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Ups & downs of work

Carol Kleiman (Chicago Tribune) -- Here's some helpful information about increases, decreases and other fluctuations in the world of work.

Who hires more women? Women business owners have staffs made up on average of 52 percent women and 48 percent men, reports the National Foundations for Women Business Owners, based in Washington. But men who own businesses hire only 38 percent women and 62 percent men -- which means women are better at being equal-opportunity employers.

More social work jobs: "There's a buzz in the social-work world that the job market is booming and salaries are moving steadily upward," writes John V. O'Neill in NASW News, the newsletter of the National Association of Social Workers in Washington.

Job opportunities "abound" throughout the United States, and in California, the market actually is "sizzling," with some 1,000 child-welfare vacancies in Los Angeles alone.

Increased interest in paid leave: The National Partnership for Women & Families, a nonprofit group based in Washington, says its campaign for paid family leave shows that "the problem of unpaid leave is becoming a top priority" at the state level.

"Between June 1999 and July 2000, the number of states with family-leave benefit proposals doubled to 18 from nine.

"And five states -- Illinois, California, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New York -- have already passed legislation requiring studies of various program models and funding sources," the organization says.

That's good news for U.S. families.

More physician assistant students: Enrollment in programs is on the increase for those studying to be physician assistants, the licensed health professionals who work under the supervision of a physician.

The Association of Physician Assistant Program in Alexandria, Va., reports that there were 4,584 first-year students in 1999, an increase of 649 from 1998. There are 123 accredited programs nationwide.

And something else is moving upward: Salaries for new graduates averaged $54,761 annually, a 4 percent increase.

More competition: "The more intense the competition to offer better products and services, the greater the demand for people with insights and ideas about how to do so," writes Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor in his provocative book, "The Future of Success" (Knopf, $26).

Demand is "pushing upward" salaries for these creative people, Reich says, but at the same time, salaries for those doing routine work that can be done by computers, are heading downward.

(c) 2001 Chicago Tribune

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