Business & Economy
Iowa Management Positions Most Plentiful On-Line PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Cara Eccleston   
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 12:28

Iowa’s Q4 AIM Work Force Index Nation’s Eighth Best:

Q4 Summary

  • Iowa’s WFI ranked 8th best in the nation for the fourth quarter, 2014.
  • Iowa’s job market, based on online openings, is healthy.
  • In absolute numbers, the greatest numbers of online job openings were in Management, followed by Sales and next Customer Services positions.
  • As a percent of employment, the largest numbers of online openings were in Finance, Engineering, and then Information Technology positions.

Iowa WFI. AIM’s quarter IV Work Force Index (WFI) was a very strong 79.2 which was down slightly from 82.9 for quarter III. The WFI is a statistically based measurement tool produced by AIM, a not-for-profit organization in Des Moines, Iowa. The Index is a ratio of unique online job postings and the number of unemployed in Iowa (not seasonally adjusted). The Index ranges between 0 and 100. A WFI below 50.0 indicates short-term job contraction while an Index above 50.0 indicates job expansion. At 79.2, Iowa’s WFI is in a range indicating healthy on-line job openings.

On-Line Openings. For quarter IV, online job postings listed the largest number of open positions in absolute numbers in 1) Management, followed by 2) Sales, and 3) Customer Services positions. As a share of employment, the largest numbers of job openings in descending order were in: 1) Finance, 2) Engineering, and 3) Information Technology.

State Rankings. In terms of Work Force Indices among the states, North Dakota ranked number one with the highest WFI. North Dakota was followed by Minnesota at number two, Nebraska at three, Kansas at four, and Delaware at five. The state with the lowest index was Maine, followed by California at 49, and Alaska at 48. Rounding out the bottom five states were New York at 47 and Mississippi at 46. Iowa ranked as the 8 best in the nation for fourth quarter of 2014 which was a slight deterioration from its third quarter ranking of 5th.

Gov. Bruce Rauner Eliminates Unfair Share Dues for Government Employees PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Catherine Kelly   
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 12:11

SPRINGFIELD - Governor Bruce Rauner today signed Executive Order 15-13 eliminating unfair share dues for state employees who do not wish to fund government union activities and positions with which they may disagree.

The governor’s actions come after an extensive legal review of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Harris v. Quinn. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act violated the First Amendment by forcing certain state employees to involuntarily pay fees to a labor union.

In light of that decision, the Rauner administration has concluded that the so-called “fair share” provisions of the current collective bargaining agreements, that are similar to those invalidated by the Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn, are also unconstitutional.

“Forced union dues are a critical cog in the corrupt bargain that is crushing taxpayers. Government union bargaining and government union political activity are inexorably linked,” Governor Rauner said. “An employee who is forced to pay unfair share dues is being forced to fund political activity with which they disagree. That is a clear violation of First Amendment rights – and something that, as governor, I am duty-bound to correct.”

The executive order allows state employees who wish not to support government unions’ activities to stop paying the forced fees. It has no impact on those employees who wish to remain paying members of the union and fund union activities out of their paychecks.

Additional Background:

·         The federal government prohibited the forced collection of union dues in 1978 as part of the Civil Service Reform Act signed by President Jimmy Carter. That law passed the U.S. Senate 87-1 and the U.S. House of Representatives 365-8. Illinois Senator Charles Percy was one of the co-sponsors.

·         29 other states have laws that prohibit government entities from forcing public workers join or financially support labor organizations that they do not support.

·         While Harris v. Quinn only decided the constitutional issue as it relates to a subset of Illinois state employees (home care workers), the Supreme Court’s majority opinion found that much of the landmark case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education was ”questionable on several grounds.”

·         Notably, the Supreme Court said in Harris v. Quinn:


o   “Abood failed to appreciate the conceptual difficulty of distinguishing in public-sector cases between union expenditures that are made for collective-bargaining purposes and those that are made to achieve political ends. In the private sector, the line is easier to see. Collective bargaining concerns the union's dealings with the employer; political advocacy and lobbying are directed at the government. But in the public sector, both collective-bargaining and political advocacy and lobbying are directed at the government.”

o   “Abood failed to appreciate the difference between the core union speech involuntarily subsidized by dissenting public-sector employees and the core union speech involuntarily funded by their counterparts in the private sector. In the public sector, core issues such as wages, pensions, and benefits are important political issues, but that is generally not so in the private sector. In the years since Abood, as state and local expenditures on employee wages and benefits have mushroomed, the importance of the difference between bargaining in the public and private sectors has been driven home.”

§  “Recent experience has borne out this concern. See DiSalvo, The Trouble with Public Sector Unions, National Affairs No. 5, p. 15 (2010) ( ‘In Illinois, for example, public-sector unions have helped create a situation in which the state's pension funds report a liability of more than $100 billion, at least 50% of it unfunded’).”

o   “A union's status as exclusive bargaining agent and the right to collect an agency fee from non-members are not inextricably linked. For example, employees in some federal agencies may choose a union to serve as the exclusive bargaining agent for the unit, but no employee is required to join the union or to pay any union fee. Under federal law, in agencies in which unionization is permitted, 'each employee shall have the right to form, join, or assist any labor organization, or to refrain from any such activity, freely and without fear of penalty or reprisal, and each employee shall be protected in the exercise of such right.’”


Outstanding Debt Obligations Increase a Modest 1.7% PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Karen Austin   
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 11:48

Lowest annual percentage increase since the turn of the century

DES MOINES, IA (02/09/2015)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald reports that outstanding debt obligations for state and local governments in Iowa totaled just over $15 billion as of June 30, 2014. Overall, this represents an increase of 1.7% over last year. All political subdivisions, instrumentalities and agencies of the state are required to disclose outstanding long-term obligations, including bonds, notes, capital leases and loans, annually to the state treasurer. "While debt nearly doubled in the last decade, this is the lowest annual percentage increase reported since the turn of the century," Fitzgerald explained. "We see the greatest increases in debt issued by education-related entities such as schools, the Board of Regents and community colleges."

Education-related debt comprises over 38% of the total debt (public schools 23%, Board of Regents 11% and community colleges 4%). Debt issued by schools increased 8.49%, Board of Regents 7.11% and community colleges 6.86% over last year. A majority of the $5.8 billion debt incurred by school districts and AEAs is for construction or renovation projects. "In some areas, we see new schools being built, while in other areas we see old infrastructure being improved," Fitzgerald stated. "The fact that communities come together to better their schools is a reflection of the importance of education in Iowa."

Cities report 35% of all outstanding debt, with five cities (Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Coralville, Sioux City and Davenport) holding over 30% of the $5.3 billion reported.

Iowa counties report $859 million in debt with Polk County reporting nearly 30% of the total. Other entities with outstanding debt issues include state authorities with $2.1 billion and state agencies with $924 million. Counties, state authorities and agencies all decreased their debt in the last year.

"While the overall debt increase in Iowa is moderate, we make this information available to all Iowans by county so they can see the total debt and changes over the years in their own communities," Fitzgerald stated. Visit the state treasurer's office at and click 'Outstanding Obligation Report' under the 'For Governments' tab to view the report and additional information by a specific reporting entity.

Dirty Little Secrets Of Family Business PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 10 February 2015 11:26
Passing Leadership Role To Next Generation Is Tricky If Path Not Carefully Planned

After years of hard work, you’ve built the family business into a great success and you take pride in meeting the challenges that each day brings.

At some point, though, the day arrives when it’s time to turn the reins over to the next generation.

That can be an exciting moment or an anxiety-ridden one, depending on what has gone on before to prepare for the momentous occasion.

“Laying the path to a successful family-business transition requires a bit of threading the needle,” says Henry Hutcheson, author of the book “Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business” (

“On the one hand you don’t want to paint an overly rosy picture to the next generation. That could create a sense of entitlement and the false perception that running a business is easy and all you need to do is count the money and show up every now and then to check on things.”

At the same time, he says, if you put too much emphasis on the difficulties of running a business and the stresses that come with it, your sons and daughters might not clamor to be first in line to take over.

Ideally, it’s best to think ahead and start grooming the next generation long in advance, Hutcheson says. Give them summer jobs while they are in high school and college so they can start testing their abilities.

When they join the family business full time, find initiatives for them to work on that involve group dynamics. But also hand them individual projects where they hold sole responsibility for the results.

“It’s critical when you are selecting the next leader to realize that it’s not all about who will lead,” Hutcheson says. “It is also about ensuring that those who are not selected are in support of the decision and can work as a team with the new leader.”

Hutcheson says there are four key ingredients to developing the right person to take over the family business.

•  Independence. Next generation leaders must have confidence in themselves, their thoughts and their beliefs. “Much of this can be developed while working in the family business by constructing and leading significant projects,” Hutcheson says. But one shortcut to accomplish this is to work for some other company early on. Many multi-generation family businesses like to make that a requirement for family members.

•  Competence. This is more than just being able to do the work. It means developing bottom-up experience. Not just being the accountant, but being able to reconcile the accounts and perform the journal entries. Not just being sales and marketing manager, but having been on a quota and worked the trade shows. Experience doing some of the day-to-day grunt work can pay dividends down the line.

•  People skills. “It’s not enough to just be smart and confident,” Hutcheson says. “You need to be able to work with people.” He notes that in the book “Emotional Intelligence,” Daniel Coleman outlines two studies that measured the success of a batch of high school valedictorians and Harvard graduates. Those who were able to perceive the emotional state of others and react to it appropriately proved to be the most successful.

•  No special privileges. The person in line to take over the family business needs to be willing to show up to work on time, stay late, take on special projects and be measured by the same metrics as everyone else. “This will show that you are part of the team and that you want to be judged on the merits of your work, not your bloodline,” Hutcheson says. It will also help the next generation gain the respect of co-workers.

About Henry Hutcheson

Henry Hutcheson is president of Family Business USA and specializes in helping family and privately held businesses successfully manage transition, maintain harmony, and improve operations. His newest book is “Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business: How to Successfully Navigate Family Business Conflict and Transition” ( He’s also quoted in “Kids, Wealth, and Consequences” and “Sink or Swim: How Lessons from the Titanic Can Save Your Family Business.” Hutcheson grew up working for his family’s business, Olan Mills Portrait Studios. He studied psychology and has an MBA from Columbia Business School, and is a popular speaker at professional, university and corporate-sponsored events.

5 Tax-Saving Strategies To Help Your Family This Tax Season PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 06 February 2015 14:38
Overlooked Deductions May Cost You Thousands

Millions of Americans face a challenge in meeting their budgets every month – not just financially, but also in their time budgets, says investment advisor Reid Abedeen.

“Knowledge is power and time is often money, but what if you don’t have the time to empower yourself with knowledge? For many households, that often means losing out on thousands of dollars through tax deductions,” says Abedeen, a partner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group, LLC (

“As a family man myself, I understand what it means to work hard to provide the best possible for my wife and children. Had I not worked in the financial sector for almost two decades, I might not have understood how to best troubleshoot my tax return, I sympathize.”

Abedeen offers the following strategies that may be relevant for your family this tax season.

•  Take tax deductions for capital loss. If your capital losses exceed your capital gains, the excess can be deducted on your tax return and used to reduce other income, such as wages, up to an annual limit of $3,000, or $1,500 if you are married filing separately. However, you may deduct capital losses only on investment property, not on property held for personal use.

•  Fund your retirement to the max. You can contribute up to $5,500 to an IRA in tax-year 2014, or $6,500 if you are age 50 or older. Workers in the 25 percent tax bracket who contributed $5,500 to an IRA would save $1,375 on their 2014 tax bills. You’ll want to check your eligibility and understand the deadline for the 2014 deduction. If you make a deposit between Jan. 1 and April 15, you need to tell the financial institution which year the contribution is for.

•  Advisory fees are tax-deductible. Don’t feel like spending money to save and make money? There’s a workaround. Before closing the door on the possibility, inquire with a financial expert. Most are happy to give a free initial consultation, and you don’t have to be a millionaire to make it worth your while.

•  Gift assets to children. You don’t even have to file a gift tax return on an asset that’s valued less than $12,000, which is not taxable. If the fair market value of the gifted asset is more than $12,000 per person per year, but less than $1 million, there is the requirement of filing a gift tax return, but you won’t be taxed. The gift still is not income taxable to the recipient.

•  Deduct a home-based office when used for your employer. If space in your home is used exclusively and regularly for a trade, you can count that as a deductible. Calculate the square footage of your home office and divide the area of your office by the area of your house. If the percentage is 14 percent, for example, that represents the percentage of your total home expenses that can be allocated toward the home office deduction. For further questions, consult a professional.

“You’ll want to be very vigilant regarding these details of these deductions,” Abedeen says. “For any questions, I seriously recommend consulting a professional.”

About Reid Abedeen

Reid Abedeen is a partner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group, LLC ( As an investment advisor, Abedeen has helped retirees for nearly two decades with issues such as insurance, long-term care planning, financial services, asset protection and many other areas. He holds California Life-Only and Accident and Health licenses (#0C78700), and holds a Series 65 license, and is registered through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Abedeen is a family man who owes much of his fulfillment in life to his wife, Smyrna, and his three children, Yusef, Leena and Adam.

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