All posts by karenlentz2017

Jobless claims dip in latest sign of job market improvement

By Karen Lentz

Initial unemployment insurance claims for the week ended March 11 trickled down to an advance figure of 241,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s seasonally adjusted unrevised level of 243,000, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday. The numbers remain below pre-recession levels, pointing to continued gains for the economy.

New unemployment claims are compiled weekly based on the number of workers who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time.

“These are very good numbers indicating tight labor market conditions,” Daniel Sanabria of Comerica Bank wrote in a note.

Decreases in new claims are typically an indication of an improving labor market as fewer individuals are losing jobs.

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DeVry stock poised for further gains, despite declining enrollment

By Karen Lentz

Shares of Downers Grove-based career college chain DeVry Education Group Inc. have soared nearly 40 percent since the presidential election in November, and analysts see more opportunity ahead for investors.

Shares closed Tuesday at $33, after getting a bump last week from the March 6 U.S. Department of Education announcement that gainful employment regulation compliance and appeal deadlines would be extended until July 1.

The regulation requires career training programs to meet specified debt-to-income ratio requirements and to disclose employment outcomes for its graduates. Three DeVry University programs received failing ratings in the gainful employment report released in January.

The stock has more than doubled since setting its 52-week low of $15.36 in June 2016, shortly after Lisa Wardell, who previously served on DeVry’s board, took over as CEO.

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February job gains point to strengthening economy

By Karen Lentz

The unemployment rate edged down to 4.7 percent in February, as 235,000 jobs were added during the month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. The rate is a slight drop from 4.8 percent in January, indicating continued movement toward recovery from the 2007-2009 recession.

The biggest job gains occurred in construction, which increased by 58,000 jobs in the month. Private educational services, manufacturing, and health care sectors each saw gains of over 25,000.

Losses occurred in retail trade, which dropped by 26,000 jobs in February, following a gain of 40,000 in the prior month. Over the month, general merchandise stores reported job losses of 19,000.

Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in February, adding 37,000 jobs, including 5,100 in employment services. The sector has added 597,000 jobs over the year.

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Korn/Ferry swings to profit

By Karen Lentz

Los Angeles-based executive search firm Korn/Ferry International reported $23.9 million, or 42 cents per diluted share, in third-quarter earnings Monday, rebounding from a loss of $16 million, or 30 cents per diluted share, in the same quarter last year.

Korn/Ferry reported adjusted earnings per share of 53 cents, based on an exclusion of $8.6 million for restructuring, acquisition, and integration costs, representing 15 cents per share.

The consensus analyst estimate of adjusted earnings compiled by Bloomberg for the quarter ended Jan. 31 was a profit of 53 cents per diluted share.

Total revenue rose to $394.2 million from $358.9 million. Fee revenue was $381.9 million, compared with $344.2 million in the year-ago quarter. The 11 percent revenue increase was primarily due to the company’s acquisition of human resources consultancy Hay Group in December 2015, CEO Gary Burnison said on the investor conference call.

“After a full year of work, our integration activities related to the Hay Group acquisition are substantially complete,” Burnison said, adding that some remaining costs for office co-location and systems conversion are expected to be realized in the fourth quarter.

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Illinois grapples with rise in contingent workforce

By Karen Lentz

A bill under consideration in the Illinois legislature is drawing attention to a growing trend in today’s workforce: employers meeting long-term staffing needs by contracting with employment companies and temporary work agencies.

A contract company may handle a range of hiring tasks including recruitment, training, payroll, benefits, and other typical human resources functions. In providing services to its clients, a staffing service company may offer a form of “temporary” work in which a worker is employed by the agency and sent out to its clients on assignments, perhaps long-term.

Temporary employment accounted for 3.4 percent of the total workforce in Illinois in 2015, with 989 temporary staffing agencies operating in the state, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Japan’s rail system thrives

By Karen Lentz

Railway movement
The Japan Railways Group–six regional passenger companies and one national freight carrier-–owns about 70 percent of Japan’s rail system, managing a network of train lines connecting the country’s rural areas and cities. The country’s railway system was privatized in 1987 after the Japan National Railway, a public corporation, sustained operating losses and excessive debt. (Karen Lentz/MEDILL)
Shinagawa Station
Passengers move through Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station during a Thursday morning rush hour. East Japan Railway Company, or JR-East, which covers the Tokyo metropolitan area, employs over 70,000 and logged more than 134 billion passenger kilometers in 2016. The company’s Ticket to Tomorrow initiative is driving accessibility and station improvements in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games. (Karen Lentz/MEDILL)
Tokyo Station
JR East’s Tokyo Station serves over 3,000 trains a day and includes restaurants, cafes, and a multi-story department store. About 68 percent of the company’s revenue is derived from transportation lines, but it has diversified sources of income including station space, shops and hotels. JR East reported a ¥253.1 billion (about $2.23 billion) profit during the first three quarters of the fiscal year ending Mar. 31, up 2 percent over the year-ago period, as a result of increased earthquake-related insurance proceeds. (Karen Lentz/MEDILL)
Shinjuku crowd
Travelers wait to cross the street coming out of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station. Shinjuku is described as the busiest train station in the world, incorporating 20 tracks, 10 platforms, and 12 train lines. Over 3.5 million people a day–more than the population of Chicago-–travel through Shinjuku. (Karen Lentz/MEDILL)
Inside train
Passengers travel on the Yamonote Line, a major line connecting multiple city centers. No eating, drinking, smoking or talking on mobile phones is permitted on trains. (Karen Lentz/MEDILL)
Shinkansen
Bullet trains, or Shinkansen, run at speeds of up to 199 miles per hour (320 km/h). The Shinkansen have a dedicated right of way, increasing reliability. A ticket from Tokyo to Akita, a trip of approximately 410 miles, typically costs 17,800 yen ($157) and makes the trip in four hours. The Shinkansen represented 30 percent of JR East’s revenue in 2016. (Karen Lentz/MEDILL)
Photo at top: Japan Railway Group’s lines provide vital passenger service to Japan’s population of 126 million. (Karen Lentz/MEDILL)

Manpower’s fourth quarter revenue stalls on U.S. weakness

By Karen Lentz

Milwaukee-based Manpower Group Inc. Tuesday reported a 2.8 percent rise in fourth quarter profit and virtually flat revenues that were adversely impacted by the strong U.S. dollar.

The global staffing firm, whose results can provide an early indication of what’s to come for the economy, reported net income of $127.4 million, or $1.87 per diluted share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $123.9 million, or $1.66 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period.

The consensus analyst estimate compiled by Zacks Investment Research Inc. was $1.70 per diluted share.

A $7.5 million insurance settlement during the quarter added 7 cents per share to earnings, Chief Financial Officer Jack McGinnis said on the conference call with analysts.

“We had a very solid performance in an uneven and slow growth economic environment,” Chairman and CEO Jonas Prising said on the conference call.

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Illinois loses jobs in December

By Karen Lentz

The state unemployment rate increased to 5.7 percent in December, 0.1 percentage point above 5.6 in November, and one percentage point above the national rate of 4.7 percent, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary data released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The preliminary data shows a higher unemployment rate for the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights metropolitan area of 5.9 percent.

Illinois posted the largest decrease in nonfarm payroll employment of any state in the U.S., losing 16,700 jobs over the month of December, according to BLS data.

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Economists upbeat on Trump economy

By Karen Lentz and Yifang (Evonne) Liu

The U.S. economy ended 2016 in a better place than it started, and despite some concerns, economists remain optimistic for continued positive results under the incoming Trump administration.

A panel of financial experts shared their forecasts for the economy, the markets, interest rates and regulatory changes that are likely to impact investments and business decisions in the coming year with over 1,500 Chicago executives at the Annual Economic Outlook meeting of the Executives’ Club of Chicago Tuesday.

“I just don’t think there’s ever been a time where the installation of a new administration has created more economic uncertainty,” financial author Terry Savage, who moderated the discussion, said.

The uncertainty of the new administration that is days away, and the effects on taxes, regulation, immigration and other aspects of the economy have many business owners unsure what to expect.

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