Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pennsylvania Minimum Wage to Increase on July 1st

With the federal government having just passed a minimum wage bill that will increase the standard minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour over the next 2 years, Pennsylvania will reach a new level of $7.15 per hour beginning July 1st this year. This will raise the annual income of a minimum wage earner working 40 hours per week to $14,872, still below the federal poverty level for a family of four, but much better than the $10,712 under the old rate. For informational purposes we have attached the standard collateral from the state government. Click here to see the full document from the PA Dept of Labor and Industry (you must have Adobe Reader to view).

Critics of the increase say it will cost jobs, maybe thousands of jobs. In our opinion, if Pennsylvania's minimum was substantially higher than all other states, especially those near by, this may have been the case as incentive to move a business to a cheaper venue would build. With most states around us and a majority of states around the country also raising theirs we do not see many jobs being lost. This will add inflationary pressure from businesses heavily dependent on minimum wage positions like some restaurants and retail. The benefit in Pennsylvania alone will be tremendous. With 440,000 workers estimated by the state to be at minimum wage, this increase from $5.15 per hour will put over one billion dollars of extra revenue annually into the hands of people who need it most and will raise their standard of living. As economists know, money makes money. This added revenue injected into the state economy will help increase demand for more consumer goods and housing. History shows that responsibly raising minimum
wages has only helped economies over all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

This Week’s Hottest Employer for May 29th, 2007

This week’s hottest employer, based on either number of needs or severity of needs is the United States Post Office looking for casual temporary workers in multiple facilities and locations including the Northside, Warrendale and multiple post office locations in the 152 zip code area. They offer pay rates of $9.00 to $12.00 per hour. To apply call their job information line at 412-359-7515 or go online at Details of the positions can be found when calling and also information on application processes. Or pick up this week's edition of The Employment Guide. They are looking for dozens of positions to fill, making them our Hottest Employer for the Week.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Monster Index Says Pittsburgh Strong, Confirms Pittsburgh 2007 Job Growth Underway

The job board Monster came out recently with their monthly jobs index, a measure of advertised jobs during the month compared with a baseline year. As we have opined many times over the past 3 months that the Pittsburgh metro job market is finally starting to show real growth, the Monster Index backs us up! And we quote:

PITTSBURGH, May 17, 2007 – The Monster Local Employment Index for Pittsburgh
rose two points in April due to a general expansion in online recruitment activity. Over the year, the Index for Pittsburgh is up 11 points, a sharp increase from last month and the highest annual growth pace on record, suggesting strengthened local employer demand.

Categories in the blue-collar segment have shown signs of added momentum in recent
months. Growth in online job availability during April was most pronounced for
installation, maintenance, and repair occupations, but the construction and extraction;
transportation and material moving; and production categories also rose sharply on the
month, while also accelerating on a year-over-year basis.

End Quote.

We are still seeing unusual strength at the end of May, a period when recruitment typically slows down somewhat in anticipation of the holiday and vacation time coming with the end of the local school year. Of particular note are allied healthcare and commercial driver positions. But strength is mostly across the board. In speaking with a particular Human Resource Manager from a major employer in Pittsburgh (sorry, source does not want to be disclosed), an increase (though slight) in the number of recent immigrants applying is starting to be seen here, yet another symptom of increased opportunity.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Hottest Employer of the Week for May 21st!

Each week we chose our Hottest Employer of the Week based on number of positions available or difficulty in filling available positions. Either way it means a good opportunity of jobseekers. The week our hottest employer is Crystal Spring Water looking for a number of different types of positions including Sales representatives, Route Sales Reps and Warehouse Personnel. Based out of Carnegie, this company has been in Pittsburgh since 1921 and offers competitive benefit packages to all employees with competitive pay rates. For more details pick up this week’s The Employment Guide or visit the web site at

Thursday, May 17, 2007

McDonald's tries to keep workers from flipping jobs

This morning we read with interest an article published Tuesday in the Chicago tribune pertaining to our topic from yesterday, hospitality jobs and the opportunity they will offer. Very interesting figures here that also mirror the Pittsburgh job market. Here is the article in it's entirety:

McDonald's tries to keep workers from flipping jobs

By John SchmeltzerTribune staff reporterPublished May 15, 2007

A high employee-turnover rate has been a perennial problem for fast-food restaurants. Last year the rate rose to 130 percent. Despite rising wages, flexible schedules and even health insurance, the revolving door is turning faster than ever."People know what needs to be done, but it is an investment," said Sherri Daye Scott, who has observed the ups and downs of the sector for more than a decade as editor of QSR magazine, a trade magazine that covers the industry.McDonald's Corp. believes it has found an answer: Make it a McCareer, not a McJob.

On Monday, Oak Brook-based McDonald's announced a nationwide campaign promoting careers at the world's largest restaurant chain. The campaign was released two weeks ago in the Chicago market. "We think working at McDonald's is a tremendous opportunity, that this is a great place to work. You can start as a crew person like I did," said Karen King, 50, East Division president of McDonald's USA. More than 600,000 people work at McDonald's USA's 13,700 restaurants. King's division contains 5,000 restaurants.The hamburger giant tried promoting careers two years ago with mixed results by shining the spotlight on famous individuals who once worked at McDonald's, such as singer Macy Gray, 10-time Olympic track and field medalist Carl Lewis and professional speedskater Derek Parra.Now the firm intends to turn the spotlight on its employees.

Even cutting the turnover rate, which matches the industry average, by a few percentage points would reduce the millions of dollars the restaurant chain spends annually on training. McDonald's declined to divulge how much it spends on training new hires.But King, in a dubious claim of distinction considering the high turnover rate, said, "We train more people than the U.S. Army." Jonah Kaufman, chairman of the national advertising committee for owner-operators and the owner of 12 McDonald's in the New York area, said the campaign using King; Ofelia Melendez, vice president of quality service and cleanliness in McDonald's Greater Southwest region; and other employees is aimed at raising the profile of jobs at the chain. "The world identifies who we are, and many times they don't do it correctly," Kaufman said. "This is our attempt to let people know the opportunities that are here."We're frustrated because the opportunities are so great and the people who stay at McDonald's many times have moved up and feel good about themselves," he said, adding that he knows at least 10 owner-operators in the New York area who started as crew members.

Crew member is McDonald's terminology for a person whose first job is taking and filling customer orders.Restaurant operators, whether they are operators of fast-food outlets or fine-dining restaurants, say the biggest task they face is the recruitment and retention of employees. "Many are becoming proactive at retaining the staff they already have so they don't have to go fishing in the shallow labor pool, as well as develop new tactics to reach out to new employees," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the National Restaurant Association. "The industry's need for employees will remain unabated for the next decade," he said, noting that the industry is expected to create an additional 2 million positions over the next 10 years. Currently, there are 12.8 million people working in the restaurant industry.Jared Bernstein, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, said McDonald's should have no trouble using the career program to recruit a higher level of employee."I can tell you that there is robust supply of smart people stuck in low-wage jobs champing at the bit to get into a career ladder," he said.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

But What About Hospitality Jobs In Pittsburgh?

We are speaking about hourly positions in hotels and restaurants. You know, the positions that most people seem to think of as stop gap employment opportunities until they find a “real” job. Wait staff, night auditors, short order cook, housekeeper and so forth. We had the opportunity to speak with Marc Gordon a couple of months ago at a national meeting we attended. Marc is the president of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association. What he spoke about had mostly to do with tourist type destinations like Chicago and Indianapolis. They have found that the fastest track to a lucrative long term career actually lies in Hospitality! So many people view the industry as not one they wish to spend the rest of their careers in that those that do are able to move up much more quickly than any other job category. By the time a college graduate reaches 30, they could be managing their own restaurant or hotel for a single owner or national chain. Work ethic and drive is all it takes.

We bring this up because the landscape is starting to change in Pittsburgh and timing would be excellent for any hourly job seeker to consider a long term career in Hospitality. If you love working with the public this is an opportunity not seen in decades. With two major casinos slated to open over the next year or two, a new arena for the Penguins about to break ground (with extensive retail and restaurant development going up with it) as well as numerous new hotels under construction or being planned the need in this area will be one of the bright spots for our job market for many years to come. Starting out at a lower wage now while gaining experience in the industry will pay fast dividends to any motivated individual willing to work hard and stay in the industry. Hotel and restaurant operators in Pittsburgh are beginning to see the effects of the improving job market. It is not as easy to fill positions as it was last year or the year before. Educating prospective future employees, especially those entering the job market for the first time, on the long term benefits of working in hospitality will create a win-win for themselves and hundreds of Pittsburgh area residents!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Hottest Employer of the Week for May 14th, 2007

Pittsburgh Virtual Job Fair on

This is a really neat concept in job fairs. All hourly job seekers are encouraged to go to You will see a banner for the Pittsburgh Virtual Job Fair. This will run for two weeks, May 14th through May 28th. When you click on the banner ad your browser will be taken to a webpage with company logos. Click on any of the logos you are interested in and you will see their entire job postings on one page. Each job posting will explain how to apply for that job. Some are apply online, while others are apply in person. It’s that easy! There are 12 companies and hundreds of jobs in areas like production workers, retail, sales, customer service, amusement park, banking finance, healthcare and the City of Pittsburgh with various positions.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Another Symptom of a Strengthening Pittsburgh Job Market

There is still some debate about whether Pittsburgh is finally breaking out of a 6 year down trend in the creation of new jobs. We at the Employment Guide's Pittsburgh office, based on our business climate, are in the camp of optimism. Another symptom pointing us in this direction is what we are seeing with Pittsburgh area career training schools. We are not speaking of four year programs, but specifically those schools who offer one to two year programs and associate degrees. These are schools most likely to be used by an unemployed or underemployed job seeker to retrain themselves in order to pursue a different career. For the first time in 6 years, as a generality, we are seeing response rates to ads go down, that is, leads generated for the schools. Adding to this dilemma is we are hearing consistently Pittsburgh area schools are not converting as high a percentage of leads into students regardless of the lead source.

This is a direct symptom of more jobseekers in the Pittsburgh metro being gainfully employed. It is mirroring what we have seen in southern and western areas of the country over the past 2 years as the job markets in those areas tightened. The business of running a school can be cyclical opposite to the strength of the job market. When the job market turns for the worse, more people are unemployed and when new job opportunities do not materialize, jobseekers wisely turn to new career paths and seek retraining. It is simple supply and demand.

What is a school to do? The only advice that could come from any media is changing the message they want to deliver. It is no longer OK to only line list programs and wait for leads to call. The message must be turned to creating dissatisfaction in those currently employed to wanting something better. Schools need to start asking if you are making as much as you are worth. Are you in the career you want to be for the rest of your life? Other areas to look at (which we are beginning to see) are shaping new programs to better fit this market. With two major casinos opening over the next year or so, what training could be offered now to better afford an underemployed jobseeker a better chance of landing a higher paying job?

The job market is certainly improving in Pittsburgh. The outlook for the next five years is good. The career schools that survive and even continue to grow are going to be those who can adapt their message and programs the best.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Hottest Employer of the Week for May 7th, 2007

Employment for Adults 55+

This is more of a concept than a company that is the Hot Topic for the week. The Pittsburgh area, as you know, is one of the oldest metros in the country. Because of this, we find ourselves in a situation where more residents are beginning to retire than we have young people coming in to replace them. This is good news for young people because it will make them more in demand by employers, but it also creates opportunities for all residents 55+ who wish to continue working, or pick up an extra income to help with retirement expenses.

The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh has put together a tremendous program geared for adults 55+ to help with job placement, resume assistance, employment counseling and even in putting together an individual Employment Plan. They also offer opportunities for paid on the job training.

Employers are discovering the advantages of hiring adults 55+ including the life experience they bring, dependability, work ethic and responsibility. If you would like more information from The Urban League on their 55+ Employment, Training and Economic Empowerment Program, please call Angelique at 412-227-4177.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Friday Musings on the hourly job front for May 4th, 2007

Local unemployment rate plummets over past year. This is the headline for an article in today’s Pittsburgh Business Times and confirms what we have opined for the past 2 months. Pittsburgh is finally growing jobs again. The unemployment rate in Pittsburgh dropped to 3.6% in March. Harold Miller, CEO of Future Strategies LLC rightfully cautions not to get too overly joyous just yet. Part of the Pittsburgh area tightening can be attributed to a decline in the number of people seeking jobs, normally a sign of a weakening job market causing more jobseekers to get frustrated and stop looking. However, Pittsburgh could well be different in this area. We are losing overall population due to a higher death rate than birth rate. The seven county Pittsburgh metro is the second oldest in the country, due mostly to the outflow caused by the collapse of the steel industry in the 1980’s. What does this mean to the average hourly jobseeker? It means more opportunity. There are not enough new jobseekers coming into the market than are retiring. This is already beginning to cause business owners and recruiters much more of a challenge to attract not only qualified candidates, but ANY candidates for many of their positions. Especially their entry level skilled positions. In a previous writing we noted the local concerns of our young people coming out of high school without enough basic skills to compete for many of these jobs. Perhaps this will be the catalyst for foreign immigrants once again viewing Pittsburgh as a place where opportunity abounds. Hopefully this unnatural tightening will not have a detrimental effect of keeping businesses from opening or expanding in our area.

We had an interesting long conversation with a friend who is a shop steward for the Sheet Metal Workers in Pittsburgh. He has been a sheet metal worker for 17 years and has worked through both good and bad times. The biggest concern for his union right now, with multiple large construction projects on the horizon, isn’t just finding enough qualified workers to fill positions, but finding enough who are dependable and responsible. They have bigger problems than in the past with no-shows, absenteeism and tardiness primarily among their apprentices.

We both felt that this is the type of problem we wish we had to deal with in the past. He agreed the next 3 to 5 years look very good for job creation in southwest Pennsylvania. We will need to see positive job numbers become a trend over time before any celebration.

Truly a 'Burgh Thing!

Truly a 'Burgh Thing!
by Randy Bish, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Job News and Information for Job Seekers and Recruiters

Job News and Information for Job Seekers and Recruiters