The United States economy added only 126,000 jobs in March 2015, the lowest since December 2013, and way below the 250,000 new jobs economists were forecasting. Among the jobs created, health care, business services, and the retail sector had the highest contributions. Professional and business services had the largest gains with 40,000 jobs added; the industry on average has seen 34,000 jobs added each month in the first quarter of 2015. Retail added 26,000 jobs, in line with the industry’s 12-month average gain, and healthcare added 22,000 jobs. Due largely to the drop in oil prices, employment in mining declined by 11,000 jobs, for a total of 30,000 jobs in 2015 so far.
Employment Growth In Past Year
A further disappointment was that wage growth remained sluggish. A year ago, American earned an average of $24.34 per hour, and today that is $24.86 an hour. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta forecast the economy remained flat in the first quarter compared to a year ago.
The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.5 percent, the lowest since May 2008. A broader guage of unemployment that includes workers who have part-time jobs but would like full-time work dropped to 10.9 percent, the lowest level since August 2008.
Metros with the Highest Percentage of Temporary Jobs
A recent CareerBuilder study forecasts that temporary employment will continue on an upward trajectory. The study also found that some United States metros have a concentration of temporary jobs 45-150 percent higher than the national average of 2 percent.
10 Metros with the Highest Percentage of Temp Jobs (in relation to overall employment)
According to a separate forecast by CareerBuilder, nearly 4 out of 10 employers plan to hire temporary or contract workers in the second quarter of 2015, up from 33 percent in 2014. And a third of employers surveyed say they plan to transition some contract or temporary staff into permanent employees in the second quarter.
“The brisk hiring anticipated for the second quarter comes against the backdrop of stronger sales, new product development and market expansion among companies of all sizes.” ~Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder
Talent Shortage is Getting Worse
A new survey from Glassdoor and Harris Poll of 515 human resources and business managers in the United States finds that recruiters say that a talent shortage is their number one hiring challenge today. Forty-eight percent of respondents said they are having trouble finding qualified candidates for open positions.
The survey reveals that 52 percent of hiring managers say that “passive recruiting” has been less effective in the past year, and 51 percent believe that canddiates are growing tired of emails from networking sites and responding at a lower late. Forty-seven percent indiciate that candidates are not responding to emails, and 44 percent say that they are reluctant to return phone calls as well.
Employers Offering More in Wellness Programs Incentives
Recent findings by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health have found that 79 percent of employers now offer wellness programs, which can include health questionaires, blood tests, biometric screenings, and smoking cessation and weight-loss classes. On average, employers are offering a record $693 per employees as a financial incentive for participating in wellness programs. This is up from an average of $594 in 2014 and $430 five years ago. Companies with more than 20,000 employees are offering an average of $878 per employee, while companies with between 5,000 to 20,000 employee are offering $661 per employee. These incentives take the form of cash, reduced insurance premiums or contributions to a healthcare account.
Meanwhile, fewer employers are imposing penalties such as charging more for insurance if workers do not participate or achieve goals. For example, only 6 percent of employers say they penalize workers for not answering health risk assessments, down from 11 percent in 2014.
However only 47 percent of employees earned their full incentive amount in 2014, translating into millions of dollars of unclaimed incentives.
H-1B Cap Reached Quickly
Every year on April 1st, businesses submit applications on behalf of their foreign workers for temporary employment visas, knows as the H1-B. A maximum of 85,000 work visas, including 20,000 for holders of master’s degrees, are available each year under limits set by Congress. If the number of applications exceeds the 85,000 quota within the first week, visas are granted via a lottery system.
This year, 233,000 people applied for the H1-B, up significantly from the 172,500 applications in 2014, and nearly double the 124,000 applications in 2013.
Advocates of raising the H-1B visa quota argue that this volume of applications is further proof that the government needs to take action. According to estimates from Complete America, a coalition representing major technology companies including Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft, the United States loses about 500,000 jobs a year because of the limits on H1-B visas.
“Year after year, the government falls back on a lottery system to determine which U.S. employers will ‘win’ the ability to hire top world talent. This year, employers had a mere 36 percent chance of being granted an H-1B visa. U.S. economic growth should not be left up to this gamble.” ~Lynn Shotwell, Executive Director of the Council for Global Immigration
A Look at Colorado’s Marijauna Tax Revenue
It’s been over a year since Colorado became the first state in the country to allow people to legally sell and buy marijuana in January 2014. When the state made marijuana legal for everyone, not just medical patients, it also implemented a 25 percent tax rate on sales. In February 2014, Governor John Hickenlooper’s office projected that Colorado would take in $118 million in taxes on recreational marijuana in its first full year after legalization. However, recent projections based on seven months of revenue data say that the state will collect $69 million through the end of the fiscal year in June, missing inital estimates by 42 percent.
Sale Statistics for Colorado Marijuna
Source: Colorado Department of Revenue
Experts believe that the projections were off for several reasons, including economists overestimating the number of people who would stop buying marijuana on the black market and the number of medical patients that would switch to recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is taxed at a much lower rate of 2.9 percent. According to Andrew Freedman, Colorado’s Director of Marijuna Coordination, the biggest drag on revenues is that much of the market remains unregulated. A 2014 report by the state’s Department of Revenue estimated that 130 metric tons of marijuna was consumed in Colorado that year, while only 77 metric tons was sold through medical dispensaries and recreational marijuana retailers. Samantha Chin, the Director of Marketing at Colorado Pot Guide, says retail prices have fallen between 16 and 30 percent in the Denver area since November 2014.
The fiscal benefit of changing marijuna policies has been a driving force behind its legalization throughout the country.
“Tax revenue is nice to have, but in most states it is not going to be enough to change the budget picture significantly. The stakes in reducing criminal activity and incarceration and protecting public health are way higher than the stakes in generating revenue.” ~Mark Kleiman, Drug Policy Expert at University of California – Los Angeles
“Raising real wages is a big part of the unfinished business.” ~Tom Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor