Workers Paying 14% More for Health Insurance
WASHINGTON — American workers will pay about $4,000 to get health insurance for their families through work this year, 14% more than in 2009, according to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Employees’ average share of the premium costs for family coverage is $482 more than last year as economic conditions continue to push companies to pay less of the bill, the report said. Total premiums for family policies, including both worker and employer contributions, increased 3% to $13,770. “Businesses have been shifting more of the costs of health insurance to workers through premiums, deductibles, and other cost-sharing,” said Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation chief executive. “From a consumer perspective, the cost of health insurance just keeps going up faster than wages.”

Executives Plan Moderate Hike in Professional Hiring
MENLO PARK, Calif. — Looking toward the final months of the year, 11% of executives interviewed for the Robert Half Professional Employment Report said they expect to increase the number of full-time staff they employ in professional occupations in the fourth quarter. Another 5% anticipate declines, resulting in a net 6% increase in hiring activity, up three points from the third-quarter forecast. Executives’ business optimism level remains high: 86% of respondents expressed at least some confidence in the growth prospects for their companies, rising slightly from 85% reported in the third-quarter survey. The number of executives citing recruiting challenges also rose, climbing from 42% in the third quarter to 47%. The Robert Half Professional Employment Report is the first quarterly executive survey of its size and scope to focus exclusively on professional-level hiring. The survey is based on telephone interviews with more than 4,000 executives from a variety of fields throughout the U.S. about their hiring plans and general level of optimism regarding the upcoming quarter. “Companies that overextended their teams are now selectively adding full-time employees,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “Businesses are hiring to keep service levels high and boost morale among team members who have taken on extra work in the past few years.”

Economy Needs More Than Modest Spending
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis recently released personal income and outlays for July. Personal income increased 0.2% in July, similar to private-sector expectations, while real disposable income decreased 0.1%. Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.2% in July and at a 1.3% annual rate from their second-quarter average. Consumer spending adjusted for inflation continues to increase at a moderate pace, according to U.S. Commerce Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank. She noted that data suggests the economy continues to grow, as consumer spending accounts for 70% of GDP, although the economy is growing at a slower pace than the Obama administration would like. On a related note, many economists, including those at PNC Financial Services Group, say a boost in salaries and jobs will help grow the economy.

Businesses Offered Customer-service Training
GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Business Assoc. (GBA) and the Greenfield Community College (GCC) Workforce Development Office are coordinating customer-service trainings for local business owners and their staff members this fall. The cost is free to GBA-member owners/managers and is on a scale for the number of staff per business attending. For businesses with one to five staff members participating in training, the cost is $10 each; for six to 11 staff, $7.50 each; and for 12 or more employees, the cost is $5 each. For non-member pricing, call (413) 774-2791. The owner/manager training is slated for Sept. 27 from 8 to 10 a.m. at the GCC Downtown Center, room 121. The frontline staff training is planned for Oct. 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the GCC Downtown Center, room 121. Business owners can reserve space by e-mailing [email protected] with the names of the person(s) attending and the business they are representing.

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