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Trump administration releases rule on distinguishing gig workers from contractors

The new federal rule makes it easier to classify workers as independent contractors

On Wednesday, the Trump administration released its final version of a rule that clarifies the difference between independent contractors and employees who can claim benefits. 

Under the finalized version of the rule, the Labor Department has made it more difficult for “gig-economy companies” to count workers as employees. The federal rule “respects the time-honored American tradition of being your own boss,” Deputy Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella said. 

The rule isn’t set to take effect until March 8, well after President-elect Joe Biden takes office. The Biden administration hasn’t said how it plans to handle the bill. Once inaugurated, Biden could decide to change the rule or choose not to defend it in the event that it’s challenged in court. 

Uber considers it a win

Over the years, Uber has strongly advocated to preserve workers’ independent contractor status. The ride-hailing firm has argued that flexible work is a key reason people choose to work for gig-economy companies. 

“Forcing a binary choice upon workers—to either be an employee with more benefits but with less flexibility, or an independent contractor with limited protections—is outdated,” Danielle Burr, Uber Technologies Inc.’s head of federal affairs, told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. “We appreciate the efforts made to modernize our nation’s laws.” 

But labor rights groups have already voiced opposition to the plan. The National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit labor rights group, called the rule a “narrowing” of the standards. 

“The rule gives license to employers to call most of their workers independent contractors,” said Catherine Ruckelshaus, general counsel at the National Employment Law Project. “That would dramatically narrow worker protections…in the jobs that particularly need them, including construction, agriculture, janitorial and delivery jobs.”

On Wednesday, the Trump administration released its final version of a rule that clarifies the difference between independent contractors and employees who...
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Making small talk with coworkers can help you achieve more as a team, study finds

Taking time to chat about topics outside of work can help workers perform better on tasks

Creating a positive environment at work is key to employees’ happiness and job performance, and now a new study conducted by researchers from the University of California at Santa Cruz has explored how coworkers can gain the most from simple small talk. 

According to their findings, making time for small talk between employees that’s unrelated from work-related business can lead to better outcomes in the workplace and also make employees enjoy their tasks more. 

“An average workday now is getting the team together into a virtual meeting, where there’s a very clear goal and task,” said researcher Andrew Guydish. “You’re not talking to coworkers at their desks or in the hall. Everything is structured, and everything is essentially a task nowadays. So this research highlights the importance of perhaps trying to institute moments throughout the day with unstructured chat time.” 

Creating reciprocity in conversations

To understand how the small talk can benefit workers, the researchers analyzed data from a U.C. Santa Cruz dataset known as the Artwalk Corpus. The source has transcripts from nearly 70 different art walks, which required someone in a lab to virtually instruct someone else walking around Santa Cruz on where to look for specific pieces of art to be photographed. 

The researchers were most interested in understanding how often the participants were talking strictly about the task at hand versus how often the conversation veered to unrelated topics. They learned that having reciprocity in interactions, which allows both parties to contribute equally to a conversation, is what yielded the best results. When small talk was balanced with task-related talk, participants reported enjoying the task more. 

This is important when thinking of work-related projects because usually one employee has a leading role over one or more other employees. This dynamic can create an imbalance in conversations when the designated leader speaks more than others. But by creating time to talk about things unrelated to the project, everyone involved can feel like their voice is heard, which makes the whole experience more enjoyable. 

When one voice tends to dominate all conversations, this can create an exclusionary environment that makes it more difficult for others to share or feel engaged. 

“To understand this, you could draw an analogy to a classroom,” explained researcher Jean Fox Tree. “Getting feedback from the class tells the professor how they should be explaining something, and that helps everyone in the class, not just the one who’s asking the question.” 

While the researchers believe that people tend to go into interactions with the best intentions, finding ways to get everyone involved in conversation -- especially about casual topics -- can yield the best results in the workplace. 

Creating a positive environment at work is key to employees’ happiness and job performance, and now a new study conducted by researchers from the Universit...
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Starbucks increasing barista pay by 10 percent

The pandemic has pushed retail and service companies to increase employee pay

Starbucks, which recently reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings, is investing some of that revenue in its personnel. A corporate memo cited by Bloomberg News said the company is increasing pay for its front-line workers by 10 percent starting Dec. 14.

Bloomberg reports that it has seen a memo from Starbucks Executive Vice President Rossann Williams that increases pay by at least 10 percent for baristas, shift supervisors, and cafe attendants hired on or before Sept. 14.

The memo also said that starting pay for new employees will go up by 5 percent to help store managers attract and retain talent during the pandemic, when working conditions have become more challenging.

The company also said it will increase the extra amount above the minimum wage it pays employees in the U.S. markets where it has stores.

The pay raises come at a time when other retail and service sector businesses have faced difficulty hiring and retaining workers. Target raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour in July and gave employees who worked during the pandemic a $200 bonus at the end of that month.

The increase in payroll didn’t seem to hurt Target’s bottom line. The retailer this week reported same-store sales surged more than 20 percent in the third quarter.

In September, Walmart announced across-the-board pay hikes for its 165,000 hourly employees. It also announced the creation of new hourly and salaried leadership positions at its supercenters. 

Up to $30 an hour at Walmart

Pay for these new “team leader” positions range from $18 to $21 an hour, and some will pay up to $30 an hour. The new system will result in a boost in pay for tens of thousands of the company’s hourly workers, Walmart said.

Two years ago, Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour. The e-commerce giant said in a statement that the new minimum wage will benefit more than 250,000 full-time and part-time Amazon employees across the country, as well over 100,000 seasonal workers.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Starbucks authorized extra pay and benefits for employees affected by the health crisis, including sick pay, to encourage people who might be infected with the virus to stay home.

The improvement in hourly pay, long championed by organized labor, could remain in place once the pandemic passes. The state of Florida this year mandated a higher minimum wage and President-elect Joe Biden is on record supporting a $15 an hour minimum wage.

Starbucks, which recently reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings, is investing some of that revenue in its personnel. A corporate memo cited by B...
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Job interest isn't the only factor behind overall job satisfaction, study finds

Experts say that bosses and fellow colleagues also play a big role

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Houston found that consumers’ interest in their jobs isn’t the biggest factor in their overall job satisfaction. 

They found that being interested in a role is important when it comes to how employees perform, but other factors like positive relations with colleagues and bosses are more important when it comes to feeling satisfied at work. 

“In popular guidance literature, it is widely assumed that interest fit is important for job satisfaction,” said researcher Kevin Hoff. “Our results show that people who are more interested in their jobs tend to be slightly more satisfied, but interest assessments are more useful for guiding people towards jobs in which they will perform better and make more money.” 

Finding the right fit

To understand how job interest plays a role in satisfaction, the researchers analyzed 105 related studies spanning from 1949 through 2016. After evaluating data from over 39,000 participants, the researchers learned that having interest in a position wasn’t the only thing that contributed to job satisfaction. 

The study revealed that several factors come into play when determining satisfaction at work, including the values of the company and having a good rapport with co-workers. The researchers learned that having a genuine interest in a job was more closely related to how well employees performed in their roles and any subsequent progress that they made in that role, including promotions and raises. 

“Our main finding was that interest fit significantly predicts satisfaction, but it’s not as strong of a relation as people expect,” Hoff said. “Other things that lead to satisfaction include the organization you work for, your supervisor, colleagues, and pay.” 

For those looking for a career change or those just entering into the workforce, it can be overwhelming to try to find the perfect fit. The researchers explained that many assessments tend to focus solely on job interest, but these findings highlight that several other factors can come into play. 

“To be satisfied with a job, you don’t have to worry too much about finding a perfect fit for your interests because we know other things matter, too,” said Hoff. “As long as it’s something you don’t hate doing, you may find yourself very satisfied if you have a good supervisor, like your coworkers, and are treated fairly by your organization.” 

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Houston found that consumers’ interest in their jobs isn’t the biggest factor in their overall...
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Whole Foods executive says store managers could earn $100,000 per year without a college degree

Company officials say ‘wage transparency’ is a crucial part of the retailer’s business

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey says “wage transparency” is a key practice at Whole Foods. In an interview with CNBC Make It, Mackey said making sure employees know exactly what their colleagues are getting paid serves as motivation to climb the corporate ladder.

He said many companies “believe that [wage transparency] is going to stoke envy” and try to keep it hidden. Mackey said he thinks about it differently. 

The executive said an employee might think, ”‘Wow, I had no idea that a coordinator could get paid that much. I want to be a coordinator.’ Or, ‘I really want to be a store team leader, because I had no idea that including their RSUs — the restricted stock units they get from Amazon — I mean, they may be making well over $100,000.’” 

“And if you don’t have a college degree, that’s something to aspire to,” he added.

What store employees make

Here’s how much other Whole Foods employees make, according to the store’s website

  • Team members. Employees who work on the store floor, completing tasks like stocking shelves or preparing food, make an average of $30,000. 

  • Team leaders. Employees who head up a given section of the store and train new employees,  among other tasks, make around $57,000 per year. 

  • Associate team leaders. Assistants to team leaders make an average of $43,000 at Whole Foods.

  • Store managers. Store leaders make an average of $99,000 per year.

  • Associate store team leaders. Assistants to store managers make an average of $73,000 per year. 

Promoting authenticity

Mackey told Freakonomics Radio host Stephen Dubner that wage transparency incentivizes employees to do what it takes to get to the next level and offers the opportunity to challenge wages that they feel aren’t correct. 

Complaints sometimes result in a change; other times, the company gets a chance to highlight its values and explain why the pay is correct. 

“When you reveal a pay structure very transparently ... sometimes things aren’t just. And people will complain about it. And that gives you an opportunity to correct it,” Mackey said. “At other times, though, [the pay] is correct, and you can defend it. And then you’re pointing out to people what the organization most values and rewards.”

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey says “wage transparency” is a key practice at Whole Foods. In an interview with CNBC Make It, Mackey said making sure employees...
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California’s gig economy provision likely to pass, poll finds

Prop 22 would exempt gig-economy firms from complying with a driver classification law

California voters are set to decide Tuesday on the fate of Proposition 22, a bill that would leave gig workers as contractors by exempting gig-economy companies from a state law known as AB5. 

Under Prop 22, the benefits given to drivers for ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft would be less than those afforded to employees under state law. Ride-hailing drivers would be left with minimum pay, health care subsidies, and accident insurance. Drivers would still have some benefits, and they would still be able to keep their flexibility.  

Uber, Lyft, and other companies that rely heavily on contractors have spent upwards of $200 million in support of Prop 22. Both companies have threatened to leave California altogether if they are forced to classify their drivers as employees.

Uber and Lyft recently lost an appeal in California after a judge ruled that the public’s interest is better served if the law goes into effect.

Likely to pass

Analysts say California’s Prop 22 is likely to pass. A poll of likely voters by UC Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies recently found an increase in support for the initiative; 46 percent of voters expressed support for the measure, up from 39 percent in September. 

If Prop 22 doesn’t garner enough support, Uber and Lyft have said they may have to raise prices for riders and reduce their number of workers in an effort to offset the cost of providing workers with more benefits. 

California voters are set to decide Tuesday on the fate of Proposition 22, a bill that would leave gig workers as contractors by exempting gig-economy comp...
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Lyft and Uber lose their driver classification appeal in California

The rideshare companies still have a few chances to eek out a victory, though

Rideshare leaders Lyft and Uber must now classify their drivers as employees. A California Court of Appeals reaffirmed that decision on Thursday. 

The judges gaveled home their view that the public’s interest is better served if the damage is corrected rather than the companies -- and their shareholders -- protected.

“When violation of statutory workplace protections takes place on a massive scale, as alleged in this case, it causes public harm over and above the private financial interest of any given individual,” the appellate court said in its ruling, according to a report by the Sacramento Bee.

It ain’t over yet

The ruling is a setback to Uber and Lyft, which spent more than two years contending that the law does not apply to them. Both companies even went so far as to threaten to leave California altogether if they were forced to define their drivers as employees.

However, there are still a few more hoops for those companies to jump through before the dust finally settles. One is a ballot measure giving voters a say on the November 3 election day. The other is that the case will be sent back to the trial court. Before being reassigned to a court, the companies can go even further and appeal to the California Supreme Court.

Vote for us and set us free

It will be interesting to watch how many Californians jump through the election day hoop and side with Lyft and Uber. The two companies and their allies have reportedly spent nearly $200 million to curry the favor of voters on Proposition 22, a measure that would allow ridesharing and food delivery companies to classify their drivers as independent contractors. 

The pros and cons that Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, et al are pitching shake out like this:

  • The pros include that the measure would save rideshare and delivery services, plus hundreds of thousands of jobs. It would provide drivers new benefits, and guaranteed earnings. The advocacy groups behind the measure say it has the support of an overwhelming majority of drivers, community, public safety, and small business groups.

  • The cons on Prop 22 for Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash is that they can no longer write their own exemption to California law and profit from it. Plus, it would deny their drivers rights and safety protections they deserve: sick leave, healthcare and unemployment. The proposition’s naysayers say the companies will profit, but the exploited drivers will lose rights and protections. 

In recent polling conducted by the University of California - Berkeley, voters are swaying toward voting for the measure, but only by a smidge. The poll showed 39 percent of likely voters supporting it, 36 percent opposing it, and about 25 percent undecided.

Still facing serious headwinds

Of course, no news story these days would be complete without a reference to the pandemic, and this one is no different.

Ridesharing companies face quite a headwind, likely at the hands of consumers who have health safety concerns riding in a car that a person with COVID-19 could have been in earlier.

A CarGurus survey conducted early in the pandemic found an immediate sharp decline in the number of consumers planning to use a ride-sharing service. It found that 40 percent of consumers wanted to use rideshares less or not at all, while 49 percent said they would instead use their own vehicle.

Rideshare leaders Lyft and Uber must now classify their drivers as employees. A California Court of Appeals reaffirmed that decision on Thursday. The j...
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Target announces new round of employee bonuses

The retailer will give many hourly employees an extra $200 in the coming weeks

To thank its workers who have persevered during the COVID-19 pandemic, Target will be giving out $70 million in bonuses as the holiday shopping season gets underway. The retailer said Monday that more than 350,000 of its hourly employees will get a $200 bonus by early November. 

“In a year like no other, I’m proud of what this team has accomplished and grateful for the care and connection they’ve provided our guests and communities,” Melissa Kremer, Target’s chief HR officer, said in a release. “Target’s success this year is a direct result of our team members turning our purpose into action and meeting our guests’ changing needs day after day.”

This isn’t the first round of bonuses Target has distributed amid the pandemic. In April, the retailer gave 20,000 of its team leads bonuses ranging from $250 to $1,500. In July, the company gave all full-time and part-time hourly employees a $200 bonus. 

Combined with the bonuses announced Monday, Target said it will have spent almost $1 billion more this year on employee pay. In addition to bonuses, the retailer has also added pandemic-related benefits like backup child care and permanently bumped its starting wages to $15 an hour. 

Thanking frontline workers

A number of large retail chains announced that they would be giving out bonuses this year to thank workers for putting their health at risk. However, only Target and Lowe’s have announced that more bonuses are coming ahead of the holiday season. This month, Lowe’s doled out an additional $100 million in bonuses to hourly employees.

Health officials say this year’s holiday shopping season could potentially coincide with an increase in COVID-19 cases. The CDC has warned that cases could rise as temperatures drop and people spend more time inside and around other people. 

According to the latest figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has reported the most COVID-19 cases of any country with over 8,160,000. 

To thank its workers who have persevered during the COVID-19 pandemic, Target will be giving out $70 million in bonuses as the holiday shopping season gets...
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Microsoft to allow some employees to work from home forever

The software maker says it will shift to a ‘hybrid workplace’

Microsoft will be letting some of its employees work from home permanently, according to a report from The Verge. 

In a memo to employees, the company said it will shift to a “hybrid workplace” under which employees will have flexibility during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all of us to think, live, and work in new ways,” said Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s chief people officer, in the company memo. “We will offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual workstyles, while balancing business needs, and ensuring we live our culture.”

Greater flexibility

Most of the company’s employees are still working from home, and now Microsoft says some employees will be given the option of relinquishing their assigned office space in order to work from home permanently. 

Some employees whose positions necessitate in-person duties will have to report to the office, but Microsoft said most employees will easily be able to spend less than 50 percent of their working week in the office.  

Facebook has also announced that it is letting thousands of employees switch to remote work permanently. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in May that he anticipates that half of Facebook employees could be working remotely on a permanent basis within the next five to 10 years. 

Twitter and Square have also given employees the option to work from home forever. 

Microsoft will be letting some of its employees work from home permanently, according to a report from The Verge. In a memo to employees, the company s...
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Uber, Lyft sponsoring California ballot measure seeking to overturn labor law

The ride-hailing companies don’t want to classify their drivers as employees

Uber and Lyft are putting nearly $100 million toward a November California ballot that would weaken a state labor law requiring each company to classify their drivers as employees. 

Reuters’ calculations show that the $100 million the ride-hailing services are pouring into the initiative is significantly less than the sum of the annual payroll taxes and workers’ compensation costs Uber and Lyft would have to pay in compliance with the new law. 

The publication said it calculated that each full-time driver would cost the company an additional $7,700 on average under compliance with the law. 

“That includes roughly $4,560 in annual employer-based California and federal payroll taxes and some $3,140 in annual workers’ compensation insurance, which is mandated in California,” Reuters said. 

Arguing against converting gig workers

Uber and Lyft have said classifying drivers as employees rather than gig workers would cause them to have to raise prices to help pay the additional costs of supporting drivers. That, in turn, would cause a drop in consumer demand.

The companies are now reportedly sponsoring a new measure under which independent contractors would receive some of the benefits they would receive if classified as employees. 

Uber and Lyft have argued that drivers are appropriately classified as gig workers because they have the ability to set their own schedules. The firms have claimed that the majority of their drivers value their flexibility and don’t want to be employees. However, many drivers have said they have been forced to take on other jobs in order to supplement their income. 

Uber and Lyft are putting nearly $100 million toward a November California ballot that would weaken a state labor law requiring each company to classify th...
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Seattle approves law to ensure Uber, Lyft drivers make minimum wage

Ride-hailing firms will be required to pay drivers in the city at least $16.39 per hour

Under a new law approved by Seattle’s City Council, Uber and Lyft will be forced to pay their drivers a minimum wage of at least $0.56 per minute and $1.33 per mile driven when there’s a passenger in the vehicle. 

The new law, which is set to go into effect in January, will help to ensure that drivers in Seattle earn the city’s minimum wage of $16.39. The minimum wage requirement assumes that drivers will spend about half their time waiting for ride requests or driving to pick up passengers. 

“The pandemic has exposed the fault lines in our systems of worker protections, leaving many frontline workers like gig workers without a safety net,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan in a statement.

Seattle’s new law will also require Uber and Lyft to give all tips to drivers and not have those tips counted toward the minimum wage. Drivers must also be reimbursed for any gear they had to purchase for health and safety purposes, like masks and other protective equipment. 

Uber, Lyft oppose the policy

The new law was passed unanimously by city officials with a vote of 9-0. It was based on a similar law passed in New York in 2018, which implemented new pay rules and put a limit on the number of ride-hailing cars from services like Uber and Lyft that can be on city streets. 

California has also pushed for better pay and protections for Uber and Lyft drivers by requiring the companies to classify their drivers as employees rather than gig workers. However, the ride-sharing companies have argued that such laws could actually lead to job losses and increased rates for consumers.  

"The City's plan is deeply flawed and will actually destroy jobs for thousands of people -- as many as 4,000 drivers on Lyft alone -- and drive ride-share companies out of Seattle," Lyft said in a statement.

In a letter to the Seattle City Council, Uber contended that the policy would have a negative impact on drivers. 

"Uber may have to make changes in Seattle because of this new law, but the real harm here will not be to Uber," Uber said. "It is the drivers who cannot work and the community members unable to complete essential travel that stand to lose because of the ordinance."

Under a new law approved by Seattle’s City Council, Uber and Lyft will be forced to pay their drivers a minimum wage of at least $0.56 per minute and $1.33...
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Disney to lay off 28,000 employees due to coronavirus impact

The company called the decision to cut jobs ‘heartbreaking’

Due to the impact of COVID-19, Disney has announced that it is making the “difficult” decision to lay off 28,000 employees. The lay-offs will mainly affect those working at the company’s U.S. theme parks, but the company will also lay off some employees working at its consumer products division. 

Josh D’Amaro, head of parks at Disney, said the COVID-19 pandemic has led to months of theme park closures. The closures have led to billions of dollars in operating income loss during the second and third quarters. 

While Disney’s Florida parks have reopened with new safety measures, Disneyland in California remains shut down. D’Amaro said California’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen has only made Disney’s problems worse. 

"We have made the very difficult decision to begin the process of reducing our workforce at our Parks, Experiences and Products segment at all levels," D'Amaro said in a statement. 

Toll of the outbreak

D’Amaro noted that the open parks are operating under limited visitor capacity. Unfortunately, there is still uncertainty about how long the pandemic will last. 

“For the last several months, our management team has worked tirelessly to avoid having to separate anyone from the company,” D’Amaro said in a memo to employees on Tuesday. “We’ve cut expenses, suspended capital projects, furloughed our cast members while still paying benefits, and modified our operations to run as efficiently as possible, however, we simply cannot responsibly stay fully staffed while operating at such limited capacity.”

In the memo, D’Amaro called the decision to lay off employees “heartbreaking” but said that it was the “only feasible option we have in light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business.”

Disney’s parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Paris aren’t affected by the announcement.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, Disney has announced that it is making the “difficult” decision to lay off 28,000 employees. The lay-offs will mainly affect...
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Anxiety about job security and finances have increased during the pandemic

Study findings emphasize just how much of a mental toll the coronavirus has had on consumers

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, stress and anxiety have been at an all-time high for consumers and their families. And while there are plenty of reasons to feel anxious during these uncertain times, a new study is looking at one of the major sources of stress that has emerged since the start of the pandemic. 

According to researchers from the University of Connecticut, the pandemic has led to an increase in anxiety around job and financial security -- particularly for those who have remained employed since the start of COVID-19. 

“We definitely are seeing, within our employed participants, higher rates of anxiety than in individuals who indicated they were not employed,” said researcher Natalie J. Shook. “Controlling for demographics, controlling for income level, and also taking into account participant health and concerns about COVID -- and the extent to which people were engaged in social distancing or quarantine -- we are seeing that job security and financial concerns are the significant predictors associated with anxiety and depression.” 

Monitoring anxiety levels

The study findings are part of an ongoing survey to understand how consumers’ attitudes, behaviors, and feelings have changed since the start of the pandemic. Roughly 1,000 participants are involved in the project, and they are routinely surveyed about a variety of different topics. For this study in particular, the surveys focused on the things that have been the most anxiety-inducing since the start of the pandemic. Researchers also asked participants specific questions about their jobs and finances. 

The researchers identified links between those who were feeling the greatest stress about finances and job security with those who were experiencing symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. Based on responses to the surveys, the pandemic has specifically made participants’ question the viability of their positions at work and their financial status. Because there is so much uncertainty, it’s hard for consumers to plan for the future or predict what the next year will bring in terms of employment and finances, which is ultimately what leads to the increase in anxiety and depression. 

While it can be difficult to cope with stress and anxiety, the researchers think there is an opportunity for employers to step up and ease some of the mental burden consumers are facing during these challenging times. 

“Based on these findings, for those experiencing depressive symptoms during the pandemic, it may be particularly important for employers to be mindful and try to minimize feelings of uncertainty for the employees, as well as instilling hope or agency in employees,” the researchers explained. “For those experiencing anxiety symptoms, employers could attempt to reduce financial concerns by allowing employees to continue to work (e.g. telework), even with reduced hours and income, to ensure that employees do not lose their entire income.” 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, stress and anxiety have been at an all-time high for consumers and their families. And while there are plenty of...
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Target pledges to prioritize recruitment of Black employees

The retailer has a goal of hiring 20 percent more Black employees over the next few years

Target has pledged to increase its number of Black employees by 20 percent over the next three years in an effort to combat racial inequality. 

In a news release, the retailer said it intends to focus on hiring Black employees and encouraging their advancement in the company. The company also said it will also be conducting anti-racist trainings for leaders and team members, as well as developing programs to increase diversity in areas like technology, merchandising and marketing -- areas with low levels of Black representation. 

Target says it’s already made progress in boosting diversity across its workforce, noting that more than half of its stores are run by women and a third are managed by people of color.

“Inclusivity is a deeply rooted value at Target and we’ve had an ambitious diversity and inclusion strategy for many years for our guests and team,” chief human resources officer Melissa Kremer said in a news release. “We know that having a diverse workforce and inclusive environment not only creates a stronger team, but also provides the perspectives we need to create the products, services, experiences and messages our guests expect.”

Prioritizing racial equality

Protests stemming from the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police earlier this year have put pressure on companies to look at their diversity and inclusion practices. Black Americans still remain under-represented in many career areas. 

Walmart has also announced new initiatives in support of racial equity. Over the next five years, the retailer will be putting $100 million toward creating a new center on racial equity. 

“The goal of the center will be to address systemic racism in society head-on and accelerate change,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a June announcement. 

McMillon said his company also intends to increase recruitment and support for people of color.

Target has pledged to increase its number of Black employees by 20 percent over the next three years in an effort to combat racial inequality. In a new...
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Being aggressive and cutthroat doesn't get you ahead in your career, study finds

Researchers worry about how this type of attitude can affect workers’ relationships

Staying motivated at work is crucial for employees’ long-term career success, but having the right attitude is also key for both personal and employment-related advances. 

Now, researchers from the University of California at Berkeley have found that being aggressive at work doesn’t always lead to the best results. According to their findings, being more aggressive at work at the expense of others can hurt both personal and professional outcomes. 

“I was surprised by the consistency of the findings,” said researcher Cameron Anderson. “No matter the individual or the context, disagreeableness did not give people an advantage in the competition for power -- even in more cutthroat, ‘dog-eat-dog’ organizational cultures.” 

Finding the right attitude

To understand how consumers’ attitudes can affect their career gains, the researchers surveyed groups of undergraduate and graduate students in the business world to gauge their personalities. The researchers then tracked their professional growth over more than 10 years and also surveyed the participants’ coworkers to better understand how they were viewed in the office environment. 

Like Anderson explained, being selfish and trying to get ahead wasn’t effective in attaining professional growth. Those who were kinder and more generous were more likely to gain more prestigious roles in their companies at a faster pace. 

The researchers fear that more aggressive personality types can hinder both personal and professional accomplishments. Though those who were more selfish were able to succeed professionally, coworkers were less likely to think favorably of them, which can harm their personal relationships. 

Moving forward, the researchers hope that those in the highest positions of power take these findings into consideration so they can be more selective about who gets promoted and improve workplace dynamics. 

“The bad news here is that organizations do place disagreeable individuals in charge just as often as agreeable people,” said Anderson. “In other words, they allow jerks to gain power at the same rate as anyone else, even though jerks in power can do serious damage to the organization.” 

Staying motivated at work is crucial for employees’ long-term career success, but having the right attitude is also key for both personal and employment-re...
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Bed Bath & Beyond to lay off 2,800 workers as part of restructuring plan

The action comes after the retailer closed 200 stores last month

Bed Bath & Beyond is continuing its restructuring efforts by eliminating thousands of positions at corporate headquarters and across its retail businesses. 

In a press release, the company announced that it was reducing its workforce by 2,800 roles, effective immediately. Company officials say the move will help it save up to $350 million over the next two-to-three years as it tries to reorganize and become more profitable during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Saying goodbye to colleagues and friends is incredibly difficult, but this component of our comprehensive restructuring program is critical to rebuild the foundation of our business, construct a modern, balanced and durable business model, and meet the structural shift in customer shopping and service preferences that we have seen accelerate as a result of COVID-19,” said Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Mark Tritton. 

Trending towards success?

Tritton goes on to say that reducing the company’s workforce will help simplify its operations and help it emerge as a stronger competitor when the pandemic is finally over. He points to “significant progress” that the company has already made in 2020 as a sign of good things to come. 

“As we work to re-establish our authority in Home, Baby, Beauty and Wellness, we are encouraged by the strong customer response to new services such as BOPIS and Curbside Pickup, and the continued strength in our digital channels as we improve the curation of our product assortment, enhance the ease and convenience of the shopping experience, and make it easier to feel at home," he said.

Despite Tritton’s rosy outlook, Bed Bath & Beyond’s recent actions show just how much the retailer has been struggling in the current retail landscape. Last month, the company closed 200 stores after sales plunged by 48 percent. At the time, Tritton told CNBC that company officials saw many stores that were “dragging us down.”

Bed Bath & Beyond is continuing its restructuring efforts by eliminating thousands of positions at corporate headquarters and across its retail businesses....
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Uber, Lyft avoid service shutdown in California

An appeals court blocked an order requiring the companies to classify their drivers as employees

Uber and Lyft won’t be halting ride-hailing services in California after all.

Last week, the ride-hailing giants threatened to suspend service in the state in response to a law (Assembly Bill 5) that would require the companies to immediately reclassify their drivers as employees. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that if a ruling requiring the reclassification went into effect Friday morning, it would be “hard to believe we’ll be able to switch our model to full-time employment quickly.” 

Fortunately for Uber and Lyft, the California Court of Appeals reconsidered on Thursday, just hours before the shutdown was slated to go into effect. Thanks to the reprieve, the companies will be allowed to continue treating their drivers as independent contractors, at least until October. 

"Our rideshare operations can continue uninterrupted, for now," Lyft said in a blog post. "Thanks to the tens of thousands of drivers, riders, and public officials who urged California to keep rideshare available for so many people who depend on it."

"While we won't have to suspend operations tonight, we do need to continue fighting for independence plus benefits for drivers," said Lyft spokeswoman Julie Wood.

Uber said in a statement that it’s “glad that the Court of Appeals recognized the important questions raised in this case, and that access to these critical services won’t be cut off while we continue to advocate for drivers’ ability to work with the freedom they want.”

An appeal is currently working its way through the court. Oral arguments in the case are set to take place on October 13.

Need for protections

Lyft and Uber have both said there’s a need for an alternative way to classify drivers that combines flexibility and benefits. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi recently proposed that gig workers be granted some protections without losing their flexibility.  

“Our current employment system is outdated and unfair,” he wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. “It forces every worker to choose between being an employee with more benefits but less flexibility, or an independent contractor with more flexibility but almost no safety net,” he said. “Uber is ready, right now, to pay more to give drivers new benefits and protections.”

He proposed having gig companies set up benefits funds from which employees pull money from for needs like health insurance or paid time off. The amount of money they could take out of the fund would depend on how many hours they’ve worked. 

Uber and Lyft won’t be halting ride-hailing services in California after all.Last week, the ride-hailing giants threatened to suspend service in the st...
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Employees tell pollsters they prefer the COVID-19 at-home workplace

Nearly 80 percent say they think they are more productive working from home

Over the last four months, millions of Americans have been working from home. Anecdotal evidence has indicated that the virtual workplace has worked pretty well so far.

There’s new data suggesting that, from the employees’ point of view, the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. A survey by KPMG, a business advisory firm, found that 79 percent of U.S. workers at organizations with more than 1,000 employees believe the quality of their work has improved over the last four months.

Seventy percent said the quality of their work has improved while 67 percent indicate their work-life balance has gotten better. Eighty-four percent are also satisfied with their employer's response to the pandemic.

"American workers have demonstrated remarkable resiliency under the pressures of COVID-19 and against the backdrop of events signifying racial inequality," said Lisa Massman, KPMG's human capital advisory leader. 

A big unknown

The virtual workplace was one big unknown when the corporate world was thrust into it in late March, almost overnight. But productivity technology, such as services offered by Zoom and Slack, has enabled co-workers to interact with managers and one another almost as though they were in the same office.

The survey found that employees like the system so well that 55 percent would like to have the flexibility to continue working remotely at least part of the time. One byproduct also appears to be a boost in morale that is aiding employee retention. 

More than three-quarters of remote workers expressed the desire to remain with their current organization, in part because management has made them feel valued during the lockdown. As a result, KPMG believes corporations may be in no hurry to bring employees back to the office once the pandemic finally ends.

"Companies worldwide enabled remote workforces nearly overnight, and what started as an extraordinary pilot is now considered permanent in many organizations' operating models," said Joe Parente, KPMG's Consulting leader. "As a result, there should be a new focus on improving employee connectivity, better understanding of what drives positive worker experiences and overall, reshaping and rethinking how work gets done."

Room for improvement

Even though employees are happier, employers are more focused on efficiency and making sure that work gets done at the same rate as before. Massman says that may require some bold thinking.

"Organizations must design a new model of work for tomorrow, by presenting new approaches for teams to effectively work from home, leveraging technology and innovative ways to increase collaboration, and fostering an environment of inclusion and belonging - to build a more loyal, productive and sustainable workforce," she said.

Over the last four months, millions of Americans have been working from home. Anecdotal evidence has indicated that the virtual workplace has worked pretty...
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California judge orders Uber, Lyft to classify drivers as employees

A preliminary injunction seeks to bring the companies into compliance with the state’s new law

On Monday, a California judge ordered Uber and Lyft to classify their workers as employees rather than independent contractors. Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman said the order will bring the ride-hailing companies in line with California’s new Gig Economy Law, provided it makes it through the appeals process. 

The judge said Lyft and Uber's contract drivers should be extended the same protections and benefits that the companies’ full-time employees, such as tech workers, receive.

"Were this reasoning to be accepted, the rapidly expanding majority of industries that rely heavily on technology could with impunity deprive legions of workers of the basic protections afforded to employees by state labor and employment laws," Schulman wrote.

Reclassifying drivers

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is currently fighting a lawsuit filed in May by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra which claims that Uber is illegally withholding crucial benefits from its workers by classifying them as contractors rather than employees. 

Becerra said the judge's preliminary order was a victory for drivers. 

"The court has weighed in and agreed: Uber and Lyft need to put a stop to unlawful misclassification of their drivers while our litigation continues," Becerra said in a statement. "Our state and workers shouldn't have to foot the bill when big businesses try to skip out on their responsibilities. We're going to keep working to make sure Uber and Lyft play by the rules."

Uber CEO fighting the state law

On Monday, Khosrowshahi wrote an op-ed published in the New York Times that outlines a potential “third way” to classify gig workers. He proposed having gig companies establish a benefits fund that contractors could use for needs like paid time off or health insurance. The amount of money they could take out of the fund would depend on how many hours they’ve worked. 

Khowrowshahi says this plan would enable contractors to keep their flexibility but receive crucial benefits formerly extended only to employees. 

“I’m proposing that gig economy companies be required to establish benefits funds which give workers cash that they can use for the benefits they want, like health insurance or paid time off. Independent workers in any state that passes this law could take money out for every hour of work they put in. All gig companies would be required to participate, so that workers can build up benefits even if they switch between apps,” Khosrowshahi wrote. 

On Monday, a California judge ordered Uber and Lyft to classify their workers as employees rather than independent contractors. Superior Court Judge Ethan...
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Uber CEO proposes ‘third way’ for companies to classify gig workers to provide more benefits

The executive wants to preserve workers’ flexibility as contractors while also offering them more

In an op-ed published Monday in the New York Times, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi described a possible “third way” to classify gig workers. 

As lawmakers push to have ride-hailing drivers reclassified as employees, Khosrowshahi has argued that drivers are appropriately classified as independent contractors. In the op-ed, he detailed a proposal that he previously discussed with President Trump before the CARES Act was signed. 

Khosrowshahi said he thinks Trump and Congress should update labor laws to preserve the flexibility of contract work while extending certain protections to these workers. 

Combining flexibility and benefits

The Uber executive is currently fighting a lawsuit from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra which claims that Uber is withholding crucial benefits from its workers by classifying them as contractors rather than employees. The lawsuit alleges that Uber is breaking the state’s new law

But Khosrowshahi is refuting the claim that workers are unfairly classified as contractors and argues that drivers should be given an option that combines flexibility and benefits.

“Our current employment system is outdated and unfair,” he wrote. “It forces every worker to choose between being an employee with more benefits but less flexibility, or an independent contractor with more flexibility but almost no safety net. Uber is ready, right now, to pay more to give drivers new benefits and protections. But America needs to change the status quo to protect all workers, not just one type of work.” 

Benefits fund

He suggests that all gig companies be required to set up a benefits fund that can be used by workers for needs like paid time off or health insurance. The amount of money they could take out of the fund would depend on how many hours they’ve worked. 

“I’m proposing that gig economy companies be required to establish benefits funds which give workers cash that they can use for the benefits they want, like health insurance or paid time off. Independent workers in any state that passes this law could take money out for every hour of work they put in. All gig companies would be required to participate, so that workers can build up benefits even if they switch between apps,” Khosrowshahi suggested. 

He also believes gig companies should offer medical and disability coverage to help workers if they get injured on the job. He says they currently can’t offer these benefits “without risking their independent status under the law.” 

“During this moment of crisis, I fundamentally believe platforms like Uber can fuel an economic recovery by quickly giving people flexible work to get back on their feet,” Khosrowshahi wrote. “But this opportunity will be lost if we ignore the obvious lessons of the pandemic and fail to ensure independent workers have a stronger safety net.”

In an op-ed published Monday in the New York Times, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi described a possible “third way” to classify gig workers. As lawmakers p...
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Shipt workers plan walk-out protest for July 15

Workers say the platform’s new pay model cuts their pay by at least 30 percent

Shipt workers are planning to walk out on July 15 in protest of a controversial new pay model at the company. 

Workers for the grocery delivery service say the new algorithm-based pay structure, internally dubbed “V2,” would shave at least 30 percent off their total pay. The new model replaces Shipt’s previous flat-fee model.

“The company replaced our transparent, fairer pay with a shady algorithm. Workers saw their pay plummet,” a group of Shipt shoppers wrote in a Medium post. 

“This seismic company shift is occurring at the same time that its shoppers — essential workers taking unprecedented risks during this pandemic — are already suffering significantly.” 

Business is booming for Shipt

The workers pointed out that Shipt, a service where customers pay a monthly fee in exchange for the ability to receive deliveries from grocery stores and retailers, is concurrently “experiencing obscene increases in its sales” amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

“This isn’t a company that has to cut pay because its core business crashed. The company has intentionally over-hired, preying off the millions of displaced workers who were furloughed or laid off during a pandemic,” the Medium post continued. 

“Shipt’s intention all along was to introduce the pay cut when it had more workers than it needed. That way it is still able to roll profitably forward even if a sizable percentage of Shipt’s existing workforce is forced to quit due to drastic cuts to our pay.” 

Workers plan to walk out Wednesday, the day the new pay model launches in a dozen new markets. Shipt maintains that it's “committed to helping shoppers succeed” and is open to feedback on the new pay model. 

“Our commitment to shoppers is stronger than ever, and any operational changes we make balance the interests of shoppers with the longer-term needs of the business,” Shipt said.

Shipt workers are planning to walk out on July 15 in protest of a controversial new pay model at the company. Workers for the grocery delivery service...
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Some employees feel guilty about taking a lunch break despite federal rules

A study revealed that it’s not always related to productivity

Though many consumers are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers from Staffordshire University are exploring the psychology behind employees taking their lunch breaks. 

They learned that many employees skip out on their daily break time for any number of reasons. While staying busy and productive does come into play, the researchers also found that some employees feel self-conscious about taking breaks if their colleagues aren’t doing the same. 

“The legally required minimum time for a lunch break at work is 20 minutes, however there is a growing trend nationally for large numbers of people not to take breaks at work, with surveys reporting that between 66 percent and 82 percent of workers don’t always take their breaks,” said researcher Dr. Mike Oliver. 

“So, how have we got to the point where some people feel guilty about taking their legally allowable break? We were curious to look at the psychological and social behaviours of office workers to understand the enablers and barriers.” 

Why are breaks disappearing?

To better understand the culture behind taking or skipping lunch breaks, the researchers conducted several focus groups, each with nearly 30 office employees in the U.K. 

The researchers learned through interviews that there’s more to the debate than many may realize. Several different components come into play when employees are deciding to step away from their work for part of the day; however, a common theme emerged: having co-workers’ support in taking a break led employees to put work down for lunch. 

“We found that one of the best ways to make sure that you take breaks is to take them with your work colleagues, or to be encouraged to take them by your boss,” said Dr. Oliver. “If they are not physically near you, we may find it harder to act on these social prompts.” 

However, the researchers also learned that co-workers’ decisions can have an adverse effect. Just as co-workers can help encourage each other to take a break for lunch, many of the employees noted that the opposite was also true -- they were less likely to take a break if their co-workers weren’t taking that time. 

Issue of productivity

The study also revealed that many employees prioritize their work over taking a break, and this typically stems from nerves over what to do when lunch time happens. Many workers want to take the time to themselves but don’t want to appear as though they’re not productive or valuable employees. 

These findings are troubling to the researchers for several reasons. Not only can sitting at a desk for extended periods of time be troublesome for consumers’ health, but having time throughout the day to talk or think about things outside of work is a respite that all employees need. 

“This paper highlights the complex relationships that people have with taking breaks, with others and their physical environment,” said Dr. Oliver. “Some participants did not recognize the importance of taking a break in the middle of the day, but others appeared to convince themselves that by doing a less intense work activity, such as responding to emails, whilst eating lunch at their desk, would actually be taking a break.” 

“There is mounting concern about the amount of time people spend sitting down at work and not being physically active, so it is really important that people don’t put work ahead of breaks and their own physical and psychological health.”  

Though many consumers are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers from Staffordshire University are exploring the psychology behind emp...
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Supreme Court rules LGBTQ workers can’t be discriminated against

The court determined that discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status are forms of sex discrimination

In a landmark ruling on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to make it illegal for gay, lesbian, and transgender workers to be discriminated against.

The Trump administration previously argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, under which discrimination based on sex is illegal, didn’t apply to claims of gender identity and sexual orientation.

By a vote of 6-3, the court ruled that the federal law does cover sexual orientation and transgender status. The ruling represents a victory for millions of LGBTQ workers and advocates nationwide. 

Landmark case

The historic ruling was written by President Trump's first Supreme Court appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch. Comprising the rest of the majority was Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's four liberal justices.

"An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids," Gorsuch wrote.

"There is simply no escaping the role intent plays here: Just as sex is necessarily a but-for cause when an employer discriminates against homosexual or transgender employees, an employer who discriminates on these grounds inescapably intends to rely on sex in its decisionmaking," the opinion read.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden celebrated the ruling, saying the court “confirmed the simple but profoundly American idea that every human being should be treated with respect and dignity. That everyone should be able to live openly, proudly, as their true selves without fear.” 

Major LGBTQ victory

Gay rights advocates said the ruling was a long-awaited and overdue victory.

“The Supreme Court’s clarification that it’s unlawful to fire people because they’re LGBTQ is the result of decades of advocates fighting for our rights," said James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project. "The court has caught up to the majority of our country, which already knows that discriminating against LGBTQ people is both unfair and against the law.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the ruling "a victory for the LGBTQ community, for our democracy and for our fundamental values of equality and justice for all."

In a release published by the Human Rights Campaign, Gerald Bostock -- one of the petitioners who claims he was fired from his job as a child welfare services coordinator after joining a gay softball team -- said there were “no words to describe just how elated I am.”

“Today, we can go to work without the fear of being fired for who we are and who we love," Bostock said. "Yet, there is more work to be done. Discrimination has no place in this world, and I will not rest until we have equal rights for all.”

In a landmark ruling on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to make it illegal for gay, lesbian, and transgender workers to be discriminated against.T...
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Starbucks to allow employees to wear apparel supporting Black Lives Matter movement

The decision follows backlash over its original decision that forbid wearing BLM attire

After initially barring its employees from wearing Black Lives Matter attire, Starbucks has changed course and decided to allow team members to wear clothes with the message. 

On Friday, the coffee chain announced that not only would it be lifting the restriction, but that it would make 250,000 shirts supporting the movement. 

Starbucks told employees in a memo last week they would not be permitted to wear clothing or accessories that mentioned the Black Lives Matter movement out of concern that it could be misconstrued and increase the risk of confrontation. 

The company just recently penned a new memo to employees that read, "we've heard you want to show your support, so just be you. Wear your BLM pin or t-shirt."

"We are so proud of your passionate support of our common humanity," Friday's statement said. "We trust you to do what's right while never forgetting Starbucks is a welcoming third place where all are treated with dignity and respect."

Supporting Black Lives Matter movement

In the new memo, titled “Standing together against racial injustice,” Starbucks said it would be designing new t-shirts to “demonstrate our allyship and show we stand together in unity.” 

Until these shirts arrive, company executives encouraged employees to express their support of the movement through apparel of their own. 

“These are alarming, uncertain times and people everywhere are hurting,” the company said. “You’ve told us you need a way to express yourself at work, asking: ‘Do you understand how I feel!? Do you understand the black community is in pain?’” 

“We see you. We hear you. Black Lives Matter. That is a fact and will never change,” the company said. 

After initially barring its employees from wearing Black Lives Matter attire, Starbucks has changed course and decided to allow team members to wear clothe...
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Dunkin’ to hire up to 25,000 workers as businesses reopen across the U.S.

The jobs come with the added perk of an online education

With Americans starting to emerge from the pandemic and jumping back in line at stores and restaurants, Dunkin’ franchisees are on a hiring binge. 

Word came from Dunkin’ HQ on Monday that up to 25,000 new restaurant employees will be hired at U.S. locations. Jobs will include everything from front-counter to restaurant management.

New education perks for employees

While Dunkin’ -- or any fast-food chain for that matter -- is not out of the COVID-19 woods yet, its foot traffic is picking up. Still, unemployment is at a runaway pace, and the company wants to be ready when normalcy returns.

It may also be sensing that students might be looking to get their degree online because colleges are unsure about how on-campus education will play out this fall.

To that end, Dunkin’ is beginning a new partnership with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) to offer an online college education to franchise employees. This is similar to what Chipotle, UPS, and Walmart have offered. Thanks to an aggressive marketing effort, SNHU has become a big-time player in online education, with over 135,000 students online and on campus.

“Dunkin’ is committed to keeping America running and working. We are proud to support our franchisees who offer much-needed job opportunities, in a welcoming environment where people can feel appreciated and rewarded for serving both customers and their communities during this critical time,” said Stephanie Lilak, Dunkin’ Brands’ Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer. 

“With the brand’s new partnership with SNHU, new advertising campaign, and in-store safety measures, our franchisees are providing both new and current restaurant employees a great workplace, and the chance to gain experiences and skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.”

With Americans starting to emerge from the pandemic and jumping back in line at stores and restaurants, Dunkin’ franchisees are on a hiring binge. Word...
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Twitter announces long-term work-from-home policy

CEO Jack Dorsey told employees that they will be allowed to continue working from home forever

In an email to employees on Tuesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said his company’s team members will have the option of working from home indefinitely, according to BuzzFeed News

Dorsey said it was unlikely that offices will open back up before September -- but even after the worst of the pandemic is over, employees can remain at home. 

“Opening offices will be our decision,” a company spokesperson said. “When and if our employees come back, will be theirs.”

Dorsey noted that Twitter was one of the first companies to move to a work-from-home model when the health crisis began unfolding. He said the company will “continue to put the safety of our people and communities first.”

Working from home forever

Given that COVID-19 mitigation efforts are still active and the virus is continuing to spread, Twitter has cancelled all in-person events for the remainder of the year. Twitter officials said they will assess plans for 2021 events later this year.

The company also increased its allowance for work-from-home supplies to $1,000 for all employees. Twitter said the past two months have proven that it’s possible for remote workers to thrive and produce quality work.

“The past few months have proven we can make that work,” a spokesperson said. “So if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen. If not, our offices will be their warm and welcoming selves, with some additional precautions, when we feel it’s safe to return.”

In an email to employees on Tuesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said his company’s team members will have the option of working from home indefinitely, accord...
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Job candidates need to be mindful of their social media presence

Employers are taking candidates’ online posts into consideration during the hiring process

A new study conducted by researchers from Penn State found yet another way social media can come into play for prospective job candidates. 

The findings revealed that employers are not only looking at social media before hiring a new employee, but posts that appear too opinionated or self-absorbed could cost consumers a job. 

“In 2018, 70 percent of employers reported looking at social media sites to help them evaluate potential employees, and almost that many -- 60 percent -- eliminated candidates on the basis of negative content,” said researcher Michael Tews. “It’s important for job candidates to be aware of how they portray themselves in social media.” 

Posts to avoid

The researchers had nearly 500 hiring managers participate in the study. Each of them evaluated a job candidate’s responses to an in-person interview; afterwards, they reviewed the hypothetical candidate’s social media posts. 

When it came time to look over candidates’ social media, the participants were shown one of 16 different social media profiles. The profiles showed a wide variety of posts, with the primary focus being on alcohol and drug use, strong opinions, and self-absorption. Ultimately, the researchers found that hiring managers were more likely to reject job candidates based on their social media presence, particularly when taking into consideration those three categories. 

While posts with alcohol or drug use cost some candidates a job, this proved to be the most acceptable posting category for job prospects. Though Tews explained that the posts involved in this study were “benign” when it came to substance use, he also mentioned that hiring managers may “perceive the content as relatively normal.” 

When it came to being perceived as self-absorbed or opinionated, potential job candidates were often dismissed. 

Tews explained that posting opinions that could be “divisive” may make prospective employees seem “more argumentative and less cooperative,” whereas those posting solely about themselves could be perceived as “less likely to sacrifice for the benefit of other employees and the organization.” 

Social media as networking

Though many consumers on the job hunt may be worried about everything they’ve ever posted, Tews is of the mindset that social media can be used for the greater good, especially when it comes to the job market. 

While he believes that job candidates should certainly do a once-over of their online profiles before going to an interview, he also believes that employers should be clearer about what posts are and aren’t acceptable for their corporation to make the process easier on applicants.  

“From the employer perspective, hiring managers should be trained on how best to use social networking content in making selection decisions,” said Tews. “To maximize the benefit of using social networking content for selection purposes, organizations should set guidelines for what content is relevant and should be examined, specify what content is irrelevant and potentially discriminatory and develop standardized rating systems to make the evaluation process more objective.” 

A new study conducted by researchers from Penn State found yet another way social media can come into play for prospective job candidates. The findings...
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Gig operators protest new California law stating that drivers are employees, not contractors

Getting to a win-win in this battle could take a very long time

If someone walks like an employee and talks like an employee, then aren’t they an employee? California says yes.

A new law in California (Assembly Bill 5 [AB 5]), which makes it more difficult for companies to hire workers as contractors, is getting pushback from gig economy businesses like food courier service Postmates and rideshare operators Uber and Lyft. These companies want things to stay as they were before 2020 rolled in, primarily for the cost savings on things like health insurance, which contractors weren’t entitled to.

Food couriers and ride share companies aren’t the only ones raising a ruckus. In November 2019, the California Trucking Association went to bat for some 70,000 truck drivers in the state, filing a suit that challenged the law. A federal judge recently agreed that the law doesn't apply when it comes to independent truck drivers. 

Other independent contractor types are also exempt from AB 5 -- medical and dental doctors, insurance agents, accountants, and others who generally work directly with customers and set their own prices. 

Winners and losers

When AB 5 was being debated on the California Assembly floor, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said in no uncertain words that gig companies are reaping the benefits of contract labor and the laborers are getting zilch.

"The same week that workers had to go on strike because their per mileage fee was being cut, an investor was celebrating his $30,000 investment that became $120 million in one day," she said, pointing to the fact that it was the investors, not the drivers, who profited when Lyft went public. 

"Something is wrong with the way that we have allowed these companies to operate. It's time to level the playing field. It's time to be honest with workers. It's time to be honest with companies.” 

A larger section of people who live and die by the gig economy are parents who need the extra income to support their families.  

"With this job, I have the freedom to work when I have time," Alfonso Martinez, who drives for Uber in the Sacramento area, told NPR. In Martinez’ situation, his Uber gig gives him a chance to provide for his school-aged children who have special needs.

Fight to the finish?

With California taking the lead on this issue -- as it does with many other things regarding consumer privacy -- other states and municipalities are likely to take notice. However, it could take some time to find a resolution that makes both companies and contractors feel like they’re getting a win-win.

Uber operates in 600 cities and has nearly 4 million drivers; having to cough up money to pay for the kinds of benefits a normal employee would make would turn their revenue stream from black to red in a heartbeat. So, what does a company in Uber’s situation do vis-a-vis a law like AB 5? It files a lawsuit. Uber and Postmates both filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging AB 5.

The assertion of equal protection violation comes from the large number of occupations exempted from AB 5. The “laundry list of exemptions,” is proof of its “irrationality,” the companies have argued.

If someone walks like an employee and talks like an employee, then aren’t they an employee? California says yes.A new law in California (Assembly Bill...
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Lowe’s to hire more than 50,000 employees to kick off spring season

The company is hosting hiring events across the company over the next few months

The holiday shopping season is over, so many retailers will be winding down their hiring to start 2020. But Lowe’s is already looking ahead to its busy spring retail season. 

The company announced on Thursday that it will be hiring over 53,000 full-time, part-time, and seasonal workers to fill out more than 1,700 stores across the U.S. this spring. To get ready, Lowe’s says it will be holding hiring events over the next three months in different U.S. regions.

“Lowe’s stores in Florida, Southern California and Hawaii, as well as parts of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Texas, Alabama, and Georgia, where spring weather typically arrives earliest, will host the first walk-in hiring events from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 8,” the company said in a press release. “Candidates may receive on-the-spot offers during this open interview process.”

Getting ready for a busy spring season

Lowe’s plans to hold four other hiring events into early March to cover the rest of its stores in other U.S. regions. Those are scheduled to take place on Jan. 15, Feb. 5, Feb. 19, and March 4. For a full rundown of where these events are taking place, consumers can visit the company’s event page here.

Seasonal positions that will be filled during these events include cashiers, lawn and garden associates, stockers, and loaders. The company notes that around half of all seasonal workers typically convert into permanent workers. 

Part- and full-time positions also include supervisors, sales specialists, and customer service and merchandise service associates. 

“Spring is the busiest season for home improvement projects and a great time to launch a new career at Lowe’s,” said Jennifer Weber, Lowe’s executive vice president of human resources. “As part of our strategy to better serve customers and operate our stores more efficiently, these hiring events will help us build the right teams at the right times across the U.S. to meet customer demand as they plan for spring.”

The holiday shopping season is over, so many retailers will be winding down their hiring to start 2020. But Lowe’s is already looking ahead to its busy spr...
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Teacher preparation classes see sharp drop in enrollment since 2010

Low salaries have been a major factor in a declining interest in teaching careers

The number of adults choosing to pursue teaching as a career has declined sharply over the last eight years, according to a new analysis by the Center for American Progress (CAP). 

Enrollment in teacher preparation programs has fallen by more than half in the following nine states: New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, California, Oklahoma, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and New Jersey. In Oklahoma, teacher preparation programs at colleges and universities have seen an 80 percent drop in enrollment since 2010. 

CAP researchers attributed the decline in part to low teacher salaries, which force many educators to take on second jobs or rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.  

“The state of the teaching profession is an urgent topic for policymakers and the public, especially against the backdrop of increased teacher strikes and walkouts across the country in the past two years,” the researchers said in the report. “Due to low salaries, difficult working conditions, and a lack of career pathway opportunities, the teaching profession as a whole cannot compare with other high-status professions such as medicine and law.” 

Stress and burnout

All told, there are approximately 340,000 fewer students enrolled in teacher preparation programs today than there were in 2010. 

Some would-be teachers have cited concerns about burnout as a deterrent to pursuing the career. Julia Alvarez, a senior at Michigan State University, said she’s more worried about potential burnout than low pay. 

"The stuff that really worries me is the burnout aspect because I know that I care so much and I want to help,” Alvarez, who will be graduating from MSU this spring, told U.S. News and World Report. “I'm so afraid of being five or 10 years in and being like, I can't do this anymore. That's the worst thing: wanting to help but not feeling like you can."

A number of other studies published this year have attempted to shed light on the impact of declining teacher rates, as well as look into what has fueled the trend. 

In April, a study found that 93 percent of teachers are affected by high levels of job-related stress, which takes a toll on their ability to effectively teach. A separate report found that a significant number of teachers are choosing to leave their teaching career after ten years on the job to pursue a different career path. Teachers often cited the need for a better work/life balance and less pressure on performance as reasons for resigning. 

“It’s not as if they weren’t aware that teaching was going to be demanding,” the authors wrote. “However, they feel that the demands of the job outstrip their capacity to adapt. This raises the questions: what can be done to arrest this trend?”

The number of adults choosing to pursue teaching as a career has declined sharply over the last eight years, according to a new analysis by the Center for...
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Job loss is increasingly common among patients who leave the ICU

Researchers suggest more work should be done to help patients transition back into their day-to-day lives after the ICU

Going back to work after a serious medical condition comes with obstacles, as recent studies involving both cancer and heart attack survivors have revealed. 

Now, researchers from the University of California at San Diego have discovered that patients recovering from a stint in the intensive care unit (ICU) are facing similar struggles returning to work. 

“We already know that more than 50 percent of patients surviving critical illness experience impairments in cognitive, physical, and/or mental health after ICU stays,” said researcher Dr. Biren Kamdar. “We now can add delayed return-to-work and joblessness to the potential adverse outcomes.” 

Job struggles

To understand the effect that time in the ICU has on later job prospects, the researchers analyzed previous studies that included 10,000 patients who spent time in the ICU. All of the patients were employed before their hospital time, and the researchers worked to determine how their employment status was affected by their illness. 

As Dr. Kamdar explained, patients often still struggle with health concerns after they leave the ICU. The researchers’ study revealed that those concerns are often compounded by stress related to newfound unemployment. 

“Survival is not enough,” said Dr. Kamdar. “We are seeing that many patients get discharged from the ICU and then experience disabilities that significantly affect their quality of life. We need to shift the paradigm of care in the ICU to include early and effective interventions aimed at helping patients get back to a normal life, including returning to work.”  

The largest proportion of ICU survivors were affected by unemployment in the first three months after their time in the hospital, a window that the researchers discovered left two-thirds of ICU patients without jobs. The longer the patient was out of the ICU, the less likely they were to be unemployed. But even after one year, over 30 percent of patients were still out of work. 

“Impacts ranged from unplanned job changes to complete job loss to early retirement,” Dr. Kamdar said. “Survivors frequently required ongoing disability benefits with rates of 20 to 27 percent at one year, and 59 to 89 percent at 76 months.” 

The researchers are putting the onus on hospitals because they say more can be done to help patients while they’re still in the ICU. They hope that future interventions can help patients get in the best shape possible upon discharge so they can make a return to their daily lives as seamlessly as can be expected. 

“Designing and evaluating novel ICU-based interventions is necessary to give patients a chance of having better long-term outcomes,” said Dr. Kamdar. “In coordination with employers, patients may be able to return to their chosen vocations.”  

Going back to work after a serious medical condition comes with obstacles, as recent studies involving both cancer and heart attack survivors have revealed...
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Microsoft gives the four-day work week a trial in Japan

The company said it boosted productivity and cut expenses

Microsoft is among the employers experimenting with the work week and reported positive results by shortening it on a trial basis.

Over the centuries, the time companies require employees to be on the job has gotten smaller and the five day, 40-hour week has been the norm for several decades. But in August, a Microsoft subsidiary in Japan closed its offices every Friday. Employees worked Monday through Thursday.

Not only did employees not fall behind in their work, the company reports productivity rose nearly 40 percent over August of 2018. By reducing the number of days worked from five to four, the company hoped it could improve employees’ work-life balance and promote creativity.

The company adopted other measures, including more flexible hours and won praise from nearly everyone by limiting meetings to 30 minutes.

Microsoft is hardly the first firm to experiment with a four-day work week but different companies take different approaches. Some stay with the eight-hour day, reducing the work week by eight hours. Employees at other companies put in four 10-hour days, staying with the 40-hour week.

Both seem to be popular with employees, with many pointing out they often end up putting in 10-hour days anyway. They say it’s a small price to pay for a three-day weekend every week.

A way to attract talent

“In this intensely competitive labor market, employers are figuring out that to attract talent, they have to start offering incentives that differentiate them from competitors,” Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter, recently told USA Today.

But it’s possible this novelty could become standard in the not-too-distant future. In September, the AFL-CIO released a report containing the union’s “vision for the future of work.” It proposed a four-day week as standard — a total of 32 hours, not 40. Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, also believes businesses will eventually go along with it.

“We are very serious about this,” Trumka told Vox. “If we’re going to free up jobs for more people, then we have to go there.”

It sounds like Microsoft is becoming a believer in the shorter work week, especially after its trial run. The company said during its experiment in Japan it cut its electricity bill and preserved other resources. Paper consumption plunged as printing decreased by more than 58 percent.

Microsoft is among the employers experimenting with the work week and reported positive results by shortening it on a trial basis.Over the centuries, t...
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Uber launches new app to help temp workers find jobs

Employers can find ‘vetted and qualified’ temporary workers on the platform

Uber has launched a new app that connects temporary workers with staffing agencies in need of workers. The app, called Uber Works, is only available in Chicago initially, but Uber says it plans to expand its availability “soon.”  

Shift workers who use the service can find information on pay, location, and working conditions within the app. Workers can also use Uber Works to track working hours and breaks. Employers, meanwhile, can find "vetted and qualified" temporary workers through the app. 

“We believe a more efficient marketplace will also support businesses. By providing a reliable pool of vetted and qualified workers, Uber Works can help businesses reduce scheduling headaches, weather seasonal variations, and staff up for unexpected demand,” Uber said in a statement.

The ride-hailing giant said its app was built on a commitment to delivering services that “support skill up-leveling and promote work re-entry.” Uber said it will be teaming up with “various organizations that support workers in their employment journey.” 

Trying to make a profit

The rollout of the app comes as Uber struggles to achieve profitability. In April, the company said its potential to turn a profit was being hampered by factors that include cutting prices for passengers, spending to recruit drivers, and investing in businesses such as food delivery and scooters. Going forward, Uber said it would be looking to shape its future through “worthwhile investments.” 

Uber is currently embroiled in controversy over how it classifies its workers. Some workers have expressed discontent over their “gig worker” status, which deprives them of benefits. Others, however, appreciate the flexible nature of the job. For its part, Uber has said it continues to believe its drivers are “properly classified as independent.” 

Uber noted in its announcement that staffing agencies -- not Uber -- will be in charge of employing, paying, and handling worker benefits when they use the platform.

Uber has launched a new app that connects temporary workers with staffing agencies in need of workers. The app, called Uber Works, is only available in Chi...
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General Electric to freeze pension benefits for 20,000 employees

Company executives are aiming to reduce debt and return GE to a ‘position of strength’

General Electric announced on Monday that it’s freezing pension plans for approximately 20,000 employees in an effort to reduce both its debt and its staggering pension deficit. 

Chief Executive Officer Larry Culp, who has been striving to put the company on more solid footing since stepping into the position a year ago, said the plan unveiled Monday will reduce the company’s pension deficit by up to $8 billion. 

The Boston-based company’s pension deficit ranks among the worst in corporate America, according to Bloomberg. Both cuts are expected to help lower the company’s net debt between $4 billion and $6 billion.

The company said 20,000 of its salaried employees will stop accruing new benefits starting in 2021. About 700 employees in a supplementary plan will also be affected. 

GE said it will contribute 3 percent of eligible compensation to a 401(k) plan and will provide matching contributions of 50 percent on as much as 8 percent of eligible compensation. Additionally, the company will be offering a limited time lump-sum payment option to about 100,000 eligible former employees who have not started their monthly U.S. GE Pension Plan payments. 

“Returning GE to a position of strength has required us to make several difficult decisions, and today’s decision to freeze the pension is no exception,” Kevin Cox, chief human resources officer at GE, said in a statement

“We carefully weighed market trends and our strategic priority to improve our financial position with the impact to our employees. We are committed to helping our employees through this transition.”

General Electric announced on Monday that it’s freezing pension plans for approximately 20,000 employees in an effort to reduce both its debt and its stagg...
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Over one million more workers now eligible for overtime pay

The Labor Department finalized the pro-worker rule change on Tuesday

On Tuesday, the Department of Labor finalized a rule that will make roughly 1.3 million more American workers eligible for overtime pay. 

Starting January 1, the minimum salary threshold will be raised to $35,568 per year. Previously, only workers who earned less than $23,000 a year could receive overtime pay under federal law. 

"This rule brings a commonsense approach that offers consistency and certainty for employers as well as clarity and prosperity for American workers,” acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella said in a statement

However, an earlier rule proposed by the Obama administration would have made 2.8 million other workers eligible to receive overtime pay. 

Critics say the rules don’t go far enough

Critics of the Labor Department’s new rule take issue with the fact that fewer workers will be eligible for overtime than they would have under an Obama-era rule, which proposed raising the threshold to more than $47,000. 

That rule would have made close to 3 million more workers eligible for either more pay or a shorter workweek, but it was challenged by states and business groups and ultimately never implemented 

"It's a missed opportunity in the sense that millions more could have been helped," Heidi Shierholz, a former Labor Department chief economist under Obama, told NPR. 

The Labor Department says the modified overtime rule will transfer about $400 million per year from U.S. employers to their workers over the next decade.

"Today's rule is a thoughtful product informed by public comment, listening sessions, and long-standing calculations," the Labor Department's wage and hour division administrator Cheryl Stanton said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the Department of Labor finalized a rule that will make roughly 1.3 million more American workers eligible for overtime pay. Starting Janua...
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Social support could be the key to beating imposter syndrome

Researchers suggest it’s common to experience feelings of self-doubt in many professional settings

Feelings of doubt can creep up on consumers when they least expect it -- and they may not even know the name for what they’re feeling. 

Despite being qualified for a job or university, employees and students can feel like they don’t really belong in their roles and that their acceptance was somehow an accident. This is imposter syndrome in a nutshell: feeling fraudulent, though success has been documented. 

Because this feeling is so pervasive in many professional settings, researchers from Brigham Young University discovered a helpful way for consumers to cope with imposter syndrome. They say that cultivating a support group of people outside of the circle where one feels like an imposter could be helpful.

“Those outside the social group seem to be able to help students see the big picture and recalibrate their reference groups,” said researcher Jeff Bednar. “After reaching outside their social group for support, students are able to understand themselves more holistically rather than being so focused on what they felt lacked in just one area.” 

Building encouraging support groups

The researchers conducted a two-part study to better understand imposter syndrome and what tactics were helpful -- and unhelpful -- in trying to overcome those fraudulent feelings. 

College students in a rigorous academic environment were interviewed for the first part of the study. Researchers gauged the prevalence of imposter syndrome to see if participants identified with these feelings. They then asked those who had those feelings about how they coped on a day-to-day basis.

One of the biggest takeaways from this portion of the study was that the majority of the students who reported feeling like an imposter academically all shared a common coping mechanism: finding friends outside of their program.  

In the latter portion of the study, the opposite also revealed itself to be true. Following the interviews, the researchers surveyed over 200 college students to see if a pattern would emerge that was similar to the results from the first part of the study. 

Ultimately, students who sought out friends outside of their major were able to reduce how fraudulent they felt in school, whereas having friends in the same area of study was found to exacerbate the feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. 

The researchers were pleased with these findings, as they certainly speak to the professional environment more generally and can be beneficial for consumers struggling with feelings of imposter syndrome in the workplace. 

“It’s important to create cultures where people talk about failure and mistakes,” said Bednar. “When we create those cultures, someone who is feeling strong feelings of imposterism will be more likely to get the help they need within the organization.” 

Feelings of doubt can creep up on consumers when they least expect it -- and they may not even know the name for what they’re feeling. Despite being qu...
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Showing kindness to employees leads to several benefits

The positive effects extend beyond improved work performance

Researchers from Penn State recently conducted a study that explored the positive effects felt by employees when their employers go out of their way to show them kindness. 

The study revealed that the effects of kindness are felt far beyond just the workplace, as the researchers found that employees experienced a boost in health, in addition to better job performance. 

“An ultimate solution to improve worker performance and health could be big pay raises or reduced workloads, but when those solutions aren’t feasible, we found that even small offerings can make a big difference,” said researcher Bu Zhong. 

The little things count

Zhong and his team conducted their experiment on nearly 90 bus drivers in Shenzhen, China. The team showed kindness to participants by adding a piece of fresh fruit to their lunch boxes each day. 

Though a seemingly small gesture, the researchers explained that bus drivers are frequently changing schedules, sitting for long periods of time, and missing meals, all factors that can increase stress and affect their overall health.

The researchers kept the experiment going for three weeks, having the bus drivers fill out questionnaires about their depressive symptoms and self-confidence one week before the study began, again one week into the study, and one last time the week following the conclusion of the experiment. 

Ultimately, the small act of kindness -- having a fresh piece of fruit at lunchtime -- boosted the bus drivers’ moods and self-confidence tremendously.

“Bus drivers reported significantly decreased depression levels one week after the experiments ended compared to one week before it began...We found that self-efficacy was significantly higher in the middle of the experiment week than in the week after the experiment ended,” said Zhong. 

The findings from this study suggest that acts of kindness can go a long way, but the team says employers shouldn’t feel pressured to do anything extravagant to make employees feel appreciated for their work. Sometimes, less is more.

“This research suggests that employees can be sensitive to any improvement in the workplace,” Zhong said. “Before an ultimate solution is possible, some small steps can make a difference -- one apple at a time.” 

Researchers from Penn State recently conducted a study that explored the positive effects felt by employees when their employers go out of their way to sho...
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UPS plans to hire 100,000 workers for the holidays

Wages can go as high as $30 an hour and include extra perks for college students.

This year, the job Santa may be wearing brown for many U.S. temporary work seekers.

On Monday, the United Parcel Service (UPS) unveiled its intention to hire close to 100,000 seasonal workers to support its projections of nearly 40 million daily holiday deliveries for retailers that hope for a busy holiday season. We say “hope” because U.S. President Trump has to make good on his word that he’s holding off on tariffs against China until December 15, “just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers.”

Seasonal hiring rates continue to inch up across the board, including UPS’s extra 100,000 holiday workers, a 5.1 percent bump from 2017.

Available jobs

The seasonal positions run the gamut from part-time to full-time and from package-handlers to drivers. There’s also the added potential that one of the temporary gigs might turn into something more permanent. In the past, an average 35 percent of UPS seasonal workers have been asked to stay on after the holidays.

UPS feels that 35 percent mark has great value for today’s workforce. “That’s important to many,” the company said in a news release. 

“Nearly 70 percent want their seasonal job to turn into a full-time position, according to a recent survey of Americans who hold, have held or would consider taking a seasonal job. And nearly all (90 percent) agreed that seasonal and temporary jobs are a good way to move into a permanent, full-time career.”

What wearing brown will get you

The hourly wages for these seasonal jobs are reported to be between $14 and $30 compared to the average U.S.’ hourly wage of $28.11. 

Many of the positions come with a bonus for students, who can earn up to $1,300 extra toward college expenses when they qualify for UPS’ Earn and Learn program. 

While it’s not an absolute, when one compares the potential employment health of delivery services, UPS seems to be in a more secure third-party position than FedEx, which cut ties with Amazon just last month.

This year, the job Santa may be wearing brown for many U.S. temporary work seekers.On Monday, the United Parcel Service (UPS) unveiled its intention to...
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Looking for a job? Your prospects are still pretty good

Employers are still hiring, and the Fed chairman doesn’t see a recession looming

It’s still a pretty good time to be looking for a job, according to the latest employment data from government and private sources.

The Labor Department reports nonfarm payrolls increased by 130,000 in August, fewer than the month before. However, ADP reported that private payrolls increased by 195,000 during the month, suggesting that employers are still trying to find workers, especially in the private sector.

Jobs appear to be most plentiful in the health care industry, which added 24,000 jobs in August and has added 392,000 new positions in the last 12 months.

Not expecting a recession

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell says the pace of hiring bodes well for the economy in the months ahead and may put an end -- at least for a while -- to worries about a recession.

“We’re not expecting or forecasting a recession,” Powell said at a news conference in Switzerland on Friday. “Incoming data for the United States suggest the most likely outlook for the United States economy is still moderate growth, a strong labor market, and inflation continuing to move back up.”

But Holden Lewis, the home expert at NerdWallet, says the pace of hiring may not be strong enough to boost home sales.

“Mortgage rates are at three-year lows, but rock-bottom rates aren't enough to support home sales,” Lewis said in an email to ConsumerAffairs. “People need to feel secure about their jobs, too — and with the pace of hiring slowing down, there's a risk that job insecurity will sneak in.”

Three areas where hiring is strong

Economists at The Conference Board agree that the pace of hiring is beginning to slow down. They note that the strongest growth in jobs is coming in just three areas -- health care, professional and business services, and government.

The organization also notes that labor force participation -- the number of people in the workforce -- continued to improve in August, with the rate rising by 0.2 percentage points to 63.2. The unemployment rate remains near a record low of 3.7 percent.

If the labor market continues to tighten in 2020, that could mean employers will have to offer workers higher wages to hire and retain them. While that could squeeze corporate profits, it could be very good news for consumers.

The consensus among economists seems to suggest the most recent jobs data will not alter a likely Federal Reserve interest rate cut later this month, which again will benefit consumers by lowering the interest paid on credit card balances.

It’s still a pretty good time to be looking for a job, according to the latest employment data from government and private sources.The Labor Department...
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Bosses who bully employees can negatively impact workplace safety

Findings from a recent study suggest that a lot can hinge on bosses’ attitudes

A new study conducted by researchers from Portland State University found that bosses who have a tendency towards bullying can not only impact employees’ performance on the job, but can also negatively impact safety in the workplace. 

“Organizations need to understand how important it is to curb leaders’ bad behavior and to create positive team dynamics, so that there will be fewer negative safety consequences for employees or customers,” said researcher Liu-Qin Yang. “It’s really critical to manage such leader behavior, support victimized employees, and prevent such issues.” 

Boosting the employee experience

While bosses’ leadership style can affect employees’ work performance in any field, this study focused on positions where safety is of the utmost importance, such as manufacturing techs and airline pilots. 

Those involved in the study were asked to report on their experiences with bosses in less than ideal circumstances, such as situations where aggressive leadership styles had affected various aspects of the job. 

The results revealed that aggressive and combative bosses made employees more likely to make decisions that were better for them individually, rather than for the group as a whole. When it comes to jobs where safety is of the utmost importance, the researchers say this dynamic could create hazardous conditions.

“When people are less sure about their strengths and weaknesses and their status within a group, they become more sensitive,” said Yang. “They’re more likely to respond negatively to their bosses’ bullying behaviors.” 

The study did recommend several ways for supervisors to implement safety policies, mainly in ways that prioritize employee bonding, a culture that places an emphasis on people, proper leadership, and workplace evaluations so that no one feels left out. 

Healthy relationships in the workplace are key

Ensuring that employees are happy at work is crucial to overall productivity in the workplace, and bosses who choose to form healthy relationships with their employees are more likely to get the most productive hours out of them. 

This idea was made clear in a recent study that found bosses who are profit-driven can yield employees who aren’t performing at their very best.

“Supervisors undoubtedly face heavy scrutiny for the performance levels of their employees, and as such they may tend to emphasize the need for employees to pursue bottom-line outcomes at the exclusion of other competing priorities, such as ethical practices, personal development, or building social connections in the workplace,” the researchers wrote. “However, in doing so they may have to suffer the consequence of reduced employee respect, loyalty, and even liking.” 

A new study conducted by researchers from Portland State University found that bosses who have a tendency towards bullying can not only impact employees’ p...
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ADP report shows a jump in wage growth

Workers saw earnings grow by $1.09 an hour in the last year

Consumer optimism continues to be strong, and one reason for that might be because workers’ paychecks are finally starting to get bigger. A new report by ADP Research Institute shows that average pay has increased by $1.09 an hour over the last 12 months, to $28.54 an hour. That’s a 4 percent pay raise.

The biggest gains in pay came in manufacturing and construction. Employees in the services sector and professional and business services also saw strong wage growth.

Ahu Yildirmaz, co-head of the ADP Research Institute, says the labor market has gotten tighter, so when employers find someone they want to hire they have to pay more. They also have to provide incentives to current employees to encourage them not to leave.

"As labor shortages are apparent in most of the sectors, the businesses are holding on to their skilled workers by increasing their wages” Yildirmaz said.

Women are getting the bigger raises

Despite complaints about pay inequity between men and women, Yildirmaz says the latest statistics show the pay gap is now moving in the other direction.

“Female job holders are capturing larger wage gains than their male counterparts,” she said. “Since January 2019, female job holders received average wage gains of 5 percent, while men averaged wage gains of 4.6 percent."

People employed in the information industry appear to have the most leverage when it comes to getting a pay raise. The ADP report shows information workers who switch jobs now have an average salary of $41.08 an hour, a nearly 10 percent increase in the last 12 months.

Job switchers in professional and business services and construction haven’t done badly either. They’ve seen their wages rise 8.3 percent and 8.7 percent, respectively. Those working in trade jobs experienced significantly stronger growth in wages than the workers who switched to jobs in the industry.

Big raises in the Midwest

Geography also influenced pay increases. Those living in the Midwest did better than those in other regions, but only when it comes to pay increases. Midwestern workers earned less, on average, than those in other regions of the country.

The West, which hosts a large number of technology companies, was the most rewarding to people who switched jobs. Those who took positions at other companies enjoyed an average pay bump of 7.3 percent. Employees in the South and Northeast had the lowest wage growth at 3.6 percent. 

Consumer optimism continues to be strong, and one reason for that might be because workers’ paychecks are finally starting to get bigger. A new report by A...
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Uber, Lyft push back against California bill that would classify drivers as employees

Rideshare drivers support the proposed legislation

California is currently moving to enact a new state legislation (Assembly Bill 5) that would codify and expand a 2018 State Supreme Court ruling, which states that a worker is considered an employee unless they qualify for an exception.

The proposed legislation would alter the employment classification of rideshare drivers, who don’t qualify for an exception. Under the law, companies would be required to designate most independent contractors as employees and provide them with benefits like unemployment, health insurance, and workers compensation.

Uber and Lyft, who would each be impacted by the bill in a big way, sent emails to drivers over the weekend with the goal of getting them fired up about the effect the bill would have on their flexibility and ability to set their own schedules.

“It’s also no secret that a change to the employment classification of ride-share drivers would pose a risk to our businesses. But it’s equally true that the status quo can and should be improved,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer wrote in an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle. “Tell lawmakers to protect driver flexibility.”

In exchange for leaving drivers’ classification status the way it is, the ride-sharing companies vowed to set a minimum pay rate for drivers while they are picking up and dropping off passengers, create a fund for perks like paid time off, and create an association for drivers to advocate for additional improvements.

Drivers support the legislation

On Tuesday, Uber and Lyft drivers -- many of whom have been pushing to be classified as employees for some time --  held a rally outside of Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco to support the new state legislation.

Uber and Lyft driver Rashed Alsanea refuted the claim that driver flexibility is on the line.

“The flexibility, I don’t know what they’re talking about,” Alsanea told a CBS affiliate in San Francisco. “For us, still we have to work in certain times to make money. Otherwise, you’re not gonna make money.”

He said he’s forced to work 16 hours a day because the pay is so low, and the new legislation would see to it that at least drivers have basic protections.

“We’re here for ourselves, our rights, that’s been taken from us by Uber and Lyft. We’re asking for a living wage and we’re asking for benefits,” longtime Uber and Lyft driver Omar A. said at Tuesday’s rally, according to CBS SF Bay Area. “They are trying to force the drivers to sign a petition against AB 5. Actually AB 5 is supporting the drivers and protecting the drivers. That’s what we’re fighting for.”

California is currently moving to enact a new state legislation (Assembly Bill 5) that would codify and expand a 2018 State Supreme Court ruling, which sta...
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Bosses' reactions could impact if workers speak up

Researchers suggest language is powerful in the workplace

There are a lot of things that are stressful about work, but a new study could have employees reconsidering if speaking up in front of their boss is one of them.

According to researcher Danielle King, workers are more comfortable sharing their new ideas with their bosses when they receive positive, encouraging comments.

“Given that many employee ideas for change cannot be endorsed, our results highlight the practical importance of providing sensitive explanations for why employee suggestions cannot be embraced,” King said. “Specifically, it is critically important for leaders to exhibit sensitivity in their communication with employees.”

Cultivating a positive work environment

King conducted two studies to gauge how supervisors’ responses affected their employees’ likelihood of speaking up in future situations, both of which proved that sensitivity is key for good morale.

In the first study, nearly 200 participants completed a survey that assessed their experience being rejected in the workplace.

Participants not only described a moment when one of their ideas had been shot down by their boss, but also reflected on how the experience affected their self-esteem and likelihood of speaking up again, and how their bosses had handled the rejection.

The second study had student workers at a marketing agency have their ideas rejected by their bosses. They received one of four different responses, all varying in sensitivity. Following the automated response, the students were then able to revise their pitches and resubmit their ideas.

In both scenarios, the employees were more receptive to bosses who offered clear explanations of why their ideas couldn’t work, while also encouraging them to continue sharing their ideas in the future.

When the reason for rejection was poorly explained or insensitive to the employers’ feelings, workers were less likely to express ideas in future situations.

King hopes that employers are inspired by these findings, and they implement some of these sensitivity tools in their own workplaces.

“As demonstrated in our study, explanation sensitivity led employees to opening up again,” King said. “In addition, it may be valuable to help employees understand that extenuating circumstances sometimes prevent implementation of potentially good ideas. It would also be useful to provide justification for why complete explanations cannot be revealed for strategic or confidentiality reasons. If such explanations are delivered in a sensitive manner, this should maintain the type of leader-employer relationship that encourages employees to speak up in the future.”

Staying open-minded at work

While criticism can be hard to swallow, especially in the workplace, a recent study found that being open to criticism can actually help consumers’ creativity when at work. Researchers found that when criticism comes from a boss can create some roadblocks, while receiving criticism from those of a lower rank can benefit workers’ productivity.

“It makes sense that employees might feel threatened by criticism from their managers,” said researcher Yeun Joon Kim. “Supervisors have a lot of influence in deciding promotions or pay raises. So negative feedback from a boss might trigger career anxieties.”

There are a lot of things that are stressful about work, but a new study could have employees reconsidering if speaking up in front of their boss is one of...
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Target announces enhanced family care benefits for employees

The retailer is expanding its paid family leave and child care benefits

Target has announced that it plans to expand its child care and family leave benefits for both hourly and salaried employees.

Starting June 30, the company will offer up to four weeks paid family leave annually to allow employees to care for a new baby or sick family member. Employees who just gave birth will still get an additional six to eight weeks of paid maternity leave on top of that.

“Our workforce, like the communities we serve, is multigenerational, and our team members face growing caregiving responsibilities including infants, children, spouses, domestic partners and aging parents,” the company said in a press release.

The retailer added that its new family care benefits “pick up where traditional parental leave policies end, so our team members can support their families for years to come.”

In addition to broadening its parental leave policy, Target will also bolster its child care and elder care benefits. Starting this fall, Target team members will get 20 days of in-center or in-home backup child care or elder care in the event that school suddenly closes or a care provider cancels.

“With our new backup care benefit, team members can rest assured that their loved ones have safe, affordable, reliable care while they’re at work,” Target said.

Expanding benefits

The new “family-focused enhancements” come two months after Target announced it would increase its minimum hourly wage by $1 to $13, with plans to pay $15 by the end of 2020.

“Our team is Target’s greatest asset, from the newest faces to those who’ve been with us for many years. They’re at the heart of everything we do to fulfill our purpose of bringing guests joy,” Melissa Kremer, Target’s Chief Human Resources Officer, said in a statement at the time.

“It takes a diverse, high-performing and engaged team to create experiences that make guests feel welcome and inspired, and keep them coming back. So investing in our team members is essential to keep our business growing and thriving.”

Target has announced that it plans to expand its child care and family leave benefits for both hourly and salaried employees.Starting June 30, the comp...
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Workplace bullying negatively impacts consumers’ mental and physical health

Researchers say employers shouldn’t take bullying lightly

Consumers spend a great deal of their time at work, and having a hostile work environment can be detrimental to both mental and physical health.

According to a new study, employees who experience the brunt of workplace bullying not only feel the effects in their physical health, but it can also negatively impact their self-esteem and own behavior in the workplace.

“Overall, our results show the need to consider not only exposure to and types of bullying, but also their associated consequences,” said researcher Dr. Roberta Fida. “In particular, the findings highlight that victimization is associated not only with health problems, but also with a greater likelihood of not behaving in line with the expected social and organizational norms.”

Understanding bullying

To see how bullying affected employees’ work performance and their overall well-being, the researchers had over 1,000 participants report on their experience with workplace bullying.

The participants shared if they dealt with workplace bullying versus personal bullying. They also reported on any negative behaviors that arose as a result of the bullying, how their health was affected, and how they were able to cope with the bullying, if at all.

Based on the responses, the researchers were able to divide the participants into five different groups:

  • Frequently exposed to workplace bullying (4.4 percent)

  • Occasional workplace and personal bullying (9.6 percent)

  • Limited exposure to workplace bullying and no personal bullying (22.3 percent)

  • No exposure to bullying, but with health-related symptoms (23.9 percent)

  • No exposure to bullying, with no health-related symptoms (39.9 percent)

Participants in the first group were targeted for both work-related matters and personal issues, and they were found to act out at work and also feel the physical ramifications of bullying. The second group experienced less personal bullying, and they also exhibited better behavior with their coworkers and better physical health.

While each subsequent group showed less physical symptoms because of bullying -- with the exception of the fourth group -- many of the participants struggled with coping skills and dealing with negative emotions.

“The greater the intensity of the bullying and the more exposure to the different types of bullying, the higher the likelihood of engaging in counterproductive workplace behaviour,” said Dr. Frida. “Furthermore, the results show that health-related symptoms are not always associated with experiences of bullying. Indeed, while those experiencing limited work-related bullying did not report health problems, those who were not bullied but misbehaved did.”

Overall, the researchers proved that workplace bullying affects employees in a myriad of ways, and is not something that should be taken lightly by employers. Moving forward, they hope more workplaces take these findings into consideration to provide the best work environments for their workers.

Staying positive at work

In an effort to create more supportive, encouraging workplaces, researchers have explored how different initiatives can affect employees’ morale and satisfaction at work.

For example, a recent study found that expressing gratitude at work can leave employees’ with positive health benefits, while workplaces with health and wellness programs are not only beneficial for physical health, but give consumers an outlet to take their minds off the mental stressors of work.

“Most American adults work, and many spend half or more of their waking hours at work,” said Laura Linnan. “Where we work, how long we work, the conditions of our work, who we work with -- all of these factors impact our health.”

Consumers spend a great deal of their time at work, and having a hostile work environment can be detrimental to both mental and physical health.Accordi...
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Tech jobs top the list of highest-paying entry level jobs for 2019

The list suggests college graduates may want to consider a career in this field

Job site Glassdoor recently compiled a list of the highest-paying entry level jobs and internships for 2019, and a majority of the positions on the list are either in technology or a technology-related field.

With an average starting salary of $95,000, data scientist topped the list, followed by software engineer at $90,000. In the internship category, Amazon and Facebook pay the most at $7,725 and $8,000 per month, respectively.

The list “can serve as a menu of aspirational jobs to potentially work toward, especially as the majority of these entry-level jobs are in the STEM field and require strong technical skills,” said Amanda Stansell, the senior research analyst for Glassdoor.

Highest-paying entry level jobs

Glassdoor said it’s a particularly good time for college students and recent graduates to kick off their careers because of the strong job market.

“With historically low unemployment rates and growing job counts, job seekers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to where they want to work and employers are willing to pay top dollar for roles and skills that are in high demand but short supply,” the study said.

These are the top 25 highest-paying jobs, according to Glassdoor:

  1. Data scientist: $95,000

  2. Software engineer: &90,000

  3. Product manager: $89,000

  4. Investment banking analyst: $85,000

  5. Product Designer: $85,000

  6. UX designer: $73,000

  7. Implementation consultant:$72,000

  8. Java developer: $72,000

  9. Systems engineer: $70,000

  10. Software developer: $68,000

  11. Process engineer: $68,258

  12. Front end developer: $67,500

  13. Product engineer: $66,750

  14. Actuarial analyst: $66,250

  15. Electrical engineer: $66,000

  16. Mechanical engineer: $65,000

  17. Design engineer: $65,000

  18. Applications developer: $65,000

  19. Test engineer: $65,000

  20. Programmer analyst: $65,000

  21. Quality engineer: $64,750

  22. Physical therapist: $63,918

  23. Field engineer: $63,750

  24. Project engineer: $63,000

  25. Business analyst: $63,000

The highest-paying internships can be viewed here.

Job site Glassdoor recently compiled a list of the highest-paying entry level jobs and internships for 2019, and a majority of the positions on the list ar...
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Federal officials say Uber drivers are contractors, not employees

The NLRB maintains that drivers aren’t eligible for federal protections connected to unionizing

A second federal agency has ruled that Uber drivers are independent contractors, not employees, Bloomberg Law reported. The decision comes amid an ongoing dispute between drivers and Uber regarding the former’s employment classification.

Just last week, Uber drivers protested to demand higher compensation, benefits, and transparent policies. The strike took place just a few days before the company’s IPO.

Uber swiftly reached a settlement with “a large majority” of 60,000 drivers who filed, or said they planned to file, arbitration demands. However, the ride-hailing giant maintained that its drivers are independent contractors because they can decide when they want to work and are allowed to work for competitors.

Now, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has also ruled that Uber drivers are independent contractors. The Board says it will maintain a position that Uber drivers aren’t eligible for federal protections around unionizing since they don’t meet the criteria of being full-time employees.

Control over work hours

“Drivers’ virtually complete control of their cars, work schedules, and log-in locations, together with their freedom to work for competitors of Uber, provided them with significant entrepreneurial opportunity,” the NLRB said in a memorandum written last month and released Tuesday.

“On any given day, at any free moment, UberX drivers could decide how best to serve their economic objectives: by fulfilling ride requests through the App, working for a competing rideshare service, or pursuing a different venture altogether. The surge pricing and other financial incentives Uber utilized to meet rider demand not only reflect Uber’s ‘hands off’ approach, they also constituted a further entrepreneurial opportunity for drivers.”

The same determination was made earlier this year by the Department of Labor (DOL), which said gig-economy workers are independent contractors, and as such, aren’t eligible for minimum wage, overtime pay, and other protections.

Uber acknowledges disappointing IPO

The release of the NLRB’s memo comes just a few days after Uber made a disappointing debut on the stock market. In a note to staff, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi acknowledged the stock’s lackluster performance and attempted to buoy sinking optimism among employees.

"Like all periods of transition, there are ups and downs. Obviously our stock did not trade as well as we had hoped post-IPO. Today is another tough day in the market, and I expect the same as it relates to our stock," Khosrowshahi wrote. “But it is essential that we keep our eye on the long-term value of Uber for our customers, partners, drivers and investors.”

Uber said Tuesday that it’s continuing to work on improving its relationship with drivers.

"We are focused on improving the quality and security of independent work, while preserving the flexibility drivers and couriers tell us they value," an Uber spokesperson told Bloomberg Law.

A second federal agency has ruled that Uber drivers are independent contractors, not employees, Bloomberg Law reported. The decision comes amid an ongoing...
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The best states for new grads to launch a career

Low cost of living and high salaries make a difference

College students receiving their degrees next month will head out into the job market, but where should they go? It turns out that some states are better than others when it comes to launching a career.

A study by GoBankingRates.com ranks the states that are most helpful to young people beginning a job, with many areas offering good employment opportunities and a reasonable cost of living. The study authors admit some of the results were surprising.

The best states are located along the East Coast and in the upper Midwest. The top five states to launch a career are:

  • Maryland

  • Massachusetts

  • Minnesota

  • North Dakota

  • Connecticut

One reason these states top the list is there are already a large number of college graduates living there. In nine out of the top 10 states, the share of the population aged 25 or older with a Bachelor's degree is 20 percent or higher.

Maryland offers proximity to the nation’s capital with plenty of high-paying jobs. Amazon’s second headquarters in nearby Arlington, Va., will provide many more.

Massachusetts and Connecticut are attractive for similar reasons. Boston is home to a number of technology companies and is a center of academic excellence. Connecticut is close to high-paying jobs in New York City but without the cost of Manhattan real estate. A number of major corporations are also based in the state.

Bottom of the list

While there are good states for starting a career, there are also bad ones. When you look at the bottom five on the list, you find they all have one thing in common: The cost of living is high relative to salaries, and there are smaller numbers of college graduates.

  • Idaho

  • Florida

  • Mississippi

  • Hawaii

  • Nevada

California is in the top 10 of the worst states to launch a career. It’s true that the state has a large population of college graduates, but the cost of living all but rules it out. It has the highest gasoline prices in the nation and some of the most expensive real estate of all the states in the ranking.

One thing the Class of 2019 has going for it is a sterling job market, no matter where they decide to settle. The economy added 263,000 jobs in April, sending the nation’s unemployment rate to a 49-year low of 3.6 percent. At the same time, average hourly pay increased 3.2 percent in the last 12 months, building on the same increase recorded in March.

College students receiving their degrees next month will head out into the job market, but where should they go? It turns out that some states are better t...
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For college grads, this year’s job market is nearly perfect

What a difference a decade makes

In 2009, college graduates entered a shrinking job market with an unemployment rate of 10 percent. A decade later, the Class of 2019 is finding a market nearly desperate to hire workers and paying more to do so.

According to the Labor Department, the U.S. economy added 263,000 jobs in April, sending the nation’s unemployment rate to a 49-year low of 3.6 percent. At the same time, average hourly pay increased 3.2 percent in the last 12 months, building on the same increase recorded in March.

The biggest job gains last month occurred in professional and business services, construction, health care, and social assistance. Professional and business services added 76,000 jobs during the month, with the lion’s share occurring in administrative and support services and in computer systems design. In the last 12 months, this sector of the job market has added over a half million jobs.

Employees are earning more

“Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by six cents in April to $27.77, following a five-cent gain in March,” Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics William Beach said in a statement. “Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings

have risen by 3.2 percent; the over-the-year percent change has been 3.0 percent or above for nine consecutive months.”

The latest employment numbers contribute to a shifting narrative about the U.S. economy. Since early in the year, the assumption has been that the economy would slow this year, causing the Federal Reserve to back away from its policy of raising interest rates.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said last week the Fed had determined economic weakness was “transitory” and that inflation, fed by economic growth, could well pick up speed later in the year.

Good news for job seekers

In its analysis of the latest employment report, The Conference Board, an economic think tank,  said there is no sign of an economic slowdown and that the labor market should remain hospitable for job seekers. In fact, the organization said all the recent economic releases have suggested the economy will produce an inflation rate above the Fed’s target of 2 percent.

“In such an economic environment, and considering the stagnation in working-age population growth, it is not surprising that the labor market continues to tighten,” The Conference Board said in a statement. “The unemployment rate reached 3.6 percent in April, the lowest rate since December 1969. Labor markets will continue tightening in coming months and wages are likely to accelerate further.”

The Conference Board economists say the recovery in the U.S. economy and the ongoing job market squeeze most likely means the Federal Reserve won’t cut interest rates anytime soon.

In 2009, college graduates entered a shrinking job market with an unemployment rate of 10 percent. A decade later, the Class of 2019 is finding a market ne...
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Just 39 percent of workers negotiated for higher pay, survey finds

Experts say negotiating lets the company know you value your worth

Just 39 percent of workers tried to negotiate a higher salary during their last job offer, according to a survey by staffing firm Robert Half.

The firm surveyed professionals in 27 U.S. cities and found that those in New York, Dallas, and San Francisco were most likely to negotiate their salary. Men were more likely than women to do so, at 46 percent and 34 percent, respectively.

But job seekers shouldn’t shy away from pushing for more pay. In fact, experts say negotiating on salary can signal to the company that you value your own worth.

A separate survey by Robert Half found that many employers are willing -- and even expect -- to make a deal with candidates. A majority (70 percent) of senior managers said they expect to engage in some back-and-forth on salary.

However, before asking for a higher salary, prospective employees should be aware of two common pitfalls, said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half.

"First and foremost, avoid negotiating any part of the compensation package until after you've received a formal offer,” McDonald said. “Second, don't go into a negotiation without practicing the conversation in person with a trusted friend or mentor. Someone who has been in your position can help you prepare for the unexpected and make a stronger case."

Salary negotiation pointers

During the interview, it’s best to wait for the hiring manager to bring up salary, Rowan O’Grady, president of Hays Canada told Yahoo Finance. When it does come up, O’Grady recommends reiterating your excitement about the role.

Other salary negotiation tips include:

  • Do your research. Before the interview, use an online tool such as Indeed.com to find the average salary for the position you have applied for. Be sure to consider where the job is based and the cost of living in that area.

  • Highlight your credentials. When negotiating for a higher salary, highlight your experience or educational level.

  • Be confident. Explain your reasoning with confidence, but don’t be overconfident.

  • Aim high. Make the first offer and start out with a high number. Research shows that those who start out with a high number anchor this number in their employers’ minds and receive better offers.

Just 39 percent of workers tried to negotiate a higher salary during their last job offer, according to a survey by staffing firm Robert Half.The firm...
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Bank of America announces minimum wage bump

The company’s minimum wage will raise incrementally over the next few years, hitting $20 per hour by 2021

Bank of America, which recently earned a spot on LinkedIn’s annual Top Companies list, has announced that it will be raising its minimum hourly wage to $20 an hour over the next two years.

Starting May 1, the company’s minimum wage will climb to $17 an hour. By 2021, Bank of America plans to have bumped its minimum wage another $3 to $20 per hour.

“If you get a job at Bank of America, you’ll make $41,000” a year, Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan said in an appearance on the MSNBC show “Morning Joe.” “With the success our company has ... we have to share that success with our teammates.”

The company said in a statement that the pay hike is part of its commitment to “being a great place to work,” as well as remaining competitive in the sector.

Competitive compensation

Earlier this week, LinkedIn released its annual list of the top 50 most sought-after companies to work for, and companies in the financial industry appeared to be making a resurgence. Bank of America, along with fellow banking companies Citi and Wells Fargo, placed among the top 25.

Bank of America earned a spot at number 18, ranking slightly higher than Citi (no. 22) and Wells Fargo (no. 25). LinkedIn said it based its 2019 ranking on job demand, overall interest from job seekers, and the employee retention rate at each company.

Back in 2017, Bank of America raised the minimum wage for its more than 205,000 employees to $15 an hour.

In a statement announcing the most recent pay hike, chief human resources officer Sheri Bronstein said the company is raising its minimum wage “because we believe that to best serve our customers and clients, we need the best teams.”

Other financial institutions have also raised wages in an effort to offer competitive compensation. In January 2018, JPMorgan Chase announced that it planned to boost wages to a minimum of $15 to $18 for 22,000 employees, “depending on the local cost of living.”

Bank of America, which recently earned a spot on LinkedIn’s annual Top Companies list, has announced that it will be raising its minimum hourly wage to $20...
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LinkedIn releases Top Companies of 2019 List

Alphabet, Facebook, and Amazon topped the list for the third year in a row

Job listings website LinkedIn has released its fourth-annual Top Companies List, which ranks the 50 companies job seekers are most interested in working for based on the level of interest they receive from LinkedIn members, as well as the employee retention rate at each company.

LinkedIn says it looks at “billions of actions taken by LinkedIn members around the world to uncover the companies that are attracting the most attention from jobseekers and then hanging onto that talent.”

This approach “looks at what members are doing — not just saying — in their search for fulfilling careers,” according to the site.

Most sought-after companies

Tech giants Alphabet, Facebook, and Amazon took the top three spots for the third consecutive year, while Tesla dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in the list’s four-year history. Meanwhile, jobs in financial industries appear to be making a resurgence based on this year’s list, which ranks Bank of America, Citi, and Wells Fargo among the top 25.

Below is a list of the top 25 companies according to LinkedIn’s rankings:

1. Alphabet

2. Facebook

3. Amazon

4. Salesforce

5. Deloitte

6. Uber

7. Apple

8. Airbnb

9. Oracle

10. Dell Technologies

11. Netflix

12. Cisco

13. The We Company

14. Spotify

15. Comcast NBCUniversal

16. Tesla

17. The Walt Disney Company

18. Bank of America

19. Lyft

20. ADP

21. Goldman Sachs

22. Citi

23. Slack

24. Adobe

25. Wells Fargo

The complete list of 50 companies can be viewed here.

Job listings website LinkedIn has released its fourth-annual Top Companies List, which ranks the 50 companies job seekers are most interested in working fo...
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Expressing gratitude in the workplace has positive health benefits

Researchers suggest the practice could improve work satisfaction

Saying “thank-you” is habit for many consumers as they go about their day-to-day routine, but expressing gratitude while at work could come with a number of positive benefits, according to a new study.

Researchers from Portland State University say that being thanked in the workplace can lead to improved mental and physical health for employees.

A study of nurses

The researchers chose to focus their study on a group of nurses, who often work long hours and feel run down after shifts.

“Nurses tend to have a thankless job,” said researcher David Cadiz. “It’s very physical, and they’re often being screamed at by patients who are at their lowest. When nurses receive gratitude, it boosts them.”

Nearly 150 nurses were involved in the study, and they completed weekly surveys for 12 weeks  which asked them to describe their experiences at work, their overall health, and both positive and negative events that occurred over the course of the week.

The outcome was clear: when the nurses were thanked more for their work, they experienced several physical and mental benefits.

The researchers explain that the nurses felt better about themselves and the work they do after receiving gratitude, which improved their quality of care with their patients and also led to healthier eating habits, better quality of sleep, and fewer headaches.

“This type of study helps us understand how to keep nurses in the workforce in a healthy way,” said Cadiz. “Nurses strongly align their profession with their identity and often look out for patients more than themselves. The gratitude matches up with their identity, gives them satisfaction in a job well done, and ultimately increases self-care.”

Cadiz suggests that corporations work to incorporate gratitude into their day-to-day routines as a means of keeping morale up with employees and creating a more positive culture in the workplace.

“Employees that receive positive feedback are healthier, and that can impact the bottom line,” Cadiz said. “Preventing headaches and other stress-related symptoms means fewer sick days, and, in this case, cuts down the cost of replacement nurses and overtime pay.”

Effective in the home

As effective as expressing gratitude can be in the workplace, a recent study found that teaching children and teens to foster a mindset of gratitude can be just as beneficial.

Researchers suggest that parents help their children and teens stave off materialism by focusing on being grateful for the things and people already in their lives.

“Our findings show that it is possible to reduce materialism among young consumers, as well as one of its most common negative consequences (non-generosity) using a simple strategy -- fostering gratitude for the things and people in their lives,” wrote researcher Lan Nguyen Chaplin.

Saying “thank-you” is habit for many consumers as they go about their day-to-day routine, but expressing gratitude while at work could come with a number o...
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How consumers can make the most of sit-stand desks

Consumers should study up if they want to see the most health-related benefits

Consumers who spend their days in an office also spend most of their days sitting. But with many workplaces implementing sit-stand desks (SSDs), consumers may be able to reverse that trend.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh are currently exploring how consumers can make the most of their sit-stand desks, as much recent research has presented conflicting evidence.

“There has been a great deal of scientific research about sit-stand desks in the past few years, but we have only scratched the surface of this topic,” said Dr. April Chambers. “With my background in occupational injury prevention, I wanted to gather what we know so far and figure out the next steps for how we can use these desks to better benefit people in the workplace.”

Staying standing

Dr. Chambers and her team evaluated over 50 recent studies that examined the ins and outs of sit-stand desks to see how they affected consumers on several different levels: posture, work performance, behavior, discomfort, psychological, and physiological.

According to fellow researcher Dr. Nancy A. Baker, the studies proved that the “strongest changes” were seen in behavior and discomfort, while “the study found only minimal impacts” on any of the other potential factors.

Based on the studies, many sit-stand desk users were disappointed that the device didn’t help them shed excess weight.

According to the researchers, SSDs were initially touted as a tool to aid in fighting obesity, as it would get workers out of their chairs more. While they were effective to that end, and in giving consumers the freedom to move around and be more comfortable during their workdays, losing weight was not a factor here.

Though not effective in tackling obesity, the researchers did note that sit-stand desks were helpful to consumers’ health in that they aided in easing lower back pain and even incrementally lowered blood pressure.

“Though these are mild benefits, certain populations might benefit greatly from even a small change in their health,” said Dr. Chambers.

The researchers want to encourage workplaces to provide their employees with proper training and direction to not only properly use their sit-stand desks, but ensure that doing so will leave them with as many benefits as possible.

“Many workers receive sit-stand desks and start using them without direction,” Dr. Chambers said. “I think proper usage will differ from person to person, and as we gather more research, we will be better able to suggest dosage for a variety of workers.”

The researchers note that there are many factors at play, including how much time is spent standing, how tall consumers’ computers are, how tall their desks are, and if consumers were properly trained in how to operate their SSDs. Ticking off each of those factors would allow consumers to maximize the benefits.

Conflicting advice

While Dr. Chambers and her team are adamant that employees can benefit from their SSDs with the proper training, much of the previous research done on the topic has been conflicting.

While some researchers have found negative consequences associated with prolonged sitting, others have found risks associated with prolonged standing. However, one study suggests that working standing up could be the best thing for consumers’ production. That study focused entirely on work outcomes and found that completing assignments while standing led to much stronger cognitive abilities.

“Test results indicated that continued use of standing desks was associated with significant improvements in executive function and working memory capabilities,” said Ranjana Mehta, PhD. “Changes in corresponding brain activation patterns were also observed.”

Consumers who spend their days in an office also spend most of their days sitting. But with many workplaces implementing sit-stand desks (SSDs), consumers...
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Labor Department proposes changes to overtime eligibility rule

The new rule would bring overtime eligibility to 1.1 million additional workers

The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday unveiled a proposal that would make more workers eligible to receive overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The proposed rule rewrites the Obama administration’s “overtime rule,” which was adopted in 2016 but never took effect because it was blocked by a federal judge just a week before it was slated to take effect.

The new rule, if enacted, would mandate that workers who earn less than $35,308 a year ($455 to $679 per week) would be eligible for time-and-a-half pay for all hours worked beyond 40 in any given week. The current threshold is set at $23,660.

“The Department proposes to rescind formally the 2016 rule and propose a new rule that updates the minimum weekly standard salary level to reflect growth in wages and salaries, and allow the inclusion of certain nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments to count towards up to 10 percent of the standard salary level,” the DOL said in its proposal.

Instead of allowing the threshold to rise automatically with inflation, the new rule would require that the DOL update the threshold at its discretion every four years.

“This would provide clarity and help workers and employers by having a regular and orderly process for future changes,” the DOL wrote.

Expanding overtime eligibility

The proposal would bring overtime eligibility to 1.1 million additional workers. By comparison, the rule proposed by former President Barack Obama that was invalidated by a federal judge would have have brought overtime eligibility to 4.2 million workers.

"Our economy has more job openings than job seekers and more Americans are joining the labor force," Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said in a news release. "... Today's proposal would bring common sense, consistency, and higher wages to working Americans."

In a statement, Heidi Shierholz, the DOL's chief economist under former President Obama and current director of policy at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, criticized the Labor Department’s weakened criteria for overtime eligibility.

"This administration is effectively turning its back on millions of workers. Trump and his cabinet are again siding with corporate interests over those of working people,” Shierholz wrote.

The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday unveiled a proposal that would make more workers eligible to receive overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards A...
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Instacart changes its tipping policy in response to worker complaints

The startup will stop docking worker pay based on the size of their tips

Instacart has changed its tipping policy after workers argued that it ultimately lowered their take-home pay.

“We heard loud and clear the frustration when your compensation didn’t match the effort you put forth,” Apoorva Mehta, Instacart’s chief executive, wrote in an open letter to Instacart’s contract workers, known as shoppers.

Instacart, an app that lets customers order groceries and other household items and have them delivered, unveiled the update to its compensation policy back in November. Under the policy, Instacart would sometimes reduce its contribution to a worker’s pay if the person received a certain amount in tips.

In one case, an independent contractor was paid 80 cents by Instacart for a delivery job.

"While our intention was to increase the guaranteed payment for small orders, we understand that the inclusion of tips as a part of this guarantee was misguided. We apologize for taking this approach," CEO Apoorva Mehta said in a blog post on Wednesday.

Reversing the policy

After acknowledging the misstep, the platform announced that it will be doing away with the controversial tipping policy.

Instacart says it will now always separate tips from compensation from the company. Additionally, the startup raised the guaranteed pay for some jobs (at least $5 for orders that require only delivering an item, and $7 to $10 for orders that involve picking items off supermarket shelves).

The San Francisco-based startup also promised to also offer back pay to workers who were adversely affected by the previous tipping policy.

"Instacart shouldn't be paying a shopper $0.80 for [an order]," Mehta wrote. "It doesn't matter that this only happens 1 out of 100,000 times -- it happened to one shopper and that's one time too many."

Mehta said the revised tipping policy will increase Instacart’s overall contribution to worker earnings. “We believe that the change in tip structure will separate Instacart from an industry standard that’s no longer working for our shoppers and our customers,” he said.

Instacart has changed its tipping policy after workers argued that it ultimately lowered their take-home pay.“We heard loud and clear the frustration w...
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Arguments with coworkers can affect your sleep

A study shows office tensions can cause consumers’ partners to struggle at night too

For many consumers, the majority of the day is spent in the company of coworkers. Whether it’s at lunch or during meetings, time spent with colleagues can either be a nice respite from the busy work day, or it can be a cause for greater stress.

Now, researchers from Portland State University found that those who have frequent disagreements or arguments with their coworkers may have trouble sleeping at night. And the restlessness could extend to their partners if the couple works in the same field or company.

“Because work-linked couples have a better idea of what’s going on in each other’s work, they can be better supporters,” said lead author Charlotte Fritz. “They probably know more about the context of the incivil act and might be more pulled into the venting or problem-solving process.”

Sharing stress

Fritz and her team surveyed over 300 couples in a variety of different fields to examine the way they handle workplace arguments -- and how it affects their sleeping habits.

The participants were asked questions about how often they felt preoccupied with negative aspects of work once the work day ended, and also how many times during the night they woke up or couldn’t fall asleep because of work-related issues.

The researchers found that those who experienced incivility at work were more likely to bring those frustrations home with them, which also led to insomnia or trouble sleeping. The participants’ spouses were also found to have trouble sleeping when the couple worked either in the same company or field of work.

Fritz and her team suggest that the best way to combat these struggles and make life outside of work less stressful is for employees to do their best to fully engage in outside activities once the work day is over. Additionally, they called for workplaces to provide civility training for all employees in an effort to instill a more positive atmosphere in the workplace.

“Not talking about work or not supporting your spouse is not the solution,” said Fritz. “They can talk about work, vent about it, discuss it, but then they should make an explicit attempt to unwind together and create good conditions for sleep.”

Cultivating a positive work environment

There are several ways for consumers to go about making the work environment as positive and enjoyable as possible.

A recent study found that coworkers should only offer advice to each other when first sought out or specifically asked.

The researchers found that those who receive unsolicited advice may start to question their self-esteem or role in the workplace, and they may even feel hostile towards the coworker that provided the advice. However, when people wait to be asked and can then offer their assistance or expertise, the help is often appreciated by both parties.

“Right now, there’s a lot of stress on productivity in the workplace, and to be a real go-getter, and to help everyone around you,” said researcher Russell Johnson. “But, it’s not necessarily the best thing when you go out looking for problems and spending time trying to fix them.”

For many consumers, the majority of the day is spent in the company of coworkers. Whether it’s at lunch or during meetings, time spent with colleagues can...
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New York City sets new minimum wage for app-based drivers

Drivers working for companies like Uber and Lyft will be paid $17.22 per hour

On Tuesday, New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) passed new minimum wage requirements for drivers working for ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft. Going forward, drivers will be paid $17.22 per hour.

The new minimum wage is the equivalent of the city’s $15 per hour minimum wage requirement for other employees. The extra few dollars account for the fact that drivers have to pay payroll taxes and don’t receive paid time off.

The new pay rules, which will be implemented in 30 days, are expected to raise the average app-based driver's pay by $9,600 per year, according to the TLC’s analysis.

"Today we brought desperately needed relief to 80,000 working families. All workers deserve the protection of a fair, livable wage and we are proud to be setting the new bar for contractor workers' rights in America," Jim Conigliaro, Jr., founder of the Independent Drivers Guild, said in a statement. "We are thankful to the Mayor, Commissioner Joshi and the Taxi and Limousine Commission, City Council Member Brad Lander and all of the city officials who listened to and stood up for drivers."

Criticism of proposal

Lyft and Uber contend that the move to increase the base pay rate will make it harder and more expensive to get around.

"The TLC's implementation of the City Council's legislation to increase driver earnings will lead to higher than necessary fare increases for riders while missing an opportunity to deal with congestion in Manhattan's central business district,” Jason Post, Uber’s director of public affairs, said in a statement.

Lyft issued its own statement voicing its discontent with the proposal, arguing that the rules will incentive short rides over long rides.

"Unfortunately, the TLC's proposed pay rules will undermine competition by allowing certain companies to pay drivers lower wages, and disincentives drivers from giving rides to and from areas outside Manhattan. These rules would be a step backward for New Yorkers, and we urge the TLC to reconsider them," Lyft said in a statement.

The Independent Drivers Guild has been campaigning for a new base pay rate for several years. The organization estimates that drivers are currently earning just $11.90 per hour after expenses.

On Tuesday, New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) passed new minimum wage requirements for drivers working for ridesharing companies such as...
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Experts predict good news for job seekers in 2019

A tight labor market may mean better working conditions for employees

The job market in 2018 has been one of the best on record. Unemployment is ending the year at near record lows.

But what does 2019 have in store? ADP, which monitors payrolls on a monthly basis, is projecting even better times for people looking for a job.

First, let's review what happened this year. The jobless rate fell to a nearly 50-year low as the economy added more than two million jobs. After years of no pay raises, the average hourly wage rose $1 an hour. People who changed jobs this year saw an even larger pay bump.

"With 2018 employment levels at an all-time high and broad-based wage growth taking root, the U.S. job market is more dynamic than ever," said Don Weinstein, chief product and technology officer at ADP. "In 2019, employers and workers will increase their focus on issues ranging from the personalization of pay to an increasing mosaic of workers that span full time to gig, data privacy issues, and more."

2019 job market trends

ADP has identified a number of trends in the 2019 job market, including something it calls the personalization of pay.

Among the expected changes in the workplace, ADP believes digital accounts will become more common, allowing employees greater access to their paychecks. In fact, the time schedule for pay may evolve into schedules that meet the needs of individual employees.

ADP's research shows that 86 percent of employees are interested in using non-traditional financial tools to manage their compensation. These tools include ways to manage and budget take-home pay while automatically tracking spending and suggesting budgets.

More work for freelancers

ADP also predicts that organizations will increase their reliance on freelancers and part-time employees to fill the skills gap. You're also more likely to see wide ranges of age in the workforce as employers take advantage of boomers retiring from full-time work but who want to stay engaged in their profession.

Employers are also likely to become more dependent upon data. Human Resources departments will increasingly tap into artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to serve up insights in real time. ADP projections suggest that workers will also have more access to data through financial wellness and professional development tools that support their goals both inside and outside the workplace.

The job market in 2018 has been one of the best on record. Unemployment is ending the year at near record lows.But what does 2019 have in store? ADP, w...
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Many U.S. workers may be disappointed by lack of raises

Reports show that many U.S. workers are making the same amount in 2018 that they did in 2017

This year’s Christmas stocking isn’t getting much stuffing for a high number of American workers -- at least if last year’s trend continues to hold true.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that, for many U.S. workers, their 2018 take-home pay is exactly the same as it was in 2017. President Trump’s crowing about the lowest unemployment figures in nearly 40 years may have led to job security and new employment, but that improvement also put the brakes on raises.

"Roughly 14 percent of workers — or 1 in 7 — have seen their earnings stall over the past year, counting only those who have stayed in the same job," reported the Post. "That’s only a slight improvement over the 16 percent rate reached in the hangover years after the Great Recession."

The report noted that this situation comes with a bonus win-lose.

If you count for inflation and the cost-of-living uptick employees often get to offset that increase, workers whose salaries have been frozen are actually losing money. According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics (BLS) inflation calculator, that’s approximately a $1,600 jab to someone who earns $40,000 a year.

Why this is happening

One would think that if economic growth and productivity are on the rise, workers would see a little more in their paychecks.

Right?

Well, yes and no.

The Post says the reason is because there’s no one forcing the employer’s hand. Cited is the decline of private sector unions that would typically champion workers’ wages. There’s also not as many competitors that workers can scout out for a job change and higher salary -- since larger companies are currently ruling the day.

"Another possibility is that business leaders may still be scarred by memories of the Great Recession. In those years, ‘sticky wages’ kept them from cutting salaries -- lest they hurt morale. But the result was higher labor costs at a time of collapsing profits and tight budgets," The Post reports.

Is all hope lost?

There are still companies and governments that are trying to keep their workers’ trip to the bank a happy one.

In the most recent election, both Arkansas and Missouri saw a "by the people, for the people" minimum wage victory at the polls.

In Missouri, voters approved a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage within the state from $7.85 per hour to $12 by 2023. Under the measure, the minimum wage will rise gradually over that five year period.

In neighboring Arkansas, the current $8.50 an hour minimum wage will rise to $11 an hour by 2021. The National Employment Law Project (NELP) estimates that will affect at least 300,000 workers.

Companies like Target and Amazon also seem willing to share their windfall with employees. The latter recently raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour and Target has gone on record saying that its minimum hourly wage will also be $15 an hour by 2020.

While companies are making more, unemployment is declining, and the cost of living continues to rise, workers are left holding the bagThis year’s Chris...
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Many former Toys 'R' Us employees to get severance pay after all

Two hedge funds put up $20 million for severance fund

The holidays can be a particularly grim time to lose your job and get no severance pay. Just ask the employees of bankrupt toy retailer Toys 'R' Us.

But now, KKR and Bain Capital, two hedge funds that are liquidating the company, have had a change of mind and are establishing a $20 million fund to pay many of the employees who have lost their jobs.

Under bankruptcy law, the owners of Toys 'R' Us assets are not required to offer severance packages. Their decision, announced in a joint statement, follows growing public pressure from former employees and members of Congress.

TRU Financial Assistance Fund

The two companies are establishing the TRU Financial Assistance Fund they say will pay "certain" former Toys 'R' Us employees who lost their jobs as a result of the liquidation. KKR and Bain Capital are each putting up $10 million.

They have retained the services of  Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, whose experience in administering these types of payments include the 9/11 Fund, BP Oil Spill Fund, GM Ignition Switch Compensation Fund, OneFund Boston, and the OneOrlando Fund.

“This is a valuable and important step designed to provide a degree of financial relief to eligible former employees of Toys 'R' Us," Feinberg said. "We are now disseminating a draft of the Protocol outlining the terms and conditions of eligibility so we can gauge employee reaction and comment.”

Worker input

Biros said the fund will be governed by a transparent, straightforward and simple process designed to offer financial relief. She said she expects affected Toys R Us employees to have input.

“KKR and Bain Capital's creation of this fund will bring real support to the thousands of dedicated Toys 'R' Us employees who lost their jobs," said Tracy Forbes, a former Toys 'R' Us manager at the company’s Chandler, Ariz., store. "We hope other firms will follow their lead and contribute.”

Money will be awarded to eligible employees based on hours worked, historic earnings, and tenure. To become eligible employees must have worked at Toys 'R' Us for at least a year and earned no more than $110,000 and no less than $5,000 per year.

In their joint statement, the two hedge funds said they had been Toys 'R' Us shareholders for 12 years and had advocated "for a very different outcome than what occurred." They said their voluntary move to establish the severance fund was a reaction to what they called "an extraordinary set of circumstances."

The holidays can be a particularly grim time to lose your job and get no severance pay. Just ask the employees of bankrupt toy retailer Toys 'R' Us.But...
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Offering advice to co-workers is best when asked

New research suggests keeping to yourself at work until called on for assistance

For most consumers, the office is where they spend a significant portion of the day. Interacting with co-workers can not only build friendships, but many believe it can help increase productivity in the workplace.

However, based on a new study conducted by researchers from Michigan State University, offering expertise or advice to co-workers may only prove to be beneficial when you’re asked for it.

“Right now, there’s a lot of stress on productivity in the workplace, and to be a real go-getter, and to help everyone around you,” said researcher Russell Johnson. “But, it’s not necessarily the best thing when you go out looking for problems and spending time trying to fix them.”

Proactive vs reactive help

To test the effects of helping in the workplace, Johnson and his team evaluated 54 employees across various industries for 10 days. The goal was to see how helping was perceived in the work environment, what effect it had on work, and whether there was a social impact.

Helping was broken down into two categories: proactive or reactive. Those offering proactive help went out of their way -- unasked -- to offer assistance or guidance. Those offering reactive help did the opposite; they waited until asked by a co-worker to offer help.

After studying the employees’ responses, Johnson found that proactive help isn’t as helpful as many intend it to be -- for both the helper and the recipient of the help. According to Johnson, employees that receive help unprovoked may start to question their self-esteem and not feel gratitude towards the co-worker that helped them. Proactive helpers may not be fully aware of what their co-worker really needs and may not feel as satisfied in the long-term.

“Being proactive can have toxic effects, especially on the helper,” Johnson explains. “They walk away receiving less gratitude from the person that they’re helping, causing them to feel less motivated at work the next day...As for the person receiving the unrequested help, they begin to question their own competency and feel a threat to their workplace autonomy.”

Johnson suggests that help in the workplace can be beneficial for both parties, as long as the help is requested first.

“As someone who wants to help, just sit back and do your own work,” Johnson said. “That’s when you’ll get the most bang for your buck.”

Johnson also notes that the exchange elicits the most positive reaction from both parties when the helper feels gratitude for having helped someone in need. Johnson believes that it’s never too soon to express gratitude for receiving help, as this can only increase the positive experience for the helper.

For most consumers, the office is where they spend a significant portion of the day. Interacting with co-workers can not only build friendships, but many b...
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Top Uber drivers to get free college tuition

UberPro is a program to encourage the best drivers to spend more time behind the wheel

To incentivize its drivers, Uber is offering a package of benefits, including free college tuition, to drivers who qualify for its new UberPro status.

The company says the new classification will reward drivers and help them excel on and off the road. To achieve UberPro status drivers must maintain a minimum 4.85-star rating and a low cancellation rate.

Drivers also earn points on every trip during fixed three-month periods and the points help them reach and maintain their elite status. That suggests the new program is a tool to persuade drivers to spend more time behind the wheel since racking up points will be key to earning and keeping benefits.

Once obtaining UberPro status a driver might get more rides since consumers using the Uber app will be able to see a driver's UberPro status when they request a ride.

Online degree from Arizona State

The big advantage of UberPro status is paid college tuition for online courses at Arizona State University, a benefit valued at more than $12,000 a year. A qualifying driver can enroll in more than 80 undergraduate degree programs, eight different English language courses tailored to their skill level, or get certified in entrepreneurship. The driver may also transfer the benefit to a spouse, child, or domestic partner.

Other benefits include up to 25 percent off standard car maintenance at 20,000 auto service shops around the country. UberPro drivers can also get up to 5 percent cash back at any gas station is they pay with the Uber Visa Debit Card. Additional benefits include faster airport pickups and free dent repair.

"Whether it’s higher earnings, discounts that help drivers get the most from their time on the road, or a fully-funded higher education that helps them and their families get ahead, we’re committed to helping our most committed partners make progress toward their goals一on and off the road," the company said in a press release.

Beta test

Uber says the new program will be limited to drivers in eight U.S. cities to start but will be rolled out to drivers in more cities in the months ahead.

The eight beta markets where the program will first be available are Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix, Orlando, Tampa, Denver, and New Jersey.

Uber drivers can find out more about UberPro in the drivers' app.

To incentivize its drivers, Uber is offering a package of benefits, including free college tuition, to drivers who qualify for its new UberPro status.T...
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Uber testing an on-demand staffing service

Uber Works lets companies recruit short-term workers

Uber is testing an on-demand staffing service called Uber Works, which would let companies recruit temporary workers for events or corporate functions, the Financial Times reports.

The new program -- which is currently being tested in Chicago, following a pilot in Los Angeles earlier this year -- would be the company’s first effort to tap into an industry other than transportation.

Although Uber hasn’t made any official statements about Uber Works, advertisements for the program suggest that the company is seeking candidates with a “strong interest in the on-demand labor space” able to be “on call when the product is busiest (often nights, weekends, and holidays)”.

Diversifying its offerings

In addition to ride-hailing, Uber currently offers freight hauling, food delivery, and electric scooters. The company’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, has said Uber plans to go public next year. The effort to expand beyond transportation is likely part of a larger goal to attract investors as the company prepares for its initial public offering.

"Uber Works could help to persuade potential investors in next year's IPO that Uber is more than just a transportation service, instead pitching it as a broader platform for all kinds of flexible work and on-demand services,” the Financial Times said.

If launched in markets beyond Chicago, Uber Works could also help Uber’s current employees make money when demand for rides is lower than usual. However, sources say the new program is primarily aimed at people who aren't currently drivers with Uber.

Uber is testing an on-demand staffing service called Uber Works, which would let companies recruit temporary workers for events or corporate functions, the...
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Americans still juggling multiple jobs in strong market

Moderate wage gains and shifts in economy are keeping the trend in place, economists say

Despite a strong labor market, a sizable share of Americans -- 5.1 percent (or 7.9 million people) -- held down multiple jobs in August, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The publication cited “disappointingly moderate” worker pay gains and employers being slow to increase hours and benefits as primary reasons why many U.S. workers are forced to hold multiple jobs. The trend has surfaced despite the unemployment rate having hit an almost five-decade low of 3.9 percent.

Ryan Sweet, head of monetary policy research at Moody’s Analytics, told Bloomberg that millennials may find the notion of having multiple jobs “more appealing,” since this cohort tends to prefer having control over their time. Other younger consumers may be taking on additional work as a way to keep up with the cost of living, as well as student-loan payments.

Gig economy

The gig economy could also be keeping the trend in place, as there are now a plethora of job options that can easily be paired with a day job, such as working for a ride-sharing company like Uber or Lyft.

“Economists point out that the data also reflect cross-currents including the gig economy, educated people opting for the challenge of doing more, or younger workers seeking variety and a work-life balance,” Bloomberg reported.

But while many are holding down multiple jobs that fit together to amount to roughly 40 hours per week, others are forced to take on additional work on top of their full-time work.

A recent ProLogistix survey of nearly 16,000 warehouse employees found that nearly half of warehouse workers have a second job in order to make ends meet; 40 percent of those who hold down another job work 31 hours or more at that second job in addition to their full-time work.

Martha Gimbel, director of economic research at jobs-website Indeed’s Hiring Lab, noted that the higher the education level, the greater the likelihood of having multiple jobs, including in professional and business services, finance, insurance or real-estate, which “goes against stereotypes.”

“The picture remains complex,” the authors of the report concluded. Sweet said the fact that the number of multiple job holders has remained around 5 percent since 2009 may suggest “something more structural” tied to a shift in the economy and demographics.

Despite a strong labor market, a sizable share of Americans -- 5.1 percent (or 7.9 million people) -- held down multiple jobs in August, according to a rep...
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California becomes first state to require women on corporate boards

Most corporate board members in California and elsewhere are men

People may disagree over whether corporations count as people, but there’s little debate that whatever they are, they tilt decidedly male.

In California, for instance, only 16 percent of people on corporate boards are women. Businesses that are based in the state with the fifth largest economy in the world are now going to have to prepare for some modest changes.

On Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law requiring publicly-traded companies whose primary offices are in California to have at least one woman on their board by the end of 2019.

That quota will go higher depending on how many board members a given company has. By 2021, companies with at least five directors will have to have two women and those with seven will have to have three women. Companies that don’t comply will be fined $100,000.

"Given all the special privileges that corporations have enjoyed for so long, it's high time corporate boards include the people who constitute more than half the 'persons' in America," Brown said when signing the law.

Providing more gender balance

State senators Hannah-Beth Jackson and Toni Atkins, who sponsored the bill, said they had tried to encourage corporations to bring on more women with voluntary measures back in 2013, but the gender imbalance has barely changed since then.

The legislation sparked a debate over whether requiring women leadership by law would be insulting and lead to ineffectual “token” positions.

“This is an incredibly emotional topic for both the corporations as well as for women,” venture capitalist Jillian Manus told the San Jose Mercury News. “On one hand, I think it’s an insult, and on the other it’s an advantage.”

The California Chamber of Commerce and associations that represent the restaurant industry, the construction industry, the police garage industry, grocery stores, and ambulance companies opposed the measure, claiming that mandates to bring more women on boards would hurt other diversity efforts.

“We are concerned that the mandate…. that focuses only on gender potentially elevates it as a priority over other aspects of diversity,” the groups said.  “Our companies are not focused on only one particular classification, but rather all classifications.”

But proponents noted that the #MeToo movement has exposed numerous companies and industries for allowing the abuse of female employees and other women. Jackson, the state senator, argued that it was “no coincidence” that disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein had no women on the board of his production company.

The new law will also affect Silicon Valley. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Susan Desmond-Hellmann are the only two women on the company’s nine-member board. Google and Apple have a respective 11 and eight people on their boards, but each only have two women.

People may disagree over whether corporations count as people, but there’s little debate that whatever they are, they tilt decidedly male.In California...
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Bosses get burned out from responding to work emails, study finds

Responding to too many messages can be disruptive and affect the entire office

A new study out of Michigan State University found that checking emails can have as many negative effects on bosses and managers as it does on employees.

The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, found that when managers feel overwhelmed they tend to stick to smaller tasks in an effort to feel more productive.

“Like most tools, email is useful but it can become disruptive and even damaging if used excessively or inappropriately,” said lead researcher Russell Johnson. “When managers are the ones trying to recover from email interruptions, they fail to meet their goals, they neglect manager responsibilities, and their subordinates don’t have the leadership behavior they need to thrive.”

Emails interrupt progress

Emails can interrupt a good portion of workers’ days; the researchers found that both employees and managers spend over an hour and a half per day recovering from email-related interruptions. As troublesome as this can be for everyone in the workplace, the findings suggest the effects could be worse for managers.

Johnson and his team came to their conclusions after evaluating surveys collected from a group two days a week for two weeks. The surveys had managers report on their frequency in engaging in leadership behaviors, frequency and demand of emails, initiation of leadership behaviors, and their perceived progress on core job duties.

Johnson noted that on days when the managers reported more email interruptions, they not only engaged in fewer leadership-related behaviors, but also had lower perceptions on their work-related progress. He suggests that the effects go beyond just the managers’ own work, but can filter out into their other employees.

“The moral of the story is that managers need to set aside specific times to check email,” Johnson said. “This puts the manager in control -- rather than reacting whenever a new message appears in the inbox, which wrestles control away from the manager.

“As we cite in the paper, findings from prior research suggest that it takes time for employees to transition between email and work tasks, so minimizing the number of times they have to make that transition is to their benefit.”

Increased anxiety

Previous studies have shown the effects that answering emails can have on employees -- both during the workday and during their commutes.

At the end of last month, a study out of the University of West England found that if employees were on the clock while checking/responding to emails during their commutes, it would likely “allow for more comfort and flexibility.”

Based on interviews with commuters, the researchers found that many workers appreciate their commuting time and use it to tie up loose ends, both before and after the work day. Additionally, many workers use their time commuting to transition roles -- for example, those with children will need to get them ready for school at home and may use their commute as time to prepare for their responsibilities at the office.

Additionally, a study from Virginia Tech found that just the thought of being expected to check emails during non-work hours caused workers to experience anxiety. There were 100 employees in the study who experienced negative effects from excessive email checking, and their spouses were also affected.

The research team hoped that the study would encourage employers to set clear boundaries where checking emails are concerned, as being upfront about expectations can help assuage anxiety in employees.

“If the nature of the job requires email availability, such expectations should be stated formally as part of job responsibilities,” said study co-author William Becker, a Virginia Tech associate professor of management in the Pamplin College of Business.

A new study out of Michigan State University found that checking emails can have as many negative effects on bosses and managers as it does on employees....
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Target to hire 120,000 seasonal workers for the holidays

The company will expand the number of employees dedicated to fulfilling online orders

Last year, Target caught the eyes of many job seekers when it announced that it would be hiring 100,000 temporary workers for the holiday season. This year, the retailer is raising the ante even higher.

On Thursday, company officials announced that they would be hiring on 120,000 seasonal workers this year, with a large amount of those positions going towards fulfilling online orders. The move will help Target manage what it expects to be a busy holiday season for foot traffic in stores and pick-up and drive-up services.

Target announced that it will be holding hiring events at its stores around the U.S. from October 12 through October 14.

Moving in on the toy market

Target’s decision to increase its workforce during the holidays follows a strong second quarter in which its online sales rose by over 40 percent. CEO Brian Cornell called the bump to online traffic “unprecedented.”

With the closing of Toys “R” Us, the spike comes at a good time. Company officials say that they’ll be looking to step in and snag as much of the toy market as it can when parents go to shop for their little ones this holiday season -- a plan shared by both Walmart and Amazon.

“We are investing in categories like toy and baby where we know we have this big opportunity ahead of us,” Cornell told CNBC in August. “We are going to make sure we are taking more than our fair share of that market share.”

The company plans to fill 7,500 positions at fulfillment and distribution centers, where seasonal workers will help unload and pack up orders. Positions in stores will primarily focus on restocking shelves and helping customers find items.

Last year, Target caught the eyes of many job seekers when it announced that it would be hiring 100,000 temporary workers for the holiday season. This year...
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Starbucks will let employees split their time at a nonprofit

Workers will be paid to spend half the week volunteering

Points Light -- a non-profit volunteering group -- has chosen 36 Starbucks Service Fellows in 13 cities to test out a new pilot program that will allow employees to spend half their workweek at a non-profit organization. The workers will spend six months working 20 hours a week at Starbucks and 20 hours a week at local non-profits.

The organizations involved are those that share Starbucks’ values. Employees will be working with organizations that help to support refugees, veterans and military families, and youth through protecting the environment, offering disaster relief, and eliminating hunger.

Virginia Tenpenny, vice president of Global Social Impact at Starbucks and the executive director of the Starbucks Foundation, believes the program will boost morale among employees. Because the program will be spread across stores, Tenpenny is hopeful that those who volunteer will spread the good word among their coworkers.

“Starbucks partners consistently share with us their passion for service both in and out of their stores,” Tenpenny said. “The Service Fellows program powers that passion through philanthropy and partnerships to have the greatest impact. Our Service Fellows program is an innovative approach that combines work, service, and partnerships, a model that will inform how we catalyze our partners and grantees to create enduring change in our communities.”

The program so far  

Points of Light launched the program last week and had 200 initial applicants. The Starbucks Foundation not only provides money for the nonprofits’ programs but also for Points of Light to pay the Starbucks’ employees for their time.

Tenpenny is hoping the program will be so successful that the company will be able to expand it to beyond just 36 people; there will reportedly be a new cohort selected for the fall of 2019. The fellows selected for this year are hourly Starbucks employees that are eligible for health benefits.

The Starbucks Foundation will also be taking recommendations from employees on where to allocate the funds. The Foundation will be donating $1.3 million in grants to several programs through its Opportunity for All initiative.

“I’ve always been very involved in community work and my store manager told me I could not miss this opportunity,” said Katharine Ospina, a Starbucks shift supervisor from Florida who will be working on hurricane preparedness and relief with HandsOn Broward. “I can already see the impact we’re going to make as we become more aware of the issues our communities are facing.”

Points Light -- a nonprofit volunteering group -- chose 36 Starbucks Service Fellows in 13 cities to test out a new pilot program that will allow employees...
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Compared to the rest of the world, America is way behind in paid time off

Millennials among the worst at taking advantage of vacation time

In an apples-to-apples comparison of paid time off, the United States trails the rest of the world by a vast margin. Truth is, the U.S. is the only major nation that doesn’t guarantee workers any paid vacation time.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a group focused on promoting policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world, found that employees in most countries are entitled to a minimum of 20 days off a year outside of public holidays, which ratchets that number up to 30-35 when they’re included.

The United Kingdom (UK) rules the roost in this department, with 37 total days of paid time off between the 28 days for annual leave and the 9 days for public holidays. France and Spain came in close behind by allowing 36 total days off, with Germany, Chili, and South Korea all doling out 30+ days a year to their workers. Another six notches down, at #12, is where you’ll find the U.S. earning the title of the “no vacation nation.”

“Relying on businesses to voluntarily provide paid leave just hasn’t worked. It’s a national embarrassment that 28 million Americans -- 1 in 4 private sector workers -- don’t get any paid vacation or paid holidays,” said John Schmitt, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and co-author of the Center’s on-going analysis of the subject.

The Center’s study also notes that a good number of foreign countries offer added time off for younger and older workers, shift workers, and those performing community service.

Vacation shame

According to research from Alamo Rent A Car, the bulk of working Millennials feel shamed for taking time off work. “Vacation shame” is an all too familiar feeling for nearly half of U.S. workers, but the Millennial demographic is the group most likely to harbor that feeling.

“We all want job security and don’t want to be seen as easily replaceable,” is the Millennials take, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

“We think we have to suffer through our burnout and ‘do our time.’ We tell ourselves that going to the tropics and sipping margaritas is not the responsible thing to do. That’s why colleagues planning vacations are met with the onslaught of snarky ‘must be nice’ comments.”

Productivity is a double-edged sword. Getting one’s job done is praiseworthy, but taking time off has shown to have positive benefits for both workers and their employers.

“Although it seems counter-intuitive, workers who use their vacation time are more productive and return from vacations more creative and with better ideas,” wrote Jenna Kressler in a post for Canada’s Occupational Safety Group.

662 million unused vacation days

According to a report by Project Time Off, American workers leave a considerable number of vacation days unused -- 662 million in fact.

The folks in Idaho top that list of most unused vacation, with 78 percent of workers passing up the chance to take their time off. Hoisting the banner of good work ethic, more than 30 percent of the Idahoan workers surveyed said they were concerned about showing “complete dedication to their job,” which dampened their desire to taking time away.

On the flip side, only 38 percent of Maine workers left vacation days on the table, with more than half of those surveyed revealing that their company encourages time off.

In an apples-to-apples comparison of paid time off, the United States trails the rest of the world by a vast margin. Truth is, the U.S. is the only major n...
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Your social media posts could torpedo your job application

A study shows 70 percent of employers look at applicants' accounts

Since the rise of social media in the last decade, job applicants have been advised to be circumspect in their posts, lest a prospective employer form an unfavorable opinion of them.

But do employers really look at a job applicant's musings on social media, and if so, how many? Yes they do, and a lot more than you think.

A new survey by employment site CareerBuilder finds that 70 percent of employers use social networking sites as part of the applicant screening process. Another 7 percent say they plan to make that part of the process.

That means almost anywhere you apply for a job, they're looking at what you've put on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Does it matter? You bet it does. More than half of the employers who were surveyed -- 57 percent -- said they found things online that caused them to reject an otherwise plausible job application. And 22 percent said they specifically scan an applicant's social media sites looking for a reason not to hire them.

What not to post

What sorts of things can get you in trouble? Basically, anything that might show you aren't a mature adult with good judgment.

The employers who found online content which caused them not to hire someone say the troublesome postings included inappropriate photos and videos, postings about getting drunk or using drugs, making racial slurs, and even admitting to criminal acts.

At the same time, the survey found that most social media posts may actually help your case with an employer. Hiring managers told CareerBuilder they are impressed when a social media poster shows creativity and professionalism and has good communication skills.

Oh, and a word to the wise. Just because you land the job doesn't mean you can go crazy on Instagram. Forty-eight percent of employers say they monitor social media accounts of current employees, with 10 percent doing it daily.

One-third of these employers say they have found material online that caused them to reprimand, and even fire, an employee.

Since the rise of social media in the last decade, job applicants have been advised to be circumspect in their posts, lest a prospective employer form an u...
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Missouri voters strike down right-to-work law

Voters in the state overwhelmingly voted to reject a measure that could have weakened labor union finances

On Tuesday, roughly 67 percent of Missouri residents voted against keeping a right-to-work law, which prohibits unions from requiring fees as a condition of employment.

The state’s right-to-work legislation was first passed and signed into law in 2017 by the state's Republican-controlled Legislature. Tuesday’s vote decided “whether the state should ban compulsory union fees in all private-sector workplaces,” according to the New York Times.

A petition to prevent the law from going into effect and force a public referendum garnered over 300,000 signatures. Opponents contend that these fees are necessary to protect workers’ rights.

“Unions powered an opposition effort that had spent more than $15 million as of late July, well over three times as much as various groups that support right-to-work,” according to the Associated Press. “Advertisements generally have focused on economics, with supporters claiming right-to-work would lead to more jobs and opponents claiming it would drive down wages."

‘Truly historic moment’

The result of the vote marked a major victory for the organized labor movement. It was described as a “truly historic moment” by Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the US.

"Tonight we celebrate, but tomorrow we're getting back to work. We're going to take this energy and momentum and build more power for working people across Missouri,” Louis said.

"The defeat of this poisonous anti-worker legislation is a victory for all workers across the country," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement. "The message sent by every single person who worked to defeat Prop. A is clear: When we see an opportunity to use our political voice to give workers a more level playing field, we will seize it with overwhelming passion and determination."

On Tuesday, roughly 67 percent of Missouri residents voted against keeping a right-to-work law, which prohibits unions from requiring fees as a condition o...
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Missouri to vote on right-to-work referendum

Labor unions are facing a major test in today’s primary election

With Missouri’s primary elections today, perhaps one of the biggest issues on the ballot is Proposition A, in which voters will have the chance to amend the state constitution and make Missouri a “right-to-work” state. The vote will decide “whether the state should ban compulsory union fees in all private-sector workplaces” according to the New York Times.

“The timing of this is essential,” said national AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler. “I think everyone wants to write the labor movement’s obituary, [but] it’s going to energize and activate us and show that we fight back.”

While a bill was passed and signed into law in 2017 that made Missouri a right-to-work state, thus prohibiting unions from requiring fees as a condition of employment, opponents received over 300,000 signatures on a petition preventing the law from going into effect. The law’s adversaries were adamant that a referendum decide the issue.

Missouri would become the 28th state to adopt right-to-work, should Proposition A pass in today’s election. While advocates of the law believe it will attract more business, labor unions argue that it will weaken the collective power of workers.

“Right now Missouri is missing out on opportunities for new jobs and new investments from companies that will only locate in right-to-work states,” said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri.

Impact of the vote

Back in June, the Supreme Court dealt a heavy blow to organized labor unions when it struck down an Illinois law that required non-union workers to pay “fair share fees” that go towards collective bargaining.

“It is hard to estimate how many billions dollars have been taken from non-members and transferred to public-sector unions in violation of the First Amendment,” Conservative Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. “Those unconstitutional executions cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely.”

In dissent of the decision, Justice Elena Kagan wrote, “The First Amendment was meant for better things. It was not meant to undermine but to protect democratic governance -- including over the role of public-sector unions.”

Following that decision, labor backers and opponents have turned their attentions towards Missouri. According to Politico, the AP reports that “even though union members comprise just 8.7 percent of Missouri’s workforce last year,” $20 million has been spent on the ballot initiative.

Last month, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) projected that roughly 60,000 fewer Missouri residents would be covered by a union contract should voters approve right-to-work. Based on EPI’s research, the average worker in a right-to-work state makes 3.1 percent less on an hourly basis than in states without such a law.

With Missouri’s primary elections today, perhaps one of the biggest issues on the ballot is Proposition A, in which voters will have the chance to amend th...
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New study shows many workers can expect a pay raise this year

Both existing employees and new hires can expect higher wages

According to a report released today from CareerBuilder, the midyear forecast is looking increasingly positive for workers. The report showed that 58 percent of employers are planning to give out raises by the end of 2018, with the pay raise increasing by five percent or more at 24 companies.

For new job seekers, 63 percent of employers plan to hire full-time workers in the second half of the year -- up from 60 percent at this time last year. Moreover, 45 percent of companies will be starting new hires off with higher salaries. Those hiring in the remaining months of 2018 will likely offer employees benefits like signing bonuses, free lunches, extra paid time off, and the ability to work remotely.

“Low unemployment and increasing skills gaps continue to plague employers who are struggling to fill roles at all levels within their organizations,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “Fifty percent of U.S. employers reported that it is taking them longer to fill jobs today compared to any other period of time -- a trend that is ultimately giving job seekers more leverage.”

“Employees are really owning the market and in a position to negotiate,” said Irina Novoselsky, CareerBuilder’s COO.

A look into the survey

The Harris Poll conducted the national surveys on behalf of CareerBuilder from June 21 through July 15, 2018. Responses were taken from 1,023 hiring managers and human resource managers and 1,014 full-time U.S. workers across industries in the private sector.

The survey also looked into the top fields that will be hiring in the second half of the year, which are as follows:

  • Customer service: 41 percent

  • Sales: 28 percent

  • Information Technology: 22 percent

  • Product Development: 16 percent

  • Business Development: 16 percent

According to a government report released today, the unemployment rate for July was at 3.9 percent. While this figure is positive for the economy, it means the pool of potential workers is shrinking. In order to attract and maintain employees, many companies will be offering several perks for new hires, including:

  • Casual dress code: 36 percent

  • Employee discounts: 31 percent

  • Ability to work remotely: 25 percent

  • Extra paid time off: 22 percent

  • Signing bonus: 21 percent

  • Free lunches: 14 percent

  • Gym memberships: 12 percent

  • Work from home Fridays: 10 percent

  • Daycare: 8 percent

“It’s really now about the whole package and not just about the salary,” Novoselsky said.

According to a report released today from CareerBuilder, the midyear forecast is looking increasingly positive for workers. The report showed that 58 perce...
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Court strikes a blow for California retail workers

Time spent opening and closing stores must be compensated

The California Supreme Court has ruled that the way in which nearly every retail store operates violates wage and hour laws.

In most businesses, employees who arrive on the job early to open the store, and those who stay a few minutes after they clock out to close the business are not compensated for those extra minutes on the job.

The California court, in a unanimous decision, has ruled that employees must be paid for that time. The case was brought by a shift supervisor at a Starbucks, who said he should be paid for the time spent after work closing the business and walking other employees to their cars.

Plaintiff Douglas Troester filed the original complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of himself and all non-managerial California Starbucks employees who performed store closing tasks from mid-2009 to October 2010.

Starbucks had the case moved to federal court and asked for a summary judgment, arguing Troester’s uncompensated time was so minimal that the company was not required to compensate him. A federal district court ruled in Starbucks' favor but Troester appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which asked the California Supreme Court to clarify state law before it proceeded with Troester's class action suit.

Can't be required to perform tasks without pay

"California law does, in short, make some allowances based on considerations of practicality and reasonableness," the court ruled. "It does not, however, permit an employer to require an employee to regularly work for nontrivial periods of time without providing compensation."

The court established that over the 17-month period of his employment, Troester’s unpaid time totaled approximately 12 hours and 50 minutes. At the then-applicable minimum wage of $8 per hour, this unpaid time added up to $102.67.

The effect of the ruling outside California isn't clear. However, it may cause some national retailers to reexamine their policies for employees who routinely open and close facilities and who are not compensated for that time.

National chains like Starbucks might be affected most. A Starbucks spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times the company is disappointed with the ruling and "will await further disposition of the case before the 9th Circuit as the appeal process continues.”

The California Supreme Court has ruled that the way in which nearly every retail store operates violates wage and hour laws.In most businesses, employe...
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Seven fast food chains to end ‘no poach’ deals

The practice will no longer keep low-wage workers restricted to one store

Seven major fast food chains have agreed to cease using employee contracts that include “no poach” clauses. The restaurants include: Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s, Jimmy Johns, Auntie Anne’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Cinnabon.

These deals often kept low-wage workers confined to specific franchise stores, without the freedom of mobility to accept higher-paying jobs at different stores. However, the provisions didn’t stop workers from switching franchises entirely. For example, workers at McDonald’s would be prohibited from switching between McDonald’s locations but could freely move from McDonald’s to Jimmy Johns.

Now, under a new agreement with Washington State, these clauses will be removed from contracts with these franchises. In addition to Washington, the seven chains involved will be enforcing the end of the no poach deals nationwide, as the clauses will not be added to new or renewed contracts.

“My goal is to eliminate these provisions in all fast-food contracts in my state,” said Bob Ferguson, Washington state’s attorney general.

The effects of the clause  

Because most fast food chains are independently owned and operated, no-poach provisions are typically buried within the contracts between the chains and the franchisees. Workers tend to not even know the limitations of these clauses until they look to switch jobs.

From the perspective of the franchise owner, the clause helps protect the time and money spent training new employees. However, under the clause, employees are often unable to explore new -- and potentially more lucrative -- opportunities.

Based on research from Princeton economists Alan Krueger and Orley Ashenfelter, no-poach clauses affect nearly 70,000 individual restaurants in the United States, which is more than a quarter of fast food stores.

“I’m pleased that the research that Professor Ashenfelter and I did has shined attention on this issue,” Professor Krueger said. “I hope that either through judicial action or legislation or voluntary decision by the franchise chains, that these noncompetitive practices are dropped.”

The professors research showed that the no-poach clauses mainly limit turnover and competition in fast food chains, while also keeping wages low.

Recent investigation

Though Washington has now banned the no-poach clause, attorneys general from 11 states are currently investigating the practice as it pertains to all fast food chains.

“Non-poach agreements unfairly limit the freedom of fast-food and other low-wage workers to seek promotions and earn a better living,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

The attorneys general will be investigating Arby’s, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Little Caesars, Panera Bread, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and Wendy’s. The states are demanding to see the franchises’ non-poaching provisions and other paperwork by August 6th.

Seven major fast food chains have agreed to cease using employee contracts that include “no poach” clauses. The restaurants include: Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., Mc...
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Uber has terminated its self-driving car operators in Pittsburgh

Nearly 100 workers are affected by the decision

Uber has laid off its self-driving car operators in Pittsburgh, as the company continues to work on fine-tuning its autonomous vehicle program.

The company informed close to 100 autonomous vehicle operators that they’d be losing their jobs, though it is encouraging those employees to apply for other positions within the company.

Vehicle operators typically monitor Uber’s self-driving cars, and though the position will no longer exist, the company will be replacing these jobs with 55 “mission specialists.” According to Quartz, the specialists will provide more technical feedback to self-driving car developers and train in both on-road and advanced test-track operations.

“Our team remains committed to building safe self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the coming months,” Uber said in a statement.

Recent troubles with self-driving vehicles

The decision to terminate these positions comes after a fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona where one of Uber’s autonomous vehicles struck and killed a woman. The car had a human driver but was in autonomous mode at the time of the accident.

Following the accident, Uber shut down its self-driving vehicle operations in Arizona. At the time of that decision, the company laid off 300 employees across the state and began to focus its attention on self-driving car operations in other cities -- San Francisco, Toronto, and Pittsburgh.

The move to shut things down in Pittsburgh is especially significant because it is not only where Uber’s Advanced Technology Group is headquartered, but it’s also where testing began in September 2016.

Uber’s Arizona facility was the company’s largest testing ground, and similar to Pittsburgh, vehicle operators were the most affected by the shutdown.

Uber has laid off its self-driving car operators in Pittsburgh, as the company continues to work on fine-tuning its autonomous vehicle program.The comp...
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Fast food franchises under investigation for limiting workers to a single store

Non-poach agreements can prevent longtime workers from getting promotions, labor groups say

Attorney generals from 11 states are investigating the fast food industry’s practice of barring employees from switching jobs within a franchise.

So-called “non-poach” clauses have been used by the fast food industry for years, preventing a worker at one McDonald’s in Florida, for instance, from even being considered for a better-paying job at a different McDonald’s.

While employers have claimed that non-poach or no-hire policies are necessary to retain the investment that they made in training and hiring new people, workers’ groups and attorneys say that workers typically aren’t even told of such policies until they try to apply for a better job within the same company.

Workers say that they instead find themselves trapped in the original store where they were hired, unable to move-up within the company or change locations.

‘‘Non-poach agreements unfairly limit the freedom of fast-food and other low-wage workers to seek promotions and earn a better living,’ Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who is leading the probe, said in a statement.

Barring promotions and upward mobility

The attorney generals announced on Monday that they would be investigating eight fast-food chains -- Arby’s, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Little Caesars, Panera Bread, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and Wendy’s. The states are demanding to see the companies’ non-poaching provisions and other paperwork by August 6.

The use of non-poach agreements is extremely common, with more than half of major franchises now requiring them of workers. Looking strictly at the fast food industry, that figure reaches 80 percent, according to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

While such agreements may prevent upward mobility within a single company, some industries have tried to take the practice a step further.

Several years ago, Jimmy John’s was forced to eliminate a contract provision that banned former workers from taking jobs from any business considered to be a competitor of the chain. But the company ditched the non-compete agreement for departing workers after New York’s then-Attorney General publicly warned that he considered the practice to be illegal.

It’s not just fast food or retail workers that may find themselves limited by anti-competitive agreements. One survey conducted by economic researchers in 2014 found that one in five employees in the entire country was bound by non-compete clauses. And employment lawyers say that lawsuits related to workers who didn’t honor their non-compete clauses have tripled since 2000.

“Companies of all sorts use them for people at all levels,” an employment attorney told the New York Times last year.

Attorney generals from 11 states are investigating the fast food industry’s practice of barring employees from switching jobs within a franchise.So-cal...
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Supreme Court ruling deals major blow to unions

Non-union employees will no longer be required to pay towards collective bargaining

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down an Illinois law that required non-union workers to pay fees that go towards collective bargaining. The decision has massive implications on the financial structure of public sector unions and could be devastating to their future outlook.

Conservative Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority in the 5-4 decision.

“It is hard to estimate how many billions of dollars have been taken from non-members and transferred to public-sector unions in violation of the First Amendment,” Alito wrote. “Those unconstitutional executions cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely.”

“The First Amendment was meant for better things,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote, in dissent of the decision. “It was not meant to undermine but to protect democratic governance -- including over the role of public-sector unions.”

Ramifications for unions

Those in favor of the decision believe that non-union members shouldn’t be responsible for paying a share of union dues that cover the cost of negotiating contracts. However, union members have previously reported that this exact outcome would cut off an income source, as well as diminish their political influence in the 23 states where they advocate for both members and non-members.

Nearly half of all union members in the United States are government employees, and a recent non-partisan study found that a Supreme Court defeat would eventually cause public employee unions to lose 726,000 members -- which would be a significant blow.

While Alito noted that unions could “experience unpleasant transition costs in the short term,” he believes labor’s problems aren’t as serious as “the considerable windfall that unions have received...for the past 41 years.”

Despite being in the minority, Justice Kagan continued to reinforce the implications this decision will have moving forward.

“There’s no sugarcoating today’s decision,” Kagan wrote. “The majority overthrows a decision entrenched in this Nation’s law -- and its economic life -- for over 40 years. As a result, it prevents the American people, acting through their state and local officials, from making important choices about workplace governance. And it does so by weaponizing the First Amendment, in a way that unleashes judges, now and in the future, to intervene in economic and regulatory policy.”

History in the case

The debate surrounding the case stems from the decision in the 1977 Supreme Court case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. That ruling decided that non-members of public sector unions cannot be required to pay fees for a union’s political activities, but they can be required to pay “fair share” fees that go towards employee grievances, physical safety, and training.

The current case began with a lawsuit against an Illinois public sector union filed by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

Two years ago, the court was locked in a 4-4 standstill on this same issue when it was presented by a group of California teachers who were opposed to paying the fees. Since then, Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the court and provided the fifth vote to end the fees.

“By requiring unions to represent everyone in a collective bargaining unit without ensuring fair contributions for that representation, unions will be forced to do more with much less -- to the detriment of those they represent,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-California). “The decision today is the latest blow in a decades-long, nationwide effort by conservatives to bust unions that advocate for workers and protect them from employer abuses.”

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down an Illinois law that required non-union workers to pay fees that go towards collective bargaining. The decision...
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Employers complain of growing 'talent shortage'

Positions such as electricians, welders, and drivers are going unfilled

With the unemployment rate hovering just above record lows, employers are complaining that they can't find the talent they need to fill existing jobs.

But if you spent four years and tens of thousands of dollars getting a college degree, you might not be the workers employers are looking for.

The latest talent shortage survey from the ManpowerGroup found the most difficult slots for employers to fill are skilled workers, with the shortage at the worst it's been in 12 years.

In particular, employers said skilled workers -- such as electricians, welders, and mechanics -- are hard to find. They also said many positions as salesmen and drivers are going unfilled.

College degree not necessary

Many of the jobs that 46 percent of employers say they can't fill require training, but not a four-year college degree.

"We continue to see increasing demand for skilled workers across all sectors of the U.S. economy from transport and trade to manufacturing and sales," said Becky Frankiewicz, President of ManpowerGroup North America. "Employers cannot find the people they need with the right blend of technical skills and human strengths and the problem won't fix itself.”

To fill the gap, the survey found employers are luring retired workers back to their old jobs and recruiting returning parents and part-timers.

More than half of the companies in the survey said they are investing in learning platforms and development tools to build their talent pipeline. To make their open positions more attractive, 19 percent of employers are offering flexible work arrangements and other modifications to the jobs.

Increasing salary

Pay is also improving for many of these positions. According to U.S. News and World Report, the median salary for an electrician in the U.S. was $52,720 in 2016. Electricians are licensed by the states in which they operate after completing a training course. Most require a high school diploma but not an expensive college education.

“It's time for a new approach to attract, recruit and retain talent,” Frankiewicz said. “Employers need to buy skills where necessary, borrow from external sources and help people with adjacent skills bridge from one role to another.”

In other words, employers may have to build their own talent pool because the education system isn't providing it.

As we reported earlier this month, many college graduates struggle to find jobs, even in this tight labor market. Research conducted for the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows the average college graduate who does not leave school with a job will spend 7.4 months looking for one.

While jobseekers can focus on jobs where a talent shortage exists, the ManpowerGroup urges employers to develop more training programs to cultivate talent, both inside and outside the organization.

With the unemployment rate hovering just above record lows, employers are complaining that they can't find the talent they need to fill existing jobs.B...
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The gig economy may not be as widespread as expected

A recent report identified only 10 percent of Americans are gig workers

On Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released it’s first in-depth look at non-traditional work in the United States since 2005. It found that traditional jobs still reign supreme.

For years, Americans have taken advantage of the rise of freelance work and the perks that come along with it -- such as a flexible schedule. This caused policymakers to worry that the traditional workplace, and the associated benefits, would disappear. Proponents and critics have continued to argue over the merits of this “gig economy,” despite an apparent lack of data.

Based on the survey’s results, only around 10 percent of Americans in 2017 were employed by what the government calls “alternative working arrangements.” This revised number is actually a decline from 2005, when 11 percent of workers worked in an occupation that’s part of the gig economy.

“I think everybody’s narrative got blown up,” said Michael R. Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

A look inside the survey

Despite what appears to be a drop off in alternative working arrangements, Strain noted various factors the survey didn’t take into consideration.

For starters, the government’s numbers don’t include people who do gig or freelance work to supplement traditional work. The survey also doesn’t consider those who participate in income-generating endeavors, such as renting their homes on Airbnb, which wouldn’t necessarily be considered work.

A survey done by the Federal Reserve in late May found that nearly one-third of Americans are performing some kind of gig work, either exclusively or in addition to traditional work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ survey also didn’t factor in companies that subcontract work to employees. In those cases, those employees aren’t considered to be alternative workers, but they do earn less and receive smaller benefits.

“The questions on our standard surveys don’t probe into the nature of these arrangements,” said Katherine G. Abraham, a University of Maryland economist who served as commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics under Bill Clinton. “We’re not asking the right questions, and they’re hard to answer anyway.”

Abraham noted many employees tend to struggle to classify the work they do. She said that some Uber drivers might consider themselves employees of the company itself, though they are legally identified as independent contractors. However, she also mentioned that if alternative work was really on the rise, it would’ve shown up in this latest survey.

“The fact that our last data point on this was in 2005 makes it so hard to figure out what’s going on,” said Martha Gimbel, director of economic research for Indeed. “Measurement is important, and this is why it’s important to fund data analysis.”

The gig economy in recent news

Despite this latest survey finding a slight decline in alternative workers, a 2016 report from the Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) found that employers spent $729 billion on contract workers in 2015, with 29 percent of all U.S. workers performing some kind of gig work that year.

Betterment -- a financial services company -- released a survey in May that showed how the gig economy could potentially change the look of retirement for many people.

Sixteen percent of survey participants said they would continue in the gig economy after a traditional retirement age. Additionally, many of these individuals find that working in the gig economy is a good way to supplement their income to save for retirement.

“One in five full-time giggers say they’ll continue to pick up incremental work as their main source of income following retirement,” the authors of the survey wrote. “Twelve percent of side-hustlers will keep a side job as their main source of income after retiring from their traditional nine-to-five.”

Also this May, Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Mark Pocan proposed legislation that they say would strengthen the middle class by severely limiting the gig economy. The lawmakers’ goal is to “restore workers’ rights to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions.”

As of right now, the bill is simply an idea for the future; it has garnered much support from various labor unions, but it is opposed by many Republicans.

On Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released it’s first in-depth look at non-traditional work in the United States since 2005. It found that tradit...
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Upcoming meetings and appointments negatively affect productivity, study finds

Researchers say workers are less likely to accomplish tasks in between scheduled events

For many consumers, a typical work day can involve several meetings that keep them moving all day long. But is the time in between those appointments being wasted?

Researchers from Ohio State University say that may be the case. In a recent analysis of several studies, they found that most people do not make full use of free time leading up to a bigger task. As a result, they say that many people feel that this transition period feels shorter and not as revitalizing.

“We seem to take a mental tax out of our time right before an appointment,” said study co-author Selin Malkoc. “We figure something might come up, we might need some extra time, even when there’s no need to do that. As a result, we do less with the available time.”

Factoring in preparation time

The researchers’ conclusions are drawn from several different studies that gauged how much time people thought they needed to prepare for a given task.

In one case, participants were asked to take part in either a 30-minute or 45-minute study before an appointment that was an hour away. Those who selected 30-minute period were paid a compensatory fee of $2.50, while those who chose the 45-minute period were paid $5.00.

Despite the 15-30 minute buffer period, the researchers say that the participants were far more likely to choose the 30-minute study period to give themselves extra wiggle room before their other appointment.

“It was clear they would have plenty of time to finish and have extra time before their next appointment, but they still were more likely to choose the 30-minute study – even when they had clear financial incentive to choose the longer study,” said Malkoc.

Increased productivity

In another study involving college students, the researchers found that participants also tended to accomplish more when they didn’t have another task to worry about.

During the experiment, a researcher told two different groups of students one of the following: (1) that they had a task coming up soon and had about five minutes before they could get started; or (2) that they simply had five minutes of free time to do what they wanted.

The results showed that the second group tended to complete more tasks during their five-minute period (such as sending a text message, responding to an email, or visiting a social media site) than members in the first group.

“You don’t feel like you can get as much done when you have a task coming up soon. The time seems shorter,” said Malkoc.

Smarter way of scheduling work days

The researchers say their findings could provide insights for companies on how to schedule work days to get the most out of their employees. Malkoc suggests that managers and senior staff stack meetings together to give workers longer, uninterrupted times when they may feel more motivated to tackle bigger projects.

Additionally, she says that it’s important for companies to recognize how much time during the work day employees have to accomplish tasks and adjust accordingly.

“We feel that if we have a meeting in two hours, we shouldn’t work on any big projects. So we may spend time just answering emails or doing things that aren’t as productive,” she said. “We seem to overestimate the things that might happen to take up our time, so we don’t get things done.”

The full study has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

For many consumers, a typical work day can involve several meetings that keep them moving all day long. But is the time in between those appointments being...
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San Francisco subpoenas Uber, Lyft

The city is seeking evidence on whether the companies are properly classifying employees

On Tuesday, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent subpoenas to Uber and Lyft demanding that the companies provide records of how drivers are classified, as well as records on driver pay and benefits.

Herrera wants to make sure the ride-hailing companies are honoring a California Supreme Court ruling which requires that companies prove that their drivers are lawfully classified as independent contractors or, if they don’t meet that criteria, are being provided with appropriate benefits, such as minimum wage, sick leave, health care, and paid parental leave.

"San Francisco's laws help ensure that employers provide a fair day's wage for a fair day's work," Herrera said in a statement. "We are not going to turn a blind eye if companies in San Francisco deny workers their pay and benefits."

Documentation requested

The subpoenas seek a complete list of drivers who began or ended at least one ride in San Francisco from 2015 onward, as well as documentation on their hours, wages, health care payments, and other benefits they received. The city is also seeking documentation showing how the companies classify the employment status of those drivers.

Because Uber and Lyft drivers are classified as independent contractors, the majority don’t get paid time off and have to pay for expenses such as gas and car maintenance. Treating drivers as contractors allows the companies to avoid paying for costs such as benefits, overtime, and insurance.

However, a decision made last month by the California Supreme Court makes it harder for employers to classify their workers as independent contractors. In order to do so, businesses must now prove that the worker is not under their direct control, does not perform a core function of their business, and engages in “an independently established trade, occupation, or business.”

A new definition of “employee”

Herrera says that California is reshaping how the term “employee” is defined, and that regulators will ensure that companies like Uber and Lyft provide eligible workers with necessary benefits.

“We don’t know whether these ride-hailing companies are breaking the law until they provide the information we seek in these subpoenas. We are going to ensure that these companies comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling and with San Francisco’s laws,” Herrera said.

“We are going to ensure that these companies pay their drivers what they’ve earned."

On Tuesday, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent subpoenas to Uber and Lyft demanding that the companies provide records of how drivers are clas...
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Democrats' bill would severely limit the 'gig economy'

The proposal would impose stiff requirements to classify workers as independent contractors

Congressional Democrats have proposed legislation to update labor laws, making it more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contractors.

It follows last week's California Supreme Court ruling that tightened standards at the state level when it comes to deciding whether a worker is an employee, who is entitled to benefits and protections under the law.

Independent contractors proliferated in the aftermath of the Great Recession, when companies laid off millions of workers but then found they still needed some of their services. It led to creation of the so-called “gig economy,” where workers were hired as independent contractors for periodic work.

As the economy recovered, many of these “gig” workers found themselves working full time but without employee benefits, which saved the employer money.

Stiff test

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) are proposing legislation they say would strengthen the middle class by severely limiting the gig economy, requiring employers to meet a stiff test in their classification of workers.

The two lawmakers say their goal is “restoring workers' rights to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions.” The bill has the support of most labor unions.

“We must no longer tolerate CEOs and managers who intimidate, threaten or fire pro-union workers, who threaten to move plants to China if their workers vote in favor of a union, and who refuse to negotiate a first contract with workers who have voted to join unions,” Sanders said. “If we are serious about reducing income and wealth inequality and rebuilding the middle class, we have got to substantially increase the number of union jobs in this country.”

Follows California's lead

The measure would impose many of the same tests for worker classification as set forth last week by the California court. The justices ruled that an employer can only classify a worker as an independent contractor if they are doing work “outside the usual course” of work done by the company.

The Sanders-Pocan measure would go farther, making it easier to form unions and banning state right-to-work laws that prevent unions from collecting fees from all employees, whether they belong to the union or not.

At the moment, the measure is simply an idea for the future. Republicans are unenthusiastic, so it would require Democrats gaining control of both houses of Congress this fall, and capturing the White House in 2020, for the bill to become law.

Congressional Democrats have proposed legislation to update labor laws, making it more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contracto...
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Court ruling could affect whether workers are employees or contractors

California justices hold employers to a strict standard

The California Supreme Court has raised the bar for companies classifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees.

The decision, in a case against Dynamex Operations West, could have far-reaching consequences for companies like Uber and Lyft, but also for millions of workers.

The decision broke little new ground, but it served notice to businesses that they would have to strictly meet the standards that separate an employee from an independent contractor. To be an independent contractor, a worker must be free from the company's control and direction in the way they perform a task.

As an example, the court said a company hiring a plumber to repair a leak is hiring an independent contractor. But hiring a seamstress who works at home is hiring an employee.

"Significant risk"

"Although in some circumstances classification as an independent contractor may be advantageous to workers as well as to businesses, the risk that workers who should be treated as employees may be improperly misclassified as independent contractors is significant in light of the potentially substantial economic incentives that a business may have in mischaracterizing some workers as independent contractors," the justices wrote.

For example, employees pay half of their Social Security/Medicare tax while the employer pays the other half. If the worker is classified as an independent contract, the contractor pays the full amount. There are other costs associated with employees that a business doesn't face when the work is performed by an independent contractor.

The court held that the businesses that misclassify employees as contractors gain an unfair competitive advantage over competitors that strictly follow the rules.

Threatens the gig economy

The ruling threatens to send shock waves through the so-called "gig economy," which grew in the years following the Great Recession. Businesses that were forced to lay off thousands of employees were slow to rehire, finding they could fill needs with temporary workers and independent contractors, who performed jobs for more than one company.

Ridesharing apps Uber and Lyft adopted that model, with drivers using their own vehicles and setting their own hours. It remains to be seen exactly how the court ruling affects these companies and their drivers. Legal experts agree, however, that businesses must be able to prove that an independent contractor is actually running his or her own business.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has noted that telling an employee from an independent contractor is not always easy, saying it often depends on the facts in each case. In the case the California court decided, Dynamex Operations West had previously classified its drivers as employees, but it changed them to independent contractors in 2004 without changing their duties.

"The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done," the agency says on its website.

The IRS says the critical factor is whether the employer "has the legal right to control of how the services are performed."

The California Supreme Court has raised the bar for companies classifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees.The decision, in a ca...
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These are the states with the highest levels of income inequality

Income inequality increased all over the map since 2010, according to recent data

A recent analysis from career website Zippia suggests income inequality increased in all 50 states between 2010 and 2016, despite some people’s efforts to stop it.

The report, which drew its findings from the U.S. Census’s American Community Survey, found that income inequality is worsening at a faster rate in Montana than in any other state.

Between 2010 and 2016, the state’s Gini coefficient (a statistical measure of income inequality) jumped 2.2 points. The next-largest increase in income inequality over the same timeframe took place in California (up 1.9 points), followed by Rhode Island, and Maine (up 1.8 points each).

States with the highest income inequality

Although the rate of income inequality is growing fastest in Montana, income inequality isn’t currently as prevalent there as it is in other states.

New York claimed the dubious distinction of having the highest level of income inequality, followed by Connecticut and Louisiana. Alaska had the lowest levels of inequality between high and low earners.

Wyoming and South Dakota had the smallest changes in income inequality between 2010 and 2016, according to the report.

Here are the top ten states where income inequality is highest:

  1. New York

  2. Connecticut

  3. Louisiana

  4. California

  5. Florida

  6. Massachusetts

  7. Georgia

  8. Texas

  9. Mississippi

  10. Illinois

The complete ranking can be viewed here.

A recent analysis from career website Zippia suggests income inequality increased in all 50 states between 2010 and 2016, despite some people’s efforts to...
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Research says many ride-sharing drivers make below minimum wage

Uber calls the MIT research 'deeply flawed'

A story going viral this week tells the unhappy tale of a man visiting West Virginia who had too much to drink and hailed an Uber to take him back to his hotel. But instead of arrivng there, he was driven to his home in New Jersey, costing him more than $1,600.

But most fares aren't nearly that high, and a new study from MIT shows most drivers don't do nearly that well on a single fare. In fact, the researchers found people who drive for ride-hailing services earn a profit of $3.37 an hour before taxes, well below the minimum wage.

Researchers Stephen M. Zoepf, Stella Chen, Paa Adu, and Gonzalo Pozo performed a detailed analysis of Uber and Lyft ride-hailing driver economics by pairing results from a survey of over 1,100 drivers with detailed vehicle cost information.

Focusing on the hours worked, they determined that the median profit from driving is $3.37 per hour before taxes, and 74 percent of drivers earn less than the minimum wage in their state. Nearly a third of drivers actually lose money once vehicle expenses are included.

"On a per-mile basis, median gross driver revenue is $0.59/mile, but vehicle operating expenses reduce real driver profit to a median of $0.29/mile," the authors write. "For tax purposes the $0.54/mile standard mileage deduction in 2016 means that nearly half of drivers can declare a loss on their taxes."

A spokesman for Uber issued a statement calling the research "attention grabbing" but "deeply flawed," and said the company had tried to contact the researchers to express its concerns and suggest ways to refine their approach.

Standard feature of the gig economy

Working for a ride-hailing service has become a standard feature of the gig economy as many people look to it as a flexible way to supplement their income.

But the researchers point out these drivers face uncertain customer demand and must pay for the maintenance and upkeep of their vehicles. The research projects that the turnover in ride-hailing drivers is between 50 and 96 percent per year.

The median driver in the survey generated $0.59 per mile of driving while incurring costs of $0.30 per mile. As a result, 30 percent of drivers had expenses that exceeded their revenue, losing money for every mile they drove.

Ride-hailing without a driver

It may comes as no surprise that established ride-hailing companies, and companies planning to enter the business, are looking to driverless cars as a business model for the future. Uber is testing driverless cars in Arizona and in Pittsburgh and has reported few problems.

And as we reported last week, Nissan plans to not only make autonomous cars, but operate them in a ride-sharing business model. The Japanese automaker is said to be “preparing for a future in which self-driving cars are anticipated to curb vehicle ownership.”

A Reuters report said Nissan is developing and testing a service it calls Easy Ride, which uses ride-hailing software to control its fleet of self-driving cars and put it in the same business as Uber and Lyft.

A story going viral this week tells the unhappy tale of a man visiting West Virginia who had too much to drink and hailed an Uber to take him back to his h...
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Facebook expands its Jobs listing tool

Consumers from more than 40 countries can now use it to find local jobs

Facebook has announced that it’s expanding the Jobs section of its site to 40 more countries, including Brazil, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

The tool, which was first rolled out last year in the United States and Canada, allows job seekers to hunt for available positions in their local area and apply for jobs directly from Facebook.

“One in four people in the US have searched for or found a job using Facebook,” said Facebook’s VP of Local Alex Himel in a statement. “But 40% of US small businesses report that filling jobs was more difficult than they expected. We think Facebook can play a part in closing this gap.”

Competing with LinkedIn

Job posts appear in several locations on the site, including business pages, Marketplace, and in News Feed. Users can filter job listings by local jobs, job categories, and job type. Businesses can post open positions, manage applications, and schedule interviews.  

Facebook says it won’t show potential employers any information on a user’s profile other than what has been made public by the user.

While LinkedIn connects people with larger employers that require skilled or highly skilled labor, Facebook says its  Jobs section can help fill medium- or low-skill local job positions.

"Local businesses strengthen our communities and create more than 60% of new jobs. We want to help people find those jobs and help local businesses hire the right people," Himel said.

Facebook has already helped many local business owners fill jobs, the company noted.

“Troy, the owner of Striper Sniper Tackle in North Carolina had trouble finding people with the specific skills he needed until he posted the job on his Facebook Page. He received 27 applications immediately, and hired 10 people,” Facebook wrote.

Facebook has announced that it’s expanding the Jobs section of its site to 40 more countries, including Brazil, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain....
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Young women are still struggling to get jobs

New analysis finds Millennial women have yet to recover from the Great Recession

In the wake of the Great Recession, Millennial women seem to be having a particularly tough time finding jobs. Although it’s been a decade since the start of the Recession, many young women are still feeling its effects.

According to a new analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), many young women (especially those ages 25 to 34), are experiencing unemployment at higher rates than in 2007.

"While the overall unemployment rate for American workers is now lower than it was just prior to the Great Recession, Millennial women, especially Millennial women of color, have still not fully recovered from the recession," said IWPR Senior Research Scientist Dr. Chandra Childers.

Skill development paused

The analysis found that young Black women’s unemployment rates were higher in 2016 than young White women’s unemployment rates were at their peak in 2010 (8.8 percent compared to 7.7 percent).

"These are women who were just entering the workforce or early in their careers when the recession hit, and the ensuing high unemployment paused the development of their skills and work experience,” Childers said.

A separate report, titled “The lost generation: recession graduates and labor market slack,” says Millennials in general are struggling to get jobs.

Effects longer lasting than average

"Data on youth unemployment rates show a sharp rise during and after the 2008-09 recession – both on an absolute and relative basis," wrote Spencer Hill, economist at Goldman Sachs.

Currently, Millennial unemployment rates stand at more than double the national average (12.7 percent compared to 5 percent as of September 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

"While youth underperformance is typical of recessions, the effects of the most recent downturn appeared larger and more long-lasting than average," Hill added.

Reasons for the trend

In addition to stalled development of job-related skills, the trend may be driven by the generation’s high expectations for the type of job they hope to land. Millennials tend to look for “dream jobs” that afford them work-life balance, with flexibility, breaks and time to focus on personal development. 

Statistics support the idea that Millennials are an overconfident bunch. But for those lacking experience, this quality may shrink the pool of potential jobs. It could also make the idea of continuing to live with mom and dad sound like a more appealing option than trudging onward with the job search.

The high price of a college education might also be making it more difficult for Millennials to enter the job market. On the heels of the 2008 economic crash, Millennials may find it more difficult than ever to scrape together the funds to obtain a college degree and find an entry point into the job market.

In the wake of the Great Recession, Millennial women seem to be having a particularly tough time finding jobs. Although it’s been a decade since the start...
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Study predicts significant future job growth

But many of those new jobs may be at the lower end of the pay scale

Today's college students can look forward to healthy job prospects when they are ready to enter the job market, according to a new study by CareerBuilder.com.

But not surprisingly, some sectors of the economy will see rapid growth while others may actually lose ground.

The analysis predicts more than 8 million new jobs will be created over the next five years while just 302,000 will be eliminated. Broken down by pay levels, the numbers suggest all levels will see job growth over that time but that middle-wage workers will get the least benefit. That sector should see the largest job loss and smallest job creation.

"Middle-wage workers are at the greatest risk for displacement especially as rapid advancements in technology reshape labor requirements," said Matt Ferguson, CareerBuilder's CEO. "Their only choices are adopting new skills for a higher-paying job, being underemployed in a lower-skill job or leaving the workforce altogether."

Significant economic challenges

Those latter options, says Ferguson, present significant economic challenges. To overcome them, he suggests increased efforts to help affected workers gain new skills.

Among the study's key findings, STEM-related jobs will grow fastest while jobs in the manufacturing and construction trades will continue to decline. The biggest growth in employment will be in jobs that pay low wages. Around half of the jobs that disappear over the next five years will be middle-wage jobs.

Jobs in health care may also continue to increase. The study projects demand for personal care aides will increase 16%, paying an average of $10.89 an hour. Home health aid positions are also projected to grow 16%, paying about the same.

Tech jobs will also expand, according to the study, with increased demand for web developers, computer systems analysts, and software developers. Endangered jobs include switchboard operators, printing press operators, bank tellers, and sewing machine operators.

Today's college students can look forward to healthy job prospects when they are ready to enter the job market, according to a new study by CareerBuilder.c...
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The job market looks strong for the rest of the year

Survey shows 60% of employers plan to hire full-time employees

There's good news for people looking for a job, or hoping to change jobs.

Last week's release of the June employment report showed strong job creation, and a survey by employment site CareerBuilder suggests that trend will carry through the rest of the year.

The survey found 60% of companies plan to hire full-time, permanent employees in the second half of 2017, a double-digit increase from last year.

Thirty-six percent of companies said they plan to hire permanent part-time employees between now and the end of the year, while 42% revealed plans to hire temporary, or contract employees. In all three categories, hiring is expected to increase over last year.

Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, says the hyper-partisan political atmosphere may be having a polarizing effect, but it hasn't distracted businesses from their growth plans. He says it's good news if you're looking for a job.

"Job seekers stand to benefit not only from having more options, but also from the growing intensity in the competition for talent,” Ferguson said. “Employers are moving quickly to recruit candidates and they are willing to pay more across job levels.”

There's greater competition for talent

How much more? If you're a job seeker, Ferguson says you don't need to be shy when discussing salary. Among a group of hiring managers spotlighted in the survey, 72% said they believe it will be necessary to pay higher wages to attract the right talent – even for entry-level employees.

Not surprisingly, information technology (IT) is the area where expected hiring is the greatest. But manufacturing, healthcare, and financial service jobs are also expected to be plentiful.

Areas where employers say they plan to take on additional personnel include skilled trades, software as a service, cybersecurity, sales, talent management, managing and interpreting Big Data, social marketing, and e-commerce.

In terms of geographic breakdown, more than 50% of all companies in each region of the country plan to add personnel between now and the end of the year, but the West leads the country with 67%.

There's good news for people looking for a job, or hoping to change jobs.Last week's release of the June employment report showed strong job creation,...
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City of Memphis makes student loan help an employee benefit

Becomes the first city governrment to offer loan repayment as a perk

If you need a job and some help paying down your student loan debt, you might consider sending your resume to the City of Memphis.

The city government has announced a new Student Loan Reduction Program that will help eligible employees reduce their student loan burden. The program goes into effect July 1, making Memphis the first city in the nation to provide this benefit, according to Tuition.io, which will administer the plan.

"As the first major American city to embrace student loan assistance, Memphis is proving itself to be a leader in understanding and catering to the needs of today's workers," said Scott Thompson, CEO of Tuition.io. "Their initiation of this program should be a clarion call for other municipalities to follow suit."

Major workplace issue

Student loan debt is a major workplace issue. Employees who are struggling financially, or worried about how they are going to pay their bills, are less productive.

Total student loan debt in the U.S. has now reached $1.4 trillion, with student loan debt in the Tennessee city growing by nearly 5% last year. That's well ahead of the nearly 3% national average.

The Memphis program is admittedly a small step. Eligible city workers will receive $50 a month from the city government to go toward principal reduction on their student loans.

To be eligible, an employee must work full-time and have been on the job at least 12 months.

"We are proud to be the first municipality in the country to offer this kind of student debt assistance to our workforce. We view this as an important investment in our employees," said Alex Smith, City of Memphis Chief Human Resources Officer.

Private-sector employers

Because student loan debt has become so pervasive, more private sector employers are considering help repaying it as a way to attract younger, well-educated employees. A recent report from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, & Christmas found nearly 73% of the firms it surveyed either offer, or plan to offer, a student loan assistance package.

"With the average student loan borrower from the class of 2016 facing about $37,172 in debt according to Forbes, - and those with advanced degrees likely have much higher debt - it’s no wonder employers have begun to see this as an opportunity to recruit young workers,” said Andrew Challenger, the firm's vice president.

With Baby Boomers retiring every day, firms generally are replacing them with Millennials, who tend to have the most student loan debt.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), some companies will pony up as much as $5,000 or $6,000 a year. In some cases, the repayment packages are a replacement for tuition reimbursement. Some companies are offering student loan repayment in lieu of sign-on bonuses, and others offer loan repayment funds as incentives.

If you need a job and some help paying down your student loan debt, you might consider sending your resume to the City of Memphis.The city government h...
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Why many teens won't be looking for a job this summer

Despite increasing employment opportunities, many teens will instead focus on academics

Things have been looking pretty solid in the job market recently. Job openings have been on the rise and unemployment was down to 4.3% in May, the lowest it’s been in 16 years. Some might think that these statistics would create a perfect situation for entrepreneurial teens looking to make some cash this summer, but a Bloomberg report suggests that many young people won’t be entering the workforce.

The finding isn’t exactly groundbreaking if you look at summer job trends over the last few decades. Since the late 1980s, 16-to-19-year-olds have been participating less and less in the labor force during the summer months, dropping from nearly 70% at its peak in 1988 and 1989 to 43% last year.

But what’s behind this turnaround? An analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that many teens are taking the time to further their educational goals.

“Teen labor force participation has been on a long-term downward trend, and the decline is expected to continue to 2024,” the researchers write. “A number of factors are contributing to this trend: an increased emphasis toward school and attending college among teens, reflected in higher enrollment; more summer school attendance; and more strenuous coursework.”

Increased academic focus

The researchers say that changing economic factors and an increased emphasis on schoolwork are the driving forces behind the declines in teen employment. During the school year, many young people are too overloaded with schoolwork to take up a part-time job, and students who want to take courses over the summer to get ahead, participate in extracurricular activities to improve their college resume, or must attend summer school for failing a class also don’t have much opportunity to put in work hours.

Data collected by BLS reinforces this point. The researchers say that 40% of teens aged 16-19 were enrolled in school during the summer last year, more than four times the number of teens of the same age in 1985. Part of the reason might lie in the U.S.’ increasing education standards.

In 1982, less than 10% of high school graduates had completed four years of English classes, three years of math, science, and social science classes, and two years of foreign language classes. That number jumped to 62% by 2009, the most recent year for which data was collected.

The difficulty of classes is also increasing, according to the researchers. Since the 1980s, the number of students taking Calculus classes has more than tripled, and nearly one million students graduated in 2009 after taking an advanced placement (AP) course – up 39% from just four years previous.

Building experience

While the academic benefits behind these changes are unquestioned, some may question whether abandoning employment opportunities is really a good thing for young people.

Although the money earned while working a summer job will likely fall far short of paying for increasingly expensive college tuitions, experts point out that working part-time has been shown to increase teens’ ability to manage social conflicts and helps build real-world and job experience.

Things have been looking pretty solid in the job market recently. Job openings have been on the rise and unemployment was down to 4.3% in May, the lowest i...
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Young workers most likely to feel 'vacation shamed' for taking time off

New research finds that less than half of workers use all of their paid vacation days

The majority of working Millennials feel shamed for taking time off work, according to new research from Alamo Rent A Car.

“Vacation shame” was a familiar feeling for around half (49%) of U.S. workers, but young workers were most likely to report feeling shamed for planning and taking vacations from their jobs.

Last year, 59% of Millennials who responded to Alamo’s Family Vacation Survey said they felt vacation shamed. This year, the number rose to 68%. 

Millennials are more likely than non-Millennials to say that vacation shaming would keep them from planning or going on a vacation (40% compared to 17%). But across the board, feelings of guilt surrounding time off translate to unused paid vacation days.

Unused vacation days

Findings from the study showed that less than half of all workers (47%) are using all of their paid vacation days, compared with 60% in the 2015 study and 57% in the 2016 study.

Millennials were the least likely age group to say they used all of their vacation days, with 60% opting to leave unused vacation days on the table.

What’s more, nearly half (48%) of employees said they have felt the need to justify to their employer why they are using their vacation days. Of those who do muster up the emotional fortitude to use their paid time off, just one in five will actually go on a vacation. The majority choose to spend time staying home and running errands.

Forgoing rest and relaxation

"Our research shows roughly one in four U.S. workers say the biggest benefit of vacation is feeling less stressed at work -- yet, the majority still choose to limit their vacation days and forgo some much-needed rest and relaxation," said Rob Connors, vice president of brand marketing for Alamo Rent A Car.

"This year's survey suggests that American workers are putting a lot of pressure on themselves in workplaces when it comes to planning and taking vacations, especially in vacation-shaming environments,” he added.

Additional findings from the study showed that, overall, 54% of workers feel their colleagues are serious when they engage in vacation-shaming activities.

Interestingly, the generation most likely to feel vacation shamed is also the generation most likely to inflict guilt upon others. Millennials were more likely than non-Millennials to say they vacation shame their colleagues all of the time or sometimes (33% vs. 14%).

The majority of working Millennials feel shamed for taking time off work, according to new research from Alamo Rent A Car. “Vacation shame” was a famil...
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Finding a new job a top New Years resolution

CareerBuilder survey finds slightly more workers are planning a move than last year

The beginning of a new year often signals a fresh start, so it might not be surprising that a new survey has found a lot of Americans expect to be working somewhere else by the time 2018 rolls around.

Jobs site CareerBuilder.com found 22% of people with jobs plan to find a new one during the next 12 months, a slight increase over last year. Younger workers in the survey were more likely to be planning a move.

"Whether it's unemployed people trying to find their way back to the workforce or those who are currently employed attempting an upgrade to greener pastures, a new year makes many people set their sights on job hunting," said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder.

The takeaway for employers, says Haefner, is to stay in touch with the contentment level of key employees. She even suggests polling employees periodically to learn more about their goals and motivations and how they want to be treated.

Other resolutions for 2017

When asked about other goals for the coming year, 49% of employees said they want to save more of their money. Thirty-eight percent said they want to be less stressed and 20% plan to ask for a raise.

As for what employees should be resolving for 2017, Haefner suggests growing your network. Expand the usual roster of groups and try to grow your professional network even wider.

Brand-building is also big. Haefner suggests presenting a clear message of who you are and what attributes you bring to the table.

Don't neglect social media. Follow companies you like and engage with them at every opportunity. Consider writing a blog showcasing your career interests and expertise and make sure there are no embarrassing photos from yesteryear floating around on the internet that could come back to haunt you.

As for your chances of landing a new job in 2017, CareerBuilder says it will reveal some data on that later this week in its annual Jobs Forecast.  

The beginning of a new year often signals a fresh start, so it might not be surprising that a new survey has found a lot of Americans expect to be working...
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Here are the 'hot jobs' for 2017

Careerbuilder says employers want people with skills that can generate revenue

The job market is always in a state of flux, especially in recent years. Today's hot job with a lucrative salary and benefits may go to a robot next year.

So how do you know where to look when it's time to change jobs, or even careers? CareerBuilder and Emsi have assembled a list of what they consider the hottest jobs for 2017 based on compensation, job growth, and the recent number of existing positions.

The study focuses on five main categories where there is on-going demand and a significant number of job postings each month. Not surprisingly, it found numbers crunching and revenue generation will be in demand.

“Our research shows that employers are very invested in expanding headcount in areas such as analytics and data science, product development and sales as they strive to stay competitive in B2B and B2C markets,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “Skilled laborers will also see high employment demand in the year ahead as will workers in clinical roles.”

Here are the hot jobs

People thinking about making a career move in 2017 will likely be interested in the findings.

Sales jobs lead the categories by a wide margin. The study found more than 16 million sales jobs this year, paying from $12.91 to $22.13 an hour. There were more than 13 million jobs for people with trade skills, and those jobs paid more – from $17 to $25.70 an hour.

The highest potential pay, however, may lie with jobs in business and financial operations. There were nearly eight million of these jobs posted this year, an 8% increase over the last four years, paying between $32.95 and $57.97 an hour.

Information technology jobs are growing the fastest – at a 12% rate over the last four years. These jobs pay between $30.91 and $49.41 an hour.

Health care positions also remain in demand, growing at an 8% rate. These jobs pay $29.82 to $43.61 an hour.

The job market is always in a state of flux, especially in recent years. Today's hot job with a lucrative salary and benefits may go to a robot next year. ...
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Care.com provides contract workers with $500 limited benefit platform

It represents a big step for independent contractors working in the gig economy

Being an independent contractor in the gig economy can come with its own pros and cons. While many like the flexibility of being able to work where and when they want, many more are wary to engage in a job that doesn’t give much stability or the generous benefits plan that many larger companies provide.

Now, one company has taken steps towards providing its contract workers with some breathing room. In a new plan announced today, Care.com has said it will provide its caregivers $500 per year to use on health care, transportation, and education expenses. It marks one of the earliest company commitments towards providing contract workers with employee benefits in the gig economy.

“Caregivers constitute one of the largest segments of the gig economy and the fastest growing large job category in our country. Caregivers frequently work for multiple families and almost always work without access to professional benefits,” said Sheila Marcelo, founder and chief executive of Care.com.

“The Care.com Benefits platform not only provides that access but now makes these benefits more affordable through the help of employer contribution to the program. Pooled, portable, peer-to-peer benefits represent a new model for household employment and an innovative step forward in professionalizing caregivers.”

An important step

The new plan stands in stark contrast to the support that many contract employees have enjoyed over the past few years. While several initiatives have been started to provide contract workers with benefits, more often than not they end up falling flat.

Take, for instance, the attempt by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. In 2012, a labor organization moved to have taxi medallion owners deduct six cents from every cab fare to fund portable health and disability insurance for drivers. It lasted for a little while, but the New York Supreme Court shut down the regulation in 2014.

Cases like these tend to pervade the culture of the gig economy, so Care.com’s new plan may end up being influential towards similar causes. “We’re starting to see the first signs of life, where companies see it as in their interest to collect money for workers to get benefits. It’s a really important step,” said Sara Horowitz of the Freelancers Union.

“A strong care workforce is critical to our economy and the well-being of families, yet we lack a scalable solution to provide benefits for these workers who support us all,” said Marcelo. “As freelance labor moves to work for different people, their benefits should move with them. We haven’t seen anyone do what we’re doing. We think it’s groundbreaking.”

Being an independent contractor in the gig economy can come with its own pros and cons. While many like the flexibility of being able to work where and whe...
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How the growing cybersecurity threat is creating millions of jobs

One study cites a skills gap and a lack of qualified people needed to fill positions

Hackers and cybercriminals keep getting smarter and more sophisticated, making government and private IT professionals scramble to keep up. Perversely, it's also creating job opportunities.

Increasingly, vulnerable organizations don't have the people they need to defend themselves. That's the takeaway from a study by Foote Partners, which tracks IT jobs across all skill levels.

Its report estimates the demand for cybersecurity professionals will climb to six million by 2019, with an anticipated shortfall of about 1.5 million.

The reason, the report argues, is a skills gap. There aren't enough people trained to defend databases and networks from attack, or who have the latest skills required to do so. Some of the people who are in place aren't the right people, the study argues, since the whole field has rapidly changed with the mushrooming threat.

“They may have good technical people who can fix firewalls and implement basic perimeter solutions,” the authors write. “But what’s missing are enough of the sort of people who can make the case for cybersecurity being linked to business challenges and business developments.”

Job opportunities

While this is perceived as a weakness for organizations, it could present opportunities for people considering a career, or career change. A check of job site Monster.com showed more than 1,000 cybersecurity job openings.

“Government and the private sector haven’t brought enough urgency to solving the cybersecurity talent shortage” said Chris Young, senior vice president and general manager of Intel Security Group.

However, some clearly have. Microsoft has taken a leading role in pushing development of cybersecurity in the Internet of Things (IoT) and globally-relevant IoT standards. Microsoft recently advocated government action to help protect IoT, including a private-public partnership to pursue guidelines for cybersecurity.

New challenges and vulnerabilities

IoT presents new challenges and vulnerabilities. As more things become connected to networks, there is greater opportunity to break into them. Once inside, a hacker might be able to access other connected devices or even networks.

Analysts at Gartner think that within just four years, more than a quarter of hacking attacks on organizations will involve IoT. That will require more spending than is currently allocated, and it will require more people, they say.

According to the Foote study, Cisco System is ramping up its cybersecurity training efforts. It recently said it would invest $10 million in a two-year scholarship program to help close the skills gap.

For people interested in pursing these career opportunities, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies might be a good resource.

Hackers and cybercriminals keep getting smarter and more sophisticated, making government and private IT professionals scramble to keep up. Perversely, it'...
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Survey finds more jobs are becoming temporary

More occupations and pay levels joining temporary workforce

The unemployment rate has dropped significantly in the last couple of years, but the economy is still barely growing.

Could it be because, even though more people are working, they aren't earning what they once did? There has been a huge increase in the number of temporary and contract employees – partly because of competition for skilled workers and partly because temporary workers, who aren't receiving benefits, allow companies to be more flexible.

Employment site CareerBuilder and its economic modeling subsidiary Emsi have conducted research showing that more companies are moving toward a temporary workforce. Their findings project temporary employment will add 173,478 jobs from 2016 to 2018 – an increase of 5.9%. To create the report, researchers pulled data from more than 100 national and state employment resources.

Three million temporary workers

Kyle Braun, President of CareerBuilder’s Staffing and Recruiting Group, says there are already some three million people in the temporary workforce, with that number growing at a healthy pace over the next few years.

“Opportunities are opening up in a variety of occupations and pay levels, and this is a trend we’re seeing in a wide range of industries and company sizes,” Braun said.

Some jobs and some industries are better suited to temporary work than others. CareerBuilder said there are hundreds of thousands of available temporary jobs that pay more than $15 an hour.

In CareerBuilder's rankings, software developers stand to earn the highest wages in the temporary workforce, at a median pay of $46.72 an hour. It says there are currently more than 14,000 job openings in that category.

Formerly salaried occupations

But some traditionally salaried jobs are also trending toward temporary positions. For example, CareerBuilder says there are currently more than 42,000 temporary positions for registered nurses, paying a median $33.28 an hour.

Even some traditionally union jobs have transitioned to temporary positions. There are currently more than 21,000 openings for temporary machinists, paying $19.38 an hour.

Other temporary occupations paying more than $15 an hour include truck drivers, bookkeepers, administrative assistants, computer support personnel, construction workers, and human resource specialists.

Last December, CareerBuilder commissioned a Harris Poll which showed that 47% of employers planned to hire temporary personnel at some point in 2016, up slightly from the year before. But 58% said at least some of those temporary or contract workers would be transitioned into full-time, permanent positions in the future.

The unemployment rate has dropped significantly in the last couple of years, but the economy is still barely growing.Could it be because, even though m...
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GE's advertising campaign isn't selling appliances

It could be the most expensive series of help wanted ads in history

General Electric (GE) launched a creative and amusing television advertising campaign last fall, built around a recent college grad named Owen.

Owen proudly tells his parents and friends that he is going to work for GE as a programmer, but no one gets it. They can't understand why a smart and gifted computer programmer would want to work for an industrial company.

The campaign earned a thumbs up from AdWeek, after it debuted in September on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

What is GE selling?

The spots are so engaging and entertaining that the viewer has to watch a lot of them before asking the question, “Hey, what exactly is GE selling?”

The company makes every type of appliance you can think of and a host of household goods – but none of the commercials show a single product.

After GE recently began airing the second phase of the campaign, such as the spot below, that the real purpose was very clear to see. These commercials are actually recruiting ads, aimed at smart, bright Millennials coming out of college.

Phase two

The second phase of the campaign features other young people who now want to work for GE too. It might seem a bit extreme to spend millions of dollars on a network television ad campaign to recruit employees. But high-tech corporations have complained in recent years that it is hard to attract the people with the skills they need.

And apparently it's working. Tony Denhart, University Relations Leader at GE Corporate, tells Business Insider GE is seeing an increase in applications from major colleges. He also says the company is fielding more queries from students and faculty, who want to know more about GE technologies.

Will we see other technology companies develop mass market advertising campaigns that are really stealth help wanted ads? Maybe. And if it recruits the employee who develops the next killer app, it might be worth it.

General Electric (GE) launched a creative and amusing television advertising campaign last fall, built around a recent college grad named Owen.Owen pro...
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What makes a good leader in the eyes of a Millennial employee?

An expert offers insight into what employers can expect from 'The Great Generational Shift'

The post-Baby Boomer shift is currently underway, and it’s bringing with it some interesting changes to workplace environments.

As the youth bubble continues its rapid expansion, the workplace is set to be comprised of less than 20% boomers and more than 20% second-wave millennials by the year 2020.

What does this mean for managers and leaders? Bruce Tulgan, founder and CEO of RainmakerThinking, Inc., says this shift in numbers will cause a change in the very nature of the employee-employer relationship.

He describes this “Great Generational Shift” as a long-anticipated turning point with a whole new set of challenges for employers.

Strong leadership

Tulgan says that along with the influx of young employees comes a new set of behaviors and employee expectations. The generation -- described as having been raised by “helicopter parents on steroids” -- is a notably high-maintenance one, with its own ideas of what makes a good leader.

“Millennials are the most likely to question or challenge employers’ rules, managers’ instructions, employment conditions, and established rewards structures,” says Tulgan, who says that weak leadership can lead to diminished employee productivity.

For a manager to be most effective amid the demographic shift, Tulgan says they’ll need to be strong and highly-engaged. This will entail working hard to provide each worker with regular guidance, support, and coaching. The more structure the better.

“Strong,” he says, “means doing more for some workers and less for others, based on their performance.” Rewarding discretionary effort is especially important in the post-Boomer workforce.

High-maintenance employees

In addition to being more likely to question employee policies, Millennials are also more likely than previous generations to make specific requests regarding work conditions, said Tulgan in a white paper. 

According to Tulgan, managers will need to be ready to field questions and demands pertaining to the assignment of tasks, problem solving, scheduling, work location, dispute resolution, coaching, recognition, and promotions. A leader who is highly-engaged with his or her employees will be able to draw forth a millennial’s best efforts, enabling them to thrive in the workplace.

For more information on managing millennial employees, check out Tulgan's books on the subject: Bridging the Soft Skills Gap and Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage the Millennials

The post-Baby Boomer shift is currently underway, and it’s bringing with it some interesting changes to workplace environments.As the youth bubble cont...
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Glassdoor predicts the 25 best jobs in America for 2016

Survey says that data scientist is the best job available in the coming year

Jobs site Careerbuilder recently released a survey suggesting more employees will be looking for a new job in 2016. If you plan to be one of them, what kind of job should you look for?

Another employment site, Glassdoor.com, has released a list of what it says will be the 25 best jobs in America in 2016.

The best position, according to the survey, is data scientist, with an estimated 1,736 job openings and a base salary of $116,840.

Number two on the list is tax manager. Glassdoor predicts 1,574 job openings for that job with a median base salary of $108,000.

In third place is solutions architect, with 2,906 job openings and a median base pay of $119,500.

Filling out the top 10

Other occupations in the top 10 include engagement manager, mobile developer, HR manager, physician assistant, product manager, software engineer, and audit manager.

What's at the bottom of the list? Software engineer comes in at number 25. It's still a pretty good job. According to Glassdoor, it pays a median base salary of $130,000 – but is highly competitive, since Glassdoor counts only 653 openings.

The Careerbuilder survey found that 21% of employees were determined to leave their current employers in 2016, an increase of 5% from those who expressed that sentiment in the 2014 survey. Younger workers expressed the strongest desire to make a move.

Of the 18 to 34 age group, 30% said they expect to have a new job by the end of 2016, compared to 23% the previous year.

“Just because a person is satisfied with their job doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t looking for new work,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “Because of this, it’s critical to keep up with your employees’ needs and continue to challenge them with work they feel is meaningful.”

Jobs site Careerbuilder recently released a survey suggesting more employees will be looking for a new job in 2016. If you plan to be one of them, what kin...
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Employees may be on the move in 2016

Careerbuilder survey finds younger employees, especially, are getting restless

Immediately after the Great Recession, people who had jobs felt lucky to be employed. With the jobless rate at over 10%, there wasn't a lot of moving around.

That seems to be changing.

With the labor market showing signs of new life in 2015, a lot of employees are likely to look for better jobs in 2016. At least, that's the conclusion of a new Harris Poll conducted for Careerbuilder.com.

The survey found that 21% of employees are determined to leave their current employers in 2015, an increase of 5% from those who expressed that sentiment in last year's survey. Younger workers expressed the strongest desire to make a move.

Of the 18 to 34 age group, 30% said they expect to have a new job by the end of 2016, compared to 23% the previous year.

“Just because a person is satisfied with their job doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t looking for new work,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “Because of this, it’s critical to keep up with your employees’ needs and continue to challenge them with work they feel is meaningful.”

Job hunting tips

Careerbuilder has some advice for people looking to move on. While regularly checking job listings is a good start, it isn't enough.

These days, you have to take advantage of social media and use it strategically. For example, if you’re looking for a job in finance, Careerbuilder says LinkedIn might be the most valuable social media site to keep updated. If you're looking for a job at a media company, Twitter might be a better resource.

Also, it's a good idea to follow the profiles or pages of companies you want to work for to stay up to date on job openings and announcements.

Be creative in your approach. Just because a certain interview tactic or style was successful for one candidate doesn't mean it is the best strategy for you. Take into consideration your personal experiences, preferences and career goals and use them to position yourself as a unique candidate.

Network with your peers. The more people you know, the wider your network of contacts. But most of the time it is the people who know you best who will be in the best position to help. Let them know you are on the move.

Immediately after the Great Recession, people who had jobs felt lucky to be employed. With the jobless rate at over 10%, there wasn't a lot of moving aroun...
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Good jobs that don't require a college degree

However, they may require getting outside your comfort zone

The conventional wisdom is a four-year college degree is required for anything but a minimum wage job.

Not true, says Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast, a job search portal. Lee's company has analyzed its job postings and found many that offer a comfortable salary and don't require a four-year degree.

While it is true that a college degree will give you a leg up on the better jobs, people without degrees aren't carrying any of the $1.2 trillion in student loan debt that has burdened many higher-earning college grads.

"Starting a career without a degree may be unconventional, but succeeding in the workplace without one is far from impossible," said Lee.

What you need, he says, are two things; an entrepreneurial spirit and specialized training.

Entrepreneurial spirit

An entrepreneurial spirit will make you valuable to an employer and help you get ahead. Specialized training will prepare you for a specialized job, more so than most college curriculum.

It might be harder to land that first job so Lee suggests working pro bono where possible. Also, working as an independent contractor allows an employer to see what you can do without making a major commitment.

What are some of the better jobs? Lee says a dental hygienist can make a median salary of $70,000 with a projected hiring outlook of 33%.

In fact, health care is a hot field with growing opportunities. Lee says a registered nurse earns around $65,000. A respiratory therapist earns more than $55,000.

IT opportunities

The increasing demand for IT professionals can mean more opportunities, even if you only have a high-school diploma. The median salary for a web developer is $62,000 a year with a projected 20% hiring outlook. A multimedia artist earns a median salary of $61,000.

Skilled tradesmen can do well too. Lee says the median salary for an electrician is $49,000 while a carpenter makes about $40,000.

Some of the great jobs available to those without a degree require some specialized education but not a full four years. You'll find some states require certification to become a skincare specialist, dental hygienist or personal trainer, for example, while trade crafts such as electrician and carpenter demand either advanced training or apprenticeships.

The full list of jobs is here.

Kiplinger's list

Carpenter, dental hygienist, nurse and electrician also make Kiplinger's list of the best jobs that don't require a 4-year degree. But so does computer user support specialist – someone who helps others deal with increasingly complex technology. Kiplinger's says that job can pay anywhere from $35,000 to $60,000 a year.

Unofficial apprenticeships also are invaluable for job seekers without a college degree.

Lee says a willingness to get outside your comfort zone is definitely an asset for those seeking a good job without a college degree. Technology, he says, can help.

For example, he says you could use CareerCast's Part-Time Network to connect with potential clients. Social media tools can also help.

The conventional wisdom is a four-year college degree is required for anything but a minimum wage job.Not true, says Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast,...
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Most small businesses still coping with Great Recession losses

It may help explain why so many consumers are also still struggling

Since the U.S. economy bottomed at the end of the Great Recession in the third quarter of 2009, it has failed to generate much of a rebound.

There have been only 4 quarters where economic growth exceeded 4%. There have been 2 quarters of negative growth and 2 quarters when there was barely any growth at all.

One of those was the just-ended first quarter of 2015, when the government reported this week that the economy grew by a measly 0.2%. This, in spite of retail gasoline prices around $2 a gallon for months.

A new report from Bank of America may help explain why.

Still recovering

In its annual small business survey, the bank asked small business owners if they believe they have recovered from the Great Recession. Only 21% said that they had.

Since millions of Americans work for small businesses – defined as those that employ fewer than 500 people -- it might help explain why consumers in general have been struggling since the financial crisis nearly 7 years ago.

The report found that the people who own small businesses have been working longer hours, forgoing raises for their employees and delaying their own compensation as they focus on rebuilding their businesses and rewarding repeat customers.

If employees are going longer without increases in compensation, it may be small consolation that the owner is doing the same thing. But according to the survey 67% of small business owners said they would rather delay or reduce their own compensation than take any other course of action to make ends meet.

No raise in 2 years

In fact, more than half said they have either never given themselves a raise, or haven’t done so in more than 2 years.

In order to keep their businesses going, 85% of small business owners work more than 40 hours per week on average. Thirty percent of respondents work more than 60 hours per week on average.

There are jobs available at many small businesses but owners often struggle to come up with salaries that are able to attract the people they need. Forty-five percent of owners said prospective employees declined job offers because the salary was too low.

Hiring expectations, meanwhile, are moving in the wrong direction. The Bank of America report found 46% of small business owners plan to hire additional employees over the next 12 months, down from 52% a year ago. Again, one reason cited for the decline is the inability to offer a competitive wage.

Similar trend

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) has noted a similar trend. In March it found a 2 point decline in the number of small businesses planning to create new jobs.

With an estimated 150 million Americans working for small businesses, when a small business struggles, so do consumers.

Since the U.S. economy bottomed at the end of the Great Recession in the third quarter of 2009, it has failed to generate much of a rebound. There have ...
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Texas votes to unsnarl hairbraiding regulations

Braiders and barbers are not the same, and don't need the same regulations

Good news for various Texas entrepreneurs: yesterday the state House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of HB 2717, to deregulate businesses which teach or perform the art of traditional African hairbraiding.

Texas law sets strict regulations on barbers and cosmetologists, primarily on safety grounds: those trades require (among other things) the use of sharp tools and potentially dangerous chemicals. Braiding hair does not, yet in 2007, when the state started regulating hairbraiders and teachers of the art, it mandated that they meet the same licensing requirements as barbers or cosmetologists.

Dallas resident and African hairbraiding expert Isis Brantley has been braiding hair professionally for over 30 years — and the law has hassled her over it for almost that long.

She started braiding hair at home in her kitchen, but was arrested when she tried opening a salon. “As soon as I opened up the shop, wow, the red tape was wrapped around my hands,” she told the Texas Tribune. “Seven cops came in, in front of my clients, and arrested me and took me to jail like a common criminal. The crime was braiding without a cosmetology license.”

Licensed hairbraider

Brantley spent years challenging the legal hairbraiding restrictions in court, and in 2007, the state modified the requirements somewhat: henceforth, hairbraiders seeking a license would only have to show 35 hours of formal training rather than 1,500 hours, and Brantley specifically was “grandfathered in” and granted a braiding license.

So she won the right to legally braid hair, but when she tried opening a school to give others the 35 hours of instruction they'd need to become legally licensed hairbraiders, the state told her that a braiding school would have to meet the same standards as a barber school.

Brantley sued the state in 2013, saying that the barber regulations on her braiding school were unconstitutional and unreasonable. The non-profit Institute For Justice, which joined Brantley in filing her suit, outlined the requirements Texas set before Brantley could legally teach the art of traditional African hairbraiding:

… Isis must spend 2,250 hours in barber school, pass four exams, and spend thousands of dollars on tuition and a fully-equipped barber college she doesn’t need, all to teach a 35-hour hairbraiding curriculum.  Tellingly, Texas will waive all these regulations if Isis goes to work for an existing barber school and teaches hairbraiding for them. 

That “fully equipped” barber college would have to include barber chairs and hair-washing stations, neither of which are required to braid hair.

In January, a federal judge ruled that Texas' regulations on hairbraiding schools were unconstitutional and did nothing to advance public health or safety, nor meet any other legitimate government interest.

During that trial Arif Panju, the Institute For Justice attorney who represented Brantley in her court battle, noted that the state couldn't identify a single hairbraiding school capable of meeting those strict barber-school requirements.

After the trial, he said that the judge's ruling “makes it crystal clear to the Legislature that what’s happening here is nothing to do with public health and safety and everything to do with economic protectionism.”

Good news for various Texas entrepreneurs: yesterday the state House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of HB 2717, to deregulate businesses whi...
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Bigger firms more likely to let you work from home

Survey shows large companies recognize the advantages more than small firm bosses

For any number of reasons a growing number of people prefer to work from home, rather than report to an office each day.

If you are one of those people, your chances of being able to do that are better if you work for a large company rather than a small or mid-sized one.

A new survey by Accountemps, a temporary staffing firm, interviewed chief financial officers (CFO) at a wide variety of companies. It found that 68% of the CFOs at companies with 1,000 or more employees reported an increase in work-from-home and other remote work opportunities.

But only 34% of CFOs at firms with 20 to 49 employees reported an increase in these remote work opportunities.

Benefits

There are many benefits for employees when they can work from home. They save on commuting costs and can be present when children get home from school.

But what's the motivation for businesses? The survey suggests the main reason companies do it is to please valued employees. And the survey suggests that large companies care about this more than small ones.

Among companies offering remote work arrangements, higher morale and retention were mentioned most as the reason allowing employees to work away from the office. Companies also see it as good business, with 28% believing it improves productivity.

In the past companies were slow to adopt remote work arrangements on the assumption that employees would be unproductive if not supervised by a hovering boss in an office environment. It turns out that's not true.

Supporting evidence

A study published last year in the Harvard Business Review followed an experiment at a call center operated by Ctrip, a Chinese travel website. Some employees were given the option of working from home and the results were surprising.

“People working from home completed 13.5% more calls than the staff in the office did—meaning that Ctrip got almost an extra workday a week out of them,” writes Nicholas Bloom, a Harvard business professor who co-authored the study. “They also quit at half the rate of people in the office—way beyond what we anticipated. And predictably, at-home workers reported much higher job satisfaction.” 

Work-life balance

The Accountemps survey seems to back that up. The CFOs at companies providing remote work opportunities were asked what benefits, if any, that had seen. By far the most common answer was that it improves employee retention and morale by promoting a better work-life balance.

"Employee preferences for 'anytime, anywhere' work arrangements are hard to ignore," said Bill Driscoll, a district president of Accountemps. "Although telecommuting isn't suitable for every role, it can be a powerful incentive for employees who want greater flexibility.”

Driscoll says other advantages to a business include cost savings on office space, the ability to tap into talent in different geographical areas and time zones, and more around-the-clock client service.

For any number of reasons a growing number of people prefer to work from home, rather than report to an office each day....
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Veterans make excellent employees but companies have trouble finding them

Report finds that challenges remain for both veterans and employers looking to hire them

There's a disconnect somewhere between companies that want to hire veterans and veterans looking for work. A new RAND Corporation report finds that while veterans make excellent employees, companies still experience challenges locating and hiring them.

Studying a group of companies that have made a major commitment to hire veterans, researchers concluded that challenges remain for veterans seeking civilian jobs and employers hoping to hire them, including continuing difficulty understanding the match between military skills and civilian job requirements.

Too often veterans believe their talents apply only in the security or defense arenas and employers struggle to understand how military experience translates to the skills needed for civilian jobs, according to researchers.

"Military members need to know that defense contractors and similar businesses are not the only place they should look for work," said Kimberly Hall, lead author of the study and a senior project associate at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "Veterans should consider the financial sector and other types of businesses. They contribute valuable skills and experience across the spectrum of American industry."

While the federal government has instituted programs to help veterans gain civilian employment, the RAND report suggests several improvements.

"Although we acknowledge the considerable effort by federal agencies to improve the transition from military service to the civilian workforce, and especially to improve the Transition Assistance Program, opportunities remain for improvement," said Margaret Harrell, co-author of the study and a senior social scientist at RAND.

The RAND report suggests that the Transition Assistance Program, which helps military members prepare for civilian life, should include the participation of civilian employers. The U.S. Department of Defense should continue to facilitate on-base access to recruiting events with civilian employers.

The Department of Defense also should extend SkillBridge, which helps military members train and intern with private employers, to include more participants, according to the report. Military members who are leaving service should be encouraged to enroll early with the Veterans Employment Center, an online employment tool with a registry of veterans and employers. Likewise, employers should consider participating in both SkillBridge and the Veterans Employment Center.

There's a disconnect somewhere between companies that want to hire veterans and veterans looking for work. A new RAND Corporation report finds that while v...
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Behind the employment numbers: slow wage growth

Women are regaining jobs at a faster rate than men

On the surface at least, the October employment report, released on Friday, looked pretty good. Job creation for the month was a respectable 214,000. The unemployment rate fell to 5.8%, the lowest it has been since before the financial crisis.

When you look at what these jobs pay, however, the results are not all that impressive. Economists have worried that, while the economy is growing, wages are not. If consumers can't afford to increase their purchasing power, there's less fuel to grow the economy.

The job growth in October occurred largely in traditionally low-wage sectors. Food services and drinking places added 42,000 jobs while retail added 27,000. Higher-paying jobs like manufacturing added 15,000 jobs.

Familiar pattern

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Dan Alpert, Managing Director of Westwood Capital, says we've seen this before.

“When you go back to 2013, some 58% of all the jobs that we’ve created are in the very low wage sector,” he said. “Those low wage sectors are retail, temp work, social assistance and leisure and hospitality. And combined those sectors do just a little more than 50% of all the other sector in terms of wages.”

Women rebound faster

But when it comes to regaining lost jobs, women appear to be doing better than men. The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) has analyzed Friday's employment report and has found that the total number of jobs lost in the recession has now been recovered.

However, it says men are down 71,000 jobs from the number they held at the start of the recession. In October, men gained 87,000 jobs while women gained 127,000. Women now hold 50% more jobs than they did at the start of the economic downturn.

The unemployment rate is based on the percentage of the population actively looking for work. If you aren't looking you aren't counted. Increasingly, economists have worried about the number of people no longer participating in the work force.

In October, the overall labor force participation rate increased slightly to 62.8% from 62.7% in September. Here again, that's largely due to women.

Fewer men participating

More women joined the labor force last month while more men dropped out. While women's participation rose slightly, men saw a rather dramatic drop of 4 percentage points from the start of the Great Recession.

"The economy is consistently adding over 200,000 jobs each month, but the recovery for men has remained painfully slow," said IWPR President Heidi Hartmann. "Working women continue to be the engine behind the economic recovery."

IWPR found that without women's strong presence in a few growing industries, women would have fared much worse in comparison to men than they did in the recovery. Men added more jobs in more sectors but where women were in the lead – sectors like education and health care – they lead by a lot.

The analysis also takes a close look at wages. It finds growth is not just limited to traditional low wage jobs but says most of the growth has come in what it calls mid-level wages, such as professional and business services.

It agrees, however, that job growth has been much slower in higher paying sectorsm such as information technology, financial services and government.

On the surface at least, the October employment report, released on Friday, looked pretty good. Job creation for the month was a respectable 214,000. The ...
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Democratic and unemployed: jobless rolls skyrocket in D.C.

Defeated politicians and their staffers are plunged into a high-stakes musical chairs game

We're always being told that elections have consequences. Yes, they certainly do and no one knows it better today than the Democratic officeholders thrown out of work by a fed-up electorate yesterday. 

But oh, the humanity. It's not just Sen. Mark Udall, Gov. Dan Quinn and the like who find themselves jobless in D.C., Springfield and wherever but also their loyal staffers, campaign aides and other hangers-on.

Leaving aside the Statehouse and City Hall denizens who will soon by looking for work, Washington's K Street is suddenly awash in Democratic job-seekers. While a few may swallow hard and go the academic route or slink home with tail between legs, most will try to find a slot that keeps them in the game -- which means finding a lobbying job toot de suite.

Of course, not all lobbyists work on K St. just as not all movies are made in Hollywood and not all financial shenanigans occur on Wall Street, but it's useful shorthand born of necessity. After all, just as by most calculations there are more dead people than living people, there are more ex-officeholders and bootlickers in Washington than current ones. They all have to pay the mortgage on their McLean digs and K Street is the place to do it -- the inner circle that knows which oxes can be gored, which interests must be protected and which resources can be plundered.  

Who needs baristas?

The wrinkle right now, of course, is that it's mostly Democrats who are out of work. And the reason they're out of work is that the Republicans have won control of both the House and Senate. Think of what would happen if everyone suddenly switched from coffee to tea. Tea houses would be besieged by unemployed baristas.

While baristas may be hard-working and entertaining, they are not necessarily all that attractive to tea shoppes. Such is the predicament in which unemployed Democrats find themselves today. 

When Congress is divided, K Street firms like to say they are bipartisan. But with business-oriented Republicans now in charge on Capitol Hill, the most attractive influence peddlers will be the ones who can grab onto the coattails of those who wield the power in the GOP ranks. By definition, these are not Democrats.

What does this mean to the disgruntled voters who have presumably been hoping to send a message that they want Washington get to work and do something? It means that they will get what they asked for. And history tells us that does not always turn out well.

In the short term, at least, a Republican Congress may be expected to begin cranking out pro-business legislation and assuring us that this will create more jobs, a more robust economy, improve