CCH Human Resource Management NetNews™

March 29, 2010

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President signs landmark health care reform bill

Barack Obama on March 23, 2010 signed into law sweeping health care reform legislation that would provide coverage for millions of uninsured Americans. "Today, after almost a century of trying; today, after over a year of debate; today, after all the votes have been tallied - health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America," Obama said in a White House ceremony filled with lawmakers, administration officials and individual supporters.

The new law includes provisions to prohibit insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions and individuals once they become sick. It also prohibits insurance companies from setting lifetime caps on coverage and allows young people to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26.

The president noted that the new law would provide tax credits to about 4 million small businesses that offer coverage to their employees and would lower the federal deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next 20 years. "It is paid for. It is fiscally responsible. And it will help lift a decades-long drag on our economy," Obama said.

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Important health reform provisions effective this year

According to Nancy-Ann DeParle, director, White House Office of Health Reform, many important reforms in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 are effective this year. Among them: parents can continue to cover their children until age 26; discrimination based on salary is outlawed; small businesses that choose to offer coverage will begin to receive tax credits of up to 35 percent of premiums to help make employee coverage more affordable; and a temporary reinsurance program is established to help offset the costs of premiums for employers and retirees age 55-64.

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Leading economist forecasts more jobs than workers in coming years

As surprising as it sounds in the current employment market, a renowned labor economist projects that there will be more jobs than people to fill them in the United States by 2018. Assuming a return to healthy economic growth and no change in immigration or labor force participation rates, Barry Bluestone, dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University, predicts that within the next eight years there could be at least 5 million potential job vacancies in the United States, nearly half of them (2.4 million) in social sector jobs in education, health care, government, and nonprofit organizations. The loss in total output could limit the growth of needed services and cost the economy as much as $3 trillion over the five-year period beginning in 2018.

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Study finds jobless recovery in the U.S. leaving trail of recession-weary employees in its wake

The "Great Recession" may have ended, but its impact on the U.S. workforce and employment itself looks to be deep and longlasting, according to the results of new research from global professional services company Towers Watson. The Global Workforce Study (GWS) confirms that the recession has fundamentally altered the way U.S. employees view their work and leaders today, while dramatically accelerating changes to the basic social contract that underpins employment here. In stark contrast to earlier Global Workforce Studies, the 2010 results indicate that U.S. employees have dramatically lowered their career and retirement expectations for the foreseeable future. On-the-job advancement now takes a back seat to a growing desire for workplace security and stability --at the very point in time when traditional employment safety nets are eroding.

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February mass layoffs, initial claims decreased from the prior month

In February, employers took 1,570 mass layoff actions that resulted in the separation of 155,718 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single employer, and the number of mass layoff events in February fell by 191 from the prior month, while the number of associated initial claims decreased by 26,543. Both events and initial claims have decreased in 5 out of the last 6 months.

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BLS reports January unemployment still higher than a year earlier in most metro areas

In January, unemployment rates were higher than a year earlier in 363 of the 372 metropolitan areas, lower in 7 areas, and unchanged in 2 areas, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those areas, thirty-five recorded jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent, while 2 areas registered rates below 5.0 percent. The national unemployment rate in January was 10.6 percent, not seasonally adjusted, up from 8.5 percent a year earlier.

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And, in state law news:

Right to keep firearms in locked cars OK under new law enacted in Indiana

Employees will be protected in their right to possess a firearm or ammunition in a locked car under a new law enacted in Indiana. House Bill 1065, which takes effect on July 1, prohibits a person, including an individual, corporation, and a government entity, from adopting or enforcing a policy or rule that has the effect of prohibiting a person, including a contract employee, from legally possessing a firearm or ammunition in the locked trunk of the employee's vehicle, glove compartment of the locked vehicle, or stored out of sight in the locked vehicle while the vehicle is on the person's property, unless the firearm or ammunition requires a certain federal license to possess.

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