Archive for » September 14th, 2012«

Service that matches disabled people with jobs to be hit with layoffs

large_KWS Brucina Tyler Main.jpgIn this 2007 file photo, Michigan Rehabilitation Services employee Brucina Tyler, right, helps client Jill Lacy of Muskegon fill out out a job application at a Quiznos restaurant.

LANSING, MI — A state agency that helps people with disabilities get jobs is losing dozens of staff members to budget cuts, raising concerns about a loss of services.

A $20 million budget deficit has forced Michigan Rehabilitation Services to lay off about 26 employees. Another 16 Employment Service Interviewers, who technically work for the Unemployment Insurance Agency, lost their jobs. The layoffs are effective Sept. 28.

The layoffs impact the entire staff of Employment Service Interviewers, who work with small businesses and organizations to employ people with disabilities.

“This is a critical program that connects the dots between dedicated workers and businesses that want to hire them,” said Phil Patrick, executive director of SEIU Local 517M, which represents the ESI staff. “At a time when Michigan’s unemployment rate has gone up three months in a row, we believe these layoffs are simply unconscionable.”

Patrick appeared relieved to learn “it doesn’t appear it’s the wish of the Snyder administration that this program go away all together,” but said he’s concerned there won’t be a smooth transition for people with disabilities to continue receiving the employment services.

Gov. Rick Snyder has been criticized for cutting down on a program that promotes employment while constantly pitching the importance of job growth.

State employees are working quickly to try to fill the gaps and make sure that Michigan’s 1.3 million people with disabilities still get the services they need, said Jaye Porter, director of MRS.

“It’s not a service we can ignore, we just have to find another way to provide it,” she said.

The cuts sadden people who have benfited from MRS placements.

Allen Strozewski said he owes his success to an MRS employee who helped him land a job at a passport processing center in the Lansing area.

“She saw potential in me that even I didn’t see at that time,” Strozewski said. “She pushed me to learn new skills and challenged me in different ways.”

The service has made other cuts beyond the layoffs, reducing its budget and cutting back on travel, supplies and other expenses.

A combination of increased expenses and funding cutbacks led to the layoffs, she said. The service’s pension costs and operating expenses for technology and customer services have gone up. Meanwhile, MRS lost $2.5 million in funding from the unemployment agency that provided matching funds allowing the service to draw about $7.5 million in federal funding.

The unemployment agency is going through its own budget struggles and is laying off up to 400 workers.

MRS is going through an overhaul that will move it from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to the Department of Human Services. The changes are part of a wider restructuring that also reconfigures the Michigan Commission for the Blind.

Federal law mandates that if MRS doesn’t have enough money to serve all eligible clients, it must implement a statewide waiting list. Porter said she’s trying to avoid resorting to a waiting list.

About 490 MRS employees will remain after the layoffs, including 270 rehabilitation counselors. Some of the employees will be redirected toward job placement duties, Porter said.

“We haven’t given up, but we’ve been working diligently with the department we’ll be transferred to next year, DHS, to see if there’s some way we can make up for that loss,” she said

Marsha Florence, one of the Employment Service Interviewers who will lose her job, said it takes a specially trained person to connect people with disabilities with employers.

Florence said she helps job seekers with resumes, understanding job applications and interviewing skills.

“It takes a unique person to work closely with persons with disabilities,” said Florence, who said she has a disability and originally went through MRS as a client.

Email Melissa Anders at Follow her on Twitter: @MelissaDAnders.

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Job Fair at FCC creates chance to meet employers face to face

MUNSTER | “Nobody starts at the top. Everybody starts at the bottom. Give an extra 30 minutes (to your job) every day.”

Multimillionaire Bill Harrington, chairman and CEO of Sterling Technical Services Group Inc., gave that advice to job seekers and employers at the third annual Family Christian Center Job Fair.

The job fair is Pastor Steve Munsey’s vision to get Chicagoland back to work, said Family Christian Center Pastor John Ponder, who moderated the networking breakfast in the church gymnasium prior to the job fair’s noon start.

A Family Christian Center member, Harrington was keynote speaker at the breakfast. More than 50 company executives seeking to hire workers and dozens of job seekers attended the pre-fair event.

Harrington based his talk on Biblical scripture from the Old and New Testaments that point to working as a blessing from God.

“I worked with my hands to earn enough money for college. My first job was hauling 300-pound blocks of ice and 100-pound bags of ice for 70 cents an hour,” he said.

“I was a welder’s helper. My dad taught me how to weld,” Harrington said of his career. “My dad was my best example. He stayed at work two hours on his own time to finish up a job.”

That work ethic carried over into Harrington’s career and helped him move up from welder to project manager in the energy construction field until he started his own company.

“I can perhaps help you to get a job,” he told the audience. “But I can’t help you keep a job. We have to earn our rewards every day.”

Kenneth Bailey, of Chicago, attended the breakfast to network with employers. A custodian for 10 years at the Roseland Health Center in Chicago, the 35-year old married father of four was laid off from his union job July 1.

“I’m looking for a job as a laborer, working with the public maybe with a park district,” Bailey said.

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Cable's employment law reforms meet with mixed response

The Government’s latest employment law reforms have been met with a lukewarm response from employment lawyers and industry bodies.

Business secretary Vince Cable today unveiled measures aimed at giving employers “more flexibility and confidence in managing their workforce”, including a reduced cap on unfair dismissal payouts and a consultation on settlement agreements.

These measures include: model draft letters to send to an employee when offering a voluntary severance package; a draft model settlement agreement and supporting guidance; and the proposed terms of a statutory code of practice on the use of settlement agreements.

The measures also include proposals to make it easier for tribunal judges to dismiss weak cases.

In addition, the Government plans to work with Acas to improve guidance for small businesses on the Acas code of practice on discipline and grievance, but not to change the code itself as originally proposed. There are also plans to consult on changes to TUPE rules.

Cable said: “We have been looking across the range of employment laws with a view to making it easier for firms to hire staff while protecting basic labour rights.

“Our starting point is that Britain already has very flexible labour markets. But we acknowledge that more can be done to help small companies by reducing the burden of employment tribunals, which we are reforming, and moving to less confrontational dispute resolutions through settlement agreements.”

No-fault dismissals shelved

But perhaps the most significant element of today’s announcement is something which wasn’t put forward – the controversial “no-fault dismissals” proposed by Adrian Beecroft in a report to the Government earlier this year have been shelved. Under the proposals, businesses would have been able to dismiss under-performing staff without identifying any fault on the employee’s part, by paying a set amount of compensation.

The decision to not introduce no-fault dismissals was welcomed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). But CIPD employee relations adviser Mike Emmott warned that today’s proposals had the potential to damage relationships between employers and employees: “The idea that businesses should be able to manage the performance of their employees effectively, without fearing extortionate costs and a time consuming process, is a good one. However, the proposed reforms must not undermine the principle of mutual trust and confidence that lies at the heart of positive and productive employment relations.”

A passage in the consultation document on settlement agreements reads: “Sometimes it is better for both parties to reach an agreement quickly rather than go through months of performance management only to end up with a dismissal at a later date.” This suggests that Emmott’s concerns are not without foundation, since the aim of performance management is to raise employees’ performance or gather the evidence to dismiss.

Underwhelmed response

Elsewhere, there has been a largely underwhelmed response to Cable’s announcement. Steve Radley, director of policy at the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, said: “Today’s announcement provided welcome confirmation that government is refocusing on some of the issues that matter for growth such as TUPE, reform of employment tribunals and settlement agreements. But business will be underwhelmed that the overall package contained nothing to speed up progress on delivering these reforms.

“The coalition is now half way through its term, yet there continues to be a lack of progress and cohesion with its plans for employment reform. The Government has missed the opportunity to send a powerful signal to business that it has got its programme of delivering genuine employment reform back on track.”

Meanwhile, Marc Jones, head of employment and HR at Turbervilles Solicitors, questioned whether or not these reforms have actually changed anything. He said: “I have seen the provisional announcement that plans for ‘no-fault dismissals’ have been scrapped, which is clearly sensible as in my view this was ill-thought out, as putting a bar on the right to claim unfair dismissal was clearly open to abuse by unscrupulous and/or clever employers and lawyers.

“Cable has announced more power to businesses to sack underperforming employees but the details are not clear. If he means the use of settlement agreements, then this is nothing new, as we currently have compromise agreements in place, which provide for underperforming employees, and these will in the future be known as settlement agreements.

“We do not appear to be any further than we currently are and the status quo has largely remained the same.”

Sheila Fahy, senior employment lawyer at Allen Overy said: “Today’s package for business amounts to very little, just more consultation, more guidance, more waiting.”

XpertHR has full analysis of the reforms announced today.

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Euro-Zone Employment Unchanged

Employment numbers in the euro zone held steady for the first time in a year, raising hopes that the crisis-stricken economy may not be sinking as rapidly as feared.

Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency, said Friday the number of people employed in the 17 nations that use the euro was broadly unchanged between April and June compared with the previous three months, and was down 0.6% from a year earlier.

The last time employment didn’t fall was in the second quarter of 2011, Eurostat said. The numbers are a tentative sign that the euro zone isn’t succumbing fully to …

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Portland job fair offers Sherwood woman a chance to meet with companies, face …

job fair.JPGView full sizeRobin Krieger waits in line to speak with a Reser’s Fine Foods recruiter and drop off her resume at the Maximum Connections job fair Thursday at the World Forestry Center in Portland. Area WorkSource offices and the Tualatin Valley Employer Council, as well as several area companies, sponsored the event.

The free Oreos at the Kraft Foods table disappear an hour into the Maximum Connections job fair Thursday. Only crackers and chocolate chip cookies remain when Robin Krieger grabs a recruiter’s attention.

That associate human resources position? Do you have experience with unions?

Krieger shakes her head no, then hears the message that punctuates most of the morning’s conversations.

“I’m sorry that we don’t have anything for you right now.”

Hundreds of people streamed into the World Forestry Center for the WorkSource-sponsored job fair Thursday, all vying for time with recruiters from about three dozen companies, including Columbia Sportswear Co., Reser’s Fine Foods and Wells Fargo.

Krieger, 51, of Sherwood, arrives early with 10 resumes tucked inside a leather portfolio. She circles Columbia’s name in a yellow guidebook to mark its spot at the fair.

She had managed a Sherwood dental office for nearly three years, outlasting a reorganization that slashed its staff from 26 to 14. But she learned in April that she would lose her job in June.

For the first time in her life, she is cashing unemployment benefits. She’s applied for 75 or 100 jobs, landing one in-person interview and four phone interviews. They went well, she said.

But these days, there are just so many people applying for the same job. “The whole process is a humbling experience, which everybody here would say an ‘amen to that,’ ” she says, waiting in a line 20-people deep.

At the end, a Columbia recruiter offers smiles and handshakes to the stream of job seekers. Krieger’s turn comes 15 minutes later, and she walks away with a business card and a new lead.

She swims through the crowd in the circle-shaped room to Leupold, the Beaverton optics maker. A woman there tells Krieger the job she’d applied for has been filled.

These days, nobody has time for face-to-face interviews, Krieger says. At the dental practice, that was her job, sifting through resumes and deciding who to take a second look at.

Today, employers all point to online applications, she says. That’s an all right way to highlight your work history. But what about your personality?

“Gosh darn it, I wish I could find something for you,” the Leupold recruiter tells Krieger.

job fair 2.JPGView full sizeSharae Motameni, a human resources employee, represented Reser’s Fine Foods at Thursday’s job fair. Four hours after it began, the line to see her remained steady at about a dozen people as hundreds of job seekers rushed around Miller Hall to learn about potential jobs.

She joins another long line, chats for a minute or two, and hears the same message again.

She’s got to keep going.

When the recession hit, her husband lost his job as a spiritual counselor in Newberg. She lined up a job through a friend, after a decade as a stay-at-home mom. They had to get their boys through school.

The oldest graduated earlier this year from Linfield College, and the youngest is a seventh grader in Sherwood. The couple’s middle son starts at Oregon State University next week. His first tuition check goes out in October.

“We’re just trying to make it financially,” Krieger says.

She makes another loop through the room, walking past tables for the city of Beaverton, then AAA, then a construction firm. She doubles back to AAA, only to find out it’s hiring sales reps.

A recruiter from Aetna takes a moment to look through her resume, then asks whether she’s currently working. The stock messages arrive after Krieger answers the question.

One more pass around the tables, and she stops at a booth for a temporary staffing firm, Richmar Associates. The recruiter there flips through Krieger’s two-page resume, then asks whether she’s comfortable with Microsoft and Excel.

Krieger pauses for a second, then replies no.

The recruiter laughs; it’s an answer she’s not used to hearing. “You are so honest.” After a few more questions, she tells Krieger that administrative positions don’t come by often. Then she adds Krieger’s resume to a growing pile on the floor.

“Send me your resume electronically. I’d love to help you.”

–Molly Young, @mollykyoung

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The Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board Publishes its 2013 Employment Insurance Premium Rate Report

Related Document: CEIFB Backgrounder, September 14, 2012

OTTAWA, Sept. 14, 2012 /CNW/ – The Canada Employment Insurance Financing
Board (CEIFB) published its Employment Insurance (EI) premium rate
report for 2013 today.

“2012 marks a turning point in EI financing” states David Brown Chair of
the CEIFB. “The balance in the EI Operating Account has turned around
and the cumulative deficit is firmly on a downward path. The reduction
is estimated at $1.3 billion for 2013″.

Key information in the report includes:

  • In 2013, EI revenues are expected to exceed program costs by $1.3
    , and the EI Operating Account deficit is expected to be reduced
    to $7.6 billion. EI premium revenues are forecast at $21.7 billion,
    while expenditures are forecast to be $20.4 billion.
  • The Board of Directors has set the 2013 EI premium rate for residents of
    all provinces and territories, with the exception of Quebec, at $1.88
    per $100 of insurable earnings an increase of five cents from 2012. The
    EI premium rate for Quebec residents is set at $1.52 per $100 of
    insurable earnings, an increase of five cents from 2012.
  • Economic Action Plan 2012 measures related to EI financing will improve the stability and
    predictability of EI premium rates. These measures will also limit the
    tendency to create significant deficits and surpluses in the EI
    Operating Account.

Mr. Brown welcomed changes to the EI rate setting mechanism announced in Economic Action Plan 2012: “We believe that the new seven year horizon break-even rate, once it
will be implemented, will improve the stability and predictability of
the EI premium rates. Moreover, the publication of the upcoming year EI
premium rate in September rather than November will leave more time for
businesses and individuals to get ready.”

The 2013 Premium Rate Report contains more historical data and the
analytic sections of the Report have been expanded. “This year the
Report includes a section on key drivers of the EI Operating Account
balance”, says Phil Charko, Executive Director of the CEIFB. The report
notes that there has been a significant decline in net expenditures for
the EI program since 2009, from $23 billion to a projected $20.4
in 2013. A key driver in this decline is the reduction in the
number of unemployed which has dropped 9.7% since 2009 from 1,519,000
to a forecast 1,372,000 in 2013.

About the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board

The Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board was established as a
Crown Corporation in 2008 by the CEIFB Act. The CEIFB ensures that
Canadians can have confidence that they pay the right EI premiums to
cover the costs of the program and that premiums are used exclusively
for the benefit of the program. Excess premium revenues will be
invested by the CEIFB independent of the government until they can be
returned to premium payers through lower premiums. The CEIFB reports to
Parliament through the Minister of Human Resources and Skills

The CEIFB is overseen by a board of seven directors, including a
chairperson, with proven financial ability and experience. The Board of
Directors is appointed by the Governor in Council, on the
recommendation of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills
Development from a list of nominees established by an independent
nominating committee.

The financial analysis done by the CEIFB is performed by a team of
actuaries adhering to professional standards. Among its activities is
the detailed calculation of the premium rate that would allow the EI
Operating Account to break-even based on forecast earnings and
expenditures. As well, the Chief Actuary performs analyses for the
Canada Employment Insurance Commission. These include the calculation
of the premium reduction for provinces with maternity, parental and
adoption benefits, the premium reduction for employers with wage-loss
plans and the maximum insurable earnings amount.

Copies of the reports of the Board of Directors and the Chief Actuary
can be found on the CEIFB website at

Backgrounder to the release of the
Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board
2013 Employment Insurance Premium Rate Report

Related document: CEIFB news release, September 14, 2012

The Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board (CEIFB) was created as a
Crown Corporation in 2008 to ensure that EI premiums are used
exclusively for the EI program. This followed extensive public
discussion on the need to improve the transparency and independence of
EI financing. Through professional stewardship, the CEIFB ensures that
EI premiums are set so that revenues and expenditures break-even over

Over the past few years however, the rate setting mechanism together
with the cumulative deficit which had been built up, would have
resulted in large and steady increases in EI premiums at a time of
fragile recovery. The rate setting mechanism would have led to
pro-cyclical impacts that would have impeded the recovery. Thus, on
September 30, 2010, to address this challenge, the Government announced
changes to limit the increase in EI premiums to five cents for 2011
and, that a public consultation would be initiated. The purpose of the
consultation was to build on the improvements introduced in 2008 in
order to achieve greater stability and predictability in the rate
setting mechanism and mitigate its pro-cyclical impacts.

The results of these consultations, announced in Economic Action Plan 2012, will lead to more stable and predictable premium rates. The rate
setting mechanism has been adjusted by first, limiting to five cents
the annual variation in premiums for future years, and second, setting
rates on the basis of a seven year time horizon, once the EI Operating
Account is in balance.

Another change introduced in Economic Action Plan 2012 is that the obligation to maintain an indexed reserve has been
repealed. The CEIFB will no longer be required to increase the premiums
above the cost of the program to maintain a reserve. The experience of
recent years has demonstrated that there is no need for such a reserve.
During this period, deficits of the EI program were financed by the
government at no additional cost to employers and employees, as though
there was a zero-interest line of credit available to the EI program.
In addition, direct Government contributions to the EI Operating
Account over this period amounted $3.2 billion.

According to Phil Charko, Executive Director of the CEIFB, with these
changes, the employment insurance program is moving closer to truly
break-even financing whereby the CEIFB Board will endeavour to keep the
EI Operating Account close to a zero balance. One of the implications
is that the CEIFB investment function will be activated only when the
EI Operating Account is in a surplus position. Once the program is in
surplus, funds will be returned to employers and workers through
premiums set lower than break-even rate. In the light of the
modifications to the rate setting mechanism, the Government also
announced that it would review the cost and structure of the CEIFB to
ensure that it is as cost effective as possible.

For more information on the CEIFB and copies of the reports of the Board
of Directors and the Chief Actuary, please visit

SOURCE: Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board

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Project Homeless Connect provides one-stop services

The last several months have been a rocky road for Reginald White.

The 33-year-old Buffalo man is currently unemployed, but he receives Supplemental Security Income from the Social Security Administration.

He had found work in the past through Labor Ready, a temporary agency. But with his schizophrenia, which he treats with medication, it is difficult to keep a job, he said.

Homeless since May, White was among hundreds of people who attended Project Homeless Connect Buffalo 2012 on Thursday in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.

The fourth annual forum was for anyone who is low-income, at-risk of homelessness or currently homeless. It was a way for them to get one-stop help from more than 70 human service agencies offering assistance in finding a job, a place to live and health care, and in fulfilling other needs. Free shuttle buses brought people in from local soup kitchens and shelters for the six-hour forum.

Representatives from local agencies provided a wide range of free help, including bike and wheelchair repair, chiropractic services, dental care and referrals, elder services, emergency shelter, financial literacy services, health screenings, legal services, mental health referrals, substance abuse services, services for people with disabilities, public benefits screenings and more.

While in the Convention Center, White got a haircut and an HIV/AIDS test and was on his way to the City Missions table to see if the organization had any beds available.

“All I can do is ask,” he said.

The conference also focused on “at-risk” people like Tom Chrosniak, who came to try to get help with avoiding foreclosure on his Buffalo home.

Chrosniak last worked in 2010 as an operations manager at the Miller Tennis Center in Amherst.

He had been there for three years when an accident away from the job left him disabled with a shattered spine, he said.

He has been denied SSI benefits and has a hearing coming up soon.

“I’m trying not to be homeless,” Chrosniak said.

Karla Funderburk, 57, is not homeless but had spent the previous night in a shelter after fleeing an abusive situation.

She also is diabetic with high blood pressure and has had a quadruple heart bypass. She came to the event for medical services and to get information about what kind of legal services are available to her, such as help in getting an order of protection against her abuser.

She said she was having trouble getting the man out of her house, and that’s why she left.

“I’m just trying to get some help,” she said.

One of the service providers was Child and Family Services, which was promoting its Ways to Work Loan Program to help low- to moderate-income people receive loans to purchase cars to get to and from work. The program helps people stay employed, said Erl Presentacion, who works for the agency.

To qualify, applicants must reside in Erie or Niagara counties and have a valid driver’s license that has not been suspended or revoked in the last two years, among other criteria.

“They must have employment over the last three months and a dependent child or someone they claim on their income taxes,” said Presentacion.

Project Homeless Connect Buffalo was organized by the WNY Coalition for the Homeless, a partnership of community agencies, service providers and individuals joined together to empower and advocate for people in need of safe, affordable and permanent housing.

Project Homeless Connect began in San Francisco in 2004. Buffalo held its first “project” in 2009, and since then, more than 1,000 clients have participated. Almost 4,000 services have been provided. More than 8,000 personal care items have been distributed, and $7,000 in gift cards to stores and restaurants have been distributed, organizers said.


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IPFW sets job fair for next week

Foreclosure starts fall on annual basis

The evolution of the U.S. foreclosure crisis is increasingly diverging along state lines.

On a national level, fewer homes were placed on the foreclosure track last month than in August last year, when they hit a 17-year high, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

At the same time, foreclosure starts increased almost exclusively in Florida and New York, where the courts must sign off on foreclosures, the firm said.

Conversely, in many non-judicial states, including California and Arizona, the number of foreclosure starts declined compared with August last year.

The pace of homes entering the foreclosure process is expected to decline gradually, barring another severe economic shock that sends the slowly rebounding housing market into a tailspin, experts say. But that decline is likely to continue playing out unevenly, in part because of the differing approaches to handling foreclosures from state to state.

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Counting heads in federal agencies is tougher than it looks

Counting federal employees is no simple task

Mark Twain’s observation that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics” suggests that a weak, even a false argument can be made to seem more credible with numbers. It’s a suitable observation for a year when the federal workforce has been a political football. Are there too many federal employees? Are they overpaid?

Candidates for Congress and the White House, not to mention sitting lawmakers writing bills, have been arguing for a long time now about whether measures such as reducing the number of federal employees, freezing or cutting their pay and reducing the amount and frequency of bonuses could make a difference to the federal deficit. Critics and defenders of the workforce alike turn to the numbers to buttress their cases.

One reason the arguments can continue with no real resolution is that even as basic a fact as how many federal employees there actually are is more complicated to determine than it seems. Currently, there are three main sources to use when counting the federal workforce, said John Palguta, vice president of policy at the Partnership for Public Service — and they can yield different answers.

The first one is OPM’s FedScope, which provides statistical information about the federal civilian workforce. Users can access and analyze the most popular data elements from OPM’s Central Personnel Data File /Enterprise Human Resources Integration. The tool provides five years’ worth of employment, accession and separation data. The data reported is, in essence, a head count of all the federal employees on the payroll in the executive branch (except for the CIA and some other national security organizations that do not report on the number of employees they have.)

FedScope includes all employees – permanent, temporary, full-time, and part-time – but a user can screen for selected variables.  On March 2012, for example, FedScope reported a total of 2,102,269 executive branch employees. Of those, however, only 1,877,990 are full-time, permanent employees. Also, these numbers don’t include uniformed military personnel, or data on the Postal Service. It excludes legislative and judicial branch employees. 

The annual budget also provides numbers on the workforce, particularly the historical perspectives section and the analytical perspectives section, both of which report federal workforce numbers as Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs). (FTEs are calculated by counting the number of hours worked and dividing by 2,080 — the number of work hours in a year for someone working 40 hours a week. One person working 40 hours a week is one FTE; two people working 20 hours per week each also make one FTE.)

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Hi-tech job fair draws more than 500 applicants [The News & Observer (Raleigh …

Sept. 11–RALEIGH — It was almost the way things used to be before the economy tanked: hundreds of job openings and more employers in hiring mode than could be accommodated under one roof.

Some 700 job seekers turned out Tuesday for the opportunity to connect with 28 North Carolina companies in a regional job fair featuring the state’s emerging technology economy. Organizers said the downtown Raleigh event was booked solid and several companies had to be turned away.

The relaxed mood at the Raleigh Convention Center stood in stark contrast to the cattle-call scenarios of past employment fairs where hordes of jobless people dismally outnumbered scant available jobs. This time, more than 200 job seekers were gainfully employed and under no pressure, but casually playing the field and keeping their options open. These workers mostly stopped by the job fair early on their way to the office.

Some of the technology employers with booths at the job fair were startups that have never experienced layoffs. Others are in expansion mode in the wake of the recession. In all, the employers collectively represented an estimated 600 job openings, most of them in North Carolina.

“There’s a lot of companies in here that are actually growing,” said Keith King, an IT professional from Holly Springs. “I’m getting out as many resumes as I can.”

The Tuesday morning job fair was part of the 2-day annual CED Tech Venture Conference at the downtown Convention Center. The job summit itself was jointly sponsored by the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, N.C. Technology Association and Wake County Economic Development.

Companies that are hiring include Channel Advisor, Allsripts,, BBT, Credit Suisse, Bronto, WingSwept, UltraLinq, LexisNexis, SciQuest, SoftPro, Netsertive, Matrix and Red Hat. Some are pure technology companies while others depend on large IT departments.

Fidelity Investments, for example, employs 3,100 in the Triangle and expects to be at 3,800 by mid-2013, said Fidelity staffing consultant Tim Weidner., a 200-employee company in Cary that makes tracking and management software for educational institutions, has hired 50 since January and projects a doubling of its staff over three years, said HR associate Jessica Lee.

Particularly noticeable was the absence of legacy technology companies in the Triangle that predate the social media and the app explosion.

“You don’t see the IBMs and the larger companies,” said Karl Myers, an unemployed data base administrator who came in from Massachusetts to visit his family and look for work. “I see hunger on both sides of the table: I’m hungry for a job and they companies are looking to attract.”

Despite years or outsourcing, off-shoring, downsizing and layoffs in the technology sector, the job market is booming for certain kinds of jobs.

The IT job market is up by 33 percent year-over-year, according to the N.C. Technology Association. The only time demand for employees was higher was in the summer of 2007, just before the recession.

Nearly 5,000 IT jobs were posted statewide in July, and in June there were even 250 more jobs posted than in July, the NCTA reported.

Still, there was no mistaking that the job fair played out in the long shadow of the recent recession. Like Myers, most of the job seekers were unemployed, self-employed, under-employed, partially employed or in some other state of career limbo.

Among the ranks of the jobless was Larry Myers, a Durham resident who was laid off from cell phone maker Sony Ericsson in 2008 and then again from smart phone maker HTC in July. Myers is currently working as a self-employed systems engineering consultant.

“There are really employers here who have positions and are hiring,” Myers said, reflecting on Tuesday’s job fairs and his own predicament. “My current part-time job is really a full-time job and I have another full-time job looking for a job.”

Most of the employed job seekers did not want their names in the newspaper, for fear that their bosses would find out they were peddling their resumes around town.

But Kimberly Calhoun said she had no such hangups. Calhoun, who works as a sales channel developer for electronics testing-and-repair company ETR Solutions in Raleigh, said she’s been at her current job about two years. A computer engineer who has previously worked for Nortel Networks and Tekelec, she specializes in GPS, VOIP and wireless technologies.

“There’s a lot of marketing positions, which shows some growth,” Calhoun said of the job fair. “It looks like there’s some cash flow rolling around, so that’s exciting.”

Murawski: 919-829-8932

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