Where Are All the Workers?

While Indiana’s unemployment dipped to 3.6% last month, Utah is a full half point lower. The New York Times recently cites some of the challenges that brings. A few excerpts:

After eight years of steady growth, the main economic concern in Utah and a growing number of other states is no longer a lack of jobs, but a lack of workers. The unemployment rate here fell to 3.1%, among the lowest figures in the nation.

Nearly a third of the 388 metropolitan areas tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have an unemployment rate below 4%, well below the level that economists consider “full employment,” the normal churn of people quitting to find new jobs. The rate in some cities, like Ames, Iowa, and Boulder, Colo., is even lower, at 2%.

That’s good news for workers, who are reaping wage increases and moving to better jobs after years of stagnating pay that, for many, was stuck at a low level. Daniel Edlund, a 21-year-old call center worker in Provo, Utah, learned on a Monday that his hours were changing. On Wednesday, he had his first interview for a new job.

But labor shortages are weighing on overall economic growth, slowing the pace of expansion in northern Utah and other fast-growing regions even as unemployment remains stubbornly high in Rust Belt cities like Cleveland and in regions still recovering from the 2008 recession, like inland California.

To Todd Bingham, the president of the Utah Manufacturers Association, “3.1 percent unemployment is fabulous unless you’re looking to hire people.”

“Our companies are saying, ‘We could grow faster, we could produce more product, if we had the workers,’” he said. “Is it holding the economy back? I think it definitely is.”

But the share of Utah adults who have withdrawn from the labor force remains higher than before the recession. Last year, 31.7% of adults in Utah were neither working nor looking for work, up from 28.2% in 2006. That is part of a broad national trend.

New IndianaSkills.com Site Improved to Feature Array of Job Opps

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce and its Foundation hope the new version of the IndianaSkills.com database will help alert Hoosiers to the array of job opportunities in demand in their region and statewide.

IndianaSkills.com – developed as resource to help employers, workers and prospective employees – debuted in late 2012 with job supply and demand data for occupations that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. Now, job postings for the bachelor degree level and higher are also featured on the web site.

What’s more, the data updates include postings and analysis for all jobs from January 2013 through June 2014. Other additions include a listing of experience required for each job posted and direct links to training providers.

The Indiana Chamber believes workforce, which is embedded in the Outstanding Talent driver of the organization’s Indiana Vision 2025 economic development action plan for the state, remains the biggest challenge to Indiana’s economic prosperity.

“There is a tremendous amount of education and workforce data available through various sources,” explains Amy Marsh, director of college and career readiness initiatives for the Indiana Chamber. “What IndianaSkills.com does is aggregate that information, add in the job postings data and make it easy for job seekers and employers to learn what is taking place in their industry or region of the state.”

Marsh adds that two entries to the site – middle skills (jobs requiring certificates, certifications and associate’s degrees) and all jobs – allow users to search for the data that best meets their needs. In addition to the most in-demand jobs, available information includes average salaries, required skills, training needed and job status/earnings of recent graduates.

Some of the key trends emerging from the update:

  • High numbers of sales jobs (sales representatives, sales managers, retail sales, retail supervisors) available across industry sectors
  • Growing number of information technology positions (computer specialist, software development, software engineer, computer support, network administrator, network engineer) with low supplies of graduates in these fields. The job growth in this sector is especially strong in Central Indiana
  • Tractor-trailer truck driver remains the position with the most job postings – more than 30,000
  • Communications tops the baseline skills needs – listed in more than 168,000 job postings

“Another interesting development is that seven of the top 10 certifications needed by employees are in the health care industry,” Marsh says. “Separately, since higher skilled jobs were added into the database, physician makes the top 10 most in-demand list in several regions, including the Lafayette and Terre Haute areas. Also, treatment planning is new to the list of specialized skills that are sought.”

On the updated site, employers maintain the opportunity to easily download customized job descriptions. They can learn about regional and state occupational trends, wages being paid for similar positions, and the skills and credentials they should be requiring for their open positions. Career development professionals can take advantage of IndianaSkills.com to better guide students on available career options and the training required for those positions.

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar: “The Indiana School Counseling Research Review released by the Indiana Chamber Foundation earlier this year clearly identified the need for more effective counseling. IndianaSkills.com is one resource in that effort.

“The Indiana Vision 2025 plan has four drivers, but from day one we’ve identified Outstanding Talent as the most critical need. A tool like IndianaSkills.com that helps match education and training with the skills required in the workplace is part of the solution.”

IndianaSkills.com is a product of the Indiana Chamber Foundation with support from the Joyce Foundation and Lilly Endowment Inc.

New Indiana Fair Employment Poster a Required Change

The Indiana Fair Employment Poster (released by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission) has been changed to add veterans as a protected category and prevent discrimination against them. This stems from House Enrolled Act 1242.

It is against the public policy of the state and a discriminatory practice for an employer to discriminate against a prospective employee on the basis of status as a veteran by:
(1) refusing to employ an applicant for employment on the basis that the applicant is a veteran of the armed forces of the United States; or
(2) refusing to employ an applicant for employment on the basis that the applicant is a member of the Indiana National Guard or member of a reserve component.

We are updating our poster sets to comply with this mandatory change.

You can order our new Indiana state/federal poster sets online, or contact customer service at (800) 824-6885 or [email protected]

Better yet, make life much easier for yourself and join our FREE poster subscription service!

Job Numbers Predict Super Bowl Winner?

For those interested in the world of wagering, the Super Bowl is famous for its exotic opportunities — length of the national anthem, color of the Gatorade to be poured on the winning coach, etc. If you’re mainly interested in who wins the game, look no farther than unemployment statistics, according to an analysis by outplacement firm RiseSmart.

The team whose metropolitan area boasts the lower unemployment rate during the previous calendar year has won 17 of the past 20 Super Bowls – a remarkable 85 percent success rate.  Based on this correlation, the New England Patriots should claim the NFL championship over the New York Giants.  Through November, the 2011 unemployment rate for the Boston metropolitan area was 6.8 percent, compared to 8.5 percent for the New York metropolitan area.

On January 26, 1992, the Washington Redskins defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI; that year, the Washington, D.C. metro area’s unemployment rate of 4.6 percent was substantially lower than Buffalo’s 7.2 percent. So began the string in which 17 out of 20 times, the Super Bowl winning city had a lower unemployment rate than that of the losing hometown. The predictor has been correct in the past three championship games, including Super Bowl XLV, in which Green Bay (7.7 percent 2010 unemployment) defeated Pittsburgh (8.0 percent).

Other facts of note:

• On the seven previous occasions that both teams’ metro areas have had unemployment greater than 5.5 percent – as is the case this year — the team from the metro area with the lower jobless rate has won in every instance.

• During the five previous occasions when at least one team represented a metro area with 7+ percent unemployment – as is the case this year, with the New York Giants – the team with higher unemployment lost in every instance. 

• The Giants’ upset victory over New England in Super Bowl XLII, when the Patriots entered the game undefeated, represents one of the three times in the past two decades when the unemployment rate predictor failed to predict the outcome of the game.

“Correlation does not imply causation, of course. And there are exceptions to every rule,” says Sanjay Sathe, founder and CEO of RiseSmart. “But one should never underestimate the power of having a job.”

Tattoos No Longer Taboo in the Workplace

When I was growing up, Cracker Jack was one of my favorite snacks – not so much because of the flavor, but because I loved digging through the mountain of caramel corn to find the prizes. I always hoped for the fake tattoo, which I proudly displayed to family members, my Cabbage Patch Kids – even my beloved puppy who was my partner in crime during countless adventures for 14 years.

Recently, I read a press release by Chicago-based global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. that talks about something I never had to worry about back then: the impact of tattoos on a job search. It suggests that the growing popularity of tattoos over the last 20 years (approximately 45 million Americans have at least one) has contributed to body art becoming more socially acceptable in the workplace.

According to the company, employers are most concerned with hiring the best person for the job and if that person has tattoos it’s not a big deal in most cases (although some professions such as banking, accounting and law are more conservative in their approach). Also, many of the people involved in hiring decisions are young and have less traditional views about worker appearances.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas discourages candidates from hiding their tattoos during interviews unless they are offensive or they think the employer would object to them. One easy way to find out? Ask the receptionist. If the company doesn’t approve of tattoos, it’s the employee’s responsibility to conceal them.

The firm offers some additional interviewing tips related to modern trends:

  • Piercings: With increased security at many corporate offices, too much bling could set off metal detectors. In addition, too many piercings might be a distraction for the interviewer. Also, it would be prudent to remove tongue and lip piercings, as these often make it difficult for others to understand what you are saying.

  • Cell phones: Cell phones should be turned off and stashed away in a bag or briefcase. Even on vibrate, a cell phone going off can be a major distraction in the interview.

  • Portable music players: Keep the iPods at home. If co-workers see you with ear buds in your ears all day long, they will assume you are not listening and possibly not working very hard.

  • Dress for the job you want 

Marketing Position Open at Indiana Chamber

Hear ye! Hear ye! We’re looking for a Manager of Business Resource Marketing & Sales.

This person will help us spread the word about our new E-Learning tools, safety compliance video program and our new eco-friendly electronic publications. We need someone to market these products, as well as our popular compliance publications, to existing customers and cultivate relationships with new customers. We’re looking for an enthusiastic individual who can place a high volume of outbound calls every day while handling some inbound customer calls. The person in this position will address specific questions and provide details to customers on our line of products, and will demonstrate our commitment to customer service by following up on calls and ensuring superior results.


  • You have a high level of integrity and a strong work ethic.
  • You’re passionate about achieving great results and have a desire to do what is right for clients.
  • You are intelligent, energetic, and work well in a team environment but are equally productive when working individually.
  • You have a positive attitude.
  • You have strong communication and customer service skills.
  • You have a high school degree (preferably a bachelor’s degree), as well as sales and/or customer service experience.

If interested, please send your resume to me at [email protected].

Super Sensational Salesperson Sought

Beyond individual attributes and abilities, what’s one of the keys to being a good salesperson? The no-brainer answer is a good product to sell.

Well, the Indiana Chamber has that. The list of benefits is long and powerful. Add in the almost 90 years of history and accomplishment, the nearly 5,000 member companies with 800,000 Hoosier workers already on board, and the recognition that businesses can’t do everything on their own and must utilize available resources for ultimate success.

But you still have to be at the top of your game to get the job done. We’re in the market for a new membership development manager, with this dynamic salesperson joining a team of five other awesome membershipians (I know that’s not a real word, but give me a break).  To be successful, this position requires hitting the phone and hitting the road to convince business owners and CEOs that the Chamber can and should be part of their game plan.  Go get ‘ers should e-mail me ([email protected]) to learn more and to submit a resume.  Sleepy heads need not apply.

Survey: Majority of American Workers Happy with Jobs

A survey from Clarus Research Group, a non-partisan organization based in D.C., indicates that despite the notion our country is one big contentious soda can ready to explode with the fury of 1,000 suns (or do I just watch too much cable news?), an overwhelming majority of Americans are actually happy with their jobs. However, it seems older workers are far happier than their younger counterparts, and access to health care obviously plays a role, too. Read on:

The survey, conducted by Clarus Research Group, found only 6 percent of workers unhappy with their current employment. Another 6 percent said they were neither happy nor unhappy.

“In these tough times of high unemployment and uncertainty, many workers are happy that they have jobs,” said Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus Research Group. “However, despite the nationwide results, there were important differences among population groups, especially based on age, race, education and region.”

Age is a major factor, with the youngest and oldest workers a wide 27 points apart. Only 69 percent of workers under the age of 30 are satisfied with their jobs, compared to 96 percent of those 60 and older.

Workers with medical insurance were happier—90 percent, than those without it—75 percent.

Respondents who said they were happy with their jobs by group:

  • Race: 90 percent of whites and Hispanics; 77 percent of African Americans
  • Education: 92 percent of workers with college degrees; 83 percent without
  • Region: The highest was the West (95 percent), and the lowest was the South (83 percent); in the middle was the Northeast (88 percent), and the Midwest (92 percent)
  • Party: Republicans, at 92 percent, were happier than Democrats, at 80 percent. Self-described independent voters were almost as happy as Republicans at 91 percent.

“It is interesting to note that there was only a one-point difference between women and men,” said Faucheux, “and no difference between union and non-union workers.”

The survey was conducted by live telephone interviewers August 14-18, 2009, using a nationwide scientifically selected sample of 560 registered voters who said they were employed full-time or parttime. The margin or error was +/- 4.1%.

Good News on the Hiring Front?

The results of a newly released survey from Careerbuilder.com seem pretty encouraging, at least in terms of the worst of the recession being over for the business sector. Workforce.com explains:

Fifty-three percent of employers plan to hire full-time employees in the next 12 months, and 40 percent plan to hire contract, temporary or project professionals, according to a survey released Tuesday, August 25, by job board CareerBuilder.com and Robert Half International Inc.
The survey also found that 47 percent of hiring managers cited underqualified applicants as their most common hiring challenge.

The annual Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations Report provides an overview of the current employment situation, as well as a glimpse of the future hiring landscape. The report offers information on what types of professionals employers will be looking for when economic conditions improve.

The survey questioned more than 500 hiring managers and 500 workers.

“Companies already are identifying the key skill sets they will need in new hires to take advantage of the opportunities presented by improving economic conditions,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “Firms that cut staffing levels too deeply may need to do significant rebuilding once the recovery takes hold.”

“In-N-Out” Needn’t Describe Staff Turnover for Fast Food Chain

While we don’t have In-N-Out Burgers here in the Hoosier State, the message in this BusinessWeek article about the restaurant is one that crosses state lines. The article explains how the burger chain has succeeded by making an extra effort to keep staffers happy — and on staff. It’s a bit of a paradigm buster for the fast food industry, and there are some valuable lessons here for any business. If you want to succeed, find good people — and keep them:

But on issues of quality, Rich remained his father’s son (Rich Snyder became president of In-N-Out Burger at the young age of 24, due to the death of his father, Harry). In 1984, in Baldwin Park, Calif., he set up In-N-Out University, a training facility, with the aim of filling the pipeline with qualified managers and reinforcing the company’s focus on quality, cleanliness, and service. About 80% of In-N-Out’s store managers started at the very bottom, picking up trash before rising through the ranks. Rich realized that if he wanted to expand, he needed to put a system in place that would professionalize management.

To attend In-N-Out University, an associate usually had to have worked full-time at a store for a year. In that time, she had to demonstrate initiative, strong decision-making ability, and impressive people skills. A cornerstone of In-N-Out’s limited growth strategy was to expand only as quickly as the management roster would allow. At the university Rich came up with a number of ideas to hone the training process. For instance, a team of field specialists was deployed to motivate and instruct associates. Inspired by pro sports teams, Rich began producing a series of training films and videotaped trainees to critique their performance.

Although the work could be dreary—imagine a four-hour shift spent cleaning up spilled milk shakes—associates were made to feel part of an important enterprise and given opportunities to advance. On-the-job training was wedged in between mealtime rushes, and everyone was given large helpings of feedback. Rich wanted each associate to understand his job and how he could do it better. The result was that many part-timers came for a summer job and stayed for a career…

At one point when Rich was planning the expansion drive, he sought the advice of a food industry consultant. The expert told Rich that if he slashed salaries, In-N-Out could save a "ton of money." This infuriated Rich. Recounting the story, he said it was exactly the kind of advice one would expect "from a guy who wears a suit and who thinks you don’t pay a guy who cooks hamburgers that much money."  Continue reading