Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Archive: May, 2012

POSTED: Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 5:57 PM

So, who should pay for unemployment benefits? Should employers pay the brunt, as they do now? What about workers? After all, it's an insurance policy for them. How about the unemployed themselves? Maybe  if they got a little less, or if fewer of them qualified for benefits, Pennsylvania's fund wouldn't be bleeding red.

Pennsylvania legislators are chewing over this problem now in Harrisburg and you can read my story about it in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Now a little weed-whacking: Employers in Pennsylvania underwrite 93 percent of Pennsylvania's Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund.  Ordinarily, it would be 100 percent, but in tough times, there's a provision that kicks in some cash from employees' pay checks. Average annual contribution from employees is $37.

POSTED: Thursday, May 17, 2012, 11:58 AM

Just a quick last-minute reminder for those of you who need some help in a job search -- maybe you've been laid off, maybe you are a graduate, maybe you just hate where you work and need a change. 

There's a 5 p.m. deadline to sign up for Saturday's "Jump Start Your Job Search" at Rosemont College's McShain Hall in Rosemont. "Jump Star" is an all-day (8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m.) $15 seminar on getting a job. Topics include social media and job search, networking, interviewing, learning how to stand out from the crowd. Also included is a motivational session designed to re-inspire. That can be a must in the often depressing hunt for work and meaning. Click here to sign up.

One of the coordinators is Amy Dinning, a human resources professional, who just recently started a job after a long stint of unemployment. She has organized these sessions as her way of giving back to the large and very supportive community of the unemployed. You can read my profile of Amy by clicking here.  

POSTED: Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 2:02 PM

Being a dean in a liberal arts college, Susan Lawrence worries that graduates don't know how to translate what they've learned into something that is saleable in the job market. "They have to take their everyday experiences [as students] and show how they speak to employers' needs," she said. 

I spoke this morning to Lawrence, who has the ponderous title of dean for educational initiatives and core curriculum for Rutgers University's School of Arts and Sciences in New Brunswick. Lawrence is convinced that a liberal arts degree has value, but the challenge is selling that value to employers who may roll their eyes when they see a liberal arts major such as philosophy on a resume.

Lawrence calls it "cross-walk." There's no point, she said, in graduates telling employers about the many research papers they wrote. Employers may not understand the amount of statistical analysis, number crunching and problem solving involved. Instead, graduates need to reframe their academic work in terms of real-life problems that an employer might encounter.

POSTED: Monday, May 7, 2012, 12:23 PM

When I opened my email this morning, I received a note from a reader who clearly saw some bias in my reporting of April's job numbers from the U.S. Labor Department on Friday.

Here's his email:

"Why did you only quote someone from the Obama administration and not someone from the GOP, even Romney’s campaign?  The fact of the matter is that the unemployment rate as reported is not accurate reflection of job growth.  In fact, while 115,000 jobs may have been produced the number of people actually looking for employment declined.  The fact that more people are opting out is the reason the unemployment rate is going down not the fact that jobs are being created or the economy is improving.  I’m afraid your reporting of this issue appears biased to me."

POSTED: Friday, May 4, 2012, 2:25 PM

I'm not going to get into who is right or wrong in this dispute between developers Michael and Matthew Pestronk and the building trades. Certainly there are merits to everyone's point of view. But I did find it interesting to hear Michael Pestronk's take on why he thought he and his brother were getting so much union pressure on their project at the former Goldtex factory at 12th and Wood Streets, just north of Vine Street in Center City.

(You can read my story about the dispute in Friday's Inquirer, plus a little more about it in yesterday's blog post.) The brothers are converting the 13-story building into 163 apartments and two retail spaces, a $38 million project.

Pestronk says that unlike most developers, he and his brother also act as their own general contractors. "Other developers tend to rely on third party general contractors," he said, "and most of their work comes from institutions."

POSTED: Thursday, May 3, 2012, 7:15 PM

Whoever is right in the battle between Philadelphia's building trades and developers Michael and Matthew Pestronk, war is not cheap.

Just a brief recap: The Pestronk brothers are turning the 13-floor former Goldtex factory at 12th and Wood streets, into an 163-unit apartment building, a $38 million project. It is a mostly non-union, at the moment, although the brothers said they offered union contractors a chance to match their best alternative bid. The unions say that the Pestronk brothers are out to destroy prevailing wages.

Michael Pestronk says vandalism and harassment had been escalating at the site. At one point, according to testimony in a court hearing in April, four cement trucks were turned away at $3,000 each. The brothers have also had to pay the city's sheriff's department $2,000 a day to enforce a temporary restraining order the developers received. Plus they've had to increase their security at the job site.

Jane M. Von Bergen @ 7:15 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 10:33 AM

Today the U.S. Dept. of Labor published its monthly accounting of the job situation in metropolitan areas. Once again, I was reminded of how much worse the job situation is in our New Jersey counties. In March, the unemployment rate in the metropolitan division that consists of Camden, Gloucester and Burlington counties was 9.7 percent, compared to 8.1 percent in the Philadelphia area, which includes the city and the four surrounding suburban Pa counties. 

Here's how it works: Philadelphia county has the highest unemployment, but right behind it are the three New Jersey counties. Together, all of them fall above the national unemployment rate. But when the counties are grouped by metropolitan division, Philadelphia's high rate is offset by lower rates in Chester and Montgomery County.

About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer