Wages Are Expected to Rise

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Workers have some good news to rejoice about: Economists reported that their companies are granting more pay raises this year. In a survey by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE), 43 percent of economists said that their firms have increased wages in the last three months. The number is up from last years, when only 19% of economists reported wage gains.

Although not every worker will benefit from a pay wage, trends indicate that the tide of cutting wages might be done. In the survey, no one reported pay cuts at their firm, and 57% reported that wages were flat. Looking forward, 35% of economists anticipate that their firms will raise wages in the next three months with others expecting wages to stay the same.

Although the survey is certainly encouraging, other day demonstrates that wages are rising but not enough to keep up with rising prices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when inflation is factored into the equation, the “real wages” were actually 0.1% lower in May, than they were a year earlier. The data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is more comprehensive than NABE’s survey, including about 144,000 businesses and government agencies nationwide.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen recently stated that she would like to see wages rise faster than inflation this year so that households will be able to experience a legitimate increase in their take-home pay. At a press conference in June, she was quoted saying, “If we were to fail to see that, frankly, I would worry about downside risk to consumer spending.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is scheduled to release more information and data on inflation and earnings sometime today.

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The 5 Signs it’s Time to Make a Career Change

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Have you been debating whether or not it is time to move on from your current job? Most people hate change and fear the unknown, and because of this fear they tend to stick with familiar things even if they are no longer a good fit. The situation is especially familiar when it comes to career changes. People end up feeling stuck in their careers, feeling unhappy and unwilling to make a change for fear of lack of experience, power or comparable compensation. If you are feeling particularly frustrated at work lately, it may be time to determine whether or not a major change is in order. Take a look at the 5 crystal-clear signs it is time for a career change, and how you can go about achieving them:

1. You go to sleep and wake up dreading the day
It is natural to go through phases in our work life that are particularly stressful. But when the stress of work is on your mind when you go to bed, and present the moment you wake up, then it may be time to rethink your role. If you dread Monday’s, and don’t look forward to any part of your job, then it is time for a change.

2. You only work for the money
Money is rarely fulfilling it in’s own right. Yes, money can do great things and on the opposite spectrum, a lack of money creates its own stresses. But ultimately, most people want job satisfaction from creating value, camaraderie, and self-growth. If you find very little satisfaction in the activities of your day, then change your career path. Remove the money pressures in your life by scaling back on your lifestyle and positioning yourself to be able to make a change.

3. Every email you read sounds sarcastic or condescending
Do your work emails make you cringe? If you have lost perspective in company communication, then it is likely time to move on. Email is a great barometer because it doesn’t transmit emotion and tone, and often reflects your own positive or negative feelings when you read it. Try to read everything with a positive manner and see if communication improves. If you still pick up on a negative tone, then find a place where you can work with people that you like.

4. You have little good to say
Pay attention and try to spot your own negativity in meetings, on the phone, and even in the break room. Take a notepad and mark down every time you communicate something negatively. If you begin to realize that you are running out of paper, then it may be time to adjust your situation. If you sound angry, bitter or resigned, and would like to be more positive then look into making a career change.

5. You don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel
What do you see when you look to the future of your career? Are you optimistic about the path that you are going down? Or do you see a boring path that offers very little benefit? If you are concerned that you are set on a path of drudgery, then make a quick turn and begin to reassess your career goals.

Take control of your situation internally and assess whether or not it may be time for you to make a career change. Instead of settling for a mundane work life, full of negativity, make a career change and get back to enjoying your work and professional life.

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Microsoft Announces 18,000 Job Cuts

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After several days of speculation, Microsoft announced that the company will cut up to 18,000 jobs or 14 percent of its staff as it works to cut down on management layers and integrate the Nokia cellphone business that was purchased in April. The cuts will be the biggest layoffs in history for the company.

Despite the job cuts being expected, the amount and extent of the cuts have surprised many. Many believe that the cuts are the boldest move by CEO Satya Nadella since he took over for Steve Ballmer in February. Nadella stated in a public email to employees on Thursday that the changes were needed for the company to “become more agile and move faster.”

Out of the 18,000 jobs that will be cut, about 12,500 professional and factory jobs will be eliminated. Microsoft anticipates charges of $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion over the next four quarters, which includes $750 million to $800 million for severance and related benefit costs.

Daniel Ives, a FBR Capital Markets analyst, stated that the cuts were about double what Wall Street was expecting. However, he believes that the cuts are necessary to streamline operations and help to revamp the management structure.

The most recent round of Microsoft cut’s of about 5,800 jobs in 2009 has been dwarfed by the estimated number announced by Microsoft. The 2009 cuts were the company’s first ever widespread layoff.

It has been evident that Microsoft is shifting its focus from traditional PC software to cloud computing and cloud-based products. After it’s $7.3 billion acquisition of Nokia’s cellphone business, Microsoft has been attempting to meld its software and hardware business into a cohesive unit. The company hopes to drive sales of its Windows Phone by targeting the lower-price smartphone market with its Lumia devices and developing more products for the higher-end smartphone segment.

Nadella indicated that he would provide more details regarding the cuts when the Redmond, Washington based Microsoft would report its fiscal 2014 results on Tuesday.

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Best Paying Jobs for Young Professionals

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New grads fresh out of college are often looking for that “perfect job”- something that is line with their interests, major and more importantly something that will help out with those student loans. Business Insider and Payscale recently put together a report of the 15 best-paying jobs for young professionals with a bachelor’s degree. Many of the positions could be available to you with the right college classes or post-grad training.  View the list of the top 10 jobs that made the list of the highest paying jobs for young professionals:

10 Best Paying Jobs for Recent Graduates:

1. Electrical Engineer, $61,400
Electrical engineers design, test and oversee the manufacturing of electrical equipment. Candidates with electrical engineering degrees qualify for the position.

2. Software Developer, $59,800
Even if you don’t have a computer science degree, there are plenty of courses and boot camps available that can help teach you the skills you need to land a job as a Software Developer. As more and more of our daily functions move online, companies are seeking software developers to help build apps and programs.

3. Mechanical Engineer, $58,000
Mechanical Engineers make up one of the broadest engineering gigs, and combine a knowledge of chemistry, physics, math, and other engineering disciplines to design and create everything from industrial equipment to medical devices.

4. Business Analyst, IT, $54,400
Business Analysts dig into data to see how companies and departments can function more efficiently. Presently IT is one of the fastest growing fields today, offering a plethora of great opportunities.

5. Supply Chain Analyst, $51,300
Supply chain analysts and managers spearhead the process that develops products and places them on store’s shelves.

6. Civil Engineer, $51,000
Civil engineers build roads, buildings, airports, transportation systems, and more. Most candidates require a bachelor’s degree in the field to get hired, and typically require a master’s to advance further.

7. Financial Analyst, $50,600
Financial Analysts make investment decisions that help generate value. Individuals interested in this position should focus on courses related to math, business, economics, and accounting.

8. Auditor, $50,000
Auditors are crucial members of accounting teams and dig into data, records, and financial statements to make sure that a company’s finances are in order and done by the books. In order to land this gig, job seekers should take accounting courses.

9. Operations Manager, $47,200
Operations Managers help to build a strong working backbone for businesses by completing tasks such as helping a large company’s department run more efficiently or tackling important customer issues for a startup.

10. Data Analyst, $47,000
Data analysts dig into numbers and data to unearth interesting financial and customer insights that can help the business move forward.

If you are interested in any of the positions above, visit Gigats.com to begin your customized search for the positions and others like it. Gigats allows jobs seekers to stop searching and start working.

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Moving Towards Women’s Equal Pay

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A recent report released on Monday from Oxfam covered the state of gender equality around the world. The report found that if the gap between men’s and women’s earnings keeps closing at its current rate, women won’t earn equal pay for equal work for another 75 years.

Although the gender gap in education has been closing around the world, gaps in pay, employment and political participation have stagnated and in some cases even widened. According to a March analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, progress in closing the pay gap has stagnated in recent years after decades of steadily narrowing in the U.S.

There are several possible reasons why the gap is closing so slowly. Unfortunately, in some circumstance out-and-out discrimination still plays a role. Additionally, women tend to be concentrated in low-wage industries or in undervalued sectors like health care and education. In addition to those problems, Oxfam cites that one of the biggest reasons for a persistent gap is that women are more likely than men to do unpaid care work like taking care of children or the elderly. This trend makes it more difficult for them to join the paid labor force. In fact, women around the world basically donate two to five hours of unpaid work per day, on average, to the global economy, according to Oxfam.

Because of the fact that women spend hours of the day providing unpaid work, many are more likely to be employed part-time or in precarious or unprotected job. Shawna Wakefield, the head of gender policy at Oxfam, who wrote the report, stated “Because women are less likely to be employed in full-time positions they are often discriminated against in the workplace and given the crummiest jobs.”

Wakefield believes that in order to improve the gender wage gap, policy makers should begin to start thinking of unpaid care work as having a broad economic benefits, instead of just as a “women’s issue.” If the work were recognized, it would boost gross domestic product by 9 percent in the U.S. alone. “Unpaid care work is what sustains families, what sustains communities and what sustains economies,” Wakefield said. “It’s basically a subsidy for the economy that’s not recognized.” Shifting our attitudes about unpaid care work may encourage policy makers to find ways for women to find work and get paid well at the same time.

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Sneaky Stress and How to Handle it

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Sometimes, even after completing our daily yoga, meditating, or splurging on our own form of therapy, we continue to feel agitated or overwhelmed. According to the American Psychological Association, getting to the bottom of the sources of stress in your life can improve the function of your body and mind. A constant state of tension can put you at greater risk for chronic pain, fertility issues, heart disease and Type Two diabetes. If you are constantly stressed and can’t seem to figure out why, read the list of the six surprising ways that stress can sneak up on you and work to eliminate the problems from your life:

1. Cluttered space
Without even realizing it, you add unnecessary tension to your life when the space you live or work in is cluttered. Because of the way our brain processes visual information, a cluttered space is automatically registered as chaos, according to research from the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The visual interpretation of disarray will hurt your ability to focus, make you more distracted, and can even slow down your knack for interpreting information.  To fix the stress caused by clutter, carve out time to reorganize your space, minimize the clutter and perfect your workspace.

2. Your co-workers are high-strung
The simple action of being around high-strung people can make you feel more stressed. According to a team of German researchers from Leipzig and Dresden, seeing someone become unglued can actually trigger the same physical response in you. The phenomenon is labeled as “empathetic stress,” and it can cause your body to produce higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as if you are the one under pressure. It may not be practical to avoid your stressed-out colleagues altogether, but try to implement a buffer. Reconfigure your office so that your computer, phone and chair all face away from the stress-inducing person. Or invest in a plant: Norwegian environmental psychologists found that plotted plants reduce stress for everyone in the workplace.

3. Too much social media
A dependence on social media sites can sometimes undermine your well-being. In fact in one study, in which subjects ramped up the social media usage during a 14-day period, researchers found the participants’ state of happiness decreased quickly as their usage increased. Researchers believe that it is possible that the computer deters actual physical interaction, “which has cognitive and emotional replenishing effects,” while triggering “damaging social comparisons.” In order to prevent stress from social media, balance your usage to a narrow window of time once or twice a day.

4. You’re too composed
In a new study from USC Marshall School of Business, sharing your feelings of anxiety or stress with colleagues, even superiors, who have had similar experiences can improve your mood and relations with your peers and bosses. Keeping to yourself can wreck havoc on your emotional well-being, so instead reach out to co-workers and establish effective connections.

5. You are too serious
On the surface it may seem like staying focused will keep you ahead of feeling stressed or overwhelmed, but in reality taking a break from work is the key to keeping tension at a minimum. To alleviate stress, grab a cup of coffee with a friend or just take a quick walk through the office. Removing yourself from your work briefly can help to clear your mind and reduce pressure.

6. You Work in an Open-Space Floor Plan
The stress you feel every day may not be related to your project manager, your personality or your co-workers, it could be the fault of your work-space design. Someone who works in an open-floor plan is more likely to feel more stressed than those who work in private spaces, according to a recent study by Australian researchers. If the stress of the open-floor plan is becoming too much, then try to convince your superiors to let you work from home.

Eliminating the stress in your work can help you to live a healthier more productive life. Avoid the sneaky causes of stress above by quickly fixing the problems and focusing on improving your overall attitude at work.

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Employers Struggle to Fill Vacancies

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Recent news of a declining unemployment rate, now at 6.1 percent, has many believing that employers are now filling their vacancies. However, according to a survey by franchise staffing firm Express Employment Professionals, many companies say that they are having a harder time filling open positions this year than last year.

The report found that 83% of the company’s 115 franchises surveyed said it was “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult” to fill a job opening this year. The number is up from 78% in 2013. Fifty-two percent of the companies cited a lack of available candidates as the reason that they were unable to fill their roles easily. Blaming the skills gap between job seekers and open positions, the businesses continue to struggle to find new workers. Bob Funk, CEO of Express stated “This was surprising to me as I thought the number of companies having difficulties would be lower this year.”

According to Rebecca Smith, deputy director of the National Employment Law Projects, another reason for the inability to fill vacancies, may be related to the low pay that is often offered. “Except for those at the top, wages have consistently declined over the past few years,” she said.

Despite employers difficulty in finding new candidates, there are many great new openings available around the country. Visit Gigats.com to start your job search and learn how to position yourself as a valuable job candidate for any postition.

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Strengthening Job Market

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CareerBuilder’s midyear job forecast, coupled with the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent jobs report, indicates that economy should continue to strengthen and more signs of positive growth will be seen in the third quarter.

The June jobs report showed that the U.S. economy added 288,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent, the lowest rate since September 2008. Additionally, CareerBuilder’s forecast demonstrates that the upward momentum is likely to continue through the end of 2014. Sustained levels of job growth are anticipated throughout the second half of the year, with nearly half of U.S. employers planning to add full-time, permanent headcount over the next six months. Among companies with more than 500 employees, 61 percent plan to add full-time, permanent employees, up from 56 percent in 2013. Furthermore, an additional one-third of businesses plan to hire temporary or contract workers.

The 2014 midyear forecast demonstrates that employers are expecting forward movement in all categories of hiring. Jobs are likely to be added to a variety of areas, with a heavy focus on job candidates with expertise in technology, financial operations, communications and other specialized fields.  Some fields that are anticipated to outperform the national average for permanent hiring include information technology, financial services, hospitality, health care and manufacturing. Additionally, when asked to identify the types of roles that they will be creating within their organizations over the next six months, employers reported that they would be filling jobs tied to social media, mobile and cloud technology, wellness, web content strategy, big data, cyber security, search technology and health informatics.

As larger organizations continue to move forward in their hiring efforts, small businesses are also holding steady and showing moderate improvement compared to last year. Twenty-four percent of companies with 50 or fewer employees plan to hire full-time, permanent employees, 35 percent of companies with 250 or fewer employers plan to hire, and 39 percent of companies with 500 or fewer employees also plan to hire.

The expected job growth for the third and fourth quarter is anticipated to be spread evenly throughout the various regions of the nation, with only a slightly higher rate in the Northeast and South. As the opportunity for temporary summer opportunities turn to permanent and jobs continue to be added to the economy, the forecast for the remainder of the year looks positive.

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World Cup Worker Productivity

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On Tuesday afternoon, more than 10.77 million viewers tuned into watch Germany’s heavy handed defeat of Brazil in the World Cup semi-final match. Wednesday’s semi-final match up, Argentina versus the Netherlands, also brought in a staggering average of over 5 million U.S. viewers. With both matches taking place in the middle of the workday, many are questioning the effect on overall worker productivity.

Currently, many employers who have been weighing whether to let workers watch the games over the course of the World Cup have settled on the philosophy “damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.” It is evident that events that fall during working hours can disrupt business operations and cost companies money. In fact, one estimate from the 2010 World Cup quoted that the United Kingdom’s economy lost $7.3 billion. Even the United States, who has a lower soccer fan base, experienced a loss of an estimated $121 million in productivity. Despite the obvious costs and decreased productivity, companies continue to question whether or not it is worth the effort to prevent their employee’s from tuning in.

Many companies have settled on providing creative alternatives in order to maintain relatively normal operations during this year’s World Cup. Mobile streaming capabilities and easy remote access to the office, has allowed businesses to stream games in conference rooms, relocate operations to local fans and most importantly, remain productive. Other companies elected to block access to sites streaming World Cup games altogether.However, for most companies relocating to a bar for a game is practical for an advertising firm, it isn’t an arrangement that could work for an electric company. Additionally, live-streaming tends to cause company-wide internet connection to slow, even for those not watching the game.

Overall, the decrease in worker productivity is dependent upon the type of company and industry. A goods manufacturer could take a major hit to the bottom line if it shuts down operations for a couple hours each day, where as a PR firm can pick up their laptops and work remotely while tuning in to a soccer match. The benefits of letting employees watch sporting events together tend to outweigh the drawbacks, but the decisions are ultimately left up to the possible impact on the company. Thankfully, the final World Cup match in which Argentina will face off against Germany, will take place outside of normal business hours this coming Sunday, allowing most businesses and workers to kick back and relax without the risk of lost productivity.

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Climbing the Corporate Ladder: Skills vs Degrees

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There is plenty of research available that supports the opinion that graduating college is important and that the majority of employees seek candidates who have diplomas. However, new research has also revealed that many employees say it takes more than a diploma to land a job and advance a career.

According to a study from the online career site Glassdoor, 82% of U.S. college graduates say their level of education has helped their careers, while more than 70% say that specialized training to acquire specific skills is more valuable in the workplace than a degree. Furthermore, more than 60% of the employees surveyed said that learning new skills or receiving special training is more important in earning more and advancing their career,  compared to just 45% who said the same about receiving a college degree.

The study indicated that employees feel that their college majors do not carry much weight with employers. For the most part, specific degrees are not relevant to the job today, and many companies simply look for a B.S. or B.A. rather than a specialized degree. The trend is highlighted by the fact that nearly three-quarters of employees said their employers value experience and related skills more than education.

Despite the increase in the desire for specialized skills, the value of education is still a major piece of the puzzle for a successful career. Employees that gain the latest skills that are relevant to their particular job and industry are more effectively advancing their careers than those who are simply relying on their degree. Coupling skills with higher education allows employees to advance further and improve their professional lives.

Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career and workplace expert states that “For any employee looking to earn a bigger salary or move up the corporate ladder, they should do their research on how their industry is evolving.” He continued by saying that employees who go back to school may find ways to learn and improve, in addition to completing non-traditional programs such as certificate programs, boot camps, webinars, online non-degreed courses, conferences and more.

Coupling your education with your various skills will increase your chances of finding employment. Continue to develop and perfect your industry-related skill set in order to demonstrate to employers your value and qualification as a job candidate.

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