HAMDEN — The Los Angeles offices of Coldwell Banker, Warner Bros., Nickelodeon and other well-known corporations were workplaces this summer for 14 Quinnipiac University students who participated in the school’s new “Quinnipiac in Los Angeles” program. The program gives undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to combine coursework with an internship while living in Los Angeles. Students participating this summer were from the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Engineering, and School of Communications, and represented a range of fields and interests. Program creator F. Miguel Valenti envisions program expansion that will include guest speakers and special events. “I believe we have created a distinctive and distinguished program — unique and exciting,” Valenti said in a release, “that will broaden student horizons, further their career goals, advance their studies and give them perhaps their most memorable college semester.”
KENT — Over the next several months, local native Lindsay Rodman will take the training, skills and discipline she acquired as a Marine and as an attorney to the hallowed halls of the White House. Rodman was among 15 individuals nationwide selected as White House fellows for 2014-15. The selection committee for the highly competitive appointments emphasizes that it looks for people who not only are accomplished in their careers, but also display a commitment to public service. The White House Fellows Program marks its 50th anniversary this year. It was created in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson “to give promising American leaders ‘first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the federal government, and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs,’” according to a White House release. Rodman, a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, is also a judge advocate and a foreign area officer. Her most recent position was deputy legal counsel in the Office of the Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There, she focused attention on issues that included military justice, space law and human rights law. A 2003 graduate of Duke University, where she majored in mathematics, Rodman earned her law degree at Harvard Law School and also holds a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
WETHERSFIELD — The number of jobs added in Connecticut during the month of July continues in an upward direction, according to state labor analysts. For the sixth consecutive month, the state experienced a net increase in non-farm jobs; the total for July was 2,400, according to the state Department of Labor’s Office of Research. Additionally, the unemployment rate continued to decrease. It was 6.6 percent in July -- down 0.1 percent from the previous month, and the lowest it’s been since 2008. “Connecticut experienced its first back-to-back June-July non-farm employment gain since the recovery began in early 2010,” stated Office of Research Director Andy Condon. “This growth, along with continued declines in the number of unemployed, may be an indication that the moderate employment growth we have seen this year will be sustainable for some time.” The July net increase was the result of a combined 3,100 added positions in the private sector and decrease of 700 positions in government segments. Sectors with the greatest gains in July were manufacturing, with 1,000; and construction, leisure and hospitality, and other services, with 800 each. In addition to government, sectors marking job losses in July were information (-400); trade, transportation and utilities (-100); and professional and business services (-100).
Study: State’s recovery mostly benefits upper-income workers
NEW HAVEN — Fewer jobs, declining wages and growing unemployment plague segments of Connecticut’s workforce who find it more difficult to sustain a living wage even as the economy purportedly improves, according to the latest Connecticut Voices for Children report.
Titled “States of Working Connecticut 2014,” the report maintains that lack of jobs and low wages for low- and middle-income workers must be addressed in order for the state to fully recover from the recession.
“Only Connecticut’s highest earners have seen wage growth since 2000,” a release summarizing the report states. “Low- and median-wage earners have watched their inflation-adjusted wages stagnate, while high-wage workers have enjoyed a raise of nearly 50 percent.”
The state has 50,000 fewer jobs than it did at the beginning of the recession, and some 100,000 fewer positions than in 1989, according to the report. What is more, says the report, young workers, workers of color and those with less education are hit much harder than others where jobs and wages are concerned. Last year, the unemployment rate for workers ages 16 to 24 was about twice that (13.8 percent) of adults age 25 to 54 (7 percent), according to the report. Race also played a factor in wages, with black and Hispanic workers earning less than whites. The median hourly wage for black workers was 72 percent of what whites made, and for Hispanics the median wage was 63 percent of the wages of whites.
CVC, a research-based policy think tank that focuses on how social, economic and political issues impact Connecticut’s children and families, asserts that the job and wage disparities it documented are dire.
“The children of today’s struggling workers will form the backbone of tomorrow’s workforce,” said Ellen Shemitz, CVC executive director, in the release. “If we want to ensure the future success of our state, then we need to make smart investments today in children, families and educational opportunity. Smart policies that make work pay and that ensure meaningful pathways to success should not be considered matters of choice. They are clear necessities.”
CVC recommended restoring the state’s earned-income tax credit to its original level, and making high-quality early childhood care and education more accessible, among other remedies to help low-income families. This would benefit the economy in the long run, according to Wade Gibson, CVC’s director of fiscal policy and co-author of the report.
“By investing in the education of our children and supporting them through our tax code,” said Gibson, “we can support struggling families today and build a healthier economic future.”
HAMDEN — How big is too big?
When Microsoft Corp. announced last month that it would slash thousands of jobs in order to become more efficient, it became clear that more is not necessarily better. Companies seeking to expand, particularly via mergers and acquisitions, should take note, says Julia Fullick, assistant professor of management at Quinnipiac University’s School of Business.
“Most of the time, with an acquisition, you can’t maintain the same [number] of employees,” says Fullick. “The interesting thing about Microsoft is that they have a history of not laying people off. That’s why it comes as such a shock.”
Microsoft announced in July that it plans to cut up to 18,000 jobs, or about 14 percent of its workforce, over the next 12 months. The announcement came after the company revealed plans last year to acquire Nokia Corp. The acquisition, which was finalized in April, created job overlap for a company that already was experiencing the downside of exponential growth.
But for companies that find themselves overstaffed, for whatever reasons, massive layoffs don’t have to be a foregone conclusion, according to Fullick.
“With small companies, you don’t necessarily have to lay people off. For example, there’s job-sharing,” Fullick notes. “Another alternative is a reduced work week. You can reduce an employee’s hours from 40 to 36, for instance. Just cutting those four hours out of the work week can make a significant impact.”
Also, says Fullick, sacrifices can be made on the management level to help a company maintain its workforce during tough times.
“Senior employees or top-level management can have pay freezes, or even take a pay cut,” she says.
A careful review of your organization’s expense side may also reveal alternatives to layoffs, says Fullick.
“Look at your records. They might show where you can actually cut costs.”
There also are ways to handle company transitions, such as an acquisition, that will support workers and their morale.
“Any time there’s a merger or acquisition, the socialization of employees is critical,” says Fullick. “Nokia employees that are now becoming Microsoft employees are coming from a completely different corporate culture.”
One way to help with such a transition is to establish a mentoring system, Fullick notes. For example, employees should be systematically guided through new company specifics of workplace commonalities such as e-mail and ID badges. And when elements of the merged company culture are introduced, it is a “good idea” to have representatives from both companies present them. That way employees can see that the new business entity is “strategically moving forward,” according to Fullick.
If large-scale layoffs are unavoidable, however, there are “best-practices” ways for businesses to handle them, Fullick says.
“It’s always best if a memo is sent out, and if possible, hold a ‘town hall’ meeting,” Fullick says. This should be done “as soon as possible. You don’t want your employees to find out from the media before they hear it from you.
“You want to make sure you’re open and honest with them,” she adds. “If you’re not sure, be honest and say, ‘I’m not sure.’”
HAMDEN — Eight Quinnipiac University students are gaining valuable municipal-government work experience this summer as Quinnipiac Presidential Public Service Fellows. Projects range from to studying how to recycle construction materials, to overhauling municipal websites, to helping formulate a town’s Plan of Conservation Development, to lending technical support to a municipality’s Public Works Office.
The fellows, who worked in Hamden and North Haven, are Matt Bowser, Ashley Alcott, Greg Coutros, Elisabeth Emery, Justin Felix, Lauren McMahon, Alexa Panayotakis and Stacy Pierre-Louis. Majors represented include political science, advertising, civil engineering and philosophy. “In our program, these students make a real contribution to the needs of Hamden and North Haven,” explains fellowship director Scott McLean, a professor of political science. “And thanks to the enthusiastic mentoring of the various department heads, they get a real education in leadership and how public policy gets made.”
Leslie Creane, Hamden’s director of planning and zoning, calls QPPSF a “fabulous program. I’ve been very pleased with every intern from Quinnipiac that we’ve had. They’re really high-caliber students. They’re self-motivated and really interested in learning how government works.”
A senior advertising major from Hamden, Alcott works in his hometown mayor’s office. “I love it,” he says. “It’s definitely not just an internship. It’s like you are a regular town employee. I’m really learning a lot about how a municipal government works.”
WALLINGFORD — HealthyCT is accepting nominations for its inaugural board of directors. Nominees must meet basic eligibility requirements. These include being at least 18 years old; passing a background check; not currently a federal, state or local government office-holder; and not have served as a board member for another insurance carrier for the past five years.
“This election is at the heart of what HealthyCT is all about and what makes us different from every other health insurance company in Connecticut,” says HealthyCT CEO Ken Lalime. “As a co-op, we are member-governed. That governance is through our board of directors so the individuals who come forward and are elected will help determine the direction this company takes.”
HealthyCT is the state’s nonprofit, consumer-operated and consumer-oriented health insurance co-op, mandated by ObamaCare. A minimum of six voting board members will be policyholders.