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In tight job market, noncash perks breed loyalty
Posted by CLF (JobCentral) at 4/5/2006 11:26:48 AM
Some workers enjoy scholarships, free goodies and sabbaticals... But as the labor market tightens -- Washington state gained 97,300 jobs over the past year -- noncash perks such as sabbaticals increasingly are being deployed as an essential tool to recruit and retain employees. These nonsalary perks often are where innovation thrives. Some benefits are related directly to a company's product. At Seattle-based Starbucks Corp., that means every employee can take home a pound of coffee beans a week. Employees who don't drink coffee -- hard as that may be to imagine -- can grab a box of Tazo tea. That's in addition to free beverages during their shifts at Starbucks, and the 30 percent discount on Starbucks products any time. And yes, Starbucks employees are welcome to take sabbaticals at the 10-year employment mark. Those interludes are unpaid, but workers can take up to a year off, no questions asked, and come back to a comparable position. A second sabbatical can be taken seven years later, said company spokesman Alan Hilowitz. Another major company that encourages sabbaticals is Intel Corp., which employs nearly 17,000 people near Portland, Ore., and about 1,300 in the Pierce County town of DuPont, where its engineers design chip sets for business computer servers. Intel also runs a research lab near the University of Washington campus and at the Ridgepoint office building in Bellevue. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based tech company offers eight weeks off, with full salary, after seven years of full-time service. When combined with an employee's annual three or four weeks of vacation, the interlude can stretch to as much as 12 weeks of paid time off. Whether the product is computer chips or coffee, perks can have a positive effect on worker loyalty and morale, especially when a booming economy gives employees more alternatives. At Dick's Drive-In Restaurants, with five locations in the Seattle area, employees get something that's not necessarily associated with working in the fast-food world: $2,500 a year toward higher education tuition for their first two years of school and $5,000 a year for the third and fourth year. The benefit is available to any employee working more than 20 hours a week. Workers at Dick's can choose to use the money for child care, instead. They also enjoy 100 percent paid medical insurance, 50 percent paid dental, a 401(k) retirement plan, and company pay for up to four hours a month for volunteering at qualified charities.
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Fed leaders see sustainable growth ahead
Posted by CLF (JobCentral) at 4/5/2006 9:24:59 AM
Officials such as Hoenig, Lacker suggest that inflation is close to being contained, hinting that the central bank may wind down its interest rate hike campaign. U.S. economic growth looks set to slow to a non-inflationary pace, Federal Reserve officials said Tuesday, suggesting the Fed's long campaign of interest rate increases is nearly over. "We've been aiming toward converging to a balanced growth path that we can continue on a sustained basis, as we saw from 1994 to 2000. And I think we're pretty close to it," Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Jeffrey Lacker said. Lacker's optimism on a "balanced" economy dovetailed with comments from Kansas City Fed chief Thomas Hoenig, who repeated his belief benchmark overnight rates were close to where they need to be -- as long as the economy follows the script.
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Best Buy cutting 300 jobs at corporate HQs
Posted by CLF (JobCentral) at 4/4/2006 2:40:46 PM
Best Buy Co. Inc. said on Monday it is cutting roughly 300 positions, or 7 percent, of the work force at its corporate headquarters in suburban Minneapolis. The consumer electronics retailer last week reported higher fourth-quarter profits, but said it would cut costs by eliminating "redundant and nonstrategic" jobs across the company. Best Buy spokeswoman Susan Busch said the job reductions announced on Monday cut across all levels and functions at corporate headquarters. "There's no one area that I can point to because it truly is looking at work that may be considered inefficient, redundant, or not aligned with strategic priorities," she said. Those receiving notices that their job is being eliminated will remain employees of Best Buy for 30 days, and they can apply for other jobs within the company, Busch said. Last year, as part of an initiative to offer better customer service, Best Buy ramped up its employee ranks.
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Layoffs at lowest mark in 11 months
Posted by CLF (JobCentral) at 4/4/2006 2:30:36 PM
Challenger survey says March planned layoffs fell 26% from February; total at 64,975, down from 87,437... Planned U.S. layoffs fell 26 percent in March from February -- the lowest level in 11 months, according to a report released Tuesday. In the first quarter of 2006, U.S. employers announced 255,878 job cuts, which is nearly 11 percent lower than the 287,134 cuts in the first three months of 2005. The biggest job losses during the month came in the telecommunications sector, with 11,047 cuts announced, as mergers took a toll on employment, Challenger said in a statement. Total planned layoffs in the month were 64,975 jobs, down from 87,437 cuts announced in February, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., an employment consulting firm. Planned job cuts were down 25 percent in March from the same month last year.
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Job Market Booming
Posted by CLF (JobCentral) at 4/3/2006 9:50:41 AM
Newly released figures show Florida added more than 50,000 jobs in Orlando in one year. Florida and Orlando are booming when it comes to new jobs. New figures just released show during the 12 months that ended in February, the state added more than 295,000 jobs, with more than 50,000 in Orlando alone. The state unemployment rate also has dropped to 3.2 percent, which is compared with 4.1 percent a year ago. The Orlando metro area was the state's second strongest job market behind Miami. The tourism and hospitality industry helped drive the new jobs, along with professional and business services.
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Manufacturing growth slows in March
Posted by CLF (JobCentral) at 4/3/2006 9:43:03 AM
Survey of executives shows weaker-than-expected growth, but industrial expansion reaches 34th straight month. Manufacturing growth slowed in March, according to a closely watched survey of industry executives released Monday. The Institute of Supply Management said its manufacturing index dipped to 55.2 last month from a reading of 56.7 in February -- which was lower than the average forecast of 57.7 from economists surveyed by Any reading above 50 indicates growth in the manufacturing sector of the economy, and last month's number marked the 34th straight month of growth. Any number below 50 represents a contraction in activity.
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GM sells control of GMAC
Posted by CLF (JobCentral) at 4/3/2006 9:40:17 AM
Carmaker to get up to $14 billion by selling majority of its finance arm to a consortium; board backs Wagoner. General Motors finally announced an agreement Monday to sell a majority stake in GMAC in a deal meant to raise cash and let its profitable finance subsidiary shed its junk bond status. The deal will bring troubled GM about $14 billion over time, including the $7.4 billion purchase price and a $2.7 billion distribution from GMAC itself. The buyer is a group led by a hedge fund called Cerberus Capital Management and the private equity arm of Citigroup.
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Kansas jobless rate steady
Posted by CLF (JobCentral) at 3/30/2006 2:30:16 PM
The unemployment rate in Kansas held steady in February as more than 12,000 workers were employed in the state than a year ago, the Kansas Department of Labor reported. In a report this morning, the department said the state’s unemployment rate in February was 5.0 percent, unchanged from January but down from 5.6 percent in February 2005. In February, the number of Kansans holding nonfarm jobs increased about 0.9 percent to 1,328,300 from 1,316,000 in the same month a year ago. Kansas has seen at least slight growth in the number of jobs in 22 of the past 24 months. Labor Secretary Jim Garner said employment increased over the year in eight of the state’s 11 economic sectors. The biggest area of growth was in construction, which added 4,100 jobs from a year ago. “These positive trends reflect continued economic improvement throughout the state,” Garner said in a statement. The state’s total work force in February was more than 1.46 million people, with 72,560 people seeking but unable to find jobs. Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to 8,500, compared to 8,400 in February 2005, an increase of 1.2 percent.
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Economy Grows at 1.7 Percent Pace
Posted by CLF (JobCentral) at 3/30/2006 11:46:39 AM
The economy hit a soft patch in the final quarter of 2005, growing at an annual rate of just 1.7 percent, an ominous statistic but for fresher readings that suggest America's business health has improved and is mostly sound. While the latest figure for gross domestic product in the October-to-December period was indeed anemic and marked the worst performance in three years, the new reading actually turned out to be slightly better than the 1.6 percent growth rate estimated a month ago, according to the Commerce Department's report released Thursday. The 1.7 percent pace matched analysts' expectations. The slight upgrade for the quarter reflected stronger inventory building by businesses than previously thought.
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You may be paid more (or less) than you think
Posted by CLF (JobCentral) at 3/29/2006 10:17:01 AM
Economists quantify the salary value of four key factors that determine job satisfaction. It's so hard to put a price on happiness, isn't it? But if you've ever had to choose between a job you like and a better-paying one that you like less, you probably wished some economist would get on the stick and tell you how much job satisfaction is worth. Well, you're in luck. Economists John Helliwell and Haifang Huang at the University of British Columbia have done just that. Their estimates are based on an analysis of life satisfaction surveys that consider four key factors of job satisfaction. Trust in management is by far the biggest component to consider. Say you get a new boss and your trust in management goes up a bit at your job (say, up one point on a 10-point scale). That's like getting a 36 percent pay raise, Helliwell and Huang calculate. In other words, that increased level of trust will boost your level of overall satisfaction in life by about the same amount as a 36 percent raise would. Conversely, if you lose some trust in management, the decline in your job satisfaction is like taking a 36 percent pay cut. Having a job that offers a lot of variety in projects, Helliwell and Huang found, is the equivalent of a 21 percent hike in pay. Having a position that requires a high level of skill is the equivalent of a 19 percent raise. And having enough time to finish your work is the equivalent of an 11 percent boost in pay. The raise equivalents Helliwell and Huang found are certainly impressive. After all, when was the last time you got a 36 percent raise? But, in fact, while a big raise can make you happier it only does so in small measure. Helliwell notes that moving from the bottom to the top of the income scale is only likely to boost your overall satisfaction with life by less than a point on a 10-point scale. A 10 percent raise will only boost your inner Dr. Feel Good by a small fraction of one point. And let's not even discuss the infinitesimal effect of a 3.5 percent raise – which employers gave average performers last year. So, apparently, if you have to work, you might as well do something you like because the money alone won't make you that happy.
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