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November 16, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Employees working while ill? Maybe it’s the PTO policy

When the temperature drops across the country, sniffles and sneezes begin and mark the official beginning of the cold and flu season. While an average of 5–20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu each year, according to the CDC Foundation, even more will get colds and other viruses that slow life to a halt.

Whether it’s the flu or another ailment, workers may call in sick to take care of themselves or their family members who fall ill. Most employers agree that people should stay home when sick for two important reasons: to get better quickly and to prevent the spread of illness to other employees. This ultimately helps to reduce backlogs and keep productivity as high as possible.

One great way to encourage employees to stay home when ill is to provide a paid time off benefit. There are three main ways companies approach sick time, and each has its pros and cons.

1. Separate sick and vacation time

The traditional approach to PTO is to separate sick time from vacation time. Because certain days are designated for sick periods, employees may be more likely to stay home because these days can be used only when ill. However, this also means healthy employees may call in sick when they aren’t ill because they want to use this benefit before it expires. Furthermore, it can be more complex for HR to track PTO when separated into different categories.

2. Lump sum PTO

Many companies are switching to the lump PTO approach. This gives employees the flexibility to use paid time off as they choose, which can be a perk. The drawback, though, is that employees would much rather use this benefit for a vacation or another fun event, so they may be more likely to come into the office when ill in order to avoid using up a precious PTO day. This could cause illness to spread to other people and drain productivity.

3. Unlimited sick time

Unlimited sick time is the holy grail from an employee’s perspective. Being able to stay home when ill without concern about financial or workplace repercussions is a huge benefit that will draw the attention of incoming talent, all while boosting loyalty among current employees. But it takes a special company culture to make this work — one based on trust and the assumption that employees will be responsible and reasonable about their choices.

Ultimately what works for one company may not for another, so there’s no one-size-fits-all PTO strategy. Fortunately, if a program isn’t working, the start of the year is a great time to evaluate and make adjustments.

Despite what a company chooses to offer, good communication about benefits and the importance of staying home when ill can be highly effective. What’s more, leadership must model desired behaviors; this means no sniffling, hacking, miserable-looking bosses working late hours. When members of leadership take care of themselves, employees will do the same when it’s time to go home and get some R&R (and maybe that flu shot).

November 9, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Election results and the workplace: How to bring employees together

Excitement. Hope. Pride.

Shock. Disappointment. Sadness.

What is the atmosphere at your place of work today? This historic election has brought out myriad emotions as candidates powered through the campaign trail. As the results came in on Election Day, these emotions seemed to multiply. Waking up this morning (if you were able to sleep much at all last night) meant starting the day with a new President-elect.

Then it was time to go to work, just like any other day.

When I woke up today I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. As I got ready this morning, my son greeted me and was a surprising voice of reason. “Well at least we were given the chance to vote and have an opinion,” he said. I paused and gave him a hug, in awe that such comforting and wise words came from a second grader.

Regardless of whether you were for or against Trump, the important thing is that we all had a chance to vote and shape our future. We will continue to have that voice every four years, and even more often for many state and local races. Ultimately it’s up to us to use our voice to demand action for what is important to us, as well as hold our leaders accountable to what they have promised. Thank you, son, for reminding me of this.

As voters from all sides make their way through the workday, it’s important to demonstrate respect and empathy for each other. Today I encourage everyone to be kind to one another. No gloating or sulking. Support each other and strive to do something positive for at least one co-worker today.

In times of division, management holds the key to calm by demonstrating grace and understanding. Leadership should be sensitive to all employees and explain that the same is expected throughout the company. This might entail an email explaining company policy or a causal meeting with teams noting expectations. Go a step further and use this time to share words of inspiration.

Another idea: There’s no better day to schedule something enjoyable for teams to do. Splurge on pizza for lunch and invite everyone to the lunch room to mingle and eat great food. Take people out to coffee and ask about their hobbies or family. Schedule a group meeting during which you complete a team-building activity — no political talk allowed.

Finally, in times of change, it’s common to experience emotions of helplessness. People from all political backgrounds are feeling they have little control over their future today. Encourage focus on what can be controlled. It might be hitting a deadline for a brand-new work project. It might be an opportunity to learn a new professional skill. It might be heading directly home after a long day to have a movie night while holding your children close.

Remember, we are one country. Let’s strive to make each other stronger and focus on creating a brighter future for all.

November 3, 2016 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp Forecasting Non-Farm Payroll of 105,000 For October; Barring The Apocalypse, Job Gains Should Remain Slow And Steady

Given the abundance of bias in my blog posts over the years, there is no way that I can refrain from endorsing Hillary in a post just a few days prior to the election. But rather than re-write what has already been written countless times over the past year, I will leave it to a serious pro and simply repost Thomas Friedman’s editorial from yesterday’s New York Times.

 

Donald Trump Voters, Just Hear Me Out – Thomas Friedman, NYT November 2, 2016

This is my last column until after the election, so I’d like to address the people least likely to read it: Donald Trump voters. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky and a few of them will buy fish wrapped in this column, and they’ll accidentally peruse it! Desperate times call for desperate measures.

While I’ve opposed the Trump candidacy from the start, I’ve never disparaged Trump voters. Some are friends and neighbors; they’re all fellow Americans. We should take their concerns seriously. But we should also demand that they be serious, that they draw distinctions between these two presidential candidates.

Yes, Hillary Clinton is a flawed leader — but in the way so many presidents were. We know her flaws: She has a weakness for secrecy, occasionally fudges truths, has fawning aides and a husband who lacks discipline when it comes to moneymaking and women. But she is not indecent, and that is an important distinction. And she’s studious, has sought out people of substance on every issue and has taken the job of running for president seriously.

Trump is not only a flawed politician, he’s an indecent human being. He’s boasted of assaulting women — prompting 11 to come forward to testify that he did just that to them; his defense is that he could not have assaulted these women because they weren’t pretty enough.

He’s created a university that was charged with defrauding its students. He’s been charged with discriminating against racial minorities in his rental properties. He’s stiffed countless vendors, from piano sellers to major contractors. He’s refused to disclose his tax returns because they likely reveal that he’s paid no federal taxes for years, is in bed with dodgy financiers and doesn’t give like he says to charity.

He’s compared the sacrifice of parents of a soldier killed in Iraq to his “sacrifice” of building tall buildings. He’s vowed, if elected, to prosecute his campaign rival.

We have never seen such behaviors in a presidential candidate.

At the same time, Trump has shown no ability to talk about any policy issue with any depth. Harlan Coben’s debate-night tweet last month had it right: “On Aleppo he sounds like a fifth grader giving a book report on a book he never read.”

I understand why many Trump supporters have lost faith in Washington and want to just “shake things up.” When you shake things up with a studied plan and a clear idea of where you want to get to, you can open new futures. But when you shake things up, guided by one-liners and no moral compass, you can cause enormous instability and systemic vertigo.

But there is an even more important reason Trump supporters, particularly less-educated white males, should be wary of his bluster: His policies won’t help them. Trump promises to bring their jobs back. But most of their jobs didn’t go to a Mexican. They went to a microchip.

The idea that large numbers of manual factory jobs can be returned to America if we put up a wall with Mexico or renegotiate our trade deals is a fantasy. Trump ignores the fact that manufacturing is still by far the largest sector of the U.S. economy. Indeed, our factories now produce twice what they did in 1984 — but with one-third fewer workers.

Trump can’t change that. Machines and software will keep devouring, and spawning, more work of all kinds. Did you hear that IBM’s cognitive computer, Watson, helped to create a pop song, “Not Easy,” with the Grammy-winning producer Alex da Kid? The song was released on Oct. 21, IBM noted, and within 48 hours it climbed to No. 4 on iTunes’s Hot Tracks.

No one knows for certain how we deal with this new race with and against machines, but I can assure you it’s not Trump’s way — build walls, restrict trade, give huge tax cuts to the rich. The best jobs in the future are going to be what I call “STEMpathy jobs — jobs that blend STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, math) with human empathy. We don’t know what many of them will look like yet.

The smartest thing we can do now is to keep our economy as open and flexible as possible — to get the change signals first and be able to quickly adapt; create the opportunity for every American to engage in lifelong learning, because whatever jobs emerge will require more knowledge; make sure that learning stresses as much of the humanities and human interactive skills as hard sciences; make sure we have an immigration policy that continues to attract the world’s most imaginative risk-takers; and strengthen our safety nets, because this era will leave more people behind.

This is the only true path to American greatness in the 21st century. Trump wants to make America great in ways that are just not available anymore. “What do we have to lose” by trying his way? Trump asks. The answer is: everything that actually makes us great. When the world gets this fast, small errors in navigation have huge consequences.

While Clinton has failed to inspire, her instincts and ideas will keep us hewing to basically the right course. And however great her flaws, she is still in the zone of human decency. Trump is not.

We can never be great as a country with a president with the warped values of Donald Trump. I pray that in the end at least some Trump voters, my fellow Americans, will see that.

Friedman’s piece is not only deadly accurate, but his commentary about Trump’s claims that he’ll bring back manufacturing jobs to those displaced by technology and globalization are particularly relevant to this blog. And as absurd as Trump’s claims are, his scathing criticism of Obama’s record on the economy (which remains the envy of the world) and job creation are equally as preposterous.

Since October of 2010, 13.8 million jobs have been added to the U.S. economy, unemployment is sitting at 5%, we have been in a ‘Full Employment’ environment since at least April/May, and wage inflation is continuing to spread across the entire economy which has helped narrow the massive and debilitating inequality gap that has plagued the nation for far too long. So by all measures, not only is the economy in solid shape considering the global backdrop, but the U.S. labor market has remained strong despite a constant barrage of global and political challenges.

In regard to the overall economy, James Stock, a Harvard economist, stated recently that annual growth during the current recovery is 1.74% below the past 3 recoveries, and he estimates that 0.8% of the shortfall can be accounted for by insufficient government spending and weak demand for U.S. exports. Similar challenges have buffeted the U.S. labor market. As Jeffrey Young at Deep Macro wrote yesterday:

 

Stepping back from the monthly numbers, the performance of the US labor market has been solid, considering the shocks that have been thrown at it. We tend to dismiss factors such as the European sovereign crisis, the fiscal cliff, the “Taper Tantrum”, actual tapering and the first Fed rate hike, the emerging market rout of 2015, the strong USD, the oil price collapse, and China instability. But they were big at the time, and figured prominently in the reasons Fed officials cited to run easy policy. The irony is that the US labor market has passed all these hurdles, if not with flying colors, then with only minor scratches and dents. Jobs creation remains firm and very stable.

 

And that trend will continue tomorrow when the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a net gain of 105,000 jobs in October. That may seem like a disappointing number, and it’s definitely below the average monthly job gains of 178,000 so far this year, but it’s well within the range that economists now estimate is required to absorb new entrants into the labor market.

 

Our forecast is based on the decline in new and total job openings we saw on LinkUp’s job search engine in September. As the table below indicates, the declines we’ve seen in new and total job openings in LinkUp’s data since July are perfectly correlated to the diminishing monthly net job gains since June’s peak.

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 11.29.08 AM

 

Based on our forecasting model, which applies a paired-month methodology to LinkUp’s job openings data (sourced every day directly from 30,000 company websites), we expect that October’s net job gains will come in below September’s net job gains and below consensus estimates. But again, beyond the likely headlines that point to the slowing monthly job gains over the past 4 months, the labor market is one that should still be regarded as a healthy, albeit aging, tortoise rather than a sick hare. We expect wages to rise, long-term unemployment to fall, the labor force participation rate to move up, and unemployment to rise due to new entrants into the labor market (which would be a positive sign). And because October is always a tricky month to forecast (no pun intended) because of seasonal hiring, there is a chance that job gains could surprise to the upside.

Although it’s a bit of a glass-half-full perspective given that new job openings fell by 5%, total job gains in October did rise by 1%.

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 5.46.19 PM

 

Similarly, LinkUp’s Job Duration metric continues to point to accelerated hiring. Although October’s Job Duration of 45 days rose from 42 days last month, it remains well below February’s peak of 56 days. As we’ve speculated in past forecasts, the longer duration earlier this year was due to the fact that labor demand was far greater than supply – companies simply could not find people to fill their open positions. More recently, as wages have risen slightly and more people who had been on the sidelines are now entering the job market, employers are hiring people as fast as possible.

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 9.18.02 AM

 

So despite the fact that average monthly job gains are declining as the current recovery extends out further and further…

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 12.24.34 PM

 

…we expect job growth to remain slow, steady, and resilient. That is, of course, barring an apocalyptic victory of Donald Trump next Tuesday in which case we’d expect all hell to break loose.

So please vote, and take to heart what Louis C.K. said last night on Conan:

“If you vote for Hillary, you’re a grown-up. If you vote for Trump, you’re a sucker. And if you don’t vote, you’re an asshole.”

 

 

November 2, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Voting and employees: How employers help to smooth the path to the polls

vote_500x279Whether you want to “make America great again,” you believe we are “stronger together,” or you’re backing one of the third-party options, you’ll join millions of people making their journey to the polls on November 8.

If you work, though, finding time to vote can be difficult. That can mean getting up at the crack of dawn to vote before work, skipping out during your lunch break in hopes lines aren’t too long, or potentially waiting for hours at poll stations in the evening after work.

This stress makes it incredibly hard for employees to do their civic duty. Unfortunately, if the process becomes too cumbersome or time-consuming, some people may skip the polls altogether.

Due to these reasons and more, legislative efforts have been aimed at making Election Day a national holiday. While at face value this may seem like a great idea, the movement has seen a fair amount of backlash. Think about it: just like any other federal holiday, banks, colleges and some big businesses may shut down. Other organizations, however, would stay open, such as retailers, restaurants, health-care groups and small businesses. These employees wouldn’t necessarily get time off to vote, plus they’d be busier due to the flood of additional customers who do have the day off.

Fortunately, there is an easy solution: Employers can help employees make it to the polls no matter where they live.

The first step is to understand each state’s laws about voting. Some state’s require employers to provide paid time off to employees so they can vote. Some states allow time off to vote, but employees must use PTO. Others have no laws on the books regarding this subject.

No matter which laws apply to employers, it’s important to be accommodating to employees who need to vote. Not only does this show that the employer truly cares, but it also encourages higher voter turnout in the local communities. Here are four smart ideas:

Voluntary time off
According to The Wall Street Journal, some companies are aiding the democratic processes by voluntarily closing the office and providing paid time off to employees. Consider joining them by offering employees a full or half-day off.

Late start or early release
Consider delaying start of business or close of business by two hours. Have employees set their out-of-office messages to reflect these details.

Make up time
Allow employees the option to take off as much time as they need to vote as long as they make up that time within a reasonable period, such as a week.

Work from home
If your business has the capability for remote working, declare a work-from-home day for the entire office. This eliminates commuting time and allows people to be closer to their local polling station.

Additionally, consider fun ways to encourage voting. (Just make sure you never promote a certain candidate or political party.) For example, if you collect a certain number of “I voted” stickers, the company could cater lunch or sponsor an outing for employees.

See you at the polls!

October 26, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

5 strategies to survive the job-search waiting game

shutterstock_405214933Virtually everyone experiences a smorgasbord of emotions during their job search. One day you’re excited and optimistic, but the next you’re stressed and worried. Whether you’re waiting for a recruiter’s phone call or the results post-interview, it can go back and forth many times before you finally land the job you really want.

Patience and positivity are key for a successful job search. However, as the saying goes, “It’s easier said than done,” and a job search journey is full of ups and downs. What can job seekers do to maintain momentum and manage those stressful emotions? Consider these five proven strategies:

Manage expectations

You’ll likely apply for many jobs. Odds are you won’t get as many invitations to interview. It’s important to manage your expectations and concentrate on the positives of each experience. Every interview allows you to fine tune your answers to important questions. The people you meet could be valuable additions to your professional network. The job you ultimately turn down because it’s not a great fit could lead you to your dream job.

Hold a power pose

Amy Cuddy of the Harvard Business School points to research that shows, “simply holding one’s body in expansive, “high-power” poses for as little as two minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone (the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds) and lower levels of cortisol (the ‘stress’ hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss).”

Focus on what you control

You can’t control everything during a job search. Hope and prayer can’t get your resume through the applicant tracking system. You will never know the qualities other candidates bring to the table. You have no influence over the mood the recruiter is in when you speak to him or her. Instead, focus your energy on the things that you can really impact, such as fine tuning your resume, attending industry events and using LinkedIn strategically.

Maintain structure

With so many steps involved in a job search, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. When you crave control and end up with chaos, it’s time to reevaluate. Get your files in order, create step-by-step processes and make a daily schedule for your job hunt. For example, spend the first hour of each day on critical job hunting tasks and then give yourself a break for the rest of the day.

Be self-aware

Think about the moments that stress you most during a job search so you can mentally prepare for those situations. Is it the night before an interview? Is it when you haven’t heard back from a recruiter? Stay motivated by figuring out ways to deal with stress when those events occur.

For example, ask people when you can expect to hear back so you can track those deadlines and follow up as needed. On interview days, try relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation or deep-breathing exercises. If something unexpected occurs, give yourself the day off from job searching activities and start again tomorrow with a fresh mindset.

October 21, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Want to work smarter, not harder? Unplug and watch productivity soar

shutterstock_279658379The movement to unplug from work so you can plug into life is gaining steam. While you often hear about this concept in relation to parenthood or traveling, it’s equally important when at work.

Technology has transformed the workplace in many positive ways, but it has come with some negative consequences. Multitasking is the new norm, plus phone alerts and beeps create plenty of non-work-related distractions throughout the day.

It seems counter-intuitive, but silencing your phone, closing social media and ignoring email alerts just might be the secret to being a superstar worker. That’s because you have only so much brain power at your disposal, and if you try to balance too many tasks at once, you spread that power out so thin that you’re no longer as effective as you should be.

A recent CNN report, for example, looks at an MRI of someone driving. Then, that MRI is compared to another that shows the driver trying to multitask. “If you just layer in one more thing — if the person is listening while they are driving — all of a sudden the amount of attention, the amount of brain bandwidth going toward driving decreases by about 37 percent. So you’re not multi-tasking, you’ve actually reduced the amount of attention you’re now paying to your driving.”

Now think about that and how multitasking impacts your work. “A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child,” according to Forbes.

So even though you think you can talk on the phone, send an email and read a text message all at once, you’re really just impairing your cognitive control and ultimately becoming a less effective worker. To work smarter, not harder, it’s time to unplug.

In general, people can focus on tasks for a maximum of 90–120 minutes at a time. If you can create a schedule that allows you to work in increments with breaks in between, you just may find you get much more done in the day.

This strategy is called time blocking. Planning ahead in this manner allows you to be mentally prepared, have better focus, feel less stressed and be more productive. Essentially you block out your entire day with tasks and try to stick with the schedule as much as possible. It’s not just good for work projects, either. You can also block time for checking email and taking a lunch break.

For time blocking to work well, it’s essential to unplug. Silence your phone, close your email, turn your IM to busy and resist the urge to check social media for cute pictures of your niece. Do this for one week and see how much work you get done. I have a feeling you might be surprised.

October 14, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

LinkedIn Open Candidate: The hidden signal to recruiters that you’re open to opportunities

You’ve decided it’s time to look for a new job and you know LinkedIn is ripe with recruiters scouring the social media platform for top talent. You want to signal that you’re in the market and open to new opportunities, but you don’t want it to be detrimental to your current position.

Until recently, the most common way to alert recruiters you’re job searching would be to update your headline with terms like “Seeking new opportunities” or “Available for hire now.” The problem is these alerts are instant giveaways to your current colleagues that you’re hoping to leave soon. Do you really want your boss to visit your profile and see you’ve basically got one foot out the door? Not likely.

LinkedIn has eliminated this dilemma with a cool new feature called Open Candidate. Now you can privately signal to recruiters that you’re considering new opportunities without having to plaster it on your profile. What’s more, the feature hides the signal from recruiters at your company or affiliated company recruiters, so you don’t have to worry about current employees discovering your plans.

How does it work? Simply visit the LinkedIn Jobs homepage and click on the “Preferences” tab. Toggle the switch to the on position, and then fill out some brief information about what types of jobs are of most interest to you as well as which industries and locations. Then bam! You’ll now be elevated in search and recommendation algorithms that recruiters use, which hopefully means you’ll learn about more opportunities.

While this new option is wonderful for job seekers and recruiters alike, it’s not being welcomed as enthusiastically by job boards. Sites like Indeed and Monster require candidates to post their resumes so they can actively hunt for a new position in the job postings. Now, with Open Candidate activated, professionals can gain recruiters’ attention without all that hassle.

Will they use these job boards any less? Maybe, maybe not. Active candidates are likely to go through multiple channels to find a job. But what about the thousands of candidates who are open to new positions but not aggressively searching? For these types of professionals, Open Candidate is the easiest solution for letting recruiters know they’re listening, plus it takes about a minute to activate.

Because LinkUp is a job search engine (not a job board) that only features real job listings culled directly from employer websites, Open Candidate will not affect us. We don’t house candidate resumes; we simply provide the industry’s best way to find authentic jobs quickly and efficiently. In fact, we think Open Candidate is a great new feature that will empower job seekers, and we can’t wait to hear more about how it impacts their journey.

October 5, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Leader or bossy? The impact of gendered communication in the workplace

Gendered communication stereotypes on display in the presidential debate. (NBC/GBM)

A male colleague asserts himself at a meeting and everyone discusses his potential as a future leader within the company. A female colleague asserts herself the next week in a similar manner, however, and people consider her cold and too bossy.

We all would like to think there’s an even playing field at work, but what we’ve been taught about perception, communication and gender proves that’s not the case. Even well-meaning professionals subconsciously make judgments that are highly influenced by a person’s sex.

Gendered communication is becoming a hot topic with the recent movement toward equality in the workplace, and more women are striving to be notable leaders, get that promotion and break the glass ceiling. That means being confident and speaking out is essential to getting noticed.

Both men and women are guilty of making judgments based on gendered communication. Just look at the presidential election. Clinton is often criticized for her inability to show emotion with political pundits telling her to be more personable, show flashes of humor and smile more — but none of that fake-smile garbage! And just as many women criticize her as men.

Another example: Women are negotiating as often as men, but often hear negative feedback when they do. Women who negotiate for a promotion or compensation increase are 30 percent more likely than men who negotiate to receive feedback that they are bossy, too aggressive or intimidating, found the Women in the Workplace 2016 study released last week from McKinsey & Company LeanIn.Org.

Bossy is a word that is particularly searing to many women. Sheryl Sandberg has deemed it “the other B word.” In an editorial for The Wall Street Journal, Sandberg recalls accounts when she was called bossy, and just like many other women can attest, criticism starts at a young age.

“When I was in junior high and running for class vice president, one of my teachers pulled my best friend aside to warn her not to follow my example,” Sandberg wrote in the essay. “‘Nobody likes a bossy girl,’ the teacher warned. ‘You should find a new friend who will be a better influence on you.'”

Scientific research shows that men and women are often very different in regard to how they speak, listen, express emotion and feel appreciated. That means whether you like it or not, many stereotypes aren’t inherently wrong. Where we can inject much-needed change is in how we respond to language and communication in the workplace, especially when it bucks the norm.

Are you treating all of your colleagues equally or do your responses create tension and bias? Being aware and thoughtful about how you react will help break gender and cultural norms to level the playing field for everyone at work (and at home, for that matter).

It’s particularly important for managers to be aware of the nuances of gendered communication so they can effectively lead teams and drive evolution. Check out this Forbes article that does a great job at summarizing common gender communication blind spots.

Remember, your team is always watching you. Make sure you’re leading by example.

October 5, 2016 / Toby Dayton

The Big Grind: LinkUp Forecasting Net Gain Of 125,000 Jobs in September

Although there are still a few months left in the year, it seems apparent to me that one of the overriding themes of 2016 is that, to put it lightly, nothing is coming easy these days. Across seemingly every aspect of life, from politics, global affairs, the economy, race relations, the environment, and the capital markets, to name just a few, it seems as if achieving success, or even just maintaining forward momentum, has become brutally difficult if not downright impossible. And even when progress is achieved, it’s typically been a case of two steps forward and one step back, or even worse, victories that are soon wiped out, rendered obsolete or irrelevant, or are at risk of being reversed in the near future.

Truly, it’s hard to not be utterly depressed when you look at what’s been going on around the world this year. Syria, Brexit, global warming, ISIS, terrorism, Zika, cyber-terrorism, epic levels of inequality, social injustice, racism, bigotry, misogyny….the list of horrors is overwhelming. And at a time when the need for quality leadership has never been higher, we get, instead, Donald Trump. His candidacy is so far beyond dismaying that it’s nearly impossible to even begin trying to put it into words.

And while Trump and, to only a slightly lesser extent the GOP in general, have set an unfathomable low in American politics (and yes, I am fully aware that a Senator was once nearly caned to death in the Senate Chamber), business has certainly had its fair share of abominations this year. From Theranos and EpiPen to Martin Shkreli and most recently the Well Fargo crime wave and CEO John Stumpf’s stupefying testimony in front of Congress, the headlines in the Wall Street Journal are just as dismal as those in the New York Times.

It’s no wonder that cities are burning and opiate addiction has reached historic levels throughout the country. This whole year has been one long grind as we all slog from one depressing news cycle to the next towards perhaps the end of civilization as we know it on November 8th. And while Hilary will most certainly win in November (she has to, right?!?!), the fact that the race isn’t over yet is terrifying. It just shouldn’t be this difficult. So much of what has transpired this year just should not be so difficult.

And that’s where we turn to the U.S. economy, the labor market, and the Fed’s inevitable move to raise rates, because there, too, things should just not be as difficult as they’re proving to be. Despite all the noise being generated by the global economy, corporate earnings, Europe’s debacle, exports, the election, and the markets, the strength and resilience of the U.S. labor market is indesputable.

As we have argued since April/May, we are most definitely in a Full Employment environment and sustained labor demand has been and will continue to broaden and accelerate wage inflation. It turns out, in fact, that that phenomena has been happening for quite a bit longer than most have realized. Jobs are being added across virtually every sector of the economy, companies are hiring people at a faster pace than at any point since last August, and labor demand remains quite strong.

But the difficulty people are having in assessing the situation arises from the fact that monthly payroll gains are declining, wage growth has been somewhat muted, and the labor force participation rate remains at historic lows. So while the underlying fundamentals are strong, ascertaining that perspective remains challenging. As we wrote in our analysis in August:

The challenge for economists, the Fed, and forecasters, however, is that there is tremendous uncertainty as to how much slack there is in the labor force, the rate at which the underemployed and ‘marginally attached’ will return to the workforce, the impact of rising wages on the gig economy, the structural impact of technological changes to the U.S. workforce, the rate of baby-boomer retirement, and the persistently low labor force participation rate. All of these factors are wreaking havoc in trying to assess what type of job gains we can expect each month given the continued strength of the job market.

Unfortunately, these challenges will likely persist with Friday’s non-farm payroll (NFP) report, when the Labor Department announces that only 125,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in September, somewhat below consensus forecasts.

 

 

LinkUp NFP forecast Sep 2016

 

Our forecast is based on the monthly declines since July in total job openings in LinkUp’s job search engine which indexes 3.5 million job openings every day, directly from 30,000 company websites. And in September, those declines accelerated a bit further, with new and total job openings falling 7% and 3% respectively.

 

Jobs By State September 2016

 

But don’t let the noise obfuscate the underlying fundamentals. After 71 months of monthly net job gains, a period during which 13.7 million jobs were added to the economy, monthly job gains should be expected to start tapering off to some degree. But make no mistake, the labor market remains strong, companies are hiring, and they are filling job openings at an increasingly faster rate. The encouraging Job Duration trends we highlighted last month, in fact, accelerated further in September, falling from 47 days to 42 days.

 

Screen Shot 2016-10-01 at 12.05.07 PM

 

So consistent with the theme of 2016 that nothing comes easy these days, Friday’s jobs report is likely to come in below consensus forecasts, causing more consternation and further gnashing of teeth at the Fed and in the markets. But much like the Presidential election, where it’s critical to stay focused on good data, the fundamentals of the U.S. labor market remain strong and will, at the end of the day, prove themselves over time.

 

 

 

 

 

September 27, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Multi-level marketing: Flexible opportunity or job scam?

shutterstock_387193792Hop on Facebook and you’re likely inundated with posts about essential oils, nail wraps and weight-loss products. You’d expect these to come from advertisers, but these days they are probably coming from friends and other personal connections.

Welcome to the age of multi-level marketing.

“Also known as network marketing,” according to the Better Business Bureau, “MLM is a system of retailing in which consumer products are sold by independent salespeople (distributors). Earnings in MLM are based on effort and ability to sell consumer products supplied to the distributor by the company.”

MLMs like Pampered Chef, Beach Body, YoungLiving and Stella & Dot serve an important role in the employment landscape. An estimated one in seven U.S. households include someone involved in direct sales. For people who are ambitious yet require a flexible schedule, these might offer an appealing opportunity. As Sheryl Sandberg encourages women to lean in, it’s no surprise that participants skew female.

Do the constant sales posts get annoying? Sometimes. But when it comes to people you love and respect, you want them to succeed. You may even be a fan of some of the products and happily support their business. Even so, skepticism has probably left you wondering whether they really make any money.

The unfortunate truth is few MLM people make enough money to really impact their budget. In general, it’s the top 1 percent who earn a significant amount of money, and that takes many years of hard work networking and building up the business. If you want to know more about typical rep incomes, look at the financial disclosures on the company website.

Bottom line: Most people are not getting rich selling MLM products, and it certainly isn’t happening overnight.

What’s arguably most concerning is that too many people are signing up for these programs — which typically require an initial investment of $100–500 — without really understanding what’s needed to succeed. Not only do you need to sell products every month, but you must build a team that’s enthusiastic and effective because you get a small cut of their sales. That’s right, you’ll be trying to get your friends to sign up, too.

All of a sudden, MLMs are starting to feel like pyramid schemes and look notoriously similar to a job scams.

While you will find corporate jobs for these companies on LinkUp (hello, salary and benefits!), you won’t find listings to become an MLM rep. That’s because we promise to never include duplicate, fake, or scam job listings, and most MLM opportunities feature several of the job scam red flags we caution, such as requiring payment to assume the position, being offered the job without question, and unrealistic promises of amazing things.

Does that mean you should avoid the allure of an MLM opportunity? That’s an entirely personal decision. If you are interested in joining an MLM to supplement your income, you must do your research, understand your responsibilities and have realistic expectations. That’s the only way to wisely decide if it’s a career path you’d like to pursue.