Shameless self promotion thread

the_pottery_vendor-large

I can’t see that we’ve done an Artists in our Midst thread, or a job thread, for quite a while. Then again, I may just be too drunk to find them.

Anyway, lets combine the two and have a free thread for Juicers – artists, Etsyists, writers, job seekers, freelancers, businesses seeking workers, community groups seeking assistance, whatever, lurkers more than welcome – to give themselves a plug.

[Image – Francisco de Goya (1746-1828) The Pottery Vendor]



Jobapalooza

Good news, bad news, and great news on today’s jobs numbers.  First the good:

U.S. job growth rebounded last month and the unemployment rate dropped to a near seven-year low of 5.4 percent, signs of a pick-up in economic momentum that could keep the Federal Reserve on track to hike interest rates this year.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 223,000 as gains in services sector jobs offset weakness in mining, the Labor Department said on Friday. The one-tenth of a percentage point decline in the unemployment rate to its lowest level since May 2008 came even as more people piled into the labor market.

Happy wiggling for all. But the bad:

But March payrolls were revised to show only 85,000 jobs created, the smallest since June 2012. That resulted in 39,000 fewer jobs added in February and March than previously reported.

Still, the employment report, which showed steady gains in hourly earnings, suggested underlying strength in the economy at the start of the second quarter after growth almost braked to a halt in the first three months of the year.

And the great:

The unemployment rate for African Americans plummeted in April, dropping to 8.7% from 10.1%.

This is the first time the black unemployment rate has been below 10% since mid-2008.

It’s still, however, twice as high as the white unemployment rate, which fell to 4.4% from 4.9% in March.

And actually that “twice as high” rate has been that way for decades.  It’s, you know, ample evidence of a structural problem in the US that existed long before Barack Obama ever took office, but getting black unemployment down to under 9% is actually really, really good.

Now if wage growth would finally start picking up…



Three things to start with

We talked about how some enterprising political party could put together an economic agenda that could include something more than the Earned Income Tax Credit and that agenda might include a discussion about why so many people who should be entitled to overtime pay don’t get any.

I started thinking about overtime pay because my middle son, who barely talks at all, went into a long, detailed explanation a couple of weeks ago on why he was working additional shifts and hours and EXACTLY what that means in terms of what he will make the next pay period. Overtime he understands. This is also true in my law practice. I can have someone in front of me who answers questions with “yes” or “no” but if we’re looking at their pay record they become very engaged and can tell me at length when and why they picked up the hours with the higher wage. They’re the expert. They are happy to explain it to me.

So overtime would be a good thing to talk about and another good thing to talk about might be why so many people who should be employees are being told that they are independent contractors.

Many workplace experts say a growing number of companies have maneuvered to cut costs by wrongly classifying regular employees as independent contractors, though they often are given desks, phone lines and assignments just like regular employees. Moreover, the experts say, workers have become more reluctant to challenge such practices, given the tough job market.
Companies that pass off employees as independent contractors avoid paying Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes for those workers.
One federal study concluded that employers illegally passed off 3.4 million regular workers as contractors, while the Labor Department estimates that up to 30 percent of companies misclassify employees.

This is Richard Cordray in 2010. Cordray was the Ohio AG when this was written but is now the head of the CFPB. Cordray chose to portray this as a fairness issue with one group of employers playing by the rules and another group gaining an unfair advantage by flouting the rules. That’s one way to do it. I’m an employer and I don’t think it’s fair if I follow the rules and other employers don’t. I bet I’m not the only one who would see it that way.

“It’s a very significant problem,” said the attorney general, Richard Cordray. “Misclassification is bad for business, government and labor. Law-abiding businesses are in many ways the biggest fans of increased enforcement. Misclassifying can mean a 20 or 30 percent cost difference per worker.”

From the employee perspective, one might focus on this:

This is an even more striking comparison in 2014. The Social Security wage base is expected to increase from $113,700 for 2013 to $117,000 for 2014. That’s not the only thing to keep in mind, of course, but it does suggest that it can be shortsighted to turn down employee status. Apart from tax law, employee status carries a host of nondiscrimination laws, pension and benefits laws and wage and hour protections that apply to employees but not to independent contractors.

So minimum wage, overtime and real employees rather than misclassified “independent contractors”. Nearly everyone has a stake in that discussion and has some personal experience with it.



It was no accident

We talked about how labor unions have been deliberately targeted for extinction and how that has contributed to wage stagnation and income inequality, but labor unions are just one piece of the puzzle.

There’s labor unions and then there’s the state side – government regulations and laws that helped create a middle class. The state side of the equation includes things like minimum wage and family and medical leave and unemployment insurance and laws to protect against discrimination and also overtime.

This is overtime:

The federal overtime provisions are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Unless exempt, employees covered by the Act must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay.

And this is who used to get it:

In 1975, more than 65 percent of salaried American workers earned time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week. Not because capitalists back then were more generous, but because it was the law.

And this is who gets it now:

Only workers earning an annual income of under $23,660 qualify for mandatory overtime. You know many people like that? Probably not. By 2013, just 11 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay, according to a report published by the Economic Policy Institute. And so business owners like me have been able to make the other 89 percent of you work unlimited overtime hours for no additional pay at all.

And here’s what an enterprising political party that was looking to remain relevant to a huge group of people might do about that:

Fulfilling the “opportunity agenda” in his State of the Union address, President Obama signed a memorandum on March 13, 2014 that begins the process of updating the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime rules. In some cases, the president said, the federal rule originally designed to limit overtime for highly paid employees now covers workers earning as little as $23,000 a year.

Here’s an example of the type of employee who gets screwed by this, and this is the deliberate government action that cut their wages:

But in 2004, President George W. Bush’s Department of Labor overhauled the rules, which accomplished two things: First, it raised the salary threshold below which all workers are entitled to overtime, from $250 per week to $455 per week. And second, it reorganized all the exemptions in such a way that more employees wouldn’t qualify because of what they did on the job. Under the new rules, people could be defined as managers exempt from overtime, for example, while doing grunt work and supervisory work simultaneously.

I live and work in an area where lots and lots of working class, hourly people still receive overtime. I can tell you that they know exactly what it’s worth. They can tell you how many hours they worked “over” the previous week and in the next sentence they will tell you they can rely on an increase in their hourly wage and paycheck for that overtime work.

Maybe we could put members of the two groups in a room, the working and lower middle class people who still receive overtime and those who don’t. They can compare jobs, hours worked and pay stubs. Then they can ask their elected officials how this was allowed to happen and what they plan to do about it.



Definitely not data

Kevin Drum last week summarized the most recent monthly jobs’ report:

The headline unemployment rate ticked down to 5.9 percent, due to a combination of more employment and more people dropping out of the labor force. However, the labor force participation rate stayed about the same as last month, so this jobs report isn’t primarily about people giving up on looking for work. It’s basically good news.

Last Friday, I went out for a couple of beers with my former team to celebrate the final project which I owed them being wrapped up.   I asked my boss if they had hired to replace me yet.  He said that the position is posted, and they are getting a good number of resumes.  They made an offer to a candidate for roughly my final salary and responsibility scope two weeks ago.  She laughed at them, as she should have. and countered with basically what I am making now with the additional stipulation that she can maintain a healthy work-life balance.  Nothing has come back from HR on the counter-offer.   My old manager has been saying that they can either find my skill set or they can find someone willing to take my previous salary, but not both.  So besides being told that I was being dramatically underpaid, this is tentative data that perhaps the labor market is finally starting to shift back as workers can afford to say either no or ask  if the offer is a joke.  Another year of 200K plus net new jobs a month, and the possibility of the labor share of national income could start increasing.

And since it has been a while, let’s make this an open jobs thread…..



Friday open thread and jobs thread

Lots of stuff for you all to talk about today.  I’m going to SoonerCon this weekend. I can’t go to Comic Con in San Diego this year, although SoonerSon is going.  SoonerDaughter is working a summer job at the NATO School at Oberammergau, Germany, and living with her aunt.  I haven’t been posting for the simple reason that I haven’t really had anything to say.

We haven’t had a jobs thread in a long time, so let’s also do one of those.  If you need work, let us know your region and skillset.  If you know of openings, let us know that. You never know, you might find your dream job or dream employee.  And as always, the US Government is hiring thousands of people in thousands of career fields all the time.

UPDATE: OK GOP Primary candidate refuses to concede to Congressman Frank Lucas (R) because he believes that Congressman Lucas has been dead for two years and that apparently the DoD replaced him with a clone or surgically altered double.  I SHIT YOU NOT.



Time For Another Jobs Thread

John_Singer_Sargent_-_Venetian_Glass_Workers

This has to be something of a drive-by post, but we haven’t had a jobs thread for too long.

Here’s my contribution: MIT’s Hyperstudio is a research group (in my program) working on applications for use in digital humanities. The group is looking for a part time communications person, described as follows:

COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER, Comparative Media Studies/Writing (part-time, 45-50%), to provide outreach and project support to the HyperStudio – Laboratory for Digital Humanities. Will plan and coordinate interactions with educators and developers within and outside of MIT to help them adopt and use HyperStudio’s Annotation Studio web application; work closely with the studio’s team members to develop and implement outreach and adoption strategies for other HyperStudio projects; coordinate the development and assessment of curricular modules for Annotation Studio and organize workshops and additional outreach activities for educators and developers; and maintain public project websites and develop social media strategies for Annotation Studio and other HyperStudio projects.

For full details, go to the MIT jobs site and search for job number 10653.

Note — the difference between 45% and 50% is crucial, as 50% makes one benefits eligible.

And with that: over to the hive mind.  What do you have; what do you need?

Image: John Singer Sargent, Venetian Glass Workers1880/82