Monday, January 10, 2011

Go Ducks!... and some items from the news

With the major holidays of the year now passed, and it's time to get back to our regular blog schedule! We hope the season was enjoyable for all of you, our dear readers.

An event of epic importance is taking place tonight: The college football national championship game! Down in sunny Glendale, AZ (where the temperature is in the low 60s) my very own University of Oregon Ducks are preparing to play Auburn University. Even the loyal Beaver fans in our office have pledged support for the Ducks and they are welcome, however temporarily, into the flock. Go ducks!

Now, in employment-related news...

1. Let's start with three national stories about unemployment. The first comes from USA Today, reporting on a recent change at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When the BLS conducts its monthly Current Population survey, it asks unemployed persons to indicate how long they've been unemployed. Until the start of this year, people unemployment for two years or longer were counted together in the group "unemployed for 2+ years". But starting this year, the BLS will have more detail on the long-term unemployed, as individuals can report their specific duration of unemployment up to 5 years.

In other words, people responding to the survey can now state their duration of employment up to 5 years, rather than up to just 2 years. More info on this is available in the full article.

2. In the last several months, I've read a few articles about the challenges unemployed people face when looking for work. One obstacle is discrimination -- potential employers rejecting unemployed people specifically because they are unemployed. But I read an article just a couple weeks ago in the Statesman Journal pointing out that some employers harbor no such bias, and a few even prefer to hire the unemployed. Three such employers are highlighted in the full article.

3. Our third blurb is about people making new (initial) claims for unemployment insurance benefits: The number is declining. At the end of December, the number of new claims in the U.S. dropped to about 388,000 -- a level not seen since July 2008. Economists argue that this is a good sign; it indicates the economy is growing at a healthy pace. To learn more about this and other economic indicators, please see the full article from the Wall Street Journal.

4. So who is hiring these days, and where are the jobs? An AP article (as reported in The Oregonian, The Washington Post, and several other papers) says that many of the new jobs are overseas. While U.S. companies are hiring domestic workers, they're also picking up workers around the globe. This is a decades-old trend, and it's continuing even in the wake of the recent recession. According to the article, part of the reason for the shift is that "consumer demand in the U.S. has been subdued" while demand is increasing in markets such as Brazil, China, and India. The full article sites several specific examples of companies now hiring around the world.

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