10/29-30/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (firstname.lastname@example.org) unless otherwise initialed -
- How Washington could create jobs - Congress has the means to spur job growth, economists say, if it can find the will, by Ruth Mantell, 10/29 MarketWatch.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to lift Americans out of the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, but jobs remain in short supply.
About 14.8 million people are unemployed — an increase of more than 7 million since the recession began. And as slow as Congress has been to act while Democrats controlled both chambers, an increasingly divided political landscape after the election is expected to create an even worse logjam in Washington.
Spending on the smart grid
A $280 million investment in smart power-grid technology for Chattanooga, Tenn., is expected to create energy savings and jobs, as well as offer 1-gigabit bandwidth speeds, according to Harold DePriest of the Electric Power Board. Steve Gelsi reports.
Still, there could be room for more jobs programs if lawmakers allow cuts to be made elsewhere, observers said. And if Washington can find the will, economists say there are ways the government could spur job growth, and help the nation recover from a recession that technically ended last year but is still damaging families across the country.
Spending on infrastructure is one way to help create jobs, and it might enjoy political support, said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, an economic and financial research firm.
Infrastructure projects build jobs
Analysts have found that spending on infrastructure has a relatively high payoff in terms of boosting the overall economy. Another major point in favor of additional infrastructure spending: It would help some of the workers who have been most hurt in the recession, such as construction workers.
“That would be a good way to go that has political tailwinds to it,” Zandi said. “There will be more political gridlock in the wake of the election, but I sense that there is room for potential compromise on this.”
It might even be possible to increase infrastructure spending at little cost to taxpayers, Zandi said. For example, private capital could be used to build roads, bridges and sewer systems, and the government could allow companies to charge user fees and tolls.
“A lot of pension funds, insurance companies, have liabilities that are very long term,” Zandi said. “This kind of income stream is stable, so it would be a perfect investment for that kind of capital.”
However, political leaders have been too slow to implement infrastructure projects, said Gary Burtless, an economist at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
“It’s not as though it’s hard to find construction workers, or the inputs needed. What’s in short supply is the imagination and resourcefulness of public leaders in getting the money spent fast,” Burtless said. “We want to get people on payrolls quickly. For some reason we seem to have forgotten how to go about building public infrastructure projects in the near term.”
Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, recently told MarketWatch that policies that encourage investment in the U.S. are the best way to generate sustainable job creation.
“Some of those the president has been putting in place, like the small-business bill,” Goolsbee said. “Some are on his agenda — he has called for allowing expensing of investment, encouraging infrastructure spending, encouraging R&D spending by private companies.
“We need to return to a boom that is of a different style than it was in the 2000s. The 2000s boom was driven by consumption growth that was not sustainable,” Goolsbee said. The president “wants us to go to more of a business-investment-led boom, an export-driven boom, with consumption growth proportional to income, but in a sustainable way where people have a personal savings rate more like 5%, not zero or negative.”
In September, House Republican Leader John Boehner, of Ohio, said the president’s proposals “fall well short” of addressing the main obstacles to job creation.
“I think the president is missing the bigger point here...With all of the spending in Washington, and all the uncertainty facing small businesses — including the coming tax hikes on January 1st — until this uncertainty and spending is under control, I don’t think these are going to have much impact.”
Support state and local governments
Another effective strategy would be to increase aid to state and local governments, economists said. Expanding that assistance could be achieved relatively quickly, and would have an immediate positive impact, said Lawrence Katz, an economist at Harvard University.
“Right now states are a fiscal drag. [Assistance] would prevent layoffs, and get money out there, and do a lot of good, whether it’s for education or keeping police,” Katz said.
While Washington has already sent some aid to state and local governments, some economists say more is needed. The weak housing market and high unemployment have hit states hard, and some states are cutting a slew of public programs and services to balance their budgets.
“The worst recession since the 1930s has caused the steepest decline in state tax receipts on record,” according to recent analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “As a result, even after making very deep spending cuts over the last two years, states continue to face large budget gaps. States will continue to struggle to find the revenue needed to support critical public services for a number of years, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
When a teacher or policeman loses a job, the community loses his services, but it also means that worker stops buying goods and services, helping to perpetuate a dangerous economic spiral, economists said.
“As states cut programs, they are taking money out of the economy, and that not only leads to layoffs in the public sector, but also the private sector,” said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank in Washington. “Providing money to the states for health and education jobs also benefits private-sector jobs. When you keep everyone employed they are out buying from the private sector.”
Mishel said that partisan politics are likely to stand in the way of Congress sending more money to state and local governments. Still, he said, despite the country’s $1.3 trillion deficit — almost 9% of gross domestic product — spending more now to create jobs is a good idea.
“There’s a vast misunderstanding about the deficit,” Mishel said. “The reason we have a large fiscal deficit is because we had a huge recession, not because spending is out of control. We will never get the fiscal deficit under control unless we create many, many more jobs. Generating more jobs is actually a complement to getting the deficit under control.”
Still, with a national unemployment rate of 9.6%, reviving the labor market won’t be inexpensive, said Timothy Bartik, senior economist at the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, Mich.
“Even if job creation can be made relatively cheaper, it will still cost a lot of money to make a big dent,” Bartik said.
Tax incentives for businesses
Economists also support various tax incentives for private investment and hiring. First and foremost, to help job growth Washington needs to nail down the tax code, Zandi said.
U.S. economy grows 2%
The U.S. economy grew by 2% in the third quarter, which is up from the last quarter but still below expectations. Kelly Evans and the News Hub panel discuss.
“Uncertainty has been an impediment to businesses using their profits and cash for investing and hiring,” Zandi said. “It’s disconcerting for business people, and that’s a problem. They don’t know how to plan. If they can’t cross the Ts and dot the Is, they are unlikely to make a big hiring decision. Business people need everything colored in before they make a big decision.”
Burtless favors tax incentives to persuade companies to move forward soon with investments and hiring.
Cutting payroll taxes would be helpful, though expensive, said economist David Autor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“It makes it cheaper for employers to employ people,” Autor said. “It would be an effective way to stimulate demand.”
Help hard-hit groups
Economists also favor policies, such as youth employment programs, that target specific groups facing a particularly tough labor market. The unemployment rate is about 23% for white teens, and a whopping 49% for African American teens.
“There is great harm being done right now to young people out in the labor market and not able to find jobs, and not able to get on the lower rungs of career ladders,” Mishel said.
The downturn has been particularly tough on groups with unemployment rates that were already high before the recession, Goolsbee said.
”Many of the groups that have the highest unemployment rates are also the most cyclical – they’re the hardest hit when the economy turns down, and if you can turn the economy up they tend to be the groups that are the next in line to come back,” he said.
One way to create more opportunity for young workers, Mishel said: Let older workers collect Social Security at a younger age.
“If they retired that would open up jobs for younger people,” he said. “We would be moving people out of jobs. We don’t even need to create new jobs. Getting older people out so that young people could have jobs is very intuitive.”
However, Dean Baker, co-director for the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, said older workers may not have enough retirement savings to leave the workforce early.
Baker said work-sharing programs, in which the government encourages firms to reduce hours, rather than layoff workers, are effective. “You are keeping someone in touch with the labor force,” Baker said.
The president [Obama] likes the idea of work-sharing policies, Goolsbee said.
[Maybe there's hope for America? But usually presidents have no idea how central and powerful this strategy is, and how fast they have to move on it. We need a dumb-barrucuda George Bush who's single-mindedly focused (if he has any mind) on shoving through intelligent worksharing and timesizing instead of braindead taxcuts and "wars of choice" to enrich his buds while weakening the foundations of their riches in the consumer base and employment basement.]
“Look at Germany, they have engaged in a significant amount of work sharing, and the unemployment rate has remained relatively low, and the slack was absorbed by reduced hours rather than reduced workers. I think [work sharing] is definitely worth considering, and the president has been supportive of that,” Goolsbee said.
MIT’s Autor said a more highly valued yuan would help the U.S. job market. The increase of the trade deficit with China could displace more than 500,000 U.S. jobs this year, according to a recent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.
“There’s no easy answer,” Autor said. But a revalued Chinese currency “would have a substantial effect on U.S. employment.”
[Unimaginative people are always shedding responsibility with cliches like "There's no easy answer." Then, in a flourish of impotence, they often pass the buck to someone, anyone, else - China being the current fave. Hopefully reporters will quit asking them for quotes.]
- Because of state cuts, North Canton library reduced staff, hours, materials, letter to editor by Jane Pieper of Plain Township, 10/30 Canton Repository via cantonrep.com
NORTH CANTON, Ohio - On behalf of the nearly 300,000 persons of all ages who patronize the North Canton Public Library, we urge a yes vote for Issue 1 on Nov. 2, a 1-mill levy that will assure the future of the library’s extraordinary services.
Due to state funding cuts, our library in the past 18 months has laid off staff, cut hours and reduced spending for materials.
[So shorter hours are happening anyway, but not the best way.]
While we still maintain a good service and quality level for our patrons, we cannot count on future state funding.
The library staff, board of trustees and 142 volunteer Friends members know these are difficult times, but that makes our library all the more important to area families.
In addition to traditional library services, we include free computer access for job searches, research for job interviews and many other things to help families move their lives forward.
We hope voters will join book lovers in Plain Township and Alliance who passed levies last May.
10/27-28/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (email@example.com) unless otherwise initialed -
- Jobs data vindicate Germany's work plan, by Brian Blackstone, 10/28 Wall Street Journal, A13.
FRANKFURT, Germany—German unemployment hit its lowest level in nearly 20 years, offering the latest sign that Europe's biggest economy continues to power forward despite deep malaise in some pockets of the euro zone.
Germany's jobless rolls fell below the psychologically important three-million threshold to 2.945 million in October, the lowest since 1992. Strong demand for German capital goods abroad, in particular Asia, has spared the country the persistent weakness in Spain and other countries along Europe's fringe.
The unemployment rate —which, unlike the key 2.945 million figure, is seasonally adjusted—was unchanged at 7.5%, well below the 10.1% average for the euro zone.
Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen used a speech to the German parliament to trumpet the figures, disclosing the data a day earlier than scheduled. The statistics offer the strongest affirmation yet that the government's strategy of keeping workers in their jobs during the crisis through generous subsidies to business has worked.
"For the first time, we are seeing that the level of the low point in unemployment…after a crisis has not risen but rather has fallen," Ms. von der Leyen said.
[Now the challenge is to see that this is not "after" a crisis - the crisis is ongoing and deepening (because of the silly and unnecessary attempt to maintain upwardly ratcheted or frozen pre-computer workweeks into the age of robotics), but in pulses, as we might visualize in terms of a diagonally downward spiral.]
"Immediately after the crisis it was just very good policy" that kept unemployment down, says Andreas Rees, economist at lender UniCredit in Munich. He was referring to a government subsidy program, known as Kurzarbeit that allowed companies to keep workers on payroll at reduced hours.
It was a gamble.
[Not really. It worked for over 100 years, from 1840 to 1940...]
Critics said Berlin was only delaying, at great cost, the inevitable pain that needed to occur after such a severe recession, and that the hit to efficiency and long-term growth would outweigh any benefit from artificially cushioning the rise in joblessness.
[What arrant nonsense. German worksharing alias "Kurzarbeit" PREVENTED the "inevitable" pain that the other, stupidly managed economies actually invoked by allowing, or even encouraging, self-accelerating downsizing. Worksharing PREVENTED the "great cost" that the clueless US and British excuses for "economists" actually caused by their suicidal disconnect between downsizing the workforce and downsizing the consumer base. The fact that these blind excuses for "scientists" call the pain "inevitable" is simply a pathetic attempt to rationalize their inability to "get" a number of BGOs (blinding glimpses of the obvious), such as maintaining employment maintains domestic consumption (c2c and b2c) which in turn maintains currency circulation and business and industrial markets (b2b) which in turn maintain financial markets (b2f, f2b, f2f). American and British economists would rather invoke the much more artificial cushioning of government makework instead of supporting the market-demanded patterns of employment already in place in the private sector - and preferably, as soon as possible, forcing the private sector to flex up its arbitrary workweek and allow government to get completely OUT of the taxpayer-imposing "cushioning" business for the ridiculous and progress&freedom blocking purpose of maintaining some level of frozen workweek forever.]
But in effect, the program kept qualified staff on the job when demand for German exports returned in force at the beginning of the year. From a peak of over 1.4 million last year, the number of people on Kurzarbeit was just 288,000 in July, the latest month for which figures are available.
Rolf Schneider, economist at German insurer Allianz, also credits reforms undertaken by the previous government that made the labor market more flexible and slowed the rate of wage growth. Those reforms included liberalizing the temporary work sector and slashing benefits to the unemployed.
The latest unemployment figures cap an economic resurgence for Germany, which only a few years ago was dubbed Europe's "sick man," after years of rapid wage increases and a costly East-West reunification raised doubts about Germany's ability to compete in an increasingly cut-throat global market.
As recently as 2006, unemployment cracked the five-million mark. Many economists said the recent recession, which sliced about 5% off Germany's gross domestic product last year, would push unemployment toward that mark again.
But a rapid pickup in demand for German exports from emerging markets in Latin America and Asia, particularly China, fueled a 9% rise in German GDP, at an annualized rate, during the second quarter. Though the economy almost certainly likely slowed in the third quarter, economists still expect a robust growth rate around 3%.
Mr. Schneider expects Germany, which accounts for nearly 30% of the euro-zone's output, to expand 3.3% this year and 2% in 2011.
—Geoffrey T. Smith contributed to this article.
[But predictably, an anglophone journalist in Germany doesn't "get it" - let alone the prospect of unwashed non-English-speaking people pulling ahead of the (increasingly self-downsizing) anglophone world - truly, "misery loves company" and hates to be "shown up" -]
- Germany's Jobs Miracle is 'Wobbly', by Michael Scott Moore, 10/28 Spiegel Online
BERLIN, Germany - German politicians tripped over themselves this week to announce that unemployment had sunk to an impressive low -- under 3 million. But German papers study the statistics and wonder how long the good times will last.
The news was so fabulous that German ministers couldn't leave it to the Federal Employment Agency, which normally releases jobless numbers at the end of the month. Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen staged an unscheduled press conference to personally announce that German unemployment for October had sunk to 2.945 million, or 7.0 percent. Economics Minister Rainer Brüderle was also on the sidelines, hoping to crowd his way into the photo op, too. In fact, it was cause for celebration: The number of jobless Germans was now under 3 million for the first time in 18 years.
German unemployment has fallen steadily since mid-2009. Economists who call it a "jobs miracle" marvel that Germany, of all Western nations, has found found a way through the worst economic downturn since World War II. Ministers like von der Leyen and Brüderle -- members of Angela Merkel's new but ailing coalition, which came to power a year ago -- are breaking out the champagne. But who deserves credit?
What's kept the German economy from hemorrhaging jobs over the last two years is a "short-time" work program that encourages firms to keep workers even if they have to cut back hours (say, to one-third, of the usual week).
[Funny how few people have realized that "the usual week" is history in the context of robotization, and only an adjustable workweek that automatically fluctuates, mostly DOWNWARD as far as it takes to maintain full employment and markets, is going to survive the next 50 years. We have entire systems of factories in New England with NO employees, ALL robots - this spreading development is called "lights-out manufacturing." One guy drives around once a week to, what, read the gauges? squirt oil on the robots? Whatever it is, if it's routine, it too can be robotized...]
The government covers up to two-thirds of a worker's regular salary, as well as monthly pension and health-care payments. It's a subsidy. Training for new jobs has also been subsidized, and the program has proven far more flexible in rough times than traditional welfare. It can't last forever, but conveniently for politicians it keeps jobless numbers low.
The short-time work program took its current form under former Labor Minister Franz Müntefering, a Social Democrat, during Merkel's first term. Müntefering was a holdover from the previous cabinet under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The former chancellor casts another shadow on the current bright news, for politicians across the spectrum. His neoliberal welfare-reform packages, known as Agenda 2010 and including the notorious Hartz IV, were radical rollbacks of benefits for a Social Democrat, and they literally cost him his job in 2005. But they also made the German labor market nimbler, which probably staved off more disastrous losses during the recent recession.
Will the numbers hold? The broader economy is recovering, but the jobless numbers may be soft. One Schröder reform was to allow more temporary employees, who work without contracts or benefits. They're different from employees on the short-time work program, but they count as "employed" under current statistics.
German papers bicker over the details on Thursday morning.
The Financial Times Deutschland writes:
"Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen admittedly doesn't cast this as her own victory -- at least not yet -- but as 'a sensational triumph of the federal government under Angela Merkel.' Merkel inherited an unemployment figure of 5 million from the previous government (under Schröder)."
"But it's also true that the reforms Merkel inherited from the previous government are largely responsible for the current success: temporary employment, Hartz IV, changes in the Federal Employment Agency. Even the expansion of the short-time work program was overseen by a Social Democrat."
"The current results are wobbly because they rest on uncertain jobs. The numbers show an increase in temporary jobs to 850,000 -- 350,000 more than in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, and more, in fact, than before the crisis … Politicians may go wrong if they believe that the growth in temporary jobs will end soon, or that temporary workers may soon find more secure positions."
The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
"In fact, jobless numbers have only fallen by 86,000 (from August to September) -- which is not an occasion for the labor minister to stage a press conference. If the total number had remained just over 3 million, she would not have announced it herself."
"But it's interesting that Economics Minister Rainer Brüderle has described this new development as 'stable.' It's interesting because he might actually like to do something. Is it not the right time to help employers resist the temptation, say, to hire only temporary workers during the economic upswing? Or to offer only short-term contracts to new employees? Such jobs are unstable, suited perhaps for unstable times. But they were made possible through laws that have now resulted in a new temptation. Young governments like to talk about a 'heavy inheritance' from previous administrations. Here's one Brüderle could jettison."
The conservative daily Die Welt argues:
"The Social Democrats -- who these days would rather not mention Schröder's Agenda 2010 -- have hailed the government's free-spending stimulus policies during the worst days of the recession as a foundation for the now internationally recognized 'jobs miracle.' In fact the Hartz reforms have probably brought more long-standing good news to the labor market than either the cash-for-clunkers bonus (a new-car subsidy) or the short-time work program, which have both achieved mainly temporary, psychological benefits."
"Anyone who questions the current idea of raising the German retirement age to 67, something Social Democrats as well as the unions have resisted; anyone who calls for dismantling Hartz IV reforms, anyone who demands a Germany-wide minimum wage -- those people want to turn back the wheel of history. Every effort to bring about the vision of full employment in Germany is therefore worthwhile. The problem children of German employment agencies are still the long-term unemployed. For them to see opportunity, too, the labor market must become even more flexible. The romantics of the social welfare state prefer to resist this eventuality with all their strength."
The left-wing Berliner Zeitung writes:
"The remarkable jobs number was announced just in time for the first anniversary of the current coalition between Merkel's Christian Democrats and the Free Democrats. But the current coalition had the least to do with these results. Tax cuts for hotel owners and other interest groups have not lowered German unemployment. ... Gerhard Schröder, if anyone, deserves to enjoy some late recognition. His labor-market reforms were unpopular and cost him his job. But the most important measures ... have shown long-term value. The grand coalition (during Merkel's first term) can pat itself on the back for expanding the short-time work program; this policy spared many thousands of jobs during the most recent crisis. And the unions can reclaim their reputation: Restraint in wage talks and agreements to allow flexible working hours both contributed to the fact that Germany, now, has a more dynamic economy than France, Great Britain or Spain. This is not self-evident."
"Yes, the good news has many parents. But the main reason for the trend is demographic: Germany is growing older. This fact will burden the pension and health-care systems, but it eases labor markets ... A shortage of contributions to these systems -- and of experienced workers -- will be Germany's problems of the future. Problems? Yes, but problems of luxury. Problems, above all, which can be solved -- through better education, training and immigration policy. No government with such prospects should have to stumble."
- Jobs of the Future - Should we all work less? with Adrienne Hill, 10/27 NPR Marketplace via marketplace.publicradio.org
For some economists, less working hours may be just the thing to lower the unemployment rate. Marketplace's Adriene Hill weighs the pros and cons of this idea.
NEW YORK, N.Y. - TEXT OF STORY
Kai Ryssdal: The conventional economic wisdom right now is that we need more: More sales, more growth, and especially, more jobs. But sometimes, the conventional wisdom is just that. Conventional.
So we'll wrap up our Future of Jobs series today with this counter-conventional thought: That for jobs at least, maybe less actually means more.
Adriene Hill reports from the Marketplace Sustainability Desk.
Adriene Hill: Imagine having more time to cook dinner...
Julia Child: And so I'm going to start off with the bacon.
More time to work up a sweat...
Exercise instructor: We're making beautiful legs here today.
More time to ponder the meaning of life...
If you're the sort of person who does those sort of things, it could all be yours -- if you are willing, able or forced to spend a less time at work.
Mike Schiepke: It's freed up a day, so you can do a lot of loose ends and errands in a day that you normally wouldn't do.
Mike Schiepke is an architect in Santa Monica, Calif. We meet outside during his lunch break on a stunning fall day. He's working only four days a week now, after his firm cut jobs and hours. He says there are good things about his slimmed down schedule; he gets to spend more time with his son. It strengthened his family.
Schiepke: We're on the same team, we're team Schiepke.
But the problem is that less time at work means less money, means cutbacks.
Schiepke: We do our own lawn, we wash our own cars, the cable's gone. We even looked into getting rid of the cell phones, 'cause is that a necessity, you know? So we really had to reprioritize.
Economist Juliet Schor, from Boston College, says accepting those cutbacks and making friends with reduced work-hours could help solve the country's unemployment problem.
Juliet Schor: Work-time reduction is an obvious way to go forward, which would allow us to share the work that we have.
The basic idea is that there's a pool of work that needs to get done: If I do a little less and my colleagues do a little less, we can hire someone else. Some other countries have actually tried this out. France, for example, cut its average work week to 35 hours -- with debatable results. Some researchers say the shorter work week added as many as 350,000 jobs. Others find no significant change to unemployment.
Schor says cutting time at work can also be good for the environment -- people working less have less money to buy things and they have more time.
Schor: They can do things more slowly, which tends to be associated with a lower carbon footprint.
Peter VanDoren: The first rule of economics is go after the thing you want to go after, never go after it indirectly, because it won't work out the way you thought it would.
Peter VanDoren is with the libertarian Cato Institute.
VanDoren: If you want more employment, then subsidize firms to create jobs.
VanDoren says culturally being told to work less would be a non-starter. U.S. workers would resent the government saying they could only work a certain number of hours, a point Schor doesn't contest. Change, she says, would need to come by making sure people aren't penalized for working fewer hours. In the Netherlands, for example, employees that work fewer hours can't be denied promotions.
VanDoren, from the Cato Institute, says the whole discussion of reducing work hours is really so "public radio."
VanDoren: It's a middle class and college-educated notion of what work is like.
No doubt, reduced work hours wouldn't be sustainable for the large number of America's working poor, scraping by without any budget flexibility. Schor agrees; you'd have to change the minimum wage, she says.
With the way jobs are structured today, reducing hours is also not in most companies' best interests. My employers will pay the same for benefits -- whether I work 40 hours a week or 32. Still, Schor thinks work-time reduction might catch-on in the U.S., especially if people have a choice, rather than are forced into it, like our architect, Mike Schiepke.
Back out in the California sun, I ask him:
Hill: If your firm came back to you today, later this afternoon, and said if you want, you can come back five days a week. Would you do it?
Schiepke: Yeah, I would do it. Yeah.
He says he'd miss his days off, miss extra time with his son. But he feels committed to his firm, he likes his job, his work and the lifestyle that comes with it.
I'm Adriene Hill for Marketplace.
Ryssdal: You can catch more from our Future of Jobs series on our website. And while you're there, check out our Future-Jobs-O-Matic, the skinny on which jobs will be hot and which ones won't a decade from now.
10/24-25-26/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (firstname.lastname@example.org) unless otherwise initialed -
- Battling Poverty in the Golden State - Recommendations for the California Statewide Poverty Commission, by Melissa Boteach, Jodie Levin-Epstein, 10/25 American Progress Action Fund via americanprogressaction.org
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Background
The Census’s 2009 poverty data revealed that 43.6 million Americans or 14.3 percent lived in poverty last year. This is the largest number since the Census started keeping track in 1959. Moreover, more than 100 million Americans or 33 percent were low income, barely scraping by and living below 200 percent of poverty, or $44,000 a year for a family of four. The Recovery Act averted an even greater crisis by keeping millions of Americans afloat last year. But these numbers demand urgent action to rebuild our middle class.
Even before the Great Recession persistent poverty spurred many states to develop action plans for dramatic poverty reduction. Many states established state poverty commissions or set poverty reduction goals that bring stakeholders around a common vision for creating greater economic opportunity. These bodies are often based out of the state legislatures in partnership with nonprofit and private-sector partners. They recognize that to comprehensively grow the state’s economy and ensure competitiveness they have to tackle poverty. Since 2003 around 20 state governments have established a commission and fully 10 states have set a poverty target according to a Center for Law and Social Policy analysis.
Severe fiscal crises have challenged many of these efforts. States are struggling to maintain current services and programs in the recession—never mind think about a comprehensive plan to reduce poverty. Yet it is exactly during times of economic distress that states must convene stakeholders to stop the bleeding and provide a vision to move forward.
California is the latest state to undertake such an effort. They recently suffered deep budget cuts that slashed antipoverty programs. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut nearly $1 billion from the state budget in October 2010—much of it from programs that serve low-income families. The CalWORKs program, California’s version of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, suffered a crushing cut of $256 million, including cuts to child care for working families. Still, the County Welfare Directors Association of California is moving forward with a plan to convene a statewide symposium on poverty to explore demographic and regional concerns, policy solutions, and best practices. The plan was conceived even before the most recent budget cuts.
This is not the first time California has sought to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce poverty. The 2006 California legislature passed a measure to halve child poverty by 2016 and eliminate it entirely by 2026. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed the target-setting measure but advocates and some legislators remain undaunted. In the intervening years versions of the bill were introduced and in the last legislative session the California Economic Security Task Force bill called for cutting poverty in half by 2020.
The measure hasn’t passed, but advocates are moving forward on many fronts. They are reaching out to the public to broaden the base of advocates for building up the middle class and reducing poverty.
We offer the following best practices and strategies learned from other state poverty commissions in anticipation of the upcoming California Poverty Symposium.
Strategies for statewide antipoverty commissions
Partner with the federal government
States will encounter a tight fiscal environment over the next several years as they work to meet poverty-reduction targets. The Great Recession squeezed state budgets, and revenues dropped precipitously at the same time that people had an even greater need for services. In the near term states need to move swiftly on income support strategies that put no or low costs onto the strapped state budget. This is the “low-hanging fruit.”
A key way for states to increase services to struggling families is to maximize federal funds. The federal government pays 100 percent of the benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also known as food stamps (there is some state sharing of administrative costs). Around the nation states are tapping SNAP in response to the Great Recession. The program has grown from 29 million to 42 million people between July 2008 and July 2010.
SNAP helps families put food on the table when their wages have diminished or disappeared, and it fuels local economies by getting dollars flowing into groceries and markets. The multiplier effect is significant: Each dollar of federal SNAP benefits generates $1.79 in economic activity. That’s important even when the state is flush. When the state’s in a slump it should be a priority.
Some states are doing better than others at bringing in federal SNAP dollars. California has admirably administered SNAP, but the state could take more steps to reach people in need. For instance, only 10 percent of SNAP-eligible California seniors get nutritional help from the program. The state ranks lowest in the nation at reaching the total eligible population: An estimated 3 million eligible people are without help from SNAP. This includes numerous newly unemployed or underemployed families.
Steps to improve outreach, enrollment, and participation rules help make SNAP available to those who are eligible for it. Collaborations between the state government and food banks in California have been designed to increase participation. But the state needs to conduct more outreach to engage the eligible population, including targeting groups such as elders and workers.
Part of the reason eligible people do not receive help is that the state still operates with outmoded rules. The quarterly recertification process for participants in California is among the most burdensome in the nation. It takes both the time of government agency staff and dissuades those who need SNAP but can’t afford to go through the hassle and headache of recertification. And the state has yet to take advantage of creative ways to streamline the system. A set of policy changes have improved participation rates in New York City, including a strategy to enroll working families by waiving the in-person application.
Another important way to help low-income families that places relatively little stress on the state budget is increasing outreach for the earned income tax credit, or EITC. A recent report from the New America Foundation found that the EITC has a significant impact on California’s economy, with 2.4 million residents claiming nearly $5 billion in tax refunds. As low-income workers spend their tax refund in the economy they create $5.5 billion in sales for California businesses, which brings $390.5 million in tax revenue to California’s state and local governments and creates 33,000 jobs.
The report, however, also notes that last year one in five eligible Californians or 800,000 state residents failed to claim their EITC, with $1.2 billion in tax refunds left on the table. The average EITC refund would have amounted to approximately $1,400, which can make a big difference to a low-income family. The EITC also affects California’s overall economy because the $1.2 billion in unclaimed EITC translates into $1.4 billion in lost sales in California and 8,200 jobs that could have been created. The New America report provides helpful breakdowns for counties within the state as well.
California already boasts a number of innovative EITC outreach efforts, including efforts by Maria Shriver to draw attention to the benefits. And efforts are underway to organize a statewide collaborative to help promote information sharing, capacity building, and coordination in EITC outreach. But unlike several other states, including Illinois, Virginia, North Carolina, and Delaware, there has not been a consistent source of state funding to support EITC outreach. Just designating a small amount of dollars on a consistent basis to coordinate public outreach and support free tax assistance programs could help increase the number of eligible Californians who claim their EITC and help boost the state’s economy.
Pursue other low- or no-cost budget strategies that can shore up struggling families
Other steps mostly “off budget” can help families when state coffers aren’t full. California, for example, has led the nation in implementing “work share,” an important means to avert layoffs. Under this program, when employees’ hours are reduced, unemployment insurance can help fill in for the fewer hours. Fewer than 20 states operate such programs despite their effectiveness.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has noted, “work sharing arrangements can help to reduce some of the economic costs associated with the loss of worker skills during periods of high unemployment as well as diminish the detrimental effects that high unemployment rates can have on local communities.”
[not to mention the consumer base, marketable productivity, investment sustainability, and the economy at large...]
California established the nation’s first work-sharing program in 1978 and expanded it significantly in response to the Great Recession. About 80,000 individuals were in the work share program in 2008. By October 2009 fully 183,000 workers were enrolled. Since unemployment insurance is funded by employer contributions, the state budget is largely untouched when the program expands.
California’s leadership is needed to support a pending national bill that, if passed, would finance all work-sharing benefits paid to employees for up to 26 weeks through a two-year measure called the “Keep Americans Working Act” (S. 1646). It’s a way for the state to help both employers and employees.
Another low- or no-cost policy to reduce poverty is to protect workers’ income and make sure employers follow the law and don’t keep hard-earned dollars that belong to workers. This is known as “wage theft,” and a common wage theft practice is to not pay overtime or a minimum wage.
Wage theft is unfortunately not uncommon, and low-wage workers lose a significant amount of money from it. A study of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York found that nearly three out of four of those who worked overtime did not get paid for it. The study estimated that about 15 percent of their wages were stolen. Tackling wage theft has enforcement costs, but developing pilots now would go a long way toward battling theft in the future.
Finally, rules that rein in payday lending fees would help families struggling with laws that allow an annual percentage rate on these loans of up to 456 percent. California should join with 16 states and the District of Columbia that control payday lending by enforcing interest-rate caps. The federal government now uses a 36 percent rate for the military.
Partner with the business community
Many state and city poverty commissions across the country are successfully teaming up with the business community. Businesses have a strong stake in reducing poverty in their communities and home states because a larger middle class means more purchasing power that translates into greater demand for their products and services.
Businesses also view poverty reduction as a workforce issue. Children who grow up poor are more likely to drop out of high school and less likely to possess entry-level job skills. Recent studies reveal that even though the unemployment rate has hovered near 10 percent for too long, employers are finding a mismatch between applicants’ skills and the jobs. In part that’s because new hires are expected to the take on the expanded tasks absorbed by workers in the Great Recession. Businesses need a well-educated and well-trained workforce, and they are increasingly becoming involved in issues such as early childhood education and workforce development because it’s the right thing to do and good for their bottom line.
Further, the business community brings an important perspective and expertise to job creation and job training that can help low-skill workers transition into careers in growing sectors. Over the past 18 months more than 30 state governments have partnered with the business community to create over a quarter-million subsidized jobs through a Recovery Act program known as the TANF Emergency Fund. In California alone this program created 45,000 jobs.
This fund has helped small businesses expand in a difficult economic climate and at the same time provided low-income workers with a foothold in the labor market. The TANF Emergency Fund expired on September 30, but California could help revive it by ensuring supportive employers make their voice heard loud and clear when Congress is in session. The jobs are too important to walk away from.
State governments and nonprofits can draw on several best practices as they seek to partner with the business community in establishing and advancing the recommendations of poverty-reduction commissions. Step Up Savannah, for instance, has had enormous success engaging businesses in poverty reduction. It’s a collaborative of organizations, businesses, and government agencies that works to move families toward economic self-sufficiency. Their executive director, Daniel Dodd, shared key insights for success in partnering with the business community in a briefing for the Half in Ten campaign earlier this year:
* Meet businesses where they are. Businesses exist to make a profit, and they are unlikely to take actions that are bad for their bottom line. State governments and nonprofits should therefore survey and profile employers as they work with businesses to connect low-income workers to jobs or training. Find out what businesses need and expect from their employees and which sectors are poised for the most growth in the target regions. This information can inform the poverty commissions’ recommendations and subsequent implementation of job training for low-income workers.
* Work with business owners to sensitize them to low-income workers’ needs. Step Up Savannah uses a technology platform to run “poverty simulations” for members of the business community to help them understand some of the challenges their low-income workers face. Business leaders spend a few hours participating in the simulation.
Daniel Dodd emphasized that businesses came to better understand issues such as:
* Workers’ tardiness due to unreliable public transportation since many lowincome workers do not have access to a car
* Last-minute shift changes due to a breakdown in patchwork child care arrangements because quality center-based care is unaffordable
* Needing to take time off during work hours to go to a food stamp office to update information
Two positive changes can occur as businesses better understand their workers’ needs. First, businesses can adopt better and more flexible practices to retain workers since retraining new workers can often be more costly than implementing more flexible practices for existing employees. Other businesses provide information to their employees about work supports or benefits they may be eligible for such as the EITC.
Second, the business community can become a valuable ally in pushing for policies to help retain their workforce such as funding for better bus schedules and easing administrative burdens for recipients of public benefits so that much of the paperwork can be accomplished online and not during work hours.
Quantify your recommendations’ impacts
The Half in Ten campaign has called for a goal to cut the national poverty rate in half in 10 years. This is not some pie-in-the-sky target, but a goal within reach if we muster the political will to make sensible policy reforms.
Half in Ten is based on a report from our partner, the Center for American Progress, which provided a comprehensive plan to achieve that goal. CAP contracted with the Urban Institute to model just four of its recommendations: raising the minimum wage; improving the EITC and child tax credit; and ensuring that child care assistance is more broadly available. The results showed that these four policies alone would cut poverty by 26 percent over the next decade.
Other states such as Minnesota and Connecticut have modeled the impact of specific public policies on their states’ poverty rate and used the data to point to the feasibility of the target and to build the political and public will to adopt the solutions. California should consider partnering with foundations to commission similar research.
State poverty commissions and targets are an important way for states to leverage resources and develop a coordinated plan to respond to growing economic distress. Even in times of fiscal crisis California should consider strategies such as:
* Improving outreach for federally funded benefits such as SNAP and the EITC, both to help families weather the storm and to stimulate local economies
* Implementing low- and no-cost reforms to protect the income of low-wage workers such as reining in payday lending and wage theft
* Partnering with the business community to connect low-income families to jobs and job training and to enhance workplace flexibility for low-wage workers
* Building the case for proven policy solutions by partnering with foundations to commission research that would show recommended policy reforms’ impact on the poverty rate
Daniel Dodd of Step Up Savannah, whose group began efforts before the Great Recession, has noted, “When the economy turned, we were poised to be working with a collaborative that was in tact and focused. We’re ready in much better ways to handle the economy having everyone around the table.”
As California seeks to establish a state poverty commission and goal it will face fiscal obstacles and political challenges. But these efforts can also yield enormous fruit. The state government has a unique ability to bring interested parties together to promote increased economic opportunity, and it can inspire its citizens to aim for a common target, leveraging resources and coordinating strategies to reduce poverty and expand the middle class.
As states navigate this terrain ample opportunities exist to learn from other states, access technical assistance, and partner with national groups to drive attention to growing poverty in the United States and the policy solutions to reduce it.
The Center for Law and Social Policy, or CLASP, has a 40-year history of promoting policies and practices that work for low-income people. CLASP identifies changes that can help families and communities, from welfare and child welfare to job creation, postsecondary education, and early childhood education.
CLASP manages Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity: The Source for News, Ideas and Action, a special initiative that offers the nation a “one-stop shop” for the latest news, research, and polling on poverty and opportunity. Spotlight provides a unique platform for a bipartisan conversation. Elected officials of both parties described their priorities for TANF reauthorization and how the drive to cut the deficit will or won’t affect families struggling to make ends meet in exclusive commentaries available on Spotlight.
Another resource is the Half in Ten campaign, a partnership between the Center for American Progress Action Fund, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Coalition on Human Needs to cut the U.S. poverty rate in half over the next decade. The campaign is partnering with a number of groups who seek to set similar poverty-reduction goals at the state level and to advocate public policies to achieve them.
Groups in Virginia, Colorado, Arkansas, and Minnesota have started Half in Ten state coalitions. They are building grassroots support to implement their state commission recommendations and to advocate federal policy solutions to achieve the national Half in Ten goal to members of Congress. Half in Ten supports these efforts and provides in-kind communications and online marketing supports, policy resources, and timely action items.
We help build grassroots support, conduct strategic outreach to potential partners, and provide federal policy resources to help make the connection between achieving state goals and affecting federal policy change. We are looking to partner with other state groups and commissions to achieve state and national povertyreduction targets.
Melissa Boteach is the Half in Ten Campaign Manager at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and Jodie Levin-Epstein is the deputy director at the Center for Law and Social Policy.
- Voice of the Day - Norr: Strides made while serving 137th District, 10/24 News-Leader.com
Charlie Norr is the Democratic state representative from the 137th District.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - For the past four years I have had the privilege and honor of serving as your state representative for the 137th District in the Missouri General Assembly. During the summer I have tried to knock on as many of your doors as possible to say hello and discuss our common concerns and if I have not seen you personally I will keep trying right up to Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 2.
We have come together as friends and business associates throughout my tenure working on economic development projects that have enhanced our community and neighborhoods. I have worked diligently in the legislature on behalf of our local schools and universities. Working to better our education system I have worked on House Bill 1295 that requires school districts to establish special programs for students who are identified as academically gifted. Because of the increasing number of automobile fatalities due to distracted behavior I co-sponsored House Bill 1276 to prohibit all drivers, regardless of age, from text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.
Two particular measures, which stand out that I co-sponsored and passed into law along with my colleagues, were the establishment of health insurance coverage for individuals diagnosed with autism and increased eligibility for shared work benefits under the Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program. Because of budget cuts, mental health services are always in danger of having their funding reduced. It is not right to balance the budget by cutting programs for the truly needy. One time the budget was balanced by cutting higher education, the next time it was balanced by cutting Medicaid, this year Parents as Teachers was severely cut. This must stop!
The top priorities for next session will be jobs, jobs, jobs. There are ways to get started creating employment here in Missouri. We may think it won't happen but green jobs are going to help put thousands back to work. We need to better understand the detrimental effect that lack of health insurance is causing in our country. We should not be using emergency rooms for general health care. We all pay for this very expensive treatment except the person without insurance. We need to get those people some type of coverage.
As your state representative I will continue to work for you in the Capitol and make sure your voices are heard. I will do everything in my power to fight for legislation that will benefit the citizens of the 137th District. I have always been available to answer any of your requests for help or assistance and I shall meet with you if needed. Please feel free to contact me at my campaign office, which is located at 417 Boonville, just north from the square, and you may reach me by phone or e-mail at 417-869-4707 and Charlie@charlienorr.com.
I appreciate your vote on November 2nd so I can continue our good work for Springfield. It is important for you to be active, listen to the candidate and vote.
- Does Germany need a 45-hour working week? 10/26 Deutsche Welle via dw-world.de
As the German economy continues its recovery from the financial crisis, leading[?] economists[?] say the country's workforce should brace itself for a longer working week.
BERLIN, Germany - Earlier this year, scores of workers across Germany did their bit to pull the nation out of its financial quagmire by participating in state-subsidized schemes that saw them work shorter shift for less money [but not much less because of worksharing/kurz-arbeit] in order to prevent layoffs. Now that the worst is over and the country's mighty export machine has kicked back into gear, employees are being warned they'll have to start working a whole lot more.
[You don't "warn" employees in Europe. You negotiate with them. This gestapo-talk sounds like an anglo commentator or an old Prussian dictator.]
In a recent interview with the Bild newspaper, the President of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Klaus Zimmerman said the country's skilled workers that the era of the 37.5 or 38-hour working week was "over."
[It's only "over" when unemployment in Germany is "over" and Deutschland has full employment and full domestic markets. It's amazing that many Europeans don't even know what they're doing right and they're itching to shove their economy from sensational to cesspool with pre-computer workweeks. This dummkopf is trying to make points with suicidal American and British economists.]
"In the mid-term, there is no way [ah, how about a-u-t-o-m-a-t-i-o-n?!] around longer working hours," he said, adding that an extension was particularly likely to affect those working in export-reliant fields such as engineering, as well as health and aged care professions.
[This dummkopf has apparently never heard of automation and robotization - he's either a new form of luddite or he's all nostalgic for the old Prussian class system...]
A quantum leap
When Zimmermann mentions longer working hours, he is talking about somewhere between 42 and 45 per week, which equates to a massive jump from the short weeks introduced under the Kurzarbeit subsidy program. Although the shift is a sign that the economy has recovered fast and well, it also highlights Germany's shortage of skilled workers.
[And that's why Germany cleverly has so much t-r-a-i-n-i-n-g and apprenticeship.]
One of the reasons why so many companies across the country were willing to sign up to Kurzarbeit was that the alternative would have meant letting their skilled staff go. And as Stefan Hardege of the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce told Deutsche Welle, nobody really wanted to do that.
"They knew that if they got rid of them they wouldn't get them back again," Hardege said. "And now the economy is back in swing, they're finding it hard to find enough skilled workers."
[Just as in wartime, spoiled employers get dragged kicking and screaming into wartime prosperity via a labor-employment balance they always perceive as a "labor shortage."]
A disputed new norm
Hence Zimmerman's call for longer working hours. He was joined in his assessment of the immediate post-crisis situation by Ulrich Blum, President of the Halle Institute of Economic Research, who told reporters that businesses needed a flexible workforce to maintain the current level of affluence.
Blum told Die Welt newspaper that there were already plenty of people who worked long weeks, and that in the future, 43 to 45 hours would become the norm.
But unions have rejected the calls.
"We will not allow this attack on workers' rights and the wage autonomy," Vice Chairman of the Union for Food and Gastronomy (NGG), Claus-Harald Guester, said in a statement. "In the past years the NGG has successfully fought against extended working hours. And it will stay that way."
Guester went on to say that employers should concentrate on programs to promote life-long learning and ensure older staff members can continue working for longer.
Author: Tamsin Walker (dpa, AFP)
Editor: Sam Edmonds
10/22-23/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (email@example.com) unless otherwise initialed -
- Recreation Conference Planned for Nov. 4-5, 10/22 SUNY Cortland News via www2.cortland.edu
CORTLAND, N.Y. - Benjamin Hunnicutt, who has focused his research and writing on an historical mystery in America, “The End of Shorter Hours,” will deliver the prestigious Metcalf Endowment Lecture at this year’s 60th annual SUNY Cortland Recreation Conference from Nov. 4-5 at the College.
Hunnicutt, currently a professor in the Department of Leisure Studies at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, will discuss “Time to Live: A Lost Kingdom, a Forgotten American Dream,” at 2:45 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 5, in the Corey Union Function Room. The lecture is free and open to the public.
“So Much Recreation, So Little Time” is the theme of the two-day gathering, the nation’s oldest continuous collegiate-sponsored recreation education conference. Sponsored by the College’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies, the conference receives additional support for its Metcalf Lecture from the Metcalf Endowment. This year, Brix Pubaria is providing special support.
“We choose this theme to represent all the major changes in recreation that have occurred, especially in the last 60 years,” said Brittany Neider, the conference’s program coordinator. “Since it is also our 60th anniversary, we felt it was necessary to honor such a journey. The entire committee has worked very hard to create an amazing conference and we look forward to seeing you all there.”
Registration takes place at 7 a.m. on Thursday and 7 a.m. on Friday at Corey Union. The fee is $110 for professionals and $50 for SUNY Cortland students to attend both days; and $75 for professionals to attend Thursday or Friday only. The non-SUNY Cortland student group rate is $25 each for 10 or more students. The additional cost to receive Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credits is $8. The registration fee includes meals and entertainment. Additional information may be obtained by calling (607) 753-4939, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.cortland.edu/recconf, where the brochure and registration form may be viewed or printed.
Approximately 250 recreation professionals and college recreation majors are expected to participate in the conference, which will offer more than 45 educational sessions and practical workshops on recreation management, therapeutic recreation, outdoor recreation, environmental education, and leisure and society. Three pre- or post-conference workshops and a research symposium are planned.
Topics will include sustainable recreation and tourism, conducting adventure-based activities in inpatient settings, surviving the first 30 days on the job in the recreation field, making senior leisure activities more interactive, blending commercial recreation and the great outdoors, therapeutic horsemanship, wilderness therapy and its beneficial outcomes, running a special event, and strategies for funding recreation programs.
Cortland alumni presenting at this year’s conference include Thomas Goodale ’61, Richard Fabend ’65, John Silsby ’69, Fred Von Mechow ’77, Janet Barry Connolly ’84, Edward "Eddie" Hill ’86, John La Rue ’89, Rickie McClure ’90, David Peppel ’97 and Scott Catucci ’00.
The event is planned and directed by SUNY Cortland recreation and leisure studies majors in the Special Events Planning class taught by conference advisor Edward Hill, assistant professor of recreation, parks and leisure studies. The students and the committees they chair include:
• Neider of Babylon, N.Y., who is also co-chairing volunteer coordinator and special speaker committees;
• Chelsea Smith of Harrison, N.Y., conference chair and social services;
• Wendy Richards of Newark Valley, N.Y., program design, printing, registration and tracking and alumni chair;
• Tim Bennett of Rome, N.Y., public relations and office manager;
• Tom McLaughlin of New Rochelle, N.Y., social services, internship forum, public relations and marketing;
• Roger Ennis of Cortland, N.Y., public relations, exhibits, and special speaker;
• Dan Shearin of Rome, N.Y., marketing, evaluation, registration and tracking, and exhibits;
• Mike Warne of Binghamton, N.Y., program support and volunteer coordinator;
• Sarah Heil of New Hartford, N.Y., volunteer coordinator, registration and tracking and office manager;
• Henry Cevallos of Brooklyn, N.Y., treasurer, office managers, internship forum and evaluation; and,
• Krissy Gauthier of North Syracuse, N.Y., teacher’s assistant.
Hunnicutt, who has taught for more than 34 years at The University of Iowa, continues to try to answer the question: “Why did Americans stop reducing their work time, a process they had enthusiastically supported for over a century, and begin desperately creating more work for more people around seventy years ago?”
He is the author of several books, book chapters, and articles, including Kellogg’s Six-Hour Day and Work Without End: Abandoning Shorter Hours for the Right to Work. His book, Kellogg’s Six-Hour Day, is now published in Norwegian and Korean versions and is listed as primary reading for “Work and Family,” by the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Saguaro Seminar for Civic Engagement.
Hunnicutt is currently finishing his next book: Time to Live: A Lost Kingdom and The Forgotten American Dream. A member of the Academy of Leisure Sciences and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), he received his M.A. and Ph.D. in American history from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Participants will be entertained by the lyrical, acoustic musical style of Gina Holsopple from 5:15-7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4, in the Corey Union Function Room. Holsopple, who was raised as a Mennonite in the middle of the Kansas prairie, won the 2009 New Song Contest at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kan., she was a featured performer in the New Artists’ Showcase at the 2000 National Women’s Music Festival.
- 42BELOW® Vodka Celebrates 40-Hour Workweek Day - New Zealand Vodka Encourages Americans to Unplug, Log Off and Libate, 10/22 PR Newswire (press release) via prnewswire.com
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- It's no secret that the 40-hour workweek is an endangered species; in fact it's safe to say it's all but extinct. Advances[?] in mobile technology have enabled us to carry the weight of the office in our pockets 24/7/365, putting an end to the 'it can wait til Monday' mentality. However, it wasn't always this way. In 1926 [check this "fact"], a smart fella [presumably Henry Ford] from Dearborn, Mich., who made automobiles available to the masses, revolutionized the industrial world by enforcing the eight-hour workday and five-day workweek in his car factories and offices. The benefits were mutual as his workers got away from the office while he saw productivity skyrocket.
In honor of the day the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 went into effect [with a 44-hr workweek to be cut two hrs/yr for the next two years], on Sunday, Oct. 24, 42BELOW vodka celebrates 40-Hour Workweek Day. Not one to celebrate alone, 42BELOW invites all the hard-working folks, 21-and-older, across the country to unplug, log off and kick back with a cocktail. In the spirit of working less and playing more, 42BELOW raises a glass to a time when 5 o'clock truly was a 'happy hour' and blackberries were only used to garnish a cocktail or provide a daily boost of antioxidants.
42BELOW felt compelled to make a 40-Hour Workweek Day cocktail to honor the hard working folks who would really like to screen calls, ignore e-mails and punch out early. The 42BELOW Vodka Professor, Raj "The Hardest Working Man in Mixology" Nagra, shares his latest cocktail concoction, "Unplugged," to help everyone celebrate that 41st or 42nd hour.
* 1 1/2 parts 42BELOW Vodka
* 6 chunks of lemon and vanilla
* 1/2 part Cointreau
* 1/3 part vanilla syrup
* 1/2 part fresh lemon juice
Method: Muddle lemon, vanilla pods and sugar with other ingredients, shake well with ice and fine strain
Glass: Chilled cocktail
Garnish: A lemon wheel
If you're not feeling particularly "Unplugged," on Sunday, Oct. 24, 42BELOW encourages consumers (21+) to visit the 42BELOW Facebook page - http://facebook.com/42BelowVodka - and share (via wall comment) what cocktail they plan to craft to celebrate 40-Hour Workweek Day. After all, it's not Monday yet, but it will be in New Zealand.
42BELOW vodka was launched in 1998 in the premium vodka segment and has shown strong volume growth since its inception. The brand known for its innovative, bold and entrepreneurial style has earned a strong reputation for authentic New Zealand quality and exceptional taste, reflected in winning numerous prestigious international awards. 42BELOW vodka, acquired by Bacardi Limited in 2006, is currently distributed in more than 25 countries...
NEW ZEALANDERS AGREE: DRINK RESPONSIBLY.
42 BELOW AND THE 42 BOTTLE DESIGN ARE TRADEMARKS AND/OR REGISTERED TRADEMARKS. 42 BELOW IMPORTING COMPANY, CORAL GABLES, FL. VODKA – 40% ALC. BY VOL. -- 100% NEUTRAL SPIRITS DISTILLED FROM GRAIN. FLAVORED VODKAS - EACH 40% ALC. BY VOL.
Josh Rangel, GolinHarris 312-729-4168 email@example.com
Joe Gerbino, Bacardi U.S.A., Inc. 786-264-8421 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Triathletes Find TrekDesk A Way to Stay Limber Throughout the Day, 10/23 San Francisco Chronicle via Vocus via sfgate.com
PHOENIX, Ariz. - Bill Elm, a business owner and triathlete with a keen eye for technology and innovations offering a competitive edge was challenged by his long work hours and triathlon training regimens. As President of Resilient Cognitive Solutions, Bill logged extended hours behind a desk and battled cramping, stiffness and range of motion issues caused by sitting relatively motionless during the day. He found the solution to his problems in the form of an innovation that lets him move continuously throughout his work day: the TrekDesk Treadmill Desk.
["TREADMILL Desk"? - how inviting, not!]
Trading his desk and chair for a TrekDesk Treamill Desk, Bill and his trainer Ron Deangelo noticed the health results immediately, "As soon as we got him (Bill) up and moving he made huge, huge strides."
Ron is the Director of Sports Performance at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and is recognized as an expert in his field training many NBA and NFL All-Stars in his illustrious 20 year career. Ron recognized immediately the problems individuals encounter when sitting for prolonged periods, "they end up getting cemented into those positions, so the hip in particular is usually the problem."
"Walking slowly throughout the day with TrekDesk has tremendous health benefits whether you are a triathlete like Bill or have never seen the inside of a gym," states TrekDesk CEO Steve Bordley. "The benefits and ease of use are the same, TrekDesk works for virtually anyone. A study out of Australia showed that even athletes who sit for four hours per day increase their risk of heart disease by 80% and risk of mortality from all diseases by 46%. A critical component to long term health is slow, sustained movement throughout the day."
As a triathlete and a business owner Bill Elm recognizes one particular advantage to using the TrekDesk as well, "You don't get that afternoon lull. TrekDesk keeps you alert and pumped up."
10/20-21/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (email@example.com) unless otherwise initialed -
- CCH® UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE — Iowa amends its rules on various topics, 10/21 CCH via hr.cch.com
DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa has amended its rules under the Employment Security Law as follows:
Tax bureau. The responsibilities of the tax bureau have been updated to include, among other functions, establishing taxpayer liability under the law, making determinations regarding new accounts, collecting delinquent contributions, ensuring compliance in the preparation of tax reports, securing refunds of overpaid taxes, conducting investigations regarding FUTA discrepancy problems, determining employer/employee and independent contractor relationships, conducting audits, and appearing as an expert witness in employer liability hearings.
Electronic filing. Form 65-5300, Employer’s Contribution & Payroll Report, may be reported electronically. If an employer reports electronically, the sum of the total and taxable wages will be computed for the employer. The electronic system will compute the taxable wages for each employee. If the employer is claiming taxable wages reported to another state, the amount claimed and the state that the wages were reported to will be listed. For electronic filing, the system also will compute the amount of contributions, interest, penalties, and total amounts due.
An employer may report electronically if it meets the specification requirements to be compatible with the Department’s computer capabilities. The specifications will be furnished to the employer upon request.
Reporting units. Any employer having two or more separate establishments will file those establishments as separate reporting units. Additionally, the employer may establish reporting units to report according to function within the business. References to location codes have been replaced with information regarding reporting units.
Due dates for new employers. First contribution payment due dates are specified for new agricultural and domestic employers.
Nature of employer-employee relationship. Sons and daughters are excluded from coverage for performing services for parents as part of a community-based support program.
Predecessor employer. When a predecessor employer has transferred its business to a successor entity, the predecessor employer will retain the same account number but will recompute the eligibility year, determination date, effective date, law citation and tax rate to that of a newly covered employer.
Termination of account. If an employer has filed eight consecutive reports with zero wages, the account may be placed in inactive status.
Insufficient report penalty. The amount of the penalty for a delinquent or insufficient report will be based on the total wages paid by the employer in the period for which the report was due, except that the penalty will not be less than $35 (previously, $10) for the delinquent report or the insufficient report not made sufficient within 30 days of a request to do so.
Previously covered employers. A previously covered employer that is again determined liable under the law will not receive a new account number. The employer’s wage information prior to the termination will not be used for tax rate or taxable wage calculations. Likewise, a nonprofit organization changing status from reimbursable to contributory, or contributory to reimbursable, will retain the same account number.
Training extension benefits. The provisions of the new training extension benefits program have been implemented to conform with the requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Voluntary shared work program. The duration of a voluntary shared work program by an employer has been extended to 52 weeks (previously, 26 weeks).
- Call to overhaul of security industry, by Kenny Chee, 10/20 AsiaOne via news.asiaone.com
SINGAPORE - Singapore's industry for security personnel must make bold changes if it wants to address the endemic problems like manpower shortage and low expertise, industry players said yesterday.
Changes suggested include having management processes which are more in line with those of other industries; pushing for shorter working hours; and using technology so that staff could be better deployed.
One of the biggest problems faced by the industry is the uneven level of management expertise, said Mr James Aruldoss, president of the Association of Certified Security Agencies.
He pointed out that its managerial capabilities are "sorely lacking" when compared to, say, those in the info-technology and hospitality sectors.
Speaking to my paper on the sidelines of the inaugural Security Management Conference held at Marina Bay Sands, which attracted about 180 delegates, Mr Aruldoss said security firms often hire middle managers who do not always possess sufficient supervisory skills.
For instance, some of these managers do not plan for worst-case security scenarios, but rather react to them. Others do not look after the welfare of employees, as well as their counterparts in other industries.
Mr Aruldoss said: "We need to look for people with real supervisory and management abilities from any industry who can plan and come up with good processes like those for security operations."
Mr Ignatius Kang, general manager of security firm Apro Asian Protection, also believes in hiring talent from other industries.
Explaining that there was no mandatory training for security personnel in the past, he said: "We need to look beyond the security industry if we want to increase the size of the workforce and improve its quality."
At the same time, he said the industry could harness new technology such as turnstiles and security- card access technology to reduce reliance on staff to man side exits in condominiums.
At the conference yesterday, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) also announced two new security conversion programmes to train security officers and supervisors.
Under these two programmes, WDA co-funds 90 per cent of the course fees to train mid-career hires, with the remaining 10 per cent borne by the employer.
The agency hopes to train a total of 500 to 600 people for both courses and could spend about $2 million, based on course-fee subsidies.
Meanwhile, the search for manpower has led some firms to come up with new recruitment strategies uncommon in the industry.
Mr Tay Eng Hock, managing director for Aexis Security Management, said his firm was able to hire women who are new to the predominantly male industry by employing a flexible work arrangement.
Women make up about 10 to 12 per cent of the industry's 35,000-strong workforce.
In comparison, women now comprise about 20 per cent of Mr Tay's security personnel who are on flexi work hours.
Their shift hours are below the standard 12 hours practised by 90 per cent of the security firms here.
However, there are some practitioners who feel the shorter working hours may not work for everyone due to the manpower crunch and the higher cost which clients might not want to pay for.
However, Mr Aruldoss felt that it is precisely the 12-hour work day which has been a long-standing deterrent in attracting people to the industry.
He cited the example of a firm which placed a recruitment advertisement for a 12-hour shift security position which got at most five applicants in a day.
"But when it advertised for six- or eight-hour jobs, the firm got a beeline of about 200 people in three days," he said.
10/17-18-19/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (firstname.lastname@example.org) unless otherwise initialed -
- Your Town, Texas: Granbury, 10/.18 KERA via publicbroadcasting.net
DALLAS, Tex. - Granbury, southwest of Fort Worth, is best known for its historic courthouse square and quaint shops. But it's also home to 400 millionaires, and some residents who are struggling. This month, the KERA series "Your Town, Texas" visits four cities to see how the economy has affected people, and what they want from government. BJ Austin traveled to Granbury in the Brazos River Valley.
Granbury's slogan is "Where Texas History Lives. Buildings on its historic courthouse square date from the 1800's. And, the courthouse clock tower is among the world's "elite".
Henderson: There are only two Seth Thomas hand-wound clock towers in the world. One is right here, and can anyone guess where the second might be? Big Ben.
That fun factoid, however, is not getting many social media tweets from tourists. Tourism dropped 20% last year. Merchants on the Square are hurting, and banking on Granbury's "spirited" past to scare up some business.
"Welcome, my name is Brandy. I'll be your tour guide this evening
After nightfall on the weekends, Brandy Henderson leads a Ghosts and Legends Tour on the Granbury Square.
Henderson: Now there are several historical figures associated with Granbury, some of whom we may even meet tonight.
The new walking tour, at ten dollars a head, introduces Granbury ghosts: including John St. Helen, a Shakespearean actor who reportedly haunts the historic Opera House. Legend says he was really John Wilkes Booth. And there's the outlaw Jesse James. Residents claim he did not die in a Missouri shootout, but lived to104 in Granbury, and is buried in the town cemetery.
Henderson: Granbury was named after General Hiram Bronson Granbury. That's him peeking through the trees there on his pedestal.
Granbury's Ghosts and Legends tour is a new attraction launched at a time when businesses in the historic district are struggling. Granbury may be home to a lot of wealthy citizens, but many neighbors are scrambling to make ends meet. Dianne Davis owns two businesses on the Square.
Davis: I'm 38% off in one of my restaurants, and 42% off in another. It is in the decline of tourism, the historic district.
Along Highway 377, Granbury's retail strip, business is better. Million-dollar homes and high-rise retirement communities along scenic Lake Granbury bring shoppers and diners to a growing hub of national retail and restaurant chains. Even so, Granbury sales tax revenue is down 10%. And while the unemployment rate is below the state average, jobs are difficult to find.
At the historic Nutt House Hotel on the Square I sat down with several Granbury residents to find out how they're faring, and what would help their community. Troy McMillian is a 25 year old father of two who came to Granbury after he lost his roofing and auto repair jobs in nearby Commanche.
McMillian: It's hard to find a job because there are so many people looking. My wife just went to Job Corps to get special training. I'm networking with everybody I can to try to find something.
Austin: Are you living with relatives?
McMillian: No I'm homeless. And, I live in a tent.
McMillian: In the woods. I'm not going to say where.
Austin: And where are your kids?
McMillian: They're at my in-laws house. I signed over custody to them.
Troy's wife is in Arkansas for six months of Job Corps training. He's depending on the new Granbury Christian Center's food bank for help. Reverend Harold Durham runs it.
Durham: People come by everyday for different needs: clothing, furniture, money, money to meet their bills.
Melinda Ray wishes she could offer Troy a job. She owns the Nutt House Hotel. (That's Nutt with two T's for the Nutt Brothers, among Granbury's founders.) But she had to lay off her hotel manager, and now runs the hotel and the adjoining bookstore herself.
Ray: I had to let my hotel manager go because I couldn't afford to pay a management salary and insurance. That person still hasn't found a job.
Dianne Davis and Bed and Breakfast owner Ron Bleeker have similar stories.
Davis: I've had to cut hours. We've lost a couple of employees, servers and they don't make enough money to stay.
Bleeker: Two years ago, compared to today, we saw a drop off on some dates as much as 50%. You have to divide the hours up as best you can between those staff.
Austin: Is there anything you guys can do to bring back the tourists?
Bleeker: Step back up to the plate with a viable Convention and Visitors bureau. Our city opted to dissolve the Convention and Visitors Bureau. It was we have austere times and so we need to cut salaries, with the exception of staffing at our convention center. And when that happened, when you graph it, whoa, there was another significant drop.
Davis: I agree totally with Ron, that a viable CVB, we need that.
Over the past couple of years Granbury shifted its limited advertising budget to the new, five million dollar Resort and Conference Center on the lake. Charlie McIlvain runs it, and defends the focus on the new conference center, plus its adjoining "beach" and hotel. He says the Center is creating a lot of buzz among regional convention planners, and bookings are ahead of projections.
McIlvain: This has certainly been a positive influence. And this is something else, if this facility had not been here the last two years, with the economy being as flat as it has been, we would have really felt, you know, the economic downturn would have been a lot more critical here in Granbury than it was.
But, Melinda, Dianne and Ron want to see more focus on locally-grown, small business. They say that's where the jobs are.
Melinda: When it comes to providing some kind of incentive to help businesses already here, or to help the small businesses that are a part of the tourism here in Granbury, we don't see this happening.
Dianne: I guarantee if Barnes and Noble raised their head and they thought that they could be convinced to come out on 377, you know they'd be falling all over themselves.
Ron: Go incent her, and enable her to provide those jobs because she can create a job. Now, I can go back and say now I can rehire that hotel manager. And Dianne can say now I can hire one more waitress.
About two weeks ago, the Granbury City Council fired the City Manager over the drop in tourism. The interim manager promises a new tourism-focused advertising campaign soon. Dianne Davis calls it encouraging, and a step toward restoring a balance between the "new" Granbury along Highway 377, and the historic town around the Square. Granbury Finance director Wayne McKethan sees future business for "both" when gas drilling on the Barnett Shale resumes, and the nearby Commanche Peak Nuclear Power plant is expanded in the next few years.
McKethan: And when that comes, they're projecting three to four, or five thousand jobs. And you don't build a nuclear plant with people off the street. You bring in people from all over the world. Which is exactly how Granbury grew back in 1970 when they first built the nuclear plant.
McKethan says a lot of that income will be spent in Granbury: on the retail strip and on the Granbury Square, "Where Texas History Lives."
Henderson: We like to say it's where Texas history never left.
City of Granbury:
- Law call amid hard time for women, by Rebecca Yu, 10/17 (10/18 cuz dateline) The Standard
HONG KONG, P.R.C. - The government has been urged to move quickly to standardize working hours and provide more support services for women workers.
The call was made yesterday by the Hong Kong Clerical and Professional Employees General Union, which said long working hours for women are taking a toll on both domestic and social harmony.
"Excessive working hours have made it impossible for modern working women to find a balance between work and domestic matters, and this could have an adverse affect on society," deputy chairwoman Lillian Chu Tin- lok said.
"Flexible working hours, paid over-time and a rotational work system will alleviate the workplace pressure on women."
A recent survey by the union found nearly two-thirds of 562 women work between 41 and 60 hours a week, while 11 percent work more than 60 hours.
[Like we said, on the economywide level, if shorter hours meant less pay and longer hours meant more pay, the Chinese would be the highest paid in the world, but they work megahours for peanuts cuz they're a gross labor surplus, and economywide pay goes by supply and demand, not hours or productivity.]
The average age of the women was 34.
Of those who worked a five-day week, just over half said they enjoyed some family benefits. Nearly all respondents, or 97 percent, agreed long working hours affect domestic harmony.
Seven in 10 said they would quit their jobs if forced to choose between their work and their families.
Although Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said last week that the complex and controversial issue had to be handled with care, the union urged the government to quickly move to an eight-hour working day.
The poll also found one in five experienced some form of sexual harassment, while two in five felt it is harder for women to move up the career ladder.
Nearly half said they prefer to have time to themselves when not at work; one in four worried about the future; 53 percent chose health ahead of wealth; and 17 percent called for more support services for women.
The study also noted that 90 percent of the respondents has never sought help from family support services.
10/15-16/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (email@example.com) unless otherwise initialed -
- Germany Now Forecast To Have The Best Job Creation Since Unification , by CFA Vincent Fernando, 10/15 The Business Insider via businessinsider.com
As if Germany wasn't doing enough to make half the world look bad, it's strong recovery since the crisis is set to continue according to a fresh report from economic institutes in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland according to Der Spiegel.
'The success of Germany's economy cannot be belittled,' chimes in the Handelsblatt.
It's not just about German exports being cost-competitive within Europe thanks to the euro, or even exports at all.
Domestic German demand is also gaining steam and Germany looks set for a sustained recovery they say [e.g.,
The numbers, certainly, are rosy. The report, which is issued twice a year, once in the spring and again in the autumn, predicts that the German economy will grow by 3.5 percent in 2010 and a further 2.0 percent next year. Furthermore, unemployment is expected to drop below 3 million next year for the first time since reunification two decades ago. And to top off the slew of positive numbers, the DAX, Germany's stock exchange index, topped 6,400 on Wednesday, reaching a level not seen since just days before the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers.
According to the report, domestic demand has begun to pick up and, even as export growth is expected to slow due to a sluggish global economy, German wages are forecast to rise by up to 2.8 percent in 2011. The economic experts who authored the report anticipate that domestic consumption will continue to be strong next year as a result. The report also indicated that climbing tax revenues will result in a 2011 budget deficit of just 2.7 percent, below the 3.0 percent maximum allowed by European Union rules.
Sustained growth, rapidly falling unemployment, and a controlled budget deficit -- heaven, basically.
Sooty on Oct 15, 6:30 AM said:
"unemployment is expected to drop below 3 million next year for the first time since reunification two decades ago"
This is misleading. Germany has a system called "kurzarbeit" or job sharing [actually worksharing, more flexible than jobsharing that preserves the 40-hour workweek and merely splits it in half] that is funded by the taxpayers.
[Yeah, a little, but less and less misleading as companies come off worksharing, more every day. Meanwhile, the 30 US states and numerous countries that don't have worksharing are still downsizing their consumer base via their employment basement...]
- Lack of funding means bumpy roads are ahead for public transit, by Jef Rietsma, 10/16 Kalamazoo Gazette via MLive.com
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The head of the Michigan Public Transit Association said until state leaders devise a new way to pay for public transportation, the only option for an increase in funding is through new taxes on gasoline.
Clark Harder, executive director of the MPTA, told members of the local news media Friday that public transportation agencies across the state may be forced to cut hours, modify routes and delay purchasing new vehicles if new sources of funding aren’t established.
Funding for public transportation in Michigan, he said, is at a 35-year low.
“The two main sources of revenue for our Comprehensive Transportation Fund is a portion of the (19-cent) tax on gas in Michigan and auto-related sales tax … and the auto sales tax fund has been raided by state legislators over the past 10 years to the tune of $140 million,” Harder said.
He referenced a comprehensive public transportation study that was authorized in 2008 by a group of officials appointed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The results of the study urged the state to proceed with a “better” option, chosen from a field of “good,” “better” and “best” proposals specific to public transportation in the state.
Harder said the recommendation included a 3-cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline every year for a three-year stretch starting in 2010. The recommendation included a blueprint that would have provided a sound financial foundation for the MPTA.
“Two years later and the report is still sitting there. It’s fallen on deaf ears and nobody has picked it up,” Harder said, acknowledging that the public in general sees increasing the tax on gas as an unpopular measure. Still, he said the price of gas at a station near his house went up 10 cents over night a few weekends ago and he reported there were no protests nor was there any visible outcry.
Dan Wedge, director of the Allegan County Transportation, said 65 percent of Allegan County residents would like regional transportation, as Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, South Haven and Holland are common destinations for many of its working residents. Due to budget constraints, the 28-vehicle, reservation-service agency can’t provide
transportation outside its county, however.
“Our biggest challenge is the number of service hours we can provide,” Wedge said, noting that additional revenue would allow the agency to consider operating on weekends and accommodate people whose business takes them to bigger cities outside Allegan County.
Kim O’Haver, president of St. Joseph-based Transportation Management Inc., a third-party transit service, said its Buchanan dial-a-ride service faces drawbacks similar to those in Allegan County. With only three vehicles for on-call service, most of Buchanan’s residents need the transportation to Niles.
“The use of dial-a-ride service has grown from 10,500 trips in 2007 to 11,900 on 2009, all while state funding continues to decline,” she said, adding that raising fares and cutting service isn’t an ideal situation for its clients on a fixed income.
She said better and more-stable funding from the state is necessary to help the agency from making unpopular choices in Buchanan.
Harder estimated the odds are about 25 percent that the current lame-duck legislators will push through a series of bills outlined in the 2008 plan. He is doubtful incoming House members and senators will be eager to approve a measure that will increase the tax on gas by nine cents over a three-year period.
Joining Harder at the roundtable advisory meeting, which took place at Kalamazoo Metro Transit Administration building, was a team of five other panel members: William Schomisch, executive director of the Kalamazoo Transportation Department; Rich Werner, manager of the Battle Creek Transit; Dan Wedge, director of the Allegan County Transportation Services; Kim O’Haver, president of St. Joseph-based Transportation Management Inc.; and David McLaughlin, vice president of American Seating, of Grand Rapids.
All gave testimony about the potential hardships the state’s 79 public transportation agencies will face if the current funding situation is not revised.
The MPTA did not receive any additional revenue when a 4-cent gas tax increase was applied to pumps in Michigan in 1997. Harder said transit operations in the state employ 9,200 people and contributed $1 billion to the state’s economy in 2008.
10/13-14/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (firstname.lastname@example.org) unless otherwise initialed -
- Betsey Stevenson Answers Your Questions, By DWYER GUNN, 10/13 New York Times (blog) via freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com
WASHINGTON, U.S.A. - We recently solicited your questions for Betsey Stevenson, a sometimes Freakonomics contributor and newly minted Chief Economist of the Department of Labor. Your questions were excellent and varied, and Betsey’s responses cover everything from persistent unemployment to parental leave. Thanks to Betsey and everyone who participated.
What do you make of the argument that the long-run structural level of unemployment has increased because of the economic crisis? – David (and several others who asked a variant)
It’s an interesting story, but there’s just not much evidence for it. The concern is that there’s a mismatch between the skills possessed by workers displaced from contracting sectors and the skills demanded in expanding sectors. The evidence for this argument is coming from recent increases in job vacancies that have occurred without a corresponding decrease in unemployment. This relationship is known as the Beveridge Curve and insights about how this relationship can go haywire during a downturn were part of today’s Nobel Prize in economics.
I think it’s way too soon to conclude that there has been a permanent shift in the relationship between vacancies and unemployment. If we were really seeing an increase in mismatch, then we would see declines in some industries but expansion in others. But we don’t. And we would see qualified workers being inundated with job offers, while others remain unemployed. Again, we don’t.
So the problem is not that we need to transform construction workers into manufacturing workers, it’s much simpler: We need to generate jobs. Insufficient aggregate demand has kept the lid on hiring in all sectors.
However, there are two structural issues that concern me. First, lots of people are underwater on their mortgages, and intriguing research has found that those underwater are much less likely to move for a new job. I don’t think that this is causing a lot of problems in the labor market now, but as the economy picks up steam, this could become more of a problem.
Second, I worry that the skills of people who’ve been unemployed for a long time are atrophying. It’s important that we help the long-term unemployed keep their skills up-to-date through training and career development opportunities. Searching for a job for a year or more can be discouraging, so keeping people connected to the labor force is crucial.
It’s been reported that part of the reason for our stubborn unemployment problem is a disconnect between the skills employers need and the skills that people have. How will you close that gap? -DaveyNC
While I disagree with the premise, as I said above, there are always workers who could benefit from training. The Department of Labor focuses on getting people into jobs and on a path to higher earnings and greater labor force attachment so that they can support themselves and their families throughout their lives. Our training programs reflect a commitment to ensuring a tight link between training and jobs. The DOL and the Administration at large are undertaking two major efforts to expand and improve our training programs. The Skills for America’s Future initiative — a public-private partnership led by the Aspen Institute with support from the DOL and other government entities — will strengthen the links between private employers and community colleges, to ensure that the skills that America’s students are learning are those that firms are looking for in their workers. Additionally, DOL’s soon-to-be-announced Community College Career Training grants will provide $2 billion over four years to expand training programs that serve workers who have been negatively affected by trade.
How can the DOL create a job? Could the DOL mandate a shorter work week, such as 35 hours, to help job creation? – Greg
The Labor Department isn’t in the business of creating jobs. Our goal is to help prepare workers for the types of jobs that are available and connect workers to jobs.
Personally, I don’t think that it’s a good idea to mandate a shorter work week,
[this lack of imagination is what held up the evolution of writing 2800 years till somebody thought of putting the little accounting tokens in a clay bag (boula) and then just impressing them on its wet surface and getting cuneiform started - where are America's artists, playwrights and novelists today, when workweek reduction would give everyone more time (and money cuz less labor surplus) for the arts?!...]
but providing some flexibility can avert layoffs (saving jobs) and encourage shorter work weeks instead.
Here’s the problem that we are trying to solve: an employer who needs to reduce payroll can either cut one-in-five workers, or shift folks to a four-day-a-week schedule. I think most of us would prefer the latter, but in most states unemployment insurance can only help those workers who are fired, pushing employers towards firing people instead. However, in 17 states [20 now], there is the option to get similar unemployment insurance when you choose to share the burden among your workers, and I’d like to see us make this option available in every state. Workers benefit because they suffer a smaller reduction in income than they would had they been laid off (or had their hours been cut without access to unemployment insurance). And employers get to keep production lines intact and retain the skills of specialized team members. Work-sharing also makes it easy for firms to ramp up when business improves. Even better, it’s cheap. Because work sharing is instituted in place of layoffs, the benefits being paid out to workers whose hours are cut is offset by the fact we avoided a full layoff.
What are your thoughts on how to improve parental leave prospects in the United States without causing further gender discrimination in labor markets? I’m assuming here that whatever one might do to encourage parental leave will still not change the fact that it is likely that women will take it up more than men. –Joshua Gans
OK, as a recent mother, this one strikes close to home.
Remember that sometimes our assumptions about how these things work aren’t right. In the early ‘90s, everyone assumed that the Family and Medical Leave Act would be primarily used for maternity leave, but as Yale’s Christine Jolls has shown, the policy has had major benefits for those with medical conditions that cause them to occasionally miss work.
And why the assumption? What would happen if we passed policies that gave strong incentives for men to take parental leave? Don’t laugh, the Swedes have tried it. And now you see hunky blond Swedish men pushing strollers down the streets while Mom is at work. It’s an intriguing idea and it could decrease gender discrimination.
The Bush tax cuts, we were told, would provide incentives for companies and the rich to create jobs, and stimulate economic growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bush tax cuts had a net job production of 1.9 million in 8 years, when 19.2 million were needed to sustain a vibrant economy, and the top 1 percent now has 23.3 percent of the nations’ wealth. Given the fact that the tax cuts were not used to create job growth and stimulate the economy, should tax cuts be extended to the top 2 percent? -Michael W Baker
We need to put money in the hands of people who need it and people who will spend it (yep, I’m back on that we-need-to-increase-aggregate-demand soapbox). The top 2 percent don’t need it and won’t spend it.
I was at the latest meeting of the President’s Economic Recovery Board when this was discussed, and the person advocating this position was Marty Feldstein, who happens to be one of my former mentors. Marty’s often right, but not this time.
Let’s take the money and extend unemployment benefits for a bit longer. Unemployment insurance kept 3.3 million people out of poverty (including 1 million children) in 2009. Let’s keep those people out of poverty until we have the aggregate demand necessary for all of them to get a job.
Ms. Stevenson, how may we increase incentives for offering employment opportunities to those who have been chronically discriminated against — namely the deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind and older workers? -rob k
My boss, Secretary Solis has a very clear goal for the Labor Department: “Good jobs for everyone.” And when she says that this includes marginalized and disadvantaged workers, she means it. It’s true that people with disabilities are much less likely to be employed. Only around 1 in 5 are even in the labor force and they still have an unemployment rate that is about 50 percent higher than those without disabilities. DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) offers a variety of resources including training programs and employment services designed specifically to address the needs of those with disabilities.
What data do you wish you had to help your work as a labor economist? -KB
I wish that we did a better job linking together the data that the government collects. There is a lot of administrative data that can’t be compared across agencies. While it’s important that we protect the confidentiality of data containing American citizens’ and businesses’ private information, we need to balance that desire to protect confidentiality with the efficiency that comes from combining information. As a taxpayer, I want the government to learn as much as they can for every dollar they spend collecting data. One active area of discussion is about sharing information across the three largest statistical agencies: BEA, Census, and BLS. Statistical use of some business tax information is authorized for Census and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, but not for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that Census and BEA can’t share what they learn through their use of tax information with BLS. Changing the tax code to allow this would extend some of the sharing that was enabled by 2002 legislation—the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA). That legislation created stronger protections including increasing penalties for disclosure of confidential information, and these steps to improve protections were combined with changes that broke down some of the barriers that had prevented the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census, and the US Bureau of Economic Analysis from sharing data.
Dwyer Gunn is editor of the Freakonomics blog. Follow @freakonomics on Twitter.
- 14% of firms to increase jobs, by Gareth McKeown, 10/13 Insideireland.ie
DUBLIN, Ireland - 14% of companies will increase employee numbers in the next three months, an increase of 5% on the last quarter, according to a survey conducted by the Small Firms Association.
The results of the SFA's Q3 2010 Jobs Sentiment Survey show that retaining jobs and creating employment still remains a challenge for small firms.
60% of companies indicated that employee numbers will remain at current levels during the next three months, while 24% of companies expect a decrease in the same period, down from 37% this time last year.
41% of small firms will implement a recruitment freeze in the next three months and 24% of firms will not extend any current employment contracts; this figure remains unchanged since the end of 2009. 4% of companies will be introducing compulsory redundancies.
The survey was conducted during September and a total of 636 companies employing 13,750 people responded. The SFA said the sample was drawn from manufacturing, distribution, retail and services sectors and from a regionally representative sample.
Commenting on the figures, SFA Director, Avine McNally stated: “The overall survey results show that the pace of job losses within small businesses has slowed however, the forecast for job creation remains weak.”
The Q3 2010 survey also shows a steady decline in the number of firms placing employees on lay off or short time working when compared to 12 months ago.
Over the next 3 months, 9% of companies plan to introduce short-time working (a decrease of 5% on Q2 2010) and 5% will implement lay-offs (a decrease of 2% on Q2 2010). 64% of companies will not be implementing lay offs and 62% will not introduce further short time working.
McNally said: “The survey shows that the rate of job losses and reduction in employee hours has slowed. This is a reflection of the series of actions which have been taken by many small firms to try and reduce costs and retain jobs, however, we cannot become complacent, many jobs are still at risk.”
Looking ahead to 2011, the figures would appear to be more optimistic with three out of five companies (62%) expecting employee numbers to stay at their current level and 19% of firms expecting to increase their employee numbers.
- Lee suggests flexible working hours to help create jobs, by Lee Chi-dong, 10/14 Yonhap News via english.yonhapnews.co.kr
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (third from the L) speaks at a meeting to discuss employment and other economic measures at a local university in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, near Seoul on Oct. 14. (photo caption)
SEOUL, South Korea - President Lee Myung-bak said Thursday that local companies need to adopt a flexible working hour system to help in the government's efforts to raise the nation's employment rate.
"When it comes to the job creation issue, a fundamental paradigm shift is needed," Lee said while presiding over a government-civilian meeting on ways to create jobs held at Bucheon University, west of Seoul.
[Pres. Lee sounds like a guy who really "gets" it!]
In the session, the government unveiled the goal of creating 71,000 new jobs for the nation's youth by 2012 mainly in the public sector. Around 7,200 people will be employed in the energy, natural resources exploration, and research and development fields, and the government will provide financial support to have corporations hire 37,000 interns. The government also plans to promote youth employment in security, firefighting and emergency aid sectors, and help college graduates land jobs in foreign nations.
The president said that aside from such efforts, private companies should consider employing more people through the adjustment of working hours.
Lee pointed out that the working hours in South Korea are longer than in other member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of the world's 30 richest nations. He said this was not "something to boast about."
"As many people remain unemployed due to lack of jobs, we need to think about whether it is right for one person to work for long hours," Lee said.
- Working too hard for romance? We're on the job, Chief insists, by Colleen Lee and Natalie Wong, 10/14 (10/15 over dateline) TheStandard.com.hk
HONG KONG, P.R.C. - Toiling too hard, with no time for romance? Don't worry, the boss is working hard on it.
But it may take some time to introduce standard working hours, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen told the Legislative Council yesterday.
Tsang promised the government will introduce a law setting standard working hours - but only after reaching a consensus.
Setting standard hours could help improve quality of life, he said. "To enhance the competitiveness of the city, citizens need to have more time for life-long learning. It also allows youngsters to have more time for dating."
He did not undertake to introduce the bill during his term, despite being pressed by trade union lawmakers for a timetable at his policy address question and answer session.
In his policy address on Wednesday, Tsang revealed he has asked Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung to conduct a policy study on standard working hours.
Tsang added yesterday: "The issue needs consensus in our society and should not affect [the interests] of any party." The government will discuss the issue with the Labour Advisory Board.
"Needless to say, legislation is needed in the end. There are no alternatives."
Confederation of Trade Unions lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan called for a timetable and roadmap for the legislation.
Lee said it is encouraging that the chief executive said there will be legislation eventually but hoped it can be tabled to Legco during Tsang's term.
Tsang said he will try his best to do it with his colleagues. "But I can't make any promise yet as there are problems that the secretary [Cheung] has to discuss with the labor sector and employers."
The policy study has to find out the possible impact on both workers and bosses before introducing standard working hours.
"The government is conscious of the challenges facing workers and wants to work on it," Tsang said.
"I've already given the green light. We should start discussing it. Don't push me to do this and that. I definitely won't give you a promise if I think I can't do it."
Legislator Ip Wai-ming, of the Federation of Trade Unions, doubted Tsang's sincerity in putting such a policy in place. "Are you brushing us off or laying a time bomb for your successor?" he asked.
Tsang just reiterated that he will do his best.
Earlier, Cheung pledged to set the direction for standard working hours during the rest of his term.
The Labour and Welfare Bureau will study successful overseas cases and the affordability of standard hours for small and medium enterprises in low- paying sectors.
Cheung expects the imposition of standard hours to be much more challenging than bringing in a minimum wage.
"Standard working hours will affect the working population of all classes, while the minimum wage only affects the grassroots working group," he said.
"It would have far-reaching implications for Hong Kong's economy and employment."
10/10-11-12/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (email@example.com) unless otherwise initialed -
- Two proposals received to run the Manske public library, by Dianne Solis, 10/12 Dallas Morning News via farmersbranchblog.dallasnews.com
FARMERS BRANCH, Tex. - Two proposals are in to take over administration and operation of the Manske Library in Farmers Branch.
One comes from Danita Barber, the current head librarian at the Mankse on Webb Chapel Road.
The second comes from Library Systems & Services, LLC., a Germantown, Maryland-based firm that was founded in 1981.
The potential outsourcing of the library has kicked up plenty of controversy in Farmers Branch over spending priorities and the role of government in a sagging economy.
City officials have said they can save about $290,000 by outsourcing or privatizing.
But many citizens have protested a privatization or outsourcing move, saying the administration of the library should be retained. Others have suggested shorter hours and work furloughs for library staff--measures instituted by the city of Dallas.
Bruce Crozier, a library board member, says a decision shouldn't be made "purely" on dollars. A decision is expected in November.
- To be young, educated and unemployed, 10/12 (good.is) SkyValleyChronicle.com
CHANTILLY, Va. - He has a Master’s degree. He was thinking about going to get his Ph.D with the eventual goal of becoming a professor.
So what is Luke Stacks doing now at the age of 27 after being told all his life that if he got a good education he’d get a good job?
He is living with his mother and, since January, working for 35 hours a week at $10 an hour for a home-electronics chain. He answers the phone and attempts to coax callers into buying more stuff.
Not exactly how he imagined he would be spending his late 20s says a new article about the “lost generation” on the website www.good.is .
It is the story of 20-somethings in America, in the middle of the Great Recession, in search of meaningful work and not finding it.
How bad are things out there for young people like Luke?
Pretty bad. The unemployment rate among workers with at least a college degree is the highest it has been since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking such data, in 1970.
There are roughly 2 million Americans over 25 who have at least a bachelor’s degree and are unemployed. Nationwide, the jobless rate for college graduates in that category is double what it was before the recession.
- Fed Minutes: Economic Growth Continues to Slow, More Easing Expected, 10/12 Benzinga.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Federal Reserve released minutes from its September 21 meeting Tuesday, and it appears that Fed members are ready to launch a new round of quantitative easing to build employment.
[How about some "quantitative easing" of the "full time" workweek?!]
According to the minutes, "The September 21 meeting indicated that the pace of the economic expansion slowed in recent months and that inflation remained low. Private businesses increased employment modestly in August, but the length of the workweek was unchanged and the unemployment rate remained elevated."
[Gee, could there possibly be a connection here? - like, maybe if we lowered the length of the workweek, we'd lower the elevation of the unemployment rate...]
A Reuters report notes that "Members, however, didn't settle on how big the program should be or exactly how it should be structured. Most experts think the Fed will decide to spend anywhere from $500 billion to $1 trilllion more to to rejuvenate the economy and help lower unemployment."
The Federal Reserve has already spent over $1 trillion since 2009 to help employment and growth prospects.
U.S. equities rebounded slightly after the minutes were released.
- Pfleiderer shuts down plant in Germany, 10/11 IHB.de
GESCHWEND, Germany - The Executive Board and the Supervisory Board of SDAX-listed Pfleiderer AG have approved the decision of the management of Business Center Western Europe to permanently shut down the production plant in Gschwend, Germany. The reason for this decision is the sharp decrease in demand for particleboard caused by the recession, which is leading to structural adjustments in the industry. The Gschwend plant has been on short-time work for the past 13 months due to sustained operation at well below its optimum capacity.
“Even in the long term, there is still no recovery in sight for the market for raw particleboard,” stated Michael Wolff, Managing Director of Pfleiderer’s BC Western Europe. “In view of substantial overcapacity, it is therefore absolutely essential to adjust our production output. We are convinced that the phase of consolidation in the engineered-wood industry will continue. Furthermore, our margins are under pressure from sharp increases in raw-material prices.” Pfleiderer will therefore increase its prices in Western Europe by a further 20 to 30 euros per cubic meter this November.
Pfleiderer already adjusted its production capacity at the Gschwend plant to significantly weaker demand more than a year ago. All of the remaining 93 employees there have been on short-time work since then. The management immediately commenced consultations with the local employee council to jointly search for ways of reducing personnel in a socially acceptable manner. In this context, the establishment of a qualification and employment company will also be discussed.
10/08-09/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (firstname.lastname@example.org) unless otherwise initialed -
- 30 years ago 96 per cent of a JCB digger [backhoe loader] was made in Britain - Today it is just 36 per cent - WHY? by JCB chairman Sir Anthony Bamford, 10/09 DailyMail.co.uk
ROCESTER, Staffs., U.K. - I was born in October 1945, shortly after the end of the Second World War. I grew up at a time when the world was looking at the reconstruction of Germany after wartime devastation with some amazement.
Its industrial heart had been destroyed, but within a matter of years, there was an economic miracle or 'Wirtschaftswunder'.
No one could have imagined that the economy could recover so rapidly after such damage. After reading last week's newspapers, I'm starting to wonder if history is beginning to repeat itself: the German economy is forecast to grow by 3.6 per cent this year.
Little over a year ago, Germany plunged into its worst post-war recession, yet now it seems that an export-driven V-shaped recovery is well under way, with the chemical, engineering and electrical sectors forecasting overall export growth of 50 per cent.
Business confidence in Germany is surging, particularly in the car industry. Volkswagen reports that, for the first time in its history, it sold more than five million cars in the first nine months of this year.
It's the same story for other German carmakers such as Daimler and Audi – they're all working flat-out. Overtime, special shifts and recruitment are the order of the day. This growth has confounded many experts, including the International Monetary Fund.
So what, exactly, is going on? Are we watching a second economic miracle? My personal view is that it has nothing to do with divine intervention.
It has a lot more to do with the country's sensible industrial policy and forward-looking employment legislation. Manufacturing industry in Germany rose like a phoenix from the ashes of wartime destruction for one reason: successive German governments decided that manufacturing was important.
Factories might have been destroyed during the war, but not the ingenuity of its many well-qualified engineers. Engineering has always been the backbone of Germany's manufacturing prowess.
The profession is a source of personal pride for a man or woman who studies many years to design and manufacture products someone wants to buy. Being an engineer in Germany earns instant respect.
Sadly, we've lost our way in Britain over the past 30 years. Manufacturing as an industry and engineering as a profession don't have the same importance in this country.
I'm not suggesting that our politicians made any conscious decisions to diminish their importance. That would be a bit harsh. However, I would argue that many of them attributed too much importance to other things – the financial sector, for example, and service industries.
In the end, it was at the expense of manufacturing and the consequences are plain to see: an ever-declining contribution from manufacturing to our GDP, declining employment in industry generally, reduced investment in production technology and an inevitable diversion of young talent into careers in different areas.
Is it any wonder young people question why they should go into what they perceive to be a sunset industry? Only last week, it was reported that the UK's steel production – an important indicator of manufacturing strength – has slipped to just 0.6 per cent of world output, putting it below Spain, Mexico and Iran.
Today we are 18th in the world. In the early Seventies we were fourth. I regularly come across overseas business people who firmly believe that our industrial edge has long gone.
It's a false perception and I challenge it head-on every time I can. But perception is reality for many people and that's why many foreign investors feel that they would be far better off going to Germany for engineered products.
According to a Sunday newspaper I read last week, the Chinese can't get enough German-made cars and this is helping to drive the export-driven recovery in the German automotive industry and, in turn, the rest of the German economy.
I can't help wondering what might have happened if our various Governments in recent decades had put in place a long-term industrial policy and promoted engineering as a professional career for young people.
Maybe Britain would be enjoying the same recovery in economic growth that Germany is going through right now. When the global financial crisis struck, the response of German policymakers was inspirational.
Faced with a steep drop in the industrial order book and the prospect of a huge number of engineers, technicians and production-line operatives having to be laid off, what did they do?
They found a way of retaining these valuable skills. They introduced short-time working, with the German government paying employees for hours not worked due to the downturn so that their employers could keep them on the payroll.
JCB employees in Germany benefited from this forward-looking approach. However, our British employees didn't benefit, because no such short-time working policy existed in this country.
We had no choice but to make people redundant – although I'm pleased to say we're starting to recruit again. It's just a great tragedy that we had to let good people go in the first place.
In Germany, the industrial workforce was spared the indignity of unemployment. It remained intact, ready for an upturn which has now arrived in style.
It was only 18 months ago that German carmakers were putting hundreds of thousands of employees on short-time working and now there is more work than they can handle.
It's all down to good old-fashioned economic and political management. Is there a lesson for Britain here? Well, the first thing to do is accept that some damage has been done to our industrial fabric.
Some industries have declined to such an extent that JCB is unable to purchase certain components in this country any more. For example, castings are used to make our diggers but our foundry industry couldn't cope with the intense competition from low-cost economies.
This is one reason why, as I've said many times before, the British content of a JCB backhoe loader has dropped from 96 per cent in 1979 to 36 per cent in 2009. In many instances, the companies that supplied JCB 30 years ago are simply not there now.
There's not a lot we can do about the past. We need to look ahead and get our policymakers to focus on the future – urge them to make manufacturing important once again, treat engineering with the respect it deserves and use it as the driver for economic growth and wealth creation in Britain.
Attracting young people to become part of our manufacturing industry is a crucial first step that must be taken now. JCB is doing its bit by sponsoring an engineering academy for 14 to 19-year-olds in Staffordshire.
My hope is that the young people who graduate from The JCB Academy will be inspired to become great engineers and business leaders and develop the important products of the future.
The future of manufacturers based in Britain, such as Rolls-Royce, Toyota, Bombardier, JCB and countless other small-to-medium-sized firms, depends on it.
- Swindon Borough Council budget cuts approved - Budget cuts totalling £5m have been approved by Swindon borough councillors, 10/08 BBC News via bbc.co.uk
SWINDON, Wilts., U.K. - More then 100 protesters gathered outside the Conservative-run authority's offices on Thursday.
The savings, which will lead to the loss of 237 jobs, will be made before the end of March 2011.
Council leader Rod Bluh said increasing council tax instead was not an option. A Unison spokesman said services would suffer.
The vote went through 34 to 15 at the meeting on Thursday night.
Mr Bluh said: "We have hundreds and thousands of pensioners... people are on fixed incomes, lots of people are on short-time working, lots of people are struggling.
"The last thing they need is tax increases when they can be avoided."
Mr Bluh had earlier said there would be redundancies of between 100 and 200 people. He added that many posts would be closed through not filling vacant roles.
A consultation is taking place.
Bob Cretchley, Unison branch secretary for Swindon, said "Unison is quite despondent about the level of cuts that are coming in this year in Swindon on top of years of cuts to jobs and services.
"We are going to see long-standing, valued members of staff being made redundant and services to the local community will suffer."
10/06-07/2010 – bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (email@example.com) unless otherwise initialed -
- American overwork and German “short work”, by Jonathan Hiskes, 10/06 Grist Magazine via grist.org
SEATTLE, Ore. - John de Graaf has a fascinating post on AlterNet about the American culture of overwork and the German policy of Kurzarbeit, or "short work" -- encouraging employers to reduce hours rather than lay workers off when business is slow. In a country with both a worn-out workforce and a major unemployment problem, that seems worth considering.
There are plenty of "environmental" benefits to scaling back work hours, but a sane, well-paced life can be its own justification. If people find themselves spending less time in cars (I've got time to walk!) and at fast-food shacks (and time to cook!), so much the better.
Says de Graaf:
Less work, more life. It's a tradeoff that a lot of American workers might appreciate. Pollsters find time stress a constant complaint among Americans. Until the current recession, Americans were working some of the longest hours in the industrial world.
Conservatives say this is all voluntary: Americans just like to work a lot. But Gallup's daily survey finds them 20 percent happier on weekends than on workdays -- what a surprise! And when Americans rank the pleasure their daily activities bring, working ends up second from the bottom (socializing after work is second from the top!), more pleasurable only than that mother of all downers, the morning commute.
By contrast, the Netherlands boasts the world's shortest working hours. Dutch workers put in 400 fewer annual hours on the job than American workers do. And yet, the Dutch economy has been very productive. Unemployment (at 5.8 percent) is much lower than in the United States, while the Netherlands boasts a positive trade balance and strong personal savings. A Gallup survey ranks the Dutch third in the world in life satisfaction, behind only the Danes and Finns, and well ahead of Americans.
The economic case:
Economist Dean Baker argues that any further economic stimuli should include Kurzarbeit, or "short work," a German policy that encourages employers to reduce hours rather than lay workers off when times are tight. Instead of cutting 20 percent of the workforce, a German company might reduce each worker's load by a day. Unemployment benefits kick in for the reduced work time, so workers earn roughly 90 percent of their former incomes for 80 percent of the work.
Other countries have followed suit -- the French believe in "working less so all can work."
Could it happen in the U.S.? Only when someone clues in our elected officials:
Here in the United States, a bill sponsored by Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, and Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, would allow federal unemployment benefits to be used to top up salaries of reduced-hour workers in the United States. When the bill was discussed in Barney Frank's House Financial Services Committee, not only did Dean Baker testify in favor but so did Kevin Hassett, an economist with the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
Hassett pointed out that even though the Germans' economy tanked like ours did in 2008, their unemployment rate hasn't risen -- thanks to Kurzarbeit. The law allows companies to retain workers instead of having to rehire later, he said. It's good for them, good for the workers, and doesn't really cost any more than traditional unemployment payments. It's a win, win, win. Nonetheless, not a single Republican has supported the bill and not all Democrats do either, so it remains in limbo.
For another model, the Utah state government has a 4-day, 10-hour-a-day work week. Workers still put in their 40 hours, but they save a commute and get an extra day at home. And their customers have more early-morning and evening hours to get to the DMV.
[However, the four 10-hour-days workweek is irrelevant to engineering the magic labor shortage required for getting full employment, rising wages and centrifuging the huge black hole of unspendable, uninvestable money in the top 0.01% of the population that 70 years of injecting worksaving technology against a frozen pre-tech workweek have turned into the dedynamizing default.]
- Give us weekly offs, fixed working hours: Meru drivers, by Akshay Deshmane, 10/07 Daily News & Analysis via DNAindia.com/mumbai
[Some unions are still struggling for sane and predictable working hours - ALL unions need to get back on this, their POWER ISSUE.]
MUMBAI, India - The Meru Chalak Sena has again trained its guns at the management of Meru fleet taxi services.
In a meeting next week, union leader Vinayak Raut will raise the union’s earlier demands of regulating the Meru cab drivers’ working hours, a weekly holiday for them, and setting up..an independent and efficient maintenance facility for the taxis.
Raut said, “We will ask the management to provide the Meru drivers with a weekly off, fixed working hours as well as an efficient maintenance and repair facility. Currently it takes at least two or three days for repairs. What should the driver do about the loss of business during this period?”
The Meru management is in no mood to relent, either. Meru CEO, Rajesh Puri, said the union leaders can keep on making illegitimate demands and the management will keep on ignoring them.
“It needs to be understood that at Meru the relationship between the drivers and the company is that of a franchisee and a company; not an employer and employee kind. An employee has certain privileges but a franchisee is told to do certain things by the company and he is also granted certain liberties. If the union leaders want to challenge this relationship, which is based on a contract, in high court then they are free to do so,” said Puri.
“If you (the management) call them (the taxi drivers) business partners, why don’t you give them the same benefits that you enjoy?” Raut asked.
Puri sought to assure that the management is receptive to the drivers’ problems. “A delegation of the union had come to discuss some issues of the drivers and we asked them to give us a week to address their concerns,” he said.
10/03-04-05/2010 bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (firstname.lastname@example.org) unless otherwise initialed -
- U.S. economy won't grow without lower unemployment, by Ralph Coker, 10/04 Corpus Christi Caller Times via caller.com
CORPUS CHRISTI, Tex. — Q. As a self employed independent contractor the recession reduced my work hours to 32 hours a week. Now I hear there may be a double dip recession. Is that likely?
A. Nobody knows for sure whether there will be a double dip recession.
[There won't. In a world where the cushioned upper brackets don't need a constant happydrug drip and the ridiculously forgiving definitions of econoproblems that go with it, we're in a single, deepening, diagonally downward-spiralling depression with another major up-arc misnamed "recovery!"]
However, most indicators show that GDP will grow at a slow pace and there won’t be a double dip recession. That doesn’t mean that unemployment will drop from the high 9.5 percent anytime soon. Unemployment is typically the last indicator to improve coming out of a recession.
We are currently at 30 months since the start of the recession. The Wall Street Journal recently published a chart showing improvement in unemployment and GDP following the beginning of the last 4 recessions since 1980. For the previous 3 recessions at the 30 month mark the number of jobs recovered to about the pre-recession level and GDP was about 4 percent higher than pre-recession level. This recession is worse on both counts. The number of jobs is about 5.5 percent less than pre-recession and GDP is about 1.0 percent less.
The official unemployment rate is 9.5 percent but the real rate is much higher. The official rate doesn’t include long term unemployed who have stopped looking, part time workers, workers whose hours or pay were cut, those working multiple jobs to survive and those working below their skill level. About 26 percent of U.S. workers are hurt by the poor job market.
A recent survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com of white-collar workers showed that 9 percent of those surveyed had taken a second job to make ends meet. Another 19 percent said they intended to take a second job sometime in 2010.
Unemployment lags behind GDP growth coming out of recession because companies wait as long as possible to hire new employees as sales increase because hiring adds to their fixed cost. Labor and other fixed costs like rent and utilities is about 65 percent of sales revenue for many companies. As they produce and sell more without increasing fixed cost each extra sales dollar creates about 65 cents profit. That’s why companies reported earnings have been 30 to 40 percent higher than year ago earnings for the last 3 quarters.
In past recessions companies have used up their excess capacity and started hiring before this point. Why not this time? I fear it’s because they are importing products and services from China, India and other countries rather than hiring to produce them in the U.S. If that’s true, it’s bad news for U.S. jobs and unemployment. About 70 percent of U.S. GDP comes from consumer spending. The unemployed don’t have money to spend. It’s unlikely GDP can grow rapidly until unemployment goes down.
Ralph Coker, a retired refinery manager, volunteers with the local chapter of SCORE, counselors to small business. Contact SCORE at 879-0017, Ext. 22, or e-mail to email@example.com. Also visit www.score-corpus-christi.org
- Overworked Britons struggle to find time for themselves - Average UK resident has more than eight hours less time than they did in mid-90s, by Jo Adetunji, 10/03 (10/04) The Guardian via guardian.co.uk
MANCHESTER, England - As any busy parent, careerist or modern life-juggler knows, finding "me time" can be a challenge. And despite an official fall in working hours, Britons are struggling more than ever to find time for themselves, according to new research.
Official figures show the number of working hours has fallen since the mid-1990s, with the population working 32m fewer hours a week. But the research, by One Poll, concluded we now have eight-and-a-half hours less time each week for ourselves than five years ago.
The biggest time-guzzler was work: over 50% of people put in a full, five-day week, and almost half brought their work home. The survey, which polled 3,000 people, said 13% of Londoners spend up to 60 hours a week working – meaning a fifth of those living in the capital have just three hours of "me time" a week. Cambridge residents logged the most office hours , with 64% of people working more than 38 hours a week. In Aberystwyth this fell to around 30 hours.
The busiest occupations were human resources, with almost 75% of HR professionals taking their work home, followed by those in science and the media.
Norwich residents also fared poorly, with the East Anglians grabbing just 45 minutes of time to themselves a day.
Fiona Fyfe, from Windows Live Hotmail, which commissioned the survey, said: "Juggling careers, family, relationships, household chores and financial admin is leaving Brits with little time to spend on themselves. The fact that free time has decreased by eight hours a week over the last five years is testament to how much busier today's lifestyle are.
"Over half of us are in the office for a full five-day week, yet nearly half still bring work home. It's important that we find different ways to save ourselves time."
After work, Fyfe said, personal relationships, family and children take the second and third positions when it comes to where people devote their time.
While women were more likely to separate work and home life, men were more likely to spend longer in the office – around 60% of those surveyed work more than 60 hours a week – but were also more likely to focus more spare time on themselves, with an extra three hours of "me time" on average each week than women.
On a daily basis, women grabbed an average of 50 minutes to themselves compared with an hour and 15 minutes for men.
In March, another survey found that technology contributed to a workaholic culture with staff working up to 10 extra days a year because they were unable to switch off BlackBerrys and mobiles after leaving the office.
- If you're feeling down, stop doing and start being - Depression is hitting men earlier than ever, but you can beat the blues, by Jeremy Hazlehurst, 10/05 CITY A.M. via cityam.com
LONDON, England - Research published by Relate last week said that men are getting their mid-life crisis earlier than ever, and that men aged 35-44 are the least happy people. The numbers are chilling. Twenty-one per cent say they feel lonely a lot of the time; 22 per cent wanted a better relationship with their family; 30 per cent believed shorter working hours would help them get on better with relatives; 22 per cent said they had suffered depression because of a bad relationship; 40 per cent had been cheated on by a partner; and 28 per cent had quit a job after falling out with a colleague.
Dr Michael Sinclair of City Psychology [www.city-psychology.co.uk], who is based in Liverpool Street, agrees that the mid-life crisis – feeling being part of a machine and feeling there is no meaning or reason to life – is striking ever younger. “People are under tremendous pressure at an early age,” he says. “Society has these expectations, and it can be easy to lose touch with the other things that give life value.”
In the City this is exacerbated by long hours and the imperative to be contactable at all hours of the day. The recession just made things worse. For women, there is the added pressure of having a family. Dr Sinclair says he often has women in floods of tears in his office.
So if you are feeling depressed, how do you cope? Firstly, says Sinclair, remember that it is not just you that feels this way – and there are people out there who can help.
Secondly, get off the internet. If you are emailing friends rather than speaking to them, and socialising on social networking sites, then you need to get out and have some real social contact. A night in the pub can do wonders for the mental health.
Technology can also enable short-termist thrill-seeking behaviour – dating sites have made affairs far easier. Which leads us to point three: concentrate on the long-term, and avoid short-term fixes. Booze, drugs or sex might make you feel better right now, but can become bigger problems than the one they were meant to fix. Take a step back and recognise when your behaviour is self-destructive.
And fourthly, prioritise. There’ll never be a moment when everything is done and you can relax, so put some time in the diary to spend doing something you enjoy, whether it’s just reading a book, watching a film, doing yoga or going to the gym. As Sinclair puts it: “Spend some time being, and not doing.”
10/01-02/2010 bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments, despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (firstname.lastname@example.org) unless otherwise initialed -
- German Unemployment Rate Down to 7.2 Percent after Peaking at 8.7 Percent; Can We Learn Anything? by "Trader Mark," 10/01 International Business Times via ibtimes.com
NEW YORK, N.Y. - In America, any European economic model is "evil" (codeword for "socialist"). There is nothing we can learn from foreign lands since we're #1 at everything... just ask us. Every European market is inflexible, low growth, and focuses too much on helping people rather than corporations. (which per U.S. Supreme Court ruling are now people too). Plus "those people" get 4-6 weeks vacation - how do they look at their lazy selves in the mirror (or compete globally?) Those thoughts are brought to you by the same people who said "housing could never fall nationally in the U.S." and "when the global economy recovers, the U.S. will lead it - not China". We truly are a narcissistic nation.
At this point the entire U.S. Department of Education should be stationed in Finland trying to mimic whatever they are doing to be ranked top notch in science and math, the entire Energy Department should be in France figuring out how they have the best nuclear energy program in the world (80% of energy from that source), and the entire Commerce Department should be stationed in Germany to figure out how a highly paid workforce can create 40% of GDP via manufactured exports. [Aug 26, 2009: China Poised to Tie Germany for World's Lead in Merchandise Exports] The Energy Department could stop by Germany as well since the U.S. is about a decade behind in "green energy initiatives". [Aug 25, 2009: UK Telegraph - China Powers Ahead as it Seizes the Green Energy Crown from Europe] The Transportation Department can go to pretty much any 1st world country in the globe and see how far behind we are. Once they import this knowledge from Europe, all these departments should then be eliminated since they have been abject failures... save the taxpayer some money.
Do any of these countries have a perfect system? No, not close. Could we learn *anything* from them? Even one thing? Apparently not per most commentary I hear on the TeeVee... we have it all figured out apparently. (I know, I know - if you like it so much go move there! - save the snarky comment)
Somehow the "inflexible" labor force of Europe now has (in some countries) lower unemployment rates than "slash and burn your multinational disposable labor" America. [Jul 27, 2010: NYT - Industries Find Surging Profits in Deeper Cuts] [May 26, 2009: NYT - "Official" US Jobless Rate Likely to Pass Europe's] The dogma of how wonderful the "flexible" American labor system is working in a country where there has been ZERO private labor growth for a decade is overpowering. (most of the 'flexibility' in the U.S. is simply the ability to move work overseas and/or create a new temporary worker class, and compensate the CEO class in bountiful manner for this 'very difficult' work) But that obfuscation is not so overpowering as deriding the lousy "socialists" in Europe, when all U.S. net job growth in the past decade+ has been in government or government subsidized healthcare and education. [Aug 14, 2009: Prosperity Without Jobs?] But never let information get in the way of dogma - let's keep it simple: USA!USA! USA!
Specific to Germany, rather than having countless millions lose skill sets sitting home unemployed for 26... 52...err 99 weeks, they enacted a subsidization program called "short time". So government support was necessary (in both countries) but appears to have created much better effects in Germany.... and is being drawn down quickly. I did an entire piece on this in summer 2009 [Jun 16, 2009: As Euro Zone Unemployment Spikes - Job Saving Measures Emerge; Completely UnAmerican] Again, I want to stress these are lazy 'socialists' (who have a later retirement date than Americans) and we can learn nothing for them, so if you read past this point, please purge your memory immediately.
Germany's unemployment rate dropped to 7.2% in September as the strength of Europe's biggest economy helped the labor market recover quickly from the crisis. The unadjusted jobless rate was down from 7.6% in August.
"The good economic development continues to have a positive effect on the labor market," labor agency chief Frank-Juergen Weise said. "Companies' demand for labor is high."
"We have good chances of seeing a golden autumn on the labor market," Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle said. "The economic upswing is gaining breadth and reaching ever more people."
Even at the height of the economic crisis, a government-subsidized short-time work plan that allowed employers to reduce production without cutting employees kept the jobless rate in check.
Under the so-called short-work plan, or Kurzarbeit in German, companies can temporarily move employees onto shorter working weeks to reduce costs during periods of weak demand. They pay only for the hours worked and the government provides up to 67 percent of the remaining wage. The program supported up to 1.5 million employees at some 63,000 companies
The unadjusted rate peaked at 8.7% in February this year.
"Second-quarter GDP data has shown that not just exports but also domestic demand is recovering strongly now."
So one country is looking to ever increase government assistance to unemployed or at best "keep it static" ... with no end in site to unemployment - whereas another country has recovered to the point it can reduce its government spending dramatically on such a program. Whose program was smarter?
Recent months' figures have shown that the German labor market is resilient even as the short-work program's importance fades.
The labor agency estimated that, in July -- the latest month for which it has figures -- 288,000 people were in the short-work program, 111,000 fewer than in June and down nearly four-fifths from its peak in May 2009.
Another "flexible" plan by the "unflexible" socialists.
Another tool that has played a central role in containing unemployment is the so-called work-time account used by about half of all German firms. This allows them to reduce employees’ working weeks during downturns. The hours saved accrue in an account and can then be used during booms without adjusting wages.
See the statement below.... the irony is incredible and you would not believe such words would come to represent a socialist state.
Germany's "labor market flexibility has enabled companies to respond to the upturn in global demand since mid-2009 quite rapidly, unlike in countries where staff has to be hired anew," Klein said.
So the German labor force has done (relatively) well all things considered. Meanwhile the important thing in America is S&P 500 companies have surging profits - and profits in a select group of a couple hundred companies is the most important gauge of domestic economic health. Because without profits (at all costs), there can be no labor growth (in India and China) by American companies. ;) Boo yah.
[This is the most sarcastic, angry article we've seen about the "Suicide, Everyone Else First"' policies of the American power elite, and we're glad to see that Americans are beginning to wake up and get beyond Tea Party yelling.]
- UN warns of unemployment unrest, by Rick Moran, 10/02 AmericanThinker.com (blog)
GENEVA, Switzerland - There have been riots already in 25 countries says the International Labor Organization. And Spain might be next considering there are plans for a general strike this week protesting government policies.
So what does the ILO recommend? Same old, same old:
The ILO recommends three policies for a jobs-led recovery:
• Active labour market policies including work-sharing that target vulnerable groups such as young people, and training.
• A closer link between wages and productivity gains in surplus countries to boost demand and job creation.
• Financial sector reform to ensure savings are channelled to productive investment and the creation of more stable jobs.
Sharing scarcity, more government interference, and buzz words like "productive investment" is about the limit of the ILO - and other labor groups' - imagination. Eventually, those countries that ignore this kind of advice will have vibrant economies again, setting an example that the rest of us should try and emulate.
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