economy

Jobless Claims on the Rise

Doesn’t seem like its a good start to the year off with a rise in the jobless claims — especially when a decrease was forecasted.

Jobless claims increased by 8,000 to 339,000 in the week ended Feb. 8 from 331,000 in the prior period, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 52 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a decrease to 330,000.  — http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-13/jobless-claims-in-u-s-increased-to-339-000-last-week.html

I am not sure that I can say that I am all that surprised — many news reports seem to make connections between the soft retail sales in December — that might have something to do with it — but I don’t think its the whole story. Ultimately I think that this is going to be slow to turn around and that there are not quick fixes or miracles.

I’d like to see more people talking about skills-mismatch vs the jobs that are in demand and how to get those better aligned — for the current workforce as well as the future workers.  I think that is the bigger piece that we should be solving for, not just waiting on things to turn around with the economy.

Just my thoughts — what are yours?

Making the HR connection, yours,

 

 

 

photo credit: http://www.prunejuicemedia.com

More Money = Meaner and Greedier

I came across this article and video this weekend and just had to share it. Take Two ‘Normal’ People, Add Money To Just One Of Them, And Watch What Happens Next.  We should be interested in this for a number of reasons — but I was actually doing some research related back to the debates on the rise of minimum wage when I discovered this.

The research that they discover is so interesting — you should watch it and come to your own conclusions, but suffice to say, money (even fake money) can change you .. but I wonder why :(.

I’m still trying to make sense of this from and HR perspective. What would the research suggest about a company’s senior leadership and board members? Specialized or hard to obtain talent? Would this, or could it, have an impact on corporate and core values? Is this driving engagement and trust. Way more questions that I have answers for at the time. Hope to circle back around on it though.

See more: A special Upworthy series about work and the economy, made possible by the AFL-CIO. Read more, then check out more in Workonomics.

Wanting to find out more, so that I can better understand, the HR connection, yours

I work 4 jobs and I’m still struggling — but why?

I came across this story while reading on the internet — these stories make me sad — but also make me ask “why” — “why” does he have 4 jobs and only barely making ends meet?

I’m not sure that raising the minimum wage is going to fix the problem — is it a problem of not the right jobs, not the right skills, or not enough of the right people with the right skills to fill the jobs?Is it a problem of opportunity? motivation? laziness? I honestly am not sure. Its been a while since I’ve talked about it, but one of the reasons I started this blog was because my sig-o is kinda in this same boat. As an HR pro, you can imagine how frustrating it must be to have the skills to help coach others in their careers but struggle to make it the translation to the person your share your life with. People often forget the wider impacts of unemployment.

Here is an excerpt of the story and a link to the full story here:

Bingham is 37 years old and has a college degree, but like many Americans, is stuck working many hours in low wage, part-time jobs.Each week, he works a total of about 60 hours in his jobs as a massage therapist, a waiter at a Mexican restaurant, a delivery man for sandwich chain Jimmy John’s and a receptionist at his massage school.He brings home about $400 a week, or $20,000 per year, and has joined the nationwide movement of fast food protests fighting for higher wages.”I’ve come to the point in my life where I wonder if I can ever support a family,” he said. “I have no idea how that’s ever going to logically happen.”

Bingham’s is an increasingly common story. The share of part-time workers who couldn’t find full-time jobs surged during the Great Recession, more than double what it was in the preceding decade. Though their situation is improving now, more than 7.7 million Americans are still settling for part-time work, compared to about 4.1 million on average in 2006.

via I work 4 jobs and I’m still struggling – Dec. 12, 2013.

Big Debt on Campus – Make it Worth It

Its back to school time and so many college students have scrimped and saved to go to college — including taking out some student loans. I knew that college loans was up — but holy smokes — up “310% more than a decade ago.” All I can say is WOW.

I’m an HR person — my degrees are in Biology (I was pre-med — long story, I’ll have to tell you about it another time) and I completed another degree in English and I went back to grad school for a degree in business. My advice — choose your major wisely, work you arse off, get good grades, intern, network. Have fun and know that you don’t have to figure it out — but know that in your 20s (early career) you are laying the foundation for the rest of your life.. err, your working career at least — no pressure right?You can make changes and adjust, but get the foundation right.

The explosion of college tuition and student debt is leaving more grads with big bills and doubts about their futures. Some back-to-school stats:

1. College costs a lot more than it used to.

The good news: College grads earn 84% more than high school grads.

The bad: Getting that sheepskin is getting a lot more expensive.

via Charts: How Big Debt on Campus Is Threatening Higher Ed | Mother Jones.

I love learning, I love the class room setting — just make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck — I’m not saying pick money over passion — I’m saying be strategic and think about short term goals and long term gains.

Making the HR connection, yours

On The Minds of Your Employees: Rising Education Costs and Student Loans

I don’t have kids yet and I feel like I’m already behind in saving for their college education.  If its on my mind — I KNOW its on the mind of my employees and colleagues with kids. I was a scholarship kid and going to college would have been difficult for me without it.  I finished undergrad debt free — but can’t say the same for my graduate studies.  I mentor high school kids and I know that the process has changed. Not only is it more competitive to get into school, but its hard to find the money to fund it (hard but not impossible).  Scholarships are harder to come by and the financial aide process continues to evolve with complexities each year.

Okay – so I haven’t told you anything that you don’t know yet. But this is something that you DO need to pay attention to. On July 25, 2013, the US Senate Senate approved a student loan deal:

The bipartisan proposal would link interest rates on federal student loans to the financial markets, providing lower interest rates right away but higher ones later if the economy improves as expected.

Undergraduates this fall would borrow at a 3.9 percent interest rate. Graduate students would have access to loans at 5.4 percent, and parents would borrow at 6.4 percent. The rates would be locked in for that year’s loan, but each year’s loan could be more expensive than the last. Rates would rise as the economy picks up and it becomes more expensive for the government to borrow money.

via Senate Approves Student Loan Deal : NPR.

Rates as high as 6.4% for parents who could undoubtedly get larger loans than their students who could borrow at 3.9%.

If you were saving for a child’s education you might have to sock away a bit more.

There are TONS of strategies for funding a child’s education – I hope that we can explore some of them on this blog — but your big call to action is to look at your plan. If you don’t have a plan, you need to get one (yes I’m even talking to those of you like me who would like kids, but don’t have them yet). But don’t go it alone — involve your student. You pick the age, but I will say that at a very young age I understood the connection between my academics and my opportunities to go to college. I don’t exaggerate when I tell you that I was thinking about this at 7 (which totally explains why two words that never describe me are “laid back” – I’ve always been a little “intense”). Maybe its not 7 for you and your family but, IMHO, 17 is probably too late.

Don’t forget to consider your retirement plan and emergency funds in the mix. You’ve got to take care of yourself too. I’m not a financial planner, just calling out some of the big pieces that you want to consider and evaluate.

Don’t freak — take a breath, get some information,  and get a plan.

Making the HR Connection, yours,

The Most-Hated Major Company? It’s at the Mall | Michael Santoli – Yahoo! Finance

How can a company go from being so well loved to possible one of the most hated?

Two words — CUSTOMER SERVICE. And you as a manager or HR Pro can help impact that — happy employees have a positive impact on customers.

Sears (sorry I’m spoiling it for ya) has the stuff that people want — and some great products and convenient locations — but the some of the employees don’t seem to care anymore. I love their appliances, tools, home goods, and I’ve bought great children clothes there. But I have noticed that their customer service is a bit lacking.

That being said, I was at a Sears about 4 months ago and had a WONDERFUL experience. I had actually braced myself to have a bad one, but I love Sears tools and appliances and they usually have deals, so I was willing to take the chance of poor service vs. a good deal. I’m so glad that I did! I went in to buy an inexpensive, but reliable gas range for my house that I rent out. I was totally expecting the upsale and to have to look at a bunch of stuff that I wasn’t interested in –or worse, have someone follow me around when all you need is some room to look, breathe, and think — , but this salesman, Eddie,  totally listened to me, got me taken care of ON BUDGET, and in a short amount of time, and got this unit delivered in one of the next open windows. Sorry to hear that Sears might be in this position, but there is hope! I’ll go back to buy other tools and appliances from Eddie for sure!

What are some of your stories of great or bad customer service. Ever had an experience that lead you to never shop somewhere again or an experience that made you loyal forever?

Let me hear your stories!

The Girl in HR!

From Wall Street to the mall, Sears Holdings Inc. (SHLD) might be the most hated major American company.

Sears Roebuck, as the company used to be known, was the Amazon.com (AMZN) of its day, thanks to its comprehensive mail-order catalog and early expansion across fast-growing postwar suburbs. Sears was once so powerful that it built and anchored the largest skyscraper in the country in Chicago (now the Willis Tower).

Yet public affection for storied store brands often doesn’t survive generational shifts, and Sears has been largely rejected by today’s shoppers in favor of newer chains with larger formats and better pricing, from Target Corp. (TGT) to Home Depot Inc. (HD) to Kohl’s Corp. (KSS)

via The Most-Hated Major Company? It’s at the Mall | Michael Santoli – Yahoo! Finance.

Millions of Americans Have Inadequate Means to Retire. Get the Retirement Facts.

Despite the Dow hitting all-time highs, millions of Americans still have a dismal outlook when it comes to their own ability to retire.

Consider these five statistics:

46% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. (Employment Benefit Research Institute)

40% of baby boomers now plan to work until they die. (AARP)

36% of Americans say they don’t contribute anything at all to their savings. [CNBC]

87% of adults say they are not confident about having money for a comfortable retirement. (Lifehappens.org)

Expected retirement age is up to 67 from age 63. (Zero Hedge)

via Millions of Americans Have Inadequate Means to Retire. Get the Retirement Facts..