Dee DePass has been a Star Tribune business reporter since 1993, covering small business, financial institutions, manufacturing and, most recently, the economy. Originally from New York, Dee came to Minnesota after earning her master's in journalism at the University of Maryland and her undergraduate degree at Vassar College.

Posts about Job-searching

TakeAction Minnesota wants meeting with Target Corp. to discuss hiring policies for past convicts.

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: May 10, 2012 - 11:18 AM

A 20-minute demonstration with 200 people outside Target's Minneapolis headquarters Wednesday has prompted HR officials to consider meeting with the advocacy group TakeAction Minnesota regarding its hiring practices. TakeAction officials said a meeting is set for May 29th but Target officials declined to comment about a meeting date.

TakeAction officials want Target to change its hiring practices to allow former convicts to be considered for and hired for certain jobs.

TakeAction alleges that Target's hiring policy refuses to consider any job candidate with a criminal record and that that disproportionately affects people of color.

During Wednesday’s rally, TakeAction had two women speak who had applied for jobs at Target but were turned down. One was convicted of making a verbal threat against a relative nearly a decade ago. Another served time for possessing methamphetamines, but since had a developed a solid career as a social worker. Both women were denied employment at Target because of their criminal record, said TakeAction spokeswoman Greta Bergstrom.

Target officials disagreed. In a statement, Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said: "The existence of a criminal record does not disqualify a candidate for employment at Target, unless it indicates an unreasonable risk to the safety and welfare of our guests, our team members or our property."

Snyder added that "Target is committed to following all federal, state and local laws. Target's background check process is carefully designed to ensure that we provide a safe and secure working and shopping experience for our team members and guests while treating all candidates fairly."

Julie Schmid, spokeswoman for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Minneapolis, said that the EEOC recently issued new guidelines to help employers figure out how to properly screen job candidates with criminal records without violating Title VII of the law. Schmid said that employers must consider the age of the victim when the crime occurred; their age now; the relevance of the crime to the job being offered; the candidate's employment record, and any rehab, education and training done since the crime originally occurred.

Such additional guidelines should help employers screen candidates while also providing a means for former convicts to still earn a living, she said.

Schmid declined to comment specifically on the Target and TakeAction dispute. But she added: "I think it's important for both parties to become familiar with our new guidelines on background check policies. Beyond that, it's a little too early for us to say anything."

Kelly Services finds workers in demand

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: March 26, 2012 - 3:27 PM

There's hope.

After months of lackluster labor reports, Kelly Services released a report Monday hearkening upbeat news on the labor front.
"The outlook for college graduates shows demand for healthcare, IT and engineering degrees since those sectors have continuing growth," the report said.

The company, which specializes in placing workers in administrative and other jobs, found that there is still a shortage of qualified engineers, which bodes well for degreed job seekers.

Not surprisingly, the healthcare and information technology sectors "continue to drive jobs," the report said. 

At the same time, nationwide cutbacks in the "local government" sector continue to send workers to the unemployment line. Minnesota appears to be bucking that trend.

According to the jobs report Minnesota released Thursday, government layoffs stalled for the month of February as local governments in Minnesota added 2,500 jobs for the month.  Still government jobs were down 5,500 year over year in Minnesota. 

In Its recent Global Workforce Survey, Kelly Services found that online job boards have become the primary way job seekers search for work. It also found that self employment is growing in popularity because it helps job seekers gain "greater control" over their career path and may improve work-life balance.

Labor market economists said that many people turned to creating income on their own, because they could not find outside employment after months of searching.





Get Jobs Job Fair set for Eagan on March 29

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: March 15, 2012 - 12:08 PM

The state of Minnesota will hold its annual Get Jobs Job Fair in Eagan on Thursday March 29.

The job fair will feature 60 companies, colleges and agencies looking to hire, train or coach job seekers.

For more information, go to or call Mike.lang at 952-895-7641. 

Jobless get a holiday gift: free counseling

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: December 21, 2011 - 6:40 PM

Employment outplacement specialists Challenger, Gray and Christmas will give the unemployed two days of free job search advice during Christmas week, officials announced Wednesday.

The telephone counseling sessions, which are an annual tradition, are available nationwide and will take place on Dec. 27 and 28 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Job seekers are asked to call (312) 422-5010.

Challenger, Gray officials said they expect the job market will continue "its slow steady improvement in 2012." They noted that the number of job cuts planned by corporations are "up slightly from 2010, but are still below recession levels."

Through the end of November, employers announced 564,297 job cuts. That's up from the 497,969 announced in the first 11 months of 2010. Still, that's far from the 1.24 million job cuts announced by November 2009.

The Challenger job counseling comes at a critical time.

The federal unemployment extension expires Dec. 31. Congressional plans to extend them unexpectedly hit a wall Tuesday when House Republicans suddenly refused to accept an extension compromise that had been hammered out in the Senate.

Without the extension, 3 million long-term unemployed Americans begin losing unemployment benefits Jan.1.

The defeated House bill also contained a provision that would have extended a 2010 payroll tax cut to all American workers for another 60 days. Now Democrats and Republicans are pointing fingers at each other and the count-down clock keeps ticking. Meanwhile the jobless worry.

Challenger officials said that they will suspend normal business operations for two full days in order to help those desperately hunting for jobs. The company's entire staff of outplacement specialists will be on hand to provide job search training and transition ideas.


Job openings grew slightly in October.

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: December 13, 2011 - 2:52 PM

There were 3.3 million job openings in America in October, which isn't stellar but enough to continue the year over year hiring uptick seen since the recession ended in June 2009, officials with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Tuesday.

The nation had 4 million new hires in October, up from 3.85 million for the same month a year ago. The numbers were up for all nonfarm sectors except government. The slight movement indicates slow progress for a battered economy that needs a significant jump start on job creation if the nation is to return to pre-recession employment levels by 2014, say economists who follow the labor market closely.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington, D.C. noted that even with the uptick in job openings there remain four jobseekers for every job available. EPI officials said that ratio has existed for 147 weeks. “This is why the current extended unemployment insurance benefits, which last a maximum of 99 weeks, remain crucial,” said EPI economist Heidi Shierholz.

According to the BLS, October's 3.3 million job openings were a tad below the 3.4 million reported in September and well below the 4.4 million job openings reported before the recession began in December 2007.  The nation's current non-farm hiring rate is 3.1 percent.That is just ahead of the 3.0 percent employee separations rate reported for the month of October.

 U.S. unemployment is at 8.6 percent with 13.3 million Americans still looking for work. Minnesota posts November unemployment numbers Thursday.

State-sponsored welfare-to-work training will end next year

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: November 28, 2011 - 12:22 PM

The Employment Action Center (EAC) in Minneapolis is gearing up for tougher times when 300 welfare recipients get dropped from a key state-sponsored worker-training program next year.

The center, which conducts training and dislocated worker programs for the state, is one of several agencies that will lose all state funding in June for welfare-to-work client training. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the state cut $10 million from the Minnesota Family Investment Program Consolidated Funds, which go to counties and tribes for welfare to work programs. 

“The impact this will have on our client base is catastrophic,” said EAC director Carrie Scheffler . “These programs provide an opportunity for our jobseekers to get a foot in the door that is otherwise not open to them. In this economy this group is labeled the hardest to serve by the state. They don’t have the credentials, work history and skills to compete competitively in the job market.”

As a result, businesses are often unwilling to hire them without the help of a job skills coach and training that EAC provides.

Under its program, participants are placed in jobs with one of EAC’s 200 business partners. They work up to 25 hours a week at 7.25 an hour. The state pays the wages during the 12-week training program. Workers also receive training and coaching that hammer home the concepts of timeliness, consistency, professionalism and management expectations.

But no more. State budget watchers argue that the state’s budget crisis means Minnesota can no longer afford such services. EAC’s program alone costs the state about $970,000 a year for just 300 clients, mostly in the form of wage subsidies.

Hennepin and Ramsey Counties have three agencies that run similar programs for the poor. Dakota County also has one agency. The list goes on and on, “so across the state everybody is being cut. The entire program is being eliminated,” said Julie Kizlik, EAC welfare to work director.

She added that her program helped 3,000 clients transition into work since 1999.

Going forward, agencies will ask business partners to grant clients unpaid internships or hire them outright so that they can get work experience needed to get full-time and well paying jobs.


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters