Wisconsin jobs and unemployment up in latest federal monthly report

Wisconsin added 12,100 jobs in February but saw its unemployment rate rise, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The data, part of the Current Employment Statistics report, showed Wisconsin with a statistically significant gain of 0.2 percent in employment between January and February.

Regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in February. Twenty-two states had unemployment rate decreases, 12 states had increases, and 16 states and the District of Columbia had no change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia had unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, 10 states had increases, and 3 states had no change. The national jobless rate, 7.7 percent, edged down from January and was 0.6 percentage point lower than in February 2012.

Since Gov. Scott Walker took office in January 2011, the state has added 64,500 jobs, according to the seasonally adjusted federal numbers. The number has been widely tracked since Walker's election because of his campaign pledge to bring 250,000 new jobs to the state.

Wisconsin was one of two states with a statistically significant jump in unemployment rate for February, up 0.2 percent from January to 7.2 percent. Between January and February, unemployment was up 6,500 to 218,700 while the labor force was up 6,400 to 3,057,100.

Illinois was the other state with a significant jump in unemployment rate, up 0.5 percent from January to 9.5 percent. The national unemployment rate for February was 7.7 percent.

That report comes on the heels of one Thursday that showed Wisconsin was 44th nationally in job creation for the private sector and that its average weekly wages fell 2.65 percent between September 2011 and September 2012.

Those numbers were based on the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which is a survey of around 96 percent of nonfarm employers. The Current Employment Statistics report, in contrast, reflects a survey of a small percentage of employers.

Why Student Travel can Help Bring Academic Subjects to Life


Experiencing a subject beyond the confines of the lecture theatre can help to bring it alive which means that university and college travel is an important part of the learning experience.

Whatever subject they're studying, students can see a boost in their learning by experiencing the subject matter at first hand away from the academic environment. An educational trip can help them see things in a different light and provide valuable practical learning that will show real benefits later in their course.

How Travel Can Aid Popular Subject Areas

Student travel tours have benefits for a wide selection of subject areas from art and design through business and history to zoology, a complete A-Z of academic subjects. Many courses benefit from the opportunity to examine their subject matter at first hand. For architecture and planning students for example it's invaluable to see how buildings fit into their environment. Cities like London demonstrate a mix of new and old often in close proximity.

Student travel tours to German cities help show how they've recovered, rebuilt and reinvented themselves in the aftermath of World War II whilst still retaining links to their heritage. Or how about Dubai? With its rapid growth and striking modern structures it's a vibrant example of architecture at work.

You might think that business and economics students destined for a life in offices wouldn't benefit so much from travel. In fact the opposite is true and there are plenty of opportunities to see business environments in operation. Even within the UK London is a global hub and visits to commodity exchanges or successful tourist attractions can help students relate to how to succeed in a fast moving commercial environment. European cities offer a similar range of experiences or further afield New York is one of the financial capitals of the world and a trip to Wall Street or the Federal Reserve is one your students won't forget.

Film and media is an increasingly popular area of study and there are plenty of opportunities for travel here too. In the UK there are major film studios and the opportunity for backstage tours of the BBC both in London and the new Media City complex in Salford. Further afield Prague has one of the oldest film schools in Europe and is still developing and encouraging new talent. Or visit Berlin which has hundreds of independent production companies and is increasingly chosen as a location by film companies from around the world. It also houses a museum of film and TV that will allow students to discover the history of their chosen industry.

There are of course many subject areas including history, law, politics, fashion, art, tourism and lots of others that can benefit from trips to experience at first hand the impact that the subject has in the real world. A well-planned visit is worth many hours of study and will help students to grasp academic concepts in a practical environment. They say that travel broadens the mind and that's never truer than in the context of studying for a degree or diploma.


Jennifer is a freelance writer and former teacher who knows the benefits that student travel tours can bring to the learning process.

UK PM Cameron plans tougher immigration crackdown

London: British Prime Minister David Cameron Monday unveiled further plans to tighten rules for foreigners in the country, even as the department in charge of tackling immigration came under severe criticism for its inability to clear backlogs of over 300,000 unresolved immigration cases.

Migrants are to lose their right to benefits after six months unless they "have a genuine chance of finding work", Cameron wrote in an article in The Sun ahead of a major speech on immigration, which also sets out steps to restrict the rights of some immigrants to social housing in the country.

Meanwhile, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) came under attack from the Home Affairs Select Committee for its inability to clear backlogs of unresolved immigration cases.

In its latest report into the immigration agency released here Monday, the committee in charge of examining the administration of the UK Home Office and its associated bodies said that for six years the UKBA had repeatedly supplied incorrect information about the size of the asylum backlog and measures supposedly being taken.

"It will take years to clear the backlog and until that backlog is cleared and no new backlogs appear, it will not be fit for purpose," warned Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee of MPs.

In specific reference to Lin Homer, the former head of the department until 2010, he added, "We are very surprised that given the background she was put in charge of this organisation."

The committee said it had been supplied incorrect data by the agency for six years, and "repeatedly misled" by Homer, now the head of the UK's Revenue and Customs department who has denied the accusations as "unfair and untrue".

The committee said in its report that the failure to trace migrants with whom officials had lost contact, whose cases were placed in a closed "controlled archive", led officials to conclude that they were not in the UK when in fact tens of thousands of them could be.

The report said that the total backlog of unresolved or disputed immigration cases in the UK was 312,726 at the end of September last year - but it was not possible to be sure if that figure was accurate.

"We have always been clear that the UK Border Agency was a troubled organisation with a poor record of delivery. Turning it around will take time but I am determined to provide the public with an immigration system they can have confidence in," immigration minister Mark Harper said.

Days after his coalition partner, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg revealed tougher new visa norms for foreigners coming into the UK, Cameron is to introduce a ban on immigrants from joining social housing waiting lists for up to five years in his own major speech.

It will also include plans to tackle the expected influx of newer European Union (EU) members.

"Currently people from the EU can get free treatment on the NHS. Under our plans, if you use our hospitals but don't pay our taxes we will go after the costs in your home country,"
Cameron wrote ahead of his speech, which will attack the previous Labour government for turning Britain into a "soft touch" country.

Employment Agency fined $30,000 for making work pass applications

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) recently took actions against the sole proprietor of Sunlight Employment Agency who submitted 16 work pass applications on behalf of an unlicensed employment agent. She was paid $200 for every successful application made and $30 for every unsuccessful application. This is the first EA to be convicted for such an offence since the revised Employment Agencies Act (EAA) came into effect in April 2011.
The 56-year-old Singaporean EA was fined $30,000 in default to one month's imprisonment. Under the EAA, it is an offence for any EA personnel of a licensee to submit a work pass application to the Controller of Work Passes on behalf of any person who has not obtained an EA licence. Those convicted face a fine not exceeding $80,000 or a jail term not exceeding two years or to both. In addition, the errant EA will have its licence revoked. An EA which has its licence revoked will also be barred from operating an EA in future.
Access to the work pass application systems is only granted to licensed EAs and employers. We are aware that some licensed EAs and employers allow unlicensed EAs to thrive by submitting work pass applications in their own name to MOM. Therefore just as employers must check if the agents they are working with are registered under licensed EAs, licensed EAs must also exercise their due diligence by checking if the persons they are working with are legitimate. This is to be done by checking the company or person’s identity against MOM’s EA Directory.
Please refer to our press release for more details.

US H-1B visa programme 'discriminates against women'

The much sought after US H-1B visa programme, particularly among Indian technology graduates, discriminates against women, a Congressional Committee was told, citing that workers coming to America under the scheme were mostly men.

"My own experience tells me that the vast majority of H-1B workers are men. Everybody knows this in the US, where outsourcing companies get more than half the capped H-1B visas, the ratio is more like 85 per cent men. That's outrageous," Karen Panetta, a senior official with the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers-USA told Senators at a Congressional hearing.

At the hearing on, "How Comprehensive Immigration Reform Should Address the Needs of Women and Families" convened by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Panetta alleged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is not providing data related to how many women were issued the H-1B visas.

"Why doesn't DHS already know exactly how many women get H-1B visas? If a major immigration programme effectively discriminated based on race or national origin, would that be okay? We urge this Committee to set aside any legislation proposing to increase H-1B visas until we have this data," she said.

"Surely you would not want to have voted substantial increases in the H-1B programme, only to discover that the data shows that not only is it mostly used by outsourcers whose business model is entirely about replacing American workers, but also that the H-1B visa programme effectively pushes women out of the STEM fields," Panetta said.

Responding to questions from Senators, Panetta said that in countries like India, some of the top graduates are women, and yet they don't get opportunities to come to the US.

"So by providing STEM-educated people with the opportunity to come to the US, men and women, we believe that that would be able to make an impact on the number of women and diversity in the workforce, which has also huge cultural work environment implications," Panetta, vice president, Communications and Public Awareness from the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers – SA said.

"So we're hoping we're not just addressing numbers, but we're changing work cultures as well," she added.

Panetta, who is also a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the Simulation Research Laboratory at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, alleged that the H1-B Visa Programme is a place where the US immigration system is broken.

"The greatest damage that the H-1B visa programme imposes on women and families clearly results from offshore outsourcing," Panetta said.

"This hurts American families, including women and children. It not only harms the many H-1B workers who want green cards themselves, it also hurts their spouses and families by holding them in immigration purgatory for years," she said.

"They are in this country, but don't have residency rights to stay here unless their employer allows him/her to stay.

This lack of permanence and uncertainty makes it difficult to build the type of life expected by all Americans and it can be especially difficult for children, many of whom are US citizens, who can't understand why their parents do not have the same rights as their neighbours," she argued.

Panetta also endorsed Microsoft's proposal from last December to pay a total of USD 25,000 in fees to take foreign STEM graduates from their student visa to green card.

"We urge that this transition be completed promptly and directly, with no need for the intermediate step of an H-1B," Panetta said.

U.S. immigration reform talks stalled by wage disputes

Washington: Senate negotiations on revamping the U.S. immigration system are stalled over wages for future low-skilled foreign workers such as construction laborers, cooks, janitors and hotel maids, sources familiar with the talks said on Friday.

Bipartisan talks aimed at producing a comprehensive immigration law - including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and a new process for controlling the flow of temporary workers - have been underway for months and were close to producing a bill. There were conflicting versions of the disagreement.

According to one source who asked not to be identified, the eight senators involved in the discussions had tentatively agreed on a plan to govern wage levels for low-skilled foreigners who would be given visas to work in the United States temporarily.

The source said Democrats presented a plan and Republicans accepted it, but when senators showed it to the AFL-CIO, the labor union federation said no.

But, according to the AFL-CIO, Democrats presented Republicans with a plan and the Republicans rejected it.

The proposal would have borrowed language on wages for temporary workers from the "H2B" visa program for temporary, seasonal workers.

That specifies that the visas will only be issued if they do not drive down the wages of those doing the same job in the United States.

Also in dispute was the inclusion of construction workers in the plan, which business wants and labor does not.

As senators tried to wrap up the complex negotiations and then leave Washington for a two-week recess, business and labor groups traded accusations.

Randel Johnson, a senior vice president of the U.S Chamber of Commerce, Washington's largest business lobby, said "unions have jeopardized the entire immigration reform effort...because of their refusal to take a responsible stance on a small temporary worker program." Organized labor had a similarly angry characterization of the status of talks.

"There is an uncomprehending level of anger. We have conceded on so many different grounds. They (Republicans) want to pave the path to citizenship with poverty," said Jeff Hauser, a spokesman with the AFL-CIO.

In the midst of the labor-business dispute, senators were still voicing optimism for getting a deal. Support from organized labor and the chamber is considered crucial to getting any immigration law through the Congress.

Finding a solution acceptable to both has always been considered the most difficult challenge by the group of four Republicans and four Democrats involved in the negotiations.

On Friday, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, one of the eight, said that while he was "guardedly optimistic" about the negotiations, "we hit bumps every five minutes."

On Thursday, another member of the group, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York, told reporters the bipartisan group would meet its end-of-month timetable for a deal.

Schumer said it would be "an agreement with a darn good chance of becoming law." While that was before negotiations between the Chamber and AFL-CIO spiraled into open warfare, a spokesman for Schumer late Friday said the senator stands by his statement.

The eight senators will continue talking during the congressional recess, according to aides.

Julia Gillard backs foreign temporary work visas 'crackdown'

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard today backed a recent crackdown on alleged abuse of foreign temporary work visas, saying that the changes in visa scheme would get the "out of control" system back on track.

Under the 457 visa scheme, Australian employers can sponsor qualified overseas workers to the fill nominated positions for up to four-years, if the vacancy cannot be filled locally.

When asked about the government's recent crackdown on alleged abuse of foreign temporary work visas, including reducing the number of applications that can be made under the scheme and requiring businesses to demonstrate a genuine skill shortage in their area of operations, Gillard said Australian workers should come first.

"We inherited from the previous government a 457 temporary foreign worker visa programme that was totally out of control, and every step of the way we have been putting in place new conditions to crack down on the rorts," Gillard said in Eastern Creek in Sydney.

"We have done that in the past and we will continue to crack down as necessary," Gillard said.

"I understand there can be legitimate skill shortages where businesses need to source labour from overseas, but I also understand that there are too many times when people have got the skills to get the job and they don't get the job," she said.

"In those circumstances I want to make sure that Australian workers are coming first," she added.

Recently, the federal government announced cracking down on overseas workers by tightening skilled worker 457 visa programme.

It was argued by the government that dubious applications for overseas worker visas were approved as rules prevented officials from investigating their suspicions.

Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor said that the scheme was misused by unscrupulous employers and predicted that it could stop thousands of foreign workers taking locals' jobs.

The changes to the 457 visa included, extra investigation powers for inspectors to get information from bosses they suspect of being dodgy and a new test to prove jobs were for "genuine" skills shortages because some employers were creating positions that were really "unskilled and possibly not even a real job". The changes in the visa also included closing loopholes that allow foreign workers to be paid less than an Australian citizen by increasing from USD 180,000 to USD 250,000 the threshold at which they must pay "market rates", stopping employers creating their own market to manipulate pay rates and raising requirements for foreign workers to speak English.

The changes further included restricting foreign workers being on-hire to a different employer in regions where there are no skill shortages and checking that employers offer training for locals to fill skills shortages before they seek foreigners.

The Australian Mines and Metals Association said the prospect of jeopardising the resources industry's contribution to the nation due to a few isolated incidents was "completely absurd".

A business can sponsor a worker for a 457 visa if they cannot find an appropriately skilled Australian citizen or permanent resident. By December, there were about 84,000 people on such visas in Australia.

O'Connor has flagged plans to tighten the system, including restricting labour hire arrangements and ensuring the Department of Immigration and Citizenship can crack down on rorts by ensuring that employers provide the information necessary during the application process.

US immigration: Give Green Card to STEM students, say lawmakers

American experts today called for giving Green Card for science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) students, eliminating country-specific caps and recapture unused visas to spur economic growth and create new jobs in the country.

Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement of the House Judiciary Committee, Bruce A Morrison, of the Morrison Public Affairs Group, argued for making green card a convenient route for sponsoring employers and eliminate the need to rely on the H-1B status for a long period, if at all.

Morrison recommended creating a category for advance degree STEM graduates from high quality American universities and move them out from the green card caps.

Considering imposing fees on their immigrant petitions to fund STEM education for Americans, Morrison among other things called for eliminating per-country limit on employment-based visas, recognising that the biggest talent pools come from the biggest countries in the world - India and China and that the US wants talented innovators regardless of their home country.

"Create incentives for employers to petition for green cards at the beginning of the employment of skilled foreign- born employees, rather than keeping them in temporary status for most of a decade," he said.

Dean Garfield, president, IT Industry Council, said it is time the US upgrades its skilled immigration system to serve national interest, and anticipate and meet the demands of the US economy - now and in the future.

"Reform must help fill the tens of thousands of skilled job openings that exist today, while accelerating new jobs for and new knowledge-driven businesses," he said.

"The realities of our global economy require that we have a system that provides sufficient green cards and H-1B visas to fill and create jobs, and to maximize work performed in the United States," he urged the lawmakers.

Garfield said the H-1B and other non-immigrant professional visas are necessary to maximize work in the US, particularly work that advances the US as a hub for innovation.

Testifying before the lawmakers on 'Enhancing American Competitiveness through Skilled Immigration' hearing, Benjamin Johnson, executive director, American Immigration Council, called for more flexibility in the US immigration system.

Noting that many other countries around the world have already updated their immigration policies to attract high- skilled workers who are now choosing other destinations when they encounter barriers for US migration, he said to remain globally competitive, the US must embrace the opportunities brought by high-skilled immigrant students, workers, and entrepreneurs.

Migrants and housing in the UK

This briefing reviews the statistical and research evidence on migrants’ experiences in and impacts on the UK housing system.

Key Points

  • The foreign-born population has significantly lower ownership rates (44% were homeowners in 2011) than the UK-born (70%).
  • The foreign-born population is three times as likely to be in the private rental sector (37% were in this sector in 2011), compared to the UK-born (13%).
  • Recent migrants (i.e. those who have been in the UK for five years or less) are more than twice as likely to be renters (76% were in the private rental sector in 2011), compared to other migrants. Those migrants who have been in the UK longer tend to have accommodation similar to that of the UK-born.
  • UK-born individuals and foreign-born individuals have similar levels of participation in social housing (about 17% of UK-born individuals and 18% of foreign-born individuals were in social housing during 2011). 
  • A foreign citizen was reported as the household reference person in less than 10% of all new general needs social housing lettings with available information.
  • There is little systematic evidence on the impact of immigration on house prices and rents in the UK. Some evidence suggests that the housing shortage in the UK would continue even with zero net-migration. FULL article

Call for relaxation of UK visa rules

Vince Cable has been a long-standing critic of the government's immigration policies in view of the economic benefits associated with foreigners from countries including Asia.

"Their growth is essential to job creation and national economic recovery, as is the emergence of a new generation of Asian entrepreneurs," the Liberal Democrat minister said during the launch here yesterday of the National Asian Business Association, a new coalition of regional British Asian business groups.

There are around 50,000 British Asian businesses in the UK, with the Tata Group leading the charge as one of the country's largest manufacturers and employers in the sector.

Referring to British Asians as "probably the most entrepreneurial section of the British public", Cable said: "We want inward investment and the technology that goes with it."

The Lib Dem leader, part of the country's Tory-led coalition government, has often turned the spotlight on "irrational" immigration policies that may be blocking talent from the country.

He has also previously attacked the government's decision to include overseas students in the UK's net annual migration target, which he feels puts bright students off applying to British universities.

Cable's comments come in the wake of recent Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures indicating a drop in the number of Indians coming to the UK to work and study.

The ONS data showed that the number of visas issued to Indians dipped by 18,365, a fall of 19 per cent, between 2011 and 2012. Asians accounted for 273,927 (54 per cent) of the 507,701 visas issued in 2012, with India and China each accounting for 15 per cent of the total.

The ONS also registered an overall drop in net migration to the UK by a third in 2011-12, including a 42,000 fall in the number of international students.

Home Secretary Theresa May, however, ruled out any changes to the net immigration cap to exclude overseas students, days after Prime Minister David Cameron pegged his message around the UK being open to unlimited number of Indian students during a high-profile visit to the country.

The Home Office points to latest figures by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), which indicates a rise in student applications from India.

"The latest UCAS figures show applications from Indian students are up 19 per cent year on year. Indian nationals still account for nearly 10 per cent of students coming to the UK from outside of Europe second only to China," a UKBA spokesperson said.

Social Science: What kind of careers can I pursue with my program/major?

A frequent question among Social Science students is “What can I do with my degree?” While many students expect that there are a very limited number of career options, the reality is that what you decide to do after graduation is not necessarily dictated by your program/major.

There are some careers that have gated entry points and require specific educational requirements. For example, if you wish to become a Chartered Accountant, there a number of accounting courses you will need to complete and exams to pass. However, with most areas of study you will acquire a broad range of skills that easily translate into a multitude of careers.

Making the transition from University to career is a process that may involve many steps. Each person’s experience and level of need is very individual and there are multiple resources to assist you in making good decisions.

For more on careers that are related to your area of study check out our “What can I do with my studies in…” below. The careers listed are a small sample developed to aid students in their career exploration and development. The sheets are not all encompassing and do not include peripheral careers. Research show most student end up employed in areas outside of their academic area of study and these lists should not be considered absolute.

“What can I do with my studies in…”
'What can I do with my studies in…?’ information sheets have been developed for UWO students and alumni. The information has been gathered through researching various universities, related associations and the many departments within the Faculty of Social Science at UWO.

The Fiscal Impact of Immigration in the UK

This briefing explores the conceptual and methodological issues related to estimating the fiscal impact of immigration and provides an overview of the existing estimates for the UK and other countries.

Key Points

  • The net fiscal impact of immigration is typically estimated as the difference between the taxes and other contributions migrants make to public finances and the costs of the public benefits and services they receive. This impact depends on the characteristics of migrants, their impacts on the labour market and the characteristics and rules of the welfare system, among other factors.
  • In theory, migrants who are young, skilled and doing highly-paid jobs are likely to make a more positive net fiscal contribution than those with low skills and low labour market participation rates.
  • For the UK (and most other countries), the majority of studies conclude that the overall net fiscal impact of immigration is positive but small. However, results are subject to key assumptions such as the allocation of dependent UK-born children of mixed parents (i.e. a UK-born and foreign-born parent) to the UK-born or migrant group and to the sectors that are taken into consideration.
  • The evidence suggests that in the four fiscal years following EU enlargement in 2004, migrants from the A8 countries made a positive contribution to public finance in the UK. While A8 migrants work mostly in lower wage occupations, they tend to have high labour force participation rates and employment rates.
  • Immigration may, in the short term, help decrease the dependency ratio – the ratio of those not in the labour force (the dependent group) and those in the labour force. However, this effect is likely to diminish over time as migrants who stay in the UK will become older and retire.