June 25, 2019

Economix Blog: Shorter Hours, but Not for Truckers and Temps



Dollars to doughnuts.

One of the more disappointing data points in last Friday’s jobs report was the decline in average weekly hours worked, which fell to 34.4 hours in April from 34.6 hours in March. It’s not clear what was behind the decline, which occurred in multiple industries across the private sector. (The monthly jobs report does not include the length of the workweek for government workers.)

In a note to clients, Paul Ashworth, chief United States economist at Capital Economics, observed that hours in the retail sector had trended down for the last year, though the numbers had been noisy month-to-month.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, via Haver Analytics. Note that the vertical axis does not start at zero to better show the change. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, via Haver Analytics. Note that the vertical axis does not start at zero to better show the change.

“The relatively poor performance of average hours worked in the retail sector looks odd when we consider that the gains in retail employment in the second half of last year were unusually strong,” he writes. “Normally, we would expect employment and hours worked to be going in the same direction.”

There are different ways to interpret this. One is that, as Mr. Ashworth notes, retailers might be increasingly relying on part-time help to avoid an Affordable Care Act provision that requires businesses with at least 50 full-timers to provide health insurance or pay a penalty (a requirement that kicks in next year, but is based on employment levels this year).

Blessed with more data on their customers, businesses may also be hewing more closely to the idiosyncrasies of consumer demand and staying open longer — and it’s easier to schedule a staff for longer hours of operation if individual employees are working in shorter shifts, according to Peter Cappelli, a management professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Strangely enough, food services and drinking establishments, which are among those making the most noise about the Affordable Care Act employer mandate, do not seem to have cut down their hours in recent months. That may be because workers in this sector already work relatively short hours (25.6 weekly hours on average for the latest month of data, versus 31.4 weekly hours in retail), Mr. Ashworth says.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, via Haver Analytics. Note that the vertical axis does not start at zero to better show the change. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, via Haver Analytics. Note that the vertical axis does not start at zero to better show the change.

Not all sectors have been paring back hours.

Truck transportation, which has been raising compensation for its workers, has also been expanding their weekly hours:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, via Haver Analytics. Note that the vertical axis does not start at zero to better show the change. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, via Haver Analytics. Note that the vertical axis does not start at zero to better show the change.

And perhaps most strikingly, hours for temp workers have also increased over a different time horizon — not over the last few months, but over the last few years. Temp workers now put in more hours than they did during the prerecession boom years, and their average workweek is now longer than that for the overall private sector. Historically, these provisional workers logged fewer hours than their permanent counterparts.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, via Haver Analytics. Note that the vertical axis does not start at zero to better show the change. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, via Haver Analytics. Note that the vertical axis does not start at zero to better show the change.

These trends may speak to employers’ continued reluctance to make the commitment to permanent hires, even as demand picks up.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/07/shorter-hours-but-not-for-truckers-and-temps/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix: Comparing Recessions and Recoveries: Job Changes

DESCRIPTIONSource: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Chart by Amanda Cox. Horizontal axis shows months. Vertical axis shows the ratio of that month’s nonfarm payrolls to the nonfarm payrolls at the start of recession. Note: Because employment is a lagging indicator, the dates for these employment trends are not exactly synchronized with National Bureau of Economic Research’s official business cycle dates.

The United States added just 54,000 nonfarm payroll jobs over all in May, the Labor Department reported Friday, after having added an average of 220,000 in each of the three prior months. The May jobs report showed the slowest private-sector hiring in a year.

After hopes had risen that the economy was picking up steam, hiring was lackluster across the board. The biggest gains were in professional and business services and in health care (which has been charging forward in good times and bad anyway). The losers were state and local governments, which have been struggling with budget issues. They are expected to continue shedding workers in months to come.

Even most of the winners, though, have a long way to go before returning to their prerecession levels.

The chart above shows economywide job changes in this last recession and recovery compared with other recent ones, with the black line representing the current downturn. Since the downturn began in December 2007, the economy has shed, on net, about 5 percent of its nonfarm payroll jobs. And that does not even account for the fact that the working-age population has continued to grow, meaning that if the economy were healthy we should have more jobs today than we had before the recession.

The unemployment rate — measured by a different government survey, and based on how many people are without jobs but are actively looking for work — was relatively unchanged in May, at 9.1 percent compared to 9 percent in April.

There are now 13.9 million workers who are looking for work and cannot find it; the figure nearly doubles if you include workers who are part-time but want to be employed full-time, and workers who want to work but have stopped looking.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=55997322d376fde2694704d17a347778

Square Feet: East Side Law Firms Go West, as Far as Eighth Ave.

But Wilk Auslander, which was founded in 1987 and has 45 lawyers and 25 staff members, was not simply looking for more square footage. Across the East Side and along Park Avenue, in fact, space was vacant and ready to lease.

Robert Reichman, a partner, said the firm’s real estate puzzle involved numerous missing pieces, not least of all a floor plan that could allow private offices to wrap around all four walls.

“Our biggest challenge was not square footage at all, but just having sufficient perimeter offices — or offices all along the window lines of the building,” Mr. Reichman said. “We’re all lawyers here, and because of confidentiality issues and working conditions we try to give them all their own offices. And on the East Side, we just couldn’t find that.”

In April, Wilk Auslander signed a lease at 1515 Broadway, between 44th and 45th Streets, and in doing so will follow in the footsteps of many other practices — small, large, white-shoe and blue-collar — that have recently migrated from the East Side of Manhattan to newer, more cost-efficient offices on the West Side.

Since the beginning of last year, more than a dozen firms have crossed Fifth Avenue — Manhattan’s vertical axis — with some establishing roots as far west as Eighth Avenue, brokers said.

Last year, space occupied by law firms west of Fifth Avenue grew by 3.1 million square feet, from 7.2 million feet in 2009 to 10.3 million feet in 2010, according to numbers provided by Cushman Wakefield. Most of that growth reflected deals inked along Sixth Avenue, data shows.

Along with Zukerman Gore Brandeis Crossman, a firm that in April signed a deal to move from 875 Third Avenue to an 11,000-square-foot space at 11 Times Square, a handful of other large practices in Manhattan have made similar shifts.

Most significant, perhaps, is Morrison Foerster, which last week signaled that it had signed on as the 180,000-square-foot anchor of Boston Properties’ unbuilt tower at 250 West 55th Street.

But Zukerman Gore was not the first law firm to consider 11 Times Square, nor was Morrison Foerster the first to peruse plans for 250 West 55th Street.

Three years ago, Proskauer Rose, among the largest firms in New York, explored space at both buildings before sealing a 400,00-square-foot deal in early 2010 at 11 Times Square, the $1.2 billion tower that topped out last year.

Gibson Dunn Crutcher also briefly considered signing on as an anchor tenant at 250 West 55th Street before choosing, instead, to renew its lease and expand by 70,000 square feet at the Met Life Building at 200 Park.

Stephen Siegel, the chairman of CB Richard Ellis‘s global brokerage, said Proskauer Rose was feeling pressure to move from its longtime space at 1585 Broadway, where Morgan Stanley has headquarters.

“They had a landlord who didn’t really want them in the building because they were in a headquarters,” said Mr. Siegel, who represented 11 Times Square, “and you really don’t want someone else right in the middle of your headquarters building.”

The reasons for the shift are varied, but the West Side’s growing stock of buildings with updated technology, higher operating efficiencies and, in some cases, environmentally friendly features are all major draws, brokers say.

“There clearly has been a growing trend in the law firm community of moving farther west,” said Robert Goodman, an executive managing director at Colliers International and a member of Holland Knight‘s law practice group. The firm recently moved to 31 West 52nd Street.

“It’s very evident, when you look at some of these major law firms that have recently signed transactions, that the West Side properties seem to be doing a better job of accommodating both their current and future needs,” Mr. Goodman said.

Lawyers and brokers say the westward movement isn’t new — the trend began as early as 1989 when Cravath, Swaine Moore signed on as anchor tenants at Worldwide Plaza. But only in the last year have law practices resumed discussions about major real estate decisions after the economic crash, some lawyers said.

“This isn’t a new phenomenon, but relative to the activity now versus, say, 2005 or 2006, I think it’s fairly comparable,” said Gus Field, an executive vice president at Cushman Wakefield. “There are a lot of law firms in the market, and I think each of them has some very strong drivers that they’re seeing solutions for.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=5af68d05a46e19fe36d51fe0af55d48e