Thursday, January 5, 2012

Local breaking business news prepared by Business Examiner staff.

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Private sector adds more than 300K jobs
Job cuts decline in final month of 2011
Hiring outlook remains weak
Under Armour coming to Centralia Outlets
Partners conserve 82 acres on Anderson Island
Container imports grow 5% in November
PUD No. 3 honored for financial reporting
People on the Move
Private sector adds more than 300K jobs
Employment in the U.S. nonfarm private business sector increased by 325,000 from November to December on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the latest report from ADP.  The estimated advance in employment from October to November was revised down slightly, to 204,000, from the initially reported 206,000.

Employment in the private, service-providing sector rose 273,000 during December, up from an increase of 176,000 in November. Employment in the private, goods-producing sector increased 52,000 during December, while manufacturing employment increased 22,000.

In December, employment on large payrolls ñ those with 500 or more workers ñ increased 37,000, while employment on medium payrolls ñ those with 50 to 499 workers ñ rose 140,000. Employment on small payrolls ñ those with up to 49 workers ñ rose 148,000 that same period, up from the 109,000 jobs created among small businesses last month.

Of the 148,000 jobs created by small businesses, 18,000 jobs were created by the goods-producing sector and 130,000 jobs were created by the service-producing sector.

Employment in the construction industry increased 26,000 this month, up from an increase of 17,000 in November. Employment in the financial services sector declined 1,000 during December.

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Job cuts decline in final month of 2011

Planned job cuts announced by U.S. employers declined during December to 41,785, the lowest monthly total since June, according to the latest report on downsizing activity from global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

The December total was down 1.6 percent from 42,474 job cuts in November. Last month’s numbers, however, were up 31 percent compared to December 2010, when employers announced just 32,004 job cuts. This still stands as the lowest monthly total, though, since 17,241 job cuts were recorded in June 2000.

While 2011 went out like a lamb in terms of downsizing activity, with employers announcing an average of just 42,339 job cuts per month over the final quarter of the year, the yearend job-cut total of 606,082 was 14 percent higher than the 529,973 job cuts announced in 2010.

However, the 2010 yearend total was a 13-year low. The 2011 total is still well below the recession peak of 1288,030 annual job cuts reached in 2009.

The increase in job cuts in 2011 was due primarily to heavy job cutting in the government sector, where employers announced plans to eliminate 183,064 jobs, a 29 percent increase from 142,255 in 2010. Government job cuts were 188 percent higher than the second-ranked financial sector, which saw 63,624 job cuts this year.

A large portion of the 2010 job cut increase occurred in September, when job cuts hit a 29-month high of 115,730, more than double the 2011 monthly average of 50,507.  Of the September cuts, 80,000 – or nearly 70 percent of the total – came from just two organizations: Bank of America and the U.S. Army.

Hiring outlook remains weak
January marks the third consecutive month that hiring activity will decrease and job cuts will rise on an annual basis, according to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management.

The report shows that on an annual basis ñ comparing January 2012 to January 2011 ñ service sector hiring will drop by a net of 15.4 points and manufacturing sector hiring will fall by a net of 4.4 points.

“While overall, more employers are planning to hire than lay off staff this month, the net employment expectations are lower compared with January 2011,” said Jennifer Schramm, manager of workplace trends and forecasting at SHRM. “More growth is needed to continue to bring down the unemployment rate.”

A closer look at the service sector shows that a net of 6.1 percent of employers plan to add jobs, compared with a net of 21.5 percent that did so one year ago. In the manufacturing sector, the drop is less steep with a net of 25.3 percent of companies reporting plans to hire this month compared to 29.6 percent that did so one year ago.

Where recruiting difficulty is concerned, the report shows a net of 11.6 percent of human resource professionals in manufacturing companies reported difficulty in filling key positions during December. The December recruiting-difficulty index marked a 2.9-point increase from a year ago.

In the service sector, a net of 9.1 percent of companies reported recruiting difficulty for the month of December, marking a 5.8 percent increase from last year.

Under Armour coming to Centralia Outlets
Under Armour Factory House Store is scheduled to join the retail mix at Centralia Outlets on Feb. 16. The store will be next to the mall’s Information Center and across the street from the Coach Factory store. Under Armour develops, markets and distributes performance apparel, footwear and accessories.

Centralia Outlets has more than 30 tenants. Three stores, Christopher and Banks, The Children’s Place and Wilsons Leather, opened during 2011.

Partners conserve 82 acres on Anderson Island
Jacobs Point, which comprises 82 acres on Anderson Island, will be permanently protected for public recreation and salmon habitat thanks to a conservation partnership.

The conservation group Forterra (formerly known as Cascade Land Conservancy) purchased Jacobs Point from Young Life on Dec. 20 for $1.8 million with the help of grants from Pierce County and the state. The property, whose appraised value was $2.5 million, includes one mile of unaltered Puget Sound shoreline along Oro Bay, mature forested uplands and wetlands, and views of Puget Sound and Mount Rainier.

The Cascade Agenda, the long-range action plan for the region’s lands and communities spearheaded by Forterra, aims to conserve almost 1.3 million acres of land.

As part of the Anderson Island Park and Recreation District’s management of the property, Jacobs Point will feature new public recreation opportunities, including public access for land trails, a stop for non-motorized watercraft on the Cascadia Marine Trail, and interpretive signs and viewpoints.

Container imports grow 5% in November
U.S. containerized import volume rose 5 percent year-over-year to 1.49 million 20-foot equivalent units during November, a sharp turnaround in the slumping market that was pushed by strong gains in shipments tied to the recovering housing industry.

Mario O. Moreno, economist for The Journal of Commerce/PIERS, said increases in home sales have buoyed the housing market, leading to a 7 percent November growth in shipments of furniture, a top import commodity, to 144,823 TEUs.

“A healthy housing market is key to the revival of U.S. containerized imports growth as many of the goods consumers purchase to furnish a home are imported,” Moreno said, adding that there was additional expansion during November in cooking and heat appliances, lamps and parts, and kitchenware.

Growth in these other commodities contributed to the increase in imports from
China ñ up 4.1 percent year over year to 706,399 TEUs ñ the country’s first rise in eight months. Demand for local lumber also was a key factor in a November increase of 515 percent in imports from Canada.

“The question is: Are we seeing a self-sustained recovery in home sales?” Moreno said. “This will depend very much on how many jobs the economy can generate every month. Over the last 12 months through November, the economy generated an average of 132,000 jobs per month. We are not there yet, but getting closer.”

On a month-to-month basis, overall imports edged up 0.3 percent in November and year-to-date imports were up 3 percent.

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PUD No. 3 honored for financial reporting
Mason County PUD No. 3 received notification this week that it has won a seventh consecutive award for the quality of its financial reporting.

PUD 3 was awarded the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for its 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. The PUD is one of only three public utility districts in Washington to apply for such recognition for its financial reporting.

In addition to the seven consecutive GFOA awards for financial reporting, the utility is inspected annually by the Washington State Auditor’s Office, and has not been subject to a finding in more than 32 years.

Mason County PUD No. 3 provides electricity to nearly 33,000 customers in most of Mason County and small portions of Kitsap and Grays Harbor counties. PUD 3 also provides wholesale telecommunications services through a fiber optic network.

People on the Move
Ian Adair has joined Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County as resource development director. He previously was grants and special projects coordinator at Norman Moore Technology Center in Norman, Okla. Adair also has worked at Boys & Girls Clubs in Wichita, Kan.; Gainesville, Ga.; Oklahoma City; and West Palm Beach, Fla. He has a bachelor’s degree from Westminster College and a master’s degree in family and child studies from the University of Central Oklahoma.

The Master Builders Association of Pierce County has selected its 2012 Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Members include: Rick Hjelm, Phase II General Contractor Inc., president; Kurt Wilson, SoundBuilt Northwest, vice president treasurer; Joe Maxwell, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate-Pacific Commons, second vice president; Joe Zehnder, McGavick Graves P.S., vice president secretary; and Gary Pedersen, Pedersen Construction, immediate past president.

Six Tacoma Public Works leaders have been named national Public Works Leadership Fellows by the American Public Works Association. They include Richard “Dick” McKinley, director; Mike Slevin III, assistant director; Jeff Jenkins, facilities division manager; John O’Loughlin, division manager of maintenance for environmental services;†Dan Seabrands, engineering assistant division manager;†and Geoffrey Smyth, science and engineering division manager.

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