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|"I am not worried about creeping socialism but about creeping mediocrity. The less the arts have to do with our political processes, I believe, the healthier they will be." --- Russell Lynes 1965-02-23 (quoted in Livingston Biddle 1988 _Our Government & the Arts_ pg 69)|
Dice Report: 64,558 job ads
2005-03-01 08:08PST (11:08EST) (16:08GMT)
Greg Robb _MarketWatch_
ISM index fell from 56.4% in January to 55.3% in February
"The closely tracked ISM index has slipped for 4 straight months and now stands at its lowest level since 2003 September."
2005-03-01 12:48PST (15:48EST) (29:48GMT)
Robert Schroeder _MarketWatch_
US construction spending was up 0.7% in January
"Outlays for U.S. construction projects increased by 0.7% in January to $1.05T, the Commerce Department said Tuesday... Spending on private construction climbed 0.6% above the revised December estimate of $800.6G, while spending on public projects rose 0.8% above the revised December estimate of $239.7G... This January's total construction number is 10.6% above year-earlier levels of $946.5G."
Hillary Clinton charms Indian members of parliament
"Madhu Goud Yaskhi, a New York attorney who won his first Lok Sabha victory on the Congress ticket, told IANS. Clinton assured Yaskhi, who asked if there was a move to increase H1-B visas, that the Democrats would support such a move in the senate... The senator also urged the Indian government to facilitate investors if it wanted to [further] improve in-flows into the country."
2005-03-01 14:09PST (17:09EST) (22:08GMT)
Rachel Koning & Greg Robb _MarketWatch_
Federal Reserve regional "presidents" fear inflation
"Two of the officials said the central bank should adopt an explicit inflation target to strengthen its monetary policy. At the moment, wage pressures within the U.S. labor market are behaving as expected, said Michael Moskow, president of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank. Despite the improvement in the labor market, the number of displaced workers remains higher even than in periods with higher unemployment rates, Moskow said in an address to a National Association of State Work-Force Agencies conference in Washington."
Meredith Levinson & Larry Ponemon _CIO_
Ask the Ethicist
2005-03-01 08:16PST (11:16EST) (16:16GMT)
Red China's National Bureau of Statistics Says Inflation Is Under Control: Annual CPI near 4%
"China's CPI fell to 1.9% in January, the latest month for which data were available. CPI peaked at a 7-year high of 5.3% in July and August last year, boosted by soaring grain prices."
Ernesto Cienfuegos _La Vos de Aztlan_/_Americans for Legal Immigration PAC_
Latino illegal immigrant gang, Mara Salvatruchas-13 (MS-13), threaten violence against "Minutemen" on border patrol
Erin Allday _Press Democrat_
Year-old company founded, staffed by laid off workers plans to focus on microwave, high-frequency products
"Every one of SenarioTek's dozen employees lost a job at Agilent during the telecom down-turn. Now, as the industry heads into a mild recovery, they are using the same expertise they applied at Agilent to develop components for high-tech testing equipment, but this time for their own company... Ghiasvand, Knudsen and a third partner, Bob Alman, pooled their resources and started the business last year, relying on personal savings and their severance packages from Agilent. They are not seeking any outside funding. Their plan is to stay small, the partners said. Aside from building prototypes, they don't intend to do their own manufacturing. Instead, they will contract manufacturing to Jetronics, a company that lost half of its sales and 85 employees during the tech downturn and off-shoring of jobs in recent years. Alman said SenarioTek plans to keep all of its manufacturing in North America, and ideally in Sonoma County."
San Diaz _San Jose Mercury News_/_Silicon Valley_
California's factory jobs in danger
"About 1M manufacturing jobs in California are at risk of ending up in other states or other countried unless government & business start taking action to keep them, according to a report released today by the Bay Area Economic Forum... on the heels of losing more than 312,600 manufacturing jobs between 2000 & 2003 -- about one-third of which were in the computer and electronics industry -- the report points out that preservation of manufacturing jobs in California must be a team effort... issues such as the cost of workers' compensation insurance, energy expenses and corporate tax rates -- all of which are cited as reasons that made California the most expensive state in the nation to do business in 2002. But companies also need to evaluate a lot of other factors such as the costs of relocating jobs, ways to operate more efficiently and the perceived benefits of off-shoring, the group says... California led the nation in the number of manufacturing jobs in 2003: an estimated 1.5M compared with second-place Texas with 901K jobs. Locally, Santa Clara and Alameda counties ranked among the state's top counties with manufacturing jobs. Los Angeles County had the most in the state... California has about 1.5M production jobs, while another 3M jobs have direct links to manufacturing..."
David Southgate _CIO Update_
"With [unexpected] costs, rising government fees, and increased regulation around hiring foreign workers, IT executives should beware... 'When we went to terminate the consultants, we were informed by ISN (now Citizenship & Immigration Services) that we couldn't. Because we had agreed to sponsor (the foreign workers), we had actually guaranteed them a position for which they were entitled to be paid -- whether we had work for them or not.'... Today they can avoid that particular expense, if they first notify the government by sending a notice to CIS & withdraw the LCA with the DoL, according to attorney Cynthia Lange... companies are legally obligated to return foreign workers to their country of origin if a visa expires before workers can secure work from another US employer... Conflicts arising from cultural differences... can also create unexpected costs... The DoL demands that companies pay foreign workers the prevailing wage or a wage equal to an employee performing the same job, whichever is higher... Under the Export Control Law, companies are required to analyze if the foreign worker will be working with restricted technology as defined by the U.S. government, said Richard Pettler, manager of the Export Controls Practice Group at Fragomen."
Average life expectancy reached 77.6 years: 80.1 year for women
"Women now have a life expectancy of 80.1 years, 5.3 more than men. That's down from 5.4 years in 2002 and continues a steady decline from a peak difference of 7.8 years in 1979, the National Center for Health Statistics said Monday in its annual mortality report."
James Pedderson _Heartland Institute_
Relocations over-seas were negligible factor in more than 1M job cuts in 2004
"Cost-cutting ranked as the primary reason for pay-roll reductions by U.S. firms in 2004, accounting for 40%, or 419,819 of the 1,039,735 job cuts employers announced, according to a study by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The second-leading cause of job cuts was the closing of facilities, units, offices, or entire companies. Business-closure job cuts amounted to 211,012, or 20% of last year's job cuts. Of the 13 categories defined by Challenger as reasons for job cutting, out-sourcing and off-shoring ranked last, accounting for 4,448 -- just 0.4% -- of the 2004 job cuts... Between the 2 (off-shoring & out-sourcing), off-shoring was the greater cause of job cuts, accounting for 4,316 of the 4,448 announced cuts related to these practices. 'The low number of off-shoring-related job cuts reported does not mean that American jobs are not affected by this business practice. Certainly, any job that is being done over-seas because of lower cost is a job not being done here.', said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas... Challenger projected mergers and acquisitions, which resulted in 65,810 job cuts in 2004, could become a leading cause for lay-offs in 2005."
2005-03-02 07:07PST (10:07EST) (15:07GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
US mergers boosted lay-offs 17% in February
"Lay-offs at U.S. corporations jumped 17% in February to 108,387, boosted by increased merger and acquisition activity, international out-placement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas reported Wednesday. Nearly 50K of the announced lay-offs, or more than 40%, were directly due to mergers, the firm said. Most of the merger-related cuts were in telecommunications... February was the fourth month in the last 5 in which announced job cuts exceeded 100K. Lay-offs were up 40% from 2004 February's 77,250... In February, telecommunications firms announced 33,270 job reductions, the most in the sector since 2002 October. Transportation companies announced 12,188 job losses, while consumer-products companies cut 11,627 jobs."
2005-03-02 11:07PST (14:07EST) (19:07GMT)
Lay-off and hiring plans both increase
"The monthly survey showed 108,387 job cuts announced during the month. That's up 17% from January levels and up 43% compared to February of 2004. But employers also announced plans in February to hire 41,984 employees. That's up 41% from January's hiring announcements and it marked the fifth consecutive month of increased hiring plans."
2005-03-02 07:29PST (10:29EST) (15:29GMT)
Greg Robb _MarketWatch_
Greenspan says major federal government deficit cutting is necessary
"[Congress should] offset any spending [increases] or tax cuts by cutting spending elsewhere. Greenspan repeated his support for private retirement accounts to bolster [Socialist Insecurity]. He said that congress should tackle [Socialist Insecurity] 'sooner rather than later'."
2005-03-02 08:41PST (11:41EST) (16:41GMT)
_Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal_
Laid off? Body shop's survey says you're likely to change careers
"Almost 6 of 10 out-of-work employees are considering making significant career changes, according to a survey conducted by Right Management Consultants... More than 4 out of 10 (44%) said they are considering self-employment -- a percentage that is almost 4 times higher than the number of people who are actually self-employed in the U.S. (11%). Although 56% of respondents said they are thinking of changing careers, approximately 40% actually go through with this - including about one-third who switch industries for their next jobs (perform the same job function, but in a different industry), and less than 10% who start their own businesses. More than half (55%) of respondents have ruled out relocating to find their next jobs, while 21% think it may be necessary, and 24% consider it a possibility. Those most interested in changing careers are ages 56-60 (59% of age group) and non-managers (60%). Those least interested in changing careers are ages 31-40 (46%) and upper managers (48%). Those most interested in starting their own businesses are ages 61-plus (54%) and in upper management (53%). Those least interested in starting their own businesses are ages 21-30 (73%) and non-managers (63%)."
2005-03-02 11:45PST (14:45EST) (19:45GMT)
Steve Kerch _MarketWatch_
Home prices were up 11% in 2004 Q4
"Average U.S. home prices increased 11.2% from the fourth quarter of 2003 through the fourth quarter of 2004, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight said Tuesday. The annual rate of home price appreciation fell off from the third quarter last year, when values gained 13.3%. But the fourth-quarter number was still the second [biggest] gain in the last 15 years... Quarterly appreciation was 1.69% (or an annualized rate of 6.77%), a sharp deceleration from the revised quarterly appreciation during the third quarter of 4.79%."
2005-03-02 13:00PST (16:00EST) (21:00GMT)
Lisa Sanders _MarketWatch_
Crude petroleum closes above $53 per barrel: Highest closing price in 4 months
James Carlini _Midwest Business_
Craving speed and creating the best is very American
"Paul Morris, the executive director of Utopia from Utah, did point out some big issues like: 'Why do we pay $50 for 3Mbps while Japan pays $25 for 10Mbps?'... The telephone company lobbyists have definitely gotten to them first and should be congratulated on their well-oiled swiftness. They should not be congratulated on their accuracy or intent... Politicians and their advisors have to realize that broadband equals jobs and jobs equal votes. Many people are questioning the rationale behind the restrictive policies that lobbyists are trying to foist onto some state legislatures (not just Illinois). The battle cry by lobbyists is 'save the buggy whip manufacturers and forget innovation'... James Carlini will be the key-note speaker at the Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET) computer services conference on May 26 at the O'Hare Hyatt Regency."
more articles by James Carlini
Dennis Cauchon _USA Today_/_Gannett_
Supply and demand for doctors (with table, graph)
"many Americans may soon face a shortage of physicians that makes it hard to find convenient, quality health care. The shortage will worsen as 79M baby boomers reach retirement age and demand more medical care unless the nation starts producing more doctors, according to several new studies. The country needs to train 3K to 10K more physicians a year -- up from the current 25K -- to meet the growing medical needs of an aging, wealthy nation, the studies say. Because it takes 10 years to train a doctor, the nation will have a shortage of 85K to 200K doctors in 2020 unless action is taken soon. The predictions of a doctor shortage represent an abrupt about-face for the medical profession. For the past quarter-century, the American Medical Association [AMA] and other industry groups have predicted a glut of doctors and worked to limit the number of new physicians. In 1994, the Journal of the American Medical Association predicted a surplus of 165K doctors by 2000... The nation now has about 800K active physicians, up from 500K 20 years ago... Florida State University's College of Medicine, the first new medical school since 1982, will graduate its first class this year. Arizona, Nevada, California and Florida are considering opening additional medical schools. Other states are considering expanding theirs. Florida State won approval from the state Legislature to become the nation's 126th medical school by emphasizing family practice and other specialties needed in rural areas and inner cities, where the doctor shortage is already acute."
Miguel Helft _San Jose Mercury News_
As Jobs Are Out-Sourced, Honest Debate Is Needed
"when leaders in business, government or academia seek to down-play the impact of out-sourcing, they're doing everyone a disservice. Over the past year, arguments seeking to do just that have proliferated... The kinds of jobs being exported are rapidly moving up the skill ladder. Tech titans such as Oracle, Intel, M$ and [Ill-Begotten Monstrosities] aren't building campuses over-seas to fill them with grunts... virtually every start-up that is funded in Silicon Valley today is hiring some of its workers over-seas. It is start-ups -- not large, established firms -- that historically have generated job growth in the valley. So the issue is not so much about the jobs lost, but about those that will never be created here... foreigners, including many from [Red China] and India, were behind a third of the start-ups launched here during the tech boom..."
Fran Eaton _Illinois Leader_
State constitutional amendment to discount non-citizens in future legislative redistricting proposed by suburban law-maker
_Orange County Register_
Chemists need a new formula for employment
"...picture for the fourth consecutive year. Off-shoring and biotech industry mergers are among the reasons, experts say. Still, the prospects are better than in other professions..."
1865-03-03: battle of Natural Bridge, Florida
2005-03-02 16:49:28PST (19:49:28EST) (2005-03-03 00:49:28GMT)
Lalit Mohan _Tribune_
Punjab board exams begin; so does cheating
"The annual examinations of class X and XII of the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) started today. Along with these started the infamous practice of copying. When The Tribune team visited some of the examination centres in and around Pathankot today afternoon, several malpractices in examinations were noticed. In one of the schools the teachers were found preparing cheating material for children appearing in the examinations. As soon as the physics and economics paper of class XII commenced, some staff members of Government Senior Secondary School, Pathankot, got busy preparing cheating material for children. They were preparing the material from books in the rooms meant for the vocational classes when The Tribune team clicked their photographs. This spread panic among the teachers. The material being prepared by the teachers was to be allegedly supplied to select children with right contacts. Though police [were] deployed on the school premises, many kin of the children appearing in the examinations gathered in and around the school building. In the KFC Senior Secondary School, students appearing in the examination were found to be bringing the question papers out on the pretext of going to answer the call of nature. Once in the toilet adjoining the boundary, they were supplied material they needed inside the examination room. In KFC school, even policemen deputed on duty were found to be supplying copying material to students. The supply through policemen came at a price that was paid by the kin of the examinees. The controller of the examination centre here termed it as a stray incident. He said nobody was being allowed near the boundary and the police had been directed to check the identity of anyone entering the school premises. A similar practice was reported from other schools. The situation was worse in private schools and those located in the rural areas. Certain educationists from the district blamed the cheating cases on the recent policy adopted by the PSEB. Earlier the board used to appoint all the supervising staff at the schools during the board examinations. However, now the board has changed the policy. Now the controller of the examination has been authorised to pick 50% of the staff on his own, while the remaining 50% is to be supplied by the principal of the respective school. Educationists alleged that teachers acting as supervisors would definitely have soft corner for their students."
Norm Matloff _H-1B/L-1/Off-Shoring e-news-letter_
VCs demand off-shoring (part 2)
VCs demand off-shoring (part 3)
VCs demand off-shoring (part 4)
"Again, Miguel [Helft] is correct, but it is even worse than this. First of all, he should have mentioned that it is the funders who are demanding that the start-ups they fund ship work over-seas. Secondly, it's often more than just 'some'; instead, the theme is to send most of the engineering work over-seas, and hire marketing and sales people in the U.S.A... Yet [Annalee] Saxenian's data show that US native engineers in Silicon Valley are more entrepreneurial than the immigrants... (When I talk about protecting the livelihoods of 'American' programmers and engineers, I am referring to U.S. citizens, including naturalized ones like Miguel, and also green card holders.) Miguel is falsely conflating innovation and risk taking, which obviously are 2 very different things... It's well known that at least in the case of [Red China], engineers tend to be less innovative than are American engineers. I say it's clear, because the government of China itself has been worried about this problem, and has been attempting to address it (as have the governments of 2 other East Asian countries, Japan and South Korea). In this regard, it is worth noting an article written by an engineering professor in [Red China] ('China's New Engineering Obstacle' by Chen Lixin, Prism, pub. by the American Society for Engineering Education, 1999 September). Chen warns his nation that the engineers being produced by Chinese universities are not good enough for [Red China] to compete in the global high-tech market... Craig Barrett [said to Miguel at a round-table in 2003], 'I look at the job growth prospects being difficult in this environment. Companies can still form in Silicon Valley and be competitive around the world. It's just that they are not necessarily going to create jobs in Silicon Valley. If the jobs lost aren't being replaced, the Valley could see a decrease in standards of living, a decrease in housing values, and things of that nature.'"
1865-03-03: battle of Natural Bridge, Florida
2005-03-02 16:49:28PST (19:49:28EST) (2005-03-03 00:49:28GMT)
2005-03-03 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Subri Raman & Tony Sznoluch _DoL ETA_
unemployment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 290,241 in the week ending February 26, a decrease of 14,203 from the previous week. There were 342,140 initial claims in the comparable week in 2004. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.5% during the week ending February 19, a decrease of 0.1%age point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,105,241, a decrease of 134,595 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 3.0% and the volume was 3,738,056."
2005-03-03 07:33PST (10:33EST) (15:33GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
US productivity revised up to annualized rate of 2.1% in 2004 Q4
"Productivity was revised to a 2.1% annual growth rate from the 0.8% estimated a month ago, the Labor Department said Thursday. Output increased 3.7%, while hours worked rose 1.6%."
2005-03-03 07:58PST (10:58EST) (15:58GMT)
Greg Robb _MarketWatch_
ISM services index rose from 59.2% in January to 59.8% in February
2005-03-03 09:22PST (12:22EST) (17:22GMT)
Jennifer Waters _MarketWatch_
Shoppers spent freely in February
" International Council of Shopping Centers. With 64 of the nation's largest retailers reporting, Niemira said sales at stores open longer than a year -- a key industry measure -- were up 4.9%. That's almost 2 percentage points above his forecast for a gain 'a little over' 3%."
_Santa Maria California Times_
More older people keep on working
"The U.S. Labor Department recently estimated that more than 1M workers 75 years or older remain in full-time jobs. For many, it is pure economic necessity. With medical science doing everything it can to prolong life - and it has been wildly successful in that effort - people are living longer, often beyond their retirement savings. And Social Security, as it turns out, is exactly what it was supposed to be in the mid-1930s when it was created - a safety net, not a means of support for a comfortable lifestyle. So many Americans who figured on kicking back and taking it easy after reaching the standard retirement age of 65 are feeling the need to stay connected to their careers. The 75-plus work force is nearly double what it was just more than a decade ago... Congress abolished compulsory retirement in 1986..."
2005-03-03 13:44PST (16:44EST) (21:44GMT)
Jack Ganssle _Embedded_
It's Embedded Systems Conference Time
"I'll moderate a Shop Talk about the future of engineering in an off-shoring world. If only there were more time... there are so many classes I'd like to take. Did you know that the average software person reads less than one technical book, other than user manuals, per year? Or that only a fifth of all firmware developers even read [one of] the only publication[s] aimed at the embedded space? There are probably 50K embedded systems people within easy driving distance of San Francisco, yet only a third will attend the show. It's amazing how many developers come from all corners of the world, as this is the one show that's recognized as being indispensable. We work in the fastest-changing field in the world. Tomorrow's technology will be quite different than what we work with today. It's hard to keep up. But we must or risk becoming obsolete. Professionals work diligently to improve their expertise. Amateurs let their skills grow stale. An advisor once told me a week spent learning just one new killer idea is a week well-spent."
John Patrick -- "And what do those of us in the Midwest (where tight schedules and tighter budgets don't allow us to travel to either the East or Left coasts) go to hear these talks and visit the booths? We go to ESC Chicago! Oh, wait, that was cancelled several years ago."
Chris McManes _IEEE-USA_/_US News Wire_
U.S. Technical Employment Falls by More Than 220K Workers from 2000 to 2004
"According to the BLS, computer programmers have taken the biggest hit, with a drop of more than 24% -- from 745K in 2000 to 564K in 2004. In addition, the number of employed electrical and electronics engineers shrunk by 101K, from 444K in 2000 to 343K last year, a decrease of nearly 23%. Computer scientists and systems analysts have experienced similar losses, dropping more than 16%, from 835K in 2000 to 700K in 2004."
2005-03-03 20:16PST (23:16EST) (2005-03-04 04:16GMT)
Drew Griffin _CNN_
Rise in out-sourcing and off-shoring repair & maintenance of airliners raises concerns
"Airlines facing financial pressures have increased their use of out-sourced maintenance, raising questions about the government's ability to provide effective oversight of the critical work being done by contractors and what that could mean for potential safety risks. Those expressing the most concern over the out-sourcing trend are the unions representing airline mechanics and Federal Aviation Administration inspectors. And the Department of Transportation's inspector general has expressed concern over the government's ability to oversee maintenance done by outside contractors... Airlines [lost] $8G last year alone, according to the Air Transport Association (ATA), a trade organization for the principal U.S. airlines. Many outside contractors employ non-union mechanics; focus on specialized work and, according to the ATA, save airlines hundreds of millions of dollars a year... Maintenance records provided to CNN by airline employees cite multiple instances of what people throughout the industry agreed was poor maintenance by outside contractors."
2005-03-04 07:11PST (10:11EST) (15:11GMT)
Greg Robb _MarketWatch_
UMich consumer sentiment index fell from 94.2 to 94.1 during February: Was 95.5 in January
Scott Kirwin IT Professionals Association of America/_PR Web_
ITPAA Grants Weasel Award to senator Hillary Clinton
"The organization, representing over 1,200 IT professionals nationwide, presents this award to business and political leaders that it believes betrays the trust of the American people. Scott Kirwin, founder of the organization, states, 'We are tired of Democrats pretending they care about the problems facing average Americans. Senator Clinton's actions prove they clearly do not.' The ITPAA based its award on Indian press reports of senator Clinton supporting [off-shore] out-sourcing and assuring political and business leaders in India that the US would not attempt to save the jobs lost. 'Out-sourcing will continue.', Clinton said in Delhi on February 28, according to a report by the Asia Times... 'Her statements got little press here but were splashed all over the Indian media.', Kirwin says. 'Does she think we aren't going to find out about it?' Kirwin says that the India media is the best source of information about out-sourcing and what he terms 'labor dumping' -- using immigration policies to dampen wages. Kirwin says the Senator's position supporting [off-shore] out-sourcing is nothing new. He noted that in March 2004 Clinton appeared on CNN's Lou Dobbs show and criticized off-shoring and the Bush administration support of the practice. Host of the program Lou Dobbs then pointed out that Clinton was closely allied with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), an Indian off-shoring giant which set up its US head-quarters in upstate New York -- an area Clinton represents. Clinton then justified her position by saying that TCS created 10 jobs. Kirwin laughed, saying that TCS was responsible for the loss of thousands of last year alone... He notes that attempts to force nations to buy American goods and services have always failed... 'Even if our products and services are better and cheaper, foreigners aren't going to buy them because they know that to do so someone in their country will be out of a job.'... Kirwin also cited Clinton's position as co-chair of the 'Friends of India Caucus' in the Senate, a group of senators that supports issues important to India, including out-sourcing and H-1b and L-1 visas, as another reason behind the ITPAA's decision to grant the award to the prospective Democratic presidential nominee. 'It would be nice if she co-chaired the '''Friends of America Caucus''' instead.', Kirwin noted dryly. 'India doesn't need representation in the Senate -- America does.'"
Clinton to visit Syracuse University during Spring Break
Wipro muscling into Munich
"Customer Interaction Solutions - 2 hours ago"
Roy L. Williams _Birmingham Alabama News_
HR out-sourcing company pushes for state law regulating industry
"When Mike Escue started Birmingham's Better Business Solutions in 1996, the employee leasing industry was just beginning to take off. Nine years later, Escue's company - which refers to itself like others in the industry as a professional employer organization, provides off-site human resource services for companies with 1,400 employees in 20 states and Canada. The industry, whose 700 firms nationally had $43G in revenues last year and are growing at an annual rate in excess of 20%, has now gotten the attention of state legislators. Last week, the Alabama House passed Bill 346, 'The Alabama Professional Employer Organization Act," which would regulate PEOs in the state. A Senate committee passed Bill 197 a week after it was introduced February 3 by state senator Larry Means, D-Attalla... Four other states are considering similar legislation and 24 states regulate the industry, according to Alexandria, VA-based trade group the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations... On February 1, the Alabama Department of Revenue filed a lien against Mobile's Saguaro Services and MesaStaff seeking $504,236 in state income taxes withheld from workers' pay-checks in 2003, the Register reported. California is seeking a similar amount."
Demir Barlas _Line 56 e-Business Executive Daily_
The Changing Face of Out-Sourcing
"While the out-sourcing marketplace continues to go, the number of mega-deals in IT out-sourcing and business process out-sourcing (BPO) is waning, according to new research from AMR. 'The sweet spot today is $500M on down.', according to AMR. 'There is a new emphasis on carving up a large process and addressing its pieces in discrete, project-based chunks.'... Much of the impetus comes from customers who want to eschew the risky, locked-in, slower time-to-benefit nature of the mega-deal. Meanwhile, from the out-sourcer's perspective, AMR points out that 'margins are higher' in the shorter deal and 'The up-front investment required... is much less.'"
Robert W. Scroggins _PR Web_
Businesses Are Too Concerned with Cutting Costs, Not Enough with Adding Value
"Robert W. Scroggins, CPA believes that many American companies are too quick to look at the dollar signs from out-sourcing and other cost saving measures. 'Don't get me wrong.', says Scroggins, a principal in the Dallas strategic consulting firm RWSMC. 'I'm all for cost saving and cost-cutting if it is done in a rational and thoughtful manner, but our experience tells us that rationality frequently isn't an important factor when cost cutting measures are considered.' Scroggins believes that too much emphasis is placed upon cutting costs and not enough upon adding value to increase revenue in the long run... [He] recommends activity-based costing for businesses that are concerned with cutting costs."
Rama Lakshmi _Seattle Times_
After a decade or more, US ire is finally recognized long-distance
"He called himself 'Jim' and figured he would pretend to be a U.S. customer-service agent. But nothing prepared him for the shower of curses that came his way when he picked up the phone one night on the job... Call-center executives and industry experts say abusive hate calls are commonplace as resentment swells over the loss of U.S. jobs to India. According to a survey in 2004 November by an Indian information-technology magazine called Dataquest, about 25% of call-center agents identified such calls as the main reason for workplace stress. The survey said the calls often were 'psychologically disturbing' for workers... The out-sourcing industry [rakes in] $5.1G a year and employs more than 350K people, according to the [Indian] National Association of Software and Services Companies [NASSCOM], and is projected to grow 40% in the coming year... Although a few call-center companies encourage agents to reveal their real name and location when an American calls, many fear back-lash and do not allow it... 'Many callers refuse to speak to Indians and ask for an American right away.', Jaiswal said in a telephone interview. 'So I tell them, 'I am an Indian but I live in America. They ask, ''Where in America?'' I tell them I cannot disclose my location. But they are still suspicious and start asking about the weather.' Industry watchers say some call centers have giant TV screens showing the weather in different U.S. cities, the scores from latest New York Knicks games or news about the latest play on Broadway. The agents use the information on the screen to make small talk with the caller and mask their location in India."
George Putnam _News Max_
Common Sense Immigration Policy
"Our president received a serious warning February 17 in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. On that occasion, CIA Director Porter Goss, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Admiral James Loy, deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, all warned that al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations would use our poorly guarded porous border with Mexico to launch another lethal attack... Try this sometime: Enter Mexico illegally. Never mind immigration quotas, visas, international law or any of that non-sense. Once in Mexico, demand that the local government provide free medical care for you and your entire family. Demand bilingual nurses and doctors. Demand free bilingual local government forms, bulletins, etc. Procreate abundantly!..."
2005-03-04 15:07PST (18:07EST) (23:07GMT)
Mark Cotton _MarketWatch_
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 107.52 points, or 1%, at 10,940.55 on Friday. For the week, it rose 0.9%. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 12.21 points, or 0.6% on Friday to 2,070.61. It advanced 0.25% on the week. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 Index climbed 11.65 points, or nearly 1%, to 1,222.12 and posted a 0.9% gain on the week. Advancers out-numbered decliners by more than 3 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday and by a 17 to 13 score on the Nasdaq. Big Board volume was about 1.6G shares while 1.8G shares traded on the Nasdaq."
Nicole C. Wong _San Jose Mercury News_/_Silicon Valley_
Silicon Valley lost more jobs in January: unemployment rate increased to 6.2%
"Santa Clara & San Benito counties shed 13,800 jobs between December & January, leafing 850,800 jobs in the Valley. The local unemployment rate rose to 6.2%, up from a revised 5.6% in December. Santa Clara and Benito counties are now being lumped together in employment data because a significant number of San Benito residents commute to neighboring Santa Clara County for work."
2005-03-04 16:03PST (19:03EST) (2005-03-05 00:03GMT)
Alistair Barr _MarketWatch_
Eliot Spitzer's suit against Aon airs industry's dirty laundry
2005-03-04 17:40PST (20:40EST) (2005-02-05 01:40GMT)
Andy McCue _CNET_
Out-Sourced Customer Service Can Cost 30% More Than In-House
"Alexa Bona, research director at Gartner, said businesses often fail to take hidden costs, such as in-house back-up support to the out-sourced function, into account... Gartner also said 80% of organizations that out-source their customer management [i.e. customer privacy violation] operations purely to cut costs will fail to do wo, while 60% of those who out-source parts of the customer-facing process will have to deal with customer defections and hidden costs that out-weigh any potential savings offered by out-sourcing."
|"[O]ur constitution is in actual operation; everything appears to promise that it will last; but in this world nothing is certain but death & taxes." --- Benjamin Franklin 1789 writing to Jean Baptiste Le Roy (quoted in John H. Makin & Norman J. Ornstein 1994 _Debt & Taxes_ pg 3)|
Martin Brass _Military.com_/_Soldier of Fortune_
The US/Mexican Border Has Become a Sieve of Death
"Illegal [Aliens] Face a Gauntlet of Doom. The Border Patrol Faces Dopers, Terrorists, and the Desperate Victims of Coyotes. The 2,100 mile southern border of the USA, with its treacherous mountain ranges, canyons, rivers and deserts, has become an uncontrollable stretch of violence, death, rape and exploitation... The more fortunate ones take the faster route, buying their own tickets in Mexico for around $200. Others are flown in by coyotes, and trafficked throughout the United States. Mexicana, the Mexican stateowned airline, opened a direct flight several years ago from Oaxaca to Hermosillo, with a stop in Mexico City. With 3 flights a day, Mexicana station manager Jorge Carrillos estimates that half of 290 daily passengers are heading for the United States. Three other airlines, originating in Vera Cruz and Chiapas, fly illegal immigrants (mojados) to the United States... The flood of humans includes many other than Mexican (OTM). Apprehensions of OTMs have increased 42% according to Border Patrol spokesperson Rene' Noriega. Migrants come from El Salvador, Cuba, Haiti, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and the Middle East. Most illegal aliens pay their trafficker, from $1,500, up to $50K for their journeys... 9 Yemenis attempting to enter the United States after 9-11... Witnesses express their outrage and disgust at the destruction left behind by the endless parade of illegal migrants... Chagas, a parasite, kills 50K annually and has infected 18M people in Latin America. It damages the heart and intestines and may infect through blood transfusions... 'multi-drug resistant TB'..."
Joel S. Hirschhorn
"Nearly all Americans are angry about the export of jobs, and not just blue collar manufacturing jobs, but increasingly white collar jobs, including highly technical ones... When you call your credit card, phone, Internet, car, or computer company, you are likely to be talking to someone in a call center in India. But deception is working against you knowing it. Those workers half a globe away have been taught to conceal their accents and use American words instead of ones they use at home. They will also use American-sounding names, maybe Bob or Mary. They also are likely to be sitting in a room with giant TV screens. They can see the weather in many U.S. cities, the scores from the latest U.S. sports events, and news about U.S. entertainment venues. This so they can answer questions or provide some small talk. The false accents and the U.S. misinformation have been created to intentionally deceive American callers into believing that the lower-cost foreign workers are Americans... Not only are Americans angry about the loss of U.S. jobs, but now they are also concerned about their personal information being off-shored and whether there are any safeguards for their privacy. Though the American caller may not be able to do anything, because they have no choice, they often vent their anger by cursing in very blunt language the foreign worker or the company. What does all this say about the American companies using these foreign call centers? They are ashamed. They should be. They are selling out their nation, their fellow Americans and customers... If American companies are so accepting of intentional lying to their customers, showing such disrespect for them, why should Americans trust the companies? Why patronize these companies?... If American companies want to lower their costs, let them cut way back on all that expensive television and newspaper advertising, junk mail, and telemarketing that bombard our daily lives with annoying, repetitive and misleading marketing messages. And cut back on all the money spent on lobbying and corrupting our elected representatives to serve corporate rather than public interests. And reduce the obscene salaries and benefits paid to top corporate executives. [Gotta disagree with him about 'sprawl', though. Crowding kills. People need room to breathe and stretch and just sprawl out...jgo]"
_U of Ulster_
More Irish than the Irish?
"University of Ulster researcher Eleanore Conant is investigating the genetic makeup of early peoples on this island -- and she is looking for DNA help from people with particular family names. 'I am trying to map out aspects of the origins of Modern Man and Ancient Man in Ireland.', she said... 'One of the first parts to be inhabited in Ireland was here on our doorstep in Coleraine at Mountsandel on the banks of the Bann. So there couldn't be a better place to do this study.'"
|"People will adapt nicely to office systems if their arms are broken. We're in the twisting stage now." --- William F. Laughlin, VP of IBM 1975-06-30 _Business Week_ (quoted in Barbara Garson 1988 _The Electronic SweatShop_ pg 163)|
Dee Ann Davis _Whirled Peas Herald_
EU pushes to recruit tech talent
"Developed economies across the globe cannot compete on the price of their labor with developing countries and are betting their future on finding a niche in knowledge-driven industries to sustain their populations. The number of jobs requiring science and engineering skills jumped 15% in the United States from 1993 to 1997 and 28% in Europe and the Asia-Pacific [while US population increased from 260,255,000 to 272,912,000, bachelor degrees awarded increased from 1,169,300 to 1,184,400]. The majority of new scientists and engineers, however, now are coming out of developing nations, said Fariborz Ghadar, who follows these trends as director of the Center for Global Business Studies at Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA. 'More than 50% of the world's output of engineers is being trained right now in India and [Red China].', Ghadar told United Press International... Rainer Gerold, director of Science and Society for the European Commission's Research Directorate. He added, however, the door likely would not be open for long. Gerold, who is one of the leaders drafting the EU's plan for science, told UPI Europe is making a number of moves to attract talent. Topping the list, as described in last week's column, are increases in research funding. Europe has pumped up its science budget by 17% since 2002 and now proposes to double the collective amount spent from 2006 to 2010 to $40G or 3% of GDP."
National Center for Education Statistics
Mark Schwanhausser & Jeanne Cardenas _San Jose Mercury News_/_Silicon Valley_
Stock options: Executives are less generous to others
"1 out of 4 households in Santa Clara county boasted that they owned stock options in 2004, re-inforcing the county's standing as the epicenter of a stock-option phenomenon that has spread to at least 10M workers in America. Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda & Contra Costa counties have an estimated 320,300 optionee households, with 46% in Santa Clara county, acording to the 2004 Gallup Poll of Media Use & Consumer Behavior for the San Francisco Market conducted for the _Mercury News_ and other media outlets... The dot-com bust, heavy lay-offs in the technology industry and shrinking pools of stock options have taken a toll on option ownership. In 2000, one out of 3 households in Santa Clara County held options. That slipped to 1 in 4 in 2002 and has held steady for the past 2 years. In San Mateo County, the percentage of option households has plunged over the past 2 years from 25% to 15%. Options all but vanished in San Francisco County as the dot-com casualties piled up. At the peak of the tech bubble, 1 out of 5 households held options. Two years later, one out of 12 households made that claim. In 2004, it was down to just one out of 33 households... Joseph Blasi, a Rutgers University professor and co-author of a 2003 book about the spread of stock options to rank-and-file workers, sums up the past 5 years of changes in options compensation in 2 words. [Accountability and hypocrisy.]... Blasi says companies are hypocritical if they hand out hefty pay packages to top bosses while retreating from a broad-based ownership culture they espoused so proudly during the boom... As companies slow the flow of options, rank-and-file workers are left to wonder if the valley is turning away from its culture of giving employees a piece of the action."
Ron Scherer _Christian Science Monitor_
University towns have high employment, usually low pay
"As of last December, 107 cities had rates below 4%. The 4 lowest are:
_Medical News Today_
Low socio-economic status is a risk factor for mental illness
"Does having a low socioeconomic status (SES) lead to depression or does depression lead a person into poverty? According to a study that examined a database of 34K patients with 2 or more psychiatric hospitalizations in MA during 1994-2000, unemployment, poverty and housing unaffordability were correlated with a risk of mental illness. This finding is reported on in the current issue of the _American Journal of Orthopsychiatry_, published by the American Psychological Association (APA)... Christopher G. Hudson, Ph.D., of Salem State College... This study provides strong evidence that SES impacts the development of mental illness directly, as well as indirectly through its association with adverse economic stressful conditions among lower income groups, said Dr. Hudson."
2005-03-08 08:11PST (11:11EST) (16:11GMT)
John P. Mello _Tech News World_
Terrorists Target Indian Off-Shoring Firms
Chris O'Brien _San Jose Mercury News_
After the Bubble Part 3: Spirit of innovation survives the turmoil
"The dot-com bust may have turned the local economy up-side down. The persistent down-turn [economic depression] may be testing the valley's trade-mark optimism. But all the recent up-heaval apparently hasn't dimmed what remains of the region's greatest source of hope: its innovative spirit. In labs, in think tanks, in universities, and yes, in garages, inventors carry on. The region has seen an increase in patents awarded, firms created, federal research money snagged & inventions developed at Stanford university... Silicon Valley inventors were awarded 8,809 patents in 2003, up 18.1% from 2000. The valley also increased its share of all U.S. patents awarded to 10% in 2003 from 4% in 1993. From 2000 to 2002, more firms started up each year than shut down. A total of 23,800 new firms were created during that period, employing an average of 7 people each, according to Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network. Non-defense federal research and development money awarded to Silicon Valley jumped 55.4% in 2003 to $811M after being relatively flat for several years. Stanford University researchers filed 350 new technology disclosures -- the first step toward licensing new inventions -- in 2004, up from 253 in 2000. (However, the weak economy is making it harder to license inventions.) While still miles below their former heights, the amount of venture capital invested, the number of initial public stock offerings and the number of fast-growing companies known as gazelles all increased in 2004 for the first time in 3 years... Publicly traded companies in Silicon Valley have been cutting back on their R&D budgets. From a peak of $35.6G in 2000, R&D spending has dropped 10% to $32.4G in 2003, according to the Joint Venture report."
Ruling is a victory for competition and consumers
"Japan's anti-monopoly watch-dog issued a warning to US chip-maker Intel Corp. on Tuesday, demanding that the company stop curbing competition in the micro-processor chip market by pressuring Japanese clients to buy its chips. Japan's Fair Trade Commission didn't impose any fines on Intel, but said the US company could face prosecution if it doesn't change its ways. Intel was given 10 days to respond... The decision follows a raid in April 2004 by the FTC of Intel's 3 Japanese offices on suspicions the company was improperly urging Japanese personal computer makers not to use microprocessor chips manufactured by its US rivals, including Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Transmeta Corp. The FTC said Intel had offered lower prices and marketing money to Japanese PC makers Hitachi Ltd., Sony Corp., Fujitsu Ltd., Toshiba Corp. and NEC Corp., which use Intel chips and brand their products with 'Intel Inside' and 'Centrino' labels... Intel made the deals on condition that the PC makers either exclusively use Intel chips or limit the use of rivals' chips to 10%, the FTC said. Intel's share of the CPU market in Japan rose to 90% in 2004, from 78% in 2002, according to estimates by market research firm IDC. Advanced Micro Devices' share fell to 8%, from 18%, over the same period."
Paul Craig Roberts _Marin County Coastal Post_
The Great American Job Sell-Out
"Americans are being sold out on the jobs front. Americans' employment opportunities are declining as a result of corporate out-sourcing of US jobs, H-1B visas that import foreigners to displace Americans in their own country, and federal guest worker programs... aliens who hold down wages... the US is bursting at the seams with unemployed computer engineers and well-educated professionals who are displaced by out-sourcing and H-1B visas... Over these same 4 years the composition of US jobs has changed from higher-paid manufacturing and information technology jobs to lower-paid domestic services... no one can identify where the US jobs are that out-sourcing allegedly creates. They are certainly not to be found in the BLS jobs statistics. However, the Indian and [Red Chinese] jobs created by US out-sourcing are highly visible... In a very short period out-sourcing has helped to raise India from one of the world's poorest countries to its 7th largest economy... If out-sourcing is no big deal, why are Bangalore hotel rooms 'packed with foreigners paying rates higher than in Tokyo or London', as the Dayton Daily News reports? If out-sourcing is of no real consequence, why are American lawyers or their clients paying $2,900 in fees plus hotel and travel expenses and 2 days' billings to attend the Fourth National Conference on Out-sourcing in Financial Services in Washington DC (April 20-21)?... On 2001-01-01 Cincinnati-based Convergys Corp had one Indian employee. Today it has 10K... Under pressure from venture capitalists who fund new companies, American startup firms are starting up abroad. Thus, the new ventures, which 'free trade' economists assured us would create new jobs to take the place of the ones moved off-shore by mature firms, are in fact creating jobs for foreigners. As a consequence, tech jobs in the US are falling as a percentage of the total. Clearly, tax breaks for venture capitalists are self-defeating when the result is to create jobs for foreigners, not for Americans."
WikiPedia: Convergys is a privacy-violation firm derived from the Cincinnati Bell local government-enforced monopoly and its privacy-violation arm, Cincinnati Bell Information Systems, together with MATRIXX/AT&T Solutions Customer Care/AT&T Transtech, DigitalThink, Intervoice, Datacom call center operations, Stream Global Services; with subsidiary operations including Infinys Rating and Billing (IRB), Dynamic Decisioning Solution (DDS), ICOMS, Customer Management Solutions
|"A joyful life is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe" --- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 1990 _Flow_ pg xi|
Becky Salmela _UW-M Daily Cardinal_
Graduates prepare to enter job market
"[Recruiting] of UW engineering students is good for all disciplines of engineering, but it is especially high for civil, electrical and computer engineers. Despite the growth in the engineering and technology fields, there are still industries in decline, like agriculture and manufacturing, Phelps noted. It can be difficult to find jobs in many disciplines in liberal arts areas."
_Federal Reserve Board_
"Boston, St. Louis, and San Francisco reported some pickup in demand for information technology services... Steel shipments softened in Cleveland, but were reported as solid in Chicago; Cleveland cited surging steel imports, whereas Chicago saw imports decline. High-tech manufacturing activity was reported as growing in the Dallas and Boston Districts but mixed in San Francisco, where the semiconductor industry showed strength but the telecommunications industry remained weak. Sustained increases in the cost of energy, steel, and other materials were widespread...
Pedro Pereira _Channel Insider_/_eWeek_
H-1B Fees Help Keep VARs Up to Speed
"About half of the money collected by the Department of Labor funds the H-1B Technical Skills Training Grant Program, created in 1998, following the passage of the American Competitiveness and Work-Force Improvement Act. Employers that qualify for the grants use the money to train U.S. citizens for jobs that might have gone to H-1B holders. The program has disbursed more than $200M to employers. About $6M went to the IT trade association CompTIA, based in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., through 2 grants of about $3M each. CompTIA, whose membership includes thousands of solution providers and resellers, disburses the money to 9 partners, including 4 resellers. The recipients qualified for the grants by committing to send employees who are U.S. citizens to IT skills training. They are OTAi Inc., Jacksonville, FL, ComputerLand, of Quincy, IL, Valcom Business Center, St. Louis, MO; VanCura & Associates, Orlando, FL; IBM Corp.; Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.; Allstate Insurance Co.; Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc.; and Citigroup Inc."
2005-03-09 15:20PST (18:20EST) (23:20GMT)
Susan Lerner _MarketWatch_
Stocks slammed by unwarranted inflation and Fed interest rate fears
"Inflation fears fueled by higher oil prices, a surge in bond yields and more talk of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve sent blue chips into a triple-digit swan dive Wednesday, their third straight day of losses... The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 107 points, or 1%, at 10,805.62, while the S&P 500 fell 12.42 points, or 1%, to 1,207.01. The Nasdaq Composite Index ended the day down 12.26 points, or 0.6%, at 2,061.29."
[So, let me get this straight. When execs give themselves huge compensation boosts, that's not inflationary, but when production workers start getting 3% raises and 8M are officially unemployed with another 6M or 7M who have been pushed out of the labor force, that is inflationary? When the PPI and CPI have both fallen but it may rise, that's a terrible terrible inflation risk requiring aggressive strangling?]
2005-03-09 17:06PST (20:06EST) (2005-03-10 01:06GMT)
Kristen Gerencher _MarketWatch_
Medical research tackles sex differences
"A study from the New England Journal of Medicine this week showed that women respond differently than men to aspirin, an old standby thought to ward off heart disease in both sexes. The government-funded study followed nearly 40K healthy women 45 and older over 10 years, half of whom took 100mg doses of aspirin every other day. Researchers found that for those under 65, the preventive regimen did little to decrease their risk of heart attack and death from cardiovascular disease, unlike in men. But aspirin, which can cause stomach bleeding, did cut non-elderly women's risk of strokes by 17%, the study found... Aspirin's effect on women over 65 was more akin to that for men, for whom aspirin has been shown to decrease the risk of first heart attacks."
2005-03-10 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Subri Raman & Tony Sznoluch _DoL ETA_
unemployment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 326,792 in the week ending March 5, an increase of 36,216 from the previous week. There were 339,007 initial claims in the comparable week in 2004. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.6% during the week ending February 26, an increase of 0.2 percentage point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,235,990, an increase of 139,898 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 2.9% and the volume was 3,674,294."
2005-03-09 21:01PST (2005-03-10 00:01EST) (05:01GMT)
Bambi Francisco _MarketWatch_
Happy anniversary Internet bubble: The best tech/Net born after the bust
"Five years after the Internet bubble burst, Google has emerged as the most profitable Net company... Prior to 2000, investors expected technology companies to see profits rise 25% in 2000. Instead, technology companies saw profits shrink by 65%, according to UBS Warburg. Back in 2000, 50 Internet related companies went public in the first 2 months of the year. Investors paid blindly for shares...
2005-03-10 06:42PST (09:42EST) (14:42GMT)
Tony Cheng _BBC_
Red China's poisoned workers fight back
"The huge army of migrant workers that has fuelled [Red China's] rapid expansion is beginning to think twice about the personal price they are paying for the Middle Kingdom's economic miracle. For the first time in a decade, factory owners in the southern province of Guangdong are finding themselves with [an alleged] labour shortage of up to 2M workers... But for some, it is the health hazards that come with working in [Red China's] sweat shops that are keeping them away... Blood and urine analysis showed that 90% of those tested had amounts of the chemical cadmium in their bodies that far exceeded recommended levels... Tests have found it in the water supply; in the dust near the factory; and at 7 times the safe limit in the homes of factory workers. Ironically they had been producing rechargeable batteries -- whose environmental credentials were stressed in the advertising campaign for the globally known brand. The women were supplied with protective clothing by the factory, but it was not specialised. Their face masks were of the sort used to keep out traffic pollution in cities, and thin white cotton gloves. When the company was confronted with the women's' illnesses, it showed little sympathy. 'It depends on how serious your symptoms are', said one woman. 'The levels of compensation are between 5K and 8K yuan ($600-$950), but according to labour laws we have to leave the factory first. Only then can we get compensation.'... their lawyer Zhou Litai, a celebrated champion of Chinese workers' rights, says it is a problem that is all too common. 'The rights of workers are often violated like this.', he said, speaking on the phone from his office in Chongqing... The courts do not show much sympathy either. Although [Red China] has very strict laws about the obligations of employers to protect their workers in dangerous environments, more than 100K people a year are estimated to die in work related accidents. Very few cases are brought against employers successfully."
2005-03-10 09:08PST (12:08EST) (17:08GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
US debt rises at fastest pace in 16 years
"The amount of new debt taken on by Americans rose 8.6%, or $1.92T, in 2004, the fastest growth since 1988, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday. The growth in debt was led by the household sector, which took on $1.02T, or 11%, more debt in 2004. Home mortgage debt increased $885G, or 13.3%, in 2004, the fastest growth since 1987. The federal government's debt increased $363G, or 9%, down from 10.6% in 2003. Business borrowing gained $420G, or 5.7%. Total debt outstanding rose to $24.2T at the end of the year. At the same time, the net worth of U.S. households increased 8.8% to $48.5T. Equity in tangible assets such as real estate increased 12% to $22.5T. Equity in corporate shares rose 9.4% to $14.3T. In the fourth quarter, debt grew at an annual rate of 8.3%. Household debt increased 9.4%. Business debt increased at an 8% annual rate, the fastest growth since late 2000."
Federal Reserve Board report
David R. Francis _Christian Science Monitor_
Why the new jobs go to immigrants
"In the past 4 years, the number of immigrants into the US, legal and illegal, has closely matched the number of new jobs. That suggests newcomers have, in effect, snapped up all of the new jobs. 'There has been no net job gain for natives.', says Andrew Sum, an economist at Northeastern University. Something similar has happened in Western Europe. Each year, about 500K to 800K illegal immigrants enter the 15 member nations of the European Union (not including the 10 new members as of last May), estimates Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington. While it's more difficult for immigrants to get into Europe legally... Unemployment remains high in most of Europe. It hit 12.6% in Germany last month, the highest since World War 2... In the past 4 years alone, the number of immigrants [into the USA] ran some 2.5M to 3M, of which about half were illegal... In 2003, a total of 13 employers were fined for hiring undocumented employees... Sum sees immigrants as one factor behind today's historical low employment rate among US teenagers. Barely more than a third hold jobs. Over the past 4 years, the number of employed teens has declined by nearly 1.3M... But a new study by Sum and his colleagues at Northeastern finds that 2.5M teens last year were un-employed, under-employed, or had stopped looking for work in the past month. They faced severe competition for jobs from young adults, older women, and immigrants -- most of whom are young... The 4 occupations with the largest number of newly arrived immigrants (1.4M in construction, food preparation, cleaning and maintenance, and production workers) employ 21.4M natives, and have more than 2M un-employed natives. What employers really want in many cases by hiring immigrants is to hold down wage costs, experts say."
Joy Su _Taipei Times_
Pundits warn of economic warfare
"Taiwan's official response to [Red China's] 'anti-secession' law focuses on the legal codification of military aggression, but political pundits said yesterday that a closer reading of the law suggested the possibility of economic or diplomatic warfare... Saying the 'other necessary measures' mentioned in the bill were probably 'at least coercive', Huang said that Beijing could be referring to 'economic sanctions, the freezing of Taiwanese investors' assets on the Mainland -- it could try to use its currency or fiscal and monetary policy to exclude Taiwan from participation in Asian Pacific economic groupings.'"
_Voice of America_
Red China Rejects US Appeal to Reconsider Anti-Secession Bill
"China's National People's Congress is expected to pass the controversial anti-secession law on Monday. It would authorize military action if Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province, moves toward formal independence. The White House Tuesday called the measure 'unhelpful' and asked Beijing to reconsider."
2005-03-10 15:42PST (18:42EST) (23:42GMT)
William L. Watts _MarketWatch_
Senate passed bankruptcy bill
"The Senate on Thursday passed legislation that would overhaul the nation's bankruptcy laws, making it more difficult for consumers to erase debts... Proponents of the bill, which was backed by retailers, credit card companies and other lenders, say it will prevent serial credit abusers and wealthier consumers from using bankruptcy laws to escape debts without repayment... The bill requires bankruptcy filers to submit to a 'means test'. Filers with income below the median level of their state would be allowed to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, which allows the discharge of debts after the forfeiture of some assets. A filer with income above the median could be required by a judge to file under Chapter 13, which requires the repayment of debts under a court-ordered plan... Prudential analysts indicated that under the proposed legislation around 7% to 10% of filers would likely be barred from Chapter 7 -- equal to around 80K to 110K of a total 1.1M Chapter 7 filers in 2004."
Tseng Chien-yuan _Taipei Times_
New law will target Beiging's officials
"The method used by the People's Republic of China (PRC) to pass its 'anti-secession' law differs from the method used in the past. Traditionally, draft legislation is discussed in negotiations between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the government before being submitted by the State Council or a relevant government body to the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee for review; or the committee is asked to submit it to the NPC for review. This time, however, the NPC Standing Committee itself took the initiative to submit the bill to the NPC for review. The reason it did this was to highlight the high level of public consensus in [Red China] regarding the enactment of the anti-secession law in an attempt to avoid pressure from the international community on the CCP and government bodies... the contents of the bill have remained secret... The reason the PRC still hasn't annexed Taiwan is because it can't, although it does have the power to implement totalitarian rule in [Red China]."
_International Herald Tribune_/_AP_
Taiwan "delegates" in Beijing spotlight
"One delegate picked by Beijing to speak for Taiwan in the [Red Chinese] Parliament has not set foot on the island in 33 years. Others have never been there. None was elected by teh democratic island's voters, and few have any contact with ordinary Taiwan people... [Red China] on Thursday rejected a US appeal to reconsider an anti-secession law aimed at self-governing democratic rival Taiwan... In 1972, Wu was in Arizona getting a PhD in math when the United states, which occupied the Diaoyus at the edn of WW2, turned them over to Japan over the protests of Beijing and Taipei... Today, Wu is a member of [Red China's] ruling Communist Party and teaches math at Beijing Normal University. On the side, he runs a Taiwanese joint-venture company in Beijing. The Taiwan delegates represent main-land-based gropus that few in Taiwan have heard of..."
Marcy Gordon _Deseret News_
Senate OKs bill making it harder to file for bankruptcy
"The Senate passed legislation Thursday making it easier for banks, retailers, credit card companies and other creditors to recoup some money they're owed by many of the 1.5M people who file for bankruptcy every year. Eighteen Democrats and the Senate's lone independent joined Republicans in approving the bill on a 74-25 vote... Lenders had been pushing the legislation for 8 years. They argued too many people with ability to repay at least a portion of the money they owe were walking away from all their debts under current law. 'Those who can pay their bills should pay their bills. That's the American way.', said senator Orrin Hatch, R-UT... Each year, somewhere between 30K and 210K people -- from 3.5% to 20% of those who currently dissolve their debts in bankruptcy -- would be disqualified from doing so under the legislation, according to American Bankruptcy Institute estimates... It would require people in bankruptcy to pay for credit counseling and stiffen some legal requirements for debtors in the bankruptcy process. Under the new income test, those with insufficient assets or income could still file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which if approved by a judge, erases debts entirely after certain assets are forfeited. But those with income above the state's median income who can pay at least $6K over 5 years -- $100 a month -- would be forced into Chapter 13, where a judge would then order a repayment plan. About 70% of the people who file for bankruptcy now do so under Chapter 7, while the other 30% or so fall under Chapter 13, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute."
2005-03-11 07:07PST (10:07EST) (15:07GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
US trade deficit worsens 4.5% to $58.3G
Nicholas Riccardi _Los Angeles Times_
Long-Term Jobless Find Having a Degree Is Not Working
_Concord NH Monitor_ College grads drop out of work-force: Long-term unemployment at record rates
"Long-term unemployment, defined as joblessness for 6 months or more, is at record rates. But there's an additional twist: An unusually large share of those chronically out of work are, like Gillespie, college graduates. The increasing inability of educated workers to quickly return to the work-force reflects dramatic shifts in the economy, experts say. Even as overall hiring is picking up and economic growth remains strong, industries are transforming at a rapid pace as they adjust to intense competition, technological change and other pressures. That means skilled jobs can quickly become obsolete, while others are out-sourced... 373K people with college degrees quit job hunting and dropped out of the labor force last month, the Labor Department reported Friday... The number of long-term unemployed who are college graduates has nearly tripled since the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, statistics show. Nearly 1 in 5 of the long-term jobless are college graduates. If a degree holder loses a job, that worker is now more likely than a high school dropout to be chronically unemployed... The percentage of jobless who are chronically unemployed is even higher in California -- 23.3% last month, versus 20.5% nationwide... The number of long-term unemployed who were 45 or older doubled from 2000 to 2003... Paul Kostek, an official with the IEEE, said employers had become pickier about what skills they wanted... Getting retrained is also increasingly difficult. Job-training funds have been steadily cut over the decades. Fields that are booming, such as nursing, can require years of study that some jobless cannot afford."
Rusty Weston _Optimize_/_TechWeb_/_Managing Off-Shore_
The Case for Transparent Off-Shoring
"it's important for Americans to know that a cell phone is 'Made in [Red China]'. shouldn't the federal government also require companies to disclose to customers that their mortgage-loan application or insurance claims will be 'Serviced [sic] in India'? Since the Depression era of the 1930s, the federal government has required, with some exceptions, that products made over-seas carry a country-of-origin label (COOL). No one would dispute that the proponents of these rules sought to protect American manufacturers against the onslaught of inexpensive foreign imports... Leaving customers in the dark about how and where their personal data is handled denies them a chance to opt-in to the process. Ironically, this policy of uninformed consent does nothing to enhance the public's perception of globally delivered services and thus perpetuates on-going negative views about off-shoring."
_Business & Legal Reports_
Tech Body Shop Ordered to Pay $5M
"The Labor Department has ordered a Southfield, Michigan, firm that places computer professionals at locations throughout the United States to pay $4,500,503 in back wages to 232 non-immigrant computer professionals and $1,222,000 in fines for immigration-law violations the department says it found during an investigation. The department alleges that Computech Inc. brought non-immigrant H-1B workers into the U.S., but failed to pay them the required wage rate in the areas where they were employed. Investigators also say that Computech frequently paid nothing at all to the H-1B workers when there were no work assignments available."
Norm Matloff _UC Davis_/_H-1B/L-1/Off-Shoring e-NewsLetter_
USCIS action on 20K additional H-1B visas
Basically the USCIS is saying that they wish to retroactively give exemptions to those who were issued visas earlier in Fiscal Year 2005 and possess advanced degrees from U.S. universities. This would free up 20K slots from the annual 65K allotment of non-exempt visas. At first this sounds like a correct interpretation of the law, but actually it is incorrect, because the law states that it takes effect 2005-03-08. In other words, a careful reading of the law says that starting on that date, any time USCIS issues a visa to someone holding an advanced degree from a U.S. school, that person shall not count toward the 65K cap; it does not apply retroactively.
The article leaves the reader wondering why Compete America (CA) even would care about this issue. They pushed Congress to make the 20K visa exemption, and now 20K new visas will indeed become available, so why are the member firms of CA so upset? The answer, in capsule form, is that this is a battle between the Intels and the Tatas. The members of CA, which I'm calling the 'Intels' here, hire a lot of people with Master's degrees, while firms like Tata Consultancy Services [TCS] hire mainly people with just Bachelor's degrees. In short, the Intels had been counting on having all these 20K visas all to themselves..."
prof. Matloff on Intel & H-1Bs
Ed Fauenheim _ZD Net_
2005-03-11 13:35PST (16:35EST) (21:35GMT)
Susan Lerner _MarketWatch_
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 77.15 points, at 10,774.36, off 1.5% on the week. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 18.12 points to 2,041.60 due in large part to a pullback in technology stocks led by the semiconductor sector. On the week, the tech-rich index fell 1.4%. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 fell 9.17 points to 1,200.08. The broad gauge turned negative on the year, giving up 1.8% on the week... On the broader market, decliners out-numbered advancers by 19 to 13 on the New York Stock Exchange and by a 16 to 14 margin on the Nasdaq. Big Board volume was about 1.4G shares, while some 1.7G shares traded on the Nasdaq... In the energy pits, crude futures traded higher after falling to a low of $52.50 a barrel. The April contract ended up 89 cents at $54.43 on the New York Mercantile Exchange."
2005-03-11 08:54PST (11:45EST) (16:54GMT)
_Reuters_ [which is currently in a battle over its off-shore out-sourcing]
Discover Shuns Out-Sourcing Call Centers Over-Seas
"[David Nelms], the top executive of Morgan Stanley's Discover credit card unit, said he does not expect to out-source call centers over-seas because it would hurt customer service..."
Paul Krugman _Kansas City Star_
Credit bill hurts those in distress
"more than half of bankruptcies are the result of medical emergencies. The rest are overwhelmingly the result either of job loss or of divorce. To the extent that there is significant abuse of the system, it's concentrated among the wealthy -- including corporate executives found guilty of misleading investors -- who can exploit loop-holes in the law to protect their wealth, no matter how ill-gotten. One increasingly popular loop-hole is the creation of an 'asset protection trust', which is worth doing only for the wealthy."
2005-03-12 12:49PST (15:49EST) (20:49GMT)
Carla Mozee _MarketWatch_
AT&T execs may get $31M severance (after earning all of 1% of that)
"logos... fluttered from the masts of plush yachts moored in the harbor. On board, top execs hosted non-stop sales meetings during the day and champagne dinners at night to push their latest wireless gadgets... There's a good reason these are hardly household names. The multimedia devices produced from their prototypes will end up on retail shelves under the brands of companies that don't want you to know who designs their products. Yet these and other little-known companies, with names such as Quanta Computer, Premier Imaging, Wipro Technologies (WIT), and Compal Electronics, are fast emerging as hidden powers of the technology industry. They are the van-guard of the next step in out-sourcing -- of innovation itself. When Western corporations began selling their factories and farming out manufacturing in the 1980s and 1990s to boost efficiency and focus their energies, most insisted all the important research and development would remain in-house. But that pledge is now passé... Underlying this trend is a growing consensus that more innovation is vital -- but that current R&D spending isn't yielding enough bang for the buck. After spending years squeezing costs out of the factory floor, back office, and warehouse, CEOs are asking tough questions about their once-cloistered R&D operations: Why are so few hit products making it out of the labs into the market? How many of those pricey engineers are really creating game-changing products or technology breakthroughs?"
Jeremy Lu _Taipei Times_
Your career is virtually over when you hit 35
"Although an 'elderly economy' still belongs to the future, it has triggered controversy in the present. Some media reported that companies are targeting both white and blue-collar workers above 40 for forced retirement. The optimum career age is now around 35, and anyone over 35 is regarded as starting to lag in productivity. This is certainly a tragic scene at the end of one's career. At entry level, there is an over-flow of university students, while most enterprises only consider applicants who hold at least a master's degree and keep lowering the starting wages. Tuition fees continue to rise rather than fall, since the government considers higher eduction to be a voluntary investment. Investments should produce returns, but the outlook for returns on higher education seems less than promising. The amount of time spent on studies has increased along with the price of education, but incomes have fallen and the golden career window has shrunk."
2005-03-12 22:00PST (2005-03-13 01:00EST) (06:00GMT)
_World Net Daily_
Illegal aliens threaten US medical system: Medical journal reports hospitals being closed, previously vanquished diseases being spread
"84 California hospitals are closing their doors as a direct result of the rising number of illegal aliens and their non-reimbursed tax on the system. 'Anchor babies', the author writes, 'born to illegal aliens instantly qualify as citizens for welfare benefits and have caused enormous rises in Medicaid costs and stipends under Supplemental Security Income and Disability Income.' In addition, the report says, 'many illegal aliens harbor fatal diseases that American medicine fought and vanquished long ago, such as drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy, plague, polio, dengue, and Chagas disease'. While politicians often mention there are 43M without health insurance in this country, the report estimates that at least 25% of those are illegal immigrants. The figure could be as high as 50%... Between 300K and 350K anchor babies annually become citizens because of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution... Each illegal with MDR-TB coughs and infects 10 to 30 people, who will not show symptoms immediately. Latent disease explodes later... Suddenly, in the past 3 years America has more than 7K cases of leprosy."
Hugh R. Morley _North Jersey_
NJ nears ban on off-shoring of state work
"The bill, if approved by the state Assembly, will require all state work to be done in the United States except in those situations where a local contractor cannot supply the service... supporters believe it has enough votes in the Democratic-controlled Assembly to pass. The Assembly also is expected to vote Monday on a resolution creating a seven-member commission of legislators and business and labor leaders to study 'off-shoring and out-sourcing'... The votes come 3 years after senator Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, first introduced legislation to stop state work from being done abroad -- at the time a fairly obscure issue [though it had been fiercely contested since the mid-1990s]... Critics say off-shoring destroys jobs and forces down wages in the United States... In New Jersey, then-governor James E. McGreevey signed an executive order in September with restrictions similar to those in Turner's bill."
Carol Kleiman _Chicago Tribune_/_Seattle Times_
job market still murky: survivors continue to grasp at straws
"PV has spent months looking for a new job -- and being rejected... 'I have a strong personality, desire and drive, and there are very, very few companies that embrace these kinds of characteristics. Most companies look for the yes person -- and that is not who I am. I've had so many doors slammed in my face that I've decided the only way I'm going to be happy is to have my own business.' Last October, PV took the leap and started her own company... which makes gift baskets. The entrepreneur is working as a temp until she can live off the business... According to a recent study by Alan Hedge, professor of ergonomics at Cornell University... 'typing errors increase and output decreases as office temperatures drop'... according to Chemical & Engineering News, a publication of the American Chemical Society... reports that unemployment has increased to 3.6% from 3.5% last year... 'a declining percentage of new chemistry graduates are finding full-time employment'... Though doctorates often are the key to success for most professionals, 'for PhD graduates, this decline has been from 45% of the 2001 class to 37% of the class of 2003'... full-time salaries for 2003 doctoral graduates averaged $68,500 annually, up $500 from the previous year."
Ben Hammer _Washington Business Journal_
Lucent closes Landover, MD, USA shop, ships jobs to India
"Lucent Technologies laid off 150 workers in Landover, after the company moved the facility's engineering jobs to India in February... Lucent employs 1K hardware and software developers and professional services workers in Bangalore, India... The Maryland labor department is providing the fired workers with retraining and job placement services. An economic development official says the state tried to convince Lucent not to close the office... Washington-area tech salaries rose [only] 3.6% in 2004, to $74K from $71,400 a year earlier -- a sharper increase than in any other metro area in the country, according to a survey by New York-based Dice... those who have worked in telecom the longest are the most at risk."
2005-03-14 13:58PST (16:58EST) (21:58GMT)
Mark Cotton _MarketWatch_
Stocks got late-day boost: Disney shares gained on appointment of Iger as CEO
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended just off its high for the session, up 30.15 points at 10,804.51. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 9.44 points to 2,051.04 while the S&P 500 climbed 6.75 points to 1,206.83. Both indexes ended at their best levels for the session. The gains, although welcome, failed to mask underlying concerns, said traders... Within the bench-mark index, Disney climbed 0.9% on the appointment of President Robert Iger as chief executive."
"The national secondary school graduation rate is only 70%. For the class of 2001, the national graduation rate was only 51% for African-American students and 52% for Latino students... In rural areas, where one-third of American students attend school, only 58.8% of students attend institutions of higher education, compared with 68.2% of American students from urban and suburban areas. Each school day, approximately 3K secondary school students drop out of school. The 6M secondary students who make up the lowest 25% in terms of achievement scores are 3.5 times more likely to drop out than students in the next highest quarter of academic achievement, and are 20 times more likely to drop out than high achieving students. Approximately 25% of secondary school students are reading at 'below basic' levels."
Edwin Vieira _News with Views_
Socialist Insecurity "reform" is a trojan horse
2005-03-14 16:56PST (19:56EST) (2005-03-15 00:56GMT)
Principals pass -- then fail
"'doctorates of education' are relatively light-weight degrees. The dissertation and research expectations are far lower than those required for a PhD in other fields... Credentialing programs for school leaders range from 'inadequate to appalling', and the course-work required is only marginally related to on-the-job skills, according to a report released Monday by the President of the Teachers College at Columbia University... The degrees are cash cows for the colleges that offer them. While a university might take in $8K a year in tuition [and fees] for one of these degrees, the program costs only about $6K, according to the report. The spill-over money gets sent to other departments, such as chemistry or physics, which have expensive labs to maintain... the principals and superintendents...win the credential they need to help land their next job or pay increase. Knowing that the degrees are useful only as a symbol, they seek out the least demanding programs offered in the most convenient locations."
2005-03-14 21:01PST (2005-03-15 00:01EST) (05:01GMT)
Irwin Kellner _MarketWatch_
Getting Americans To Save More Will Be Difficult
"reduction in sales would force domestic concerns to cut costs as their revenues decline. Now since the typical firm's biggest expense is the cost of labor, many companies would make slashing their payrolls their first order of business. Needless to say, this would reduce personal incomes, which, in turn would lead to further cuts in both household spending and saving. As it is, most people are already having a tough time coping with rising energy bills, the soaring cost of health care, not to mention higher state and local taxes, transit fares and tolls. After paying these bills, the average household has little money left to save, anyway... One way would be to increase their buying power. Either pay them more or tax them less... Another approach would be to have foreign-made goods bear the brunt of these spending cut-backs."
2005-03-15 06:18PST (09:18EST) (14:18GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
US retail sales rose 0.5% in February
"U.S. retail sales increased 0.5% in February, led by purchases of electronics, clothing, gas and food outside the home, the Commerce Department said Tuesday... The previously reported 0.3% decline in January was reversed to a 0.3% gain. December sales were revised to a 1.3% gain... Excluding autos, retail sales increased 0.4%... Gasoline station sales increased 0.9% in February, likely the result of higher prices. Gasoline sales are up 16.4% in the past year. Retail sales excluding gasoline increased 0.5% in February. Retail sales represent about half of U.S. consumer spending and about a third of gross domestic product."
census bureau numbers
2005-03-15 13:18PST (16:18EST) (21:18GMT)
William L. Watts _MarketWatch_
Private control of retirement funds is the "lock box": Greenspan says government's Socialist Insecurity promises are unrealistic
2005-03-15 14:10PST (17:10EST) (22:10GMT)
Jeffry Bartash _MarketWatch_
Former MCI WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers declared guilty of securities fraud
"A federal jury on Tuesday found ex-WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers guilty on all counts for his role in an $11G accounting scandal, delivering a big victory to federal prosecutors. After 8 days of deliberation, the jury found the WorldCom co-founder guilty of one count of conspiracy, one count of securities fraud and seven counts of making false filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission."
2005-03-15 14:43PST (17:43EST) (22:43GMT)
Mark Cotton _MarketWatch_
Stocks can't shake interest rate, oil jitters
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 59 points, or 0.6%, at 10,745. The blue-chip average had been as high as 10,838 early in the day. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 16 points, or 0.8%, to 2,035. The S&P 500 shed 9.08 points, or 0.8%, to 1,198... Crude-oil futures prices saw a late-day charge to clear $55 a barrel ahead of an OPEC production meeting and weekly U.S. inventory data."
Out-Sourcing Has Become Unprofitable
"In recent days the escalating cost of employment in India, lack of qualified work force and deflation [of] service prices have made out-sourcing a tough business. The Western companies in India are running around to save even one cent. The escalating cost of living and shortage of qualified work-force is putting a solid pressure on wage increase [sic]. On top of that the companies have to keep 20% excess work force to accommodate turn-over and other issues."
David Foote _Search CIO_
New rules for the new world of IT employment
"To get anywhere in IT these days it's not enough to have a solid technical background, decent inter-personal skills and a respectable track record. Hiring managers want IT professionals with specific industry experience and an unblemished performance record... Off-shore out-sourcing has suppressed hiring and even compensation in the U.S. However, nearly 60% of off-shoring initiatives are failing to measure up to expectations -- especially in the area of cost savings, according to a study published by Foote Partners last year."
Urmi A. Goswami
H-1B controversy is heating up
"The move by the USCIS to change the scope of the eligibility criteria for the 20K additional H-1B visas has come in for criticism from industry and academic bodies. Compete America... is unhappy about the delay... [and] worried about the subversion of [Congressional intent] by a government agency..."
Andy McCue _Silicon.com_
Indian workers are fed up with dead-end off-shore call centre jobs: Staff turn-over as high as 40%
"This has in the past been put down to the long unsocial hours associated with servicing over-seas customers in different time zones and higher salary offers from rivals who poach each other's staff. But the survey of BPO workers found the main reason for leaving, as cited by over 50% of respondents, was that it is a dead end job. The staff attributed their exits to a lack of growth opportunities, expectation mis-matches and dis-satisfaction with company policies."
Ben Whitford _Columbia News Service_
Leprosy in the USA
"A new case of leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, is diagnosed somewhere in the world every 60 seconds, but in the United States out-breaks remain rare. Only about 130 new cases are discovered each year, mostly among immigrants from areas such as Mexico, India or the Caribbean, where the disease is more widespread. Over 100 cases were found in immigrants last year, more than double the number in 2000, and, while the number of cases is still comparatively small, some researchers believe the trend could lead to leprosy spreading to the U.S.-born population. 'It's creeping into the U.S.A.', said Dr. William Levis, head of the New York Hansen’s Disease Clinic. 'This is a real phenomenon. It's a public health threat. New York is endemic now, and nobody’s noticed.' Tracking leprosy among immigrants can be difficult, but leprosy is already endemic in Texas, and numbers are rising in New York and California -- all states with high immigrant populations. Dr. Levis said he believes America could be on the brink of an epidemic similar to those that swept Brazil and led to the country becoming a global leprosy hot-spot."
Ed Frauenheim _CNET_
California creates higher percentage of new tech jobs as compared to other states: Numbers remain grim
"Research from job search service NimbleCat shows that California's share of new information technology jobs posted on major Internet job boards rose slightly last month, to 24.2% from 24% in January. The state's share of new tech jobs had been falling from a high of more than 28% in November. NimbleCat plans to release the study later this week... no other state accounted for more than 10% of new jobs. Washington, DC, was the metropolitan area with the largest share of new tech jobs in February, according to the report, followed by Long Beach, CA; San Jose, CA; Chicago, IL and Boston, MA... OTOH, a study from job board Dice found that salaries for technology professionals in the United States fell 2.6% in 2004 to an average of $67,800. In addition, more than 175K high-tech workers were laid off last year, according to a report from employment services firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. And the threat that tech work will be sent over-seas remains real."
2005-03-16 06:59PST (09:59EST) (14:59GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
US housing construction starts rise to 21-year high
"Construction of new U.S. houses rose 0.5% in February to a seasonally adjusted 2.195M annualized units, the highest rate in 21 years, the Commerce Department estimated Wednesday."
census bureau reports
2005-03-16 07:29:28PST (10:29:28EST) (15:29:28GMT)
US current accounts at record $187.9G deficit
"The U.S. current account deficit widened by 13% to a record $187.9G in the fourth quarter of 2004, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. The deficit amounted to 6.3% of the nation's gross domestic product, also a record. For all of 2004, the current account deficit grew to a record $665.5G, totaling a record 5.7% of GDP. It's the 8th annual record in the past 9 years."
Maria Lenis _Daily Pennsylvanian_
Experts discuss Socialist Insecurity
"the average life expectancy rose from 63.3 years in 1943 to 77.6 years in 2003."
2005-03-16 13:06PST (16:06EST) (21:06GMT)
Steve Goldstein & Lisa Sanders _MarketWatch_
Petroleum closes at record high price
"Crude oil for April delivery closed at an all-time high Wednesday after the Energy Department and the American Petroleum Institute said U.S. crude inventories rose in the latest week but gasoline and distillate supplies fell more than expected. The April contract settled at $56.46 a barrel, up 2.6%, or $1.41, after trading as high as $56.60. The price decisively eclipsed the record of $55.67 a barrel set in October. According to the U.S. Energy Department, crude supplies rose by 2.6M barrels for the week ended March 11. However, gasoline supplies dropped by 2.9M barrels, and distillate stocks fell by 1.9M barrels."
2005-03-16 13:56PST (16:56EST) (21:56GMT)
Mark Cotton _MarketWatch_
Stocks take a beating
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 112.03 points, or 1%, to 10,633.07. At one stage, the bench-mark index fell as low as 10,612.38... The Nasdaq Composite Index closed out the session at a 7-week low, dropping 19.23 points, or 0.9% at 2,015.75. The S&P 500 fell 9.68 points, or 0.8% at 1,188.07."
2005-03-17 13:54PST (16:54EST) (21:54GMT)
Mark Cotton _MarketWatch_
Stocks cowed by petroleum prices
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 6.72 points at 10,626.35. The Nasdaq Composite Index put in a fractional gain, up 0.67 point at 2,016.42 while the S&P 500 Index edged up 2.14 points to 1,190.21."
Washington Senators Told of Threat that Off-Shore Out-Sourcing Poses
"The prime sponsor of the bill is senator Shin (D-Snohomish) and the number is SCR8407... Members of SPEEA, the union which represents Boeing engineers and technical employees, also testified in favor of the bill and warned that relentless out-sourcing threatens U.S. innovation..."
2005-03-17 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Subri Raman & Tony Sznoluch _DoL ETA_
unemployment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 303,393 in the week ending March 12, a decrease of 24,624 from the previous week. There were 312,067 initial claims in the comparable week in 2004. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.4% during the week ending March 5, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,091,452, a decrease of 134,560 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 2.8% and the volume was 3,551,292."
2005-03-18 07:14PST (10:14EST) (15:14GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
UMich consumer sentiment index fell from 94.1 in February to 92.9 in early March
2005-03-18 11:30PST (14:30EST) (19:30GMT)
Jennifer Waters _MarketWatch_
WM allowed to walk: Pays only $11M for hiring illegal immigrants
"Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will walk away from criminal charges by paying [only] $11M to settle a four-year federal probe into allegations it used illegal immigrants to clean its stores, the company said Friday. [None of the board members or top executives will serve time in federal prison, in contrast to what would happen to a bank robber who stole as little as $200.]... 12 contractors have admitted guilt to the immigration charges and agreed to pay [a total of] $4M... all executives involved are still with the company."
2005-03-18 14:09PST (17;09EST) (22:09GMT)
Mark Cotton _MarketWatch_
Stocks end mixed: Nasdaq at low for 2005
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 3.32 points at 10,629.67. At one stage, the bench-mark index fell below 10,600 for the first time in 6 weeks. For the week, the Dow was down 1.3%. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 8.63 points at 2,007.79, notching up 1.65% loss on the week. The tech-rich index briefly dipped below 2,000 for the first time in more than four months. The S&P 500 Index put in a fractional loss, down 0.56 point at 1,189.65. The broad gauge ended 0.9% lower on the week. 'Oil is still hovering above $55 and the 10-year bond yield is back to 4.5%, so that's not a reason for cheer.', said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak."
Patrick Thibodeau _Computer World_
H-1B fraud investigations expected to increase as higher application fees provide more money for probes
"the number of investigations into H-1B abuses is relatively small. According to Labor Department figures, officials at the agency conducted 49 investigations into alleged H-1B abuses from the beginning of the government's current fiscal year in  October through  January 31. In comparison, there were 142 [investigations during FY2003 and] 118 investigations during [FY 2004]... Investigations are typically triggered by complaints from H-1B holders. But the government can also conduct random audits or launch investigations based on information from third-party sources. A typical remedy involves repayment of back wages. For example, more than $2M was paid to workers in fiscal 2003."
Pender M. McCarter _IEEE-USA_/_Eurekalert_
USCIS approval of unauthorized visas cuts US jobs
"IEEE-USA 'is extremely discouraged to learn that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has accepted and approved more than 75K H-1B visa petitions for Fiscal Year 2005 even though they were capped at 65K.', said IEEE-USA Career Activities Vice President Ron Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester, NY, Institute of Technology. The IEEE-USA Vice President stressed: 'We're not sure just how or why this excess in authorized visas occurred. But this certainly isn't the first time that the Federal agency charged with responsibility for administering the nation's immigrant and non-immigrant admissions programs has failed to enforce a very plain and straightforward law. How hard can it be to count to 65K and stop issuing visas?... By increasing the number of visas issued, the USCIS has unilaterally reduced job opportunities for American workers at a critical time, when the job market is still very soft.'..."
|"It is well established that criminal activity peaks between the ages of 14 & 24; after that it declines sharply. Aging is the best crime reduction policy we know of." --- Samuel Walker 1994 _Sense & NonSense about Crime & Drugs_ pg 207|
|"Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make & enforce it." --- Sophocles (quoted in Laurence H. Tribe 1985 _God Save This Honorable Court_ pg 7)|
Nancy Flake _Houston Courier_
Background checks in question after teacher arrested
"The Conroe Independent School District teacher arrested March 15 for aggravated sexual assault of a child was one of 21 Mexican nationals working for the district under an accelerated certification process. [The] first-grade teacher was recruited in 2000 November at a job fair in Monterrey, Mexico, through the state's [Texas's] Region 4 Education Service Center. He came to the United States on an H-1B visa, according to CISD officials, and was hired by the district in 2003 August to work as a bilingual teacher at Grangerland Intermediate... [The teacher] underwent what district officials say was a comprehensive and complete background check performed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS] before being issued a visa, there are those who question whether the background check can be truly thorough. 'Mexico is corrupt in itself.', said one CISD teacher, who told _The Courier_ that [the accused] was recruited from Mexico to teach... 'Background checks are done by the Immigration and Naturalization Service prior to issuing the visas.', she said. 'CISD officials are confident that the background checks done on the teaching recruits from Mexico are comprehensive and complete.' The checks are 'very thorough', said Luisa Deason, with U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (formerly Immigration and Naturalization Services). 'They go through every state and federal agency. We want to make sure that person is not a criminal.'"
2005-03-21 08:31PST (11:31EST) (16:31GMT)
_WYFF 4 the Caroline Channel_
SEC OKs $300M Warner Time Settlement
Genard C. Armas _San Francisco Chronicle_
Numbers of Illegal Immigrants into the USA Surge
"The nation's [illegal] immigrant population surged to 10.3M last year, spurred largely since 2000 by the arrivals of unauthorized Mexicans in the United States, a report being released Monday says... increased by about 23% from 8.4M in the 4-year period ending last March, according to the analysis of government data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a private research group. That equates to a net increase of roughly 485K per year between 2000 and 2004... Assuming the flow of undocumented immigrants into the country hasn't abated since 2004 March, the population is likely near 11M now... Mexicans by far remain the largest group of [illegal] migrants at 5.9M, or about 57% of the March 2004 estimate. Some 2.5M others, or 24%, are from other Latin American countries. Overall, the U.S. foreign-born population, regardless of legal status, was 35.7M last year. Those of Mexican descent again comprised the largest group — more than 11M, or 32%... In 1990, 88% of the undocumented population lived in 6 states — California, NY, TX, IL, FL and NJ. By 2004, those states accounted for 61% of the nation's undocumented population. The top state is California, where nearly one-quarter of the undocumented reside, followed by TX (14%) and FL (9%). Next on the list were NY (7%), AZ (5%), IL (4%), NJ (4%), and NC (3%)."
_AP_/_WQAD 8 Moline_
Ag projections call for a year that is closer to normal
Lincoln Journal Star
"U.S. farmers and ranchers may not see a repeat of 2004's record-setting year for crop yield and live-stock demand. The Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute says the U.S. beef herd has started rebuilding after 8 years of decline... The institute says net farm income is projected to drop sharply to $59G this year from last year's $74G."
2005-03-21 07:32PST (10:32EST) (15:32GMT)
Ramolta Talwar Badam _Business Week_/AP_
Some groups are critical of India on new, tighter patent laws
"India's government on Friday introduced legislation that would tighten patent laws to bring them in line with World Trade Organization rules... India's pharmaceutical industry is worth $5G (3.7G euros) annually and the country is among several, including Brazil & Thailand, that make cheap generic drugs... India's pharmaceutical industry employs tens of thousands of people and manufactures and sells druts at 7% to 10% [of] the cost in the West... the proposed law will boost drug prices... the new bill will attract foreign investment and encourage multi-national companies to out-source research work to India."
New Labor Certification Program Expected to Stream-Line Application Process
PR News Wire
"On March 28th, the 'Program Electronic Review Management' (PERM) regulations from the Department of Labor will replace all current labor certification procedures, and represent the sole process for securing labor certifications... A major change in the process involves the elimination of the State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) from the basic procedure. Currently, labor certifications are filed with the SWAs and they supervise the recruiting process. 'Under the PERM program, SWAs will be extremely limited.', said Healy. 'They will make the prevailing wage determination that established minimum compensation, and process job orders as part of the mandatory recruiting process. That's about it.'... No changes will occur to labor certification for college and university professors -- neither do the new certification rules affect foreign nationals who play professional sports. Employers seeking blanket certification of nurses must make sure they have passed the proper examinations and have appropriate licenses... 'Recruiting foreign nationals when no real vacancy exists opens the employer up to discrimination claims, and charges that it is running a false recruitment campaign.'"
2005-03-21 10:38PST (13:38EST) (18:38GMT)
Reuters' US Employees "Work to Rules": Journalists launch by-line strike to protest Reuters' demands
"U.S. journalists of Reuters Group Plc launched a four-day byline strike on Monday, and all employees are 'working to rule', to protest demands for economic concessions and the offshoring of jobs by executives who enriched themselves at workers' expense, the Newspaper Guild of New York announced. The job actions by the Guild members at the London-based news and information company's Reuters America LLC subsidiary -- withholding by-lines and credits from their work and giving no more to their jobs than what is required -- follows the recent disclosure of a bonus bonanza for Reuters top executives as company revenues fell... The company's 2004 annual report showed CEO Tom Glocer's compensation up for each of the past 3 years that revenues have fallen, this time to $10.5M, including stock and options. The $4.5M cash portion of this package rose about 22% from 2003. Two other top executives got raises of 11% and 12.6%. Employees, meanwhile, have seen nothing but cuts... 3K job cuts and lower benefits for many surviving non-union employees... U.S. managers are demanding that Guild-represented employees accept meager raises, higher health care costs and lower retirement benefits that would leave them with a net loss in total compensation... The Guild, Local 31003 of the Communications Workers of America, represents more than 450 print, television and still picture journalists, technicians and other employees at Reuters America LLC."
2005-03-21 14:23PST (17:23EST) (22:23GMT)
Susan Lerner _MarketWatch_
Dow fell to February 1 low
"U.S. stocks closed broadly lower Monday as concerns about record-high oil prices and heightened inflation fears ahead of the next Federal Reserve meeting dampened enthusiasm after a flurry of multi-billion-dollar deals."
Wayne E. Baughman _Pittsburgh Daily Courier_
Illegal aliens set loose
"The release of 15 illegal aliens without any investigation after the state police detained them on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Somerset County -- because federal immigration officials didn't want to go out in bad weather -- is outrageous, disgusting and unacceptable."
William Boston _Christian Science Monitor_
Why Germany can't create jobs
" In a sputtering economy, Niles Werke shows how to get the German locomotive running again. The century-old machine-tool company is at the top of its field. Sales are expected to rise by 10% this year... Defying a lagging economy, Germany's flagship engineering sector is booming. But despite plants that hum at capacity, companies like Niles aren't hiring... When Chancellor Gerhard Schröder took office in 1998, 3.9M Germans - 10.2% of the work-force - couldn't find jobs. Last month, that number reached 5.2M - 12.6%... the German government last week held a 'jobs summit' with opposition leaders. It emerged with a plan to slash the corporate tax rate to 19%, from 25%. And it pledged relief for mid-sized companies and increased public investment in infrastructure and education."
Irwin Kellner _MarketWatch_
Inflation is a monetary phenomenon
"Because inflation is a monetary phenomenon and the Fed is the institution that creates our money supply. To be sure, prices of individual goods or services can and do rise from time to time. That's what happens in a free-market economy such as ours where supply and demand determine prices -- as opposed to the government. But without an excess supply of money in the economy, there can't be the generalized rise in prices we call inflation. Some prices would have to fall if others are to rise, since there would not be enough money in circulation to validate the higher dollar level of these transactions. This is true no matter how important the commodity -- even oil. It also applies to services such as the cost of labor."
2005-03-22 06:38PST (09:38EST) (14:38GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
PPI up 0.4%: Core PPI up 0.1% as expected
"Excluding big increases in food and energy prices, the core PPI increased a more moderate 0.1%, the agency said... The PPI had increased 0.3% in January, with the core PPI shooting up 0.8%, the largest increase in six years. As a result, prices of goods ready for retail sales have climbed 4.7% in the past 12 months. The core PPI is up 2.8% in the past year, the fastest gain in more than 9 years... Prices of intermediate goods destined for further processing increased 0.7%. The intermediate core PPI climbed 0.5% in February and is now up 8.1% in the past year, down from a 24-year high 8.5% gain last month... Prices of crude materials fell 1.6% in February. Prices of basic industrial materials fell 3%, including a 12% drop in iron and steel scrap prices. Crude food-stuffs prices dropped 3.2%. Meanwhile, crude energy prices increased just 0.2%, despite the 3.3% rise in crude petroleum prices... Intense competition, especially in labor markets, has kept inflation moderate. In February, energy prices increased 1.4%, including a 5.2% rise in gasoline. Consumer food prices increased 0.8%, including the largest rise in egg prices in four years. Finished capital equipment prices fell 0.2%. Prices of consumer durables fell 0.5%. Light motor truck prices.fell 2.8%, the largest drop in 2 years. Passenger car prices dipped [only] 0.9%."
_Federal Reserve Board Open Market Committee_
FOMC raised federal funds rate again by 25 basis points to 2.75%
"labor market conditions continue to improve gradually. Though longer-term inflation expectations remain well contained, pressures on inflation have picked up in recent months and pricing power is more evident. The rise in energy prices, however, has not [yet] notably fed through to core consumer prices... the Board of Governors unanimously approved a 25-basis-point increase in the discount rate to 3.75%."
2005-03-22 12:44PST (15:44EST) (20:44GMT)
Greg Robb _MarketWatch_
Fed hiked rates, worries about inflation: FOMC says inflation pressures have picked up
"While higher energy prices could lead to higher inflation, they could also act as a drag on the economy... The vote of the 12-member FOMC to tighten policy and change the wording of the statement was unanimous... Since the modern era of the Fed began in the late 1980s, the FOMC had never before raised rates at seven straight meetings. In a related action, the Fed policy-makers voted to increase the discount rate to 3.75% from 3.5%. The FOMC has now raised rates by 175 basis points, which matches the total tightening in the last cycle from 1999 June to 2000 May. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point. The Fed raised rates by a total of 300 basis points in 1994-1995. Economists are growing concerned that inflation is creeping higher. The February PPI data showed that core inflation is up 2.8% in the past year, the fastest gain in more than 9 years."
Roma Luciw _Globe & Mail_
Young Americans turned off by corruption
"The number of young Americans who are self-employed is at a 17-year high, as a string of corporate scandals leads to 'growing anti-corporate sentiment', according to a study released Tuesday... There is a perception among a 'growing number of people' that 'companies in the private sector are putting profits before people and before ethics.', said CEO John Challenger... The average number of self-employed workers between the ages of 24 and 34 reached 1.5M last year, up 6% from a low of 1.4M in 2001, according to unpublished data from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics. Another 310K 20-to-24-year-olds were self-employed in 2004, the highest annual average since 1987, Challenger said... The Securities Exchange Commission had 2,929 investigations pending against individuals and companies at the end of the 2003, the latest year for which data are available, Challenger said. Of that total, 910 were new cases opened that year. By comparison, the SEC had just 1,966 pending cases in 1999, 520 of which were opened that year."
2005-03-23 07:51PST (10:51EST) (15:51GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
CPI up 0.4% in February: Core up 0.3%
"Excluding food and energy prices, the core rate of inflation increased 0.3% in February... The CPI is up 3% in the past year, while the core rate has risen 2.4%, the biggest gain since 2002 August. The core rate had risen 0.2% for 4 months in a row before February... the National Association of Realtors said existing home sales remained healthy in February at a 6.79M annual rate... With the inflation rate at 0.4% and hourly pay and average work-week both unchanged, real weekly earnings fell 0.4% in February, the Labor Department said in a separate release. Real earnings (adjusted for inflation) have fallen 0.8% in the past year... Commodity prices increased 0.4%, while services prices increased 0.3%. Energy prices rose 2% in February, as gasoline prices increased 3.2%. Natural gas prices climbed 2.5% and fuel oil prices increased 2.4%. Energy prices had fallen the 2 previous months, but are now up 10.4% in the past 12 months. Food prices rose a moderate 0.1% in February. Housing costs, which represent 40% of the CPI, increased 0.4%, the most since 2003 March. A 1.1% increase in lodging away from home led the increase, likely a seasonal quirk due to the relatively late Super Bowl. Costs for home-ownership and renting a home each increased 0.2%. Medical care prices rose 0.6%, with 0.7% increases in hospital services and physician services. Transportation costs increased 0.8%, largely the result of higher energy costs. Air fares gained 1.5%, the most since 2003 July. Prices of new vehicles increased 0.1%. Apparel and recreation prices each declined 0.2%."
jgo's CPI track
2005-03-23 07:58PST (10:58EST) (15:58GMT)
Jay Solomon & Kathryn Kranhold _Wall Street Journal_/_Arizona Republic_
GE played starring role in India's off-shoring boom
"In 1989 September, Jack Welch, then General Electric company's chairman, flew to India for a sales call. He hoped to sell products like airplane engines and plastics to the Indian government. But during a breakfast meeting with top government advisers, it was Mr. Welch who got pitched. 'We want to sell you software.', Sam Pitroda, chief technology adviser to the late Indian Premier Rajiv Gandhi, told a surprised Mr. Welch. Mr. Pitroda explained that India needed business for its emerging high-tech sector... GE's technology partnership with India came amid the country's economic opening, which began in 1991 when New Delhi began systematically dismantling tariff and export controls. Indian executives say early investments by GE in India gave their technology and business service sectors crucial credibility and cash when other companies still viewed the country as a risky backwater. Moreover, exposure to Welch's culture of cost-cutting and efficiency taught them business skills they are now using to compete globally, often against U.S. firms... Shipping white-collar jobs over-seas has proven controversial in the U.S. Demoralized American workers have had to train their foreign replacements... In 2000, it inaugurated a Jack F. Welch Technology Center in Bangalore that employs thousands of researchers working on everything from new refrigerators to jet engines. This year, the conglomerate plans to spend about $600M on computer-software development from Indian companies... In November, it sold a controlling interest in GE Capital International Services, or Gecis, a company with about 17K employees that GE started in 1997 to answer mail from its credit-card customers. With the $500M sale of the Indian unit to private investors, Gecis will go after business from other corporations... Helped by the out-sourcing boom, India's economy is on track to grow 7% for the year ending this month. Services now make up roughly half of India's total economic growth, and revenue from India's technology sector is expected to exceed $28G during the current fiscal year, according to NASSCOM, a trade organization representing India's high-tech sector... GE Medical System's former Asia chief, Chuck Pieper, was among the first to arrive in 1989, seeking an Indian partner to help develop a low-cost ultrasound machine. Because India was still a closed economy protected by steep tariffs and red tape, GE needed a domestic partner to sell its instruments there... GE's industrial-equipment sales into India didn't take off as anticipated... GE's Mr. Pieper quickly set aside $5M annually to hire Wipro to write more software code for GE ultrasound machines and computer tomography, or CT, scanners... 'GE was very brutal.', says [Ramesh] Emani, who now heads a Wipro unit developing software for cars and cellular phones... GE contracts helped underwrite the growth of India's technology sector, Indian executives say. GE accounted for about 50% of revenue from Wipro's software unit, Wipro Systems Ltd., at its peak during the 1990s."
Ed Frauenheim _TechRepublic_
HP accused of covering up labor violations
Tech News World
"Hewlett-Packard wrongly denied benefits to workers by misclassifying them as 'contractors', deliberately destroyed evidence of the problem and retaliated against a whistle-blower trying to rectify the situation, according to two law-suits. One of the suits, brought by HP employee MM, claims company managers were directed to shred their notes after a 2003 October meeting in which it became apparent that HP was violating the law... The suits against HP come amid a wave of litigation related to work conditions in the technology industry, mostly focused on over-time pay in the computer game field. One of the HP suits is more akin to a lawsuit against M$ in 1990s brought by workers who were given labels such as 'temporary' employees, 'free-lancers' and 'independent contractors'."
2005-03-24 02:00PST (05:00EST) (10:00GMT)
Jason Walsh _Wired_
German Workers Wages Being Bid Downward
"JobDumping.de is like no other career portal. Employers still list jobs, but prospective workers log on and bid -- downward... Would-be workers engage in a race to the bottom, continually lowering the ante to get the job. Opinion is divided as to whether this is naked capitalist exploitation or just the free market at work... Across Europe, workers enjoy shorter working weeks and longer holidays than their North American counterparts -- indeed, the French parliament has voted to overturn legislation that guarantees a 35-hour maximum work-week. Loew's theory is that if everyone in Germany earned a little less money, productivity would increase, goods would become cheaper, money would be worth more and the economy would thus improve... Unions have told prospective bidders not to accept less than 5 euros per hour (about $6.60) for work obtained through the site. Unlike European counterparts such as Great Britain, Germany does not have a minimum-wage law... The official unemployment statistics show 5.2M people out of work, but economists estimate that the 'hidden unemployed' raise that figure to 8.5M -- a tenth of the German population."
2005-03-24 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Subri Raman & Tony Sznoluch _DoL ETA_
unemployment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 288,962 in the week ending March 19, a decrease of 17,826 from the previous week. There were 304,462 initial claims in the comparable week in 2004. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.4% during the week ending March 12, unchanged from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 3,095,669, an increase of 9,891 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 2.8% and the volume was 3,513,900."
2005-03-24 08:17PST (11:17EST) (16:17GMT)
Rex Nutting _MarketWatch_
new home sales strong, inventory rising: durable goods order up, shipments down
"Sales of new homes jumped about 9.4% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.226M, the Commerce Department estimated Thursday. The sales rate is the second highest, matching December's pace and just below October's record 1.304M. It was the largest percentage increase in 4 years... The supply of new homes on the market rose to a record 444K, representing a 4.4-month supply at the February sales pace. In January, the inventory had spiked to a 4.6-month supply... the Commerce Department said new orders for durable goods increased 0.3% in February, while shipments of durables fell at the fastest rate in 18 months... The median [home] sales price rose by 5.1% year-over-year to $230,700 in February. The average sales price rose 9.2% to $288,400."
census bureau report
2005-03-24 10:57PST (13:57EST) (18:57GMT)
Explosion at BP refinery in Texas City but production continues
"News of the explosion shot through the energy market Wednesday afternoon, pushing April gasoline futures to a record $1.608 a gallon in after-hours trade on fears the refinery's gasoline production might be severely cut. April gasoline last stood at $1.56 a gallon, down 1.49 cents. 14 people died as a result of the explosion and about 70 were injured, BP spokesman Hugh Depland said... The explosion rocked BP's (BP: news, chart, profile) isomerization unit, which makes high-octane components for gasoline. Isomerization units are typically located down-stream from fluid catalytic crackers in the refining process. Depland said the unit wasn't producing at the time of the explosion and he did not know when it would be running again... The refinery is the third largest in the U.S. and the largest in the BP system with about 450K barrels of capacity. The Texas City refinery produces 3% of the nation's motor gasoline... Some 1,800 people work at the 71-year-old plant, which British energy giant BP acquired when it bought U.S. oil company Amoco in 1999."
Philadelphia Inquirer: The Cost of Illegal Immigrants
Fort Wayne News-Sentinel
Cincinnati Post Times Star
"The number of illegal immigrants in the US has reached 11M, most of them coming from Mexico, according to a report released Monday by the Pew Hispanic Center... About 6M illegals in the United States are Mexican. Not all of them stay close to the border... a sixth of the illegal immigrants in this country are under age 18. Local schools and health-care systems can expect to see many of these children, as well as their estimated 3M sisters and brothers who were born in this country and are U.S. citizens... The number of Mexican-born U.S. residents has grown from 760K to more than 11M since 1970. Each year, 500K Mexicans move to the United States, about 80% of them illegally."
2005-03-24 14:44PST (17:44EST) (22:44GMT)
Susan Lerner _MarketWatch_
Stocks fall flat as rally fades
"The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which had climbed as high as 10,518 during the day, finished the session down 13.15 points, or 0.1%, at 10,442.87. For the week, the blue-chip gauge lost 1.8%. The Nasdaq Composite Index clung to a 0.84 point gain, closing at 1,991.06, falling back from its session high of 2,008. The Nasdaq fell 0.8% on the week. The S&P 500 Index slipped 1.11 points, or 0.1%, to close at 1,171.42, down 1.3% on the week. Advancers led decliners 20 to 13 on the New York Stock Exchange and eight to seven on the Nasdaq. Big Board volume was about 1.35G shares, while some 1.68G shares traded on the Nasdaq. U.S. and European markets will be closed Friday in observance of the Good Friday holiday."
Norm Matloff _H-1B/ L-1/ Off-Shoring News-Letter_
monster.com article on CS enrollment slump
I've commented before on these issues.
The comment below, "Yippee!", is accurate and understandable. We CS faculty are indeed happy that class sizes are now down to manageable levels. And the desire to teach students who are genuinely interested in computers, rather than those just in it for the money, is also understandable (though the assumption that the remaining students are from the "pure" group is debatable). But the enrollment drop threatens to unravel the entire empire many of these CS departments have built: You can't get permission to hire more faculty without a strong under-graduate base; lack of an undergraduate base eventually means lack of a pipe-line for graduate students, especially if foreign student enrollment keeps dropping, as it has; and lack of graduate students means -- quelle horreur! -- lack of federal funds. After years of supporting the industry's globalist agenda, the chickens are coming home to roost.
2005-03-22: Allan Hoffman: Monster: Enrollments in CS Decline
"'Most faculty would say, ''Yippee!'', says Maria Klawe, dean of engineering and applied science at Princeton University and president of the ACM, a leading professional organization for computing. Computer science departments were stretched thin by many IT wannabes who, according to their teachers, were drawn to the industry for the glitz of dotcoms and the potential for stock-option riches. They were not necessarily interested in computing as a profession, Klawe notes, adding, 'Those students are being filtered out.'... At Big Ten universities, such as Ohio State, the drop-off ranges from 10% to 30%, Zweben says. Princeton's Klawe says the decrease in computer science majors across institutions 'seems to be roughly about 20%'... At New Jersey Institute of Technology, enrollments in computer science have declined but numbers have gone 'way up' among the information technology majors, according to Stephen Seidman, dean of the College of Computing Sciences. The IT programs offer concentrations in fields such as e-commerce, multi-media and network security... Explore what working in the field will be like by speaking to employers, IT workers and faculty, even if this means delaying a decision on majors. Computer science may not be for everyone... Avoid focusing on technical classes to the exclusion of other disciplines, says Klawe."
Candace Goforth _Akron Beacon Journal_/_Arizona Republic_
Accentuate the positive: Productivity gets boost from praise, pay, benefits
"researchers say negativity actually costs the U.S. economy about $300G a year... Tom Rath, global practice leader for strengths-based development for the Gallup Organization and co-author of _How Full is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life_. Rath wrote the book with his grand-father, Donald O. Clifton... Everyone has an invisible bucket that is either filled or emptied with each interaction with another person (positive exchanges add to the bucket, negative exchanges take from it). When our buckets are full, we feel cheerful and spread our positive energy to others. When our buckets are empty, we are gloomy and send our negative vibe out to the world. In the business world, that translates to hampered productivity... when managers focused on employees' strengths, 61% of the employees were engaged in the work and only 1% were actively disengaged: complaining about their jobs, sniping at their co-workers and bad-mouthing the company. When managers focused on employees' weaknesses, only 45% of the employees were engaged and 22% were actively disengaged... [To stay even, it requires] 3 positive interactions for every 1 negative... Praise can be over-done, Rath said. Just as researchers have identified the ideal balance of positive and negative interactions for productivity, they have quantified exactly how many back slaps are too many. 'Too much positive is not grounded in reality, it's not sincere or deserved.', Rath said."
Mike Buetow _Circuits Assembly_
Howard Stringer, Sony's new CEO could increase out-sourcing
" Sony Corp.'s new chief executive is expected to launch a major push toward out-sourcing electronics manufacturing to Tier 1 providers, a group of analysts say. The Japanese electronics giant already out-sources production of cell phones (to Flextronics), PS2 video game consoles (to Hon Hai) and laptop PCs (Asustek Computer). However, the company is performs most of its own manufacturing -- and even produces its own screen printers, placement machines and AOI."
Orson Scott Card _Real Clear Politics_
Whose life is worth living?
|"Even if [Socialist Insecurity] taxes had been saved & credited with interest, they would not cover the benefits of typical retirees. Workers with average wages retiring in 1980 would have recovered their entire contribution (employee taxes, employer taxes, plus interest) in about 3 years. By 1993, the hypothetical recovery period had jumped substantially to about 11 years, which is just over 1/2 the life expectancy (19 years) of someone at age 65." --- Robert J. Samuelson 1995 _The Good Life & Its Discontents_ pg 13 footnote|
Roque Glenn Omanio _Kansas City InfoZine_
Filipinos Fill Demand for Special Education Teachers in US Schools While Many with US Teaching Credentials Remain Unemployed, Under-Employed & Under-Compensated
Knoxville Studio/Scripps Howard
"Malibiran, who is 57 and holds a doctorate in educational psychology, is applying what she calls universal skills. She's no longer teaching at a university in Manila, Philippines. She is one of 30 Filipinos hired last year by the Prince George's County Public Schools to teach special education. Malibiran is among more than 10K foreign teachers recruited annually to fill the gaping demand for teachers in the United States in crucial subjects such as special education, math and science. With baby-boomer teachers retiring and low salaries by U.S. standards, the shortage -- estimated at 50K a year by the Department of Education -- has become an alarming trend. The National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union, said the country will need 2.4M new teachers over the next decade."
Joe Napsha _Pittsburgh Tribune-Review_
Do guest-worker visas fill a void or aggravate a glut
"It is a long way from the foothills of the Himalayas to the foot-hills of the Allegheny Mountains, but James Bikram Dhoj Joshi made it, thanks to an H-1B visa that has allowed him to work in his profession as a computer science teacher at the University of Pittsburgh. Joshi, an assistant professor in the department of information science and telecommunications at Pitt, is one of more than 540 staff and faculty who are working at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center while holding H-1B visas, according to David B. Clubb, director of the Office of International Services at Pitt... Universities are among the non-profit institutions exempt from the 65K-visa cap placed on the number of skilled professional workers permitted to enter the United States during the fiscal year 2005, which began in October. The International Services office at Pitt processes approximately 250 visas each year for both new employees and to extend the stay of existing foreign workers, Clubb said. 'Of the petitions that we file, 99.999% are approved.', Clubb said. Congress' decision after the November election to create 20K exemptions to the cap on visas for skilled foreign workers this fiscal year has reopened the controversy over whether those workers are filling a demand that can't be met by the domestic wok force, or are taking jobs away from American workers... Nearly 40% of the 217,340 visa petitions approved in 2003 were for workers in computer science, while almost 13% were granted to workers in the engineering and architectural fields, according to Immigration Services. Almost 37% of the workers receiving the visas in 2003 were from India, with [Red China] following at 9.6%."
Melissa Klein _Westchester Journal News_
Med center losing ER doctors
"Most of the emergency room doctors at Westchester Medical Center are leaving rather than taking jobs with the company that will be running the department beginning Friday. The impending departure of about nine doctors marks another shift in a major department as the medical center wades through a fiscal crisis. The cardiac surgery department saw 2 doctors arrive earlier this year, but 3 left, prompting what is expected to be a temporary decline in patients in a money-making area. Also, 2 neuro-surgeons will be leaving in May, potentially creating a gap in a profit center for the hospital if their positions are not filled quickly... some 800 doctors on staff -- with 350 who could be considered very active -- and it was the normal course of business that some would leave... The hospital has signed a three-year contract with Emergency Medical Associates or EMA, of Livingston, NJ, to provide doctors and other staff in the emergency department. The contract costs $1.2M annually, a savings of $1.2M over what was paid to the previous group of emergency department doctors. That savings is counted as part of the hospital's cost-cutting initiatives in the 2005 budget. All of the dozen or so emergency room doctors were offered jobs with EMA, and 3 of them accepted... 'They were unhappy with the out-sourcing and apparently with the opportunities that were put in front of them.', said Jon Schandler, president of White Plains Hospital."
Rick Rothacker _Charlotte Observer_
Wachovia & Bank of India bring jobs and instability
"One employee who relocated to Charlotte from the NorthEast last Fall was stunned when he was laid off soon after, joining thousands of others dismissed in the merger... While Charlotte's big banks -- Bank of [India, formerly known as Bank of America] and Wachovia Corp. -- added thousands of employees nationwide last year through mergers and new hires, they also were cutting thousands of others to shave costs... But finance and insurance [protection racket] jobs in the region increased 2% in 2004 -- more than double the rate in the United States -- continuing a 15-year climb. Since 1990, finance and insurance [protection racket] jobs in the Charlotte metro area have more than doubled [from 23,300 to 56,200] according to US BLS. Nationally, those jobs increased just 19.8% over the same period... Mecklenburg County paychecks. In 2003, finance and insurance jobs accounted for $3.7G, or more than 16%, of its $22.4G in wages. That compares with just 8% of U.S. wages... Bank of [India] and Wachovia are in the midst of cutting up to 25,300 positions nationwide by 2007, including undisclosed numbers in Charlotte. Both companies are digesting mergers and streamlining as they seek better profits. Bank of [India] employs more than 175,500 companywide, while Wachovia employs about 96K... Since the 1980s, they have gobbled up competitors to become two of the nation's dominant banks, tallying more than $1.5T in assets and more than $800G in deposits combined... Bank of [India] said last April it would eliminate 12,500 positions nationwide over two years in the Fleet merger, and in October announced an additional 4,500 reductions in a restructuring. Wachovia is trimming 4,300 jobs companywide in its November acquisition of SouthTrust and cutting up to 4K more by 2007 in an efficiency initiative... Bank of [India] made $14.1G in 2004, while Wachovia earned $5.2G, both setting records."
Michelle Miron _Kalamazoo Gazette_
Advance Plastics' employees starting over: Some of Schoolcraft company's workers find new jobs while others are still looking
"[She] is among some 100 employees of Advance Plastics Corporation who have lost or will soon lose their jobs when the Schoolcraft plant closes in April... Management at the plant's parent company, Pontiac Coil of Clarkston, announced in mid-February that the operation would be closed this Spring due to the loss of 65% to 70% of its production work from its #1 client, Lear Corporation... It started in 2000 with more than 1,400 jobs lost as 6 area paper mills began to close... [Only] About half of APC's workers have already found new jobs through various employers, Jeff Colbert, APC general manager, said..."
_Westchester Journal News_
India is gaining from US job losses
"The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Forrester Research Inc. of Cambridge, MA, estimate that by 2015 the United States will lose 542K computer jobs to other nations. Those will be among 3.4M service jobs Americans will lose to foreign nations, Forrester predicts. Those jobs will total 6% of the jobs in categories such as computers, management, sales and others and will pay $151.2G in wages, Forrester projects. John McCarthy, the Forrester analyst who wrote the study, said more than 80% of those jobs will go to India, the world's second most populous nation and a rising economic power... India, home to 1.03G people, accounts for 60% of the off-shore white-collar jobs market... Apparel companies have fattened their profits for decades by farming out manufacturing to sweat-shop workers in places like Korea, Singapore and VietNam as well as [Red China]... MH of Edison, NJ, said he worked for AT&T in various information technology jobs for 21 years until his work was out-sourced to a company called Computer Sciences Corporation. That company laid him off in 2003 June, but only after making him train his replacements, a group of workers in India... AT&T honored him in 1999 with a performance award, even flying him to Hawaii to receive the award... IBM Corp., ITT Industries Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., PepsiCo Inc., Kraft Foods Inc. and Wyeth are among companies with a significant presence in the region [north of NYC] that out-source jobs... Indra Nooyi, the president and chief financial officer for PepsiCo, was born in Madras, India. Japanese corporate powers such as Mazda Motor Co. and Sony Corp. have non-Japanese leadership... Umesh Ramakrishnan, vice chairman of Christian & Timbers, an executive search firm in Cleveland, said the first technology jobs to be exported included programming, network analyst and system analyst posts. These jobs would pay an average of $40K to $50K in the United States but less than half that in India, he said. It is now common for higher-level technology jobs that pay up to $200K in the United States to be sent over-seas, he said."
2005-03-27 10:12:12PST (13:12:12EST) (18:12:12GMT)
Tim Simmers _Inside Bay Area_/_San Mateo County Times_
Workers' checks will shrink with pension take-over
"the federal agency that backs corporate pensions [Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.] said it was taking over the retirement plan of 36K United Air-Lines workers. That could cut hundreds of dollars [per month from their retirement benefits]... The [quasi-non-governmental] corporation said United's pension plan was only 30% funded, with just $1.2G in assets to cover $4.1G in promised benefits. The group said it would guarantee $2.1G of the $2.9G short-fall. Workers reacted angrily to the agency's action, and are bracing for 20% to 50% pension cuts. Like most workers at United -- the biggest employer in San Mateo County with nearly 10K employees -- [he] is accustomed to disappointments. In the past 2 years, he and other workers were slammed with dual pay cuts totaling 20% of their salaries. That's a $400 a month 'hit' for [him]... In addition, United is farming out some maintenance work traditionally performed at San Francisco International Airport, just like local technology firms farm out work to India and [Red China]. This so-called out-sourcing, coupled with pension and wage cuts, is stressing out United workers and dragging down the local economy. United workers have seen lay-offs (United used to employ 18K in the Bay Area), constant turn-over and co-workers retiring. The morale is not good... United has missed $363M in pension contributions and has repeatedly said it intends to terminate the program. The Chicago-based airline no longer makes pension contributions to the mechanics... The Pension Benefit Guarany Corp. take-over means United's pension liability stops and workers accrue no more years of service under the plan. An employee with 15 years of service, who expects to work another 10 years, would not accrue that last 10 years in pension payments... The group took over United's pension plan for pilots in December. It's now trustee for the pensions of Bethlehem Steel, U.S. Airways and LTV Steel... He added that United and other companies also took advantage of accounting rules that allowed them to put in less pension money than they should have to ensure the plan's solvency."
_Waterbury Republican American_
ID theft may keep growing as jobs go off-shore
Ross Wehner _Denver Post_
Undermining things globally: Some Colorado companies that out-source are opening subsidiaries off-shore
"Storage Technology Corp. is one of more than 100 Colorado companies that contract software programmers and other technical workers from out-sourcing firms in India, where salaries are a fraction of what they are in the United States. But StorageTek, one of Colorado's premier technology companies, and other local companies are taking the dramatic step of opening full- fledged subsidiaries in India... Quark, the desk-top publishing software-maker, was one of the first Colorado companies to set up operations in India in 1998. Its main software-development center in Chandigarh, India, has 1,400 workers and is growing. Evolving Systems, a telecom software company based in Englewood, has more than 40 workers at its subsidiary in Bangalore, India. Texas-based EDS, which employs 1,400 in Colorado, said last month it would cut up to 15K workers companywide and shift some work to its India subsidiary, founded nearly a decade ago... India's information-technology industry is expected to reach $28G this fiscal year, according to the Nasscom trade organization. India is on track to grow 7% this fiscal year, and the research arm of the Central Intelligence Agency recently predicted that India will be a global super-power by 2020."
Dan Gearino _Sioux City Journal_
"Ed Fallon, D-Des Moines, sees a different kind of welfare -- corporate welfare. He opposes the [Iowa Values Fund] because he sees it as heavy on giveaways for big companies and light on assistance for low-wage workers... Dan Otto, an economics professor at Iowa State University, says the values fund will help high-skill workers get high-wage jobs, but it won't, and can't, do much for low-skill workers. He notes that some of the largest values fund grants have gone to financial services and bio-tech companies. 'I think the economics work against trying to use a fund like this to entice higher-paid manufacturing jobs -- into rural areas. That's not the trend in manufacturing. Those jobs are going to lower-wage countries through out-sourcing.', he said."
2005-03-27 21:01PST (2005-03-28 00:01EST) (05:01GMT)
Andrea Coombes _MarketWatch_
Protection rackets, banks very likely to pass your personal private information around
PR News Wire
The Wise Marketer
"Consumers are increasingly concerned about protecting their personal data, but that's easier said than done at some companies' web sites. Financial services firms, retailers and insurance companies are among the worst when it comes to sharing personal data they glean from online interactions, according to a series of studies by The Customer Respect Group, a consulting firm based in the Boston area. The company analyzes the web sites of companies in a variety of industries, scoring them on a broad range of 90 attributes, from how well the companies respond to customer inquiries to how well they protect customers' information... Terry Golesworthy, president of The Customer Respect Group. 'While more and more people want to go online and conduct business, more and more people are concerned about doing so.'... Among 60 financial services firms, including banks and brokerages, 43% said they share personal data with business partners or third parties, one of the highest averages across various industries, according to a Customer Respect Group study released in March... Retailers were even likelier than financial services firms to share data, with 47 percent proffering consumers' information, according to a Customer Respect Group study of 58 retailers in the fourth quarter of 2004. Insurance companies scored slightly better, with 35 percent sharing personal data with business partners or third parties, according to a report on 34 companies released Monday. But airline and travel companies outshone all of those industries, with just 28 percent sharing data. And among consumer-products companies, the percentage of firms drops to about 17 percent, while just 16 percent of pharmaceutical and healthcare firms share user information with business partners or other companies, according to previous Customer Respect Group studies... Financial services companies averaged 6.7 on the Customer Respect Index [WRT their web interfaces], compared to the overall average of 5.9, based on 595 surveys of web sites last year. Insurers averaged a 6.1 on the index, while travel firms logged 6.8... Progressive was the best-performing insurance company web site, notching a 7.8 on the index, followed by Nationwide Mutual with 7.5; Allstate with 7.4; Liberty Mutual at 7.4; and TIAA-CREF with 7.1. At the other end of the scale, Mercury General's web site logged the lowest score among insurers, with 3.8. Chubb earned a 4.1; USAA got a 4.5; Lincoln National got a 4.7; and Amica Mutual scored 5... E-Loan, with an 8.9; followed by Fleet National Bank, with 8.2; American Express with 8; Lending Tree, a subsidiary of InterActiveCorp with a 7.9; and Comerica, J.P. Morgan Chase, and SunTrust Banks, all with 7.8. The lowest-scoring financial services firms included Morgan Stanley with 4.4; Bear Stearns with 4.9; Ceridian with 4.8; Providian Financial with 5; and MBNA with 5.2."
2005-03-28 13:08PST (16:08EST) (21:08GMT)
Lisa Sanders _MarketWatch_
Crude petroleum ends above $54 per barrel
"May crude closed above $54 a barrel Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange with analysts cautioning that the lead contract could threaten $50 this week. May crude fell 1.4%, or 79 cents, to close at $54.05 a barrel amid expectations that the weekly U.S. supply data would reveal additional increases in crude supplies... Meanwhile, the average national retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded stands at $2.133, up from $2.125 over the weekend, according to the latest AAA Daily Fuel Gauge report. Gasoline prices are up about 20% from a year ago. Also on Nymex, April gasoline fell 1.7%, or 2.65 cents, to close at $1.5727 a gallon. April heating oil declined 0.08 cent to close at $1.5476 a gallon. April natural gas, which expires at Tuesday's close, fell 6.3 cents to close at $6.999 per million British thermal units. May natural gas shed 6.2 cents to close at $7.122."
2005-03-28 14:05PST (17:05EST) (22:05GMT)
Susan Lerner _MarketWatch_
Stocks bounce back
"U.S. stocks ended well off their best levels Monday, but blue chips still managed to snap a four-day losing streak as a decline in crude prices improved investors' appetite for equities... The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 42.78 points, or 0.4%, at 10,485. The Nasdaq Composite Index clung to a 1.46 point gain to finish at 1,992.52 and the S&P 500 rose 2.86 points, or 0.2%, to 1,174.28."
Antonio Planas _Las Vegas Review-Journal_
Clark District recruits teachers in Philippines
"More than 25 residents of the Philippines have committed to teach in the district and are expected to begin working in August. They will work under temporary visas that expire after three years. Recruiters spent a week interviewing about 150 candidates early last month. District officials say 30 more teachers from the island nation could be signed as well... JoAnn Schlekewy, director of licensed personnel in charge of recruiting, said there are about 280 special education openings in the district, the majority of which are specialized positions such as speech pathologist and professional therapist... Schlekewy said the need for math teachers is not as urgent, with 5 openings in the district... It cost the district about $7K to send three recruiters to the Philippines. Substitutes have been filling in at schools without permanent math and special education teachers... Derek Ramage, an official with the Los Angeles Unified School District. 'When you do recruit from the Philippines, you can choose from hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of teachers.' Ramage said his district has recruited about 800 foreign-born teachers since the mid-1980s in countries such as Canada, Spain and Mexico, as well as the Philippines... Hanlon's program helps teachers in the district meet state academic standards. He said that between 35% and 50% of teachers leave the profession within the first 5 years. One constant complaint among teachers has been low salary. In the past, teachers in the district were able to find cheap housing... John Farley, a physics professor and director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education at UNLV, said teachers with a bachelor's degree in Clark County typically start out at a salary of about $27K. He said the district has discussed adjusting the starting pay for high-demand teachers -- such as those in the special education field -- to a level comparable with teachers who have master's degrees. Starting salaries would then be near $38K, Farley said. [I notice that Farley's salary and total compensation are missing from the article...jgo]"
Norm Matloff _UC Davis_/_H-1B/ L-1/ Off-Shoring e-News-Letter_
Visa statutes are riddled with loop-holes... intentionally
"I've pointed out many times that the problem with H-1B is NOT one of enforcement. The law is salted with so many loop-holes that there is no reason for an employer to disobey the law; he can get all the cheap labor he wants, perfectly legally. What we say happening in the article enclosed below is a loop-hole which works for civil service employers: Simply set the wage so low that very few Americans would want the job at that level of pay. Since for government work the wage is the same for all workers, whatever wage they set is -- by definition -- the 'prevailing' wage! So, somehow magically teaching has become another 'job that Americans won't do', according to the immigration lobby. But it ought to be clear to anyone that that's garbage. Districts that pay teachers well have lots of applicants... Before 2001/09/11, one of the 'jobs that Americans wouldn't do' was airport baggage screener. In San Francisco and LA, these jobs were mostly held by Filipino immigrants too. Was it that the jobs had some special appeal in Filipino culture, or that the Filipino psyche was especially well-suited to these jobs? No, absolutely not. The reason for the Filipino dominance in the field was (a) low pay and (b) ethnic network hiring. Concerning the latter, even someone who was willing to take the low pay would find it very difficult to get a job. But after 9/11, Congress enacted a law requiring baggage screeners to be U.S. citizens. Most of the Filipinos had only green cards, having chosen not to naturalize, and in any case, now that the whole job category was professionalized and genuinely open to the public, suddenly there was a deluge of American applicants for these 'jobs that Americans won't do'."
_Rediff_ Drafting patents, the new BPO
"There are already 280 professionals in India doing such work for US-based clients and this will grow 6-fold by the end of the decade."
_Telegraph of Calcutta_
London finance jobs to land in India
"London, March 28: Thousands of high-powered jobs in the financial services sector are set to be outsourced to India from the City of London, the hub of the world s money markets, according to a report published today."
2005-03-28 21:01PST (2005-03-29 00:01EST) (05:01GMT)
Paul Erdman _MarketWatch_
Globalization and the Rise of Asia
"The rise of Asia -- specifically [Red China] and India -- as the major challengers to American global dominance is no longer a matter of 'if' but rather one of 'when'. The purpose of this series of articles is to explore the role of the United States in abetting this explosive rise of economic power in Asia through capital exports and out-sourcing, to compare the potential future roles of China and India in the global market-place of the 21st century, and to assess what this might mean for the American investor who takes a long-term view."
2005-03-29 07:27PST (10:27EST) (15:27GMT)
Greg Robb _MarketWatch_
Conference Board's consumer confidence index fell to 102.4
"The consumer confidence index fell to 102.4 in March from a 104.4 reading in February. The decline was about what had been expected. Economists had been forecasting that the index would inch lower to 103.0 from the earlier estimate of 104.0 [released last month by the Conference Board]... The percentage of respondents who think jobs are plentiful inched higher to 21.3 in March from 21.1 in February."
2005-03-29 11:21PST (14:21EST) (19:21GMT)
William L. Watts _MarketWatch_
Supremes heard arguments in file copying case today
Ann Grimes _Wall Street Journal_
Even Tech Execs Can't Get Their Kids To Become Engineers
"The 54-year-old Mr. Dham would seem to be a prime role model. His engineering degree lifted him from his humble origins in India into a 16-year career at Intel Corp., where he became [infamous] for helping create the Pentium chip. His older son, 22-year-old Ankush, is studying economics, and that's fine with Mr. Dham, who says he couldn't get him interested enough to develop the rigor required for engineering. But ever since his younger son, 19-year-old Rajeev, was a boy, Mr. Dham has been urging him to pursue engineering -- and he, too, is going into economics. Rajeev 'doesn't want to do electrical engineering', the elder Mr. Dham laments. 'He tells me the job will be out-sourced.'... The U.S. now ranks 17th world-wide in the number of under-graduate engineers and natural scientists it produces, they point out; that's down from 1975, when the U.S. was No. 3 (after Japan and Finland). But some of the nation's tech elite -- including many immigrants who benefited greatly from engineering careers -- are finding even their own children shun engineering. One oft-cited reason: concern that dad and his contemporaries will ship such jobs over-seas. Venture capitalist Promod Haque, for example, is in an ironic bind when it comes to advising his own kids. Like many other Silicon Valley financiers, Mr. Haque has recently begun funding tech start-ups in India and urging U.S. tech entrepreneurs to out-source from the start by forming companies that split operations between the U.S. and India... About 120K students start off in engineering in U.S. colleges and universities, but only half ever earn an engineering degree."
Norm Matloff _UC Davis_/_H-1B/ L-1/ Off-Shoring e-News-Letter_
US students are shunning science and engineering degree programs due to lack of employment opportunities
"students are shunning computer science and other engineering area because of off-shoring (unfortunately, they don't mention the H-1B visa, which is just as big a threat to job security). The language used here is almost exactly that used by the ITAA circa 1998. The article even cites one of the industry's favorite PR tools, the A.T. Kearney firm, which can always be counted on to come up with studies supporting the industry's PR agenda. [Their] message is, 'Of course we need to off-shore the jobs, because no one is interested in engineering.' Needless to say, that reason is totally backwards. College kids flocked to engineering in the late 90s when the jobs were there. Now that the jobs aren't there, why shouldn't the kids turn to other fields? It's perfectly rational. Contrary to the impression given by the industry lobbyists here, the U.S. has always had plenty of engineers. The number of engineers per capita in the U.S. is the second-highest in the world (Israel being first). The fact is that the nation has never made full use of its engineers. During the late 90s, the industry claimed a huge labor shortage and yet was engaging in widespread age discrimination. What kid wants to go into engineering after seeing his/her parent laid off and forced to turn to driving a school bus or working as a security guard?"
Steve Ranger _Silicon.com_
Higher-Skilled City Jobs Have Been Heading Off-Shore: HR & Finance
"[Troika's] research suggests that as many as 15K higher-paid jobs will go to off-shore locations such as India over the next 5 years. It calculates that 100K financial services jobs will move abroad in total over the same period... off-shoring models now under discussion involve keeping the call centre in UK to ensure customers are [fooled], while off-shoring expensive back office functions..."
_News Factor Business Process Management_/_Providence Journal_
ID Theft Has Grown as Jobs & Data Have Gone Over-Seas
"Identity theft may already be commonplace at foreign companies now doing the out-sourced work. The FTC estimates that 3.2M Americans are victimized every year... Concerns over the invasion of people's privacy may do more to curb the wave of US jobs going off-shore than all other arguments... About 570K service jobs were outsourced in the last five years, according to a study by Forrester Research. That will grow by another 1.1M during the next five years, and increase again by 1.6M from 2010 to 2015. Overall, 3.4M jobs, and $136G in wages, will be lost over 15 years, the study forecast... Another approach may be to make US companies responsible for protecting the privacy of documents processed by companies they hire over-seas, even if that's where the violations occur."
Brian Monroe _Florida Today_
Local companies take steps to assure clean public image
"Psychologists and human-relations experts say ethical dilemmas are something every company, big or small, has to deal with at some point and be wary of always... Of course, the penalties for a lapse in judgment can be harsh [or mild, as they have been with Andersen/Accenture, Enron & MCI WorldCom and many others]... This issue of ethics and how the decisions of the few can affect many is on the minds of executives at local companies, including Melbourne-based Harris Corp, which employs 6,400 people in Brevard County and 10K companywide [and is likely to be pulled into the whirlwind due to its close relationship with GE, whose questionable off-shoring boosterism has recently come to light]... 'If you are talking the talk and not walking the walk, you are a hypocrite.' Manley said such actions -- similar to what happened in the White House with President Clinton [from the Waco massacre, the Gonzales burglary and kidnapping, to promiscuous sexual activity] -- violate the trust between a chief executive, customers, those on the board and investors... Even when individuals at a company make a bad choice, if the operation is still making quality products and doing good work, business shouldn't suffer too bad, said Freddie Garcia, president and chief executive of Cocoa Beach-based Quantum Technology Services Inc."
Ephraim Schwartz _Info World_
Green-card regulations still weak but continue to encourage abuse of guest-workers and off-shoring
"As of December, filing fees for H-1B visas [were still only] $2,185 per applicant [far less than what would be required to do thorough background checks on prospective immigrants]."
Norm Matloff _Michigan Journal of Law Reform_
The Need for Reform of the H-1b Non-Immigrant Work Visa
Top executives plan longer careers, wait to retire
"More than 60% of global executives say they plan to work later in life than they thought they would 3 years ago, the survey of about 2K mid- to top-level executives showed. Furthermore, 44% of executives plan to work past the age of 64 with 15% planning to continue work beyond 70... The average age of departing chief executives is currently 57.5 years, according to out-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas."
Andrew Bernstein _Capitalism Magazine_
The Essential Conflict: Freedom vs. Dictatorship
2005-03-29 16:37PST (19:37EST) (2005-03-30 00:37GMT)
Rex Crum _MarketWatch_
HP named NCR's Mark Hurd as new CEO
Thomas Stauffer _Arizona Daily Star_
More Convergys jobs moved over-seas
"Last week, Convergys Corp. told 60 workers at its call center at 3760 N. Commerce Drive, who provide technical support for MSFT Windows XP software, that the project would cease May 1... The company said lower-paying jobs would be available for customer support of two other clients. 'Transfer? Hell no, I won't go.', said the 41-year-old Van Dell. 'Those are not even tech jobs. That's just being a phone monkey. Anybody can do that.'... the company had told employees 2 years ago that their jobs would eventually be outsourced to another country. 'There is no downward trend. We don't have any available time.', said Justin Myers, 29. 'We take one call after another after another, all day, every day.'... [Cincinnati-based] Convergys, which at one time had a second Tucson location at 9060 S. Rita Road, has gone from 1,457 employees in 2002 to 'about 600', Brunson said... 'The paper-work they gave us said that if we don't apply for FedEx or Chrysler, that we're voluntarily terminating ourselves May 1, and we get no severance, can't go on unemployment, and can't even get re-training from the county's One Stop Center.', she said.... Convergys' maneuver to re-classify workers when it purchased Keane Inc. in 2001 February. 'They changed our titles from technical support to customer support right after they took over just so they could offer us another position and say it was just a transfer, that it was lateral.', said Iman, 45. 'We do technical support, not customer support.'"
WikiPedia: Convergys is a privacy-violation firm derived from the Cincinnati Bell local government-enforced monopoly and its privacy-violation arm, Cincinnati Bell Information Systems, together with MATRIXX/AT&T Solutions Customer Care/AT&T Transtech, DigitalThink, Intervoice, Datacom call center operations, Stream Global Services; with subsidiary operations including Infinys Rating and Billing (IRB), Dynamic Decisioning Solution (DDS), ICOMS, Customer Management Solutions
Sandra Day O'Connor
Smith v. City of Jackson (03-1160) 544 U.S. 228 (2005) 351 F.3d 183, affirmed.
Timothy Aeppel _Wall Street Journal_
Rising Fuel Prices, Job Worries Hurt Consumer Outlook
"The Conference Board, a business-research group in New York, said its monthly index of consumer confidence fell to a reading of 102.4 from an upwardly revised 104.4 in February... The survey found 21.3% of consumers said jobs were 'plentiful', up from a revised 21.1% in February, while 23.8% said jobs were 'hard to get', up from 22.4%. The number of those expecting more jobs to become available in coming months was unchanged at 15.1%, but those expecting fewer jobs fell to 15.8% from 16.5%. The proportion of consumers who expect their incomes to improve in the months ahead slid to 16.7% from 18.7% in February."
2005-03-30 20:03PST (2005-03-30 23:03EST) (2005-03-31 04:03GMT)
Hope Yen _AP_/_NY SAAAC_
Supreme court expanded age discrimination protections to roughly half of the US labor force even when employer did not intend to harm
"The Supreme Court expanded job protections for roughly half the nation's work force Wednesday, ruling that federal law allows people 40 and over to file age bias claims over salary and hiring even if employers never intended any harm. The decision eases the legal threshold for about 75M middle-aged and older people to contend in court that a policy has a disproportionately hurtful effect on them."
Glenn Beck mentioned on his program this morning that RFID conspirators have turned loose a set of alternate names and acronyms for RFID, including CIC and "Digital Angel", in an attempt to fool people and drop below the radar screen of critics.
2005-03-31 05:30PST (08:30EST) (13:30GMT)
Subri Raman & Tony Sznoluch _DoL ETA_
unemployment insurance weekly claims report
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 290,073 in the week ending March 26, a decrease of 380 from the previous week. There were 296,776 initial claims in the comparable week in 2004. The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.3% during the week ending March 19, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week. The advance unadjusted number for persons claiming UI benefits in state programs totaled 2,926,383, a decrease of 164,357 from the preceding week. A year earlier, the rate was 2.7% and the volume was 3,385,174... The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending March 12 were in Alaska (6.1%), Michigan (4.3%), Pennsylvania (4.2%), Puerto Rico (4.2%), New Jersey (3.6%), Wisconsin (3.6%), Massachusetts (3.5%), Rhode Island (3.5%), Idaho (3.2%), Illinois (3.2%), and Oregon (3.2%)."
Martin Crutsinger _AP_/_Yahoo!_
Americans' Incomes Rose 0.3% in February: Spending up 0.5%
"Americans' incomes, bolstered by strong gains in hiring, rose by 0.3% in February while consumer spending climbed at an even faster pace of 0.5%, the government reported Thursday."
Paul McDougall _Information Week_
Gartner says 30% of IT jobs in developed countries will be off-shored by 2015
"less than 5% of IT jobs in the United States and other developed countries are currently off-shored... observers see a similar shift occurring but believe the process will take longer. Cindy Shaw, an analyst at Moors & Cabot, says she also believes 30% of IT jobs will ultimately move off-shore, 'but it's going to take 20 to 25 years, not 10.', she says. Last year, Forrester Research analyst John McCarthy said 3.4M U.S. services jobs -- including a number of IT-related positions -- would move off-shore by 2015. According to the Information Technology Association of America, there are about 10.4M IT professionals employed in the United States. The rush to send IT work off-shore also will result in an out-flow of dollars from the United States and other Western countries over the next five years, Gartner says in the report. Worldwide spending on off-shore research and development and engineering will increase by a whopping 860%, from $1.25G in 2004 to as much as $12G in 2010, Gartner predicts. Off-shore spending on infrastructure out-sourcing will grow from between $100M and $250M to between $3G and $4G over the same period. Off-shore spending on application-development services will more than double from $23G to as much as $50G... Multi-nationals could soon be looking to emerging markets for CIOs and even CEOs, Karamouzis says. Gartner predicts that by 2015, 30% of the world's top CEOs will be from countries other than the United States."
2005-03-31 10:16PST (13:16EST) (18:16GMT)
Lou Dobbs _CNN_
Feds' border action inadequate
"The Department of Homeland Security has said it will send more than 500 additional Border Patrol agents to Arizona this year to help stop the flow of illegal aliens into the United States. However, most of these additional agents are being transferred from other border states at a time when the federal government should be hiring as many new agents as possible. Not so coincidentally, the move came two days before a concerned group of private citizens was to start patrolling the most porous stretch of the southern border with Mexico. The Bush administration's failure to enforce immigration laws that would slow the invasion of illegal aliens has led this group to take action. Starting Friday, leaders of the Minuteman Project, a self-proclaimed neighborhood watch group, will spread more than 1K volunteers along the Arizona border in an effort to report suspected illegal aliens to the Border Patrol."
2005-03-31 10:49PST (13:49EST) (18:49GMT)
Ed Frauenheim _ZD Net_/_CNET_
Survey: Techies feeling more bullish on employment prospects
"19% of IT employees surveyed said they were expecting lay-off activity from their firms, compared with 21% in February... [Another report] showed that more than 74% of 619 wireless industry professionals rated the current job market as 'strong' or 'growing'... A wave of mergers in the industry... is resulting in thousands of job cuts. In addition, tech professionals [still] face the possibility tha their jobs could be sent to a lower-wage nation such as India or [Red China]... Hudson said its employment index for IT industry workers rose 8.8 points in March to 111.8, while the national index edged 0.8 points to 101.2. [Hudson is a sister firm of Monster, within TMP Global.]"
Gordon S. Heddell _DoL Office of Inspector General_
Semi-Annual Report to the Congress
"OIG investigations continue to combat abuses of DoL programs that serve American workers and to combat labor racketeering in the work-place. Among our recent successes were the guilty plea of a Gambino crime-family associate to conspiracy charges relative to a scheme in which he defrauded the Carpenter's and Laborer's Union benefit funds of more than $7M. Also significant was the guilty plea of a union official to conspiracy charges related to a $1M embezzlement of the Hudson County District Council of Laborers and its benefit funds. Also notable were the indictments in Virginia of 7 defendants on charges of conspiracy, visa fraud, and money laundering, where 2 of the defendants allegedly filed more than 900 fraudulent foreign labor certification applications on behalf of foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States; and the indictment of 32 members and associates of the Gambino Organized Crime family, including the acting boss, for alleged racketeering and other crimes, including extortion and union embezzlement in the New York City area... Seven defendants were charged on 2005 March 9, with conspiracy, visa fraud, and money laundering. The owner of an immigration recruitment company allegedly conspired with others to illegally bring aliens into the United States through the submission of hundreds of fraudulent permanent labor certifications. One of the defendants, Alice Jia, pled guilty on 2005 March 14, to charges of conspiracy and making false statements. She created fraudulent verifications of employment letters to show that the aliens had certain job experiences. Two of the defendants allegedly filed more than 900 labor certifications on behalf of Chinese nationals seeking entry into the United States, charging them up to $90K per labor certification application. In 2004 December, Paul Mederos, an employer involved in the scheme, was sentenced to 33 months in prison, after pleading guilty to charges of conspiring to commit visa fraud, obstruction of justice, and tax fraud. Mederos agreed to forfeit $211K. U.S. v. Mederos, et al (E.D. Virginia). The investigation revealed that the defendants allegedly falsely claimed that the employers had tried and failed to find qualified U.S. workers to fill the positions. This is a joint investigation with the FBI, the IRS CID, the Department of State OIG, and the Department of Homeland Security OIG. On 2004 November 30, an immigration consultant, an attorney, and associates were charged with visa fraud and conspiracy in the Central District of California. It is alleged that the consultant, who targeted the Iranian community, and the attorney filed hundreds of fraudulent H-1B labor certification applications [LCAs] from 1993 to 2003. The investigation also revealed that 2 of the defendants instructed the aliens to pay their own pay-roll taxes for 3 to 6 months to make it appear that they were on the company's rolls. The consultants and his associates relied upon more than 200 Southern California businesses, ranging from medical clinics to pizza parlors to auto parts stores, to serve as applicants for their clients. This is a joint investigation with ICE and the IRS CID... On 2005 January 7, Carmelo Sita pled guilty to conspiracy charges related to an embezzlement of just over $1M from the Hudson County District Council of Laborers and its benefit funds and to falsifying reports of a benefit plan covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Sita admitted that from 1995 January through 1999 March, he conspired with others, who have previously pled, to take more than $1M from 8 bank accounts that were maintained for union members and plan participants. This investigation was conducted jointly with EBSA and the FBI. U.S. v. Sita (D. New Jersey). Former Union Presidents Convicted of Embezzlement Joseph Nardone Sr., the founder and retired president of Local 148 of the Novelty and Production Workers Union, and his son, Joseph Nardone Jr., were both convicted at trial for their embezzlement scheme against Local 148. The Nardones were indicted in 2002 October and charged with conspiracy to embezzle in excess of $350K in welfare funds and union funds as a result of a multi-faceted fraud scheme. From 1996 through 2001, the Nardones created unnecessary construction projects at the union's Jersey City office building. They conspired with Stanley Rothman, a contractor who had previously pled guilty, to skim $250K from the inflated costs of the construction projects. As a result of this investigation, numerous other Local 148 officers and business agents have also been convicted. Local 148 is presently under a Federal Court–ordered trusteeship because of corruption and abuse of fiduciary powers. This investigation was conducted jointly with the Department of Housing and Urban Development OIG and EBSA. U.S. v. Nardone, et al. (D. New Jersey)... Legislative Recommendations The Inspector General Act requires the OIG to review existing or proposed legislation and regulations and to make recommendations in the Semiannual Report concerning their impact on the economy and efficiency of the Department's programs and on the prevention of fraud and abuse. Allow DoL Access to Wage Records The Department of Labor and the [Socialist Insecurity Abomination, SIA]) currently have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in place that allows State Workforce Agencies to access Social Security data on individuals [i.e. violate the privacy of individuals by accessing Socialist Insecurity records of those] who apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI). The MOU is a good first step. However, to reduce over-payments in employee benefit programs, including UI and FECA, the Department and the OIG need legislative authority to easily and expeditiously access state UI wage records, [Socialist Insecurity Abomination] wage records, and wage information from the National Directory of New Hires, which is maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services. A provision in the State Unemployment Tax Authority (SUTA) Dumping Prevention Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-295) enables state agencies responsible for administration of unemployment compensation programs to obtain access to the National Directory of New Hires. By cross matching UI claims against this new-hire data, states could better detect over-payments to UI claimants who have gone back to work but who continue to collect UI benefits. However, this law does not provide DoL or the OIG with access to the National Directory of New Hires. Moreover, access to [Socialist Insecurity Abomination] and UI data would allow the Department to measure the long-term impact of employment and training services on job retention and earnings. Outcome information of this type for program participants is otherwise difficult to obtain. Amend Pension Protection Laws Legislative changes to ERISA and criminal penalties for ERISA violations would enhance the protection of assets in pension plans. To this end, the OIG recommends the following: • Expand the authority of EBSA to correct substandard benefit plan audits and ensure that auditors with poor records do not perform additional plan audits. Changes should include providing EBSA with greater enforcement authority over registration, suspension, and debarment and the ability to levy civil penalties against employee benefit plan auditors. The ability to correct substandard audits and take action against auditors is important because benefit plan audits help protect participants and beneficiaries by ensuring the proper value of plan assets and computation of benefits. • Repeal ERISA's limited-scope audit exemption. This provision excludes pension plan assets invested in banks, savings and loans, insurance companies, and the like from audits of employee benefit plans. The limited scope prevents independent public accountants who are auditing pension plans from rendering an opinion on the plans' financial statements in accordance with professional auditing standards. These 'no opinion' audits provide no substantive assurance of asset integrity to plan participants or to the Department. • Require direct reporting of ERISA violations to DoL. Under current law, a pension plan auditor who finds a potential ERISA violation is responsible for reporting it to the plan administrator, but not directly to DoL. To ensure that improprieties are addressed, we recommend that plan administrators or auditors be required to report potential ERISA violations directly to DoL. This would ensure the timely reporting of violations and would more actively involve accountants in safeguarding pension assets, providing a first line of defense against abuse of workers' pension plans. • Strengthen criminal penalties in Title 18 of the United States Code. Three sections of Title 18 serve as the primary criminal enforcement tools for protecting pension plans covered by ERISA. Embezzlement or theft from employee pension and welfare plans is prohibited by Section 664, making false statements in documents required by ERISA is prohibited by Section 1027, and giving or accepting bribes related to the operation of ERISA-covered plans is outlawed by Section 1954. Sections 664 and 1027 subject violators to 5 years' imprisonment, while Section 1954 calls for up to 3 years' imprisonment. We believe that raising the maximum penalties to 10 years for all 3 violations would serve as a greater deterrent and would further protect employee pension plans. Provide Authority to Ensure the Integrity of the Foreign Labor Certification Process If DoL is to have a role in the H-1B specialty occupations foreign labor certification process, it must have the statutory authority to ensure the integrity of that process, including the ability to verify the accuracy of information provided on labor condition applications [LCAs]. Currently, DoL is statutorily required to certify such applications, unless it determines them to be 'incomplete or obviously inaccurate'. Our concern with the Department's limited ability to ensure the integrity of the certification process is heightened by the results of OIG analysis and investigations that show that the program is susceptible to significant fraud and abuse, particularly by employers and attorneys. Moreover, we believe that vulnerabilities in the foreign labor certification programs administered by DoL and other agencies could be remedied by the following changes, some of which are under discussion by a work group involving the OIG, ETA, OMB, and the Department of Homeland Security. • All foreign nationals should have an eligibility determination by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS] before the employer's labor certification application is reviewed by DoL. • DoL should have latitude and authority to deny applications for any misrepresentations or suspected fraud. • Regulations should be job-specific and alien-specific, with documented assurances that the position actually exists. • Foreign labor certifications should have an expiration date. • Prohibit substitutions of employees for approved certifications. • The sale, barter, and/or purchase of approved labor certifications and applications by an employer, alien, agent, attorney, or otherwise interested party should be prohibited and vigorously prosecuted."
2005-03-31 (5765 Adar2 20)
Thomas Sowell _Jewish World Review_
Stupidity trickling down
David Sirota & Howard Baldwin _TechWeb_/_Optimize_
How Management Destroys Employee Enthusiasm
"In his new book, _The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit by Giving Workers What They Want_ (Wharton School Publishing, 2005 January), Sirota, along with co-authors and consulting firm colleagues Louis A. Mischkind and Michael Irwin Meltzer... Employees have 3 basic needs: to be treated fairly and equitably through salary, benefits, and job security; to have a sense of achievement about their work and their company; and to have camaraderie with their co-workers... We find in study after study that people are enthusiastic about their jobs and about learning -- something that's very important for technical people -- but after 6 to 9 months, morale dissipates... they're treating employees as temps. And if you do that, why should an employee become interested in the business? It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why should an IT person learn about the business of a bank if he's treated as disposable and may not end up at another bank in his next job? If you treat employees as if they're going to stay, they'll become interested. Managers should ask themselves: Are these people treated well and do they see themselves as valued, not just for a contribution at that moment, but over a long term?... Laying people off should be a last resort, not the first thing you do... As for those employees who are being made surplus by off-shoring, what are you going to do for them? If you're a large corporation, there may be another division that's hiring. There are a number of steps you can take if you believe that maintaining the security of the people is important, because that gives you a loyal, enthusiastic workforce. You can't treat people like paper clips and expect them to go all out for you... You don't have to build morale; you just have to make sure you don't destroy it. If you have a hard-working team, you have morale... People at work want to work... That said, you shouldn't dismiss what fatigue can do to people and their families. It's the manager's responsibility to insist that people take time off. The best managers are those who are concerned about their employees' not spending enough time with their families. If someone has been working on a project 90 hours a week for a few weeks, you want to make sure that person gets time off. You can also celebrate milestones in projects, where employees can bring their families."
Gene Nelson _Social Contract_
US Colleges Have Become Career Destruction Sites (pdf)
"many institutions of higher education have been transformed into supply nodes for 'fresh (inexpensive) young blood', so that more experienced American citizens may be permanently displaced from their technology-based positions. Passage of the obscure 'Eilberg Amendment' made 1976 a watershed year for higher education. This legislation was procured via yet undisclosed considerations to the late U.S. representative Joshua Eilberg (DPA) from the Association of American Universities (AAU), a trade group for highly ranked colleges and universities. This change in immigration law permitted these employers to hire unlimited numbers of foreign nationals as professors and researchers, with the institution in total control of the wages and working conditions of the foreign worker. The university did not have to attest that they were maintaining the wages and working conditions of American citizens (who foot most of the bills either directly via tuition or indirectly via government subsidies, including grants). In a phone conversation with him, I shared my belief that Representative Eilberg will be recognized as a key architect of the destruction of the American scientific and engineering establishment..."
NIH Awards to All Institutions by Award Rank 1-100 FY2003 With H-1B Usage FY2001 - FY2003 (pdf)
Madeleine Pelner Cosman _Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons_ vol10 #1
Illegal Aliens and American Medicine
Liberalism vs. Individual Rights
"Most Americans think slavery ended with the 13th Amendment in 1865. It did, in the United States. But it is alive and well today in the Sudan and Mauritania. In these African countries, blacks suffer at the hands of Arabs, who ransack villages, kill the men and sell the women and children into slavery. The Arabs use black slaves for labor, sex and breeding. In 1994, Human Rights Watch/Africa labeled Sudan's record on rights 'abysmal', and the situation is little different in Mauritania."
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