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

March for jobs turns into trip to prison for several protestors

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: November 18, 2011 - 11:41 AM

A march that was supposed to call attention to Minnesota's high unemployment rate for blacks and Congress's failure to pass Obama's America Jobs Act ended with 11 protestors in the custody of Minneapolis police Thursday night.

The 11 peaceful protesters sat on the 10th Ave. bridge, linked arms and refused to move until police cuffed their wrists, helped them to their feet and ushered them off for booking The clergy, union members and unemployed who took part in the march said they hope their actions bring change. But will it really change anything?

Minnesota officials reported the state’s unemployment rate fell to 6.4 percent in October, but the state lost 6,100 jobs for the month nonetheless.

Still, employers are slowing the pace of layoffs and cautiously hiring workers, often testing the idea first by going through temporary employment agencies. Construction firms hired 1,700 workers last month thanks to warm and dry weather and a smattering of residential housing projects.

So the question remains, do well intentioned protests urge companies and the government to hire more workers? If so, it remains to be seen.

Don't worry. There is plenty of time to test the theory. There are still nearly 200,000 Minnesotans who are unemployed and seeking work. Even with retailers picking up the pace of hiring for the holidays, more jobs are needed. Now.

Employers made fewer layoffs in October

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: November 2, 2011 - 4:13 PM

After a huge swell in September, the number of layoffs announced by employers plummeted 63 percent in October, according to the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc.

Planned job cuts fell to 42,759 last month after employers announced a stunning 115,730 job cuts in September  -- the highest in 28 months. The sharp drop came mostly from the financial and government sectors and was welcome news for job watchers who feared a resurgence of mass layoffs.

In another dose of good news, employers announced plans to hire nearly 160,000 workers last month in preparation of the holiday and winter seasons.

If accurate Challenger’s report suggests the nation would gain nearly 120,000 net new jobs for October, which is up from the 103,000 in September and better than previous forecasts.

In a separate report, ADP payroll processing giant said the private-sector added 110,000 hires to small and mid-sized firms in October. ADP revised its September figure to 116,000 job gains and said that the country added an average 159,000 jobs per month for the first half of the year.

“The headline data is indicative of continued modest job growth and a stable labor market,” ADP officials said.

Minnesota State Economist Tom Stinson has long said that the nation needs to generate between 250,000 and 300,000 jobs a month if it is to return to pre-recession job growth. Right now the slow pace of job creation is not enough to keep up with the number of new entrants into the job market. 

Challenger Gray's report noted that October showed great improvements in job cuts in the government and financial sectors, but said problems still lurk ahead. 

"Job cuts in government and financial services dropped significantly last month, but the two sectors are not out of the woods by any means," said CEO John Challenger."We have yet to see the full impact of mandated federal spending cuts. Anticipated cuts at the U.S. Post Office alone, could result in more than 200,000 job cuts.  Meanwhile the European debt crisis is wreaking havoc on Wall Street."

In addition, commercial banks and mortgage lenders are still feeling the pangs of a dismal housing market and high foreclosure rates. Combined all are expected to contribute to an uneven jobs recovery any time soon.

The U.S. government will announce October's unemployment rate on Friday.

 

American factories cry need for 600,000 skilled workers

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: October 19, 2011 - 9:27 AM

Despite national unemployment that tops 9 percent, American manufacturers insist they cannot fill 600,000 jobs because job applicants lack the high tech skills needed to run the country's factories.

That's the beef of 1,123 U.S. factory heads who were recently surveyed by The Manufacturing Institute and the accounting giant Deloitte LLP.

The manufacturing executives said that 5 percent of jobs inside their factories go unfilled because candidates are unqualified. They insist they need a highly skilled and flexible workforce in order to grow. Some admit they are stuck.

"The survey shows that 67 percent of manufacturers have a moderate to severe shortage of available qualified workers," said Deloitte Industrial Products Leader Craig Giffi. Sadly, some 56 percent of surveyed respondents anticipate that skill shortages will worsen in three to five years.

That's not good. After all, some 26 million Americans are currently unemployed or underemployed. People need jobs.

So what skills are lacking?  "Skilled production workers " and "problem solvers" make up the broadest categories.

Actual job titles fall under names such as machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors and technicians, explained Manufacturing Institute President Emily DeRocco. "Unfortunately, these jobs require the most training and are traditionally among the hardest manufacturing jobs to find existing talent to fill," she said.

The trend accelerated in 2008 because many factories responded to the economic downturn by redesigning, automating and streamlining their production lines. So just as the industry changed, the skillset of workers needed to change as well, DeRocco said. 

Minnesota manufacturers have long struggled with the problem. Some partner with community and technical schools to create training programs. Others snatch up retraining money from the state. And still others simply go without and won't invest in in-house training due to concerns about cost and an unforgiving economy. 

Still, companies do nothing at their peril, insist experts.

 "The results of this survey may appear dire," said Deloitte Consulting principal Tom Morrison. "Many manufacturers are using the same approaches to talent development as they were a decade ago. But new performance tools and formal processes like industry certifications should be playing a larger role in any talent management plan."

 

If you're a college grad sniffing for a job, this list's for you.

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: October 14, 2011 - 5:31 PM

Author and human resource CEO Patricia D. Sadar offers recent college grads a refresher course in the art of interviewing.

In her latest book, "Congratulations ... You Aced the Interview,"  the CEO of People2Strategy suggests that recent graduates freshen up their skills as if prepping for a quiz. That's especially important as their job hunt morphs from the heady days of summer into the chilly fall.  Her tips aren't likely to razzle dazzle your intellect, but will have you nodding, 'Of course." Reminders never hurt.

That's especially true considering that 14 million Americans (including 200,000 Minnesotans) are all scrambling to find a job, any job. Another 9 million Americans are working part-time jobs despite wanting full-time gigs. There's lots of competition out there, so do the best you can. As you'll see, it's not hard.  

Among the goodies on Sadar's checklist:

  • Tailor your resumé to the job: Recruiters simply scan resumés, so be sure the experience and skills being sought are easy to spot. Repeat that information in your cover letter. Include a professional summary, competencies, strengths and accomplishments that all focus on the job you want. 
  •  Prepare for the interview – what you do before, during and after counts: Know how to get there. Allow extra time so you don’t arrive late. Don’t use strong cologne or tobacco products, and don’t drink coffee beforehand, all of which can be smelly turn-offs. Do pop a breath mint – not gum, which has no place in an interview. If your palms are sweaty, wipe your hand discreetly before giving a firm handshake. Follow up with thank-you notes within 24 hours.
  •  Be truthful when asked about weaknesses: People often answer by presenting what they consider to be a strength, such as “I’m a workaholic” The interviewer wants to know if 1) you can recognize your weaknesses, 2) how you’re working on them, or 3) whether you can admit mistakes and learn from them. So honestly discuss one weakness and one past mistake.
  • Ask questions, but not about salary, benefits, sick or vacation time: Ask three to five questions about the company, the department or the position. You might ask the interviewer to describe the ideal candidate for the job, what he or she most enjoys about working for the company, or what are the company’s biggest challenges. 
  •  Remember, mealtime interviews are not about the food: Order a conservatively priced meal that doesn’t have a strong smell and that you can eat without making a mess. Don’t order an alcoholic beverage, even if your interviewer does.
  • Be courteous to everyone you meet, from the parking lot to the restroom: Don’t underestimate the importance of parking attendants, receptionists and security guards, who often have influence with decision-makers. The person in the lavatory could be your future boss.

Patricia D. Sadar is CEO of the strategic Human Resources consulting firm People2Strategy. She is also an adjunct professor at Florida International; faculty member at University of Phoenix. 

Labor secretary: Rebuilding is just the ticket for jobs

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: September 29, 2011 - 7:04 PM

 

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis zipped through the Twin Cities Thursday in an effort to rustle up support for President Obama's American Jobs Act. Her message was simple: To rebuild the jobs market, the United States has to start building.

Holding up a thick copy of the American Jobs Act, the former California Congresswoman stood near the 10th Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis and told 60 people that the bill would bring jobs to Minnesota, if only it was passed,

How many jobs? At least 7,900 to be exact, she said unabashedly.

"There are more than 10,000 bridges in Minnesota, including this one, that are in need of serious repairs," said Solis, who earlier noticed the bare rebar that was exposed on the underside of the bridge. "I understand the bridge right next to this is the bridge that collapsed. And they [rebuilt] that in a matter of less than a year."

In 2007, there were 116,000 Minnesotans working in construction. Today there are just 86,300, according to the Labor Department. If passed, the Jobs Bill could help put contractors back to work on a series of similar projects that "could be implemented right away, Solis said. 

The bill certainly has its critics. Some claim that the Jobs Act funding is too small to offer meanignful longterm relief to the millions of unemployed. Others insist it is one more unproven stimulus program that is certain to drive the deficit higher.

Undaunted,Obama's bill proposes $608 million in funding just for Minnesota road and bridge construction projects that could span three to 10 years. Other components of the bill would: restore teachers' jobs;  subsidize re-training programs for workers who are laid off;  and create payroll tax cuts to encourage employers to hire.

If adopted, Obama's $447 billion proposal would create 1 million to 1.2 million jobs nationwide and help slot the unemployed, the administration projects. The proposal calls for $5 billion to assist dislocated workers. Some of that money would be in the form of wage subsidies paid to employers.  "We are talking about putting a lot of people  back to work. not just those in construction but all the suppliers ...[and] restaurant owners, Solis said.

In her role as Obama’s jobs emissary, Solis spent the afternoon in the Twin Cities meeting with road and bridge construction workers, the unemployed, recent college grads, the AFL-CIO and the Star Tribune editorial board.

She told the editorial board that labor groups expressed support for the Jobs Act. "It's been music to their ears," she said. The support of labor groups is important as labor leaders have been particularly critical of Obama in the last year.

But Solis praised labor unions across the country saying that the UAW and other unions made concessions that helped bring back industries and jobs. Still much work is to be done, she said, noting that a staunch jobs advocate is missing from Capitol Hill.

Solis bemoaned the absence of former Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar on Capitol Hill while trying to win support for the Jobs Act. He was "our lead representative on transportation. He was the one who was fighting for projects all over the country," she said.  

Solis praised Oberstar' for having "very good relationships with people across both the isle. We kind of lost that. She noted she was "confounded" by some of the rudeness and severe partisanship she faces when she has to testify on Capitol Hill about public private partnerships for green jobs and renewable energy projects. Some accuse her of wasting tax payers money.

So the fight goes on. "Right now we are kind of stuck. And it's hurtful for economic reasons, not just the immediacy of jobs on the ground, but what it means for our import and export capacity and our global competitiveness," she told the Star Tribune board.

Solis left the Star Tribune for the Hilton Hotel, where the AFL-CIO invited her to speak at its Next-Up Young Worker Summit. The former Californian heads to Wisconsin Friday where she will visit labor unions and several green energy projects.
 

 

Labor secretary: Rebuilding is just the ticket for jobs

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: September 29, 2011 - 7:04 PM

 

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis zipped through the Twin Cities Thursday in an effort to rustle up support for President Obama's American Jobs Act. Her message was simple: To rebuild the jobs market, the United States has to start building.

Holding up a thick copy of the American Jobs Act, the former California Congresswoman stood near the 10th Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis and told 60 people that the bill would bring jobs to Minnesota, if only it was passed,

How many jobs? At least 7,900 to be exact, she said unabashedly.

"There are more than 10,000 bridges in Minnesota, including this one, that are in need of serious repairs," said Solis, who earlier noticed the bare rebar that was exposed on the underside of the bridge. "I understand the bridge right next to this is the bridge that collapsed. And they [rebuilt] that in a matter of less than a year."

In 2007, there were 116,000 Minnesotans working in construction. Today there are just 86,300, according to the Labor Department. If passed, the Jobs Bill could help put contractors back to work on a series of similar projects that "could be implemented right away, Solis said. 

The bill certainly has its critics. Some claim that the Jobs Act funding is too small to offer meanignful longterm relief to the millions of unemployed. Others insist it is one more unproven stimulus program that is certain to drive the deficit higher.

Undaunted,Obama's bill proposes $608 million in funding just for Minnesota road and bridge construction projects that could span three to 10 years. Other components of the bill would: restore teachers' jobs;  subsidize re-training programs for workers who are laid off;  and create payroll tax cuts to encourage employers to hire.

If adopted, Obama's $447 billion proposal would create 1 million to 1.2 million jobs nationwide and help slot the unemployed, the administration projects. The proposal calls for $5 billion to assist dislocated workers. Some of that money would be in the form of wage subsidies paid to employers.  "We are talking about putting a lot of people  back to work. not just those in construction but all the suppliers ...[and] restaurant owners, Solis said.

In her role as Obama’s jobs emissary, Solis spent the afternoon in the Twin Cities meeting with road and bridge construction workers, the unemployed, recent college grads, the AFL-CIO and the Star Tribune editorial board.

She told the editorial board that labor groups expressed support for the Jobs Act. "It's been music to their ears," she said. The support of labor groups is important as labor leaders have been particularly critical of Obama in the last year.

But Solis praised labor unions across the country saying that the UAW and other unions made concessions that helped bring back industries and jobs. Still much work is to be done, she said, noting that a staunch jobs advocate is missing from Capitol Hill.

Solis bemoaned the absence of former Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar on Capitol Hill while trying to win support for the Jobs Act. He was "our lead representative on transportation. He was the one who was fighting for projects all over the country," she said.  

Solis praised Oberstar' for having "very good relationships with people across both the isle. We kind of lost that. She noted she was "confounded" by some of the rudeness and severe partisanship she faces when she has to testify on Capitol Hill about public private partnerships for green jobs and renewable energy projects. Some accuse her of wasting tax payers money.

So the fight goes on. "Right now we are kind of stuck. And it's hurtful for economic reasons, not just the immediacy of jobs on the ground, but what it means for our import and export capacity and our global competitiveness," she told the Star Tribune board.

Solis left the Star Tribune for the Hilton Hotel, where the AFL-CIO invited her to speak at its Next-Up Young Worker Summit. The former Californian heads to Wisconsin Friday where she will visit labor unions and several green energy projects.
 

 

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