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8 posts from December 2010


Liberty Tax hiring 50,000 seasonal employees

Liberty Tax said Monday it plans to hire 50,000 seasonal employees at more than 3,500 offices for tax season.

The company’s seeking tax preparers, marketers, managers, and office people for the first quarter.

Liberty said it’s offering free week-long January “Rapid Tax” preparation courses to everyon”e interested in furthering their tax education, whether it’s for personal gain or possible employment.”

Students aren’t required to have prior tax experience to register and complete the class. The classes cover the latest tax changes, credits, and forms.

Info: www.libertytax.com , 866-871-1040.

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


Merry Christmas: Rickey C. Cooper

Rickey Cooper Today on Christmas Day December 25,2010 for the unemployed let's Praise God and Network. While you are out visiting do not pretend that all is well and all your bases are covered because they are NOT. Speak up and let it be known that you are seeking employment are seeking a better opportunity, This is a good time to really see who your friends are and who has your best interest. All that looks good just might not be good - Aman! Today be Happy but stay on-line and get ready for the Hiring to begin starting in January 2011 and position yourself to be that person to obtain employment. I want to wish everyone A Very Merry Christmas and PLEASE! surround yourself and family around only Positive and Productive Individuals.


Rickey C. Cooper, rccooper43@yahoo.com


Work Status: Rickey C. Cooper

Rickey Cooper Hello and Good Day America, I would like to update everyone on my work status in which I am proud to inform my readers that I have passed a rigorous 6 week training session with my new employer. I would like to also inform the current unemployed people to keep posting on-line and attending JOB seminars weekly, There is only one way for you to successfully obtain employment and that's to stay focused and positive until a job opportunity presents itself. During my training session I have meet some very interesting people like myself that has been affected by this devastating economy, I would like to introduce my new found friend: Charita Christian and she is a Paralegal seeking an Entry Level position with a firm that
could use her expertise, she can be emailed at MSRERE5@GMAIL.COM to discuss possible employment opportunities. As always Praise God and God Bless You - Amen.


Rickey C. Cooper, rccooper43@yahoo.com




Area college students slog through job search

Here's Star-Telegram staff writer Diane Smith's story from this week on college students fighting to find jobs.

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

Thousands of Texas jobseekers set to lose unemployment benefits

Jobseeker Trinell Thomas 1 Here's our story from today's Star-Telegram on the thousands of Texas jobseekers who will soon lose their federal extended unemployment benefits.

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


(Photos: Left, Trinell Thomas, wife, and infant son; below, Aimee Hidrogo.)



Jobseeker Aimee Hidrogo 1


Addressing bad credit -- a jobseeker's headache

In putting together Saturday's story on unemployed people whose benefits are running out, not surprisingly, we ran into a lot of jobseekers whose credit has been torpedoed by their job loss.

Has your credit been torpedoed by a job loss? Employers are increasingly using credit checks to vet out prospective employees. Here are some tips from Mike Coffey, president of the Imperative Information Group, a Fort Worth firm that does background checks for employers:

  • Jobseekers should be aware of what employers typically see when they run credit checks: trade account balances, detailed 24-month payment history, and other public records “that the credit bureau may be aware of.”
  • “I usually try to dissuade clients from using credit – particularly as a measurement of honesty.” Credit measures can be useful for employees who will “have a fiduciary decision making responsibility, but I wouldn’t recommend them for many non-financial positions.”
  • Jobseekers with damaged credit should obtain a free report from credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com and immediately dispute incorrect items with the bureaus.
  • In interviewing for jobs where they expect a credit check, jobseekers “should be prepared to discuss the credit issues very candidly with the employer. For instance, if they have only had late payments since being laid off six months ago, they should explain those circumstances and the correlation between their unemployment and the late payments.” The same goes if medical bills are popping up as collection items.
  • Employers generally aren’t most concerned about recent late payments or medical items in collection. “When an employer sees that someone has only been unemployed for six months, but their history of late payments goes back a year, 18 months, or even two full years, that is a red flag.”
  • Jobseekers with bad credit should work with a credit counseling service. “That is a positive sign to prospective employers.” Often, once a creditor agrees to work with a service, “the item will not be reflected as past due.” Plus, jobseekers can sell the idea that they won’t be distracted at work by calls from creditors.

Scott Nishimura, jobs and workplace reporter, Star-Telegram

Retail hires, off in November after strong October, might still continue into December

Retail Sales U.S. retail hires fell off in November from strong numbers in October, government data showed Friday.

But overall retail hiring is still up over 2009 because of October’s gains, the Challenger, Gray & Christmas outplacement consulting firm notes.

“It appears thar retailers really wanted to get an early jump on the holiday season,” John Challenger, Challenger’s CEO said. “Many were offering heavily discounted merchandise before Black Friday. In order to make sure they were staffed for the earlier sales push, retailers ramped up hiring earlier…The stronger hiring in October may have resulted in more subdued employment gains last month.”

The good news: Retail sales are going well so far this holiday season. “That may lead to continued hiring in December,” Challenger said.

Here’s Challenger’s summary of major 2010 holiday hiring announcements:

• Macy’s: 65,000

• UPS: 50,000

• Toys ‘R Us: 45,000

• Kohl’s: 40,000

• J.C. Penney: 30,000

• Best Buy: 29,000

• American Eagle Outfitters: 15,500

• Michaels Stores: 10,000

• Hickory Farms: 4,000

Pier 1 Imports, Borders, Target and Walmart haven’t disclosed hiring numbers, but have indicated they plan to increase holiday hiring over last year, Challenger said.

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


Fed says Dallas District economy expanded at "modest pace" in last six weeks

Gas Well 005 The Federal Reserve's periodic Beige Book regional economic assessment is out today. Here's what the Fed said about its Dallas District, which covers Texas and parts of surrounding states:

The Eleventh District economy expanded at a modest pace over the past six weeks. Activity in the energy sector strengthened, and transportation services and staffing firms reported steady but solid demand. Retailers said apparel sales were slow due to unseasonably warm weather, while reports from the manufacturing sector were mixed. Activity in the housing market remained sluggish but conditions improved slightly in commercial real estate. Overall lending conditions were largely unchanged. Most respondents expect slow growth in the near term.

Food and Farm Sugar Beets Selling prices and fees held steady at most responding firms due to competition and low sales activity, but there were some reports of increases. Small parcel shipping prices rose slightly while large parcel shipping prices increased sharply, according to contacts. Fabricated metals producers noted selling prices edged up in response to higher steel prices and primary metals manufacturers reported price increases were becoming necessary to offset higher cost of aluminum and other industrial metals. Agricultural respondents said crop prices increased across the board, and staffing firms reported upward movement in billing rates. Improved demand has enabled railroads to raise prices across various business units.

The price of crude oil rose moderately on stronger demand from China and a weaker dollar. On-highway prices of both diesel and gasoline increased. Natural gas prices remained weak as mild weather, record-high inventories and forecasts for a normal winter put downward pressure on prices. Solid demand, tight supplies, and multiple plant outages led ethylene producers to push through a 4 cent increase in contract prices for October, and spot prices rose sharply in response.

Labor Market
American Airlines Traffic Employment levels held steady at most responding firms, and there were scattered reports of hiring. Staffing firms continued to report strong hiring activity in the region, and noted that they were adding workers in response. Some contacts in the airline, transportation services, automobile sales and transportation manufacturing industries added workers, and retailers were starting to ramp up hiring for the holiday season. Layoffs remained limited. Wage pressures were minimal, with the exception of reports of higher wages in the airline industry.

Demand for construction-related products was flat over the past six weeks, but a few manufacturers said sales rose due to an uptick in multifamily housing activity. Contacts expect conditions to remain weak or improve slightly in 2011 due to continued weakness in residential and commercial real estate. Fabricated metals producers saw a sharp increase in demand over the past month due to seasonal factors and government-related project work.

Most high-tech manufacturers said growth in orders and production continued at a much slower pace than in the first half of the year. Sales of some consumer products such as personal computers and laptops slowed, but demand for gaming products and smart phones remained strong. Several respondents expressed concern about reduced demand from the public sector as governments at all levels were faced with large revenue shortfalls. Still, most respondents expected conditions to remain stable for the next three months.

Demand for paper products held steady. Food manufactures said growth in orders was stable over the reporting period, and the three-month outlook for sales was positive. Trailer manufacturers reported a slowdown in demand. Contacts in aircraft parts distribution and manufacturing saw an increase in demand due to higher utilization of aircraft fleets and deferred maintenance work.

Demand for petrochemicals was solid. Ethylene and polyethylene producers reported that domestic demand increased moderately, and export demand stayed strong--driven by cheap natural gas versus relatively expensive oil and a weaker dollar. Domestic orders for PVC used in residential and commercial construction remained depressed, but exports were strong, according to contacts. Demand for petrochemicals used in manufacturing, alumina, pulp and paper improved.

Refiners said conditions remained weak. Demand for oil products continued to decline and refiner margins were being squeezed by the rise in oil prices. Refinery utilization rates stood just above 80 percent, down from 90 percent this summer.

Retail Sales_001 Eleventh District retail sales grew modestly, despite unseasonably warm weather that impacted apparel sales for much of the reporting period. In recent weeks, however, clothing retailers noted sales improved as temperatures fell to more normal levels. Two large retailers said that their sales in Texas outperformed those nationwide. Inventories increased slightly due to the warm weather and some seasonal buildup. The retail environment remains extremely competitive, and contacts say they still have to lure consumers with promotions. Expectations are for the holiday shopping season to yield moderate year-over-year sales increases. Contacts expect continued improvement in 2011, although most expect the pace to be slow to moderate.

Automobile sales were slightly weaker over the reporting period, by more than normal seasonality would suggest. Inventories rose, but remain at healthy levels, according to contacts. A typical slowdown in sales is expected heading into the holiday season, but the outlook for next year is cautiously optimistic, with most contacts predicting modest growth in sales.

Staffing firms reported steady demand, and noted that activity was stronger than expected. Demand continued to be broad-based, with particular strength reported for oil field operations, administrative and professional services, plastics and steel manufacturing, and automobile-related positions. Direct placements, which had been subdued so far this year, increased during the reporting period. Sustained high levels of demand continued to boost the near-term outlook.

Accounting firms said some increase in consulting and merger and acquisition work has kept demand stable. Uncertainty regarding impending tax legislation continued to constrain demand for transactional services, but contacts were generally optimistic about year-end earnings. Demand for legal services remained soft. The only area of increased activity is mergers and acquisitions. Legal firms say they are in a better position than last year, but remain cautious in their outlooks.

Transportation services demand was positive. Intermodal transportation firms noted a wide-spread increase in cargo volumes was buoyed by demand from international clients. Railroad contacts said continued solid gains in volumes boosted revenues. International container trade volumes rose slightly during the past four weeks, and contacts expect a modest pickup in container traffic next year. Firms that ship small parcel goods said growth in volumes flattened during the reporting period, but remained above year-ago levels. Airline traffic was steady over the past six weeks. Contacts noted that conditions are much better than a year ago, and the outlook is for modest growth in the near term.

Construction and Real Estate
Housing markets remain sluggish. Builders said sales weakened slightly in October after some firming in August and September that followed the homebuyer tax-credit drop off. While entry-level builders were said to be struggling, builders in the move-up price range have weathered the post tax-credit conditions better, according to contacts. Realtors also said the higher end of the market is selling better, a reversal of the late 2009 and early 2010 trend. Prices were up slightly from year-earlier levels. Respondents said lenders still require a 20 percent down payment in most cases, which may be more difficult for the entry-level homebuyer. Outlooks are for sales and building activity to remain slow in the near-term.

Apartment demand continued to rise steadily during the reporting period, and occupancies edged up. Rents are moving up, according to contacts. Construction activity remains low by historical standards, but it has picked up slightly in recent weeks. Investment activity for multifamily properties has risen since the last report.

Office leasing continues to edge up, which is "giving people a little more confidence," according to contacts. Respondents in the industrial sector also noted increased lease deals, but said rents are near historic lows. Excess space and tight credit conditions have limited nonresidential construction. Investment activity remains subdued, but contacts say recent signs of economic improvement should enable more risk-taking in the near term.

Financial Services
Financial firms reported a slight pickup in demand for selected loan types and a continued tapering off for others, noting that demand remained very price sensitive. Consumer loan growth was modest, but dependent on low rates. Demand for commercial and industrial loans increased, although real estate loan demand continued to decline. Overall credit quality was stable; however, mortgage delinquencies and mortgage bankruptcies remained elevated. Financial contacts noted continued pricing pressure, particularly for consumer and good-quality business loans. Deposits were stable. Outlooks improved modestly, but contacts anticipate loan growth to remain sluggish because of economic and public policy uncertainties, as well as borrowers' poor credit ratings.

The Eleventh District rig count rose strongly over the past six weeks. The disparity between oil and natural gas prices continued to drive the trend toward more oil-directed drilling. U.S. land drilling is the strongest and most profitable segment of the industry, especially activity tied to horizontal drilling. Contacts expect the overall rig count to level off or increase at a slower pace through year-end as the decline in dry natural gas activity is not being offset by increased oil-directed drilling. Producers are interested in returning to the Gulf now that the moratorium is over, and are working their way through the new regulations and their cost implications. Service companies are maintaining the skills and capacity to go back to the Gulf, but do not expect it to happen before early next year.

Topsoil moisture was short in several parts of the District, and moderate drought conditions prevailed in East Texas and along the Rio Grande. Ranchers were concerned that lack of rainfall was hampering winter grazing and hay production. Higher grain prices boosted margins for farmers but increased feed costs for livestock producers. Cotton prices were at record-high levels, and estimates for Texas cotton production put this year's crop near historic highs for the state. Demand for agricultural products remained strong, with particularly robust export demand for cotton and beef.

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


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