Driving Force: Rep. Dan Leonard Named 2016 Government Leader of the Year

Old habits die hard. And that’s a good thing – for Hoosier businesses and their employees – when linked to Dan Leonard’s propensity to serve others.

He fondly recalls time spent as a child at his parent’s country grocery store. Leonard started ringing up customers as soon as he was tall enough (aided by a trusty bar stool) to reach the cash register.

“I remember the first day we had a $100 day in the grocery store. It was a big deal!” he says with a laugh.

Those early memories sparked a penchant for building relationships and a passion for making a difference – whatever the scale.

Leonard owns South Side Furniture of Huntington, a business he purchased from his father in 1978. Elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 2002, he serves Huntington County, and portions of Wells and Allen counties. He’s a member of the House Ways and Means Committee (and local government finance subcommittee chair), Judiciary Committee and is the speaker of the House’s appointee to the Native American Indian Affairs Commission…

Read the full story in BizVoice.


Data: Fewer Workers Making Move for New Jobs

iStock_000021218674_LargeThe percentage of job seekers relocating for new positions declined in the first half of 2015, suggesting that as the recovery spreads, individuals are able to find better employment opportunities in their local market.

Over the first two quarters of the year, 10 percent of job seekers moved for new employment, according to the latest job search data from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. That was down from an average of 15 percent in the last half of 2014. In the first half of 2014, 11.4 percent of job seekers relocated for new positions.

The relocation rate in the last six months of 2014 was the highest since the first half of 2009, when an average of 16.3 percent of job seekers moved in the immediate wake of the recession.

The Challenger relocation rate is based on a quarterly survey of approximately 1,000 job seekers who concluded their search by finding employment, starting a business or retiring.

“The tipping point for relocation is very sensitive. Most people do not want to pick up stakes and move solely for employment. We tend to see relocation surge at the onset of recessions and in the early stages of recovery, as different geographical areas are impacted at different times. However, as recovery spreads and jobs become more available throughout the country, relocation begins to ebb,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Nationally, the unemployment rate stood at 5.3 percent in June. However, there were 183 metropolitan areas below that level as of May, according to the latest available data on state and local employment from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Furthermore, there were 148 metropolitan areas with an unemployment rate below 5.0 percent, at which point the balance of power in the job market shifts away from employers and toward job seekers,” noted Challenger.

“As local job markets improve around the country, there is less incentive to move. Employment alone is not a strong enough factor. There would have to be some other motivation, whether that’s family, health, lifestyle, or cost-of-living,” he added.

Helping Veterans Make the Career Transition

Despite some recent improvement, unemployment rates for veterans — especially those who served post-9/11 — remain much higher than the national average.

Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It was developed to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses obtain meaningful employment. The program will be hosting a hiring fair at the Amtrak Beech Grove Shops on September 18.

The event is free for both employers and job seekers and will focus on careers in the rail transportation industry. The job fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and an employment workshop will be held at 8:30 a.m. Sessions at the workshop will include resume building and writing, as well as interviewing techniques.

The Indiana Chamber’s 24th Annual Awards Dinner in November 2013 featured a salute to the military and veterans theme. In May, the Chamber conducted a Policy Issue Conference Call focused on employment for veterans and military spouses.

On the Right Jobs Track

Indiana’s employment picture has brightened considerably in recent months. Some numbers behind the numbers, according to the Department of Workforce Development:

  • There are over 30,000 more Hoosiers in the labor force than in March of 2000, the employment peak in the state
  • Indiana’s labor force has grown at six times the national rate over the past year
  • The number of unemployed Hoosiers (196,272) is less than 200,000 for the first since August 2008
  • Since July 2009, the low point in recent employment numbers, Indiana has added 214,600 private sector jobs (10th in the nation) at a rate of 9.2% (seventh in the nation)
  • In the manufacturing world, the state ranks third in jobs added over the past year (behind Michigan and Ohio), second (behind Michigan) in jobs added since July 2009 and ninth in growth rate over the past year

If Washington Got Its Act Together …

If you're not frustrated with gridlock in Washington, raise your hand. OK, that didn't generate much arm movement. But how much is the lack of activity in our nation's capital costing Americans? The San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank tries to provide some answers.

It estimates an unemployment rate 1.3% lower at the end of 2012 if federal fiscal, regulatory and health care policies were more clear. That would translate to about two million more people earning a paycheck. The lower unemployment rate (6.1%) would be just slightly higher than the 20-year average before the Great Recession.

In addition, many current part-time positions would likely be full-time jobs. In July 2013, 8.2 million people were employed part time, nearly twice as many as a decade ago.

Immediate prospects don't look much brighter. Spending authority to keep government operating runs out at the end of the month and the legal limit on borrowing will be hit in mid-October. More short-term deals instead of long-term solutions are expected.

The bottom line from Kiplinger: "The economy will suffer until Washington sends much clearer signals. Growth will continue to pick up, but only slowly. And businesses won't invest big in new hires or new plants and equipment until they can see a brighter tomorrow."

U. of Colorado Study: Romney Will Win Popular Vote

Campus Reform reports that a well-known University of Colorado study often respected for its accurate predictions reveals a 77% chance Mitt Romney will win the popular vote this November. However, as we know, the electoral college doesn’t always deliver the most popular president (and 77% isn’t exactly a sure thing). It’s simply food for thought, and a strong reminder to get to the ballot box and support your preferred candidate.

The University of Colorado (CU) prediction renowned for perfect accuracy will predict a popular-vote win for Mitt Romney later this month, Campus Reform has learned.

The poll has accurately predicted every presidential election since it was developed in 1980. It is unique in that it employs factors outside of state economic indicators to predict the next president.

CU Political Science Professor Dr. Michael Berry, who spoke with Campus Reform at length on Tuesday, said there is at least 77 percent chance that Romney will win the popular vote.

Professor Michael Berry from the University of Colorado told Campus Reform in an exclusive interview that there is a 77 percent chance Romney will win the popular vote.

“Our model indicates that Governor Romney has a 77 percent likelihood of winning the popular vote,” said Berry.

That number is significant, not only in its size, but because of the fact that only four presidents since the nation’s founding have won the presidency without capturing the popular vote, the last being George W. Bush in 2000.

Berry noted his model has never been wrong at predicting the outcome of a presidential election.

“For the last eight presidential elections, this model has correctly predicted the winner,” he said.

Berry also acknowledged that while his poll is accurate, however, that his model does not “calculate a specific confidence level for the Electoral College result.”

The study, conducted every four years, is non-political and employs historical data as well as current unemployment numbers and income levels.

In the crucial swing states of Florida, Ohio, and Virginia, a recent poll reveals that a majority of voters believe the health of the economy is the most important issue of this election.

Additionally, more than double of the respondents in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll trust Romney over Obama to fix the economic state of our country (63%-29%).

Along with the economy, unemployment adds an element which only increases the probability of the CU prediction.

“The apparent advantage of being a Democratic candidate and holding the White House disappears when the national unemployment rate hits 5.6 percent,” Berry said.

Kenneth Bickers of CU-Boulder adds, “the incumbency advantage enjoyed by President Obama, though statistically significant, is not great enough to offset high rates of unemployment currently experienced in many of the states.”

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Stuck in Job Search; This News Won’t Help

WOW!, with all capital letters and an exclamation point. I have nothing against people with a criminal record receiving another chance, but I was floored upon reading the following:

A survey from Bullhorn, a Boston-based maker of recruiting software finds that people who have criminal records but are holding down a job have an easier time impressing hiring managers than people who have been out of work for two years or more

The numbers in the "out of work for two years through no fault of their own" category are growing. To have that serve as another major strike in finding future employment seems more than unfair.

Forbes magazine has the following recap of the survey:

Among other questions, the survey asked respondents to rate, on a scale of one to five, who would be most difficult to place. Forty-four percent said someone who has been unemployed for more than two years would rate a 5, while only 31% said someone with a (non-felony) criminal record would be most difficult the place.

The rough total number of unemployed or underemployed people right now is 23.1 million. That includes discouraged job seekers, those actively looking for work (12.5 million) and the 8 million people who are working part-time but wish they had full-time jobs. The Bullhorn study suggests it’s far better to take a part-time job than to do no work at all.

The survey also reveals that the range of time that job seekers can be unemployed before recruiters and hiring managers start souring on them is between six months and a year, according to 36% of poll respondents. Seventeen percent said that being out of work for fewer than six months would also make it difficult to place someone in a job. One ray of light: Only 4% said it is simply difficult to place anyone who is unemployed, no matter what the duration.

The survey also asked about job-hopping, or staying at a job for less than a year. Recruiters don’t like to see this. Thirty-nine percent said job-hopping was the single biggest obstacle for an unemployed job seeker. Hiring managers also don’t like to see gaps in employment. Twenty-eight percent said they saw it as a big obstacle when evaluating candidates.

The survey offers one bit of encouragement for older job seekers: Respondents said a 55-year-old with a steady employment history was easier to place than a job-hopping 30-year-old with less than a year in one place.


Indiana Unemployment High, Yet Qualified Workers Still Hard to Find

It seems counterintuitive that with so many Hoosiers out of work, employers are having a difficult time finding qualified applicants. But our friends at Inside INdiana Business issued a release today that some might find surprising:

At this week’s conference, Wabash National Corp. Chief Executive Officer Dick Giromini, Brightpoint America President Mark Howell and Paragon Medical CEO Toby Buck all said they are having trouble finding workers with the technical skills needed to fill their openings.

David Floyd, who will become the chief executive officer of Warsaw-based OrthoWorx next month, says finding well-trained employees to staff Indiana’s growing orthopedics sector is going to be one of his biggest challenges in the job.

Anderson-based Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems President Pete Bitar echoed those concerns. He is a member of the newly-formed Indiana Aerospace and Defense Council.

Wabash National Corp. Chief Executive Officer Dick Giromini will be a guest on Inside INdiana Business Television this weekend to discuss the issue.

According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the state’s economy has added 3,800 net private sector jobs this year, buoyed by 5,500 manufacturing jobs.

On the topic of training and re-entering the workforce, you might also check out my article in the new BizVoice about some steps being taken to educate the state’s older workers.

Men Seeing Unemployment Turnaround Following Recession

The term “man-cession” is foreign to me. I had no idea that’s what someone has dubbed the recent economic recession. Even though it’s kind of a silly term, when looking at the unemployment numbers from the recession, it does seem to make sense.

Let me explain: As a casual observer of world and national news, I understood how the recession affected millions. What I didn’t realize, however, was how unemployment among men jumped during the recession – much more than it did with women.

It turns out that employment among men plummeted by more than 5.2 million between November 2007 and December 2009, due of course, to losses in male-dominated industries, such as construction, manufacturing and financial services. Employment among women only dropped 1.9 million during the same time period. Those statistics are courtesy of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. with data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The good news for guys is that the economic recovery is favoring their gender – since January 2010, male employment has increased by 1.7 million. For women, employment has only grown by about 365,000 in the same time frame. Over the past year, the number of employed women has actually fallen by about 85,000, whereas 686,000 males have gotten jobs.

There’s still a long way to go for the male employment sector, however – unemployment is at 8.9%, more than twice the 4.2% it was before the recession hit.

While the numbers might point to a “man-cession” of sorts, we can’t forget that women still only earn about 78 cents to the dollar that men earn. So, while more women might have kept their jobs during the recession, those jobs are lower-paying than many of the jobs that were lost in the male-dominated sectors.

I can’t see “man-cession” turning up in my every day vocabulary; more than likely I’ll just stick by the old standard recession and hope that a continued recovery happens as quickly as possible.

Going Beyond the Ordinary Job Search

While job creation has picked up in recent months, the long-term unemployed continue to struggle in attempting to re-enter the workforce. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas offers the following for those caught in that predicament:

Re-ignite and re-connect with your network
There may be a large portion of your network with whom you have not spoken to in several months.  Now is the time to re-connect with and expand your network.  If you have not joined online networking communities like LinkedIn, do so now and start connecting with former colleagues, classmates and other acquaintances.  If you are on LinkedIn, revisit your list of contacts, because chances are good that their professional or personal situations have changed in recent months.  So, not only do you have a reason to check in with them (to congratulate or otherwise acknowledge their changed circumstances), but that change could put them in a better position to help your job search.  From each existing contact in your network that you reconnect with, make a goal to get the names of two to five new contacts they know who might be able to help with your employment search.

Move away from resume-centric job-search strategy
Most Americans take the traditional approach to job search: scour the help wanted ads and send out resumes by the hundreds.  The only difference is that the help wanted ads have moved from the print newspaper to the Internet.  The biggest problem with this approach is that the resume is really just a way to weed out candidates.  A long employment gap on the resume is going to stand out and not in a good way.  Even without the red flag of prolonged joblessness, relying on a resume to get your foot in the door is a numbers game that favors the employer.  You might as well be playing the lottery.  

Uncover the hidden job market
The other problem with relying too heavily on help wanted ads — whether online or in print — is that these represent a small fraction of the available jobs.  We estimate that as few as 20 percent of the available jobs are ever advertised.  The other 80 percent will be filled through employee referrals, personal connections and other backdoor channels.  This is why expanding and staying connected to one’s professional and personal network is critical.  It increases the chances of being in the right place, at the right time, when one of these hidden opportunities arise. 

Reset expectations
You may need to consider working for less money than you imagined, working in a different industry or accepting a job title that differs from your aspirations.  However, your primary objective at this point needs to be getting back on the payroll so you can start filling in the experience gap.
Remain positive
Don’t be defensive or take on the role of the victim when it comes to your prolonged unemployment.  Avoid phrases like, “no one is hiring” and “nobody wanted me.”  Focus only on the positive attributes you possess, what you have done to keep your skills fresh.  If the topic of your prolonged unemployment comes up, don’t dwell on it.  Move past it quickly with a statement like, “There have been many opportunities, but a mutual fit has been difficult to achieve.  During this time, however, I have had the opportunity to round out my experience through (education, professional development, volunteer work, etc.)”
Step outside of your comfort zone
An aggressive job-search strategy often requires you to do something that makes you uncomfortable.  You will have to tell people you have not seen in ten years that you lost your job.  You will have to cold-call employers about job opportunities.  An aggressive strategy also includes asking a friend or former business associate for the names of five people who might be able to help with your job search, and then calling those people to request a meeting.