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Survey Shows Funded Status of Pension Plans has Dropped

According to a recent analysis released by Mercer L.L.C. of New York, the funded status of pension plans that are sponsored by employers has dropped for the second year in a row. The survey showed that on average, pension plans that are sponsored by companies in the S&P 1500 were 75 percent funded at the end of 2011. That number is down from year end 2010 (when plans were an average of 81 percent funded) and even 2009 (when plans were about 84 percent funded on average). As of December 31, 2011, the plans’ funding deficit hit $484 billion. This is up from $315 billion in 2012 and $229 billion as of December 31, 2009. Damage to funding levels would have been even greater this past year if it wasn’t for the almost $50 billion in contributions companies disclosed they expected to make to their plans. Funding levels were extremely volatile during 2011. Mercer executives believe the decrease in plans’ funding status was fueled largely by the decline in interest rates—which pushed up ...

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Recent Survey Shows Minor Increase in Full-Time Hiring

A recent survey done each year by CareerBuilder found 23 percent of employers plan to hire full-time, permanent workers this year. The number of companies who plan to hire new workers has not changed much over the last two years—with 24 percent in 2011 and 20 percent back in 2010. Career Builder’s annual job forecast also found 59 percent of companies anticipate no changes regarding number of staff and 11 percent report being unsure if there will be any changes. Seven percent of companies report plans to decrease its number of employees. This is the same percentage from 2011 and came in at nine percent back in 2010. The survey also outlined some trends you should be on the lookout for this year: Pay is expected to get more competitive for skilled positions. Sixty-two percent of companies plan to increase compensation for current employees and 32 percent will begin offering higher beginning salaries for new hires. Largest compensation increases are related to revenue generation (such as ...

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Study Shows Health Care Changes will Impact Medical Malpractice Insurance

According to a new analysis by New-York based Moody’s Investors Service, changes in the delivery of health care as a whole will force changes in the marketplace. Expected changes will include a continued shift from doctors practicing alone or in small groups and instead practicing in multi-specialty and multi-state physician networks or doctors working in practices that are purchased and operated by hospitals and regional health care organizations that are integrated. The study also found the changing U.S. health care delivery system means opportunities and challenges for medical professional liability insurers. According to “U.S. Medical Professional Liability Insurance: A Specialty P&C Insurance Sector Tied Closely to the Structure of Healthcare Delivery,” the medical professional liability insurance market is “highly fragmented” with its more than 200 insurers. In fact, Moody’s analysis found the five largest insurers only make up about 30 percent of the market. M ...

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Small Business Payrolls Increase 55,000

This past December, small businesses reportedly created 55,000 positions. They also increased working hours for employees. Labor experts say this is proof the job market is strengthening and showing signs of improvement. This theory is further evidenced by the fact that in November, the unemployment rate dropped to a two-and-a-half year low of 8.6 percent. First-time applications for state unemployment benefits are also near three and-a-half year lows. December’s increase compared to November’s revised count of 70,000 by payroll company Intuit. The revision of November’s small business payrolls suggests the government’s non-farm employment count from that money could be increased from 120,000. According to a survey by Reuters, December non-farm payrolls are expected to increase 150,000, with the unemployment rate inching up to 8.7 percent. According to Intuit, workers at small companies also saw more money in their paychecks last month. The Conference Board’s monthly &ldq ...

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Unemployment Benefits at Lowest Level in over Three Years

Believe it or not, the number of people looking for unemployment benefits is at the lowest level in more than three years. The government is expected to report that applications for unemployment fell even further during the last week of 2011. According to a survey by FactSet, economists are forecasting that weekly applications dropped by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 375,000. Here is some other interesting information about recent unemployment benefit numbers: Unemployment benefit applications increased in the previous week for the first-time in a month. The four week average has declined for the fourth week in a row to 375,000. This represents the lowest level since the middle of 2008. It’s also 11 percent lower than the same time one year ago. When applications for unemployment benefits drop below 375,000 consistently, this is generally a sign that hiring is strong enough to reduce the unemployment rate.  Even though layoffs at companies have fallen tremendously since the rece ...

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