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More News From the World of HR

Compiled by SHRM Online Staff  7/31/2014
U.S. Jobless Claims Up, Wage Growth Starting to Push Higher
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, but the underlying trend pointed to a continuing strengthening of labor market conditions. Other data on Thursday suggested a long-awaited acceleration in wage growth was imminent, with labor costs recording their largest increase in more than 5-1/2 years in the second quarter.

U.S. Jobless Claims Drop to Eight-Year Low in Past Month
Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment insurance benefits over the past month than at any time in more than eight years, signaling employers are hanging on to workers as demand improves. The four-week average of jobless claims, considered a less volatile measure than the weekly figure, dropped to 297,250, the lowest since April 2006.
Bloomberg News

How Many Companies Replace Workers with Technology?
The American love-hate relationship with automation goes back for nearly two centuries. Take, for example, the "Ballad of John Henry." That song, written after the Civil War, describes an Industrial Age contest between a legendary railroad steel driver and his hammer, pitted against a steam-powered drill.
CBS News

For Digital Temps, A Safety Net Emerges
Companies such as TaskRabbit Inc., which matches freelance helpers with odd jobs, boast they are transforming the world of work, giving people the freedom to do what they like when they like. Yet that flexibility comes at a cost: such work typically lacks the safety net of benefits, wage protections or job security that are afforded to those with more permanent arrangements.
Wall Street Journal

Is There a Fair Way for Employers to Match 401(k) Contributions?
By offering a company-sponsored 401(k) plan, small-business owners can improve their odds of recruiting and retaining employees — and also make it easier to save for their own retirement in the process. As explained in a small-business guide we have just published, this is particularly true when companies sweeten the deal by matching employee contributions.
New York Times

Obama Cracks Down on Labor Breaches by Contractors
President Barack Obama is pushing government contractors to stop violating labor laws if they want to keep taking federal money. The White House says Obama will sign an executive order Thursday requiring contractors to divulge any labor violations in the past three years when they seek large contracts.
Washington Post

Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Anti-Collective Bargaining Law
Wisconsin's controversial 2011 law that severely limited collective bargaining for public workers, sparked massive protests and drove the failed effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker was upheld Thursday by the state's highest court. The Court closed the book on the last of the major legal disputes over Act 10, ending a three-year legal struggle with its 5-2 decision.

There Are a Lot More 50-Somethings Working Three Jobs
Three jobs. That's the new reality for many older workers. Today, 115,000 people over the age of 55 are working three jobs, according to the Department of Labor. That's a 170 percent increase from 43,000 in 1994, when the government began keeping these records, and a 60 percent increase from before the Great Recession in 2006.

Report: Americans Borrowing Less for College
Americans are borrowing less and paying more out of pocket to cover college costs, Sallie Mae, a financial services company specializing in education, says in a report released Thursday. Sarah Ducich, a senior vice president at Sallie Mae, said tuition is rising but parents are keeping college spending nearly constant by cutting costs of things like housing and textbooks.

Can You Fire Employees Who Smoke?
Despite data showing that each smoker costs their employer nearly $6,000 in lost productivity and higher medical costs, employers are still bound by laws when it comes to smoker discrimination. In many states, it’s illegal to discriminate against smokers, with worker rights advocates stating that employers have no jurisdiction over what an employee does after work hours.

Retirement Planning? Know What Your Goals Are
The single best piece of advice, which I received early in my career and have given hundreds if not thousands of times in the past 20 years, is a combination of planning and investment advice. Before you invest you have to know what you are investing for.
Christian Science Monitor

Target Names Brian Cornell CEO
Hiring an outside leader for the first time, Target named PepsiCo executive Brian Cornell as the retailer's new CEO Thursday, nearly three months after former CEO Gregg Steinhafel stepped down as the brand dealt with the aftermath of a reputation-threatening holiday data breach and difficulties with its Canada stores.

As Volunteerism Explodes in Popularity, Who’s It Helping Most?
As you plan—or even go—on your summer vacation, think about this: More and more Americans are no longer taking a few weeks off to suntan and sight see abroad. Instead they're working in orphanages, building schools and teaching English. It's called volunteer tourism or “volunteerism.”
National Public Radio

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