Get a Life: Mixed benefit signals

Activity at the White House and on Capitol Hill is mixed on federal jobs and benefits, writes blogger Judy Welles.

There are mixed signals, some promising and some not so much, coming from Capitol Hill and the White House on federal benefits. 

For the first time in nearly a decade, federal employee union leaders were invited to the White House.  They witnessed President Barack Obama signing executive orders on employee rights in federal contracting. 

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) has introduced a bill to provide paid parental leave for federal employees upon birth or adoption of a child. This is intended to level the playing field for recruitment and retention of employees. More than half of private-sector employers in the U.S. provide some paid parental leave. 

New benefits, of course, cost money at a time when government is scrounging for dollars to pay for stimulus bills. While some modest measures may still be considered, Congress is also expected to pay closer attention to entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, which benefit retired federal workers. Some fear that attention will also turn to federal retirement benefits.

On the job front, online advertised vacancies declined 506,000 to 3,355,000 in January according to the nonprofit Conference Board, a membership research organization. Still that means there are now more than 3 million job vacancies in the private sector. And the federal government is also advertising vacancies and hiring. 

Some parts of the country are better for job prospects than others. If you are looking for private-sector jobs, vacancy ads increased in Honolulu and Oklahoma City. The overall trend remained basically flat in Virginia and Maryland. Advertised vacancies exceeded unemployment rates in Washington, D.C., and also in the states of North Dakota and Wyoming. 


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