Tag Archives: wages

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U.S. adds 236,000 jobs in February

A burst of hiring last month added 236,000 U.S. jobs and reduced the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in January. The robust gains suggested that the economy can strengthen further despite higher taxes and government spending cuts.

The February jobs report issued Friday provided encouraging details: The unemployment rate is at its lowest level in four years. Job growth has averaged more than 200,000 a month since November. Wages rose. And the job gains were broad-based, led by the most construction hiring in six years.

The unemployment rate had been stuck at 7.8 percent or above since September. The rate declined last month because the number of unemployed fell 300,000 to just over 12 million, the fewest since December 2008.

More than half the decline occurred because 170,000 of the unemployed found jobs. An additional 130,000 stopped looking for work. People who aren’t looking for jobs aren’t counted as unemployed.

The unemployment rate is calculated from a survey of households. The job gains are derived from a separate survey of employers.

Stock prices rose as trading began at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, an hour after the jobs report was released. Another day of stock gains would give the Dow Jones industrial average its fourth straight record close.

Employers did add slightly fewer jobs in January than the government had first estimated. Job gains were lowered to 119,000 from an initially estimated 157,000. Still, December hiring was a little stronger than first thought, with 219,000 jobs added instead of 196,000.

Robust auto sales and a steady housing recovery are spurring more hiring, which could trigger more consumer spending and stronger economic growth. The construction industry added 48,000 in February; it’s added a solid 151,000 since September. Manufacturing gained 14,000 jobs last month and 39,000 since November.

Retailers added 24,000 jobs, a sign that they anticipate healthy consumer spending in the coming months. Education and health services gained 24,000. And the information industry, which includes publishing, telecommunications and film, added 20,000, mostly in the movie industry.

The economy is also benefiting from the Federal Reserve’s drive to keep interest rates at record lows. Lower borrowing rates have made it easier for Americans to buy homes and cars and for companies to expand.

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Unpaid Internships A Possible Doorway to Trouble

Internships can provide many mutual benefits – the student gets to work and learn in a real-world environment, and the employer gets low-cost (or free) labor. But before you make the business decision to hire an intern, be aware of the legalities that are involved. Here are a few tips to help you and your business stay in-line with the Department of Labor.

Before you hire an intern, reach out to your local community college or university and speak with the career services department. They are a great resource for setting up internships and helping you make sure you comply with the rules related to interns. If they are unable to help you, then you need to do some homework before you start advertising your internship. First, you need to create the framework of the position that you will be hiring for, including qualifications required, anticipated duties and time frame of the internship. Once you have set these parameters, then you will want to create some documents that clearly spell out the details of the internship; be sure to allow a space for both you and the intern to sign the agreement. An attorney can help you and oversee the process of creating these documents, including the preparation of an internship manual. Proper legal documents will give you and the intern clear answers, direction and expectations during the internship period.

You may have been warned by others not to hire interns because it is illegal. It’s not. It just so happens that the Department of Labor has begun cracking down on businesses, both large and small, for their improper use of student interns.  The general rule is that a private, for-profit business cannot “employ” an unpaid intern. There are six distinct criteria (or “rules”) that the business and the intern must meet in order for the internship to be considered valid.

  1. The first and most often violated rule is that the intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff. For example, if you are a marketing company that is stretched thin and are debating whether to hire another account coordinator or to bring on an intern, it is probably best that you hire the account coordinator.
  2. Tied directly to this first rule is the second:The employer that is providing the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operation may actually be impeded. Unfortunately, this is as straightforward as it sounds.
  3. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern. At this point, you are probably thinking there is no way that you can benefit from an unpaid intern and that all of the rules are overwhelming; don’t throw in the towel just yet. Here is an example of work that would follow the first three rules. We will use a marketing firm as our example company:

Amy is brought on as an intern and is assigned to work with Rebecca, the senior account executive. Rebecca gave Amy the information about one of her top accounts and explains that, together, they are going to prepare the marketing strategy for that account. In the past, Rebecca has always done these presentations by herself. This time she will guide Amy through the process, teaching her how and why she takes each step she does in preparing the presentation. During the process, Amy is allowed to come up with the great idea that could ultimately change the account forever, which doesn’t violate any of the first three rules.

  1. 4.     The intern understands that they are not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
  2. 5.     The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.

These rules are much easier to follow and state that you must be upfront with your intern. Explain to the intern that the internship is not a promise of future employment and that they are not getting paid for their work. Depending on their school’s policy, they may be able to receive credit, but there is no compensation. This leads to the final rule.

6.  The internship, even though it occurs in the facilities of the employer, needs to be similar to training that would be given in an educational environment. This states that the intern’s job cannot be getting coffee, making copies and filing; you must make their time with your company educational. The training you are providing should be training that the intern can take and apply to any other company within the same industry, and the broader the education and experience you provide, the better.

In summary, if you are not sure whether or not your company can properly administer an unpaid internship program, it is best to reach out to either a local university or an attorney that works in labor law. The attorney specializing in labor law can review your internship plans and ensure that you are following the Department of Labor guidelines to keep you, your company and the intern out of trouble.

 

Brent Kleinman, managing attorney at Kleinman Law Firm, is an active member of the Maricopa County Bar Association and American Bar Association. Kleinman Law Firm is a Valley-based business law firm that specializes in hospitality law, real estate law and criminal defense, including DUI expertise. For more information on Kleinman Law Firm, please visit http://kleinmanlawaz.com/ or call 602-354-4809.

Diane Brossart -Describes Her First Step In The Industry, 2008

Diane Brossart – Describes Her First Step In The Industry

Diane Brossart

President, Valley Forward Association

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Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
My very first job was a part-time stint in high school at Jack in the Box. I learned to take people at their word. I was held up at gunpoint one afternoon when working the cash register and didn’t believe the perpetrator was serious. Another employee and I thought the guy was joking, so we refused to give him the money and chuckled at the idea of being robbed. It soon became apparent the heist was for real. I quit that job the next day.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
My first job as a journalism graduate from Wayne State University was as a reporter for a weekly newspaper in Gross Pointe Shores, Mich. I learned that no matter how thorough you think you are, you need to double and triple check your facts. In covering a political story that ran on the front page of the newspaper, I referenced one of the state’s legislators but mistakenly used his brother’s name. It turned out that both brothers held office, an honest error, but a major faux pas for a journalist.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
I made minimum wage at Jack in the Box — a little over $2 an hour (I’m a dinosaur).
I turned down a trip to Europe with some of my college buddies to take the reporting job right out of school (big mistake) and earned about $10,000 a year.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did they play?
After the journalism stint in Michigan, I moved to Phoenix and sold my soul (according to my journalism school friends) and went into public relations. I got a job as an account coordinator with one of the largest agencies in town (it no longer exists today). It was there that I met Bill Meek, president of WFC Public Relations and my biggest mentor. Bill was and still is a curmudgeon, but he’s a loveable one and among the smartest people I know. I used to sit across from him, on the other side of his expansive glass desk, and take notes as he pontificated on every subject under the sun. He’d peer at me with penetrating blue eyes that seemed to defy the bifocals, which rested at the end of his nose, creating an intimidating image that Bill undoubtedly enjoyed. I learned all about Arizona history and every issue of significance to the state, from water management and health care to transportation and economics. He taught me about politics, how to run a public affairs campaign and who the movers and shakers were that influenced decisions in our fast-growing region. He encouraged me to get involved in the community, and it was through his prodding that I joined Valley Forward Association in 1982, the environmental public interest organization that I later became president of and have now served for the past 17 years. Bill has played a huge role in my life and I continue to learn from him. We have lunch at least once a month, but he doesn’t intimidate anymore.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Be proactive, get experience (even if it means offering yourself for free as an intern) and follow your heart. Find something you like to do and it will never be work — it will become a passion and give you immense gratification.Always be nice and treat people with respect — you never know when you’ll need them on your side. Listen a lot and be open-minded. Network and build relationships. Articulate your goals, believe in yourself, work hard and always have fun.

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If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
Probably consulting with the ultimate goal of supporting world travel. After 17 years of managing a nonprofit organization, I can’t see myself in the corporate world. As the years go by, it’s about balance for me. Professionally, I advocate for a balance between economic growth and environmental quality. Personally, I strive to work hard and make a difference while balancing a busy family and maintaining an active social life. If I weren’t doing this, I’d find another way to collect great memories.