North Carolina’s per capita personal income increased by 3.3 percent last year, but was outpaced by growth in nearly every other state, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
We have previously mentioned how North Carolina employment levels are in a more troubled state that the rest of the country, and struggling to recover. This income information is no doubt a consequence of that.
Nationwide, the average personal income grew 4.3 percent, to $41,663. Per capita income in the Tar Heel State grew to $36,164, the fifth-largest among 12 southeastern states. But North Carolina’s 3.3 percent growth rate was the weakest of the 12 and third lowest in the country.
North Dakota led the nation with 6.7 percent growth, with Iowa and Oklahoma close behind. Alaskans’ personal income grew just 2.9 percent, and Maine’s lagged by a fraction of a percentage point behind North Carolina’s.
In Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada and Oklahoma, earnings are still below pre-recession peaks and Nevada’s 3.0 percent earnings growth in 2011 follows three consecutive years of decline.
Earnings increased in every private industry in 2011, according to the report, and earnings growth accelerated in all private industries except administrative services and accommodations.
In contrast, 2011 earnings fell 0.3 percent for state and local government employees and earnings growth slowed for civilian federal employees to 0.6 percent from 7.2 percent in 2010 and for the military to 1.3 percent from 4.0 percent in 2010.
To calculate average personal income, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis simply divides total personal income by the total population of each state, including workers and those not in the labor force. The measure captures salaries, wages, dividends, capital gains, pensions, government transfers such as social security and other types of income.
Employment screening is still an unsure topic for some employers. They might argue a lack of trust, financial costs and lack of resources. But ultimately, employment screening should be a must for all employers in order to protect their business.
If you’re unsure, here are ten thing everyone ought to know about employment screening – and hopefully these will help you change your mind:
- According to statistics on drug abuse by American workers, workplace drug and alcohol use costs U.S. businesses an estimated $100 billion each year. Make drug testing a key part of your screening process.
- 53% of all job applications contain inaccurate information during the application process. Don’t you want to know who’s lying?
- There are currently four applicants for every vacant position. Use this to your advantage and choose only the very best.
- Employers have lost more than 78% of negligent hiring cases. Screening out bad applicants prior to hiring can save you a lot in long term.
- 30% of all business failures are caused by employee theft. That’s almost 1 in 3 failed businesses that may have been saved had employment screening occurred.
- 10% of all background checks have at least one serious flag. Find this red flag before it’s too late.
- It may seem confusing, but hiring a pre-employment screening company can make it a lot easier for you.
- There is no such thing as “free” or “instant” background checks. Avoid companies offering these.
- Workplace violence accounts for 18% of all violent crime. Employment screening can help you screen out those with a violent history during the application process.
- The average costs of a bad hire may equal 30% of the first year’s potential earnings. Do you really want this cost hanging over you? A little cost for proper employment screening checks can help save a lot down the line.
These cover what we feel are ten of the most important facts you should know about employment screening, and will hopefully emphasize the need for all employers to practice them.
But what do you think – have we missed anything?
A recent survey found that more than 90 percent of employers run criminal checks on job applicants, while 60 percent sometimes screen for credit, depending on the position. Black marks on either report can prove fatal for the estimated 65 million U.S. adults with criminal records.
What this shows is that, due to the economic downturn and despite some positive areas, we predominantly live in an employers’ world. “With more than four unemployed workers per opening…The buyer’s market for labor has employers relying on criminal and credit background reports to help thin the applicant pool and avoid potential lawsuits for negligent hiring”.
With so much competition for each vacant position, employers can evaluate all applicant’s to a significant level to avoid hiring mistakes. The smallest blip on a record will likely therefore result in no longer being considered for a role, as there are so many other candidates out there.
EEOC looking for change
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces federal civil rights law in the area of fair employment practices, is addressing this issue. For the first time in 25 years, the commission is revising its guidance to employers on properly evaluating criminal records in pre-employment screening.
That prospect, and the commission’s stepped-up investigation of job-screening policies that disproportionately hurt minorities, has employers wondering whether new EEOC guidelines will make criminal background checks even more complicated to use and harder to defend in court.
Employers have a tough-enough time trying to protect company interests and give ex-offenders second chances without new commission guidelines making it even tougher, said Richard Mellor, vice president for loss prevention at the National Retail Federation.
“We do want to give second chances,” he said. “We’ve all made mistakes in our lives, and people deserve an opportunity to improve and to become employed.” New EEOC guidelines “could be a real good thing,” he added, but new federal “restrictions that prohibit or impede us from (doing) the responsible thing are not.”
Prior to the recession, job applicants had a lot more power. The job market was booming and the demand for workers was, in some areas, going at a higher rate than could be filled. Now, things have changed. The power has returned to the employers.
The debate is raging as to how that power can be balanced – allowing individuals to get back to work, as well as allowing employers to ensure their business is protected.
Once the job market gets going again, as well as seeing possible legislation introduced by the EEOC, the balance may well shift back to the job applicant. Only time will tell.
Last year, Match.com became one of the first major online dating sites to introduce background checks for their members. It seems that eHarmony and Sparks Networks (operator of JDate and ChristianMingle) will follow suit and also scan the histories of possible clients for sexual assault, identity theft and violence before allowing them access to their sites.
The call for online dating background checks seemed to stem from an incident back in 2010, when TV executive Carole Markin, 54, sued Match.com after she was sexually assaulted by a man she met on the site following their second date. Her date, 67-year-old Alan Paul Wurtzel of Pacific Palisades, had at least six prior sexual assault convictions.
After the alleged assault, Markin says she went online and learned of the convictions. This then posed the question – who is the person behind an online dating profile, and what is the process for vetting them?
Time.com stated that the sites will now check subscribers against national sex offender registries and actively search for fake profiles. The rapid abuse reporting systems will give members access to a website, email address and/or phone number to report suspected criminal activity.
In 2011, 40 million Americans used an online dating service and spent more than $1 billion on online dating website memberships. Of couples married in the last three years, one in six met through an online dating service and one in five people have dated someone they met through an online dating site.
With so many people turning to the internet to find love, it’s a good sign of progression that companies are taking steps to protect those seeking romance. In the same way that parents would background check a nanny, it seems reasonable that a young woman would want to background check a stranger that she may end up meeting, alone, at some point down the line.
Background checks for online dating has received plenty of support, and rightly so. Let’s hope that these three online dating giants will lead the way for all dating websites to follow suit.
It seems that the time for background checks in the world of social media has well and truly arrived. Although we have discussed social media background checks in the past, and many companies have been performing them for quite some time, social media background checks seem to have crossed that line from ‘sporadic’ to ‘normality’.
Back in 2009, forty-five percent of employers reported in a CareerBuilder survey that they use social networking sites to screen potential employees. Now, that figure stands at closer to 75% – and continues to increase.
Social media background checks start early
A recent article presented the fact that even students are facing such checks, and it has become a common practice at schools across the country. “The University of North Carolina’s student-athlete handbook as an example typical of many colleges: ‘Each team must identify at least one coach or administrator who is responsible for having access to and regularly monitoring the content of team members’ social-networking sites and postings.’”
It goes on to say that “the athletics department also reserves the right to have other staff members monitor athletes post,” leaving the door open for the university to use outside social-media-monitoring companies.”
Why combine personal with professional?
The question may be raised by many as to why what they do in their personal lives should affect their professional lives. In response, Rob Pickell of HireRight claims it’s all about finding the right person for the role:
“Social networking allows organizations to build their employment brand and awareness, expand the breadth and depth of their network, target top talent in a large range of skill sets, and improve the effectiveness of their recruiting efforts.”
While seeking out talent and finding someone suitable for the role, one consequence of this is that a company will have to pass over many others who are clearly not right for the role.
Pickell goes on to say that “the difficulty occurs when information provided on social media sites is used to screen or explicitly eliminate a candidate from consideration. This elimination, when based on data found through social media content, opens the employer to the potential risks of liability, discrimination claims and non-compliance with regulations.”
For example, an employer may come across information regarding an applicant’s race, religious views or age – all of which may affect their hiring decision. However, including such attributes in any hiring decision is illegal – so employers have to tread carefully.
Overall – it seems that the background check time has most certainly arrived for social media. While employers need to be careful, job applicants ought to be aware that their social media profiles are not as private as they might have thought – and the information put online is available for everyone to see, for ever.
What are your thoughts on social media background checks?
North Carolina ranks No. 25 in the U.S. for identity-theft complaints, according to the recently released Consumer Sentinel Network report, distributed annually by the Federal Trade Commission.
North Carolina had 6,287 complaints, or about 66 complaints per 100,000 residents, in 2011, compared to 5,986, or 63 per 100,000 residents in 2010.
Theft of government documents or benefits fraud accounted for 21 percent of the identity-theft complaints in North Carolina last year. That was the state’s largest category. Employment-related fraud made up 7 percent of the reports.
National figures showed 24 percent of identity thefts reported were for employment, but only 3 percent were for government documents.
The Greensboro-High Point area had 634 total identity-theft reports in 2011, while the Winston-Salem region had 418. But the average was about the same for the two areas, with Winston-Salem averaging 91 complaints per 100,000 residents and Greensboro seeing about 92 complaints for every 100,000 residents.
The number of identity-theft crimes reported has increased nationwide, according to the report. In 2011, 1.8 million complaints were filed with the FTC, of which 279,156 were for identity theft, 990,242 were for fraud and 543,682 were for other crimes.
In 2010, the number of complaints received by the FTC totaled 1.46 million, of which 251,105 involved identity theft, 815,054 were for fraud and 394,209 were defined as “other.
Identity theft remains the single largest complaint, making up 15 percent of the total received by the FTC. Debt-collection issues make up 10 percent of the claims, and fraudulent sweepstakes make up 6 percent.
You can view the complete report here.
With 2012 well underway, we came across an insightful article from ESR which compiled the top ten background screening trends for 2012. It was something we wanted to share, and so have compiled the main points below:
1. Criminal Background Checks of Job Applicants by Employers Coming Under Greater Scrutiny by EEOC: With a recent survey showing nine out of ten employers conduct criminal background checks on some or all job candidates, the EEOC held a public meeting in July 2011 examining the use of arrest and conviction records by employers for criminal background checks to determine if the practice was an unfair and discriminatory hiring barrier to job seeking ex-offenders.
2. Credit Report Background Checks of Job Applicants by Employers Increasingly Regulated by State Laws: In recent years, several U.S. states have passed laws regulating the use of employment credit reports of job applicants and current employees that have impacted the way employers conduct background checks.
3. Social Media Background Screening Checks of Job Applicants Becoming More Prevalent and More Controversial: Employers are using ‘social media background checks’ to uncover information about job applicants on websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. However, the use of social media background checks for job applicants can present legal risks.
4. Automation in Employment Background Screening Leads to Both Increased Efficiency and Increased Risks: In recent years, employment background screening has gone from a costly and time consuming task reserved for selected job applicants to an increasingly automated and technology driven business necessity in a global economy where employers expect fast, accurate, and inexpensive results from screening providers.
5. Background Screening Accreditation Program Proof of Increased Emphasis on Professionalism in Industry: When the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) was formed in 2003 as a professional trade association for the background screening industry, the idea of an accreditation process was a central driving force in order to demonstrate that background screening was a professional endeavor.
6. Diploma Mills Offering Fake Degrees and False Credentials Likely to Increase in Tight Job Market: A 2011 report from Europe’s leading background screening firm revealed an astounding 48 percent increase worldwide in the number of known fake diploma mills in the previous year, and the number of what the report describes as “largely online entities whose degrees are worthless due to the lack of valid accreditation and recognition” is likely to increase in the coming year as desperate job applicants knowingly – and unknowingly – do business with companies that offer fake degrees and false credentials for a price.
7. Employment Screening Lawsuits Increase as Attorneys and Consumers Become Familiar with FCRA Laws Regulating Background Checks: Consumers and attorneys are looking more closely at background check reports and laws governing employment screening and filing more lawsuits against employers.
8. New E-Verify Laws Create Complex Web of Federal and State Rules for Employers: While federal law mandates that federal contractors and subcontractors in all states must use the otherwise voluntary electronic employment eligibility verification system known as E-Verify, several U.S. states – including Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, and North Carolina – recently enacted laws mandating its use (or non-use).
9. Offshoring Personally Identifiable Information Outside of US Increases Concern Over Privacy and Identity Theft: A new California law that took effect January 1, 2012 – Senate Bill 909 (SB 909) – appears to be one of the first in the nation that addresses the growing concerns over the controversial practice of “offshoring” personally identifiable information (PII) collected during background checks of job applicants by sending the data outside of United States and beyond the protection of U.S. privacy and identity theft laws. The privacy concerns over “offshoring” of PII is a growing trend.
10. Self Background Checks Proactively Conducted by Job Seekers to Help Verify Accuracy of their Public Information: If jobseekers want to get hired for a job these days, they will probably have to undergo a background check. And if they have to undergo a background check, it would be in their best interest to make sure the information found on the background check is accurate, up-to-date, and complete. As a result, some jobseekers are taking matters in their own hands by proactively conducting “self” background checks on themselves to verify the accuracy of their public information.
The Florida State Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure (HB 1205) by a nonpartisan 26-14 vote, rejecting concerns that suspicionless, random drug testing of government workers is unconstitutional to the state’s 100,000-plus workforce.
The bill sponsor Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, argued that public and private sector workers should be subjected to the same requirements and that the screening could help prevent addiction. And, he said, not requiring the tests could be dangerous.
“What you’re going to create then is a haven for abusers,” Hays said. “Then drug abusers will know they’re safe if they come to work for the state of Florida.”
Scott’s legal team has helped the bill’s House and Senate sponsors persuade lawmakers that the drug screening will be upheld even as they defend the policy in court. The governor is being sued over a drug-testing policy he imposed on state workers last year. After the ACLU and the state workers’ union sued the state, Scott in June quietly reversed his order for all but corrections officers pending the outcome of the case.
Miami U.S. District judge Ursula Ungaro, who heard the case against Scott last week, expressed serious doubts about the governor’s order and “had trouble understanding the circumstances under which the order would be valid.”
The measure would allow Scott’s agency heads to decide whether they want to institute the policy and require that they use money already in their budgets to cover the costs of the tests, which range from $5 to $40.
“How many private employers drug-screen workers? A lot do,” Scott told a Miami meeting of business leaders. “Why? You want to have a workforce that you know is doing the right things. Shouldn’t your state workers do that?”
Only last week were Florida’s drug testing policies questioned, but it seems to have not deterred the state from it’s mission to clean up the state workforce. Only time will tell as to whether this is a cost-effective and reliable way of doing that.
ccording to the February 2012 ADP National Employment Report®, employment in the U.S. private business sector increased by 216,000 jobs in February, and this increase marks the twenty-fifth consecutive monthly gain in private employment as measured by the ADP report.
Of the 216,000 jobs added from January 2012 to February 2012, the February 2012 ADP Report found employment in the private service-providing sector rose by 170,000 jobs while employment in the private goods-producing sector increased by 46,000 jobs. Other highlights from the report include statistics on job gains in small, medium, and large businesses:
- Small businesses representing payrolls with 1 to 49 employees added 108,000 jobs from January 2012 to February 2012.
- Medium businesses representing payrolls with 50 to 499 employees added 88,000 jobs from January 2012 to February 2012.
- Large businesses representing payrolls with more than 499 employees added 20,000 jobs from January 2012 to February 2012.
Following the previous report, which stated that almost a quarter of a million jobs had been added to the US economy, this is another step in the right direction.
As is always the case – when employment levels rise, so do background checks. With more applicants being hired, there is ever-more need to ensure that those hired pose no risk to employers, current employees or the business.
If you are in need of employment screening assistance, or have any questions about the process, get in contactwith us today – we’d be happy to help.
Negligent hiring is something that happens time and time again. If you were to make a hiring mistake, it could cost you in more than in just a financial sense and you could feel the effects for years to come.
“As people and professionals, we tend to spend more time researching which cellphone to buy or which software will help grow our business than assessing a much more important concept — human behavior and talent,” said Paul Eccher, co-founder and principal of talent management organization The Vaya Group. “However, people are a company’s greatest asset and by making sound recruitment decisions, executives can drive productivity and strengthen talent.”
With that in mind, here are five tips to avoid making hiring mistakes:
During the interview, you probably do more talking than listening. Listen to what the applicants have to say – their history, their likes, dislikes, attributes and personality. You will be spending a lot of time with this person, so ensure they are the right fit.
Criminal Background Checks
One of the key areas of an applicant’s history you need to examine is whether they have a criminal past. This can provide you with an important insight into how trustworthy they are and whether they will be able to contribute positively to your company.
You should perform reference checks in two ways – personal references and professional references. It’s easy to be lazy, claim to have to much work to do or try to trust your gut instinct. But, ultimately, a mistake here can cost you significantly down the line. So take the time to do it right.
It is important for any company to determine whether the information an applicant provides during the application process is genuine by instituting a solid employment verification process.
This means verifying their previous employment claims, such as positions, timeline, successes and so on. Applicants like to embellish their work history, so this is a key area in which to decipher which applicants are being honest and which are lying.
Drug testing in the workplace should be a priority for any employer. You might think it’s an unnecessary expense, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. The money you save by not performing tests could be minimal compared to what you spend in liable cases should something go wrong.
Overall – it’s impossible to ensure that you never make a hiring mistake, but by following these steps you can make sure that the possibility of one is small. If you have any further questions about hiring decisions, get in touch today.
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