Report Provides Roadmap to Grow Manufacturing Jobs

The manufacturing sector has actually posted employment gains in two consecutive years.  It currently employs 574,000 Pennsylvanians, but Governor Tom Corbett says we can do better.  Corbett and key members of his administration unveiled the Governor’s Manufacturing Advisory Council report at four, statewide events Tuesday afternoon.

The 24-member panel decided upon 15-recommendations that range from better career and technical education, to a statewide energy plan and tax policy changes.  “We have a cross-agency, public-private team of folks working on implementation going forward,” says Team Pennsylvania Foundation president & CEO Matt Zieger.  “So those [recommendations] that are not underway, will be underway very soon.”

Team PA has been funding and facilitating the council since Governor Corbett created it late last year.  Zieger says the report is unique because many of the recommendations aren’t just about how the state can help the manufacturers, but how the manufacturers can help themselves.

One of the key issues raised in the report is the “skills gap” that was reported by 82% of Pennsylvania’s 15,000 manufacturers.

“My goal is straight forward; a healthy economy and a job for every Pennsylvanian that wants one,” Governor Corbett said.  “This report provides a solid roadmap for us to work together and achieve that goal.”

The statewide jobless rate now stands at 7.9%, according to the latest data from the Department of Labor & Industry.

“Keystone Works” to Launch This Fall

Guidelines are being drafted for a new program called Keystone Works, which could help unemployed Pennsylvanians find a job more quickly.  “Keystone Works will provide an opportunity for the unemployed worker to receive training with a business while continuing to receive their UC benefits, at the same time incentivizing the employers to hopefully hire these unemployed individuals,” says Michelle Staton, deputy secretary for workforce development with the state Department of Labor & Industry.

The worker benefits by staying connected to the workforce, obtaining new skills and receiving job-specific training in a high-priority occupation.  Even if they are not hired at the end of the eight-week program, Staton tells us the new skills will make it easier to find work elsewhere.

The employer benefits because the program helps off-set the cost of training, and offers incentives of up to $1,500 for every trainee they hire.

The new state budget includes $2.5-million dollars to cover the cost of those incentives.  Staton says their goal is to train 2,000 workers in the first year of “Keystone Works.”  The Department of Labor and Industry will be developing a website specifically for individuals and companies interested in Keystone Works.

The statewide jobless rate currently stands at 7.5%.  July’s numbers are expected to be released later this week.

Getting the Most of Your Holiday Job Search

The holiday season can be a mixed bag for job seekers, according to Kevin Collins, Assistant Director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Career and Professional Development Center.  While the job boards may not be flush with openings this time of year, job seekers can take advantage of the lull.  “The best way to put it would be to reconnect, retool and reconsider,” Collins says. 

To reconnect could mean reaching out to contacts you’ve made over the course of the year.  “This is an ideal time to be doing that because, if it’s a business contact, a lot of times their inbox is not getting slammed like it is during the rest of the year.”

To retool, Collins tells us, is to evaluate your resume, cover letters, etc. to ensure they’re reflecting the skills and the message that you want to convey to potential employers.

To reconsider means just that.  If your job search is too narrow, you may want to start considering other industries or geographic regions. 

While Collins emphasizes networking, he warns of mixing your messages too much over the holiday season.  “You don’t want to send Christmas cards out to people and have your resume in it,” Collins quips.  “It’s a little too over the top.” 

Nearly a half-million Pennsylvanians are currently unemployed, according to the latest data from the state Department of Labor & Industry.  The statewide jobless rate has improved for two consecutive months; it now stands at 7.9%.

U.S. Army Launches Virtual Job Fair Website

With the economy still struggling to produce jobs, the U.S. Army Harrisburg Battalion has partnered with PA Careerlink to develop a plan designed to help unemployed Pennsylvanians find training and jobs in their communities.

 The plan centers around the new website  Staci Cretu, Chief of Advertising and Public Affairs for the Harrisburg Battalion, says many citizens don’t realize that the U.S. Army Reserve has hundreds of job opportunities for Pennsylvanians looking for work.  Cretu says the website showcases the U.S. Army’s strength in partnering with communities to promote jobs and career training in Pennsylvania.  Cretu says the Army Reserve gives civilians the chance to receive job training, work in their community and serve their country all at the same time. 

The Army’s job opportunities, along with the more than 52,000 job openings currently listed by PA Careerlink, can all be found at the new website.

Sen. Toomey, Protesters Talking Jobs

A team of unemployed workers and supporters is traveling the state to stage protests outside of US Senator Pat Toomey’s regional offices.  “I was let go for two reasons.  They happened to be corporate greed and the outsourcing of jobs,” says Dan Haney of Philadelphia.  The protesters say Toomey needs to focus his attention on creating jobs for the middle class. 

As the protests are taking place in his home state, Toomey spoke to the nation in the weekly Republican Address.  Its focus: jobs.  “Every day small business owners, job creators and entrepreneurs are bombarded with new regulations and higher costs, discouraging these employers from expanding their businesses and higher additional workers,” Toomey said.  In the five minute speech, Toomey expressed optimism while blaming the nation’s 9.1% unemployment rate, in part, on job-killing federal regulations

But the protesters say politicians like Toomey focus too much on CEOs and not enough of middle class families.  “They want to balance the budget on the working class’ back, and let corporations and CEOs and millionaires get more tax breaks, and put more money in their pocket,” Haney said in a telephone interview from an event outside of the Harrisburg federal building (pictured above). 

Toomey has recently been tapped for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (super committee).  In the GOP Address, Toomey said he will work to produce a plan that cuts government spending and creates and environment where entrepreneurs can thrive.

CareerBuilder Survey: Workers Report Burnout

Is ‘summer fever’ spreading in your office?  In a recent survey of employee productivity, CareerBuilder found that 26% of employers think their workers are less productive in the summer.  Some of the possible culprits: sunny weather, vacation plans and kids being home from school.

But there are other factors at play.  “Workers really have just been overworked.  They’ve had a lot more responsibility, and as a result we’re starting to see them become less productive,” said Mike Irwin, senior career advisor for 

30% of employers say workers are more productive today than when the recession began, and nearly half of employees report heavier workloads in the past six months.  77% of workers also say they’re “always” or “sometimes” burned out on the job.

“The productivity levels have increased over the last couple of years, but we can’t sustain this level without bringing more people in,” Irwin said.  His advice for employers: “Even if you think everything is going well in the office, get out there and see how people are feeling.”  Irwin says many people won’t say they’re overworked or stressed, because they’re afraid of losing their job. 

CareerBuilder surveyed more than 2,600 hiring managers and nearly 5,300 employees, between May 19th and June 8th to compile these results.  During the month of June, the total non-farm job count dipped by 2,600 in Pennsylvania.  The statewide jobless rate also rose from 7.4% to 7.6%.

Fewer Jobs, Higher Unemployment in PA

The statewide job count fell by 2,600 in June, and the unemployment rate rose to 7.6%.  That’s up from 7.4% statewide unemployment in May.  The state Department of Labor & Industry reports biggest hits came in the service providing supersectors.  For instance, 7,800 education & health services jobs were lost last month.  The financial activities supersector lost 2,000 jobs. 

The bright spot in Pennsylvania’s June jobs report comes from the goods producing supersectors.  Construction added 1,100 jobs.  Manufacturing added 2,000 jobs. 

Despite the net loss of jobs from month-to-month, Pennsylvania is still home to 46,400 more jobs today than this time last year.  Also, today’s jobless rate is still much better than last June’s 8.7% statewide mark. 

The nation’s June jobs report was similarly bad.  The nationwide unemployment rate now stands at 9.2%.