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Sort through fresh employment statistics to find year-end jobs stories


Use fresh data and reports to find a variety of year-end employment stories.

In terms of economic reports, this is what I mentally term “jobs week” because so many routine employment statistics are issued.  Today we’ll get the National Employment Trends report from payroll processor ADP, which includes a useful small-business component, and on Thursday the Chicago-based consultants Challengery, Gray & Christmas will release their monthly jobs cuts report, which analyzes planned workforce reductions in the United States.  I like the report because it gives a breakdown by sector, which helps if you’re focusing on a specific beat.

And of course, on Friday we’ll hear from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics when the national Employment Situation report is released; it’s the benchmark for the U.S. unemployment rate but also contains many tables and graphs breaking down joblessness by demographic categories, if you want to focus on, say, out-of-work teens or Baby Boomers.  (Some reports say the very long-term unemployed, for example, tend to be older.

With the federal budget stand-off threatening to end extended unemployment insurance benefits for millions of Americans, the plight of the long-term unemployed, which has been out of headlines for a while, is coming back on the radar screen. Here’s an interesting Kaiser Family Foundation/NPR report from a year ago that details many characteristics of the long-term unemployed; despite the report’s date it’s worth a read as a baseline for any reporting you do now on people who have been out of work six months or more.

Two other reports are out early next week:  The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index and the BLS’s monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, (JOLT), which is a snapshot of hiring and quit rates as well as a look at open positions at the end of the preceding month; that rate has been running around 3.5 million.  Of course, the question of the year is “Why would any job go unfilled,” with employers maintaining that applicants don’t have the right skills and other pundits countering that the skills exist but employers don’t want to pay for them.  That’s the position, for example, of this recent New York Times report, “Skills don’t pay the bills.”   You might want to use it as a template for a local report; check out vocational classes and schools, union apprentice programs and the jobs on offer from local manufacturing, light industrial and IT firms.

Another aspect of the JOLT report that may be worth a look is the quit rate.  In September, for example, nearly 2 million people quit their jobs, according to last month’s JOLT report.  Who quits a job in this economy, and why?  That might be an interesting contrarian look at the employment market. Predictably, service industries like food service and hospitality experience the highest turnover, but professional services and health care also have fairly high rates.  A take on “the most difficult jobs to fill” could be fun, as well as a substantive look at why some workers feel confident enough to move on.  Are they leaving lower-level jobs to climb the career ladder, or returning to school, or relocating?

A surprising number of jobs fairs are occurring, and  that will likely pick up in January, so you probably ought to get some on your calendar.  And poking around, I found a number of local stories from around the country that alluded to a shortage of seasonal workers, this deep into the holiday spending period; what’s up with that?  And summer seasonal positions may already be opening up; Ohio’s Kings Island amusement park is among the soon-to-be-hiring locations.  And don’t forget about construction jobs driven by Hurricane Sandy damage if you’re in that region.

In Beats, Economy, Featured, Personal finance, Retail | Lifestyle, Story ideas.

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