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Unemployment rate declines to 7.7%

BY Ken Clark

Data released by the U.S. government Friday morning shows the national unemployment rate for February at 7.7%, down from 7.9% in January.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 236,000 in February, as employment increased in professional and business services, construction and health care.

In the construction arena, employment increased by 48,000. 

Since September, construction employment has risen by 151,000. In the latest month’s figures, job growth was somewhat equally split between residential (+17,000) and nonresidential specialty trade contractors (+15,000). 

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised from +196,000 to +219,000, and the change for January was revised from +157,000 to +119,000.

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Lowe’s hires new chief for Mexico

BY Ken Clark

Lowe’s named José Luis Pier Castelló as president/general director of Lowe’s Mexico, effective March 15. He replaces Francisco Fernandez, who has left the company.

Pier Castelló will report to William D. (Doug) Robinson, head of international operations and development.

“José Luis has more than 19 years of experience in both store operations and retail strategy with multinational companies. His demonstrated leadership and retail expertise make him an outstanding fit for the Lowe’s Mexico operation as it continues to grow to best serve the needs of Mexican consumers,” said Robinson.

Pier Castelló has served in leadership roles with retailers, such as 7-Eleven Mexico, where he was chief operating officer, supermarket chain Supermercados Internacionales H.E.B., and Wal-Mart Mexico.

“During his time with Lowe’s, Francisco helped us develop operations from the ground up in Monterrey. We thank him for his leadership and service, and wish him the very best in the next phase of his career,” Robinson added.

Lowe’s entered the home improvement business in Mexico when it opened stores in Monterrey in 2010. Today, the company has five stores located in Monterrey, Saltillo, Hermosillo and Culiacan. 

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Daylight saving time change may increase workplace injuries

BY Roy Maurer

The loss of sleep brought on by the daylight saving time change may increase workplace accidents and injuries, according to researchers.

At 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 10, 2013, most people across the United States set their clocks forward one hour to start daylight saving time (DST), so that evenings have more daylight and mornings have less. Typically, clocks are adjusted forward one hour near the start of spring and are adjusted backward in autumn.

Organizations have developed protocols for dealing with the technological requirements of the time shift, such as adjusting the time in their computer systems and time clocks. However, many employers should be aware of the potential effects on safety caused by the start of DST.

Increase in workplace injuries

The National Sleep Foundation states that it will take most people a few days to adjust to the loss of one hour of sleep. According to a 2009 study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology, losing just an hour of sleep could pose dangerous consequences for those in hazardous work environments.

Using U.S. Department of Labor and Mine Safety and Health Administration data, the study found that the DST switch resulted in U.S. workers getting 40 minutes less sleep, a 5.7% increase in workplace injuries and nearly 68% more workdays lost to injuries.

“We contend that the springtime change is associated with an increase in the number and severity of workplace accidents, especially for those engaged in jobs requiring a high level of attention to detail,” the authors said in a statement. “Studies have shown that lost sleep causes attention levels to drop off.”

Awareness of the increased safety risk may cause employees to exercise extra caution and avoid potentially dangerous accidents and injuries.

The sleep-safety link has led some industries, such as trucking and airlines, to regulate limits on the consecutive hours that truckers can drive or crews can fly without taking a break.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him on Twitter @SHRMRoy.

©2013 SHRM. All rights reserved. 

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