TIPS: Employment Trends Mixed for 2013

By Andy O’HearnEmployment Trends
Having just dodged one bullet (fiscal “cliff”) and facing another by the end of February (debt-ceiling increase and the end of the sequester), any predictions need to be ingested with a large particle of sodium chloride. Many businesses are likely to remain wary of expanding or hiring until this issue is resolved.
Older workers, particularly those who’ve been out of work for more than six months, have been disproportionately impacted. So have young workers struggling to launch their careers. One advantage for older workers, however, includes the increase in telecommuting jobs where older workers are not in competition in a working environment filled with young employees.
That said, 2013 is expected to usher in more jobs, but U.S. employers will continue to play it safe, according to CareerBuilder (November 2012 survey).  While the number of employers who are adding headcount is trending up from 2012 (to 26 percent), so is the number planning to reduce staffs (to nine percent). Federal Reserve policymakers have forecast that the unemployment rate will fall to 7.4 percent, at best, by year’s end. Economists regard a “normal” rate as 6 percent or less.
If all the budgetary uncertainty can be resolved within the next few months, economists expect growth to pick up in the second half of 2013.
ManPowerGroup™ survey results were similar, as were those of Glassdoor and The Conference Board. Randstad numbers are a little more optimistic. Some small businesses, however, are hedging, due to The Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare.
Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses that employ at least 50 full-time workers—or the equivalent, including part-time workers—must offer health insurance to staffers who work at least 30 hours a week. Employers that don’t provide coverage must pay a $2,000-per-worker penalty, excluding the first 30 employees.
The so-called employer mandate to offer health coverage doesn’t take effect until January 1, 2014. But to determine whether employees work enough hours on average to receive benefits, employers must track their schedules for three to 12 months prior to 2014—meaning many are restructuring payrolls now or will do so early next year.
According to an October 2012 survey from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), 10 percent of small businesses are planning to grow their workforce; 11 percent plan to reduce headcount.
On the other hand, Elance predicts that with the advent of Obamacare, many part-time freelancers will ditch their jobs for full-time freelance entrepreneurship. In fact, Elance CEO, Fabio Rosati, says, “The number of full-time employees that quit corporate jobs to work online will triple in 2013.”
Medium-sized businesses with between 50 and 500 employees were the biggest job creators this past December. Unfortunately, New York City was ranked as one of the worst current metro areas for job seekers.
Thanks to record-low interest rates, consumers have whittled their debts to about 113 percent of their after-tax income. That’s the lowest share since mid-2003, according to Haver Analytics. The holiday shopping season in 2012, however, produced the worst year-over-year performance since 2008.
Fully one-third (33.3%) of advertising and marketing executives surveyed say they are planning to fill design or marketing positions in the first quarter of 2013.
The vast majority of hiring managers say they expect to increase tech (IT) staffing over the next six months, with many indicating that the increase in available positions will be “substantial,” according to a recent survey report from Dice.
After years of virtually no hiring and as the housing market recovers, governments are expected to hire again, says Marisa Di Natale, economist at Moody’s Analytics. For 2013, state governments, in particular, are expected to add 70,000 jobs.
And lastly, as a side note, continue to pay close attention to your social media activity. Nearly two in five companies are using social networking sites to research job seekers’ every online move.

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