Workplace Fairness

Menu

Skip to main content

  • print
  • decrease text sizeincrease text size
    text

Arranging Your Warehouse To Increase Productivity

Share this post

Your company’s warehouse is one of the primary factors in its success. Like any other machine, all of the components need to work together smoothly to achieve the best results. If an axle is bent ever so slightly out of alignment, it can have catastrophic consequences for the entire system. Likewise, if your warehousing practices and layout are not optimized, you will experience an elevated risk of mistakes and delays. 

Perhaps even more troubling is how a problematic arrangement introduces the potential for serious injuries. With so many moving parts in the form of employees and material-handling equipment, there’s always a chance that they will intersect at the wrong time or interfere with each other. 

This is why it is crucial to ensure that the facility is laid out for maximum productivity and safety. Without a layout that best utilizes the space, a warehouse is less a well-oiled machine and more of an accident waiting to happen. 

Maximize Floor Space

One of the most important steps to get the most out of your square footage is to reduce as much wasted floor space as possible. Although making aisles narrower is the obvious method for this, you may want to look at installing mezzanines to provide an additional level for foot traffic. Another idea that works well for streamlining your entire operation is reducing your inventory levels. Freeing up room on the floor reduces the number of accidents and improves efficiency. 

Go Vertical

Warehouses are three-dimensional spaces, so anything that helps you make better use of every axis will be helpful. For instance, you can install higher racks or optimize storage unit configurations. Eliminating pallets can also make a huge difference because without them you may be able to stack more units on top of one another. 

Optimize Your Traffic Patterns 

When plotting out the footprint of your facility, think about workflow and how to improve it. One of the best ways to make a positive impact is to increase the number of cross aisles. This provides more opportunities for workers and equipment to find alternate routes where they won’t be in the way of others. Investing time and resources into improving your picking system and inventory organization will prevent waste and create the most effective processes. Introducing automation such as robotic systems and bar feeders also decreases the risk of human error. 

When it comes to safety, an optimal arrangement of resources literally can be a lifesaver. However, you can take other simple steps to go above and beyond for the well-being of everyone in the warehouse. These include building a culture that promotes accountability at every level and emphasizes safe behavior. Regular inspections of your machinery and hardware also help by detecting issues before they have a chance to cause breakdowns that can hurt employees. 

When properly maintained, an engine can be counted on to operate successfully and safely every time. Likewise, a warehouse built from the ground up with best practices in mind can drive the growth of your business. For these and many other tips to increase warehouse productivity, see the accompanying infographic. 

This blog was originally produced by IEMCA. Printed with permission.

About the Author: IEMCA designs and produces automatic bar feeders since 1961 and today it is the worldwide leader for every type of application for lathes, machining centers, grindings, gear cutters, and other types of machine tools.


Share this post

Why You Should Let Your Employees Work from Home

Share this post

To achieve a better work-life balance, a growing number of people are looking for flexible work arrangements.

From an employee’s perspective, working from home has several perks that make their lives easier.

Numerous studies show that remote employment results in a win-win situation for both employee and employer.

Here are six reasons you should explore the option of letting your employees telecommute regularly.

It Increases Worker Productivity

Surprisingly, most workers tend to be more productive in work from home arrangements than in an office environment.

Remote workers tend to be more productive because they are spared the myriad of distractions present in a busy office environment.

Productivity killers that range from loud colleagues, endless meetings, office politics, heavy foot traffic, walk-in clients, and more are rife in most office environments.

For employees whose jobs call for deep concentration, a quiet home environment eliminates distractions to allow them more time to crush their tasks.   

It Makes Your Workers More Committed

Telecommuting comes with the risk of workers binging on Netflix or embarking on long shopping trips when they should be working.

Surprisingly, only a small portion of remote workers get suckered in by the newly found freedom.

Allowing workers to telecommute sends a strong message that you value and trust them enough to afford them such privileges.

Research shows that workers who enjoy work from home employment are not only innovative and productive but also tend to be fiercely loyal to the company.

You Get to Streamline Your Workflow

A smooth workflow is central to the success of your business.

Embracing a telecommuting business culture forces you to take a deeper look at your workflow.

With deep insights into the amount of work that needs to be done, you can eliminate bottlenecks and optimize the execution plan.

A smooth workflow improves business productivity and efficiency while letting you increase your turnaround time as well as the quality of service.

You Get to Lower Your Overhead Costs

Utility bills alongside the payroll take a massive chunk out of monthly revenue, drastically reducing your net profit.

Switching to a telecommuting model lets you cut down on each of these costs and grow your profit margins.

For starters, it eliminates the need to rent a vast office space since you only need to accommodate a few essential personnel or none at all.

Secondly, you can switch your hiring models and strictly work with independent contractors instead of full-time employees.

Working with freelancers and independent contractors eliminates some payroll obligations such as medical insurance, retirement benefits, overtime, and more.

You Get to Hire the Best Talent

Skilled workers routinely turn down lucrative job offers if the position entails uprooting their entire life and relocating to a new city.

You can hire the best workers without forcing them to abandon their friends and family in the pursuit of their dream jobs.

Better yet, hiring remote workers lets you tap into the global workforce and staff your company with skilled experts from around the world.

A diverse workforce comprising of top experts from around the world lets you come up with innovative products and increases your global appeal.

You Can Cherry Pick Your Clients

During the growth phase, it’s only natural to go after every client who promises you a payday.

Problem clients tend to be too demanding, slow to pay and dispute every invoice, all of which can suck the joy right out of your work.

They can take up so much of your time with endless complaints to the point of leading you to neglect your other clients, negatively impacting revenue generation and customer satisfaction.

High caliber clients trust your capabilities and won’t set impossible deadlines or try to micromanage your operations.

Don’t Get Left Behind, Let Them Work from Home

In addition to saving time and money on the commute, remote workers are able to tend to their personal needs without asking for time off.

At first glance, it seems working from home skews in favor of the employee, which, naturally, is likely to put employers on edge.

However, you stand to reap benefits by the boatload if you allow your employees the option to work from home.

Printed with permission.

About the Author: Katrina McKinnon is the founder of Small Revolution, which started as a knowledge base for online store owners and has now expanded into offering training for virtual assistants and copywriters. Through Small Revolution, you will learn the skills in a fun and practical way.


Share this post

Enormous, Humongous August Trade Deficit Prompts Trade Deficit Bill

Share this post

dave.johnsonThe U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday that the August trade deficit rose 3 percent to $40.73 billion from July’s $39.5 (slightly revised). Both exports and imports rose, with imports rising more than exports. August exports were $187.9 billion up $1.5 billion from July. August imports were $228.6 billion up $2.6 billion.

The goods deficit was $60.3 billion, offset by a services surplus of $19.6 billion.

Imports from China increased 9.5 percent.

Is Increased “Trade” Good If It Really Means Increased Trade Deficits?

“Trade” is generally considered a good thing. But consider this: closing an American factory and firing its workers (not to mention the managers, supply chain, truck drivers, etc affected) and instead producing the same goods in a country with low wages and few environmental protections, then bringing the same goods back to sell in the same stores increases “trade” because now those goods cross a border. This is how “trade” results in a structural trade deficit. Goods once made here are made there, the economic gains move from here to there.

Offshoring production can be a good thing, but only in a full-employment economy. This is because with everyone employed companies can’t find people to do things that need to be done. Meanwhile workers in other countries need the jobs. The people there can afford things made here, and trade balances. Everyone benefits.

But since the 1970s the US has used “trade” and other policies to intentionally drive unemployment up and wages down, to the benefit of “investors” (Wall Street) and executives, who then pocket the wage differential. This pushes the economy’s gains to a few at the top, increasing inequality, which increases the power of plutocrats to further influence policy in their favor.

The US has run a trade deficit since the 1970s. Coincidentally, see this chart:

The stagnation of wages for working people just happens to correspond with the introduction of the intentional “trade” deficit. Again, “trade” in this case means deindustrialization: closing factories here, opening them there and bringing the same goods across a border to sell in the same stores.

Trade Deficit Reduction Act

This week Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced a bill designed to identify and reduce our enormous, humongous trade deficits. RochesterFirst.com has the story, in Slaughter introduces legislation to reduce trade deficits,

On Monday, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter unveiled the Trade Deficit Reduction Act, which calls for a change in how we approach international trade in order to benefit our workers.

The legislation would put a government-wide focus on addressing the most significant trade deficits that exist between the United States and other countries. The U.S. has run trade deficits since the 1970s.

… “The last thing our community needs as we work to reignite our manufacturing base with advanced technologies like optics and photonics is to undo this progress by enacting another NAFTA-style trade deal. We need a whole new direction in our trade policy, which is why I am standing with workers from PGM Corp. today to unveil the Trade Deficit Reduction Act. This legislation will change how we approach international trade and make it benefit our workers and manufacturers,” said Slaughter.

The bill would require the administration to identify the countries with which the U.S. has the worst trade deficits.

The bill also directs the administration to develop plans of action to address the trade deficits with those countries, with strict deadlines and oversight from Congress.

The intentional trade deficit and other policies to drive up unemployment and drive down wages greatly enrich a few, but history tells us the consequences are dangerous to society. For example, the rising support for Trump and other far-right populists like him around the world.

This post originally appeared on ourfuture.org on October 6, 2016. Reprinted with Permission.

Dave Johnson has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.


Share this post

81 Percent Of Moms Without High School Diplomas Also Have No Paid Maternity Leave

Share this post

The average American woman who never got her high school diploma makes about $365 a week. That means, if she works every single week from January 1 through December 31, she’ll earn a total of $20,540 a year. But if that woman’s expecting a child, she is going to have to take some time off. And there’s a four in five chance that, here in the United States, she won’t get even a day’s worth of paid maternity leave to deliver her baby or be with her newborn.

The United States is one of the only developed countries that does not offer paid maternity leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act is supposed to provide protection for expecting mothers, but its stringent requirements exclude a lot of women, particularly low-income, low-education women of color. About half the workforce doesn’t qualify for FMLA.

But even if their jobs do fall under the requirements (they must have worked “for at least 12 months and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during that time for an employer with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius”), they aren’t guaranteed any income.

A new proposal from the Center for American Progress, however, is trying to remedy that. Its plan for Social Security Cares would require employers to give qualified employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave for certain life events that include “the birth of a newborn or the arrival of a newly adopted or fostered child; The serious illness of a spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child; The worker’s own serious illness that limits his or her ability to work.”

Women are growing to be a larger and larger percentage of the primary breadwinners in their homes. But for many, the joy of motherhood evaporates into a panic of trying make ends meet.

Paid maternity leave is a societal investment that would ultimately benefit everyone, including employers. Offering paid maternity leave allows employees to stay at their jobs who would otherwise be forced to quit, lowering training and start-up costs for employers. It also allows employers to recruit the best person for the job without the employee having to consider leave policy. When such a policy was implemented in California, 99 percent of employers found it had either no effect or a positive impact on employee morale; 91 percent said the same about profitability, and 89 percent said the same about productivity.

This article was originally posted on November 2, 2012 at Think Progress

About the Author: Annie-Rose Strasser is a Reporter/Blogger for ThinkProgress. Before joining American Progress, she worked for the community organizing non-profit Center for Community Change as a new media specialist. Previously, Annie-Rose served as a press assistant for Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Annie-Rose holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from the George Washington University.


Share this post

Care Too Much

Share this post

Image: Bob RosnerHave you ever worked in a job where you felt like the Energizer Bunny, Superman and James Brown rolled into one. You know what I mean, like you’re the hardest working person in your company always willing to leap tall inboxes in a single bound?

If you’re like many of the people who write to me, the only problem is that the people you work with seem to be a combination of Homer Simpson, Eddie Haskell and Rip Van Winkle. We’re not just talking about your co-workers here, often your boss seems to care less about work than you do.

Well I have a simple rule, you shouldn’t care more, or work harder or be more patriotic about work than the person who signs your paychecks.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. If everyone felt this way then our productivity would just go down the drain.

Maybe. But at least you won’t be losing sleep over a job where the mucky-mucks are sleeping like babies.

Another way to look at this is that if the world were metal chain, then your standard of work should be equal to the weakest link.

Am I saying that we should all strive for mediocrity?

Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying if the bosses themselves don’t care about how things are done. If you feel like you’re working in an episode of the Jersey Shore, then it’s probably time for you to either mentally check out or find a new job. One where the leaders are actually interested in creating an environment where people are rewarded for working hard and where the leadership models this behavior.

To quote Charles DeGaulle, “The graveyard is full of indispensable men.”

That’s the problem. So many people are sweating, losing sleep and worrying when the people above them don’t share this level of passion, commitment or engagement. We should have a Surgeon General’s report on how dangerous this is to your health. Because it is. Not only for you, but for all the people who love you away from the job.

If during the 60’s the phrase was “tune in, turn on, drop out,” then the phrase for anyone struggling in a job where you seem to care more than your boss, the mantra should be, “tune out, turn away, get out.” Even if you can’t get out physically at least you can check out mentally, and maybe even physically.

Caring at work is great, but only when it’s supported by the powers that be.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via [email protected]


Share this post

“Pajama Workforce”: Insult or Badge of Honor?

Share this post

Wayne TurmelRemote workers get called a lot of things, from “telecommuters” to “lucky so and so’s.” Recently, an article in Talent Management magazine gave them the label of “Pajama Workforce” — because the perception of many is that people can do that work without even getting dressed, or can pretty much disregard the rules of work place decorum (not to mention hygiene) that those who schlep into the office must adhere to.

This perception cuts two ways: either those who work remotely are not shackled by the normal conventions of the traditional office or workplace (this is the ” death to the necktie and all who wear them!” school of thought) or they are undisciplined and slothful (”they’re at home in their bunny slippers while we do the real work”). As with most such polarities, neither is entirely true — or inaccurate.

In defense of the pajamas

Different workers have different work styles, and much of what’s appropriate depends on the work being done. If the only thing you’re measuring is the output, it shouldn’t matter if the person doing the work is in their pajamas, a three-piece suit or a smoking jacket and ascot, as long as the work gets done on time and at a high level of quality.

Another reason managers need to worry less about what their people are wearing is that remote workers tend to spend more time actually working. This includes attending conference calls at all hours of the day or night to accommodate timezones and teammates scattered hither and yon. If you’re going to drag me out of bed at 5 a.m. to be on a call with the plant in Dusseldorf, don’t expect me to be showered. In fact, you’ll be lucky if I’ve had enough coffee at that point to even be functional.

Studies suggest that remote workers put in more actual productive hours than people who commute into an office or central location, so get off our backs and worry about more important things, like fixing the VPN so I can actually get some work done.

In defense of shirts with buttons

Of course, perception is often the better part of reality, and if you’re wearing a Motley Crue T-shirt on a video conference with your VP of Sales, odds are there’s some perception there that won’t work to your advantage. Your communication style and the messages you send still matter, and in some ways they matter even more because your colleagues can’t see first hand how hard you work, so your opportunities to create strong positive impressions are limited.

Moreover, everyone discovers what works for them, and habits help dictate behavior. For example, whether they can see me or not, on days when I’m spending time consulting with customers or  delivering training, I dress in what I refer to as my “big-boy clothes.”  The routine of showering, grooming and dressing like a professional helps put me in the right frame of mind to act like one. Sure, it’s a mental trick I pull on myself, but it works for me. (Be honest — without some level of denial and self-delusion, most of us would never get out of bed in the morning.)

It often takes a while for remote workers — especially those who are new to it– to find what works for them. As managers, we need to check in with our people to see how they’re coping. Are they finding a work style that works for them? What are the best practices that will help them strike the balance between the freedom and comfort of working remotely and the routine and professionalism that you expect in their work? There are plenty of slackers in Armani suits — and a lot of hard workers in bunny slippers.

This article was originally published on Bnet.com’s Connected Manager.

About The Author: Wayne Turmel is obsessed with helping organizations and their managers communicate better, even across cyberspace. He’s a writer, a speaker, the president of Greatwebmeetings.com, and the host of one of the world’s most successful business podcasts, The Cranky Middle Manager Show, where he helps listeners worldwide deal with the million little challenges and indignities of being a modern manager. His book 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar: Generate Leads and Tell Your Story to the World is the leading web presentation book on Amazon.com. Follow him on Twitter @greatwebmeeting


Share this post

Cubicle Blues

Share this post

Image: Bob RosnerYou’d expect the “father” of the cubicle to be a proud parent. Heck, his invention multiplied faster than rabbits. But you’d be wrong.

Thirty years ago, Robert Probst was seeking to create the perfect place to work for the office furnishings company Herman Miller. In search of the “office of the future,” he designed the perfect environment for maximum satisfaction and productivity. He called his creation “the action office.”

Yep, the cubicle. At the time Probst was looking for something better than the open bullpen that was the norm for much of the last century. He wanted to create a space that would allow privacy, personalization and the maximum in flexibility. For example, his original creation had a variety of surfaces that you could work from each that was a different height.

So much for privacy, personalization and flexibility. Just before his death in 2000, Probst called his creation “monolithic insanity” in Fortune.

There are many reasons why the “action office” devolved in the cube. Soaring real estate prices, corporations trying to get more bang for the buck by packing employees in like sardines and even the tax code (corporations can write off cubicles much faster than they can write off their investment in walls in an office building).

There is a part of me that believes that the successor to the cube will be emptying out our huge office buildings in a massive wave of telecommuting. This makes sense for so many reasons—spiraling gas prices, increasing real estate costs and the fact that so many homes now have broadband access. The only problem with this picture is that we barely know how to manage the people we can see at work, so few of us have the foggiest idea of how to manage people we can’t see.

Which leads back to the “action office.” It’s clear that business is now 0 for 2. The bullpen didn’t work. The cubicle has spawned Dilbert and a massive amount of griping from most of the people who’ve worked in one.

So what is the answer? I think it involves combining the best of the future with the best of the past. The first part of the equation is really figuring out what jobs can be done by telecommuting. And what workers and managers are up to this challenge. Once these jobs are moved out of our buildings then we’ll actually have the room to turn the cube back into the “action office” that Probst originally envisioned. With fewer people they can be bigger and hopefully employees can have the ability to tailor them to their needs.

For all the talk of productivity, I’m surprised at how little of the conversation addresses the place where most of our work actually gets done. If more of us engage in this conversation, hopefully, we’ll be able to put the “action” back into the “action office.”

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via [email protected]


Share this post

Cubicle Blues

Share this post

You’d expect the “father” of the cubicle to be a proud parent. Heck, his invention multiplied faster than rabbits. But you’d be wrong.

Thirty years ago, Robert Probst was seeking to create the perfect place to work for the office furnishings company Herman Miller. In search of the “office of the future,” he designed the perfect environment for maximum satisfaction and productivity. He called his creation “the action office.”

Yep, the cubicle. At the time Probst was looking for something better than the open bullpen that was the norm for much of the last century. He wanted to create a space that would allow privacy, personalization and the maximum in flexibility. For example, his original creation had a variety of surfaces that you could work from each that was a different height.

So much for privacy, personalization and flexibility. Just before his death in 2000, Probst called his creation “monolithic insanity” in Fortune.

There are many reasons why the “action office” devolved in the cube. Soaring real estate prices, corporations trying to get more bang for the buck by packing employees in like sardines and even the tax code (corporations can write off cubicles much faster than they can write off their investment in walls in an office building).

There is a part of me that believes that the successor to the cube will be emptying out our huge office buildings in a massive wave of telecommuting. This makes sense for so many reasons—spiraling gas prices, increasing real estate costs and the fact that so many homes now have broadband access. The only problem with this picture is that we barely know how to manage the people we can see at work, so few of us have the foggiest idea of how to manage people we can’t see.

Which leads back to the “action office.” It’s clear that business is now 0 for 2. The bullpen didn’t work. The cubicle has spawned Dilbert and a massive amount of griping from most of the people who’ve worked in one.

So what is the answer? I think it involves combining the best of the future with the best of the past. The first part of the equation is really figuring out what jobs can be done by telecommuting. And what workers and managers are up to this challenge. Once these jobs are moved out of our buildings then we’ll actually have the room to turn the cube back into the “action office” that Probst originally envisioned. With fewer people they can be bigger and hopefully employees can have the ability to tailor them to their needs.

For all the talk of productivity, I’m surprised at how little of the conversation addresses the place where most of our work actually gets done. If more of us engage in this conversation, hopefully, we’ll be able to put the “action” back into the “action office.”

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Also check out his newly revised best-seller “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via [email protected]


Share this post

What Is the Best Mindset to Bring to Work

Share this post

Image: Bob RosnerLast time I discussed the top “mindsets” that we bring to work. For those of you who like things defined, here goes—mindset is “a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations.”

Most of us bring some “habits” to work on a regular basis. After doing a lot of interviews and research, I came up with five. What I like to call the 5 M’s. Machine, military, motivation, measurement and entrepreneurship (okay, that’s not an “M” word. I put it in because that is one of the problems with mindsets, they tend to lock us in to a limited way of viewing the world).

According to your votes, the mindset that you most often bring to work is machine. 35% of you chose it. Next was military with 27%. Followed by motivation, the choice of 17%. Measurement, 15%, and entrepreneurship at 6%.

Each of these mindsets served a purpose at one time. The problem is that they tend to live on long past the point they continue to provide value. Take the top response, machine. A smooth running machine is a very effective way to run a business. The problem? Machines don’t do so well when it comes to creativity and initiative. And those are two things that most businesses can’t do without today.

In addition, all of the mindsets share two basic problems. First, they tend to struggle when it comes to handling complexity. A new competitor, a worker shortage or a lawsuit against your company aren’t things that any of the 5 Ms can really cope with. The problem is that today’s workplace is all about complexity.

But there is an even bigger problem—control. All of these mindsets do best when there is a heavy hand running the show. And that heavy hand may have helped 60 years ago to make the trains run on time, but today many businesses are starting to realize that the brains of their people are a terrible thing to waste. So rather than trying to produce a certain result from people, more organizations are realizing they have to create a place where the best efforts can flow out of people.

So we need to develop a new mindset, one that gives more control to the people who actually do the work. Not for some soft headed share the wealth idea, but because organizations need to extract everything they can from their people’s hands, heads and hearts (okay, that will be the last bit of alliteration for this column).

Ultimately I’m not going to try to sell you on exactly what new mindset to adopt. My point is simply that we need to become more aware of the mindset we bring to work each day. And not forget the creativity and control as we go along our journey at work. Just realizing this should help us all to better navigate our workday more successfully.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Also check out his newly revised best-seller “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via [email protected]


Share this post

Surge in Women’s Employment Brings Unemployment Rate Down to 9.7 Percent

Share this post

Image: Dean BakerThe index of total hours worked is below the November 1997 level.

The unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent in January, driven by a 0.4 percentage-point drop in the unemployment rate for women to 8.4 percent. The unemployment rate for men fell 0.2 percentage points to 10.8 percent. This drop came in spite of a reported loss of 20,000 jobs in the establishment survey.

The improved employment picture was primarily a story for adult white women. Their unemployment rate fell by 0.6 percentage points to 6.8 percent, while their employment rate (EPOP) rose by 0.6 percentage points to 56.1 percent. The unemployment rate for black women rose slightly to 13.3 percent, although their EPOP also rose 0.2 percentage points to 54.7 percent. It is striking that the EPOP for white women is now 1.4 percentage points higher than for black women. Until last summer it had always been lower, although the gap had been narrowing over the last three decades.

For blacks overall, January was a bad month. The unemployment rate rose to 16.5 percent, the highest of the downturn. The unemployment rate for black men rose a full percentage point to 17.6 percent, also a high for the downturn.

By education group, the big winners were people with some college, who saw 1.2 percentage-point increase in their EPOP. There was little change in the EPOPs for other groups. Workers over age 55 continued to fare best, accounting for 178,000 of the 541,000 increase in employment. Women over age 55 accounted for 140,000 of these jobs.

In addition to the gains in employment, the household survey also showed a sharp fall in the number of people involuntarily working part-time, from 9,055,000 to 8,193,000. The U-6 measure of labor market slack correspondingly fell from 17.3 percent to 16.5 percent. It is also worth noting that the percentage of the unemployed who have voluntarily quit their job has edged up to 6.1 percent. This is still very low, but somewhat better than the 5.6 percent reported last summer, suggesting somewhat greater confidence in the labor market.

The establishment data look somewhat less positive. Not only do the data continue to show job loss, but the job loss over the last three months (Oct-Dec) was revised upward by 102,000, giving an average job loss of 103,000 per month over this period. Without 33,000 temporary census jobs, the establishment survey would have shown a loss of 53,000 jobs for January.

However, even in the establishment survey there are some positive signs. Manufacturing employment increased by 11,000, the first gain since January of 2007. This was fully explained by a 22,700 rise in auto employment. While this may not be repeated, it is likely that manufacturing employment has finally bottomed out.

Retail trade added 42,100 jobs, although this may be a seasonal anomaly with fewer people than normal hired in the holiday season and therefore fewer layoffs in January. Employment services showed another big increase, adding 52,000 jobs in January. This is consistent with a picture of employees getting ready to add permanent employees. Hours worked also increased, with the index of aggregate hours rising from 97.9 to 98.2.

Aggregate Weekly Hours

However, there were also many negative aspects to the establishment data. Construction lost another 75,000 jobs, the vast majority in non-residential construction.  State and local governments shed 41,000 jobs. The leisure and hospitality sector shed 14,000 jobs. Even health care seems to be weakening as a bastion of employment growth, adding just 14,500 jobs in January.

The benchmark revisions show the downturn to be even deeper than previously believed. The revised data show a loss of 8,424,000 from the peak in December of 2007.  Over the decade from January 2000 to January 2010, the economy actually lost 1,254,000 jobs.  The economy lost 2,100,000 construction jobs (27.2 percent) since the peak in August of 2006 and 2,467,000 manufacturing jobs since the decline began in January 2007. The index of hours worked is below the November 1997 level.

On the whole, there is some positive news in this report, with the household survey showing a much brighter picture than the establishment survey. It is possible that the birth/death data could now be understating job growth.

*This article originally appeared in CEPR on February 5, 2009.

About the Author: Dean Baker is the Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. CEPR’s Jobs Byte is published each month upon release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment report. For more information or to subscribe by fax or email contact CEPR at 202-293-5380 ext. 102, or chinku [at] cepr [dot] net.


Share this post

Follow this Blog

Subscribe via RSS Subscribe via RSS

Or, enter your address to follow via email:

Recent Posts

Forbes Best of the Web, Summer 2004
A Forbes "Best of the Web" Blog

Archives

  • Tracking image for JustAnswer widget
  • Find an Employment Lawyer

  • Support Workplace Fairness

 
 

Find an Employment Attorney

The Workplace Fairness Attorney Directory features lawyers from across the United States who primarily represent workers in employment cases. Please note that Workplace Fairness does not operate a lawyer referral service and does not provide legal advice, and that Workplace Fairness is not responsible for any advice that you receive from anyone, attorney or non-attorney, you may contact from this site.