Content tagged “Employment”

Tight job market in US cities prompting higher pay

Companies across the U.S. are struggling to fill positions with metropolitan jobless rates below the 5.2% to 5.6% level the Federal Reserve regards as full employment nationally. As Bloomberg reports, competition for workers is prompting businesses in such cities to raise wages, increase hours for current employees, add benefits and recruit from other regions. "There are spot labor shortages" that probably will "broaden out over the next year as the job market steadily improves," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics Inc. Unemployment in Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos was 4.8% in February, Labor Department figures show. Forty-nine, or 13%, of the 372 metro areas reported jobless rates below 5% that month—the most for February since 2008, two months after the start of the recession. Baton Rouge was among them, with an unemployment rate in February of 3.9%. The lowest rate in the nation was 2.8% in the Houma-Thibodaux area, due to increased offshore activity in the...

The 30-hour workweek

The tradition a 40-hour workweek is well-rooted in American labor history, dating to the 1930s New Deal program, portions of which sought limits on worker hours across many business sectors. The cotton industry was the first to adopt the recommended 40-hour standard.

US employers add 192,000 jobs in March; unemployment rate remains at 6.7%

The government's official jobs report for March, released this morning, shows employers across the country added jobs at a solid pace last month and hired more in January and February than previously thought. The Associated Press reports the figures sent a reassuring signal that the economy withstood a harsh winter that had slowed growth. The economy gained 192,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department says, slightly below February's revised total of 197,000. Employers added a combined 37,000 more jobs in January and February than previously estimated. The unemployment rate was nonetheless unchanged at 6.7%. But a half-million Americans started looking for work last month, and most of them found jobs. The increase in job-seekers is a sign that they were more optimistic about their prospects. March's job gain nearly matched last year's average monthly total, suggesting that the job...

Moving up

Robert Hebert has been named wealth advisor for Regions Wealth Management. His responsibilities include providing credit management, retirement planning, personal banking and investment strategies tailored to the needs of clientele throughout the South Louisiana region. A finance industry veteran with more than 10 years of experience, Hebert previously served as an investment specialist at JPMorgan Private Wealth Management.

Proposed $40M WISE incentive fund clears first hurdle

Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to create a $40 million incentive fund to direct dollars to high-demand programs that will fill the petrochemical, engineering and manufacturing jobs his administration has drawn to Louisiana crossed its first legislative hurdle today. The Associated Press reports the bill by House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, would set up the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund, called the WISE Fund. It would steer money to high-demand areas at Louisiana's four-year universities and community and technical colleges. Dollars for the fund would be allocated through the budget process, and Jindal proposes $40 million for the upcoming 2014-15 fiscal year. The Jindal administration has attracted billions of dollars in new investment, much of it in the petrochemical industry, but administration and higher education leaders say Louisiana needs to better prepare workers for the jobs coming with those projects. "This is a very targeted, mathematical...

La. unemployment rate falls to 4.5%

Louisiana's unemployment rate continued to fall in February. According to a new report issued this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state's unemployment rate last month was 4.5%, down from 4.9% the previous month. The February unemployment rate in Louisiana was also 1.9 percentage points lower than it was a year previous, ranking it among the biggest year-over-year declines of any state. Only South Carolina, which saw its rate drop 2.4 percentage points from a year ago to 5.7% last month, had a bigger decline since last year. The Associated Press reports unemployment rates fell in most states in February and two-thirds of the states reported job gains, evidence that most of the country is benefiting from slow but steady improvement in the job market. The Labor Department says unemployment rates dropped in 29 states, rose in 10 and were unchanged in the remaining 11. Meanwhile, hiring rose in 33 states and fell in 17. The unemployment rate declines occurred even though...

10,000 La. businesses not compliant with e-filing law, LWC says

The Louisiana Workforce Commission says about 90% of the state's roughly 100,000 employers are electronically filing their quarterly unemployment wage and tax reports, as required by a 2008 law. That means about 10,000 Louisiana employers have yet to switch to e-filing and are now facing potential penalties. However, the LWC notes in a press release issued today that commission staff are working with business owners by phone, online and in person to help them comply with the April 30 deadline to file. "Employers who file online spend less time filing and experience fewer errors," says LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink. Paper forms and reports will no longer be accepted by the LWC, and are no longer available for download on the commission's website. Get more...

How to maximize LinkedIn

So you've completed your LinkedIn profile, made connections with everyone you know and even boast a few coveted endorsements to your credit. What now?

Skills for a global workplace

Nothing is more sobering for the overly exuberant than hearing the straight skinny from people who know what they're talking about.

La. 'labor underutilization' rate below U.S. average in 2013

New data released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show Louisiana's "labor underutilization" rate—that is, the measure of those who are unemployed as well as those who are working part-time because they can't find a full-time job—was 12.7% in 2013. While that figure is much higher than the state's unemployment rate of 7% last year, the BLS notes it is below the U.S. underutilization rate of 13.8% in 2013. The state's unemployment rate was also below the national average of 7.4% last year. In 2013, the report says there were 147,200 unemployed residents in the state and another 87,800 workers who were employed part-time for purely economic reasons. "These individuals were working part-time because of slack work or business conditions or because they were unable to find a full-time job," the report says. "Nationwide, there were 7.9 million individuals working part-time for economic reasons in 2013."

How do I find the right person to fill a position?

Given the high cost of employee turnover, experts agree that having the right people in place is one of most important roles of a manager or business owner. But how do you identify talent, ask the right questions and make the right decisions when it comes to filling an open position? We asked three human resources professionals to share their advice.

LWC upgrades website for La. employers, job seekers

Louisiana employers now have the ability to contact job seekers directly through the Louisiana Workforce Commission's HiRE (Helping Individuals Reach Employment) website, as well as create job posting templates, perform keyword searches of prospective hires' résumés and more. LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink announced the website upgrades in a news release this morning, saying job seekers in the state will also find the HiRE site more useful. Job seekers can now create custom job search options, get more information than previously about all job postings and utilize several new online tools, including one that allows applicants to import their employment history directly from their LinkedIn profiles and share job listings via social media websites. LWC says its online services launch, scheduled to go live this summer, will enable unemployment benefits recipients and employers to handle all appeal...

U.S. unemployment dips to 6.6% on addition of 113K jobs in January

Hiring was surprisingly weak in January for a second straight month. Employers added 113,000 jobs, the government announced this morning, far fewer than the average monthly gain of 194,000 last year. Job gains have averaged just 154,000 the past three months, down from 201,000 in the preceding three. The Associated Press reports the sluggish job growth may reflect what investors and economists have begun to fear: That the U.S. job market is weakening again, along with sectors like manufacturing and retail sales in the United States and abroad. The weakness might also raise doubts about the Federal Reserve's plans to steadily reduce its economic stimulus this year. Still, more people began looking for work in January, a sign that they were optimistic about finding work. Some of these people found jobs, thereby reducing the unemployment rate to 6.6% from 6.7% in December. That's the lowest rate since October 2008. Cold weather likely held back hiring in December, economists say, though...

'Business Report' looking for your best job interview questions

You have 10 qualified candidates vying for one position. How do you find the one that's right? Often, it's the interview. Business Report is searching for the best of the best questions from those who do the hiring in the Capital Region. Send the magazine your favorite question that helps you distinguish the job seekers from the job getters, along with an explanation of why it works. Include your name, title and a high-resolution photograph of yourself. We'll feature the best ones in a future issue of Business Report. Email all replies to Penny@businessreport.com. The deadline is noon on Friday.

Obama asks CEOs for help hiring long-term jobless

President Barack Obama is asking major corporations for their help in putting the long-term unemployed back to work. Although the unemployment rate has declined to 6.7%, long-term joblessness in the U.S. remains a major problem. The concern is that the longer someone is out of a job, the harder it gets to find a new one. Companies are less likely to hire people who haven't used their skills in months and more likely to wonder why another employer hasn't already snatched them up. With that concern in mind, The Associated Press reports, the Obama administration has been working for months to exact commitments from companies to ensure their hiring practices don't discriminate against long-term job-seekers. That includes doing away with candidate-screening methods that disqualify applicants based on their current employment status. It also means ensuring that job ads don't discourage unemployed workers from applying. The White House couldn't say how many unemployed Americans might...

Moving up

Angela Adolph, Tokesha Collins and Erin Kilgore have been elected partners at Kean Miller law firm's Baton Rouge office. Adolph practices in the municipal finance and tax groups, where she represents Louisiana, national, and international clients in Louisiana taxation matters. She is listed in the Municipal Marketplace's "Red Book" of national public finance professionals, and serves on the board of directors of the McMains Children's Developmental Center in Baton Rouge. Collins practices in the environmental regulatory group, representing local, regional, and national clients in regulatory proceedings, Title V and PSD air permitting and enforcement actions, environmental compliance and audits, due diligence and environmental issues in mergers, acquisitions and reorganizations, and rulemaking efforts at both the state and federal level. She serves on the board of directors of the Iris Domestic Violence Center. Kilgore practices in the labor and employment law group, where she...

Jindal issues new state government hiring freeze

Gov. Bobby Jindal has issued a partial hiring freeze for executive branch agencies in state government, seeking to reduce state spending. The Associated Press reports Jindal has repeatedly issued limited hiring freezes throughout his administration as the state has struggled with budget problems. The goal listed in the latest executive order, posted today, is to save $7 million in the state's general fund. The savings goal is modest, considering the current year general operating budget tops $25 billion. This latest hiring freeze, issued while Jindal is on an Asian economic development trip, took effect immediately and remains on the books until June 30, 2015. The state's elected officials and the Louisiana Legislature aren't covered by the governor's order. Also exempt are the public college systems and jobs that provide direct patient care or law enforcement.

Jobs report highlights the effect of aging of baby boomers

The government's official December jobs report has sparked a fresh argument on an issue as old as the recovery: whether unemployment is dropping because of new jobs or because people have stopped looking. Released Friday, the government's report showed the unemployment rate falling to 6.7%. But it estimated the U.S. labor force shrank by 347,000 last month while only 74,000 new jobs were added. Just 62.8% of adults were working or sought jobs, tied for the lowest share since 1978. For the year, the labor force shrank by nearly 550,000 workers to about 154.9 million—marking only the third year since 1948 when the U.S. workforce declined on an annual basis. To skeptical economists like Keith Hall of George Mason University, that means all of 2013's drop in the unemployment rate was because fewer people were looking. Only 2.2 million jobs were added last year. But a group that includes leading Wall Street and Federal Reserve economists say the drop in workforce participation is...

December U.S. jobs report shows smallest gain in three years

U.S. employers added a scant 74,000 jobs in December, the fewest in three years. Still, the Labor Department reports this morning that the unemployment rate fell from 7% in November to 6.7%, the lowest level since October 2008. But the drop occurred mostly because many Americans stopped looking for jobs. Once people without jobs stop looking for one, the government no longer counts them as unemployed. Economists tell The Associated Press that cold weather likely played a role in the sharp slowdown in hiring last month. Job gains had averaged 214,000 a month in the previous four months. It's unclear whether the sharp hiring slowdown might lead the Federal Reserve to rethink its plan to slow stimulus efforts. The Fed decided last month to pare its monthly bond purchases, which are designed to lower interest rates. "I don't think the Fed is going to be panicked by this," says Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors. Naroff suggests that the 6.7% unemployment rate—a drop...

Watchdog advises ending early look at jobs data

A Labor Department watchdog has recommended ending a practice that allows reporters to review a key unemployment report before it is made public. Media "lockups" for weekly unemployment benefits are a problem because news outlets can feed the data to investment firms and financial exchanges immediately after the lockup ends, the Labor Department's Office of the Inspector General said in a report released Thursday. Several news services use software to transmit the economic data to traders, who then profit because they have the data fractions of a second before other investors. The Associated Press provides such data to the Nasdaq exchange, which then sells the data to its customers. In its report, the Inspector General recommended adopting procedures that eliminate such competitive advantages or discontinuing the lockups entirely. The report focused only on weekly applications for unemployment benefits. But it could mark the first effort to end all lockups, including the monthly jobs...

'Business Report': Is La. housing market prepared for influx of workers?

In Williston, N.D., a prairie town that has seen its population jump from 1,500 to nearly 8,000 in just a few years due to a rise in oil and gas exploration, workers have struggled to find a place to call home. Some are living in hotels, others in "camps" made out of shipping containers. Many of the migrants find apartments, and some have moved into single-family homes built since the boom. Employment is expected to continue to rise through at least 2020 and possibly for the next two decades, making long-term, permanent housing there even more of a necessity in the future. As Business Report details in a story from the current issue, a similar scenario looms in south Louisiana as a result of new manufacturing facilities and plant expansions on the horizon. Projects totaling more than $60 billion are expected to require upwards of 64,000 workers through 2016 in the state—35,000 of those filling new jobs. The Craft Workforce Development Task Force—created in...

Initial weekly unemployment claims drop in La.

First-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending Dec. 21 decreased from the previous week's total. The state labor department figures released today show the initial claims decreased to 2,578 from 2,737 for the previous week. For the comparable week a year earlier, 3,495 initial claims were filed. The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, decreased to 2,581 from the previous week's total of 2,650. Continued unemployment claims for the week ending Dec. 21 increased to 24,385 compared to 23,892 the previous week. The four-week moving average for such claims increased to 23,716 from the previous week's average of 23,329.

Living in the industrial boom

In Williston, N.D., a prairie town that has seen its population jump from 1,500 to nearly 8,000 in just a few years due to a rise in oil and gas exploration, workers have struggled to find a place to call home.

La. jobless rate drops for third month in a row

Louisiana's unemployment rate fell for the third straight month in November, hitting 6.3% as the state's job market continued its recovery from a slowdown in 2013's first half. A separate survey shows payrolls were flat from October to November. Both sets of figures—adjusted to cancel out normal seasonal changes—were released today by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Louisiana's unemployment rate was 6.5% in October. The state's jobless rate was 5.7% in November 2012, before six months of unemployment increases that ended in June. There were 131,000 unemployed Louisianans in November, down from 136,000 in October, but above 120,000 in November 2012. State nonfarm payrolls set an all-time high for the fourth straight month, but rose by only 400 people from October.

Fed will reduce bond purchases by $10 billion in January

The Federal Reserve has decided to reduce its stimulus for the U.S. economy because the job market has shown steady improvement. The Fed announced today it will trim its $85 billion a month in bond purchases by $10 billion starting in January. At the same time, the Fed strengthened its commitment to record-low short-term rates, saying it plans to hold its key short-term rate near zero "well past" the time when unemployment falls below 6.5%. Unemployment is now 7%. The Fed's reduction to $75 billion a month in bond purchases is a small but significant step. It means Fed policymakers are ready to ease the extraordinary support they've provided to the economy since the Great Recession began six years ago. Roberto Perli, a former Fed economist who is now head of monetary policy research at Cornerstone Macro, tells The Associated Press the move "eliminates the uncertainty as to whether or when the Fed will taper and will give markets the opportunity to focus on what really matters, which...

Private survey says U.S. companies added 215K jobs last month

A private survey released this morning from payroll processor ADP shows U.S. businesses last month added the most jobs in a year, powered by big gains in manufacturing and construction. ADP—which releases its monthly jobs report prior to the official government report, due out Friday—says American businesses added 215,000 jobs in November. ADP also says private employers added 184,000 jobs in October, much stronger than its initial estimate of 130,000. The ADP numbers cover only private businesses and often diverge from the government's more comprehensive report. Last month, the Labor Department reported private businesses added 212,000 jobs in October. Still, the figure suggests that hiring remained healthy in November after picking up in the prior three months. Manufacturing and construction firms each added 18,000 jobs. That was the biggest gain for manufacturers since early this year. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, tells The Associated Press the...

A promising outlook

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber held its annual Economic Outlook briefing this month, reviewing the current state of the Capital Region economy, where it has been, and where it might be going.

Gamblers leave 6% less at B.R. boats in October

Two of Baton Rouge's three casinos saw their winnings drop last month, and all three in the market collectively won about $1.3 million less from gamblers in October than they did during the same month last year—a decline of about 6%—according to figures released today by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. Only the Belle of Baton Rouge saw its winnings increase during the month. They were up 4% to $4.8 million, an increase from the $4.6 million posted in October last year. L'Auberge Casino & Hotel won slightly more than $11 million, down about 2% from the $11.2 million it took in during October 2012. Hollywood Casino had the most dismal performance during October. It won $5.6 million, or nearly 20% less than the $6.9 million it won in October last year. The relatively lackluster October was still better for the Baton Rouge market than September, when the three casinos saw

Economy adds 204,000 jobs, unemployment to 7.3%

The U.S. economy added 204,000 jobs in October, an unexpected burst of hiring in a month when the government was partly shut down for 16 days, and far more jobs in August and September than previously thought. Nonetheless, the Labor Department reports this morning that the unemployment rate rose to 7.3% from 7.2% in September. But that was likely because furloughed federal workers were temporarily counted as unemployed. The surprising job growth shows the economy was stronger in October than many assumed it would be. Activity at service companies also accelerated last month, an earlier report showed. The figures suggest that many companies shrugged off the shutdown, an encouraging sign for the economy. The job figures are a major factor for the Federal Reserve in deciding when to reduce its economic stimulus. The Fed has been buying bonds each month to keep long-term interest rates low to encourage borrowing and spending. Some economists tell The Associated Press last month's strong...

First-time jobless claims down

First-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending Oct. 19 decreased from the previous week's total, The Associated Press reports. The state labor department figures released Friday show the initial claims decreased to 2,311 from the previous week's total of 2,513. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 2,891 initial claims. The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, decreased to 2,397 from the previous week's average of 2,443. Continued unemployment claims claimed for the week ending Oct. 19 increased to 22,949 compared to 22,760 the previous week. The four-week moving average for such claims decreased to 23,138 from the previous week's average of 23,368.

Addition of 148K jobs enough to push jobless rate down to 7.2%

The U.S. economy added just 148,000 jobs in September, suggesting that employers held back on hiring before a 16-day partial government shutdown began Oct. 1. Still, hiring last month was enough to lower the unemployment rate. The Labor Department reports this morning that the rate fell to 7.2% from 7.3% in August. Unemployment remains historically high but is near a five-year low and is down from 7.9% at the start of 2013.This morning's release of the September jobs report had been delayed two and a half weeks by the shutdown, which likely further slowed economic growth and hiring. Temporary layoffs of federal workers and government contractors will probably depress October's job gain. Many economists say they won't have a clear reading on hiring and unemployment until the November jobs report is issued in early December. The economy has added an average of 143,000 jobs a month from July through September, weaker than the 182,000 average gain from April through June. The department...

Learning takes flight

What's new in the world of unique classes and degree programs at Louisiana colleges and universities this year?

LABI sounds alarm over out-of-state union organizers

LABI is warning Louisiana employers that out-of-state union organizers—which it likens to "a pack of ravenous wolves" in a letter to members today—"will soon descend upon Louisiana businesses to prey on their workers." In an attempt to neutralize said wolf pack, LABI is hosting a seminar in Baton Rouge later this month to inform business owners how to prepare themselves. LABI says the onslaught of organizers is being triggered by a decision by the AFL-CIO last month to adopt a Southern strategy for organizing workers in right-to-work states. "Louisiana will be a primary target in this strategy," reads a LABI invitation to the Oct. 24 seminar, which is free and will be at the LABI conference center at 3113 Valley Creek Drive. "No industry is safe. Construction, education, health care, hospitality, transportation, and other businesses will experience increased organizing activity." The LABI seminar will begin at 1 p.m. and will feature guest speakers Fred Preis, a partner...

Report says baby boomers fueling wave of entrepreneurship

In a mix of boomer individualism and economic necessity, older Americans have fueled a wave of entrepreneurship, according to an annual entrepreneurial activity report published by Kansas City, Mo.-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. This latest report found the share of new entrepreneurs ages 55 to 64 grew from 14.3% in 1996 to 23.4% last year. Entrepreneurship among 45- to 54-year-olds saw a slight bump, while activity among younger age groups fell. The foundation doesn't track startups by those 65 and older, but Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that group has a higher rate of self-employment than any other age group. Part of the growth is the result of the overall aging of America. But experts say older people are flocking to self-employment both because of a frustrating job market and the growing ease and falling cost of starting a business. "It's become easier technologically and geographically to do this at older ages," says Dane Stangler, the research and policy...

Louisiana payrolls grow by 14,000 in August, unemployment remains at 7%

Louisiana saw a spurt of job creation in August, as payrolls jumped by 14,000 for the month. The state's unemployment rate, calculated in a separate survey, held steady at 7% for the third-straight month. Both sets of figures—adjusted to cancel out normal seasonal changes—were released today by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. State nonfarm payrolls rose to nearly 1.96 million, their highest-ever level. Louisiana saw the second-highest percentage payroll growth nationwide during the month, behind Nevada. The Associated Press reports the surge was led by a nearly 3% increase in payrolls in the leisure and hospitality sector, with total employment there rising by more than 6,000 jobs. All eight broad job classifications measured by BLS increased, with construction also showing growth of more than 1%. Individual sectors have been volatile in Louisiana this year. Overall payrolls had remained almost flat since about February, moving up and down in a narrow range from...

The big deal

The news took Wall Street—and the Capital City—by surprise.

Fewer jobs posted by U.S. employers in July, but more hired

U.S. employers advertised fewer jobs in July but hired more workers, a mixed sign that suggests only modest improvement in the job market, The Associated Press reports. The Labor Department says job openings fell 180,000 in July to 3.7 million. That's down from 3.9 million the previous month, which was revised lower. Overall hiring increased to 4.4 million, up from 4.3 million in June and 4.17 million a year ago. The U.S. job market remains tight. There were 3.1 unemployed people competing for each open job. In a healthy economy, the ratio is 2 to 1. On Friday, the government reported employers added 169,000 jobs in August and many fewer in the previous two months. The unemployment rate fell to 7.3%, but only because more people gave up looking for work.

Report: La. unemployment likely higher than official reports

A new report released by the left-leaning Louisiana Budget Project this morning doesn't exactly paint a rosy picture for Louisiana workers. The "State of Working Louisiana 2013" says while "workers are more productive than ever," their typical pay is just 1% higher today than it was in 1979. "The Louisiana economy is working well for big corporations, but these gains are not always filtering down to their workers," LBP Director Jan Moller says in a news release accompanying the report. "Most workers are seeing no increase in take-home pay, even though they're working harder and smarter than ever before." The report also points out that while the U.S. unemployment rate has dropped from 7.9% to 7.4% between January and July, Louisiana's rate has gone from 5.9% to 7%. "Louisiana's labor market is likely weaker than the official unemployment rate suggests, as a smaller percentage of adults are working than before the recession," the report says. "This indicates that many working-age...

Lafayette ranked No. 1 for growth

Lafayette has bested Baton Rouge in the latest ranking of economic and job growth. Area Development magazine named Lafayette the best overall in a study of 380 metropolitan areas with the goal to "identify which cities across America are emerging from the recession as economic front-runners—and why." Seven other metropolitan areas in Louisiana were also included in the study, including Baton Rouge at No. 85. Earlier this month, a study by Business Facilities magazine ranked Baton Rouge No. 1 in a similar list. "The growth in Lafayette's economy over the past several years can be greatly attributed to steady growth in the energy and health care industries, which account for 40% of the area's GDP," Lafayette Economic Development Authority President and CEO Gregg Gothreaux told the magazine. "These industries remain relatively recession-proof and will continue to...

La. unemployment remains at 7% in July, but payrolls dip

Louisiana's unemployment rate held steady at 7% in July compared to the previous month, according to numbers released today by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. A separate survey from the same source showed that state employer payrolls fell slightly for the second straight month. By comparison, Louisiana's unemployment rate was 6.6% in July 2012. Jobless rates had risen every month in 2013 before July, while the labor force and number of people reporting having a job were essentially flat. Louisiana had 146,300 unemployed people in July, down from 146,700 in June, and up from 136,500 in July 2012. Parish-level rates will be released at a later date. As The Associated Press reports, Louisiana was among 14 states in which the unemployment rate was unchanged last month, while 28 states saw rate increases and eight posted a decline. Nevada retained the nation's...

Growth at U.S. service firms jumps on new orders

U.S. service firms expanded in July at the fastest pace since February, fueled by a brisker month of business and a rise in new orders. The increase suggests economic growth could be starting to pick up after a weak first half of the year. The Institute for Supply Management reports that its index of service-sector growth rose in July to 56.0. That's up from 52.2 in June. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. The survey covers businesses that employ 90% of the workforce, including retail, construction, health care and financial services companies. A measure of business activity, which includes current sales for the month, rose to a reading of 60.4. That's the highest since December, an improvement driven in part by faster home construction. And a gauge of new orders, which indicates sales over the next few months, increased to 57.7—a five-month high. One concern is that a measure of employment fell slightly in July. That echoed last week's government employment report that...

CB&I to hold job fair in Baton Rouge

Just weeks after announcing plans to bring 400 out-of-state jobs to Baton Rouge, CB&I today announced it will also hold a job fair here on Saturday, Aug. 10, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the River Center. "CB&I's expansion is an excellent opportunity for us to tap into the talented workforce in the Baton Rouge area and strengthen our ties to the local community," says Chip Ray, president of CB&I's Government Solutions operating group, in a prepared statement. The company, which completed its $3 billion purchase of The Shaw Group about seven months ago, says it's seeking professionals in the following areas: engineering, billing, project accounting, project controls, procurement, quality, contract administration, estimating, human resources, accounting and finance, and health, safety and environment. Those interested are encouraged to bring résumés to the job fair and visit

Louisiana one of 14 states with more jobs than before recession

Just 14 states—including Louisiana—and the District of Columbia have more jobs today than they had at the outset of the recession in January 2008, according to a new analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Governing magazine. "Of those, only oil-rich Texas, North Dakota and Alaska recorded notable job growth exceeding a couple percentage points," the magazine says. "It's important to note this doesn't take into account more people entering the labor force. State economies didn't all peak or bottom out at the same time either, so the data represents snapshots since the official start of the recession." Louisiana's net non-farm seasonally adjusted employment increase between January 2008 and June—which marked the fourth anniversary of the official end of the recession—was approximately 14,300 jobs. That's a roughly 0.7% increase, which places it in the middle of the pack among the states that have seen net job growth since the recession. You can...

LBTC snags federal grant to promote innovation

The Louisiana Business & Technology Center at LSU is one of 20 recipients of a $95,000 grant under the U.S. Small Business Administration's Federal and State Technology program, the SBA and LBTC announced today. The grants pay for outreach and technical assistance to science and technology-driven small businesses. The program places particular emphasis on helping socially and economically disadvantaged firms compete in the SBA's Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, the SBA says. Also today, LBTC announced that two firms that work with its Technology Transfer Office were selected as finalists for the Megawatts Ventures competition. AZERAcrete produces an environmentally friendly geopolymer concrete using recycled fly ash, while the other company, NanoFex, develops natural powders...

Manufacturing employment rises nearly 3% in Louisiana

Louisiana had 5,685 more manufacturing jobs in May than it had during the same month last year, according to figures released this morning by Illinois-based Manufacturers' News Inc. The 2.9% increase in manufacturing employment over the 12-month span marks the second straight year that Louisiana has seen job growth in the sector, MNI says. Louisiana is home to approximately 5,264 manufacturers accounting for roughly 196,432 workers. The gains over the past year are about double those seen between May 2011 and May 2012, and are about two percentage points above the national average gain as reported by the Labor Department. "Louisiana's industrial climate continues to improve," says MNI President Tom Dubin in a prepared release. "The state's abundant natural resources and friendly business environment continue to result in many companies investing in its industrial sector, particularly those in the oil and gas and chemicals industries." According to MNI, which has been surveying the...

Holding serve

There is reason for optimism among LSU Law Center graduates hitting the streets this year. Since 2010, as the economy has rebounded in the Capital Region and nationwide, job opportunities for LSU Law Center graduates have remained above 90%.

B.R. wages trail U.S. averages for most occupations

Of the Baton Rougeans working in one of the 22 major occupational groups tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, those in 19 of them are earning less than the American average wage for their job. According to a new Occupational Employment and Wage report issued by the bureau today, the Baton Rouge average wage across those 22 groups is $19.50 per hour—or about 11% lower than the U.S. average of $22.01. The only three job groups in which Baton Rougeans make more than the U.S. average are: architecture and engineering (at $38.88, which is 2% higher); farming, fishing and forestry ($15.55, 33%); and production ($22.94, 38%). Meanwhile, office and administrative support workers in Baton Rouge—which account for more than 16% of the total workforce—make an average of $14.82 per hour, or about 10% less than their counterparts across the country. Construction and extraction workers make about 15% less, at an average of $18.38. The area average wage for managers, at...

Going solo

For all the impressive announcements about industrial expansion and new companies coming to Louisiana during the past decade, private-sector job growth has remained fairly steady, and government employment has actually declined.

American job openings fell in April to 3.76 million

Job openings in the United States fell in April as companies continued to assess the effects of higher taxes and reduced government spending before adding workers. The number of positions waiting to be filled fell by 118,000 to 3.76 million from a revised 3.88 million the prior month, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. As Bloomberg reports, today's data indicates it will be difficult for the world's largest economy to keep adding jobs at May's 175,000 pace in the face of U.S. government spending cuts, known as sequestration, that have slowed overall growth. Federal Reserve policy makers have said they want to see lower unemployment and a "sustained" pickup in hiring before they begin dialing back record bond purchases meant to boost employment. "It's slow, grinding improvement," says Joe LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York. Although sequestration continues to slow growth, its effects could ease in the second half of the...

U.S. unemployment rate rises to 7.6% in May

The U.S. economy added 175,000 jobs in May, a gain that shows employers are hiring at a modest but steady pace despite government spending cuts and higher taxes. The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.6% from 7.5% in April, the Labor Department reports this morning. The rate increased because more people began looking for work, a healthy sign. About three-quarters found jobs. The rest added to the ranks of the unemployed. But the government also revised the job figures for the previous two months. April's gain was lowered to 149,000 from 165,000. March's gain was increased slightly to 142,000 from 138,000. Employers have added an average of 155,000 jobs the past three months. But last month's gain of 175,000 almost matched the average monthly increase of the past 12 months: 172,000. Average hourly wages, meanwhile, rose just a penny in May, to $23.89. That was because much of the job growth was in lower-paying industries. But mild inflation is boosting Americans' purchasing power. Over...

La. small businesses shed jobs in May, index says

As was the case in April, U.S. small businesses added jobs in May, while Louisiana shed them. That's according to the monthly Intuit Payroll Small Business Index, which was released today and tracks employment by companies with 20 or fewer employees in 36 states. Small businesses in Louisiana were among those in 19 states tracked in the index to post a decrease in jobs last month, while 16 states added jobs and in one state employment was flat. Small business job losses in Louisiana totaled 0.03% in May. Though that was far from the states with the highest percentage declines—Illinois and Wisconsin, at a 0.1% rate of job loss each—nearly all of Louisiana's regional neighbors posted increases on the month. Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama all saw small business job growth. Mississippi is not among the states tracked in the index. "The small business economic picture remains conflicted," says Susan Woodward, the economist who worked with Intuit to create the...

Publisher: How to win 'the coming jobs war'

In his latest column, Business Report Publisher Rolfe McCollister highlights the words of Jim Clifton, author of The Coming Jobs War and CEO of Gallup, who says the "great global dream" has become "having a good job." And so, Clifton says, "it follows that everything turns on delivering this ultimate need." Stimulating job growth is the "new currency of all leaders," Clifton says, "because if you don't deliver on it you will experience instability, brain drain, sometimes revolution—all of the worst outcomes of failed leadership." McCollister says Gov. Bobby Jindal gets this philosophy. "His No. 1 priority when he first came into office was 'jobs,'" writes McCollister. "He can now point to the fact that, over the last four years, Louisiana has significantly outperformed the South and the United States." Though McCollister acknowledges the state still faces challenges, he says, "When it comes to job growth during these last four years that were characterized by a...

Good jobs are the dream

"Having a good job is now the great global dream; it’s the number one social value for everyone. This is one of our most powerful findings ever. 'A good job' is more important than having a family, more compelling than democracy and freedom, religion, peace and so on. Those are all very important, but they are now subordinate to the almighty good job. So it follows that everything turns on delivering this ultimate need. Stimulating job growth is the new currency of all leaders because if you don't deliver on it you will experience instability, brain drain, sometimes revolution—all of the worst outcomes of failed leadership."

Income-forecasting panel boosts its estimates

Louisiana's income forecast has brightened, giving lawmakers more money to spend in the budget. The Revenue Estimating Conference this morning adjusted next year's forecast by $155 million—$65 million more than what was assumed in the House-passed version of the 2013-14 budget. Economists say the state's individual income tax collections are higher than expected, a sign of a strong labor market. The four-member income-forecasting panel also bumped up projections for this year by $129 million, which could help fill gaps in the current year's budget or be used for other items. The changes will give the Senate Finance Committee more wiggle room in crafting the Senate's version of spending plans for the coming fiscal year and the one to follow. The committee starts combing through the House-approved budget later this week.

Moving Up

Nick Pentas has been promoted to general manager of Mercedes-Benz of Baton Rouge. He joined the company in 2000 while attending LSU. He rose through the ranks at the dealership, working as roadside technician, cashier, service adviser, service manager, pre-owned vehicle manager, and general sales manager.

In Texas, Obama presses middle-class jobs agenda

Offering a more upbeat view of the economy, President Barack Obama resurrected his jobs proposals today, advancing modest initiatives as he pushed for action on more ambitious efforts that face resistance from congressional Republicans. "We're poised for progress," he declared to an audience in Austin, Texas. The president chose the bustling state capital as a backdrop to refocus on higher wages, education and a manufacturing-driven agenda that has been eclipsed by his struggles over gun control and spending cuts and his ongoing push for an overhaul of immigration laws. "You might not know this, because if you listen to all the doom and gloom in Washington and politics, and watching cable TV, sometimes you might get kind of thinking nothing is going right," Obama told students at a technology high school. "The truth is, there's a lot of reasons for us to feel optimistic about where we're headed as a country." Nevertheless, Obama said that while housing markets are improving,...

Jobless applications fall to 5-year low

The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits fell by 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, a five-year low. Layoffs have returned to pre-recession levels, a trend that could lead to more hiring. The Labor Department reports that the less volatile four-week average dropped 6,250 to 336,750. That's the fewest since November 2007, one month before the Great Recession began. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Weekly applications have fallen about 9% since November and are now at a level consistent with a healthy economy. The last time weekly applications were lower was in January 2008, when they were 321,000. Economists were largely encouraged by the decline. "This is a very positive trend and we should embrace it," says Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, in an email to clients. The job market has also improved over the past six months. Net job gains have averaged 208,000 a month from November through April. That's up from an average of...

American job postings fell in March; hiring slowed

U.S. employers posted fewer job openings in March compared with February and slowed overall hiring, underscoring a weak month of job growth. The Labor Department reports today that job openings fell 1.4% on the month to a seasonally adjusted total of 3.8 million. Total hiring, meanwhile, declined 4.3% to 4.3 million. The separate jobs report for March showed U.S. employers added just 138,000 net jobs during the month, well below February's 332,000. Today's report shows that the slowdown occurred because gross hiring fell and layoffs increased. The unemployed faced heavy competition in March. There were 3.1 unemployed people, on average, for each job opening. That's above the ratio of 2-to-1 that is typical in a healthy economy. The Labor Department reports the economy performed better in April, when employers added 165,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped from 7.6% in March to a four-year low of 7.5%

Unemployment rate falls to 7.5% in April as U.S. adds 165K jobs

U.S. employers added 165,000 jobs in April, and hiring was much stronger in the previous two months than the government first estimated. The job increases helped reduce the unemployment rate from 7.6% in March to a four-year low of 7.5% in April, the Labor Department reports this morning. The government revised up its estimate of job gains in February and March by a combined 114,000. It now says 332,000 jobs were added in February and 138,000 in March. The economy has created an average of 208,000 jobs a month from November through April—above the 138,000 added in the previous six months. An additional 210,000 people started looking for work in April, and many of them found jobs. The hiring last month was broad-based. The only sectors of the economy that cut jobs in April were construction and government. Professional and business services, which include high-paying fields such as accounting, engineering and architecture, added 73,000 jobs. Retailers added 29,000 employees, and...

Private employers add 119,000 jobs in April, survey says

A private survey released today in advance of the U.S. government's official April jobs report Friday shows U.S. companies added 119,000 jobs during the month, the fewest in seven months. The report from payroll processor ADP suggests that government spending cuts and higher taxes could be starting to weigh on the job market. And new requirements under President Barack Obama's health care law may be prompting some small and midsize companies to hold back on hiring. ADP also says job growth in March was slower than first thought: showing 131,000 added, down from an initial estimate of 158,000. "This is a bit disappointing; it shows the economy is growing more slowly as we go into the spring and summer," Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics—which compiles the report from ADP's data—tells The Associated Press. The slowdown in April was broad-based, the survey shows. Manufacturers cut 10,000 jobs, while firms in the service sector added the fewest in seven...

Americans feeling more secure about their jobs, survey says

Confidence in the U.S. job market has rebounded to roughly a normal level from its record low after the Great Recession, and Americans increasingly feel they could find a new job if necessary. That's according to results of the 2012 General Social Survey, a long-standing poll of public opinion. The poll results indicate that fear of being laid off dropped last year from its 2010 peak to roughly its average for the past 35 years. Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who said it would be somewhat or very easy to find a job if they lost theirs rose to 54% last year from 46% in 2010. The 2010 figure was the lowest since 1983, when the United States was also emerging from a deep recession. On average, in the survey's history, about 58% of respondents have said it would be very or somewhat easy to find a job. As layoffs have declined, fewer Americans fear losing their job. Last year, 11% of adults thought it was somewhat or very likely that they'd lose their job. That was down from a...

Actuary said to be best job to have; reporter the worst

The 25th annual ranking of the best jobs to have in America by CareerCast.com has been released, with actuary topping the list and news reporter taking the bottom slot. Behind actuary, the top 10 best jobs on the list are biomedical engineer, software engineer, audiologist, financial planner, dental hygienist, occupational therapist, optometrist, physical therapist and computer systems analyst. The list is compiled using a composite scoring system that weighs work environment, income, stress and projected job growth for the profession. Just ahead of reporter at the bottom of the list is lumberjack, enlisted military personnel, actor, oil rig worker, dairy farmer, meter reader, mail carrier, roofer and flight attendant. You can check out the complete list here.