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16 posts from November 2009


Many laid-off Texans about to lose COBRA healthcare subsidies, Families USA says

Many laid-off Texans will lose federal subsidies to pay for healthcare coverage effective Tuesday, potentially forcing them to “join the ranks of the uninsured,” Families USA, a nonprofit healthcare watchdog group, said.


The government made the subsidies available in March under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus bill, helping jobless Americans cover the COBRA premiums necessary to continue healthcare coverage from their old employers.


“Without such assistance, these premiums would consume 83.4 percent of the average unemployment check, putting continued health coverage out of reach for most families,” Families USA said.


When the program expires Nov. 30, subsidies will end “immediately” for the first recipients, who began receiving subsidies in March.


Subsidies will end nine months after the start date for people who started receiving subsidies after March.


“Beginning in December, no new unemployed workers will be provided with subsidies unless the program is renewed,” Families USA said.


Scott Nishimura, jobs and workplace reporter, Star-Telegram 


Happy Thanksgiving - Ricky C. Cooper

Rickeycooper Happy Thanksgiving,

Today 11/26/2009 Thanksgiving Day try to strike up a conversation with people that are in your immediate surrounding about employment opportunities. 

This morning I text messaged Happy Thanksgiving notices on my cell phone to all my address contacts. 

This proved to be a blessing in which one of my ex-coworkers in California called me to inform me to forward my resume. 

I have forwarded him my resume for him to contact his associates of any possible opportunities that might arise, Only one can hope that this madness of unemployment will end soon hahahaah.

Today I wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless.


- Rickey C. Cooper


Temping = The Spice of Life -- Andrew Bolls

Andrewbolls I've been employed by a temp agency called Cornerstone for 4 weeks now. Have only had 3 jobs in that period, but still some interesting stuff:

1) I did some clerical work for a company that, among other things, makes spray paint for cows.

2) I worked for this company called Brightroom that took all of the professional photos at the New York City Marathon. They paid the marathon $1M for the privilege of having their photographers on site, which I found fascinating. I was working in a team that was going through every single photo (from 120 photographers + a few auto-cams that took a picture every 5 seconds), typing down the bib numbers of any runner we could see in the shot. That way the runners can go onto this website, search by their bib number, and find every picture of themselves from the race.

3) Did a few days in the mailroom for Pier 1, which is on the <i>same floor</i> as their photo studios where they shoot all the pictures for their catalogs, ads, etc. Folding hundreds of FedEx boxes wasn't all that interesting, but during my breaks I'd wander through the studios, looking at all their story-high collection of set backgrounds, their hallway of to-be-shot furniture, and, my favorite, the accessories room. Hundreds of bins full of knick-knacks to make the furniture look more in context. Lamps and hats, action figures and lunch boxes. The absolute coolest part of it all, though, was this shelf full of books. They were all arranged, not by subject or genre, but (no kidding) by color. It was gorgeous.

Still looking, but at least I'm picking up a few hours every now and again. Here's hoping for more "now" and less "again." Back to it.

- Andrew Bolls

Job security still worries consumers heading into holidays

Pier1 Consumers are feeling better about the economic recovery and are planning to spend more this holiday season than last, Deloitte, the major business services firm, says in its 24th Annual Holiday Survey. But at the same time, many consumers remain worried about job security and paying down debt.

What's this mean for retail sales?

The survey results "do not suggest a consumer who is ready to return to the strong spending levels of mid-decade," Deloitte said. "From an economic standpoint, many of the resources that fueled high spending have withered. And consumers themselves are now actively working on paying down their high debt levels. Still, the survey results do confirm that optimism is growing and concerns are receding."

Here's some of the nitty-gritty:

Economy: 54 percent of survey respondents said they expect next year's economy will improve. In last year's survey, only 28 percent expected things to turn around soon.

Holiday spending: 51 percent said they expected to spend the same or more than they did last year, up from 41 percent in last year's reading. Consumers expected their total holiday spending on everytning from gifts to home furnishings to rise 16 percent to $1,145. That's still significantly off of 2007's $1,237.

Worries: Consumers who expected to spend less because of gasoline prices, food prices, and volatile stocks were significantly less in number in this year's survey, compared to last year's.

Job security: Worries about job security rose this year, compared to last. In this year's survey, 35 percent of respondents said they expect to spend less because of a job loss or pay cut, up from 17 percent year last year. Forty three percent of respondents said they felt their job was extremly or very secure this year, down from 46 percent last year.

Meeting family needs: Respondents who said they'd buy things only to meet family needs went to 43 percent this year from 56 percent last year.

Gift spending: Expected spending on gifts is down 15 percent to $452 on average in this year's survey, down 29 percent from 2004. "Gift giving is likely in long-term decline partly because more consumers are buying closer to need for all household members," Deloitte said.

If not gifts, then what? Consumers expect to spend more on socializing away from home (up 34 percent to $243 on average); entertaining at home (up 49 percent to $201); non-gift clothing purchases for family members (up 62 percent ot $147); and home and holiday furnishings (up 113 percent to $102).

Which stores: Where consumers planned to shop at stores, discount department stores, web sites, and technology stores (electronics, office supply, computer stores) were the top three choices. Traditional department stores were a choice of only 23 percent of consumers, "roughly half of what it was earlier in the decade," Deloitte said. More than four in 10 - 42 percent - of respondents said they expected to shop online this year, compared to one in 10 a decade ago.

Popular purchases: For the sixth straight year, gift cards were ranked as the top choice of respondents, with 62 percent saying they expected to buy at least one. Clothing ranked second, and CDs/DVDs third.

Social media: 17 percent of consumers surveyed said they expected to use social media as part of their holiday shopping, and 19 percent said they expected to use a mobile phone. Among 18-29 year olds, that number was 39 percent, the survey said.

- Scott Nishimura, jobs and workplace reporter, Star-Telegram

(Photo: Ornaments at a Pier 1 Imports store)


Temp staffing in Fort Worth-Arlington ticking up, sort of...

Tempstaff Here's our print edition story from Saturday on Texas adding 41,700 jobs in October, but still seeing its jobless rate go up.

And here's more on the uptick in seasonal hiring. The story says temporary employment added jobs for the first time since July in Texas. It's way too early to call a trend, the Texas Workforce Commission reminds us.

In the Fort Worth-Arlington area, temporary employment added 200 jobs in October, compared to September. The segment typically loses jobs in October, said Vincent Lyons, a Workforce Commission labor market analyst.

Temporary employment now stands at 23,900 jobs in the Fort Worth-Arlington area, and has added 600 so far this year. But it's also bumped along. In September, it lost 100 jobs. The segment has shed 5,300 jobs since November 2006.

Lyons says the October increase was likely driven by companies looking for temps to meet demand, not by a seasonal anomaly.

But, he adds, "although this month is showing promising figures...it is not statistically significant without a trend of consecutive positive gains to recover the 5,300 jobs lost since November 2006."

- Scott Nishimura, jobs and workplace reporter, Star-Telegram

Flu in the workplace: How well prepared is your employer?

Fluphoto2 Fluphoto Here's today's print edition story on flu in the workplace. How well prepared is your workplace when it comes to coping wiith an unexpected number of employee absences? Check out the resource boxes at the end of the story.

- Scott Nishimura, jobs and workplace reporter, Star-Telegram



(Photos: North Side High School students work with students at Helbing Elementary School on experiment demonstrating impact of washing hands in killing flu-spreading germs.)


Employers launching more health management programs, raising deductibles, study says

Here's today's print edition story on a Mercer report that says employers continue to find ways to contain the costs of healthcare benefits.

- Scott Nishimura, jobs and workplace reporter, Star-Telegram 

If it's purple, it's selling...

Here's our story from Nov. 13 on how TCU football's success is boosting local businesses.

Scott Nishimura, jobs and workplace reporter, Star-Telegram 

UT-Arlington's clothes closet idea for needy students picks up steam...

Cheri Butler, associate director of UTA Career Services, reports an Arlington church contacted her this morning to offer help in building Project Success, which will offer free business attire to UT-Arlington students in exchange for community service to Mission Arlington.

Here's our blurb on Project Success, which ran in today's paper...

Students at the University of Texas at Arlington who can’t afford business attire for interviews will soon have a campus-grown resource: Project Success, a student organization.


Project Success is seeking donated clothing and money for dry cleaning. Mission Arlington has agreed to keep  the clothing in a dedicated area of its downtown offices, within walking distance of the university.


Students could  obtain one outfit in exchange for 10 hours of service to Mission Arlington, said Cheri Butler, associate director of UTA Career Services, who began noodling the idea when she took her job nearly six years ago. Students also will receive a one-time voucher for dry cleaning once they "purchase" the clothing.


“We have an incredibly high percentage of first-generation college students” at UTA, said Butler, adviser to Project Success. When it comes time for many students to trek out on interviews, “there isn’t a lot of money there” for professional clothing.


Butler began circulating the idea around the university years ago, but it never got off the ground. Finally, Dennis Veit, a  business instructor, suggested forming a student organization.


Then a writing class agreed to take the group on as a project, creating a logo and fliers. The group is now seeking 501(c)3 nonprofit status, said Butler, whose boss agreed to fund the $300 cost out of the department’s budget.


Some potential donors already have surfaced, Butler said. Students might be able to begin using the Mission Arlington store by Christmas, or early next year.

“We need to get clothing first, and then [monetary] donations,” she said. Information: cherib@uta.edu

- Scott Nishimura, jobs and workplace reporter, Star-Telegram 


No Decision on Phone Interview

Rickeycooper I am still waiting on the outcome of my phone interview on November 2, 2009 17:00. 

My recruiter informed me Friday 11/13/2009 the hiring manager is very selective on who he chooses to fill the vacant position. 

I am guessing this is due to the overwhelming response he has received with his job posting. But I will stay strong and keep my head up through this unemployed ordeal. 

Yes, I call being unemployed an ordeal because it seems just that, On a more positive note today I was invited out to my previous place of employment to participate in their annual Thanksgiving Dinner which I gladly accepted to attend. 

My contribution to the Dinner will be Hawaiian Dinner Rolls from Krogers which are very delicious hmmm hmmm good. 

We are nearing the end of year and I will keep my hunt alive for employment and keep you informed of any new interesting developments that might arise. 

I want to encourage everyone that this is not the end of the world and life continues working or not. 

Speaking about life continuing I would like to say Rest in Peace to my (Reverend) Uncle James Cooper in Denton, Texas that passed away abruptly Saturday while at his residence. He was 69 years old and a Spiritual Holy Man and inspired me to seek Jesus Christ into my life, My three cousins Alfred, James Jr. and Kelvin are in my prayers.  


Rickey C. Cooper, rccooper43@yahoo.com

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