2009 job seekers ring out the old, ring in the new with Top 25 Movie Quips About Work

While 2009’s job seekers pop the cork on a budget-conscious bottle of Andre and say "good riddance" to 2009, they also can laugh over the "Top 25 Movie Quips About Work," which I developed in a totally unscientific method for my Las Vegas Job Search Examiner page on Examiner.com.         
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SAY WHAT? Casino industry career way out of economic hardship?

Although it may seems incredulous in Las Vegas – a virtual one-industry town with close to 13% unemployment and tens of thousands of casino workers out of work or scraping by on reduced hours and fewer tips – casino gambling supervisors and managers will be among the 50 best careers in the United States in 2010, according to an article in the latest issue of U.S. News & World Report, on newsstands today.

The number of casino supervisors is projected to grow by 12%, "a bit more than average for all careers between 2008 and 2018," the magazine says.

U.S. News' view is seconded by a web site that bills itself as "the top online casino gambling news reporting organization."

The expansion of legalized casino gaming beyond the historic powerhouses of Nevada and Atlantic City, N.J., means "thousands of jobs have opened up across the country," according to a report posted today by (the other) Tom Jones, Staff Editor of CasinoGamblingWeb.com. In the past year, legislation approving or expanding casino gaming has been enacted in several U.S. states, including California, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

And because few industries manage their operations more closely than the casino business, "every gaming operation needs smart managers to oversee its daily business, no matter the casino's characteristics," U.S. News concludes.

The magazine, in particular, glosses over difficulties that have plagued the industry and casino-dependent regions in recent years. The article's only mention of the industry's devastating workforce and shift reductions in recent years is to note that "although Las Vegas took a hit during the recession, more and more states are looking to gaming to boost their ailing budgets." At least CasinoGamblingWeb notes that, "As Nevada is finding out, casino gambling is only profitable when people have the money to gamble," although it then inexplicably claims that "while unemployment rates continue to rise in other industries, casino owners are hiring employees for their new casinos on an almost daily basis."

U.S. News asserts that with ambition and "experience in gaming and skill," a casino manager should enjoy solid promotional prospects. The article reports that median wages in 2008 for gaming supervisors were $45,000. Gaming managers – "who tackle more of the human resources hiring and training responsibilities" – had median earnings of just more than $68,000, according to the article, which notes a wide pay range for managers: $30,000 to $112,000.

As any Las Vegan with at least a cursory knowledge of the industry knows, the stress level is "sometimes high," U.S. News acknowledges. "Casino work tends to be pretty colorful, and you may face tough hours (nights and weekends) and have to deal with unhappy (i.e., losing) customers."

Aside from a license from the state board or commission that oversees a manager's casino, there are no strict educational requirements," U.S. News reports, which is a definite plus in the eyes of CasinoGamblingWeb. "The best part about the casino industry is that there is little education needed to break into the field. That leaves the door open for thousands of people in the U.S. to change careers in 2010, moving towards a career in a casino field that looks to be on the rise for decades to come," the web site's report concludes.

Just tell that to the ten of thousands of out-of-work Las Vegas casino workers.

Americans who still have job eager to find new one

Although the U.S. unemployment rate remains in the double digits, more than one-half of U.S. workers plan to change jobs in 2010, others are reporting widespread "disengagement" within their workforces, and employers are underestimating the level of employees' willingness to pursue opportunities with new companies.

That's the conclusion of a host of surveys recently conducted by several management consulting and human resource organizations and Internet job site CareerBuilder.

Among the findings:
  • Right Management, a division of employment services company Manpower, asked 900 North American workers, "Do you plan to pursue new job opportunities as the economy improves in 2010?" and the responses were:

    • 60% - Yes, I intend to leave
    • 21% - Maybe, so I’m networking
    • 6% - Not likely, but I’ve updated my resume
    • 13% - No, I intend to stay

  • The 2009 Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations Report said 55% of employees plan to change jobs, careers or industries "when the economy recovers."

  • CareerBuilder polled 4,285 full-time, private-sector employees and found that 40% are struggling to stay motivated in their current jobs, and 24% said they didn't feel loyal to their employer.

  • Another survey by consulting firm Finnegan Mackenzie and business network ExecuNet involving 1,627 employed executives found that more than 90% of executives would take an executive recruiter’s call and more than 50% are looking for a new job. It also found that professionals at all levels of management are underestimating the percentage of direct reports interested in pursuing new opportunities.

  • Those surveys come on the heels of other research showing that employee engagement levels have dipped during the past year or so. In September, Workforce Management conducted a survey of 525 readers at organizations with 1,000 or more employees. Roughly 45% of respondents reported that engagement had decreased a little or a lot at their organization since the recession began. Nearly 27% said engagement had stayed the same, and 28% said it had increased.

  • A May survey by consulting firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide of 1,300 workers at large U.S. employers found that engagement levels for top performers fell close to 25% year over year. Employees overall experienced a 9% drop in engagement year over year, Watson Wyatt said.

  • In a similar survey by Adecco Group North America, 77% of workers were critical of their organization’s brain trust and weren’t satisfied with the strategy and vision of their company and its leadership.
"Employees are clearly expressing their pent up frustration with how they have been treated through the downturn," Right Management President and Chief Operating Officer Douglas J. Matthews said in a news release. "While employers may have taken the necessary steps to streamline operations to remain viable, it appears many employees may have felt neglected in the process. The result is a disengaged and disgruntled workforce." 

A Workforce Management magazine story recently said "layoffs, pay cuts and other fallout from the recession have devastated employee engagement." Experts in employee retention say staff-cutting and budget-cutting employers must move quickly to restore pay cuts and reward employees or risk losing them next year, according to a December news report about the surveys.

Why jobs are coming back far more slowly than they were eliminated

"Eight million may finally be enough," U.S. News and World Report's Rick Newman opines in his latest blog post. That's roughly the number of jobs the country has lost since the Great Depression began in late 2007.

But if the latest decrease in the unemployment rate holds, an end to job losses won't solve the country's unemployment problem. The economy must add more than 100,000 jobs per month just for the unemployment rate to stay even, and many more for the United States to return to economic health. The problem is there's been little sign of significant new job creation.

Newman wanted to know why the entrepreneurship that marked the end of past U.S. recessions doesn't seem to be happening in this one, so he spoke to Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes entrepreneurship. 

Some of Schramm's observations:
  • Recessions spur entrepreneurial spikes. During recessions, large corporations return to their core business, often eliminating positions held by innovators working on new technologies, products or businesses. When jobs are cut, laid-off professionals often start their own firms. That's a major reason half of all Fortune 500 firms were created during a recession or bear market. They were founded by people out of a job, but who were able to tap important intellectual property to build businesses.

  • Why we're not seeing the creation of new businesses now. "This is the first time in a recession that we've seen new-firm starts decline," Schramm told Newman. Previous funding sources for fledgling small businesses tapping home equity, or even borrowing against retirement plans or on credit cards have dried up during the Great Recession. "That's a difference in terms of direction. Without creating high-growth businesses that helped end previous recessions, "there won't be new jobs ... That means there's a very bleak future for jobs."

  • The recent slight decline in the U.S. unemployment rate doesn't mean job growth is around the corner. "A lot of lost jobs aren't coming back. People who were laid off at GE, for example, are not getting those jobs back. We need to create new firms to hire those people."

  • What job seekers should do. Network, network, network. Get additional relevant education. That can mean, for example, someone with a bachelor's degree returning to a community college to improve or expand computer skills.

  • What a "President Schramm" would do. Rename the Small Business Administration the "New Business Administration" to signify the need to start as many high-growth, high-skill businesses as possible. Suspend cumbersome regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley, but only for small businesses. Offer tax breaks, but again, that only benefit new businesses.
To read Newman's original post, click here.

Great Recession May be Over, but Rocky Recovery Ahead, Experts Say

Although the Great Recession may technically be over, the economy will remain rocky and the nation will continue to struggle well into 2010, the Associated Press reported yesterday.

The AP's monthly analysis of economic stress in more than 3,100 U.S. counties found the economy little changed in October compared with September. Some states saw slight improvement or stabilization, thanks to steadying foreclosure and bankruptcy rates. But the gains may be brief. Unemployment remains high, and the housing market is still weak. The "AP Economic Stress Index" calculates a score from 1 to 100 based on a county's unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates. Under a rough rule of thumb, a county is considered stressed when its score exceeds 11. About 37% of the nation's 3,141 counties were deemed stressed, roughly the same proportion as the previous month.

Nationwide, the average county's Stress score remained unchanged at 10.1 in October, matching September's figure. It was 10.3 in August. A year earlier, in October 2008, the average score was a much lower 6.9.

My home state of Nevada had the highest October stress score of any U.S. state, at 21.09. That dismal figure declined slightly from the October figure of 21.95. Three Nevada counties — Lyon, Clark and Nye — again led the nation in foreclosures in October, with rates ranging from 7.1% to 8.5%, the AP reported. Nevada suffered the biggest year-to-year gain in foreclosures and continued to lead the nation with a 7.2% foreclosure rate. Job loss is a growing reason for mortgage foreclosure, according to AP and because there's typically a 60-to-90-day lag between a job loss and a foreclosure, the effect of earlier job losses on foreclosures probably won't be fully felt until next year.

Not surprisingly, Michigan, which has been battered by auto industry troubles, was second-highest, with a score of 17.36, followed by California (16.48), Florida (15.4) and Arizona (14.37).

Least stressed was North Dakota, with a score of 3.89.

U.S. Unemployment Rate Falls, but Job Recovery Not Expected Until Mid-2010

The government reported good news today, saying the unemployment rate declined in November to 10% from 10.2% in October, the Associated Press reports. Still, the rate remains more than double what it was in December 2007, when the recession began.

Economists said the November jobless report could signal a turnaround in the labor market. But they still expect a tepid recovery. Unemployment is expected to resume rising until around the middle of next year, before employers ramp up hiring enough to start pushing the jobless rate down.

"There are signs that recovery is on the way nationally ... but it's not playing itself out uniformly," Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of Central Florida, told the AP. "Some areas are going to be slower than others."

Is the fledgling economic recovery actually a "recovery gap" between rich and less well-to-do Americans?

U.S. News & World Report's Rick Newman makes a interesting observation today on the peridiocal's "Money" blog about the so-called signs that the recession has ended: the rich, who likely gained much more from the recent stock market recovery could be spending more and creating the appearance of a recovery, while the rest of us continue to struggle.

Although the twin crashes in the stock and housing markets meant that rich Americans lost a lot more total wealth than the rest of us and cut back correspondingly, "there's some evidence that wealthy consumers are bouncing back faster than the rest of America," Newman reports.

Because the wealthy aren't jumping to spread their wealth with the rest of us, we may have to wait for the infamous "trickle-down effects," Newmark concludes. "We may actually be in the midst of a two-tier recovery in which life is getting better for a small minority of Americans at the top of the income chain, and they spend enough additional money to drive up spending and other stats and make it look like there's a real recovery," he continues. "But the same so-called recovery could bypass many ordinary Americans, which is what seems to be happening now.

"At least one thing hasn't changed: It's good to be rich. Now as much as ever."

U.S. Unemployment Worsened in Most U.S. Metro Areas in October

Unemployment worsened or stayed the same in most U.S. metro areas in the month of October, according to Labor Department statistics reported by the Associated Press.

The jobless rate rose in 162 of the 372 metro areas tracked by the Labor Department, AP reported. The rate was unchanged in 42 areas and dropped in 168 areas.

The gloomy numbers came on the eve of the Obama administration's "jobs summit," which opened today at the White House and will include economists, academics and corporate executives who whill mull how the government can spur job creation.

COBRA Subsidy Keeping Thousands of Unemployed Insured Expires Today, but Could be Extended

A federally provided subsidy that covered 65% of the medical insurance costs for up to nine months for the unemployed expires today, meaning health insurance costs will skyrocket and likely be out of reach for scores of jobless Americans. But an Illinois Congressman is working to have the subsidy extended.

COBRA requires employers to offer laid-off or terminated employees the same health insurance coverage they had as an employee for up to 18 months, but employees must bear the entire cost themselves, rather than receiving a subsidy most employers extend. This difference can triple or quadruple the cost of coverage. For example, in Illinois, the average family coverage with the subsidy was $389 a month, but without it, it will shoot to $1,139 monthly.

"For many people this is all they have and one of the reasons we need comprehensive health care," Rep. Phil Hare, (D-Ill.), told Chicago's WMAQ-TV. "We have 14,000 people everyday in this country losing their health insurance as it is."

WMAQ-TV reported that Hare has approached Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi about extending the subsidy before the current Congressional session ends. "One way or another it appears the House is going to move on this before we adjourn, which is wonderful news because without it, this is literally life and death for many people," he told the TV station.