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Employers send out stronger hiring signalsSurveys of...


Employers send out stronger hiring signals

Surveys of employers give cautiously optimistic signals to area job seekers but indicate that Marylanders may have a tougher time than people in the Southwest, for example.

Consumer Pulse, a Cleveland survey company that tests the job market for sales, management and marketing applicants, said hiring for such jobs is increasing in the South Atlantic region. But it is heating up faster elsewhere.

A survey of 1,500 executives found that 35 percent in the region, which extends from Maryland to Florida, plan to expand their sales and marketing staffs in the next six months, up from 27 percent in the first half. The number planning layoffs dropped slightly.

In general, the survey said, the regional numbers matched the national rates. But the entire Eastern Seaboard lagged far behind the Southwest, where more than half of those surveyed said they planned to hire.

Meanwhile, Manpower Inc., a national temporary-services business, says its survey of Baltimore companies indicates that more plan to hire permanent employees than to fire them.

Two-thirds of the companies contacted said they wouldn't be hiring before fall, but the share of those expecting to hire has inched up to 15 percent from 13 percent in the spring.

Those who have jobs should feel more secure, Manpower says. The proportion of companies expecting to lay off workers dropped to 8 percent this summer from 14 percent in the spring.

This doesn't mean hard times are over, though. Last summer, local companies were slightly more expansive than they were this summer, but they fell back into pessimism in the winter.

Worse, the local numbers look anemic next to the national results. About one quarter of the 15,000 employers Manpower contacted said they would hire before the summer was over.

Overlea company loses union battle

A family-run electrical contractor has lost its battle to stay non-union.

Electrical Construction and Maintenance Inc. of Overlea was ordered by the National Labor Relations Board to rehire and give back pay to five electricians who were laid off when they tried to unionize the company.

Administrative Law Judge Richard H. Beddow Jr. also ordered back pay for a sixth employee, who was rehired after he tore up his union card. The company also must start bargaining with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

On Oct. 2, 1990, the six workers went to the IBEW for help in organizing the company, which is owned by John Spiegel and run by him and his two brothers.

Union representative Henry Heise signed the workers up and gave them union hats to wear to work Oct. 4.

Mr. Heise visited the Spiegels' office Oct. 3, but the secretary wouldn't let him see the brothers.

When the workers showed up with their "Union Yes" hats Oct. 4, the Spiegels laid off everyone who had signed union cards.

The Spiegels said they had prepared the layoff the day before Mr. Heise's visit and that financial problems, not fear of the union, led them to cut back.

Mr. Heise said the union was delighted with the win but sorry it took so long.

He said the laid-off employees probably wouldn't go back to their old jobs, since the union had found jobs for them.

Congress targets executive salaries

Several bills in Congress propose eliminating corporate tax deductions for fat executive salaries.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Richard C. Breeden has proposed administrative changes to proxy rules that would force companies to make clear exactly how much the top brass is receiving.

But Congress would go further. Although President Bush vetoed a similar measure in March, Congress is still considering proposals to tax companies that pay their executives more than $1 million a year. Businesses typically can deduct salaries as normal operating expenses. One related bill would penalize a company for paying a member of its top brass more than 25 times what its lowest-paid worker receives.

Executives aren't the only ones being targeted. Health and pension benefits for average workers are also under scrutiny.

A General Accounting Office report says the government could raise $91 billion by taxing the value of all employee health care, insurance and pension benefits. Currently, such employer-provided benefits are untaxed.

The report by the GAO, the accounting arm of Congress, said it probably would be fairer for all Americans if workers' benefits were taxed as income.

Only about half of all Americans get employer-provided benefits. That means that many of the poorest Americans, who have to pay for their health care and retirement plans, essentially subsidize those who get untaxed benefits from their employers.

Men who fought in Vietnam lag in pay

A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics study shows that on average, men who saw combat in Vietnam earn less than men their age who didn't serve in the armed forces or served outside of Southeast Asia.

Vietnam-era veterans generally have about the same earnings and unemployment rate as their peers who didn't serve in the military, the federal study found.

But those who served outside Southeast Asia earned more than any other group. Combat veterans earned an average of about 10 percent less than other veterans and about 2 percent less than average non-veterans.

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