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Timesizing News, April 2-30, 2010 +May 1
[Commentary] ©2010 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 117, Harvard Sq PO, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080


4/30-5/01/2010  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Missouri amends its UI law regarding extended benefits, shared work program, 4/30 HR.CCH.com
    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Missouri has amended its Employment Security Law as follows:
    Extended benefits. The rules regarding the state “on” indicator have been changed. Under prior law, there would be an “on” indicator for a week if the unemployment rate for weeks beginning on or after February 1, 2009, and ending on or before December 5, 2009, met certain conditions. Under current law, this section now is applicable beginning February 1, 2009, and continues until the week ending four weeks prior to the last week of unemployment for which 100% federal sharing is available, or March 3, 2011, whichever occurs first.
    *Shared work program. The law now allows an individual to be eligible for shared work benefits for 52 weeks during the 12-month period of the shared work plan. Prior law only allowed such benefits for 26 weeks.

  2. Another workers group reaches deal with township - AFSCME local agrees to shorter week, cutting $77,000 in 2010 expenses, by Audrey Levine, 5/01 (4/29) Packet Online via centraljersey.com
    HILLSBOROUGH, N.J. - The township announced Monday that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees [AFSCME] Local 3697 Council 73 has agreed to a 2.5-hour workweek reduction, which translates to a 6.2 percent salary reduction each year over the next two and a half years.
    ”We’re working hard to avoid layoffs, and there has been great support from the unions,” Mayor Frank DelCore said. “They are willing to make concessions, and we are very pleased with the way the negotiations are going.”
    According to the agreement, as of July 1, the 42 union members will begin working 37.5-hour workweeks with staggered hours to keep the municipal building open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day.
    The shorter workweek will result in the salary reductions for employees, creating a $77,000 savings to taxpayers for 2010 as well as a savings of $160,000 in 2011 and $167,000 in 2012.
    Township Clerk Kevin Davis said the AFSCME contract expires Dec. 31, 2012, so the 37.5-hour workweek will be in effect until that time after which it can be continued or adjusted.
    According to Mayor DelCore, this solution will be beneficial to the township for the long term because the concession is carrying over for the next three years and will result in continued savings.
    ”This is not a one-time issue,” he said. “This works for us because we get the benefit of having this over three years.”
    Mayor DelCore said the choice to move to a shorter workweek, rather than accept a salary freeze for the year, was made entirely by the union members. He said all the unions have been presented with options they could take advantage of, and the AFSCME chose to move forward in this way.
    ”The shorter week was their choice,” he said. “We don’t know what the rationale was [yes "we" do - you just said it was to avoid layoffs and a salary freeze], but the savings are the same.”
    In addition, with the concession by the union, the township will rescind its issuance of layoff notices to the members as it also did when the Public Works Employees Association agreed to no salary increase for 2010.
    At the April 13 meeting, the Township Committee authorized the issuance of notices to all union employees that layoffs would take effect July 1 if they were necessary. Layoffs have not been authorized yet, and both the Public Works Employees Association and the AFSCME will be excluded from any necessary.
    At the same time the Public Works Employees Association agreed to no salary increase, the township’s 12 department heads and 12 nonunion employees agreed to the same.
    To account for all the union agreements, the Township Committee approved several resolutions Tuesday to authorize the contract changes. In the first resolution, the committee approved the no salary increase for 2010 for department heads and nonunion members.
    ”It’s really overwhelming,” Deputy Mayor Gloria McCauley said. “People are giving up their own finances to help the township and the taxpayers.”
    The committee also approved a resolution to authorize the shortened workweek for AFSCME members.
    ”Employees did the right thing in an overwhelming vote,” Mayor DelCore said. “And through the agreement to stagger their hours, there will be no loss to public services.”
    A third resolution concerning the salary freeze for members of the Public Works Employees Association was tabled during the meeting because the attorney for the union has not yet reviewed the memorandum of agreement.
    Discussions still are ongoing with the Hillsborough Local 205 of the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association and Dispatchers Local 701.


4/28-29/2010  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Shared work, letter to editor by Kansas Secretary of Labor JIM GARNER, 4/28 (4/27) Topeka Capital Journal via cjonline.com
    TOPEKA, Kans. - For the past two decades, the *Shared Work Program through the Kansas Department Labor has been helping Kansas businesses retain their skilled work force while avoiding harmful layoffs. Hundreds of Kansas businesses, and thousands of Kansas workers, have benefitted from the program, which provides workers experiencing reduced work hours with partial unemployment benefits. In some cases, the Shared Work Program has been all that has kept a business afloat during a period of low production.
    That's why I was more than a little dismayed to read an editorial in the April 18 edition of this newspaper that wholly misrepresented the program and its purpose. The editorial board of this newspaper, which apparently did little to learn about the Shared Work Program before offering their opinion, claimed the program was developed specifically for furloughed workers in the state court system. The suggestion was that private sector employees in similar circumstances would not have received similar treatment.
    In fact, hundreds of private sector businesses have received exactly the same treatment. The requirements to participate in the program are set out in statute - which means KDOL cannot alter requirements for any employer. The Capital-Journal's coverage of the plan approved for furloughed court workers indicated the department had "put together" the program for the court workers. What representatives of the agency did was help the judicial branch complete the application for the program, which consists of a two-page form. The same type of assistance is provided to any employer applying to the program.
    Last year, 509 employers had approved plans in the program, and already this year there are more than 130 approved plans. Newspapers around the state have written about the program over the years. I think that with a little effort the editorial board could have learned more about this long-standing program to benefit Kansas employers and their employees.
    I can only hope the misrepresentation of the program at the hands of this newspaper will not prevent Kansas employers and employees from reaping the benefits of this extremely worthwhile program.

  2. Germany's jobs miracle: Short-time work, flexible contracts and healthy companies; Unemployment rose only 200,000 from October 2008 low, 4/28 FinFacts.ie
    DUBLIN, Ireland - Germany's jobs miracle: Despite enduring the worst recession since 1945, Germany achieved a remarkable success in holding unemployment growth at about 200,000 from an October 2008 low, through a mix of short-time work, flexible labour contracts and healthy companies coming into the downturn.
    Deutsche Bank Research in a report published on Tuesday, says that while pessimists had forecast at the onset of the recent economic crisis that the jobless total would eventually rise to over 5 million and the unemployment rate to over 12%, the German labour market remained relatively stable. The number of unemployed has increased by barely 200,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.38 million since its low in October 2008. Not even the unusually severe winter resulted in any significant increase. Since summer 2009 the number of unemployed has even been on a declining trend.
    All in all, the unemployment rate has risen by less than ½ pp, to 8% at last reading. Among the major industrial countries, Germany posted one of the smallest increases in unemployment anywhere, which comes as a surprise since German GDP took one of the hardest hits in 2009 at minus 5%, outstripped only by Ireland and Finland. In France, the contraction was not even half as pronounced at 2.2%. According to International Labour Office (ILO) data, since Q4 2008 the standardised unemployment rate has risen by 1 to 1 ½ pp in Belgium, the United Kindom and the Netherlands, close to 2 pp in France, roughly 5 pp in Spain and some 6 pp in Ireland. However, during the last two decades, Germany‘s performance differed considerably from that of the other countries. After reunification, employment grew by an average of 0.2% p.a. in Germany, noticeably trailing the trends in France and Italy (0.7% p.a.) and Spain (2.6% p.a.) in particular. Now, Germany has miraculously outperformed with a "mini- Beschäftigungswunder" (employment miracle).
    Germany's jobs miracle: Despite enduring the worst recession since 1945, Germany achieved a remarkable success in holding unemployment growth at about 200,000 from an October 2008 low, through a mix of short-time work, flexible labour contracts and healthy companies coming into the downturn.
    Deutsche Bank Research in a report published on Tuesday, says that while pessimists had forecast at the onset of the recent economic crisis that the jobless total would eventually rise to over 5 million and the unemployment rate to over 12%, the German labour market remained relatively stable. The number of unemployed has increased by barely 200,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.38 million since its low in October 2008. Not even the unusually severe winter resulted in any significant increase. Since summer 2009 the number of unemployed has even been on a declining trend.
    All in all, the unemployment rate has risen by less than ½ pp, to 8% at last reading. Among the major industrial countries, Germany posted one of the smallest increases in unemployment anywhere, which comes as a surprise since German GDP took one of the hardest hits in 2009 at minus 5%, outstripped only by Ireland and Finland. In France, the contraction was not even half as pronounced at 2.2%. According to International Labour Office (ILO) data, since Q4 2008 the standardised unemployment rate has risen by 1 to 1 ½ pp in Belgium, the United Kindom and the Netherlands, close to 2 pp in France, roughly 5 pp in Spain and some 6 pp in Ireland. However, during the last two decades, Germany‘s performance differed considerably from that of the other countries. After reunification, employment grew by an average of 0.2% p.a. in Germany, noticeably trailing the trends in France and Italy (0.7% p.a.) and Spain (2.6% p.a.) in particular. Now, Germany has miraculously outperformed with a "mini- Beschäftigungswunder" (employment miracle).
    Despite the deepest recession in post-war history the German labour market has remained surprisingly stable. Barely 200,000 jobs have been lost since October 2008.
    * The factors responsible for Germany's jobs miracle were the extension of the *Kurzarbeit short-time work scheme, less paid overtime and the reduction of positive balances on working-time accounts. All in all, the cutback in working time saved around 1.2 million jobs.
    * The ability to weather the storm was predicated on the greater flexibility of the German labour market and in particular the financial health of companies before the crisis.
    * However, companies are probably gradually running out of workforce management options, so the unemployment rate is set to inch up further in 2010/11.
    * With an unemployment rate of only slightly over 9% by then, this would be a success story by international standards.
    The report says with the onset of the economic crisis in autumn 2008 the number of short-time workers skyrocketed, peaking at over 1.5 million in mid- 2009. This was the highest reading since the reunification years when the number of short-time workers had climbed to over 2 million. Since mid-2009 the number has declined again by a good 40%, to just under 0.9 million. The reduction of short-time work in summer 2009 was probably attributable to the holiday season, but the further decrease towards year-end 2009 suggests that companies started to increase working hours again as their order books swelled in the course of the global recovery. On average, short-time workers were employed for roughly two-thirds of their normal working hours.
    The Deutsche Bank Research economists Stefan Schneider and Bernhard Graef say that not only the extension of the short-time work programme but also other factors can help explain Germany‘s jobs miracle. These are mainly attributable to a labour market that has become more flexible as a whole thanks to more modern collective wage agreements and the Hartz labour and welfare reforms enabling companies to react more nimbly in adjusting working hours when demand slumps and thus to secure employment. The opening clauses agreed in the collective bargaining process were used to adjust working hours and wages to match order levels.
    The fact that the companies could respond so flexibly to the collapse in demand and nearly maintain their headcounts was not only attributable to the more flexible labour market structures but above all to their financial health. An analysis by Germany‘s Bundesbank says that in comparison with past recessions, the companies entered the downswing with higher cash flows, better profitability and noticeably more robust financial health.


4/25-26-27/2010  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Pennsylvania Labor and Industry Secretary Praises House for Passing Work Sharing Bill - Urges Senate to Act Swiftly to Establish Program in Use in 17 Other States, 4/26 PR Newswire-USNewswire via PRNewswire.com (press release)
    HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Labor & Industry Secretary Sandi Vito today applauded the House of Representatives for unanimously passing House Bill 2160, a measure that would establish a work sharing program in Pennsylvania to help prevent layoffs.
    "This legislation is about protecting good jobs now and in the future," Vito said. "It is also about ensuring that Pennsylvania's companies remain competitive and its workers continue to provide for their families, especially during times of recession. I urge the Senate to now act swiftly to provide employers and employees with this valuable tool for economic success."
    Work sharing would enable businesses to avoid permanent layoffs by reducing the number of regularly scheduled hours of work for all or part of their workforce. Employees whose hours are reduced through a work sharing program would be eligible for unemployment compensation for those lost work hours. Because work sharing is an alternative to layoffs, there would be no additional costs to the commonwealth's Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund.
    Seventeen states have enacted work sharing programs, which were first adopted in California, Arizona and Oregon in 1982. Pennsylvania is one of seven states considering work sharing legislation.
    The popularity of work sharing has increased during the current economic recession. Nationwide, the number of employees filing new work sharing claims increased to 341,200 in 2009, from 117,400 in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
    Media contact: David Smith, 717-787-1323
    SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry

  2. Paterson seeks to furlough 100000 workers a week, by Tom Precious [!], Buffalo News via 4/27 DailyCaller.com
    ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. David A. Paterson will ask the State Legislature to let him begin furloughing as many as 100,000 state workers each week until the stalled 2010 state budget is in place.
    The governor today also said the state’s fiscal picture is at crisis proportions, and wants lawmakers to also end their three-day workweek in Albany and remain at the Capitol at least five days a week until the budget is adopted.
    “I’m trying not to be acrimonious,” Paterson told reporters this afternoon.
    [Full story -]
    Paterson wants OK to put state workers on furlough, by Tom Precious, Albany Bureau, BuffaloNews.com
    ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. David A. Paterson is asking the State Legislature to let him begin putting as many as 100,000 state workers on furlough one day a week until the stalled 2010 state budget is in place.
    The governor also said the state's fiscal picture is at crisis proportions, and wants lawmakers to remain at the Capitol longer than their current three-day workweek in order to heighten pressure for a fiscal deal.
    But Paterson shied away from forcing the issue, which he could have done by inserting the furlough measure into emergency bills the Legislature is passing each week to keep the government running in the absence of a final budget. But Robert Megna, Paterson's budget director, did not rule out taking such a step if the Legislature fails to act on the furlough plan in the next week.
    The state would save $30 million a week by putting about 70 percent of the workers under the control of the executive branch on furlough. Not affected would be direct health care workers and those involved in public safety, as well as non-executive branch agencies, such as the Legislature, public colleges or authorities.
    State worker unions, threatening legal action, said a furlough plan would be in violation of their existing contracts.
    "Nuts," was the one-word response to the Paterson plan by Danny Donohue, president of the Civil Service Employees Association, the largest state workers union.
    State lawmakers, who are facing re-election this fall, were in no rush to force public employees to take one unpaid day every week until the budget is adopted.
    Democrats who run the Senate said there are "substantial legal issues" with current collective bargaining agreements involved in cutting the hours of workers, said a spokesman for Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson.
    "The governor has the right to manage the size of the state work force. He doesn't need the Legislature to authorize him to do anything in that regard," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
    Some lawmakers have privately wondered why Paterson does not lay off state workers.
    The administration has responded that it has a memorandum of understanding with its two largest unions not to conduct any layoffs until at least next Jan. 1 as part of a deal last year in which unions agreed to help lower pension costs for the state for future government hires. But lawmakers say that deal is squishy compared to the contracts he apparently would break by going the furlough route.
    The governor, while offering some praise to lawmakers, also questioned their work ethic, saying it is not enough that they are at the Capitol only three days a week since the beginning of the fiscal year came and went on April 1 without a budget. The government has been running on a series of weekly, emergency appropriation measures the past month.
    But the governor has the power to call special sessions of the Legislature to force the houses to meet — a route he took last year.
    Asked why he does not use that power, Paterson said, "I'm trying not to be acrimonious."
    Paterson said he is introducing the furlough legislation because public employee unions have not agreed to take a pay freeze or other steps to find $250 million in proposed payroll savings. Union officials have said they are not interested in contract givebacks, and have suggested other ways for Paterson to save money.
    The governor and lawmakers remain about $3 billion apart in reaching a budget consensus to close a $9.2 billion deficit on a spending plan that will total about $136 billion.
    Paterson also unveiled another $620 million in cuts and revenue hikes to help close the deficit. He called on the Senate and Assembly to vote up or down today on his overall proposal.
    But even if they took his advice, which neither house indicated it would, the measures would be defeated. Paterson, however, insisted the mere act of taking up his budget could help jump-start stalled talks.
    The governor said he has been waiting for the Democratic-run Assembly and Senate to strike their own budget deal in response to the budget he proposed in January. "That's not working," he said.
    The new spending cuts proposed by Paterson include cuts to arts programs, the Tuition Assistance Program for college students, mental health services, tobacco prevention efforts, extra money for hard-to-staff school districts to lure teachers and a delay in roof work on the state Capitol. He also would delay some business tax breaks and raise taxes on chewing tobacco and little cigars.
    Paterson's furlough plan would leave it up to agency commissioners to plan how workers would take off one day a week without pay.
    "Of course, asking workers to stay home is going to reduce services to some extent," said Megna, the budget director.
    The furlough plan would not affect tens of thousands of non-union workers known as management confidential employees. Those workers, unlike unionized workers who just saw 4 percent pay increases, have not had a salary hike in two years, officials said.
    Earlier in the day, acting state transportation commissioner Stanley Gee came under attack by state lawmakers in a Senate committee meeting for Paterson's decision to delay funding for state-funded road and bridge work — a move that has either frozen pay for contractors or forced some jobs to be halted.
    But Gee, while saying approval of a budget would end the road funding dispute, agreed with lawmakers that delaying the funds is having an impact on jobs and road work. "I'm not in charge. I'm not the budget director," Gee said.
    tprecious@buffnews.com
    [But Gee, this is a Precious story!
    OK OK, Stan & Tom can now tell me to "Phil, hide!"
    (Kate: "nyo-ho-ho")]

  3. Lansing City Council seeks input on mayor's budget proposal, 4/25 LSJ.com via LansingStateJournal.com
    The Lansing City Council is inviting public input on Mayor Virg Bernero’s proposed $109.4 million budget for 2010-11.
    A public hearing is set for 7 p.m. Monday, during the course of the Council’s regular weekly session, on the 10th floor of City Hall, 124 W. Michigan Ave.
    For the budget year starting July 1, Bernero has proposed a four-day, 36-hour workweek for approximately 550 employees, not including police, fire and 911 dispatch services, to help resolve an approximately $12 million gap between revenue and expenses.
    Bernero also has proposed closing Fire Station No. 3 on West Hillsdale Street, early retirement incentives for up to 100 employees, reorganization of some departments, leaving some positions vacant, and closing the Washington Park Ice Complex.


4/23-24/2010  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Four day work week, by Randy Wiebold, 4/23 Amador Ledger-Dispatch,CA via Ledger-Dispatch.com
    JACKSON, Calif. - It's time for a 32 hour, four day work week. The 32 hour work week should have been more than just a thought sixty years ago when women became an integral part of the workforce during and after World War II.
    The need in the work place for one more worker for every four workers should be more than enough to eliminate unemployment of 17 percent. That's right, I said 17 percent, because unemployment has always been 5 percent higher than statisticians report as unemployed.
    With three days off and 20 percent less income to spend consumers would have more time to shop for the best deals. The competition to attract those frugal shoppers would produce a better product for the money and is what capitalism is all about. Imagine, three days off to do other things in your life besides work.
    Workers are always the first folks to take the hit when capitalism takes that all to frequent dive. Personally, and I know a lot of people that agree with me, it's Wall Street that should be thrown into the street and that bail out given to Main Street and working people so entrepreneurs can stay in business and workers in their homes.

  2. Exempt and Non-Exempt Employees: What's the Difference? by Marlin and Saltzman LLP, 4/24 24-7PressRelease.com
    Whether an employee is classified as exempt or non-exempt under state and federal labor laws can make all the difference in the world. Here's why: non-exempt employees are entitled to certain benefits exempt employees are not, including overtime wages.
    Non-Exempt Employees and Overtime Laws
    Employers are required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to pay non-exempt employees for the first 40 hours of work in any given workweek at their regular rate of pay. Once a non-exempt employee works more than 40 hours for the workweek, then the employer is required to pay the employee one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay for each hour over 40.
    State law, and particularly California law, trumps federal law whenever it provides greater protections than required federally. In the case of overtime compensation and employment law in general, California law often provides more expansive rights to employees than federal law. Accordingly, employers in the state must comply with the broader protections found under the California Labor Code, particularly when it comes to overtime compensation and exempt and non-exempt status.
    Under California law, employers are required to pay non-exempt employees for the first 40 hours of any given workweek at their regular rate of pay, and thereafter at required overtime rates. Non-exempt employees are entitled to receive overtime compensation based not only on the number of hours they work in the workweek, but also based on the number of hours they work each work day. Thus, California law requires employers to pay non-exempt employees overtime at the following rates:
    - At one-and-a-half times the regular rate of pay for any hours worked over eight in any given work day or over 40 in any given workweek
    - At two times the regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 12 in any given workday
    Employees who work seven consecutive days in a workweek also are entitled to overtime compensation at the following rates:
    - At one-and-a-half times the regular rate of pay for the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive work day in a workweek
    - At two times the regular rate of pay for any hours over eight worked on the seventh consecutive work day in a workweek
    Exempt Employees
    Certain classifications of employees are exempt and thus not entitled to receive overtime compensation under either the FLSA or the California Labor Code. Some of the more common types of employee categories that are listed as exempt under federal and state law include:
    - Executive, administrative and professional employees
    - Computer software employees
    - Managers
    - Outside sales employees
    - Certain professionals
    - Physicians and surgeons
    In California, an employee's job duties and time spent carrying out those duties are the most important considerations when determining whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt. The employee's job title alone is not sufficient to make this determination.
    For example, just because an employee has "manager" in his or her job title does not mean the employee is automatically exempt. California law requires that managers spend at least 50% of their time performing managerial duties, like directing the work of at least two employees. Additionally, managers must be paid wages at least two times the state minimum wage for full-time employment.
    California law also provides a number of exceptions to state overtime rules. For example, employees with alternative workweek schedules, like health care workers, are listed as exceptions. However, just because a category of employees is listed as an exception does not mean they are not entitled to overtime compensation; in many instances, these employees still are entitled to overtime, but it just calculated using a different formula.
    Status Misclassification and Your Legal Options
    Employers, whether purposefully or by mistake, sometimes misclassify non-exempt employees as exempt and fail to pay them the overtime compensation and other benefits they are owed under state law.
    If an employee believes he or she has been misclassified as exempt, the employee either can file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement or can file a lawsuit against his or her employer.
    If the employee no longer works for the employer, the employee also may file a claim for a waiting time penalty. Under California law, employers are expected to pay all wages owed to an employee in a timely manner. When this does not occur based on a willful act by the employer, then the employee may seek a penalty against the employer in addition to the unpaid wages.
    For more information on filing a wage claim or lawsuit for unpaid wages, contact an experienced employment law attorney today. In addition to overtime, you may be entitled to other types of compensation. An attorney can review your claim and help you determine the best course of action to take.
    Article provided by Marlin and Saltzman, LLP
    Visit us at *www.marlinandsaltzman.com

  3. Pittsburg schools approves $11.2 million in budget changes, by Paul Burgarino, 4/24 ContraCostaTimes.com
    PITTSBURG, Calif. - The school board here approved about $11.2 million in budget savings this week, possibly enough to balance the district's budget over the next three years.
    Depending on the governor's revised budget in May and how many employees opt for an early retirement incentive, Pittsburg trustees may not have to consider more cost-cutting options, Superintendent Barbara Wilson said.
    New information the district received this week indicates that state tax revenue was slightly ahead of expectations, Wilson said.
    The prognosis "might not be quite as bad," she said.
    Pittsburg's actions this week included offering its own special education classes instead of contracting them to other agencies, making bus routes more efficient, and reducing energy use. The district also expects enrollment to increase at Pittsburg High School as more local families decide to enroll their students at the new campus, resulting in more state funding.
    If further cuts are required to balance the district's $75.5 annual million budget, options include increasing class sizes for first, second and third grades; reducing the work day for teachers by two days coupled with a 1.09 percent salary cut for nonteaching positions; early retirement incentives for longtime teachers and employees; and cutting the summer workweek.


4/21-22/2010  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Finley announces extension, by Jeff Helsdon, Tillsonburg Independent via 4/21 TillsonburgNews.com,ONT
    TILLSONBURG, Ont., Canada - Haldimand-Norfolk MP Diane Finley recently announced the extension of a program that has protected more than 1,100 jobs in the tri-county area.
    Finley announced work-sharing measures would be extended on April 9. The program allows employers to operate temporarily with a three or four-day work week and avoid temporary layoffs by allowing employees to collect Employment Insurance on days they don't work.
    The program allows employers to avoid costly retraining and rehiring costs if they lay off employees. Employees are able keep working and not have to go through the job search process.
    "What this does is protect jobs. From the employer's point of view, they get to keep people with the skills that they need and from the employee's perspective, they get to keep their skills sharp but they are also able to keep their jobs and continue to look after their families," the minister said to QMI Agency.
    Budget 2010 provided an extension to the Work-Sharing provisions introduced the previous year. These provisions extended Work-Sharing agreements by 26 weeks up to 78 weeks from the usual 52. The extensions will apply until April 2, 2011.
    Locally, there are 17 Work-Share projects in Haldimand-Norfolk, 52 in Elgin-Middlesex-London and 41 in Oxford. The number of jobs protected through this initiative is, respectively: 106, 522 and 608.
    "We are seeing some major signs of recovery ... but we are not out of the woods yet. And there are still several companies that are even just now starting to really feel the pinch in their markets - we want to be there to help them and their employees," Finley said.
    The budget extends work-sharing by up to 78 weeks until April 2011.

  2. Germany's Secrets for a Steadier Job Market, by Jack Ewing, 4/21 New York Times (blog) via economix.blogs.nytimes.com
    The German labor market has been surprisingly bulletproof during the economic downturn, outperforming the United States and already beginning to tick downward, falling to 8.5 percent in March from 8.7 percent a year earlier.
    Two recent reports help explain why. The reports offer some lessons that could be applicable in the United States and other countries.
    One big reason Germany has kept a lid on unemployment, already well known, is the widespread use of so-called short work — “Kurzarbeit” in German. The scheme allows companies to cut workers’ hours, with the government making up some of the lost wages.
    During the first quarter of 2010, 22 percent of firms surveyed by the Ifo Institute, a Munich research organization, said they were using Kurzarbeit. Among manufacturers, 39 percent were taking advantage of it.
    One reason Kurzarbeit is so popular with companies is that it allows them to hang on to skilled workers. As the Commerzbank economist Eckart Tuchtfeld points out in a note issued Wednesday, Germany’s highly specialized companies have found during previous upswings that their growth was held back by lack of highly trained people. (Germany is chronically short of engineers.)
    Kurzarbeit has allowed companies to keep their work forces intact, suggesting that the German economy could be poised to snap back pretty quickly as demand recovers.
    According to the Ifo survey, 34 percent of companies that are using Kurzarbeit plan to start reducing it, while only 14 percent plan to expand its use. Companies such as the automaker Daimler have already begun increasing working hours again.
    Kurzarbeit tends to get the most attention, but Mr. Tuchtfeld at Commerzbank said in his report that there were some other factors at work that were also crucial to saving German jobs.
    The most important may be the increasing use in the last decade of so-called work-time accounts. Often as part of contracts with labor unions, companies allow workers to bank overtime hours during busy periods, and then take paid time off when business is slow.
    It’s still true that German law makes it costly and difficult to dismiss workers outright, and that the country scores in the middle of the labor market regulation index maintained by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But the nation, which values labor peace and job security, seems to have been able to find other ways to build in flexibility.
    “From around the mid-1990s onwards,” Mr. Tuchtfeld wrote, “rigid working hours were increasingly replaced by regulations that allow companies to make more flexible use of their staff.”
    The bottom line, Mr. Tuchtfeld calculated, is that without the flexibility measures, about five million Germans would be jobless today, instead of the 3.5 million that actually are unemployed. And he expects the numbers to continue falling.

  3. [British notice of above NYT story -]
    20000 vacant opportunities for working in Germany, 4/22 LibertyBishop.co.uk
    IT professionals may be tempted to consider working in Germany after a report revealed there are thousands of available jobs in the country.
    Research by German technology and telecoms association Bitkom found there are 20,000 available IT jobs in the country, report Reuters.
    The study said skilled professionals are needed to fill the jobs in order to bring the country's infrastructure up to standard.
    August-Wilhem Scheer, head of Bitkom, said: "Important infrastructure such as the health sector, traffic or energy need to be modernised with IT and communication technology."
    One of the problems with IT recruitment in Germany according to the study is that there is a lack of women interested in working in the sector.
    Working in Germany could be an attractive option for IT professionals as the country's economy has remained relatively stable throughout the worldwide recession.
    Jack Ewing, economics writer for the New York Times, recently said unemployment in the country has been controlled through Kurzarbeit - reducing the amount of hours employees can work.


4/18-19-20/2010  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Jobs aren't finite, but investment is, by John Tamny, Forbes magazine (4/12) via 4/19 National Center for Policy Analysis via ncpa.org
    [Wrong. Jobs are not only finite but shrinking under a management policy of downsizing in response to technological worksavings instead of timesizing. Investment, too, initially unleashed from graduated income tax and labor-shortage centrifugation of the money supply, begins to strangle itself by coagulating the national income and wealth at the cost of currency circulation and the marketability of the huge productivity that it needs to sustain itself in.]
    Can inefficiency create work?
    [It does in India - 20 women with scissors cut the grass instead of one power mower. Luddism ain't desirable except in comparison to an economic strategy of self-downsizing instead of timesizing. Generally speaking, "efficiency" that increases productionn/supply while decreasing consumption/demand must be called self-destructive and unsustainable, not efficient - unless, with Keynes, your longer-term scenario is "In the long run, we're all dead." Tamny (wry fate has put this persistent error in the mouth of someone whose name sounds like Tammany!) needs a course of ecological economics to lengthen his time horizon beyond the next quarterly report and widen his self-interest to the whole biosphere.]
    Liberal economist Dean Baker and conservative economist Kevin Hassett think so. They have teamed up to promote the concept of "work sharing" as a solution to the high U.S. unemployment rate. Unfortunately, the scheme will make finding employment more -- not less -- difficult, says economist John Tamny.
    What is work sharing?
    [Worksharing is a temporary version of timesizing based on unsustainable unemployment insurance taxes instead of sustainable overtime (employment-coagulation) taxes with exemption for reinvestment in OT-targeted hiring, and training wherever needed.]
    * Under a work sharing program, firms are encouraged by government policy to spread a small amount of the pain across many workers.
    * In a typical arrangement, a worker might see his weekly hours go down by 20 percent, and his salary go down by about 4 percent.
    Baker/Hassett confuses what drives job creation, says Tamny:
    * At its core, job creation is a function of investment -- where there's investment, jobs are plentiful.
    [Wrong. Sustainable investment is a function of marketable productivity, and marketable productivity is a direct and indirect function of consumer demand. and consumer demand is a function of consumer spending, and consumer spending is a function mostly of employee wages, and employee wages are a function of aggregate perceived labor shortage. For example, during the world wars (1&2), market forces in the USA drove up wages in response to the perceived labor shortage and deconcentrated the self-strangling coagulation of the money supply - the resulting boom in consumer spending and demand created a "rising tide" that "floated all boats" (even the wealthy's) and resulted in the famed "wartime prosperity." But the reduction of the workweek from 1938 to 1940 had already begun this process, so that the waste of war was unnecessary.] * Baker/Hassett will scare away investment, and tax successful companies and individuals to fund their utopian vision.
    [Wrong. Baker/Hassett will create pockets of higher wages and consumer spending and marketable productivity and sustainable investment.]
    To support work sharing, Baker/Hassett proposes that the federal government provide a tax credit to the firms that keep their least valuable workers employed.
    [There are always relatively "least valuable workers" until there are only two workers left. Then there's a relatively "less valuable worker." Once s/he is laid off, the whole output of the economy can be produced by one employee and hundreds of thousands of robots - except that huge whole output will have...no markets.]
    While perhaps compassionate at first glance, how does this help other companies that want to hire but don't have the funds to pay prevailing wages?
    [It helps them by - you saw it above - creating pockets of higher wages and consumer spending.]
    The obvious answer is that the tax subsidy requested by Baker/Hassett will be the burden of expansion minded firms whose growth visions will be thwarted by government policy meant to keep the cost of hiring workers abnormally high, says Tamny.
    [Firms trying to expand in the context of a weakening consumer base are not "expansion" minded but bubble minded - and we've had enough unsustainable bubbles.]
    Worse, for a government that by definition has no resources, for it to stimulate a work sharing program through tax subsidies, it must as a rule depress other, more vibrant parts of the economy.
    [Wrong. a bankrupt government must temporarily restore healthy wartime levels of graduated income tax to centrifuge the money supply out to the hundreds of millions who want and need to immediately spend it, not look for huge profitable investments for it, and a bankrupt government must permanently mandate the reinvestment of overtime profits in OT-targeted hiring (and training if needed) in aid of converting overtime into jobs.]
    For the federal government to essentially pay certain firms to keep workers on their payrolls, the money must come from somewhere, and those depressed in this scenario will be the most productive American firms not in need of a handout, says Tamny.
    [Tell it to Germany, Tamny, and while you talk, Germany will continue to surf the recession with worksharing (Kurzarbeit) and the US economy, which your errors are strangling, will continue to trampoline and plop down a spiral staircase of bubbles and pops.]
    Source: John Tamny, "Jobs Aren't Finite, But Investment Is," Forbes, April 12, 2010.
    [Congratulations to Baker and Hassett for getting workweek reduction back into the national debate after a seventy-year absence! Here's Tamny's original article -]

    Jobs Aren't Finite, But Investment Is - A new ''work-sharing'' proposal will make finding employment more--not less--difficult, by John Tamny, 04.12.10 Forbes magazine
    [There are so many contradictions in Tamny's thinking, it's hard to know where to start. (A) Tamny thinks that jobs depend on investment, nothing else. Now if what you depend on is finite, you're finite. So if what jobs depend on is finite (investment), then jobs are finite. (B) What would someone in the Forbesosphere know about finding jobs anyway? They're all just following in Daddy's footsteps and climbing the Old Boys' Network. (C) Forbesians (as distinguished from "Fabians") know about making money off other people's money (on an increasingly corrupt and unsustainable basis), but not about making money (directly and sustainably). As for the alleged infinitude of jobs, tell it to our nearly 10% officially "unemployed" and the at-least 5% additional unemployed who have poured into welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, and suicide - not to mention the additional at-least 25% marginally employed and underemployed based on our croneyistic but obsolete definition of "full time" based in turn on our old-fashioned,1940s-era 8-hour day and 40-hour week that we've dragged through the age of automation and propped zombie-like into the age of robotization.]
    Years ago, when France was suffering yet another period of high unemployment, its legislators concocted a new idea to bring the rate down: shorter work weeks.
    [Ah, shorter workweeks is hardly "a new idea" - if it was, we'd still be working the 80-plus hour workweeks of the 1840s. The trouble with most English-language economists is - they are totally ignorant of their own economic history.]
    The idea seemed logical for those who believe that one man's job is another's trip to the unemployment line: Just reduce the number of hours one can legally work so that more jobs are created.
    [OK, pal. Let's run your employment-creation plan in the other direction and raise the workweek back to 80-hours a week - let's see how many jobs that creates - or destroys. Put your logic where your mouth is. We're calling your bluff! We have no more time at the moment to rebut the rest of this sow's ear in a silk purse. Tamny is suffering from a common syndrome among mainstream economic "scientists": a partitioned brain that clings to dozens of 180-degree contradictions at the same time, like, we need jobs but downsizing is 'creative destruction,' we need markets but we don't need consumers or employees to serve as those consumers... The tides of human progress are leaving these superficial thinkers behind, in their comfy hemlock clubs. Hey, Tamny, care for a refill?]
    Of course France was hardly unique in suggesting inefficiency as a way to create work. In the U.S., Oregon and New Jersey long ago made it illegal for individuals to pump their own gas. If self-service stations were abolished, then by definition lots of Oregonians and Jersey-ites could secure jobs at filling stations. And then long before anti-productivity measures were put in place in France and the U.S., the Luddites of the 19th century took to destroying mechanical looms as a way of preserving wages for textile artisans.
    Now, with U.S. unemployment still abnormally high, liberal economist Dean Baker has teamed up with conservative economist Kevin Hassett to present the most modern of Luddite concepts to politicians, something called "work sharing." According to Baker and Hassett, "Under a work-sharing program, firms are encouraged by government policy to spread a small amount of the pain across many workers. In a typical arrangement, a worker might see his weekly hours go down by 20%, and his salary go down by about 4%." It seems bad ideas never die, no matter basic history telling us that unemployment has nothing to do with how many or how few individuals are looking for employment.
    The policies sought by the Luddites hundreds of years ago, and by Baker and Hassett now, confuse what drives job creation. At its core, job creation is a function of investment--where there's investment, jobs are plentiful. Unfortunately for those seeking work in what is a difficult job market, Baker and Hassett's proposal will ultimately make finding employment more, not less, difficult by scaring away investment while taxing successful companies and individuals to fund their utopian vision.
    Job searches will become more difficult owing to the paradoxical truth that successful businesses, by virtue of being successful, tend to look for ways to destroy, as opposed to create, jobs. Since there is no investment without profit, the businesses able to do the most with the least amount of workers are the ones that catch the attention of investors.
    Of course this desire among successful businesses to destroy jobs ultimately redounds to the economy and job creation.
    [Yeah sure - like pie in the sky when we die.]
    Indeed, upon arrival at IBM, former CEO Louis Gerstner quickly did away with 60,000 jobs, but by the end of his tenure there, 65,000 new ones were created. As evidenced by the impressive rise of IBM shares under Gerstner, layoffs early on attracted the kind of investment which allowed for more hiring as Big Blue righted itself.
    [And by the end of the next CEOs' tenure, IBM was a mere shadow of its former self - compare Sunbeam after the benefit of Chainsaw Dunlap's tenure.]
    Second, as is often the case, one company's redundant worker is another's treasure. Awful as it is to lose one's job, the positive trade-off to such a scenario for employer and prospective employee alike is that there exist a lot of skilled workers eager to find employment at lower pay than they're used to. One reason recessions are traditionally so short has to do with large companies laying off their marginally least productive workers, only for those same chastened individuals to be snapped up by smaller, more entrepreneurial companies.
    Both parties ultimately gain. Smaller companies are able to hire quality individuals on the relative cheap, and newly hired workers are eager to either correct past mistakes that led to their being laid-off or are eager to prove a point to the firm that laid them off through success in the new job.
    To support their work-sharing plan, Baker and Hassett propose that our federal government provide a tax credit to the firms that keep their least valuable workers employed. While perhaps compassionate at first glance, how does this help other companies that want to hire but don't have the funds to pay prevailing wages? The obvious answer is that the tax subsidy requested by Baker and Hassett will be the burden of expansion-minded firms whose growth visions will be thwarted by government policy meant to keep the cost of hiring workers abnormally high.
    Worse, for a government that by definition has no resources, for it to stimulate a work-sharing program through tax subsidies, it must as a rule depress other, more vibrant parts of the economy. For the federal government to essentially pay certain firms to keep workers on their payrolls, the money must come from somewhere, and those depressed in this scenario will be the most productive American firms not in need of a handout.
    Adam Smith long ago wrote in the Wealth of Nations, "The most decisive mark of the prosperity of any country is the increase of the number of its inhabitants." What Smith meant was that workers were then, as they are now, capital. Where they go, particularly if they're productive, job-creating investment follows.
    Baker and Hassett seem to be saying that work is a finite, zero-sum concept that needs to be subsidized by the industrious. Taking their thinking to a false extreme, the unemployment rate would be lower today if we had less able-bodied individuals within these 50 states. Or conversely, the U.S. economy would be better off--and jobs more plentiful--if some of our most productive workers left the states and the jobs they're doing to others.
    The problem there is that, if the most productive individuals leave the U.S., investment will depart as well. There are no jobs without investment. And if companies are paid by the government to keep workers on their payrolls, the investment loss will grow exponentially for established firms not seeking to do the most with less and small firms missing out on potentially valuable hires secured at reduced wages.
    If we ignore how generous jobless benefits are raising the cost of luring workers from the sidelines, unemployment today isn't presently high due to too many workers seeking jobs as much as investors are scared of an Obama administration with a grandiose sense of self and a grandiose vision of how it will transform the economy. Were those in power more humble, job creating investment would be more plentiful for the government essentially doing nothing.
    No doubt Baker and Hassett will receive a great deal of praise from their establishment compatriots for fashioning a seemingly bipartisan "solution" to unemployment. Sadly for the many individuals seeking work, Baker and Hassett's vision will work against their efforts through the subsidization of inefficiency.
    Not surprisingly, the Baker/Hassett proposal never once mentioned the weak dollar and how its decade-long weakness has driven limited investment away from the productive economy and into the dead-money sectors of housing, gold and art. Neither of them seem to realize that under Presidents Reagan and Clinton, the dollar was strong, and as a result, so was investment such that unemployment was quite low under both.
    Simply put, there's a bipartisan solution that wouldn't cost the government a dime, requires no legislation, and has served Democrats and Republicans well every time it's been tried. The solution involves strengthening and stabilizing the dollar, but the still unanswered question concerns which political party will pick up on what's so obvious. It's the dollar, stupid!
    John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, a senior economist with H.C. Wainwright Economics and a senior economic advisor to Toreador Research and Trading. He writes a weekly column for Forbes.

  2. Avoiding layoffs Program serves businesses, employees, 4/19 WatertownDailyTimes.com,NY
    Thousands of New York jobs have been saved through a little-publicized program that allows businesses to get through difficult economic times without major layoffs or pay cuts to workers.
    Using the work-sharing program, companies can weather a recession or temporary decline in business by reducing employee hours. To compensate workers, the state pays them half of their lost wages out of the federal-state unemployment insurance program.
    New York's *Shared Work program has saved 11,000 jobs in more than 2,300 businesses taking advantage of it, Stateline.org reports. New York's participation has surged seven-fold since 2007.
    The program benefits businesses, employees and the state.
    Rather than lay off workers, companies retain trained employees whose skills may be needed when business revives. There is no need to train new workers to replace those who have moved onto other employment.
    For workers, they still have a job with whatever benefits come with it. They might work less hours and take a small pay cut, but it is certainly less than what they would lose by going on unemployment.
    It calls for a mutual sacrifice, with everyone willing to give up a few hours' pay so neighbors, friends and co-workers can still keep their jobs.
    [But that mutual sacrifice lessens the labor surplus and raises wages as employers have to start bidding against one another for good help. Therefore, sustainable self-interested martyrdom.]
    For the state, it is cheaper than paying full unemployment checks, and workers continue to contribute to the economy. Promotion and administration of the program has not cost the state anything.
    Work-sharing programs, which began in Europe in the 1920s, came to the United States in California in 1978. They have since spread to 16 other states, aided by federal legislation amending the Social Security Act, which authorizes the federal-state unemployment insurance system.
    Seven other states are considering legislation to participate. Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed has also introduced a bill to increase participation by providing federal funds and simplifying the rules to broaden state participation. It should be encouraged.

  3. School budget trimming aims to spare classrooms - Administrators search for cuts that don't hit teachers, programs, by Chelsea Schneider-Kirk (219) 648-3072, 4/20 Gary Post Tribune,IN via post-trib.com
    GRIFFITH, Ind. - A four-day work week during the summer. Experimentation with online course offerings. Nixing school board members' pay.
    Those and other cost-saving measures are being enacted by school districts across the region, so the brunt of state budget cuts don't impact students.
    School administrators already dealing with a nearly $300 million cut in state funding say they're anticipating another round of cuts possibly by December.
    To prepare, school districts are combing through their budgets to prevent devastating cuts to teaching positions and programs. The school system's newsletter made the chopping block in East Porter County Schools, and several districts are offering early retirement options to prevent layoffs.
    "We are looking at everything exceptionally carefully," said Rod Gardin, East Porter superintendent. "Not down to the dollar, but we're looking at every expenditure and every purchase order and questioning if we really need this. If we don't, we don't buy it."
    For this school year, River Forest Community School Corp. used reserves saved from its health insurance plan to help shore up a $528,000 budget shortfall. Those savings, in part, prevented a reduction-in-force of the district's teaching staff, according to River Forest Superintendent James Rice.
    River Forest also has a transfer policy in which parents can opt to pay tuition for students to attend the 1,569-student school district, and those numbers also are increasing.
    "More and more people around the community are saying, 'We would like to send our kids to the schools,'" Rice said. "We're growing in small amounts every year. We aren't declining and that's helped us, too."
    Griffith Public Schools board members no longer receive a stipend for their service, and the school district will operate on a four-day work week during the summer in an effort to save on energy costs.
    "This was the year to do it because we know we'll save energy," said Jeannette Bapst, Griffith's business manager.
    Porter Township Schools piloted an online school day program in its high school last year, and next school year the district's middle and high school students will spend eight days participating in online-based learning from home.
    While the program originally wasn't instituted to save money, but to give students experience in online learning, it will save the district money because buses won't run those days, according to Porter Township Superintendent Nick Brown.
    Teachers are required to be available to answer students' questions on assignments, and computer labs are open for students who don't have access to computers at home.
    Eventually the program will expand to the district's elementary schools.
    "When we surveyed students after the first day, they said assignments were more rigorous than what they have during a regular school day," Brown said. "(Teachers) really were making sure it was quite rigorous, and we're impressed on how students did."
    The district also outsourced and is sharing its technology department with Boone Township Schools, which saves around $75,000 a year. They're also installing hand dryers in bathrooms because those are funded through capital dollars and not out of its general fund.
    "A small district of our size usually doesn't run with a lot of extras," Brown said. "Everyone is trying to look at ways to reduce their budget."


4/16-17/2010  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. How To Ditch The 9-5 Work Week, by Brigitte Yuille, 4/16 Investopedia via San Francisco Chronicle via sfgate.com
    Alternative work arrangements can help ease the balancing act between your job, family and/or school responsibilities. If you have been wrestling with transportation issues, such as a long commute and the skyrocketing costs of fuel eating at your budget, this arrangement may help alleviate some of the stress. The key to creating the opportunity with your employer involves strategic planning and thoughtful negotiations.
    Types of Arrangements
    First, consider the type of arrangement that's ideal not just for your needs, but also for your employer's productivity goal. The most common types of flexible arrangements are flextime, a compressed work week, job sharing, telecommuting or reduced time.

    If you prefer not to change your daily work hours, flextime may be the option for you. This plan gives you the chance to rearrange your schedule in order to avoid problems, such as traffic jams or missing your child's Parent Teacher's Association meeting. You can either come in earlier or stay later. This also allows you to tinker with your lunch hours. For example, you might work 7:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and cut your lunch hour by 30 minutes.
    Rather have a longer weekend? A compressed schedule allows you to tack on another day of rest and enjoyment. Most people typically will have a four-day week with 10-hour days.
    If your workload is an issue, job sharing allows you to split the responsibilities of a full-time job with another worker. You can fashion it so that the days are divided in half or the week may be split, such as working Monday to Wednesday and having someone else complete the work week.
    Drivers with inadequate skills might be encouragement for you to consider telecommuting. This alternative allows you to skip the hustle and bustle of the commute for the ease of walking a couple of feet to your home office either every day or some days.
    You could also reduce your time so that you're working less than 40 hours a week, but the challenge is keeping your benefits such as health, vacation, and sick leave intact. (Starting a new job is stressful but you don't need to sweat about setting up a benefits package. Learn more in Employee Benefits: How To Know What To Choose.)
    Preparing for the Transition
    Before you approach your employer, do the research. Find supporting examples and statistics that show how the arrangement can work. Some benefits you can highlight are:
    * Increased morale, productivity and energy
    * Better employee retention
    * Improved customer satisfaction
    * More interest from job candidates
    * Better accessibility for clients and business contacts in different time zones
    Identify the areas where the arrangement can pose a problem, such as failure of communication and not being included in the planning of company activities. Prepare solutions to alleviate these concerns.
    Job-seekers should identify and investigate companies offering a flexible arrangement and generally wait until they are hired to discuss an understanding. (Learn more in the Top 2010 Job Hunting Tips.)
    Approaching the Boss
    Once you've done the research, try testing it out. For instance, take a day off and conduct some work responsibilities at home. Keep a log of your progress to show how much you were able to accomplish. This test drive will help support your research when you present your formal proposal to your boss. Discuss having a trail period lasting a few months and make sure to schedule regular reviews to help determine any quirks.
    Keep It Flexible
    Flexible arrangements alleviate the whirlwind of the occasional stress related to the responsibilities of being a student and/or parent. In order to achieve this arrangement, determine what best fits your schedule, research and practice before you start negotiating with your boss and make sure to check in with your employer to alleviate any possible issues that may arise once you received the go-ahead.

  2. Lorain City Health Department cuts 6 employees due to budget, by Richard Payerchin rpayerchin@MorningJournal.com, 4/16 MorningJournal.com
    LORAIN, Ohio - Six Lorain City Health Department employees are losing their jobs so the department can balance its budget for 2010.
    The city health board voted to put six staffers on indefinite layoff effective April 23, said Terry Tomaszewski, Lorain health commissioner.
    The positions cut will be two clerk-typists, two public health nurses, one health educator and one sanitarian in training. The move will save about $210,000 for the rest of the year, enough to cover a projected budget deficit of more than $200,000.
    “This is unfortunate,” Tomaszewski said. “We’re dealing with people’s livelihoods. It’s an unfortunate situation.
    “This is difficult for me, not only professionally, but personally as well because you get to know people really well,” he said.
    Slashing the 19-worker department to 13 was the biggest change Tomaszewski could recall since two workers were laid-off in the early 1980s.
    The board voted 3-0 to approve the cut in a special meeting April 7, Tomaszewski said. The workers received two weeks’ notice in letters that went out April 8 and 9.
    “It was very difficult. Probably the most difficult I’ve experienced,” health board member Don Killinger said. “Having served on the board for 10 years, I’ve never had to make a decision to put somebody out on the street.”
    There is no easy way to increase revenues for the department, Killinger said. Grant money could help cover costs, but grants also are limited in how they can be used or how long they last, he said.
    “There is no easy answer for additional funds for the Health Department at this point in time,” Killinger said.
    The health department this year will receive the equivalent of $316,000 from the general fund because the department will save $166,000 in health care costs due to the city using a bond issue to pay for its 2010 health insurance, Mayor Tony Krasienko said. Other city departments also have cut workers, he said.
    “At this point where we are in the budget, to come up with another $200,000 to meet our financial obligations, we’d have no choice but to layoff more firefighters or dig into the police department,” Krasienko said. “Those aren’t good choices.”
    When the health board meets on Wednesday, the program supervisors will present action plans about how the cuts will affect the health department. Tomaszewski predicted some services might have to be eliminated.
    For example, the clerical division of four workers will be cut in half, Tomaszewski said.
    “What do we do? How do we function? These are things that we’re looking at,” he said. He called the cuts a “double-edged sword” because fewer workers might mean less revenue that makes up the health department’s general fund.
    “We need to put ourselves on an action plan to maintain the workload and the revenue we are projected to bring in in 2010,” Tomaszewski said.
    “We’re going to be really scrambling to make sure our revenues are going to be what we projected them to be,” he said.
    The board in March 2009, approved a reduced workweek for the department, which saved the department nearly $163,000 in salary and fringe benefits through the end of 2009.
    The reduced workweek was not a board mandate, but a concession by consensus of the staff, Tomaszewski said. The department this year returned to a five-day workweek in 2010.
    [Too soon, it appears.]
    The workers again considered a reduced workweek for 2010.
    “They looked at all avenues,” Tomaszewski said. “Unfortunately, the savings wouldn’t have been enough.”
    The reduced workweek might have worked starting in January this year; by the start of April, a quarter of the year already had passed, and the reduced week cannot be retroactive, Tomaszewski said.


4/14-15/2010  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Germany tells world how to run an economy, Agence France-Presse via 4/15 Expatica.com
    Germany offered other countries information on how to run their economies in a more efficient fashion on Thursday with the online publication of documents in English on the "German job miracle."
    "Germany's labour market and social policy is of keen interest to other countries," Ursula von der Leyen, labour and social affairs minister, said as she announced the new *www.bmas.de/en website.
    Visitors, she said, would be able to read about the system of *"Kurzarbeit" ("short-time work"), a system credited with keeping a lid on unemployment in Europe's biggest economy despite it suffering its worst recession since 1945.

    Other information on the website includes tips on labour law, occupational health and safety, training, pensions, social security, disabled employees, and something called "social Europe and international relations."
    "In the current world economic crisis, many are particularly interested in the issue of short-time work. Observers abroad have coined the phrase the 'German job miracle'," the minister said.
    "Kurzarbeit" allows firms to slash their overheads by cutting workers' hours, but government money means that employees still get paid most of their salaries for a limited period of time.
    More than a million workers have been covered by the scheme, costing taxpayers some five billion euros (6.8 billion dollars) last year and a projected three billion euros in 2010.
    Since the financial crisis began German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been forthright in singing the praises of the German "social market economy" model and..blam[ing] "Anglo-Saxon" excesses for causing it.
    [And she's right, absolutisch richtig!]

  2. Furloughed court workers to receive some benefits, 4/15 KansasReporter.org (blog)
    TOPEKA, Kan. – There’s a bit of a bright spot for Kansas Judicial branch employees who are in the middle of four Fridays without work.
    The Kansas Department of Labor offers a *“Shared Work Program,” and under that program, judicial workers will be compensated 20 percent of the unemployment benefits they would have received if they had lost their jobs.
    “This wasn’t a program that was devised specifically for the situation, the program has been around for a number of years…. employers do know about it, it’s voluntary on the part of the employers,” said Kathy Toelkes with the Kansas Department of Labor.
    The Shared Work Program is paid for through the Kansas unemployment trust fund, from which all state unemployment benefits are paid. The state of Kansas contributes to that fund, like most other employers in the state.
    The program has been around since 1988, and gives options to employers who face cutting jobs, but need to keep their experienced employees until their business recovers. If the employer creates a plan to reduce hours instead of laying off workers entirely, and the plan is approved by the Department of Labor, workers receive a percentage of the weekly benefit amount of unemployment benefits, depending on the percentage of hours cut. There must be at least 20 percent of an employee’s hours cut, but not more than 40 percent. The Department of Labor approved 509 plans in 2009 and 132 so far this year.
    “It helps employers avoid a layoff, and retain their skilled workforce in times when production is down, and they can’t support same number of workers, they can do this type of program where they reduce the work hours, and workers can receive an unemployment payment,” Toelkes said.
    The judiciary employees were made aware of the Shared Work Program on March 12 when the furloughs were first announced. The judicial branch deliberately made their forced leave plan compatible with the requirements of the Shared Work Program.
    Judiciary workers will receive a debit card with the unemployment benefits, or the money can be directly deposited in to their bank account.
    Kansas was one of the first states to implement the Shared Work Program, but it is now available in many other states like Washington and Missouri.
    If a worker in the courts system is making $14 an hour, his weekly unemployment benefit amount would be about $309 if he lost his job completely. When that number is multiplied by the percentage of hours lost per week—in this case 20 percent—the amount of weekly benefits under the Shared Work Program for this hypothetical situation is about $62.

  3. Germany to extend job subsidies until mid-2012 - draft, 4/14 Reuters via Forexyard.com
    BERLIN - Germany wants to extend its part-time work scheme until mid-2012 to stem job losses, according to a draft law obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
    The country's "Kurzarbeit" work scheme, which has helped deflect the worst of the recession from the labour market, is due to expire at the end of this year.

    The cabinet is set to discuss the draft law next Wednesday.
    "The government is still in the process of coming to an agreement," a Labour Ministry spokesman said.
    Unemployment fell unexpectedly in March, posting its biggest drop since June 2008. The fall was the fourth drop in a row and took the adjusted jobless rate down to 8.0 percent from 8.1 percent in February.
    The "Kurzarbeit" scheme has, however, been cited by the Federal Statistics office as causing a jump in labour costs last year.
    [But however, jumps in labor costs (wages) mean jumps in consumer spending and all dependent markets (that is, ALL other markets), which means a genuine recovery in Germany, compared to just another investment bubble and media-hype "recovery" in USA.]
    (Reporting by Holger Hansen and Sarah Marsh; Editing by Toby Chopra)

    [Here's another version of this story -]
    Germany to Subsidize Short-Time Work to 2012, Handelsblatt Says, by Jana Randow [nice name!], 4/14 Bloomberg.com
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government plans to continue subsidizing its short-time work program into 2012 to prevent job cuts, Handelsblatt reported, citing a draft law.
    The labor agency will remunerate companies for social costs after the seventh month of part-time workers until mid-2012, the newspaper wrote. The plan was due to expire at the end of the year, it said.
    To contact the reporter on this story: Jana Randow in Frankfurt at jrandow@bloomberg.net


4/11-12-13/2010  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Recession takes toll on Mesilla employees' salaries, by Steve Ramirez, 4/11 Las Cruces Sun-News via lcsun-news.com
    MESILLA, N.M. - The consensus among Mesilla town government employees is that it doesn't really matter much who earns what.
    They're just glad to have a job.
    The recession of the past two years has had a serious affect on revenues generated by the town of Mesilla. With its economy based solidly based on the tourism industry, Mesilla has seen the revenues needed to pay for town government dwindle to virtually bare bones. It's been a struggle the past two years for elected town officials to make sure costs don't exceed revenues, and the Mesilla board of trustees now has a monthly practice of reviewing gross receipts tax reports, generated by the state, and meeting in closed session to discuss personnel issues.
    Those personnel issues have routinely focused on Mesilla's ability to continue to provide services to residents without cutting the number of workers too much.
    "We do struggle, don't get me wrong," said Juan Fuentes, town clerk and treasurer. "But the reality is that the money's just not there. We all realize we're in a tough bind here, but we haven't seen a high turnover. I think most of the employees believe we're fortunate to be working, to have jobs."
    With 70 percent of Mesilla's operating budget tied to salaries, trustees have had to make some tough decisions. Although furloughs weren't implemented, town employees did have had their hours cut, meaning smaller paychecks to take home.
    Two years ago, trustees had to reduce the workweek for employees from 40 hours to 32. At the start of the current fiscal year, based on optimism the economy was recovering, the workweek was expanded to 35 hours.
    But that was short lived, and trustees had to cut back the workweek to 32 hours in late December, except for the Public Works and Marshal's departments.
    In Mesilla, Fuentes is the town's highest paid employee, but, he noted, that compensation is based on a 40-hour workweek. With the reduction to 32 hours, Fuentes' salary is adjusted to reflect the hours he works.
    Based on the fewer hours, that means Fuentes' adjusted annual salary this year will be $45,794, or 80 percent of what was initially budgeted.
    But all of Mesilla employees are in the same boat. They, too, will see their salaries cut.
    "At first there were people who were upset and grumbling," said Sean Lucero, public works foreman, who has been working for Mesilla for six years. "But we've all sucked it up because what can we do. We'll keep working and keep hoping that we can move back to a 40-hour week."
    None of Mesilla's employees belong to a union, so there is nothing in place to ensure they'll get 40 hours of pay. All but five employees are considered classified.
    Lucero admitted while the cut in hours and salary doesn't help employee morale, it hasn't deterred the effort workers are putting in their jobs.
    "Yeah, my salary really is under what would the standard would be in my industry. But I'm really more than happy with what I make. I have more pride in what I do because I get to see what we do, what we're able to accomplish. I have family that's lived here for years, ...and I do take ownership in my community. We have another staff member from here and one from Anthony. The one from Anthony has worked in Mesilla for eight or nine years now and he loves it.
    "I guess that's what it is. We just really do love what we do."
    The decline in sales tax revenue also put the kibosh on employee salary increases. It's going on two years now that salaries have been frozen.
    "The employees understand that when times were good the town was very good to the employees," said Fuentes, of raises they regularly received. "While it's understandable that circumstances like this might bring morale down, we realize, too, there's nothing the town can do about it. We're very fortunate to be working. It's a good place to work at."
    Interestingly, the turnover rate hasn't been especially high. A good retirement and benefits package has helped soften the blow of smaller paychecks in recent years. Most workers have stayed at their jobs for more than three years.
    "We're participating in the state PERA program," said Fuentes, referring to the Public Employee Retirement Association fund established for all New Mexico public employees. "There's different plans; the police and fire plans are different from the municipal plan the rest of us are enrolled in. We have to work 30 years to get up to 75 percent of our final average salary. It's a good plan.
    "We also participate in the state medical plan, which definitely provides reasonable rates for employees."
    Steve Ramirez can be reached at sramirez@lcsun-news.com; (575) 541-5452.
    Top 10 salaries for Mesilla town government
    1. Juan Fuentes, town clerk-treasurer, $57,243.
    2. (tie) Kevin Hoban, fire chief, $50,749.
    2. Debbie Lujan, public works director, $50,749.
    4. Nicholas Eckert, community development director, $45,674.
    5. Marcel Jojola, town marshal, $45,000.
    6. Gina Gentile, building inspector, $40,599.
    7. Kristen Medina, community programs director, $40,599.
    8. Linda Goff, assistant town treasurer, $37,914.
    9. Heriberto Flores, deputy marshal, $36,539.
    10. Jeffrey Gray, deputy marshal, $35,545.
    (Note: Salaries are based on a 40-hour workweek. However, town officials have had to reduce town government's current workweek to 32 hours, except for the Marshal's Department and Public Works, which are on a 35-hour workweek.)
    •Honorable mention: Joseph Serna, deputy marshal, $35,424; Enrique Salas, deputy marshal, $32,926; Rosanne Herrera, accounts payable clerk, $32,531; Susan Krueger, deputy town clerk (part time), $29,626; Gloria Maya, utilities billing clerk, $25,421; Nick Hervol Jr., deputy marshal, $25,123; Nora Barraza, mayor, $24,000.
    Source: Town of Mesilla
    Longest-serving Mesilla employees
    1. Susan Krueger, deputy town clerk, 25 years (began working for Mesilla in 1984)
    2. Joseph Serna, deputy marshal, 16 years (began working in 1993)
    3. Linda Goff, assistant town treasurer, 15 years, (began working in 1995)
    4. Juan Fuentes, town clerk-treasurer, nine years (began working in 2000)
    5. Rosanne Herrera, accounts payable clerk, nine years (began working in 2000)
    Budget crunch
    •Mesilla town government has approximately 30 employees.
    •Annual salaries range from $57,243 to $17,139.
    •Most town employees are currently working a 32-hour week, but the town's Public Works and Marshal's departments are on a 35-hour workweek.
    •Because of a economic recession and a faltering economy, town employees have not received a salary increase in two years.
    •To keep the town budget from going into arrears, town employees haven't worked a 40-hour workweek in two years.

  2. Why UK Inflation Will Increase in 2010, by John Cardy, 4/12 The Market Oracle via marketoracle.co.uk
    The 'expert' economists tell us that Inflation is not a risk to the UK. They say it has risen but will decline again fairly quickly and everything is under control. But it's not. Ask real people running real businesses and they will tell you there a host of reasons why inflation will increase:
    1. Sterling has declined. The pound is down against the dollar. The world is now truly global, and much of the world production is in the Far East priced in dollars. Even UK manufacturers often price in dollars now. When the pound goes down, then raw materials, finished goods and components become more expensive.
    2. China has Inflation. The recession hit China, with reduced growth, but now things are booming there. Shortages of labour are common. [Shortages of labor in the context of 20% (200m) unemployed? This is a shortage of training, not labor.]
    Some factories closed. The remaining ones are struggling to keep up with demand.
    [Apparently Chinese CEOs haven't resigned themselves to the necessity of shouldering some of their training costs themselves instead of passing them along to their employees and labor pool. But they're just copying suicidally unemployment-spoiled CEOs in the USA who will do anything but restore wages and benefits.]
    3. Demand in the short-term is boosted by stock fill [ie: inventory replacement]. The world reacted to the recession by reducing stocks [inventories]. Now, as we grow again, we are all increasing production, but also increasing stocks. Demand for Far Eastern production is therefore amplified, and WILL mean price increases to manage demand. Cost prices are reportedly already increased by 25% on some Outdoor Toy large items this Spring, excluding the Shipping and Currency increase.
    4. Shipping has increased. The theories that economists have in their models are based on history [we wish!], they have missed the fact that we are so dependent on Far Eastern production, Shipping Costs have gone mad. They are now higher than last summer, but only around double the summer of 2008. I do not expect shippers to increase capacity too fast; rather they will take some margin first.
    5. Staff demands for Rises [ie: raises].
    [What planet is this guy on? Wages have been sinking over the last 30 years. Raises, if any, have been pathetic.]
    Costs are up for real people. Living IS more expensive. Fuel, Council Tax, and shortly NI and other taxes to rise. Many companies responded to the recession with restrictions on pay. After nearly 2 years, the pressure to increase pay will be immense. And it will not be resisted. [Yes it will.] Prices WILL rise. [No they won't.]
    [This guy lives in a dreamland where because some costs are up, wages automatically go up. Nope, they only go up with supply and demand and basically there are thousands of resumes seeking dozens of job openings and willing to do it for less. This is a deflationary spiral except for the depletion of fossil fuels as per next point -]
    6. Petrol is up. Partly worldwide demand, partly sterling and partly tax, petrol is up, and is high and will get higher. It’s at near its previous peak, but the last time it was at £1.20 per litre, Sterling was at around $2, now with sterling at $1.50, if the price of a barrel gores up to near the previous peak of $140 then there is no option, Petrol will increase dramatically. This increases all kinds of costs, from deliveries, to power. And people will notice, driving the demand for higher wages.
    7. Vat increases. An incredible number of retailers have absorbed all or part of the Vat increase from January. This has helped to keep inflation down so far, but has slimmed margins. It has effectively taken some of that economists slack out of the economy. Retailers will not be able to resist taking some increases soon.
    8. It’s easy. Once in the habit, increasing prices is easy. Recently it’s been hard to increase. Customers question it all the time. When everyone is doing it, and justifying it, it becomes the norm. Have you seen the almost constant letters from suppliers already advising of abnormal pressures that mean prices 'have to go up'? Soon it will be normal. When it is, prices go up faster and more quickly. I remember in the 1980's when all of our profit came from the price increases. And that meant we did them twice a year. Don’t rule out multiple price increases.
    9. Businesses are smarter. Government and BOE are surprised by how business has behaved in this recession. Business failures and staff cuts are much lower than expected. I am not surprised, business have got smarter. They have done innovative things like cut hours, rather than cut jobs, so they can keep skills.
    [This guy could use some history. Cutting hours instead of jobs was commonly practiced from 1840 to 1940 - it's hardly "innovative."]
    So, expect innovation on price increase. [Huh? Eez thees guy foreigner?] They ["they" what??] will not be increases, they will be surcharges. So, your will have seen WEEE surcharge, The Credit Card Processing surcharge, the variable Fuel surcharge - that goes up and down in theory, and as Government increases taxes, you will see them passed on as 'Tax surcharge'. We even had a supplier try a 'Working Time Directive Surcharge' because they had to give a rise to staff!
    So, overall inflation is VERY real. [- in his dreams.] The BOE believes it will be back below 2% in Q3. Nonsense. It will not happen. Wait and see. Today Producer prices and input prices are all up. We knew it would be. And for the reasons above, it will continue.
    There is only one solution. Push up Interest Rates. Not to take money out of the economy, but to boost Sterling. Boosting Sterling will alleviate the imported pressure of many of the above, but would also have an impact on demand. It's Risky. It would increase costs for UK mortgage payers, but might put some money in to the pockets of people with savings. A tricky dilemma, I'm glad I am not faced with.
    But, believe me, Inflation is here and strong, unless Sterling can recover. I think the Bank of England will be looking at todays figures and perhaps start believing too.
    John Cardy is a Director of a UK based Outdoor Toy manufacturer, selling Trampoline Products and Climbing Frames. He writes trampolineman.wordpress.com a blog about life running a small business in the UK. He believes that people running real business have a more instinctive and instant view on what is really happening day to day and a better grasp on what the issues are than expert economists and politicians.
    [We believe that Cardy should stick to toymaking.]

  3. CNMI govt workers told work hours reduced, 4/13 Radio New Zealand International,PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand via rnzi.com
    Hundreds of workers in the Northern Marianas Government have received notification their hours of work are being cut. 
    This is part of the Government’s austerity programme, in which employees hours per fortnight will be cut from 80 to 70 hours.

    Meanwhile the CNMI Senate President, Paul Manglona, is seeking to amend the Constitution to ensure the cuts also apply to the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, lawmakers, and the judiciary.
    He says it is unjust to ask the people to forego a portion of their salaries while politicians remain exempt.
    Mr Manglona says leaders must lead by example.
    The Governor, Benigno Fitial, has voluntarily cut his salary by 10 percent since the first round of austerity measures were implemented, and he’s continuing to do so.
    The administration is projecting a revenue fall of ten percent in the current year.


4/09-10/2010  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Some US states lessen impact of unemployment through job-sharing programs, by Jackie Headapohl, 4/09 Michigan Business Review - MLive.com
    USA - Seventeen states across the country have an alternative to layoffs and unemployment called work-sharing or short-time compensation, according to a report on eGov Monitor.
    Here’s how it works. When a business enters a slump and needs to cut payroll, it can seek state approval for a plan to reduce employees’ hours instead of cutting jobs. For example, a 20 percent reduction in the workforce could translate to a 20 percent reduction in hours, or a four-day workweek. To help employees stay afloat, the state would pay workers about half of their lost wages through the federal-state unemployment insurance program, which temporarily provides laid-off workers with a portion of their paychecks.
    Michigan does not have a work-sharing unemployment insurance program.
    "There have been some meetings and discussions on the issue, and legislation was introduced in the state Senate last year," said Norm Isotalo, spokesman for the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. "That legislation, however, has been in committee since the fall."
    New York State does have the program, and it's working well. More than 2,300 businesses participate in it and it has been credited with saving 11,000 jobs.
    The eGov report says that states are wary of the program because of cost concerns, but a study by the Congressional Research Service found that any impact on states’ unemployment trusts funds would be short-term and minimal.
    Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) has proposed a bill that would lure more states into the program by providing federal funding, simplifying the rules and raising the program’s profile.

  2. Work shared, jobs spared, by Christine Vestal cvestal@stateline.org, 4/10 Stateline.org
    WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. - When homes sales started tumbling more than three years ago, New York-based window shade manufacturer, Comfortex, felt the pain. But instead of cutting jobs, the 300-employee business reduced some of its workers’ hours, and the state labor department agreed to make up part of their lost wages with unemployment checks.
    Called work sharing, or short-time compensation, the program has helped thousands of companies avoid layoffs in New York and 16 other states. This year, lawmakers in seven more states are considering bills that would authorize the widely praised approach to saving jobs.
    Here’s how it works. When a business enters a slump and needs to cut payroll, it can seek state approval for a plan to reduce employees’ hours instead of cutting jobs. For example, a 20 percent reduction in the workforce could translate to a 20 percent reduction in hours, or a four-day workweek. To help employees stay afloat, the state would pay workers about half of their lost wages through the federal-state unemployment insurance program, which temporarily provides laid-off workers with a portion of their paychecks.
    “Every day, workers tell me they’d rather work at least part of their regular week instead of face a layoff,” says New York Labor Commissioner Colleen Gardner. At no additional cost to states, the program helps businesses retain skilled employees, allows workers to stay on the job and keep their benefits, and boosts the local economy.
    So why don’t more states offer it? Experts aren’t sure, but some suggest states may mistakenly think the unconventional approach will strain their unemployment trust funds or create too much paperwork for their over-burdened workforce agencies.
    A study by the Congressional Research Service found that any impact on states’ unemployment trusts funds would be short-term and minimal, because the cost of partial jobless benefits for work-sharing employees is roughly equivalent to the cost of full benefits for those who would otherwise be laid off. Companies, which pay into the unemployment insurance trust fund through a state and federal tax, would be charged higher rates when they enter a work-sharing program, but no higher than they would pay if they laid off employees.
    As for administrative burden, the report found that work sharing could increase initial costs for states that use a paper-based process because more people would be involved in work sharing than would have been laid off. But because work-sharing participants do not have to check in with the unemployment agency on a weekly basis, as do those on regular unemployment, the overall administrative costs should be about equal.
    Still, concerns over costs persist. That’s why Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island has proposed a bill that would lure more states into the program by providing federal funding, simplifying the rules and raising the program’s profile.
    STATES THAT HAVE WORK SHARE PROGRAMS
    Arkansas
    Arizona
    California
    Connecticut
    Florida
    Iowa
    Kansas
    Massachusetts
    Maryland
    Minnesota
    Missouri
    New York
    Oregon
    Rhode Island
    Texas
    Vermont
    Washington

    In Reed’s home state, where unemployment is well above the national average, the labor department has aggressively publicized work sharing and boasts the highest per capita number of workers who benefit from it. But in other states, the program is little known and seldom used.
    New York has also pushed its program and has seen a seven-fold increase in its use since 2007. Credited with saving 11,000 jobs last year, New York’s Shared Work plan now includes more than 2,300 businesses.
    Other states have also seen big surges in work sharing. Connecticut had a ten-fold increase in its program between 2008 and 2009 and Massachusetts had a six-fold increase.
    Started in Europe in the 1920s and expanded after World War II, work sharing programs spread to the U.S. in 1978 when California informally adopted the innovative approach to helping companies and workers weather tough times. In 1982, California formalized the program by enacting legislation, and Arizona and Oregon adopted similar programs the same year.
    As a result, Congress in 1982 enacted a temporary amendment to the Social Security Act, which authorizes the federal-state unemployment insurance system, and made work sharing in 1992 a permanent program that all states could choose to offer its business sector. The program can be used to help companies get through seasonal lulls as well as full-blown recessions.
    According to U.S. Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke, “Many economists believe that the current U.S. unemployment insurance (UI) system is biased towards the use of layoffs because laid off workers are eligible for UI benefits while workers whose hours have been reduced because of slack work are not.” Work-share programs address this potential bias, Bernanke wrote in support of Reed’s bill, noting that their use is minimal.
    Employees who receive unemployment checks through work-sharing programs represent just over 2 percent of the total number of beneficiaries, but that number is growing.
    Bills in at least seven states – Colorado, Hawaii, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – would create new programs, and a South Carolina Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Jim Rex, promises to make work sharing a high priority.
    In New York, promotion and administration of the rapidly growing program has cost the state nothing. A few employees were shifted from one department to another and promotion consisted of getting the word out to the media and posting a video on the department’s Web site.
    In the video, Comfortex president ThomasMarusak explains that without the work sharing program his company, which is seasonal, would have to lay off a large number of people every year in January and rehire again in April or May. That would mean two months of training for new personnel since old employees likely would not be available, he said.
    Comfortex human resources chief Patricia Gaglianese says she files a work plan with the state once a year and lists the names of all employees who will be affected. Then she works closely with New York’s labor department to ensure that everyone receives their benefit checks on time. Last year, 45 Comfortex employees worked shorter hours; this year 150 people will be affected.
    “Sometimes I feel like I’m working for the state. If one of my employees isn’t eligible because they’re just coming off of unemployment, the state lets me know and we work it out,” Gaglianese says.

  3. Look Who's Depressed Now: Interns, by John M Grohol, PsyD, 4/10 PsychCentral.com (blog)
    BOSTON, Mass., U.S.A. - As though medical school wasn’t difficult enough, now new research suggests that internship is even more difficult.
    In a study of 740 medical students who were on internship, researchers (Sen et al., 2010) found that nearly 4 percent of the students met the criteria for depression before their internship started.
    That number jumped to over 25 percent of students when the researchers measured their depression level at four points over the course of the internship year. That’s right — 1 in 4 medical students on internship suffer from serious, clinical depression.
    Most of the students who met criteria for depression were classified as moderately depressed. That’s in-between mild and severe depression, and in most people, means their daily functioning is significantly impacted by the feelings of depression.
    Naturally you have to wonder — how well are people learning in an environment where depression shoots up 6x the amount seen before internship?
    Stress does not inherently produce depression. What the researchers did find was a number of factors that are implicated in depression — many of which we already knew (but were confirmed in this study):
    The baseline factors that were associated with the development of depression in this study include some that have been implicated in prior residency studies (female sex, difficult early family environment, neuroticism, and a prior history of depression) and other factors not previously identified (US medical education and lower baseline depressive symptoms).
    It is also interesting to note that a number of factors, such as medical specialty and age, were not associated with the development of depression.

    So enough cracks about psychiatrists having more depression than other medical specialties!
    The researchers also found that medical errors were associated with greater depression. But the new finding is this — “depressive symptoms that are present before internship predicted reported errors during internship, indicating that depression results in increased medical errors.” In other words, a bad cycle gets reinforced on internship with people who are already mildly depressed creating more medical errors, which in turn exacerbates their depression.
    But the most relevant and damning data from the new study indicates the flaws in current medical school education:
    In addition to building on previous work exploring the relationship between medical errors and depression, this is the first study to demonstrate a direct association between the number of hours worked and risk of depression in medical interns. In contrast to our finding with medical errors, we found no evidence that depressive symptom score before internship predicted one’s work hours during internship. These findings suggest that increased work hours lead to increased depressive symptoms during internship.
    Yes, you read that right. The more hours worked, the more depressed a medical student becomes on internship. If you want to churn out higher quality doctors and actually show that you understand and care about their mental health and well-being, medical schools would be wise to review their ethics when it comes to work hours.
    The study was conducted in 2007 through 2009, five years after stricter limits on residency and internship hours went into effect. Those stricter standards, however, means that an intern can still work 80-hour work weeks. In most civilized societies, an 80-hour work week would be considered “slave labor” (and far more common in third-world countries). In other words, even these “strict” working hour standards do little to help future doctors have a sane life.
    Of course, all of this has a direct effect on you if you ever need to go to a hospital (or, goodness forbid, a teaching hospital). Doctor training is still a throwback to the stone ages, and as this study demonstrates, results in poorer mental health for over a quarter of the doctors who undergo it. I think we can do better in this day and age.
    Read our news article on the study: Stress of Internship Ups Physician Depression
    Reference:
    Sen S., et al. (2010). A Prospective Cohort Study Investigating Factors Associated With Depression During Medical Internship. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 67(6). Doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.41
    Dr. John Grohol is the CEO and founder of Psych Central. He has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues, and the intersection of technology and psychology since 1992.

  4. CORRECTION FROM SOURCE: Government of Canada Protects Jobs Through Work-Sharing - Canada’s Economic Action Plan extends and enhances program to minimize impact of recession on workers, 4/09 Marketwire.com (press release)
    MISSISSAUGA, Ont., Canada -- This document corrects and replaces the release sent earlier today at 10:00 AM EDT.
    The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, announced today that the Government of Canada is enhancing the Work-Sharing program. While speaking to employees at Mascot Truck Parts, Minister Finley highlighted the support Canadian workers are receiving through the Government's "Jobs and Growth Budget" with enhancements to the Work-Sharing program. The enhancements to the program will enable more Canadians to continue working while companies experience a temporary slowdown.
    "The Canadian economy is improving, but full recovery has not yet been achieved, and many Canadians still need our support," said Minister Finley. "That is why our government is taking concrete action to help businesses avoid layoffs, and keep Canadians working."
    Recognizing the uncertainty facing many businesses, Budget 2010 provided an extension to the enhanced Work-Sharing measure introduced in the first year of Canada's Economic Action Plan. Budget 2010 also put in place an extension of up to 26 weeks (to a maximum of 78 weeks) for employers with active, or recently terminated, Work-Sharing agreements. Both of these enhancements will be in place until April 2, 2011.
    Under Work-Sharing, employers can retain employees and avoid expensive re-hiring and re-training costs. Employees are able to continue working and keep their skills up to date. As of March 28, 2010, there were close to 5,500 active Work-Sharing agreements nationally benefiting close to 135,000 participants, and since February 2009, the program has helped protect the jobs of more than 255,000 Canadians. Many Work-Sharing agreements are ending early as businesses, such as Mascot Truck Parts, recover and resume normal operations.
    "Thanks to support from the Work-Sharing program, I feel good about our future," said Mr. Glenn Hanthorn, President, Mascot Truck Parts. "Work-Sharing has allowed us to avoid layoffs and retain our trained and experienced staff, giving us a competitive head start now that the economy is recovering."
    Other examples of Work-Sharing successes
    Michelin Canada
    Michelin Canada recently celebrated 40 years of manufacturing in Nova Scotia, and thanks to support from the Government of Canada's Work-Sharing program, the relationship between one of the world's largest tire manufacturers and Nova Scotians will continue for years to come. In order to deal with the recent economic downturn, the company signed a Work-Sharing agreement for its Waterville, Nova Scotia, facility in the spring of 2009 to cover more than 500 employees for a 34-week period.
    Since transitioning off Work-Sharing at its Waterville facility, Michelin Canada has lifted its hiring freeze, hiring 40 new employees for its plants across Nova Scotia, and intends to hire more people to replace the positions left vacant due to the freeze.
    Northern Uniform Service
    Northern Uniform Service, based in Sudbury, Ontario, has served the retail and wholesale laundry market in Ontario since 1901. Staying in business for over 100 years has required both commitment and the ability to adapt to changing times. However, like many other companies, the downturn in the economy has had a negative impact on Northern Uniform Service's business. Since April 2009, almost 50 of the company's employees have benefited from Work-Sharing.
    MODUS Modular Structures Inc.
    MODUS Modular Structures Inc., located in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, is a leading provider of high-performance modular structures. Deployed in hundreds of locations across Canada, MODUS modular structures have been relied on by schools, telecommunications firms, and the oil and gas industry. MODUS' Work-Sharing agreement began July 2009 and ended December 2009. It was supposed to be a 52-week agreement—scheduled to end in July 2010, but MODUS returned to full production sooner and was able to end the agreement early.
    This news release is available in alternative formats upon request.
    BACKGROUNDER
    Work-Sharing is designed to help companies facing a temporary downturn in business avoid layoffs by offering Employment Insurance Part I income support to workers willing to work a reduced work week while their company recovers.
    To qualify for Work-Sharing, employers must have been in business in Canada for at least two years and be able to show that the need for reduced hours is temporary and unavoidable. They must produce a recovery plan detailing how their company will remain viable during the period of the Work-Sharing agreement and recover as the economy strengthens.
    Work-Sharing agreements have a minimum duration of 6 weeks. Under the second year of Canada's Economic Action Plan, Budget 2010 made available an extension of up to 26 weeks for employers with active or recently terminated agreements. These extensions must end by April 2, 2011.
    For new agreements that start on or after April 4, 2010, the maximum initial Work-Sharing agreement duration is 26 weeks, with a possible extension of up to a maximum total duration of 38 weeks. Flexibility in the eligibility criteria will continue to apply to new agreements until April 2, 2011.
    Further information on Work-Sharing can be found on the following Web site: *http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/work_sharing/index.shtml.


4/07-08/2010  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. The corner - Re: Work Sharing, by Ramesh Ponnuru, 4/08 National Review Online (blog) via NationalReview.com
    It's an interesting idea [referring to Dean Baker's and Kevin Hassett's 4/05 article "Work-sharing could work for us" first under 4/4-5-6/2001 below]. Has anyone seen intelligent criticism of it?
    [The short answer is no. All the criticism ignores the meaninglessness of productivity regardless of marketability. In other words, only marketable productivity matters, and as Reuther retorted to Henry Ford's challenge, "Let's see you unionize these robots!" - "Let's see you sell them cars."]
    Readers make several points in response to this post. The emails overlap, so I'll summarize: [Sooo curious how so many self-styled "conservatives" ignore the aggregate (whole-system) level. It may be fine for one or two companies to practice layoffs (downsizing) instead of worksharing (timesizing), but we've gone far beyond that and the only way we're getting the appearance of growth (system upsizing) is by including very questionable "positives"(such as stock and investment bubbles and pyramids) in our definition of GDP.]
    1) A mid-level IT manager writes, "In the real world, reducing X hours worked to 0.75X, but reducing pay to 0.95X, is called a RAISE. It’s a payout of more compensation per unit of work. Absent a commensurate increase in output, this is a net economic loser – a permanent reset of the pay and productivity expectations of that workforce. What happens, pray tell, when le bon temps roule again – are good workers going to accept a 25% increase in work hours for a 5% raise? Or will they take advantage of scarcity to make those productivity reductions permanent? (Based on human nature over the last, oh, 5,000 years, I’m going with option 2)."
    2) Getting rid of an employee lets the company save on wages and benefits; cutting hours will not lead to a proportional reduction in benefits.
    3) Work sharing would prevent the firm from optimizing its productivity:
    [Yes, we've been maximizing our productivity while ignoring its marketability for decades, and not only ignoring its marketability but actually cutting its marketability by downsizing its potential purchasers and redistributing their spending power to the top tiny fraction of the population who only spends a tiny fraction of their millions and billions. GONG - not sustainable.]
    It [work sharing] is, after all, being bribed to handle the reduction of its labor needs in a way it would not otherwise handle it.
    It might also demoralize the most productive workers, who would be taking cuts to prevent the layoff of less productive ones. Writes one reader: "People doing jobs are seldom interchangeable and it is hard enough to find one right person for any given job. The task of finding two, who can then work together as efficiently as one, may impose cost, coordination, and accountability problems that make work sharing more expensive in a lot of jobs, and completely unworkable in others. Would someone else be able to finish your columns just as well as you could?" (Don't answer that!)
    4) Its potential is limited. In industries where the work is not going to come back after the recession, work sharing would just retard the adjustment the economy needs to make.
    Update: James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation is also opposed.
    [Another Market-eroding "conservative" who can't understand conserving markets by conserving jobs. Can these people think two moves ahead in chess??]

  2. Top story - States innovate - Work shared, jobs spared, by Christine Vestal, 4/07 Stateline.org
    When homes sales started tumbling more than three years ago, New York-based window shade manufacturer, Comfortex, felt the pain. But instead of cutting jobs, the 300-employee business reduced some of its workers’ hours, and the state labor department agreed to make up part of their lost wages with unemployment checks.
    Called work sharing, or short-time compensation, the program has helped thousands of companies avoid layoffs in New York and 16 other states. This year, lawmakers in seven more states are considering bills that would authorize the widely praised approach to saving jobs.
    Here’s how it works. When a business enters a slump and needs to cut payroll, it can seek state approval for a plan to reduce employees’ hours instead of cutting jobs. For example, a 20 percent reduction in the workforce could translate to a 20 percent reduction in hours, or a four-day workweek. To help employees stay afloat, the state would pay workers about half of their lost wages through the federal-state unemployment insurance program, which temporarily provides laid-off workers with a portion of their paychecks.
    “Every day, workers tell me they’d rather work at least part of their regular week instead of face a layoff,” says New York Labor Commissioner Colleen Gardner. At no additional cost to states, the program helps businesses retain skilled employees, allows workers to stay on the job and keep their benefits and boosts the local economy.
    So why don’t more states offer it? Experts aren’t sure, but some suggest states may mistakenly think the unconventional approach will strain their unemployment trust funds or create too much paperwork for their over-burdened workforce agencies.
    A study by the Congressional Research Service found that any impact on states’ unemployment trusts funds would be short-term and minimal, because the cost of partial jobless benefits for work-sharing employees is roughly equivalent to the cost of full benefits for those who would otherwise be laid off. Companies, which pay into the unemployment insurance trust fund through a state and federal tax, would be charged higher rates when they enter a work-sharing program, but no higher than they would pay if they laid off employees.
    As for administrative burden, the report found that work sharing could increase initial costs for states that use a paper-based process because more people would be involved in work sharing than would have been laid off. But because work-sharing participants do not have to check in with the unemployment agency on a weekly basis, as do those on regular unemployment, the overall administrative costs should be about equal.
    Still, concerns over costs persist. That’s why Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island has proposed a bill that would lure more states into the program by providing federal funding, simplifying the rules and raising the program’s profile.
    In Reed’s home state, where unemployment is well above the national average, the labor department has aggressively publicized work sharing and boasts the highest per capita number of workers who benefit from it. But in other states, the program is little known and seldom used.
    New York has also pushed its program and has seen a seven-fold increase in its use since 2007. Credited with saving 11,000 jobs last year, New York’s Shared Work plan now includes more than 2,300 businesses.
    Other states have also seen big surges in work sharing. Connecticut had a ten-fold increase in its program between 2008 and 2009 and Massachusetts had a six-fold increase.
    Started in Europe in the 1920s and expanded after World War II, work sharing programs spread to the U.S. in 1978 when California informally adopted the innovative approach to helping companies and workers weather tough times. In 1982, California formalized the program by enacting legislation, and Arizona and Oregon adopted similar programs the same year.
    As a result, Congress in 1982 enacted a temporary amendment to the Social Security Act, which authorizes the federal-state unemployment insurance system, and made work sharing in 1992 a permanent program that all states could choose to offer its business sector. The program can be used to help companies get through seasonal lulls as well as full-blown recessions.
    According to U.S. Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke, “Many economists believe that the current U.S. unemployment insurance (UI) system is biased towards the use of layoffs because laid off workers are eligible for UI benefits while workers whose hours have been reduced because of slack work are not.” Work-share programs address this potential bias, Bernanke wrote in support of Reed’s bill, noting that their use is minimal.
    Employees who receive unemployment checks through work-sharing programs represent just over 2 percent of the total number of beneficiaries, but that number is growing.
    Bills in at least seven states – Colorado, Hawaii, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – would create new programs, and a South Carolina Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Jim Rex, promises to make work sharing a high priority.
    In New York, promotion and administration of the rapidly growing program has cost the state nothing. A few employees were shifted from one department to another and promotion consisted of getting the word out to the media and posting a video on the department’s Web site.
    In the video, Comfortex president ThomasMarusak explains that without the work sharing program his company, which is seasonal, would have to lay off a large number of people every year in January and rehire again in April or May. That would mean two months of training for new personnel since old employees likely would not be available, he said.
    Comfortex human resources chief Patricia Gaglianese says she files a work plan with the state once a year and lists the names of all employees who will be affected. Then she works closely with New York’s labor department to ensure that everyone receives their benefit checks on time. Last year, 45 Comfortex employees worked shorter hours; this year 150 people will be affected.
    “Sometimes I feel like I’m working for the state. If one of my employees isn’t eligible because they’re just coming off of unemployment, the state lets me know and we work it out,” Gaglianese says.
    Contact Christine Vestal at cvestal@stateline.org.
    STATES THAT HAVE WORK SHARE PROGRAMS
    * Arkansas
    * Arizona
    * California
    * Connecticut
    * Florida
    [* Georgia] * Iowa
    * Kansas
    * Massachusetts
    * Maryland
    * Minnesota
    * Missouri
    * New York
    * Oregon
    * Rhode Island
    * Texas
    * Vermont
    * Washington


4/4-5-6/2010  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Work-sharing could work for us - European nations have had great success in spreading the pain among workers and offsetting the lost wages with government credits - The U.S. should do likewise, op ed by Dean Baker and Kevin Hassett, 4/05 Los Angeles Times via latimes.com
    [This article is being picked up by many newspapers, for example, the Athens Banner-Herald of Athens GA on 4/18/2010. Dean Baker is finally getting this top-priority discussion into the mainstream. Thanks also to conservative Kevin Hassett for co-authoring, anchoring this approach in the center and cutting short kneejerk charges of "socialism!"]
    With the nation's unemployment rate still hovering close to 10% -- more than 12% in California -- and the typical unemployment spell stretching to 20 months, politicians of both parties are rightly looking for ideas to improve labor market conditions. This recession clearly threatens to do permanent damage to the careers of a generation of workers, and policy action is urgent. 
    After surveying policies around the world, we found that there is one that clearly dominates in terms of impact and cost-effectiveness: work-sharing.

    The idea is simple. Currently, firms mostly respond to weak demand by laying off workers. Under a work-sharing program, firms are encouraged by government policy to spread a small amount of the pain across many workers.
    [This minimizes the weakening of the consumer base, consumer spending and the deceleration of currency circulation alias "economic dynamism," because with layoffs, the labor surplus gets bigger, jobseekers get more desperate and underbid one another, and the national income flies in and funnels right up to the richest tiny fraction of the population where it gets deactivated, because the wealthy were already SPENDING all they cared to before they got the last $20 million, and now they're just looking for sustainable investments on the mega level of the hundreds of millions they've coagulated - and there aren't any, because the labor surplus they've created by downsizing has vacuumed the spending power OUT of the markets for the productivity they NEED to invest in. Bad for everyone else AND BAD FOR THEM. Let's make that clearer: downsizing, and the resulting unlimited concentration of the money supply, is bad for the non-rich AND BAD FOR THE RICH, its supposed beneficiaries.]
    In Germany, for example, which has used work-sharing aggressively in this downturn, a typical company might reduce the hours of 50 workers by 20% rather than laying off 10 workers. The government would then provide a tax credit to make up for most of the lost pay, with the employer kicking in some as well. In a typical arrangement, a worker might see his weekly hours go down by 20%, and his salary go down by about 4%.
    This policy has kept the unemployment rate in Germany from rising even though the country has seen a sharper decline in GDP than the United States. The Netherlands, which also uses work-sharing, has managed to keep its unemployment rate near 4% even though its GDP also has fallen more steeply than in the United States.
    Work-sharing should be familiar to Californians because it's a variation of the furlough policy that state and local governments have used to avoid further layoffs. The big difference is that the furlough policy means workers take pay cuts that are proportional to the length of their furlough -- 20% fewer hours, 20% less pay.
    By contrast, with a work-sharing arrangement, workers would keep their jobs while effectively dividing up the unemployment benefits that they could receive if they were laid off. For example, if a furlough requires them to take every fourth week off, instead of a 25% cut in pay, their pay would fall only 5% to 10%. The additional money could come from either the state unemployment insurance program or a new federal tax credit.
    The cost to the government of going this route would be roughly the same as with the current unemployment insurance program. The big difference is that instead of unemployment benefits that effectively pay people for not working, we would be paying people for working shorter hours.
    California, and 16 other states, already have some form of work-sharing. California's program dates from the 1970s and applies to both public- and private-sector employees. However, these programs are underutilized. Many workers and employers do not even know of their existence. A broad federal program, publicized extensively from the bully pulpit of the White House, would have great promise.
    In addition, instead of waiting for companies to reach the point where they plan to lay off workers, the government could instead encourage companies to merely shorten hours. This could be done in any number of ways. Perhaps the simplest approach would be for the government to provide a credit roughly equal to what would be the proportional unemployment benefit to support the salaries of workers who work reduced hours.
    The effect of work-sharing on employment can be substantial even when the economy has stopped losing jobs. Even now, firms in the private sector lay off or fire about 2 million workers each month. This is offset by roughly the same number of hires, so that net employment does not change much. However, if work-sharing policies could reduce the number of monthly dismissals by 10%, this would have the same effect on employment as creating 200,000 jobs a month.
    In addition to lifting net job creation, this policy also would accelerate the recovery. As firms ramp up production, the workers they need to do the work will already be on staff. Firms can avoid spending time and money searching for new workers.
    Congressional members of both parties have begun crafting a number of bills to enact work-sharing. The American people clearly want politicians to put aside their differences and focus on sound economic policies. Work-sharing would be a great place for them to start.
    Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Kevin Hassett is the director of economic policy studies and senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

  2. Would You Mind Sharing Some of Your Job? posted (4/05) by Brad Tuttle, 4/06 TIME (blog) via money.blogs.time.com
    Work-sharing could help tens of thousands of employees to avoid layoffs. Here, an argument for how the American worker might spread the wealth—and the pain—during tough economic times.
    Anyone who has been around kids knows that sharing doesn't exactly come naturally. [Questionable.] That goes for toys and, because keeping a tight hold on all of one's stuff seems like one childhood instinct that never really disappears, for salaries as well.
    But would you accept a small pay cut if it meant a big increase in job security, along with a whole lot more free time?
    My response to such a question would be the question: And I sign where?
    An op-ed written by a couple of economists in the LA Times [see story immediately above this one] argues that U.S. employers should seriously consider work-sharing programs as an alternative to plain, old-fashioned cold-blooded layoffs. This is how business has been done in Europe for years:
    In Germany, for example, which has used work-sharing aggressively in this downturn, a typical company might reduce the hours of 50 workers by 20% rather than laying off 10 workers. The government would then provide a tax credit to make up for most of the lost pay, with the employer kicking in some as well. In a typical arrangement, a worker might see his weekly hours go down by 20%, and his salary go down by about 4%.
    You had me at "his weekly hours go down by 20%."
    But how could the hours go down so much more than the percentage of wages? The government gets involved, which isn't ideal. Then again, the government would be involved anyway—because unemployment benefits follow layoffs. (Workers hope so, anyway.) Here's how work-sharing would work with the gov's assistance:
    Work-sharing should be familiar to Californians because it's a variation of the furlough policy that state and local governments have used to avoid further layoffs. The big difference is that the furlough policy means workers take pay cuts that are proportional to the length of their furlough -- 20% fewer hours, 20% less pay.
    By contrast, with a work-sharing arrangement, workers would keep their jobs while effectively dividing up the unemployment benefits that they could receive if they were laid off. For example, if a furlough requires them to take every fourth week off, instead of a 25% cut in pay, their pay would fall only 5% to 10%. The additional money could come from either the state unemployment insurance program or a new federal tax credit.
    The cost to the government of going this route would be roughly the same as with the current unemployment insurance program. The big difference is that instead of unemployment benefits that effectively pay people for not working, we would be paying people for working shorter hours.

    Hmmm … is it better to pay people for working? Or for not working?
    The writers say that if work-sharing policies could reduce the number of layoffs by 10%, it would basically be the equivalent of creating 200,000 jobs a month.
    And what would those workers do with what amounts to one more non-work day per week? Perhaps go snowboarding. That's what a lot of California employees are doing, thanks for specially discounted "Furlough Friday" promotions.

    [And then we have situations where service levels should be maintained by hiring additional employees despite shorter hours for current employees -]

  3. Postal unions blast 5-day plan, by Rebecca Madden, 4/4 WatertownDailyTimes.com,Watertown,NY

    If the U.S. Postal Service cuts its delivery week from six days to five, eliminating mail delivery on Saturdays, hundreds of rural and city letter carriers in the north country could face layoffs or a reduction in work hours, according to union representatives. [This makes clear the difference between working hours per job or company and working hours per individual employee (who may also work for other companies and for him/herself). The timesizing approach decontrols worktime per job while controlling worktime per person from which freely spendable earnings may be derived (the rest must be plowed back into jobs and training if needed). Persons come in a finite range of sizes - jobs don't. So detaching employee time more completely from business time actually enhances market freedom, because it makes sure companies don't commit suicide via employee burnout and thereby unleashes company job time, task time, project time to vary much more than today. We've separated church and state. Now we need to separate state and market, and move from a confusion of political economy and economy/money-distorted politics to politics over there dealing with poll taxes and per-person issues and economics over here dealing with per-job issues. This only becomes clear in Phase 3 of the Timesizing program where we control overwork (= consolidated total overtime from all sources on a per-person basis) and require job-market reinvestment on an individual-person level.]

    "If they were to go to a five-day delivery work week, some of our routes would be, for lack of a better word, devastated," said Terry L. Minor, state steward for the National Rural Letter Carriers Association. "It'd be taking one day worth of work every week or every other week for some carriers, and certainly it'd be a difference in pay."
    Ms. Minor said the Rural Letter Carriers Association represents approximately 250 carriers in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. James M. Lostumbo, president of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 134, Syracuse, said that although he didn't know the exact number of carriers in the north country, he represents 600 throughout the branch. That includes St. Lawrence County and northern Oswego County letter carriers.
    Maureen P. Marion, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Postal Service's Albany District, said she didn't know if there would be layoffs or how severe they would be, nor how many employees would be eligible to retire.
    However, she said that if five-day delivery became a reality, many temporary, part-time or non-career employees "would probably be looking at changing their work hours significantly."
    At this juncture, the Postal Service would need congressional intervention before the plan moves forward. Ms. Marion said that since the plan isn't official, job changes have not yet been outlined.
    "I have seen nothing that says layoffs, but I have seen, however, that between now and the year 2014 that more than 44 percent of our work force will be age-eligible to retire," Ms. Marion said.
    The Postal Service will go to the Postal Regulatory Commission, then to Congress. If Congress says the Postal Service doesn't have to renew its six-day delivery practice, it will go ahead with the five-day delivery week.
    "We believe if things move appropriately, we are estimating this could happen in fiscal year 2011, which means by this time next year, five-day delivery could be a reality," Ms. Marion said. "We do believe it'd take six months from an implementation date for everyone to get their pieces together, so we're talking about after the first of the year. Certainly it won't happen before Christmas."
    Ms. Marion said she expects the Postal Service to have some serious discussions about the five-day mail delivery week when the letter carriers' and rural letter carriers' contract negotiations are due within the next year.
    Mr. Lostumbo said he and other letter carriers wholeheartedly oppose the five-day delivery plan.
    "We'll do everything in our power to fight that," he said.
    City or village letter carriers are paid hourly and work five-day work weeks. Rural carriers don't necessarily work five days per week, and they are paid on an evaluated salary system, which depends on how much mail is delivered on the rural routes each year.
    "At this point, each rural route has a relief carrier assigned to them, but this (change) could result in the loss of 58,000 relief carriers nationwide for us," Ms. Minor said. "St. Lawrence County is the biggest county we represent. It's a very rural area up there in the north country, and obviously it's going to have a big impact on rural carriers there."
    Both the National Rural Letter Carriers Association and the National Association of Letter Carriers are conducting letter-writing campaigns to Congress in hopes of blocking the five-day mail delivery week.


4/02-03/2010  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (ecdesignr@yahoo.ca) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. TGIFF: Some idled state workers find 'Furlough Fridays' can be fun - Forced to take time off, some hit the ski slopes; a discount on sushi, by Jim Carlton, 4/02 WSJ, A1.
    Lance Morris, a computer analyst, his wife, Hallie, and their son, Keegan, enjoy more family time since California furloughed Mr. Morris on Fridays. (photo caption)
    TRUCKEE, Calif. - Hallie Morris's husband is one of over 200,000 California state employees who have been furloughed without pay every Friday for over a year. She's loving it.
    "We can actually do more things as a family, and we don't have to deal with the crowds," Mrs. Morris said as she stood on a deck at the Boreal Mountain Resort watching her husband, Lance, and their 16-year-old son, Keegan, snowboarding on a gloriously clear Friday. "I absolutely love it."
    [Americans apprehensively, tentatively, timidly, gingerly, discover real freedom (free time) - after centuries of just bloviating about it. So sing we all, with apologies to the Civil War songwriter -
    "Dee pinkslips gone, ho-ho;
    Dee workers stay, hee-hee -
    It muss be dat dee Kingdom comin'
    An' dee Day o' Jubilee!" ]
    This is "Furlough Friday" and it's becoming a staple around the country as state governments force workers to take a weekly day off—usually Friday—to help bridge budget gaps.
    The loss of a day's work, and as much as 15% of a worker's pay, is forcing families to tighten their belts. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has put state workers on Friday furloughs since February 2009 and most furloughs are expected to persist as long as July [dream on]. A state district judge March 24 ordered the state to reinstate about a quarter of the workers, but an appellate court Tuesday upheld the furloughs after Mr. Schwarzenegger's office appealed.
    Friday furloughs are producing an unexpected dividend for many of these workers: Marketers have discovered them.
    [So the "sky is NOT falling" as predicted when we go green OR when we timesize instead of downsizing - quite the contrary!]
    The Boreal ski area near Lake Tahoe offers a "Frickin' Friday" $15 ticket for furloughed California employees; the normal adult lift price is $47. Don Hutchens, a state highway contractor, said it cost only $30 for him and his wife to snowboard all day while their young son and a friend did so for free.
    "It's the best deal in town," said a smiling Mr. Hutchens, as he toted his board to the parking lot. "You can't beat it."
    Journal Community
    * Vote: Would you take an unpaid day off each week to save your job?

    In Lincoln, Calif., the Thunder Valley Casino offers furloughed state workers $30 in coupons on Fridays, which can be used for dessert, side dishes and $5 match play at the tables. "Been Furloughed? Then make them fun!" says a flier for the casino near the state capital of Sacramento.
    "The intent is really to provide a fun respite from the travails of what state employees feel every Furlough Friday," says Doug Elmets, spokesman for the casino.
    In Adel, Georgia, Ben Rehberg says he got the idea to offer 10% discounts to furloughed state workers there for his computer-repair service after he was furloughed last year from his main job as a state technical consultant. "I thought I had a unique idea," says Mr. Rehberg, 31, who adds no one yet has taken him up on it.
    The deals aren't just for workers. In Honolulu, Waiola Shave Ice until February sold its signature dessert for 25 cents—down from $2.25—to children out of school on Fridays since 13,000 teacher furloughs began last October. "We wanted to ease the financial burden on the parents," says Jerry Lee, owner of the chain of two shave ice stands.
    A December survey of the National Association of State Budget Officers found 15 states reported doing furloughs. Although some businesses say the furloughs hurt districts that depend on state workers, there are pockets of Furlough Friday prosperity.
    Friday traffic has picked up in malls like the Pearlridge Center in suburban Honolulu. The uptick, which mall managers measure by fuller parking lots, began after the shopping center hosted "Family Furlough Friday" on Oct. 23. Activities included a "wayfinding/ celestial navigation" workshop, tumbling with Rainbow Gymnastics and "Lego Town with Mr. Amazing."
    "We just wanted to give workers stuck home with kids something to do besides nothing," says Scott Creel, regional marketing director for the shopping center.
    In Hilo, Hawaii, B97 radio host Darrin Carlson was inspired by the furloughs to pen this ditty: "Here is where we sit bored out of our wits, state workers staying home everywhere. Well we got no place to go, so the state can save some dough, watching TV in our underwear. It's Furlough Friday..."
    Others are getting into action. Szandra Keszthelyi, a California associate personnel analyst, started a Web site called "Fantastic Furlough" listing all the discounts available to furloughed state employees around Sacramento. They include 30% off eyebrow waxing, braids and other services at Itz Ur Tyme Hair Design and 10% off lunches at Miyagi Bar & Sushi (not including alcohol.)
    "I thought this could help bring business back to the area while providing a discount for those of us whose pay was cut," says Ms. Keszthelyi, 30.
    Around the capital city, Furlough Friday discounts abound. One of the more popular is at Laughs Unlimited, a $15-a-head comedy club in the Old Town district where furloughed state employers and their families get in free.
    With furloughed workers comprising as much as half the audience on Fridays, says marketing director Skip Cappawana, one running gag is: "The good news is you're here for a Furlough Friday. The bad news is you didn't get paid today. Give yourselves a hand."
    At watering holes frequented by state employees, Thursday night has become the new Friday night. Rubicon Brewery in Sacramento offered a 10% discount to furloughed workers last year to help keep up business. But even with the discount no longer in effect, an upswing in business on Thursdays has offset the slower Fridays, officials there say.
    "When times are bad, it doesn't seem like that much more to have a pint with your friends," says manager Rachael Soules.
    Write to Jim Carlton at jim.carlton@wsj.com

  2. The Big Question: What do the jobs numbers mean for GOP, Dems? by Sydelle Moore, 4/02 TheHill.com/blogs
    Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today. ...
    Today's question:
    What do the latest jobs numbers mean for Democrats? Republicans?
    Alan Abramowitz, professor of political science at Emory University [Atlanta], said:
    This month’s jobs numbers are encouraging for the president and congressional Democrats but it’s going to take several months of solid job growth and declining unemployment to move public perceptions of the economy. If that happens, it should help hold down Democratic losses in the midterm election.
    Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:
    The latest jobs numbers mean that we have to do more to boost employment. We have known how to do this for 70 years. The basic story is that the government has to spend money to increase demand. The concerns about the deficit are really painful. People who want to work and have the skills can't get jobs because the Washington policy-wonk crew were inept at their jobs and the politicians are a bunch of wimpy twits who are afraid of being called "fiscally irresponsible."
    In the real world, there is nothing fiscally irresponsible about spending government money to create jobs. It is fiscally and socially irresponsible to leave millions of people out of work. We are also being irresponsible with our children when we allow inept economists to throw their parents out of work.
    If the boys and girls in Congress can't find the backbone to spend the money to get people back to work, how about work sharing? Germany and the Netherlands have used work sharing to keep unemployment from rising even though they have suffered steeper downturns than the United States. The folks running economic policy in Washington can't be that much stupider than the politicians in Germany and the Netherlands. We should be able to do work sharing here too. 
    Peter Navarro, professor of economics and public policy at U.C. Irvine, said:
    The better the economy gets, the fewer seats the Republicans will pick up in November. One month of data do not, however, a trend make.
    Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com, said:
    The official unemployment rate remains unchanged, and they've added all these Census jobs and other government make-work to pump up the jobs-added rate and put lipstick on a pig. What this shows is that: 1) government efforts to pump up the bubble are failing, as expected, and 2) the Obama administration is trying to spin failure as success, also as expected.
    John F. McManus, president of The John Birch Society, said:
    The unemployment rate nationally is still at an admitted 9.7 percent. This is widely considered to be a lower figure than the number actually unemployed. This issue will be loom large in the fall elections, maybe larger than the healthcare measure that remains detested by more than those who applaud it.
    So, the latest jobs figure will mean losses for Democrats and gains for Republicans. Losses not only in the fall elections, but losses in support, registration, enthusiasm, etc. Many Americans are considering themselves "independent," not part of either party, It isn't generally known but the Massachusetts electorate is majority independent with Democrats second and registered Republicans a distant third. Independent voters won the surprise victory for Scott Brown. [Or was it rigged Diebold and ES&S voting machines that have contaminated even Massachusetts elections?] Where people can registered as independents, many more will do so.
    The obvious stirring amongst many Americans is a good sign for the country. Republicans have an opportunity to score heavily with disaffected Democrats and independents. But if the Republicans offer programs and candidates who claim they can bring socialism to America more efficiently than Democrats, they will throw away their chances for advancement - and they will continue the march toward national destruction. The country needs leaders who will work for less government, not more. How much less? Read the Constitution.
    Damon N. Spiegel, entrepreneur and writer, said:
    While it is always nice to see an increase in the job numbers for any party, and more importantly, in this country the reality is that 160,000 new jobs is less than a dimple in the overall problem and not something we can go to the bank with. Every month there is a different stat for new housing starts and resells –one month they show the biggest gain in five years and the next month they show the biggest decline. It is a shameless month to month number that can change and fluctuate at any moment. One month of data is not enough data to have any meaningful use just like one year of cold weather doesn’t mean we’re entering the ice ages. I’m sure over this Easter weekend the democrats will hit the airwaves and pronounce they are the reason of this unimpressive job gain and the republicans will point to the fact that unemployment still remains at 9.7% and of the 162,000 jobs created more than 80,000 are either part time or temporary positions. For the democrats this will be a good weekend but come November if the unemployment rate continues to steady around the 9 percent area this month will mean nothing when they get voted out of office.

  3. NUT conference: teachers talk of strike to win 35-hour working week - Annual conference of largest teachers' union votes unanimously to ballot on strike if working hours demands not met, by Jessica Shepherd, 4/03 The Manchester via Guardian.co.uk
    England's biggest classroom union issued a threat yesterday to strike unless the next government cuts teachers' workload to a 35-hour week.
    The annual conference of National Union of Teachers (NUT), which represents most of the profession, voted unanimously for a motion calling for a ballot for industrial action as early as this summer if ministers did not agree to their demands.
    The threat comes days after the Tories called for schools to open on Saturdays to offer extra lessons to the poorest children. Teachers argued that they work an average of 18.7 hours of unpaid overtime every week, and that their workload has grown worse. The motion, proposed by teachers in east London, warned that "reducing teacher workload is vital to improve both teachers' working conditions and children's learning conditions".
    A spokesman from the Department for Children, Schools and Families said the government had already made "massive strides" to reduce teachers' workload. Ministers had given teachers extra planning time and limited the number of hours they could be asked to cover for absent colleagues, he said.
    Tomorrow teachers will vote over whether to walk out if ministers cut school budgets and freeze their pay.
    Also at the NUT conference in Liverpool, Mick Brookes, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, gave a rallying call for teachers to vote to boycott national tests for 10- and 11-year-olds. The NUT and the NAHT are balloting heads and their deputies over whether to "frustrate the administration" of the tests next month. Brookes said: "If [the government] aren't going to change the system, then we will change it for them. I am proud we are standing up for what matters."




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