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August 17, 2017 / Meg McCormick

We are all affected by the opioid epidemic

shutterstock_694514731 (1)Amid the difficult news surrounding events in Charlottesville early this week, you may have missed President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency regarding the country’s opioid epidemic. This declaration gives states and federal agencies additional resources to combat the growing problem.

It’s no secret opioids are an issue in the United States crossing generations and demographics. The growing opioid epidemic kills more than 90 Americans every day. Drug overdoses killed about 60,000 Americans last year: more names than the Vietnam Memorial holds, as recently pointed out in Newsweek.

Opioids contribute to America’s shrinking labor force, according to the CNN report “The opioid crisis is draining America of workers,” which stated that “[t]he ballooning use of opioids — whether as prescription drugs or heroin — is preventing many workers from coming back into the job market.”

Some addicted workers may lose full functionality at their jobs due to addiction and opioid effects. Unemployed opioid users and addicts may have the desire to work, but are unable to pass a drug test. Still others have a criminal record tied to abuse, rendering them unhirable by employers. Employment pools are down across the country, the need for substance abuse and addiction professionals is up, and communities are suffering.

Goldman Sachs stated the opioid crisis has “major costs” for the U.S. economy. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen discussed the problem extensively during Senate testimony July 13. Regional Fed banks are reporting that hiring hurdles due to opioid abuse are a major issue. The problem has become pervasive enough to affect all of us, regardless of personal experience with the drug.

Solving this tragic problem requires hard work by many on several fronts. On the prevention side, many experts have opined on the importance of educating doctors on alternatives to addictive pain medication, educating the public on the dangers of these prescriptions, and cracking down on the black market. But to help those already hooked, high-quality recovery workers and overdose-trained emergency responders are in high demand.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates employment of “Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors” to increase by 20 percent from 2014-24, a much larger growth projection than the 7 percent average for all jobs.

A quick look at current LinkUp data reveals more than 12,000 job postings mentioning substance abuse. When you drill down further, you can even find opioid prevention jobs that have been created in response to the national crisis. LinkUp’s database currently has about 250 “opioid”-specific job openings. It will be interesting to see how this evolves following the declaration of a national emergency and the continuing rise of drug-related deaths.

Job descriptions within this space have evolved to require skills related to opioids. The Washington Post recently reported on the evolution of police officers’ responsibilities. “The nation’s opioid epidemic is changing the way law enforcement does its job, with police officers acting as drug counselors and medical workers and shifting from law-and-order tactics to approaches more akin to social work,” the article states. Substance abuse counselors are not the only professionals with a changing skillset as a result of the epidemic.

One of the saddest aspects of our opioid problem is the fact that many of the plagued and dead became addicted by seeking to alleviate real pain. We are learning the hard way, once again, that the quick fix was too good to be true. The road to recovery is long, but with full awareness and hard work, I’m hopeful we can lessen the pain.

August 9, 2017 / Stephanie Anderson

Job search manifesto: prioritize diverse companies

shutterstock_405608602One 10-page document leaked to the public. An angry CEO. A new hashtag that has everyone talking.

The #GoogleManifesto has ignited fresh debate on gender bias in the workplace. James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the memo, was fired earlier this week. In the communication titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” he claims the company quiets diversity conversations, making it appear that Google’s claims about creating a diverse workplace are simply lip service.

Google leadership has said the memo goes too far and that Damore’s words actually perpetuate stereotypes, therefore making employees feel unnecessarily uncomfortable. There are three sides to every story and it will be interesting to watch this one develop.

Diversity controversy isn’t just a problem in Silicon Valley. It’s clear that while companies across the country may say they are working towards equality in the workplace, it’s not necessarily taking root. It’s illegal for businesses to discriminate based on age, race and gender, but it’s still happening behind closed doors.

As a job seeker, how can you crack open that door to peer into the truth? Consider these ideas for finding an employer who embraces diversity as part of the culture rather than just having it as a line item on the career page.

Investigate company information: The easiest first step is to dig into the company website. Look at the mission statement, culture information and any stated corporate commitment to diversity. View images and bios of senior management. Recruitment materials such as brochures or videos can be telling. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Network: Try to connect with someone who works currently or has worked in the past for the company. Asking these folks about diversity (as well as other employment concerns) is one of the best ways to get the facts. If you can’t connect with an employee, request an informational interview from the company to do some sleuthing.

Look at online reviews: Glassdoor and other employer-review sites are treasure troves of tidbits that provide insight into diversity dedication. Some even offer diversity ratings. What’s more, look at salary information. Does it appear fair? Seek out employers who put their money (literally) where their mouth is.

Note awards and accolades: Whether it’s from the local newspaper or a national trade organization, workplace awards are plentiful. Has the company you’re researching received any? Whether it’s a “top place to work” or “best workplace for women,” these awards help prove a company is taking action rather than just touting action.

Take a tour: Ask if you can be taken on a tour of the office at the end of your interview. While walking around, absorb the environment. Who is working where? What trends do you note? How is the office organized? Just seeing an office space can provide valuable information.

Ask during interviews: Finally, make diversity a part of the discussion during an interview. Yes, you may get a canned answer, but it’s an important question and one companies should be prepared to answer thoughtfully. If not, move on.

July 27, 2017 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp’s June Jobs Data Indicates Decent Job Gains In July

The prediction business can be a tough gig at times – less so, to be sure, when one has a phenomenal dataset to work with, but even then it can be challenging at times. One of the toughest aspects related to the kind of economic forecasts we make with our data is getting used to the fact that the best forecasting models will be correct just slightly more than 50% of the time. That’s not as brutal as winning a batting title with a .360 average, but it’s close.

In 7 out of the 12 months in each of the last 4 years, we have accurately predicted whether or not the monthly non-farm payroll would come in above or below consensus estimates. While it’s taken some time to fully understand how to grade that track record appropriately, we’ve come to appreciate over the years, with lots of feedback from highly informed individuals, that a .583 batting average with tradable economic data puts us in pretty elite company.

In fact, a few years ago I sat in a Starbucks on Wall Street and listened as a trader at a huge global bank told me that not only was LinkUp’s monthly NFP forecast the best input into their trading model for ‘Jobs Day’ (at the time, the Friday each month that the BLS released its jobs report was consistently the most volatile and highest volume trading day of the month), but that our data literally had infinite value because over a reasonable number of periods, it so reliably beat a random coin toss. As a result, its value was capped only by how much capital someone was willing to put at risk. And while I remain slightly amused (and not at all unhappy) by the exorbitance of the claim, we most definitely take a great deal of pride in the quality of our job market data and the highly predictive attributes inherent in the data that allow us to accurately forecast job growth in future periods.

…which is why I still get irritated when we miss a forecast like we did last month.

Looking at our data from a slightly different angle, our job market data since January of 2016 has been even more highly correlated to job growth in future periods using the BLS’s final jobs data (after the 2nd revision 60 days following its initial release). As the table below indicates, the 50/50 blend of LinkUp’s new and total job openings has been directionally accurate 12 out of 17 months in predicting job growth relative to job growth the prior month – a .706 batting average.

 

LinkUp Correlation to NFP June 2017

 

So needless to say, the 222,000 jobs gained in June came in much higher than the 115,000 we expected – a miss made even more painful by the fact that it broke our 6-month winning streak dating back to November of last year. We’ll see what happens in the next two revisions, but I’ll be surprised if it comes down below consensus estimates. And hopefully we can get back on track with our July forecast.

Our July forecast is based on our job market data from June, a month during which new job openings on company websites in the U.S. fell 1% and total job openings were flat from the prior month.

 

Jobs By State June 2017

 

Based on that slight decline in the blended average bet ween new and total job openings, we are forecasting a net gain of 175,000 jobs in July.

 

July 2017 NFP Forecast

 

Normally such a small decline in new and total jobs would lead to a forecast of job gains more similar to the jobs gained in the prior month (in this case closer to 222,000) but we are baking into the forecast a likely downward revision of June’s job gains. We’ll see how that turns out. But regardless of whether or not June’s job numbers come down next Friday or in September, we remain steadfast in our conviction that the job market will remain very strong in the short to medium term but will be under serious pressure in the long-term as a result of the President’s anti-jobs agenda.

We touched on it last month, and we will continue to highlight as often as necessary policies that we believe are counter-productive to maintaining and even strengthening a healthy job market.

First up this month is the announcement by the Trump administration that it would delay until March and probably eventually eliminate a federal rule, known as the International Entrepreneur Rule, that would have let in foreign entrepreneurs come to the U.S. to start businesses. This despite the fact that immigrant-owned businesses have a massively positive impact on job growth. A recent study by the New American Economy (an organization that brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans) highlights the fact that 6 million Americans work at immigrant owned business. Furthermore, 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants of their children and the U.S. is home to 2.9 million foreign-born entrepreneurs that generated $65 billion of business income in 2014.

Next up is Trump’s mockery of a budget that lays waste to all sorts of federal programs that support job growth throughout the country. As a New York Times editorial points out, Trump’s budget, “places at serious risk programs like the Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Program. With a budget of a measly $130 million, the program operates centers that help develop new products, plan expansions and find cost savings. It served more than 25,000 small and midsize manufacturers last year. That’s an important focus, since all but 3,700 of the nation’s 252,000 manufacturing firms employ fewer than 500 people, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. It’s been estimated that manufacturers advised by partnership centers helped create or retain more than 142,000 jobs in the last fiscal year.”

Two other at-risk, pro-jobs programs mentioned in the editorial are Manufacturing USA, a network of manufacturing technology centers which accelerate development of next-generation products and processes for American manufacturers, and Industrial Manufacturing Technical Apprenticeship which provides workers with on-the-job training and technical college instruction to learn new skills that lead to higher-paying jobs.

Finally, it’s worth noting as the clusterfuck around repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act drags on forever and ever (not to mention the sheer inhumanity of the effort), that the President’s oft-mentioned campaign promise to deliver a massive infrastructure spending bill appears increasingly unlikely (assuming of course that it was ever even a real thing). As the NYT points out, infrastructure has been pushed to the back of the legislative line behind healthcare, the budget, tax reform, the debt ceiling, and immigration. And with every successive legislative failure, combined with the Trump White House horror show that manages to get worse and worse literally every day (Scaramucci said what about Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon today?!?!) and the 5-alarm fire Russia investigation, there isn’t a chance in hell that infrastructure legislation will ever, ever, ever see the light of day.

And just one last thing….(the torrent of awfulness oozing out of Washington these days makes it impossible to stop….)

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced in June that she would dismantle and ‘rewrite’ the gainful employment rules enacted by the Obama administration to curtail the worst for-profit schools that saddle students with debt (student loans with the federal government) in exchange for job training in industries that have no chance of lifting wages for graduates.

The gainful employment rule enacted by the Obama administration calculated the ratio between the amount borrowed by a typical student and the annual income after graduating. If the ratio is too high, that school is deemed to be failing and if a school fails 2 out of 3 years, it becomes ineligible for federal financial aid. Since most schools get a considerable portion of their revenue from the federal Department of Education, losing that eligibility would likely result in having to shut down.

The rule was so well conceived that 300 schools on the list of 500 failing schools released 11 days before Trump’s inauguration shut down before the rules went into effect because they saw the handwriting on the wall. But despite the rule’s effectiveness in eliminating wasteful government spending and shuttering the most heinous for-profit scams/schools that prey on consumers, DeVos is going to eliminate and ‘rewrite’ the rule. And lest one delusionally thinks the rewrite will improve the rule, it gets worse…

Bridgepoint Education (NYSE: BPI) operates Ashford University, a for-profit, online-only school (the physical campus in Iowa shut down in 2016 due to weak enrollment). Ashford University has an average tuition of $34,000, half students don’t earn their degree on time, and graduates earn an average salary after graduation of less than $16,000. One of Bridgeport Education’s senior executives was Robert Eitel, now a senior counselor to Betsy DeVos and the person she officially designated as the Education Department’s regulatory reform officer.

So much for draining the swamp.

 

Recommended Reading

Don’t Fear The Robots – WSJ

Second Route To Middle Class – NYT

 

 

July 26, 2017 / Molly Moseley

Is texting your recruitment secret weapon?

Cell phone users text an average of 491 times a month, according to Statistic Brain research, and the median age of texters is 38. That means you’re probably not surprised when anyone from your grandmother to your teenage nephew sends you a text. But what about a potential employer?

While texting is generally considered an appropriate outlet for more casual conversations (Hey honey, please pick up some milk!), the reality is that people are using it more frequently than ever before. I rarely talk on the phone to my own friends and family, opting frequently to text them instead. It’s fast, easy and convenient in busy modern life.

Texting has changed the way we communicate with loved ones, and now it may be changing how you get a job. According to the Wall Street Journal article, “Good at Texting? It Might Land You a Job,” some companies are now conducting interviews via text message.

While I love receiving a friendly text, a sassy emoji or a sweet photo, my first reaction after reading this article was that texting seemed like a less progressive, clunkier way for employers to reach out. As a job seeker, if I wasn’t expecting a text from an employer, I’d likely think it was spam and ignore it.

What’s more, how can you really make a positive impression and get a good feel for an employer or employee via a text-only conversation? We all know that subtle communication queues such as voice inflection and body language are lost in email, and with the condensed nature of texts, I would think there would be even fewer of these important subtleties.

However, if you flip the coin, there may be some positives that make it a worthwhile consideration for companies. When reaching out to younger audiences, you might have better luck via text since texting is so ingrained in young professionals’ lives. It might even make an impression that you’re a progressive company that utilizes technology in fresh new ways, which could enhance your hiring brand.

Another potential benefit to interviewing via text message would be the ability to connect with busy people and/or those who are still employed. It can be difficult to answer your phone at work or while running errands. It might be easier to connect with top talent via text than playing phone tag with both parties getting increasingly frustrated.

Ultimately, it’s up to the employer if they want to try this new interviewing strategy. It would definitely be more appropriate for screening purposes or first interviews. I don’t see it replacing phone or in-person interviews for second or third interview purposes. Too much is at stake at that point in the hiring process, so in-person is best.

A lot depends on the position being hired for as well. Certainly you aren’t going to conduct a text interview for your next CFO. Texting might work for entry-level positions, middle management or certain technical jobs. You’d best reach out to C-suite candidates in a more traditional manner.

Have you used text methods in your hiring efforts? How do you feel about its effectiveness and place in the future of recruiting?

July 20, 2017 / Molly Moseley

How Google and BBC can fix gender pay

The gender pay gap is a major problem in the United States. Even companies with a progressive reputation have come under scrutiny recently.

Last Friday, San Francisco Judge Steven Berlin issued a ruling that Google must provide contact information for up to 8,000 employees so the Labor Department can investigate if women and men are paid fairly for equal work. The tech behemoth denies allegations there are salary disparities between genders. When the investigators explore the data, will the numbers match the claims?

Full-time working women continue to earn less than men nationwide — an estimated 79 cents for every dollar a man earns when working full time. This problem isn’t unique to the U.S.; cross the pond and problems persist. Just look at the recently released info from the BBC about how much it pays entertainment stars and top journalists. As CNN reports, “The data, which was being published for the first time, betrayed an embarrassing fact: It’s paying its female stars a lot less.”

There’s clearly a problem, and some state governments have taken steps to promote pay equality from the get-go. In 2016, Massachusetts became the first state to pass legislation that made it illegal for employers to inquire about applicants’ salaries prior to making a job offer. In May of this year, New York City did the same, prohibiting city employers from inquiring about salary history. That bill will take effect Oct. 31, 2017.

Pay equality is the main motivation for both these laws. The NYC legislation states, “When employers rely on salary histories to determine compensation, they perpetuate the gender wage gap. Adopting measures like this bill can reduce the likelihood that women will be prejudiced by prior salary levels and help break the cycle of gender pay inequity.”

This is a great step in closing the pay gap, but companies need to do so much more to continue the forward momentum. It’s a complex issue and certainly not a problem that will be solved overnight. But we can’t live in denial that it exists, and companies must take clear action in order to identify problems and overcome them.

Many employers are blissfully unaware they’re guilty of gender pay discrimination. That can come back to bite them. First, HR and finance should work together to look at what employees are paid and to make sure numbers are balanced. Ideally, a pay audit like this should be done annually.

Next, for SMBs, it can be difficult to do apples-to-apples comparisons internally. External numbers can really lend insight into the local marketplace. Conduct analysis based on gender, job title, experience and responsibilities to see how your employees are being paid compared to others in the area. Consider subscribing to compensation software from companies like PayScale to ensure you get accurate data.

Finally, take steps for the future. Adjust discrepancies you discover and make fair offers during hiring negotiations. For current employees, ensure women have equal opportunity for advancement. Finally, keep an open-door policy. If an employee wants to discuss pay and other opportunities, make it a priority to have a thoughtful conversation. Addressing concerns head-on and taking action makes a huge difference.

July 17, 2017 / Meg McCormick

University of Washington uses LinkUp data in landmark study

The United States health care system is transforming in radical ways. As the industry evolves, job demands evolve with it. Many parts of the country are experiencing a shortage of trained health care professionals. This problem is escalated by the growing needs of the aging baby boomer population.

The University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies set out to understand more about the skills employers are currently expecting of hires. By learning more about the most in-demand skills, the industry can take steps to ensure a steady pipeline of properly trained professionals.

To get this information, a massive amount of clean data must be analyzed. Several administrative and survey data sources such as the American Community Survey (ACS) and Current Population Survey (CPS) are available, but they have limitations. National surveys such as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also have flaws.

That’s why the University of Washington looked to LinkUp for help. What most people don’t realize is LinkUp is more than just a job search engine. Because of the company’s no-nonsense approach to job listings, they have access to incredibly accurate data that is highly valuable to researchers.

LinkUp data was exclusively utilized for the now published study, “The Value of Real Time Labor Market Information for Monitoring Health Workforce Demand: A Case Study Examining Employer Demand for Health Information Technology Skills.”

The study notes: “We obtained a dataset of online job ads from the job search engine company ‘LinkUp’ for the mutually agreed upon purpose of this study. LinkUp extracts information from company and government websites only (i.e., it does not search job aggregation websites), and claims to have one of the best de-duplication algorithms in the industry. For 2016, each day of data contains approximately 3 million active jobs from 50,000 employers across many industries.”

The University of Washington chose to partner with LinkUp because the jobs sourced are exclusively from employer websites, which eliminates job pollution like lead gen bait, fraudulent listings, duplicate listings and work-at-home scams. Translation: Clean data from more than 30,000 companies representing every industry, region and job type allows researchers to come up with accurate, meaningful conclusions.

Beyond educational institutions, this data is useful to government entities, academic organizations and top research firms who want to explore topics and discover new findings. LinkUp’s 3.75 million unique active job openings and a historical archive of 90 million unique jobs going back to 2007 provide unparalleled depth, breadth and quality of data for organizations focused on workforce development, public policy, training and education, curriculum development and labor market trends.

To learn more about how we can partner to make your study a success, send us an email.

June 28, 2017 / Toby Dayton

Pace of Job Gains Showing More Hints of Running Out of Gas (Assuming Trump Doesn’t Drive It Off A Cliff First)

For good reason, there is a great deal of fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the job market these days. Earlier this month, the Fed surprised almost no one by raising interest rates in part because of the strength of the nation’s labor market. But while the Fed’s decision itself was virtually a foregone conclusion, the debate about the rationale behind the decision is anything but settled.

Leaving aside for a moment the state of the overall economy, the markets, and other potential factors, there are a number of irrefutable facts to point to for those in favor of the rate hike. Unemployment stands at 4.3%, labor demand throughout much of the economy continues to clearly exceed supply across most of the country, and the U.S. economy has now recorded monthly job gains for 80 consecutive months.

 

80 months of net job gains (May 2017)

 

But on the other side of the argument lie a handful of equally irrefutable facts. The labor force participation rate and the employment population ratio are essentially at record lows, indicating ample slack in the labor market, and growth in wages remains stuck at rates below what one would expect given the continued strength of the labor market.

And it is this last fact, the persistent lack of significant wage inflation, that seems to be fueling the most inflamed debate. While we’ve argued that we’ve been in a full employment environment for roughly a year due to the large and growing imbalance between labor demand and supply, wage growth remains stubbornly and inexplicably anemic. For certain, given the epic level of income inequality and its catastrophic impact on lives, there is a more-than-reasonable argument to be made, at least as far as wages are concerned, that the Fed should keep rates low.

Unfortunately, the uncertainty surrounding the job market is only going to grow as more hints emerge that the best days of job growth may be behind us. While monthly job gains should be expected to decline year-over-year as the current economic cycle extends further and further, it is also the case that at some point, declining job growth indicates a turning tide. Since the peak of average monthly job gains of 258,000 in 2014, average monthly job gains in 2017 have dropped to 162,000 through May.

 

Average monthly net job gains 2010 - May 2017

 

Perhaps more notably, the Fed’s recent Beige Book indicated that the business outlook softened just ever so slightly for the period ending May 22nd. Also of note, JOLTS data from April showed that quits fell by 111,000 to 3.03 million, a signal that confidence in finding a new, better paying job might be waning. And lastly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has revised downward their monthly Non-Farm Payroll data for each of the past 7 months.

 

BLS revisions 8 months through May 2017

 

To be sure, these ever-so-faint hints of potential trouble on the horizon could turn out to be meaningless, but perhaps just a bit more substantive is the fact that new job openings in LinkUp’s job search engine have dropped in both April and May.

 

LinkUp June NFP Forecast

 

Again, it’s tough to sound the alarms too loudly at this point given that new job openings declined in 7 of 12 months last year and on 2 occasions for 3 consecutive months. But weak job gains last month also came in below consensus estimates, surprising most on Wall Street (except a few of us at the low end of the forecast range).

 

NFP_2017.06.02

 

And based on the decline in May’s jobs data from LinkUp, we are forecasting another disappointing jobs report for June with a net job gain of just 115,000 jobs. Our June jobs data, which we’ll publish next week following the end of the month, should provide some hint at what we can expect for July’s Non-Farm Payroll numbers.

But regardless of whether or not the current bull market in job growth might be running out of gas, there is no doubt whatsoever that the President is doing everything in his power to drive the nation’s job-creation engine straight off a cliff. There are way too many examples to list them all, but a few highlights include the horrendous decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord which both accelerates the destruction of the planet AND crushes American global competitiveness and the related job growth, abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump’s policies couldn’t possibly be any more counter-productive to job growth, and to add insult to injury, he’s already lying about his jobs record.

As a June 13th Times editorial states, by trying to reduce taxes for the wealthiest by repealing healthcare for 23 million people, gutting Wall Street reforms enacted following the Great recession, and neglecting to focus on any meaningful infrastructure legislation, “The prospect of good jobs at good pay has faded of late, and the government is only threatening to make things worse.”

And then there are the minor absurdities such as Trump’s incessant yet non-sensical focus on the coal industry and Scott Pruitt’s equally brazen lies about how many coal jobs Trump has created since January. As good as David Plotz’s rant about coal jobs was on the Political Gabfest, John Oliver’s annihilation is even better. (By the way, the top 5 states generating power from wind – ND, SD, IA, KS, OK – are all red states). And I’ll just pretend for a minute that a rebuttal is even necessary by suggesting a more suitable industry for Trump to focus on: the 16 million workers struggling in the retail sector.

Trump’s order for a ‘national security’ review of steel imports for the sole purpose of justifying a steel tariff stands as yet another mockery. As a WSJ editorial points out, there are 16 times more workers in steel-consuming industries as there are in the steel industry, and when George W. Bush imposed steel tariffs in 2002, U.S. businesses lost 200,000 jobs, more than were employed in the entire steel industry at the time (187,500), resulting in $4 billion in lost wages. That same editorial concludes, “The case against steel tariffs is so overwhelming that it’s hard to believe even Mr. Ross can find a way to justify it. The motivation could only be to assist the politically clamorous owners of a handful of steel companies that would exploit government favoritism to raise prices. The losers would be millions of the so-called forgotten men and women the President vowed to help during his campaign.”

And on and on and on…..

The outlook for the nation under Trump/Ryan/McConnell leadership is so dire that the IMF just issued a blistering report more typical of what one might expect for an emerging market economy, complete with downgraded growth forecasts for 2017 and 2018. Coming from an organization run by one of the most brilliant economists in the world, that’s as good a sign as any of what a horror show we’re in the midst of.

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 10.29.03 PM

 

Recommended Reading

Carrier Jobs Trump vowed to save are moving to Mexico

Seattle’s minimum wage is not having the negative impact critics said it would

• Friedman on Trump, China, and trade

What works

Genesys Works – helping disadvantaged youth with mentoring and internships

 

 

 

 

June 28, 2017 / Molly Moseley

Morale-boosting benefits that cost little to nothing

shutterstock_283873355A two-for-one — Happy Fourth of July! Many employees are overjoyed that not only are they getting Independence Day off next week, but also the day before. Because the Fourth falls on a Tuesday, many companies with traditional office hours are opting to close Monday as well.

Of course, days off vary by industry, but standard 8-5 organizations are often flooded with PTO requests for days prior or days after a holiday. In this case, with the eve falling on the first day of the week, it’s easier for many companies to just stay closed. Business is likely to be slow and crews will be sparse, plus what a morale booster it is for employees to get a four-day weekend!

July 3 is the perfect slot for a company floating holiday, which got me thinking about other benefits that aren’t incredibly difficult or expensive for companies to implement, yet have a dramatic effect on employee satisfaction and retention. The types of things that really help out employees but aren’t so extravagant that SMBs can’t afford to implement them.

A nice perk here at LinkUp is summer hours. We get off at 3 p.m. on Fridays, and I can guarantee that no work is lost by closing a few hours early. Employees are trusted to get their job done and meet deadlines, which they work ahead to do because leaving a little early to enjoy a bit of extra sunshine is absolutely worth it. Morale soars, employees work hard and it costs the company nothing.

Plus, so many employees take off Fridays to enjoy long weekends. In reality, with summer Fridays, fewer people may take Friday PTO because they know that even though it’s just two hours, that’s enough time to help them get out of town a little early for long weekends at the lake (we are in Minnesota and there are nearly 12,000 to explore).

How much would it cost for your company to do summer hours? If it won’t have a dramatic effect on business, it’s an incentive worth considering.

Flexibility is another highly sought-after benefit by today’s professional that often costs little to employers. Allow employees to shift their hours within reason to meet their personal needs, or if possible, consider allowing telecommuting a few days a week. This is a huge help for employees who want to miss rush hour, explore hobbies and attend family events.

Fitness-related benefits are also easy to implement and typically cost-effective. Bring in a yoga teacher over the lunch hour and reach out to your health insurance provider to get info on health-club reimbursements. Start a walking club and reward employees who meet certain goals. Options are virtually endless and can fit any budget.

One final perk gaining momentum is company-sponsored PTO for volunteering. Obviously this costs the company a day’s salary for the person who is out, but the payback is worth it. Not only are you allowing employees to go out and make a difference in the community, you’re enhancing your brand by showing the organization cares. This feel-good benefit is a wonderful addition for current employees and a nice mention when recruiting. In fact, our company took a day off to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity just this week for the 15th consecutive year.

What other low-cost benefits at your company have positively impacted workers?

June 21, 2017 / Molly Moseley

Requiring a college degree is BS

CC Image by COD Newsroom, Flickr

Is a college degree the new high school diploma? As most hiring managers can attest, the answer is yes.

Many entry-level jobs require a college education just to be considered as a candidate. Need an Associate of Science degree for data entry? Yep. A Bachelor of Arts degree for basic child care? Sure. A Bachelor of Science degree to be a file clerk? Yes — and that’s a lot of B.S.

Company leaders across the United States are hollering that it’s tough to find qualified workers to fill jobs, but perhaps those qualified workers are already there; they just don’t happen to measure up to the lofty degree requirements on the job post. It’s time to consider a shift in perspective.

President Trump’s workforce initiative that launched last week brings this topic center stage. Essentially it encourages apprenticeships, technical training and on-the-job training in lieu of companies defaulting to requiring college degrees. Ivanka Trump, who will lead the initiative, said, “There is a viable path other than a four-year college experience.”

Not all work requires a college degree, so why do so many companies require them? It wasn’t always this way. Bloomberg Businessweek explains, “When the job market was flooded with desperate applicants, many employers required college degrees for entry-level jobs. There was a certain cruel logic to it: Hey, might as well get the best.”

However, those standards didn’t fall when job markets tightened. Once HR up-credentials a position, requirements rarely get relaxed. “That could explain why 43 percent [of employers] say finding enough candidates is a top challenge in filling entry-level jobs,” the article notes.

Equally concerning is the $1.3 trillion in student loans in the U.S. The average class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt. That graduate must now vie for an entry-level job with a minimal salary or stay unemployed. They might not even work in the field of their degree! In fact, only 27 percent of college grads have a job related to their major.

I believe we are at the tipping point and soon will experience a renaissance in higher education. People are sick of being stuck with loads of debt for degrees they don’t use and therefore are seeking alternatives. This goes beyond job training and technical schools. People are using MOOCs (massive open online courses) providers like edX or Coursera. They are signing up for certification through trade organizations like the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute. They are considering corporate training through companies like IBM.

Educational organizations are starting to break the traditional college mold, too. MissionU is one such example. Launched in March, this 12-month college alternative offers a major in Data Analytics + Business Intelligence. The goal is to get people trained so they have the in-demand skills to get into the job market quickly. What makes it even more unique is there’s no tuition. Graduates pay 15 percent of their income for three years once they hit a salary of $50,000.

For employers and HR professionals, these trends are certainly something to note. It’s important to start looking beyond colleges and explore alternative training programs and vocational education in order to find quality candidates. If your applicant tracking system is eliminating candidates just because they don’t have a token 4-year degree, change it and see what happens. Most important, consider skill, experience and potential, not just the degree and name of their alma mater.

 

June 13, 2017 / Stephanie Anderson

The pain of changing your name in the workplace

shutterstock_384188605First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a long line at the Social Security office in order to change your name … if you choose to do so.

New York Times’ data blog, The Upshot, reports women are keeping their maiden names more often than they used to. While adopting a spouse’s name was more common in the 1980s and 1990s, recent years show roughly 20 percent of married women are keeping their last names.

What’s more, there seems to be a rising trend of men taking their female partner’s name. The Huffington Post article “I Got Married And Took My Wife’s Last Name. Here’s Why” lends some insight into why a man would consider this nontraditional move.

Feminism? Yes, part of it was to support equality between him and his wife, but that wasn’t the only reason. The change was also in line with his desire to have one singular family name (The Brobergs), plus he liked that it sounded more Jewish, which is his heritage.

After reading the article, I started to think more about the implications of a name change. Changing your name is a nightmare, especially at work. You’ll visit HR to fill out necessary paperwork. You need to update your email, voicemail, business cards, etc. You’ll have to introduce yourself to clients and contacts again, explaining your new name. It’s all time-consuming and often frustrating.

Of course, a name change is more than just logistics. If you’re already established in your career, your reputation is closely connected to your name. Changing it can really challenge your reputation management. Your name is your own personal brand, and just like you’d never see Coke considering a name change, it’s not something many professionals are willing to do, either.

This ties closely to the trend that Americans are staying single longer. The average age for Americans getting married is estimated at 27 for women and 29 for men. That is plenty of time to attend college, get a job and start making a name for yourself. When it’s time to get married, a traditional name change may not make sense.

Ultimately, the choice of whether to change your name is between two partners and there are countless ways to approach the decision. Some couples both keep their names, others hyphen or blend their two names together into a totally new surname. Some keep separate names for their personal and professional lives, and still others come up with new options, much like my husband and I did.

When I got married, my husband took my maiden name as his middle name. It was completely his idea. However, he quickly learned the pain of a name change and actually faced additional challenges that can come from bucking tradition.

When I updated my name, I only needed our marriage certificate. For him to update his name, he was told he needed a court order. Apparently that DMV worker had never had a man change his name in marriage before! After a few phone calls to a judge and lawyers with the state of Virginia, he was finally able to make the change. Today I love both our names and the path we chose.

Did you change your name when you got married? How did it affect different aspects of your life and career?