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Posts Tagged ‘outlook’

Harvard Business Review’s Tammy Erickson describes in glowing terms “The Rise of the New Contract Worker “. The Defense Department would appear to be reevaluating this popular labor trend, though. The Huffington Post reports that while contractors comprise less than a quarter of the Defense Department’s labor force, they account for 50 percent of its cost.

Questioning the cost-savings attributed to parsing out projects to temporary talent is a good start — but it shouldn’t end there. Some experts anticipate that as many as 50 percent of the jobs created in the wake of the Great Recession are contract-based, to comprise approximately 35 percent of the nation’s workforce.

Everybody works for somebody — and no one at all.

Consider Edward Snowden, the government contractor who leaked classified documents on efforts to track citizens’ cell phone records, among other digital communications, within the U.S. Would Snowden have been as likely to leak information if he had enjoyed the added security of permanent employment? This is but one of the disconcerting questions the rising tide of just-in-time employment begs.

Apart from the obvious concerns the Snowden bombshell raises about national security and the public interest, the subject of contract labor bears discussion in its own right. At stake: Does contracting add value and stability to our economy or not?

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With unemployment holding at a four-year low of 7.5 percent and the national economic outlook improving modestly according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market recovery is nonetheless slower than at any time since World War II, a UCLA Anderson Forecast study shows.

The question remains even as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission attempts to keep closer tabs on hiring practices: How can job seekers make the most effective use of their limited time, money and resources? Ask a long-term job seeker if they feel the economy has improved and skepticism abounds. The unemployed and underemployed point to the record number of Americans who receive public assistance. They speak of the disconcerting impression that some job openings go nowhere: hiring decisions are delayed, the offer from HR that one is assured of after a promising interview fails to materialize or the right candidate remains elusive — as one can only infer when the same job opening is advertised week after week, month after month.

It doesn’t help that the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported the greatest plunge in hourly wages on record.

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If the headline-grabbing Occupy Wall Street movement proves anything, it is that Americans are gravely concerned about the state of our union.

Just as the Tea Party was regarded with suspicion in their initial rallies to reduce government bloat, throngs of leaderless Occupy Wall Street protesters have been derided for their all-over-the-map set of gripes: Wall Street traders who have funneled investors’ money not into the real economy but speculative gambles that have led to questionable lending practices, volatile commodities pricing and taxpayer bailouts; a higher education system that has become a financial albatross to indebted students; legislative favors aimed at Big Business, and widespread unemployment even among the young and the educated.

Arguably, Occupy Wall Street is to Big Business and Banks what the Tea Party is to Big Government and Waste — two sides of the same coin. Both groups — which for the purpose of this discussion are defined as principled participants not to be confused with their salacious or lawless detractors — grasp a large chunk of the problem.

To cure what ails us, Americans must reach for broader and more inclusive views and bigger and bolder solutions.

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