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2014 was a strong year for the employment market, with a falling unemployment rate, rising wages and job growth in many industries. So what will 2015 bring? Here are a few job market trends we’ll be watching in the new year.

1. BIG CHANGES IN WAGES AND BENEFITS.
On January 1, 2015, many states (including Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Maryland) will see minimum wage increases of anywhere from $.12 to $1.25 per hour. The minimum wage for all employees on federal construction and service contracts also rises in the new year to $10.10 per hour. San Francisco and Seattle approved their own minimum wage hikes in 2014, and 2015 will likely see efforts by additional cities or regions to do the same.

In addition, the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) goes into effect for employers with more than 100 employees on January 1. Employers have been exploring the new law and healthcare costs during 2014 to decide whether to “pay or play:” pay fines for not offering coverage or offer plans that meet minimum requirements. HR departments and executives will continue to pay close attention to enforcement and new developments around the ACA in 2015.

2. CONTINGENT WORKERS PLAYING AN INCREASING ROLE.
Whether freelance, contract or temporary employees, contingent employees will play an increasingly prominent role in the workforce in 2015. The contingent workforce is not just advantageous for employers – employees also appreciate the flexibility and diverse learning opportunities that contingent work offers.

Many employers will turn to a temporary staffing agency to provide these employees, and Staffing Industry Analysts projects staffing industry growth of 6% in 2015. In addition to the many other benefits of utilizing temporary staffing, employers aren’t responsible for providing healthcare for temporary staff members – that responsibility belongs to the staffing agency.

3. CONTINUED SHORTAGE OF SKILLED TRADESPEOPLE AND CDL DRIVERS.
The well-publicized shortage of skilled tradespeople and CDL drivers won’t let up in 2015. Employers in industries from construction to manufacturing to transportation are having a hard time finding employees like welders, electricians and machinists, as well as truck drivers. In addition to developing innovative training and incentive programs, they’ll look to staffing companies to help them connect with qualified employees in 2015.

4. FOCUS ON CSR AND SUSTAINABILITY.
Companies in every industry are increasingly focusing on their social and environmental impact, as evidenced by the huge movement of organizations becoming Certified B Corporations. In 2015, companies will continue to not only look at their internal operations, but also the sustainability of their supply chains. By supporting companies that align with their sustainability goals (such as alternative staffing organizations), they can better measure the sustainability of their operations and identify areas for improvement.