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Sunday, June 06, 2004

My tribute to Ronald Reagan will only contain the memory of the many times the president would sum up the unemployment problems of the '80s by stating that he didn't understand how there could be a problem when the Sunday papers were full of want ads and the homeless were making the choice to be homeless. Reagan maintained this stance all the way to Dec. 22, 1998 with his final interview with David Brinkley.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

This in from The Conference Board on how help wanted advertising is basically stagnant to a year ago.


The Conference Board’s Help-Wanted Advertising Index – a key barometer of America's job market – declined one point in April. The Index now stands at 38, down from 39 the previous month. The Index was 37 one year ago.

In the last three months, help-wanted advertising increased in five of the nine U.S. regions. The largest increases occurred in the Mountain (12.6%) and South Atlantic (11.1%) regions. The decreases in the other four regions were modest, with the exception of the East South Central region, which declined 19.4% in the last three months.

Says Conference Board Economist Ken Goldstein: "No one expects the economy to continue delivering over a half million new jobs every two months. The data on want-ad volume suggests the pace of hiring will moderate. Nevertheless, a return to a jobless expansion is not in the cards. The big change in the labor market has been more jobs opening up while fewer jobs are lost. The only change in these conditions is probably to a moderate but sustainable pace of job openings this summer. The loss of one point in the index in each of the past two months is not consistent with any significant drop in labor market activity just around the corner."

The Conference Board surveys help-wanted advertising volume in 51 major newspapers across the country every month. Because ad volume has proven to be sensitive to labor market conditions, this measure provides a gauge of change in the local, regional and national supply of jobs.

Monday, May 31, 2004

On this Memorial Day, you may think it is about time that I remembered the fact that I have a blog. For the last month, I've had to focus all of my attention to my professional life apart from the blog we share here together. As I've always disclosed, I am employed and have been so for the last year, but this past month, my employment status could have been in jeopardy, at minimum, my future with my current employer.

I'm relived to say I survived a great upheaval and feel comfortable about the future. However, it today's unemployment setting, it deserves every bit of your attention to fight with all you've got just to preserve the positions you have. Falling back into unemployment still holds just as many pitfalls today as it has for the last two years.

So, I'm happy to report that I'm back, the blog will return for its regularly scheduled posts, and I'm still employed.

Friday, April 30, 2004

A great way to know the status of the job market is to judge the volume of ads in the daily newspapers across the country. This is a monthly survey provided by The Conference Board that gives some insight into how fast, slow or backwards the job market is becoming. The lastest survey is a mixed blessing in that employment advertising is remaining stable, but it is not suggesting a sudden spike any time soon.


"The Conference Board’s Help-Wanted Advertising Index – a key barometer of America's job market – dipped one point in March. The Index now stands at 39, down from 40 the previous month. The Index was 39 one year ago.

"In the last three months, help-wanted advertising increased in six of the nine U.S. regions. The largest increases occurred in the Middle Atlantic (19.0%), Mountain (14.7%), and New England (12.5%) regions.

"Says Conference Board Economist Ken Goldstein: "The national labor market was improving in the first quarter of 2004, although slowly. Even though want-ad volume dipped slightly in March, the overall direction remains positive, and so should job growth over the near term. The Conference Board’s Coincident Economic Indicator, an important measure of current economic growth, remained on a rising trend through March. And the Leading Economic Indicators suggest it could carry into the third quarter."

"The Conference Board surveys help-wanted advertising volume in 51 major newspapers across the country every month. Because ad volume has proven to be sensitive to labor market conditions, this measure provides a gauge of change in the local, regional and national supply of jobs."

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Beware the voodoo that Lou do!

So says John Castellani, president of the Washington-based Business Roundtable, when discussing CNN's Lou Dobbs who has consistently spotlighted the issue of outsourcing jobs from the U.S. Castellani is upset about Dobb's focus on the issue and accuses the veteran newsman of "one-sided" journalism.

"It's as if whatever made Linda Blair's head spin around in "The Exorcist" has invaded the body of Lou Dobbs and left him with the brain of (Democratic presidential candidate) Dennis Kucinich," Castellani said.

Castellani isn't the only critic of Dobbs regarding his attention to outsourcing, but like many others, when given the opportunity to openly debate the issue with Dobbs on Dobbs own program, Castellani declined. In fairness, what executive is really going to want to put his company name in front of the defense of such a divisive issues, but don't go calling someone out in a speech if you're not willing to face the music later.

Dobbs has raised his stature with his "Exporting America" and "America Works" segments on his daily show. Dobbs also reportedly has a book in the works on the issue of outsourcing. Does this make his coverage unfair or one-sided? As always, it depends upon the perspective of the viewer. I've caught the program a couple of times and while much of the show's content is a rehash of both sides of the same argument for/against outsourcing, at least both sides are given equal opportunities to debate the issue without it deteriorating into usual verbal wrestling so popular with cable news shows.

Some people object to Dobbs' list of U.S. companies that are currently outsourcing, but where is the injustice in producing a list? Facts are facts whether it is a list of companies exporting jobs overseas or my list of unemployment rates per state or my Job Creation Scoreboard. It's not my fault Bush is behind in his pledge of 2.6 million jobs, it was his administration’s claim and it is their figures released on a monthly basis that make up the score.

The main argument in favor of outsourcing is it will create cheaper prices back at home allowing people to purchase more which will then spur companies to create higher paying jobs here in the U.S. However, I would have to agree with the outsourcing critics in pointing out that I haven't seen any of the above happen yet. Prices haven't fallen on anything, at best, they've remained stable. Purchasing power hasn't been a problem in this country for almost a decade, thus the rising costs of consumer debt. (My wife's mantra: Have card, will purchase!) The jobs created in the U.S. have mostly been in the lower paying service industry.

I would also like to see a study done on how many people who have returned to work are actually making as much in the same positions they held previously. There must be some reason software developers aren't buying as many Mercedes Benz as they used to, you know.

This is all typical corporate and political spin, don't make outsourcing the issue, make it Lou Dobbs. What's his angle? Who is he protecting? What is his real agenda? Is it true John Kerry has Lou Dobbs office number programmed into his cell phone?

If only there was work for people who didn't have anything better to do with their time then to make up conspiracy theories on the truth.

Monday, April 26, 2004

By many people's standards, this is the resume of a person almost anyone would want working for their company. However, this person submits this resume my way with the added comment that it hasn't done him any good. Browse over this resume and tell me why a person with a background such as this should feel as if his resume does him no good? When someone with a backgournd like this is out of work for an extended period of time, you know you've got an ongoing unemployment crisis in the U.S.


SOFTWARE ENGINEER

Key contributor to IBM’s prime products. Regularly selected to work on some of the most important and challenging projects at IBM. Extensive knowledge of complicated internal DB2 data base code, including: SPUFI; IMS, TSO and DB2 call attach; message and command processing. Credited in appraisals as proactive, tenacious about solving difficult problems, good at juggling multiple assignments, and being appreciated by the team. References from top professionals at IBM. In the last year formed own company, so I understand challenges facing startups.

IBM AWARDS
Honored by management for innovation and outstanding leadership:
  • Led teams to write the first set of test cases for the z/OS Unix socket interface.
  • Led a team to develop a first-of-a-kind, object-oriented utility library for z/OS Unix.
  • Led teams to develop code for critical releases of RACF z/OS Unix.
  • Wrote innovative tools to stress-test RACF z/OS Unix.
  • Led teams to write new, innovative libraries for TSO and IMS. Libraries revolutionized the way that information was presented for TSO and IMS. (1983 GPD Achievement Award.)

    PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

    Software Consultant 2003 - 2004
    CEO of my own software consulting firm to help people on the Olympic Peninsula use their PCs. Designed and wrote a web site for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula. Received feedback from key Boys & Girls Clubs personnel and local business community for providing an outstanding site on short notice. Web site was credited with producing the best auction results ever for the Boys & Girls Clubs. Act as Program Chair for Olympic Steering Committee of the WSA (Washington Software Alliance).

    International Business Machines Corporation 1979 - 1984, 1985 - 2001

    IBM, Silicon Valley (Santa Teresa) Laboratory, San Jose, CA
    Software Engineer / DB2 UDB Development 1998 - 2001
    As part of the DB2 development team, designed, developed, and maintained code that is a core part of the DB2 product. Acted as the lead developer for the components I owned:
  • Wrote software specifications and code to enhance DB2 Versions 7 and 8. Code was recognized as high quality by the prime DB2 development lead.
  • Acted as focal point to help the customer support group of DB2 quickly resolve complicated and critical customer situations. Was considered one of the top two DB2 developers by customer support personnel.
  • Led newly-hired developers to write code in support of SQLJ and JDBC. Became sought after as a mentor.
  • Led a team of DB2 SQLJ developers to develop a first-of-a-kind library of Java test cases for SQLJ Release 1, cutting unit test time by several years.
    Projects were consistently error-free and delivered ahead of or on schedule. Typically recognized by customers, peers, and management for outstanding work, being exceptionally responsive to customer problems, and being proactive about resolving difficult problems.

    IBM, DSD, Poughkeepsie, NY
    Software Engineer / z/OS Unix 1995 - 1998
    Led teams to write test cases in support of z/OS Unix:
  • Led a team to design and write a first-of-a-kind object-oriented utility library in C++ to test z/OS Unix code. Personally designed and wrote a set of classes to simplify the testing of the socket interface for z/OS Unix. Used extensively in the z/OS Unix area and by other programming labs, the library saved several years of test time.
  • In addition to assigned responsibilities, conceived of, designed, and wrote one of the first department web sites. Mentored others to write additional web sites.
  • In addition to assigned responsibilities, designed and wrote Java test cases to test the porting of JDK 1.1 to z/OS Unix.
  • Led a team to test LE in an SRB-mode environment. Designed and wrote innovative test cases that uncovered problems not usually found in the lab.

    IBM, DSD, Kingston, NY
    Software Engineer / RACF Development 1991 - 1995
    Led development teams to design and develop RACF code in support of z/OS Unix
    Releases 2 and 3. Personally developed over half the code. The code was developed several weeks ahead of schedule and had exceptional quality as noted by management. Recognized by management as a highly productive, significant development resource for RACF.

    IBM, Wappingers Falls, NY
    Software Engineer / JES2 Development 1987 - 1991

    IBM, Wappingers Falls, NY
    Information Developer / TSO Information Development 1985 - 1987

    Seattle-First National Bank, Seattle, WA
    IMS Data Base Administrator 1984 - 1985

    IBM, San Jose, CA
    Information Developer / IMS Information Development 1979 - 1984

    EDUCATION
    Graduated cum laude from San Diego State University. BA: English, Minor: Information Systems. Worked 20 hours per week for NOSC (Naval Ocean Systems Center) for two years as a student programmer while carrying a full course load.

    COMPUTER SKILLS
    Languages: SQL, SQLJ, C, C++, Java, HTML, Assembler, PL/X, Pascal, Perl, and COBOL
    Products: SQL, SQLJ/JDBC, ODBC, DB2 UDB, z/OS Unix (Unix for MVS), LE/CEL, RACF, ISPF, JES2, JCL, TSO, IMS, IPCS, and VICOM
    Operating Systems: Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows XP, z/OS, OS/390, MVS, OS/2.
    Positions Held: Team lead, software developer, function tester, technical writer


    If you want to contact this person, email your interest to me first and I'll put you in touch.
  • Friday, April 23, 2004

    As goes the economy, one would expect so goes the job market. However, the economy has been slowly gaining momentum for the last several months, but the job market remains relatively stagnant. Recently, the Federal Reserve (that organization followed religiously by all those stock market players who also play are significant role in pinning down job expansion) released some encouraging news about the economy with the stinger that it is still concerned about jobs.

    While I'm not sure of the impact yet the economy has yet to unleash on the job market, there is a great deal of good news for all types of industries in the U.S. in the Fed's latest Beige Book. I would though draw your attention to what the Fed says about employee benefit costs and its effect on hiring.


    Consumer Spending Most [Federal Reserve Banking] districts saw a noticeable increase in retail sales. Boston, Cleveland and Philadelphia described sales as improving and strengthening, while sales were moderately above year-ago levels in the Atlanta, Minneapolis and St. Louis districts. Dallas, Kansas City, New York and San Francisco variously described consumer spending as brisk, solid or surprisingly strong. Meanwhile, retail sales growth moderated somewhat in the Richmond district, and consumer spending was somewhat mixed in the Chicago district. Several districts noted increases in apparel sales. Furthermore, many reports indicated that retail contacts were optimistic for growth
    during late spring and summer.

    Vehicle Sales District reports indicated that vehicle sales were mixed. Minneapolis and San Francisco reported strong sales, and Cleveland, Kansas City, Philadelphia and Richmond described recent vehicle sales as rising or improved. However, some districts noted that sales were constant or down slightly from a year ago. In the Atlanta district auto sales were described as uneven, with strong demand for light trucks and SUVs contrasted with weakness in demand for cars. Chicago, Dallas and St. Louis suggested that automobile sales were soft or slow. A number of auto dealers indicated that inventories were higher than desired.

    Tourism and Services Tourism activity grew in several districts. Atlanta, Minneapolis, New York, Richmond and San Francisco described tourism activity as brisk, solid or at high levels. In the northern part of the Boston district tourism picked up at a moderate pace after a slow start earlier in the year. Meanwhile, Kansas City said that travel and
    tourism were mixed, and Chicago mentioned that leisure travel was generally flat. Boston, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Richmond indicated that tourism businesses were optimistic for the summer season.

    Manufacturing Manufacturing activity increased in all the districts. New orders and production were up over a year ago. Several districts reported slow growth in capital equipment orders. Nearly all districts noted increased activity across a broad range of industry sectors, especially primary materials. Kansas City reported higher capacity utilization for most manufacturers. Most steel mills were operating at or near capacity in the Chicago and Cleveland districts. Philadelphia indicated that steel and iron supplies were limited. Orders for high-technology products increased in the Dallas and San Francisco districts. Rising material costs were a common theme across the nation, with mixed reports on the ability to pass costs along to consumers by raising prices.

    Real Estate and Construction Residential markets were strong, with some concerns about the rising costs of building materials. Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis, New York and Richmond all suggested strong sales, but Richmond noted softening in the Carolinas offset by activity in other markets. Cleveland said sales were on par with the same period last year, and Dallas referred to scattered signs of improvement. Activity slowed in the St. Louis district. Several districts reported mid-priced homes accounted for most of the activity, with recent increased activity in the high-end market.

    Agriculture Overall, agricultural conditions were good across the nation. Prices for most agricultural commodities remained strong. Chicago reported higher prices for corn, soybeans, hogs and beef, and Minneapolis noted record milk prices. Atlanta reported firm prices for vegetables, and San Francisco reported strong demand for nuts. Due to record prices, several districts indicated that farmers plan to plant more acres of soybeans this year. Atlanta, Kansas City and Minneapolis reported dry conditions in parts of their districts, and Richmond indicated that cold weather problems were hampering plantings.

    Labor Markets Most districts indicated that hiring increased moderately. Chicago and San Francisco also noted that more firms plan to hire later in the year. In the Dallas district, jobs increased for production workers in high tech, apparel and lumber manufacturing. A New York employment agency, specializing in office jobs, reported that the labor market has continued to strengthen in March and early April, with improvement described as moderate but broad-based. Meanwhile, reports of hiring remained mixed in Atlanta, but declines in some of the weaker sectors abated. Hiring increased for temporary workers in several districts.

    Wages and Prices District reports show that increases in wages and salaries were modest; however, significant increases in the cost of health benefits were noted. In the Boston district, wages for retail positions were mostly steady, although some retailers were implementing increases of 3 to 4 percent. Salaries were relatively flat in the New York district. Overall wage increases were modest in the Minneapolis district, while health benefits remained a key issue in contract disputes. Dallas and Kansas City reported that wage increases were modest, but several employers noted that high benefit costs continued to discourage them from hiring new employees. San Francisco reported that employers have responded to the rising cost of health benefits in part by shifting some of the burden to workers.

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