they have gained weight at their current jobs.

"Weight gain in the office is common and is a result of a variety of issues including today’s economic stress and poor eating habits," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources for "Making little adjustments to your routine, such as bringing your lunch to work, getting up from your desk during the day, and walking instead of driving or taking public transportation will hel…

Gwinnett County, GA Wants Its Money Back

Gwinnett County, Georgia paid a round of employee bonuses in 1994.

Now it's asking the employees to give the money back, saying the county overpaid them due to a "payroll anomaly." The county is telling the employees they can either return the money in cash or have it deducted from their vacation time.

The county is still seeking $39,690.46 in employee reimbursements. From an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story:

The payroll anomaly dates back to Sept. 30, 1994, when the county adjusted employee pay cycles. The adjustment resulted in shortening one pay period from a 14 days to 12 days. Under normal circumstances, employees who worked the shortened pay cycle would have received less pay, but to avoid financial hardship, paychecks were increased to counteract any shortfall.

In all, Gwinnett County overpaid 509 people a total of $114,876.55 that week.

Since then, the county has collected the overpayment from employee paychecks at retirement. So far, it has recovered $75,186.09 …

Report: College Graduates Should Look For a Job In...Journalism?

I live in a college town where the second week of May means one thing: graduation. It's that magical time of year when a degree is awarded to the deserving and I can finally find a parking space because all the students are leaving town.

Hey, everybody wins.

Graduation means one thing to graduates, too: moving in with mom and dad, sleeping in until noon and playing video games until dinner's ready. Oh, I'm joking. Many of them will be looking for their first "real job" that doesn't involve babysitting, waiting tables or making lattes. Besides, most 22-year-olds who have gotten a taste of freedom at college would rather live just about anywhere else other than with mom and dad. They know the honeymoon would soon end and mom would start saying, "Did you make your bed yet? I get tired of having to nag you about it. And comb your hair!" There's never a free lunch, as they say.

Of course this year's crop of college graduates faces the worst hirin…

Monday Workplace News Roundup

Here are some headlines catching my eye today:

Manic Monday: A new study finds 25% of workers are so stressed on Sunday about returning to work on Monday that it ruins their entire weekend. Unemployed people think "Well, at least you have a job to go to on Monday."

Call of duty: Virtual contact center Alpine Access says it will hire 200 "video game enthusiasts" to work from home providing "technical support to fellow gamers." No word on whether 12-packs of Mountain Dew will be provided, too.

Lapping it up: Software company Citrix Systems is letting employees choose the laptops they want then subsiding the purchase and it's working well.

Not Digging it: News site Digg announces it will lay off 10% of its workforce.

Towing the line: 1 in 4 U.S. households has ditched its land line phone connection.

Mental problem: Massachusetts employers are limiting employee access to mental help.

What troopers: More than 3,200 Iowa National Guard troops will leave for a ye…

Monday Workplace News Roundup

Hope you had a terrific Mother's Day weekend. Here are some headlines catching my eye today:

Hear her roar: The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) elected its first female president over the weekend. She's also one of the first openly gay union leaders ever.

Are franchisees employees or contractors? We'll get an answer soon.

Temporary glitch: New York Gov. David Patterson gears up to furlough state workers but exempts temporary workers. Now the unions are a little bit angry.

Do it now, not later: Connecticut company United Technologies implements the new national health care laws for its 72,000 employees four months before it's required to do so.

Ignorance is biz: 49% of employers in a new Wells Fargo retirement survey admit they don't know if their employees are able to retire.

State of inertia: Science teachers want parents to get more involved in teaching science to their children, if only more parents knew the difference between a Petri dish and a Bunsen b…

Survey: Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

The latest Adecco Staffing U.S./Harris Interactive American Workplace Insights survey finds almost one-third (30%) of American moms are the sole breadwinners in their households.

They're bringing home the bacon, frying it up in a pan and never, ever letting you forget you're a...oops, I went to the 1970s for a few seconds! Sorry about that. Whatever happened to Enjoli?

Anyway, back to the Adecco/Harris Interactive survey, which found the moms surveyed don't want their kids making the same career mistakes they feel they've made. Three-fourths (74%) want their children to pick a different career than they did. Well, they do say that mom knows best, right?

The survey also found 56% of moms thinks mothers make the best bosses but only 42% would want their own mom to be their boss. That means 58% would choose their dad to be their boss instead. I'm guessing this is because mothers and daughters tend to argue more, whether it's about risque clothing choices, tattooed…

U.S. Economy Adds 290,000 Jobs, Discouraged Workers Get Off Couch

The U.S. economy added 290,000 jobs in April, more than the analysts expected. Hooray!

The unemployment rate increased slightly from 9.7% to 9.9% as discouraged workers - that is, unemployed people who gave up looking for a job over the last year - dust off their interview suits and get back in the game. But it seems like a small price to pay if job seekers are feeling more confident.

Of course, we'll have to see if Europe ruins everything over the next few weeks trying to get their European Union thingy to work. Greece is the word. It's the word that you've heard. Greece is the way we are feeling. Oh, nevermind. I can't help myself sometimes.

You'll find the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report here.

And since it's Friday:

Disability Insurance? Employees Just Aren't Buying It

Did you know that May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, a time to get employees thinking about the need for disability insurance?

I didn't know either, until I read a new survey from the LIFE Foundation that finds employees are more likely to buy car and home insurance than employee disability insurance.

84% of the employees the LIFE Foundation surveyed strongly agreed that it's important to insure a car while 80% said it's important to buy homeowners insurance. But just under half (48%) think employee disability insurance -- that is, income they'll keep collecting if they must stop working temporarily due to injury or sickness -- is worth buying.

Communication is a big problem. One-quarter of the employees surveyed didn't know if their company even offers disability insurance. About 41% knew the employer offered it but they didn't understand what's covered or how disability insurance works.

Employees didn't understand the financial impacts, eith…

Is Your Business Ready For A Disaster?

The scary events in Times Square got me thinking about this emergency planning article I wrote in early 2002 as a management columnist for Entrepreneur magazine.

The article features an interview with the director of the Pentagon's daycare center, who shared how the daycare's employees evacuated the children safely after the plane slammed into the Pentagon building on 9/11.

The article is a little bit dated (has it really been eight years since I write it?) but it contains timeless tips from the experts for creating a company-wide emergency plan.

More recently, I penned this piece that offers advice from a small business owner who survived Hurricane Katrina and now has a full disaster plan for her New Orleans bakery.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates that 40% of small businesses would go out of business after a disaster. That's pretty scary, but this isn't just a small business problem. Studies show that even large companies lag behind when it comes to di…

Monday Workplace News Roundup

Here are some headlines catching my eye today:

Jokester in Chief: President Obama tickled the crowd at Saturday night's annual White House Correspondents Dinner.

Wii will see: Should someone be able to claim a Nintendo Wii console as a rehabilitation device under workers compensation laws? An Australian parliament is debating this question.

Let's Finn-agle: The Finns are arguing over loaning the Greeks $1.48 billion Euros as part of an overall EU financial aid package. They fear the Greeks will never be able to pay it back.

C-ya, CIO: A new study finds CFOs are getting more involved in making IT decisions. So if your work computer keeps crashing, you know who to blame.

Zeal-ous debate: Australia cuts its corporate tax rate by 2% and makes New Zealand debate trimming its 30% corporate tax rate.

Take me off the list: Some colleges are so fed up with the U.S. News & World Report annual college rankings list that they no longer want to be on it.

Rowdy neighbor: Neighboring African c…