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Unemployment numbers: Too good to be true?

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Several readers responded with incredulity to the data in the article titled, “Unemployment rate declines to 7.8%.”

They are not alone.

Business guru Jack Welch was one of the first to cry foul at the rate. He tweeted: “Unbelievable job numbers. Those Chicago guys will do anything." The Bureau of Labor Statistics bristles at the suggestion that the data was politically motivated, or that it was altered to cast the incumbent president’s policies in the finest light possible. Click here for the article. 

Here are some of the comments about the employment situation report from HCN readers: 

“I am not trusting this data. Why? Because the government tracks and may easily manipulate the information to serve their political goals.” 
— Ed Sims 

“Complete political manipulation. How is it that once unemployment has run out, those people are not counted anymore, even though they are still not working? If I were Romney (at the next debate), I would drill Obama until he admits the data is wrong.”
— Name withheld

“Certainly coincidence four weeks [before] a general election. Need to see how many stopped looking for work and how the definition of ’employment to population’ allows a 40-basis point change after being flat year to date. All too suspicious and vague from the department of labor.”
— Mike Howser 

"The numbers are fudged to make Obama look better. Way too big of a jump to be credible."
— Paul Gilpin

 

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s.lanier says:
Oct-20-2012 06:24 pm

Can't wait to know who is the
Can't wait to know who is the winning candidate for presidential elections,but for those who will win,hopefully our economy rise again so that the numbers of unemployed will decrease and can create more job for those who are jobless and please stop manipulation!

D.LAMBERT says:
Oct-10-2012 02:15 pm

The decrease doesn't seem
The decrease doesn't seem excessive. It is following the general trend for the last year or so. I think your're being irrationally paranoid.

J.Machowicz says:
Oct-09-2012 04:54 pm

That's right, the employment
That's right, the employment numbers ARE getting better. It should not surprise anyone, the unemployment rate has dropped the last three years in September, housing prices are getting better and the automakers are selling more cars. However, if you get your economic news from FOX, I can understand the doom and gloom outlook!

J.Andrews says:
Oct-09-2012 04:35 pm

Worse yet, no one mentions
Worse yet, no one mentions the people dropping income from a $50k job to an under $27k job. Happening all over the place. What growth there has been is in the under $27k silo. $28k-$60k almost zero growth. What was that about growing the middle class?

N.Withheld says:
Oct-09-2012 03:37 pm

"BLS is not manipulating
"BLS is not manipulating data. Evidence of such would be a scandal of enormous proportions & loss of credibility," Tony Fratto, former deputy press secretary to President George W. Bush, wrote on Twitter. Steve Haugen, an economist at the BLS who has been involved in the process of analyzing jobs data for nearly 30 years, flatly dismissed the idea that there was any way the White House or Obama campaign could have had a hand in how the numbers turned out. "The data are not manipulated for political reasons. I've been involved in the process myself for almost three decades. There's never been any political manipulation of the data, period," Haugen told CBSNews.com.

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Sold: Stanley’s HHI Group to Spectrum Brands

BY HBSDealer Staff

Stanley Black & Decker agreed to sell its Hardware & Home Improvement Group (HHI) to Sectrum Brands Holdings for $1.4 billion in cash.

Part of Stanley’s Security segment, the HHI division makes residential locksets, builders hardware and plumbing fixtures under the brands of Kwikset, Weiser, Baldwin, Stanley, National and Pfister. HHI had 2011 revenues of $940 million. 

"The sale of HHI is consistent with our strategy of strengthening our position as a diversified industrial company while maintaining the significant upside potential of a housing market recovery through our $5 billion CDIY portfolio," said John Lundgren, Stanley Black & Decker CEO.

The deal brings after-tax proceeds of $1.3 billion to Stanley, which said it intends to use it for share repurchases, a previously announced Infastech acquisition and deleveraging. 

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Fun at work fundamental: Study

BY Kathy Gurchiek

Millennial job seekers just wanna have fun, and employers looking to recruit and retain recent graduates should make workplace fun a “central focus of recruiting efforts,” according to recent academic research.

The findings hold up even at a time when a sluggish economy is leaving many graduates under- or unemployed, says John W. Michel, Ph.D., assistant professor of management at Loyola University Maryland.

In fact, during difficult economic times when workers are asked to do more for less, “fun may be particularly relevant” in the workplace, suggest Michel and co-researchers Michael J. Tews, Ph.D., and Albert Bartlett, Ph.D., in their paper, "The Fundamental Role of Workplace Fun in Applicant Attraction," published in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies.

They conducted the fall 2011 study at three large U.S. universities with 374 undergraduate students, in their final semester, who were actively seeking full-time employment upon graduation. The students’ average age was 22; 77% were white and 56% of all respondents were female.

Respondents were randomly assigned to read and evaluate ads for a hypothetical management trainee position for a fictitious organization, with about 47 respondents each assigned to one of eight different job ads.

Each ad featured a job that either included or lacked a description of a fun work environment, competitive compensation plan and extensive advancement opportunities.

Participants answered a series of questions about how much fun they thought the job would be, their perceived fit with the organization, and the likelihood they would apply to the job the ad described.

They also read a second group of job ads in which co-worker interaction and job responsibilities were presented as fun or not, and formal fun activities were present or absent in the ad. As before, they answered a series of questions about how much fun they thought they would have in that job, their perceived fit with the organization, and the likelihood they would accept the job in real life.

Overall, perceived workplace fun had a positive impact on applicant attraction to the job, on study participants’ perception that they’d fit well within the organization and on their intention to pursue the job. Further, workplace fun had a stronger impact on perceived person-organization fit than did noted compensation or advancement opportunities; however, the researchers noted that more research is warranted, perhaps focusing on expanding the study to include older workers, including older millennials.

As workplace fun has a stronger pull than even compensation and advancement opportunities for millennials, the researchers suggest that fun should be a central focus of an organization’s recruitment efforts. A job ad that touts fun among a company’s core values—with references to a welcoming, cohesive environment, meaningful work, and entertaining activities during and after work—may be a valuable tool.

“[New graduates are] willing to live at mom and dad’s house for some time and wait it out until they find the right environment,” Michel said. Even if they take a job to pay off student loans or meet some other obligation, he said, the likelihood they will stay for long “is pretty slim” if the job is not fun. 

Strategic fun

A fun work environment is one of the elements shared by some of the organizations on CNNMoney’s 2012 list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. FactSet Research Systems Inc. in Connecticut, hosts summer barbecues, ice cream socials and visits from local food trucks dispensing cupcakes, pie, watermelon and grilled cheese.

Arizona-based GoDaddy.com reportedly puts money toward offsite employee activities held during work hours that have included panning for gold, whitewater rafting, trapeze classes and competitive cooking courses.

But for millennials poised to enter the workforce full time, a fun work culture has more to do with coworker interactions and job responsibilities than formal activities, such as the company picnic, the researchers found.

Michel advises using fun activities strategically, such as organizing a company softball team to build morale and co-worker interactions. San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants — No. 16 on the CNNMoney list — holds a job-task-related “Housekeeping Olympics” whose events include blindfolded bed-making and the vacuum dash.

Fun on the job is about enjoying the work while accomplishing core tasks, Michel explained.

He pointed to famed Pike’s Place Fish Market in Seattle, where the owner used fun and playfulness to turn around his business. There, workers fling fish, toss off corny puns, perform CPR on a dead fish and joke around with customers. The atmosphere has more to do with attitude, not airborne mackerel, one unidentified fish market worker explained in a YouTube video that showcased the company’s “fish philosophy.”

Zappos, the online footwear company near Las Vegas, injects fun into job-related tasks. Staff members have performed “Saturday Night Live”-style skits during new hire orientation, portraying characters from the show as they act out workplace no-nos.

Making job responsibilities fun can be as simple as affording employees time to read about new trends and innovations in their field or industry, or trusting them to make decisions that might have immediate impact on customer satisfaction. For example, Michel noted that at family-owned Wegmans Food Markets, an employee can “walk a customer across the store to find a particular product … and not feel they will get in trouble with the boss.” Empowering employees to directly meet customers’ needs can be fun and increase their level of job satisfaction as well.

Managerial support is an important element in creating a work atmosphere that is fun, and it starts with the CEO, Michel said. At the company ice cream social, for example, the CEO should be there — along with every layer of supervisors — chatting up employees. It sends the message, Michel said, that having fun at work is desired and encouraged, because it filters down into customer interactions and happier employees.

“We’re not saying that fun is going to completely save the day” as a recruiting and retention tool, he acknowledged. Given all the time people spend at work, however, they are looking for more than a paycheck.

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News.

Have HR-related questions and concerns? Get access to essential forms, policies and guides, plus a live call center, at ToolkitHR.com, powered by HCN and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

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