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Massachusetts Job Picture Remains Favorable, But Mixed

Posted by Andre Mayer on Jul 15, 2010 1:25:00 PM

The Massachusetts unemployment rate dropped to 9 percent in June from 9.2 percent in May, remaining below the 9.5 percent national rate, the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported yesterday.

Unemployment-rate declines at both state and national levels were due primarily to decreases in the labor force rather than to job creation.

In Massachusetts, the private sector added 3,400 jobs while government lost 2,900 jobs. The largest private-sector job gains in June were in leisure and hospitality; construction; and trade, transportation and utilities. The government decline reflects the winding down of temporary employment for the federal Census.

The job growth follows on a revised 15,200 jobs gain in May.

The June report is predominantly favorable, but definitely mixed. “There’s no question things are improving, but very slowly and modestly,” economist Elliot Winer, a member of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors, told the Boston Globe.

Strong May numbers have held up so far, and the private-sector job creation, though limited, is a positive sign.  On the downside, job growth has slowed, and the declining labor force suggests that some jobseekers are discouraged.

Massachusetts continues to do a bit better than the nation, which is in sharp contrast to its performance in the two prior recoveries. It is also doing better compared to its own past performance.  In the six months since employment bottomed out, the state has regained about 28 percent of the jobs lost in the downturn; this took more than two years last time around.

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, AIM, Massachusetts unemployment, Massachusetts economy, Private Sector

Government is from Mars, Employers are from Venus

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Jul 7, 2010 4:26:00 PM

Government is from Mars, employers are from Venus. How else to explain the fact that the public sector often approaches problems in ways that leave the private sector scratching its collective head?

USCapitolConsider, for a moment, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) new enforcement initiative called Plan/Prevent/Protect: The Beginning of a Broader Regulatory and Enforcement Strategy. An article in yesterday’s AIM HR Edge e-newsletter reports that the initiative will require companies to create employment-law compliance action plans, especially in the areas of safety, health, and wage-and-hour laws. 

“Employers will now be charged with affirmatively demonstrating to the DOL that they are complying with federal wage-and-hour, job safety, and anti-discrimination laws,” the article says.

“DOL says the goal is to require employers to ‘find and fix’ violations before the DOL conducts an audit.  Deputy Labor Secretary Seth Harris characterized the new initiative as an effort to promote a culture of compliance among employers rather than one of ‘catch me if you can.’ "

So employers must not simply comply with federal wage, safety and anti-discrimination laws. They must also “affirmatively demonstrate” to the government – no doubt through copious amounts of paperwork - that they are doing so. That’s on top of the Fair Share filings, CHIP notices, COBRA extension forms and endless other government sheets that clog the desks of employers trying to create economic opportunity for the citizens of Massachusetts.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) and its thousands of member employers are clearly and unequivocally dedicated to creating safe workplaces that comply with both state and federal wage-and-hour, safety and non-discrimination provisions. AIM’s Employer’s Resource Group works with scores of employers each year who understand that diverse, safe and well-managed workplaces are fundamental to the long-term success of their businesses.

These companies are focused on results. The Department of Labor, unfortunately, is focused on process and paperwork. Like many government agencies, DOL defines success as having good meetings and creating work flows that fit neatly into PowerPoint charts.

But every hour that companies spend filling out forms to affirmatively demonstrate their compliance with federal law is an hour they cannot spend improving their production process or hiring bright new employees.

The issue in many ways crystallizes the fundamentally different mindsets of the public and private sectors. And it’s a long trip from Mars to Venus.

What do you think?

Topics: Employers, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, AIM, Employment Law, Private Sector

AIM Applauds Focus on Private Sector in Senate Budget Debate

Posted by Brad MacDougall on May 26, 2010 3:07:00 PM

"We have come to a point where the private sector is having great trouble affording the public sector" - Read below to find out which Senator made this statement.

With less than 67 days remaining in the legislative calendar ending July 31, today is a busy one for members of the General Court. This afternoon the Senate begins debate over the Fiscal Year 2011 budget while the House considers a bill H.4703 to update an antiquated criminal history records administrative agency. Yesterday, the Governor signed a supplemental appropriation which includes $9.5 million for the state Workforce Training Fund for Fiscal Year 2010.

The $27.88 appropriation bill now before the Senate, which cuts more than $750 million from the level required to maintain state services in fiscal year 2011, adds $53 million to the House version, while proposing no new taxes, no withdrawals from the state Rainy Day Fund and maintains the half-point reduction in the corporate excise tax rate. Important to employers are 83 amendments that AIM's letter to the Senate highlighted out of the total 800 amendments under consideration.

AIM would like to commend Senate President Murray and Chairman Steven Panagiotakos and members of the Ways and Means Committee for advancing a prudent spending plan for the Commonwealth. We cannot improve on the sentiments of Senator Panagiotakos, who wrote in his cover letter accompanying the release of the bill:

"Just as Massachusetts families have had to tighten their belts and do without, so will the branches, agencies, departments, commissions and programs that make up our state government. At all levels of state and municipal government we will be challenged to do more with less.

Unfortunately, this will be the case for the foreseeable future. We have come to a point where the private sector is having great trouble affording the public sector. It will take large increases in private sector economic development and job creation to change this conflicting paradigm.

Although state government cannot create private sector investments and jobs, it can create the fertile field for them to grow. The challenge is, therefore, job creation. Without it, we stay mired in the mud of a recession. With it, we have a clear road to a better future for all."

AIM believes that the sentiments expressed above must guide every decision that touches the state's business climate and we applaud Senator Panagiotakos for expressing this so clearly and eloquently.

AIM is monitoring the amendment process in the Senate as well as the CORI debate in the House and will provide updates on the progress of these bills. Watch the House and Senate debates live by clicking here.


Topics: Public Sector, Massachusetts state budget, Senator Panagiotakos, AIM, CORI, Senate President Therese Murray, Private Sector

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