Today's News & Commentary — April 11, 2016

Published April 11th, 2016 -  - 04.11.16


Hiring may be up as much as 15% for recent college graduates, reports the New York Times.  However, outcomes vary wildly by major, with nursing and civil engineering graduates faring best and anthropology, geography, and mass media majors facing the weakest employment outcomes.  Additionally, while employment outcomes are improving overall, college graduates still face significant problems with underemployment; recent estimates show that 44% of recent college graduates age 22 to 27 are working in jobs that do not require degrees. This may, however, be typical of the transition between college and the job market, says Jaison Abel, head of regional analysis at the New York Fed.

For the fourth year in a row, demand for H1-B visas exceeded supply, prompting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to announce that they would issue more visas through a computer-generated lottery, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The visas allow foreign employees to work in skilled jobs (mostly in the technology sector) not otherwise filled by U.S. citizens.  Business advocates have lobbied extensively for more H1-B visas, arguing that the U.S. labor force lacks the qualified workers to fill necessary positions.  However, critics say that the visas are used to displace U.S. workers with cheap foreign labor.

According to Bloomberg BNA, a recent EEOC publication highlights gains made for LGBT workers since 2013, including $6.4 million in monetary relief through voluntary change resolutions, many of which were accompanied by agreements to change workplace practices with respect to LGBT workers.  The EEOC has also conducted 700 training seminars on LGBT-related discrimination issues.  The publication also includes guidance for employers, including information on the “’growing number of court decisions that have endorsed the Commission’s interpretation’ that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are impermissible sex bias under federal law.”

In international news, protests over the most recent proposals by President François Hollande to reform the French labor code escalated this weekend, reports the Wall Street Journal.  The protests became violent on Saturday night when over 300 people gathered in Paris’s Place de la Republique and many began throwing rocks at nearby government people.  Nine people were arrested as a result.  The proposals, which would relax regulations on firing employees and jeopardize the traditional 35-hour work week, have been received with widespread criticism.

In Germany, Volkswagen’s works council wrote a public letter accusing management of using the recent emissions scandal as pretext for cutting jobs, saying, “[w]e have the impression that the diesel scandal is slyly being used to make workforce reductions that were not an issue just a few months ago.”  The letter, written by Bernd Osterloh, the head of the works council, represented a departure from Volkswagen labor’s recent support of management strategy, the Wall Street Journal reports.  In particular, the letter attacked Herbert Diess, a top Volkswagen official, asking for a commitment to protect jobs for the 120,000 Volkswagen workers in Germany.

 

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