Study: Independent Workers Flourishing

Independence Day 2015 may have just passed, but here is some recently released information on the growing population of independent workers.

MBO Partners, a provider of independent contractor engagement solutions, released this data from its 2015 State of Independence in America research. The full report will be available later this year.

The topline data demonstrates that the full-time independent workforce, with close to 18 million workers earning a significant portion or all of their income outside of traditional employment, is a permanent and rapidly growing portion of the American economy. In addition to these full-time independents, there are 12.5 million “side-giggers,” who take on part-time independent work.

High-earning independent workers now represent 10% of all independents and are the fastest-growing segment. The number of independents earning $100,000 or more per year has grown 45% over the last five years, totaling 2.4 million people.

The American economy is bouncing back, but in a fundamentally different form from what it looked like pre-recession. The independent workforce, a small portion of the overall labor pool before the recession, has seen unprecedented growth, outstripping traditional employment gains and jobs report numbers despite some predictions that a recovery in the job market would lure independents back to traditional employment.

Overall, the independent workforce has recorded 12% growth, compared to 7% growth in overall employment over the last 5 years. This trend is forecasted to continue, as 4 in 5 independents plan on staying independent, and 1 in 7 non-independents plan to join that group in the coming years.

When evaluating the independent lifestyle, a majority of independents say that it was entirely their choice to go independent, and 4 in 5 say they are happier for it. Flexibility and ownership are major draws to independent work, as is earning potential. With multiple revenue streams from an average of four or more clients, 4 in 10 workers say they feel more secure working independently than in a traditional job.

Tracking five-year growth, the MBO Partners State of Independence series is based on more than 14,000 in-depth surveys of independent workers since 2011. The study evaluates the motivations, satisfaction, and demographics of those working as independent consultants, freelancers, contractors, and self-employed, temporary, or on-call workers.

 

No Easy Answers: Charting the Future of Higher Ed

higher edFor a century, Hoosiers didn’t need a college degree to make a good living. But with the manufacturing-based economy changing dramatically and giving way, in part, to the knowledge-based economy, you can’t make that case anymore.

Amid the backdrop of an increased emphasis on postsecondary education, we turn to three recognized leaders in the higher education community to discuss the current climate and what needs to happen next:

A quick survey of the college landscape reveals some obvious challenges: rising tuition, student debt and getting more students to complete their degree. The latter is the focal point for Jones and his organization.

“We know that completion rates at most colleges in the country don’t exceed 50%. So the freshman class looks very good in terms of numbers and in terms of diversity, but in the graduating class we only have about half of those students there – and we’ve lost a lot of the diversity that we set out to accomplish. So that’s a huge challenge,” he offers.

Read the rest of the BizVoice magazine article. And be sure to check out the NEW July/August edition at www.bizvoicemagazine.com.

Pay Levels for Some Risky Jobs

16456116With deference to the recently retired David Letterman, who doesn’t love a Top 10 list? Especially when the title is “The World’s 10 Most Extreme Jobs.”

This entry offers warning signs for each profession. With cave diver, for example, the cautions are: Drowning due to lack of oxygen; decompression sickness; breathing the wrong gas mixture; and improper training could be fatal.

The jobs, and salaries, associated with each:

  • Cave diver: $58,640
  • Crocodile physiologist: $62,500
  • Whitewater rafting guide: $6,675 per season
  • Skydiving instructor: $24,000
  • Mount Everest guides: $5,000 per season
  • Professional stuntman: $70,000
  • Storm chaser: $60,968
  • Venom milker: $30,000
  • Smoke jumpers: $33,000
  • Safari guide: $73,000

Check out the complete listing for descriptions and warnings.

New Grads, Perk Up Your ears

????????????????A month after earning a bachelor’s degree in English, I launched my career at the Indiana Chamber. It seems like yesterday. But … it wasn’t. I celebrated my 15-year anniversary last week.

An interesting article on CNN.com reveals the top employers for new graduates based on a survey of business students at colleges around the world.

Among the coveted employers:

The Coca-Cola Company
Is there a more recognizable, more iconic American brand than Coca-Cola? That’s what draws young people to work for the company – the chance to work on products that they’ve been around, enjoyed and seen millions of advertisements for their whole lives.

L’Oreal
It’s no wonder that working for one of the world’s biggest beauty brands is attractive to young workers. With Kiehls, Maybelline, Urban Decay and Clarisonic under its umbrella, employees can have many different jobs with various brands while still staying within the company.

Plus, there are some great benefits, like flexible work options, paternity leave, adoption assistance and 13 weeks of paid maternity leave, among others. And yes, employees receive discounts on products.

Nestle
Sure, getting to work for a company responsible for some of the most famous chocolate brands sounds delicious. Even more appealing for young workers is the company’s policy of promoting people from within. In fact, 80% of positions within Nestle are filled by current employees, according to the company.

State Rolls Out New Employer Benefit Link Program

Are you a small employer that does not offer health insurance but would like to do so? Are you an employer that offers a health insurance plan to your employees but you may have employees who do not participate because they deem it unaffordable? If so, then you may find the state’s new Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) Employer Benefit Link to be a program of some interest to you.

HIP was expanded to provide health coverage to eligible Hoosiers that are at income levels up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which is $16,436 per year for an individual or $33,865 for a family of four. The HIP Link is a new state program that offers premium assistance for eligible (age 21) participants who choose to enroll in their employers’ sponsored health plan.

The Governor and his staff recently unveiled the program. It is their hope to enroll more Indiana residents in employer sponsored health plans.

The basics: HIP Link employers may be able to enroll more of their employees into their employer-sponsored plans. This may help some employers meet health plan participation requirements. Employers must agree to employ Indiana residents and contribute at least 50% to the premium cost of their employer -ponsored plan.

Plans must meet the federal Affordable Care Act minimum benefit and cost requirements. Who qualifies and for what: Large, small and self-insured businesses with a federal employee identification number (FEIN) that have at least one employee who is an Indiana resident may be eligible. The employer becomes a HIP Link employer by filling out an application online. Employers will need to provide a summary of benefits and coverage. Dental and vision benefits must be included if offered.

How it works: The employer deducts from the employee’s pay the cost or premium charged to the employee for the group health insurance according to the employer’s normal procedures. Each month the state will reimburse the employee directly for the amount of the deduction (minus any employee contribution to the POWER account). Each employee participating in the program will be given a HIP Link personal wellness and responsibility account (POWER) funded with $4,000. This account is used to pay premiums and other medical expenses charged to the employee up to $4,000 per year. The plan promotes personal ownership by requiring participants to contribute a portion of their income (about 2%) to their health coverage. Family members may be eligible under the plan.

Approval process: The application for HIP Link is available at HIP.IN.gov. Once the employer is approved, an employer ID will be assigned and employees may then enroll in the program. There are no costs associated with enrollment. On a monthly basis, the HIP Link employer will be prompted to confirm through the portal that employees enrolled in HIP Link are still employed and eligible for health insurance coverage. On an annual basis, employers will confirm benefits or premiums for the new benefit period.

More information is available at www.hip.in.gov.

VIDEO: A Look at the Latest Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar discusses the latest Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card, which was just released this month.

The state’s highlights include improved reading and math test scores for fourth and eighth graders, progress toward a long-term water resources plan and promising research and development rankings. Struggles continue with postsecondary credentials and a dearth of entrepreneurial activity.

See the full report card.

State Board of Education — New and Improved?

The revamped Indiana State Board of Education met on June 1 with very little fanfare or drama compared to previous board meetings. The new board follows the passage of SEA 1, authored by Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle), which required a change in
the composition as well as a reconstitution of the board.

While the Indiana Chamber was happy for a productive meeting in June, only time will tell if this cooperation will last long term with a majority of the board members being appointed by the Governor and with Superintendent Glenda Ritz’s recent announcement to run against Gov. Pence in 2016. They have very different philosophies when it comes to education policy.

As a reminder, the Indiana Chamber publicly supported the House version of the legislation that simply allowed the State Board to elect its own chair, HB 1609 authored by Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville). We felt this was the most simple and straightforward way to fix the problems that had been occurring with the State Board over the past two years. However, the Senate version of the bill was the vehicle chosen to move through the legislative process so we worked diligently to make sure the bill was in the best shape possible.

The legislation, signed into law by Gov. Pence on May 7, included a 2017 implementation date for electing a new chair of the State Board, the creation of a vice chair of the board that shares agenda-setting responsibilities with the chair (which we expect to be elected during the July board meeting) and changed the makeup of the board itself. The Governor’s appointees decreased from 10 to eight, with two legislative appointees added – one by the Speaker of the House and one from the President Pro Tempore.

Gov. Pence reappointed the following three new members to the State Board:

  • Eddie Melton – a resident of Merrillville (First District), Melton works as manager of federal governmental relations and community relations at NIPSCO. He was also appointed by the Governor to serve on the Commission on the Social Status of Black Males and serves as the Midwest regional director on the American Association of Blacks in Energy.
  • Dr. Vince Bertram – a resident of Zionsville (Fifth District), Bertram serves as president and CEO of Project Lead The Way, the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs serving more than 6,500 elementary, middle and high schools across the country. Bertram is the former superintendent of the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation and was appointed by the U.S. State Department to be the STEM education expert for the United States Speaker and Specialist Program. Bertram also serves on the Indiana Chamber’s K-12 policy committee.
  • Lee Ann Kwiatkowski – a resident of Greenwood (Ninth District), Kwiatkowski currently serves as superintendent for school improvement at the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township in Indianapolis. She is also a former staffer at the Indiana Department of Education where she served in such roles as director of school turnaround, director of differentiated learning and director of the Title I
    program.

The reappointed members of the State Board include:

  • Dr. David Freitas – a resident of Granger (Second District) and has served in higher education for over 30 years including time spent as a university vice provost, dean of education at four universities and dean of the schools of business, fine arts and technology.
  • Cari Wicker – a resident of Uniondale (Third District) and a sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher at Riverview Middle School in Huntington.
  • Sarah O’Brien – a resident of Avon (Fourth District) and a fourth-grade teacher at River Birch Elementary School.
  • Gordon Hendry – a resident of Indianapolis (Seventh District) who serves as first vice president of CBRE, Inc.
  • BJ Watts – a resident of Evansville (Eighth District) who teaches in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation.

The Governor did not re-appoint Tony Walker, Troy Albert or Brad Oliver, while members Andrea Neal and Dan Elsener (the Indiana Chamber’s current chair of the K-12 policy committee) requested that they not be considered for reappointment.

Speaker of the House Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) appointed Dr. Byron Earnest to the board. Earnest was Indiana’s 2010 Teacher of the Year, is the current head of schools for Hoosier Academies and is the former principal for Manual High School in IPS. President Pro Tempore David Long (R-Fort Wayne) appointed Steve Yager of Fort Wayne, who is the former superintendent of Southwest and Northwest Allen County Schools.

A Look at Indiana State Budget Estimates

19145168The monthly revenue estimates referenced in connection with Indiana’s state budget and commonly used to evaluate how Indiana is doing can be confusing because they change periodically and result in different baselines. First, there are the estimates on which the budget is formed – those established by the revenue forecasters in mid-April each year that a two-year budget is put together by the Legislature. And then there are the most recent revised estimates – updated by the forecasters each December.

If you look closely enough at the reports from the budget agency each month, you can discern the differences. Appropriately, the budget agency compares the actual monthly collections to the most recent updated estimate. But if you go beyond their summary, commentary and main chart you can find out how the monthly revenues compare to the original numbers on which the budget was formed.

Since we are now into the last month of fiscal year 2015 and the last month of our current two-year budget that was written in April of 2013, it seems a good time to look at just how well those forecasters did. While the numbers fluctuate considerably from month to month, with 11 of 12 months actual collections known, they are off by less than 1% (just .8 of a percent.) They projected collections of $13,152,600,000 and actual year to date collections were $13,042,800,000. They were off by $109.8 million, or eight-tenths of a percent, statistically as good as anyone can reasonably expect. In fact, it is pretty extraordinary and the forecasters are to be commended for such accurate work. Good, reliable projections are important to the fiscal integrity of our state.

And our fiscal picture doesn’t look bad at all right now. The collections now stand at $211.3 million or 1.6% above the revised/updated projections (those made in April of this year.) But it is not the estimates that are the real indicator of how the state is doing. It is a comparison of actual year-to-date collections that show actual growth. Those same monthly reports also show how the current fiscal year-to-date collections compare to the actual collections through the same period of the prior fiscal year. With the fiscal year nearly complete, Indiana is 3.6% above the prior fiscal year collections. And most encouraging is the 4.4% year-to-date growth in sales tax (our biggest revenue stream) and the 6.9% growth in individual income tax (the next biggest).

Boiling all this down there are two points: (1) the state forecasters do a great job, and 2) the present fiscal picture of the state looks good.

Ag Strength – By the Numbers

agThere’s no doubting the continued strength of Indiana’s agricultural industry (see the state fact sheet). We’ve told the stories often in BizVoice magazine – and will do so in the upcoming July-August issue (with a look at the prominence of ag businesses in Kosciusko County).

But according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, Indiana did not rank in the top three exporters by state of various products. There are some interesting states and dollar figures included (selected examples):

  • Soybeans: Illinois ($3.1 billion), Iowa ($2.7 billion) and Minnesota ($1.8 billion)
  • Corn: The same three states as soybeans, with Iowa leading the way at $1.1 billion
  • Wheat: Kansas ($1.5 billion), North Dakota and Montana
  • Pork: Iowa ($2 billion), North Carolina and Minnesota
  • Beef: Nebraska ($946 million), Texas and Kansas
  • Dairy; California ($1.2 billion), Wisconsin and New York
  • Poultry: Georgia, North Carolina and Arkansas
  • Fresh fruit: California ($2.5 billion), Florida ($3.2 billion) and Washington