Since Gov. Mike Huckabee formally announced the Arkansas Mature Worker Initiative at a press conference in April, six regional meetings have been held around the state to inform employers about the need to keep mature workers (anyone 50+) in the workforce.
Meetings have been held in Little Rock, Hot Springs, Fort Smith, Springdale, Mountain Home and Paragould. The meetings have been well attended, and various issues, such as training opportunities for mature workers, services available to them and benefits, have been discussed.
The initiative is designed to increase awareness of the value of mature workers through partnerships with the public workforce system, states, Chambers of Commerce, training providers, trade associations, labor unions, community organizations, policymakers and business leaders.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, up to 43 percent of the current workforce will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years. Also, 61 percent of entrants (age 16 to 25) to the workforce are not fully qualified.
Arkansas first became involved in the initiative in December 2004 when the AARP Foundation contacted Gov. Huckabee to see if Arkansas would serve as one of three pilot states for the initiative. Gov. Huckabee agreed and asked the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board to make it a priority. The board then formed a subcommittee that meets monthly to plan outreach activities.
Besides holding regional meetings, members of the committee have made presentations at the Arkansas Aging Conference and Arkansas Economic Developers Conference.
The committee is planning other outreach efforts for 2007, including additional regional meetings, mature worker job fairs, presentations at civic group meetings, holding a statewide event honoring mature workers and developing a program that recognizes Arkansas employers who are committed to hiring mature workers.
UI contribution rate notices for tax-rated accounts for calendar year 2007 were mailed on Dec. 8.
These notices include summaries of all contributions credited and benefits charged through the calculation date of June 30, 2006. Employers have 30 days to request a review and redetermination of their assigned rates if they believe the rate to be in error. After that time, the rate notice is considered to be conclusive and binding for the rate year.
Requests for review and redetermination must be made in writing and include an explanation of the error and a point of contact for the account. Requests should also include a copy of the rate notice itself and any documents that support the request for review. Requests for review and redetermination should be mailed to the following:
ADWS - Contributions
P.O. Box 8007
Little Rock, AR 72203-8007
Once the rate is final, employers who still wish to appeal may file an appeal from the determination of the director to the circuit court. This can be done by filing a petition with the clerk of the circuit court in the county of the employer's residence or in Pulaski County within 20 days of the mailing to the employer of the notice of the final determination. (Reference A.C.A. § 11-10-707.)
In addition, the 2007 rate notices will include detailed information for employers who might wish to make voluntary payments to reduce their unemployment insurance contribution rate for calendar year 2007. This data will show the various voluntary contribution amounts that may be tendered and the resultant UI contribution rate. For those employers electing to make voluntary payments, the payments must be received by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services on or before March 31, 2007. (Reference A.C.A. § 11-10-705.)
Voluntary payments should be mailed to the following:
ADWS - Contributions
P.O. Box 8007
Little Rock, AR 72203-8007
Employers should include a copy of the voluntary rate calculation with their payment and clearly indicate "Voluntary Payment 2007" and the account number on the payment. Voluntary payments must be received by March 31, 2007, in order to compute a new contribution rate for 2007.
Questions about the 2007 rate notices, voluntary payments or any other UI contribution/tax subject should be addressed to the ADWS Contributions Unit at (501) 682-3798.
The stabilization tax for calendar year 2007 will be reduced to 0.70 percent.
For the past three years, the stabilization tax has been assessed at the maximum rate of 0.80 percent.
Under the provisions of A.C.A. § 11-10-706, tax-rated accounts are assessed a "stabilization tax" determined on the basis of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund balance as a percentage of total payrolls subject to UI taxes for the previous calendar year.
The stabilization tax was authorized as a means of increasing and stabilizing the UI Trust Fund balance to reduce the risk of funding shortages and the possibility of borrowing from the federal government to pay UI benefits.
The stabilization tax calculation is made as provided by law using the UI Trust Fund balance as of Sept. 30 each year, and the calculated stabilization tax is added to the UI contribution rate for each tax-rated account to obtain the total UI contribution rate for the tax year. The stabilization tax rate can be zero or as high as 0.80 percent, depending on the UI Trust Fund balance.
In the event the UI Trust Fund balance exceeds 5.00 percent of taxable payrolls, each tax-rated account would receive a reduction of 0.10 percent in its regular UI contribution rate for the next year.
Questions concerning the stabilization tax may be addressed to the ADWS Contributions Unit at (501) 682-3798.
Five Department of Workforce Services employees were recently promoted to area and local office managers.
Mary Cotton, of West Memphis, was recently appointed by the Department of Workforce Services as the area operations chief for area three.
Area three includes Crittenden, Cross, St. Francis, Jackson, Greene, Mississippi, Clay, Lawrence, Craighead, Poinsett, Lee, Phillips, Monroe, Prairie, Randolph and Woodruff counties.
Cotton has 32 years of state service and has been an interviewer, Employment Services program supervisor and manager.
"I plan to make area three one of the best areas in the state," Cotton said. "I just feel that I have a great staff in my area, and I know they will do everything to do a great job and continue to fulfill the agency's mission and vision."
Judy Duncan, of Jonesboro, recently was appointed as manager of the Department of Workforce Services' Walnut Ridge and Newport offices.
Duncan has 23 years of service at DWS and a total of 27 years with the state. Prior to her appointment as manager, Duncan was an Employment Services local and regional supervisor.
"I am extremely excited at this stage of my career to have the opportunity to work with both the Walnut Ridge and Newport offices," Duncan said. "I have a wonderful staff in both offices, and together we are working hard to make positive changes in the communities we serve."
Vicki Ross, of Monticello, recently was appointed as manager of the Department of Workforce Services' Monticello office.
Ross has 31 years of service at DWS, all of them at the Monticello office. Prior to her appointment as manager, Ross was a supervisor in the Unemployment Insurance Department.
"I look forward to working with the citizens of Monticello and the other counties we serve," Ross said. "I hope to improve our services and let the area know more about the different services DWS offers."
Vickie Spicer, of Fort Smith, was recently appointed as manager of the Department of Workforce Services' Fort Smith office.
Spicer has 27 years of service at DWS, all of them at the Fort Smith office. Spicer has experience in all facets of the agency's operations and served as the staff supervisor for Unemployment Insurance prior to her promotion.
"I am excited to be placed in this position and look forward to working with area employers and helping the citizens of Fort Smith with their employment needs," Spicer said.
Evelyn Trumble, of Texarkana, was recently appointed as manager of the Department of Workforce Services' Hope office.
Trumble, who has worked for DWS for more than 24 years, will also continue as manager of the Hope Migrant Farm Labor Center.
"As manager of the Hope local office, I am pleased to be given the opportunity to expand operations and facility services by incorporating the Workforce Center into my area of responsibility," she said.
Department of Workforce Services veterans' representatives and offices recently received honors from veterans' organizations at several statewide conventions.
The American Legion recently selected Keith Paluso of Blytheville as the Local Veterans' Employment Representative of the Year. Roy Schultz of Harrison was selected as the Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program Specialist of the Year, and the local office at Harrison was awarded the Employment Service Local Office Award.
The Disabled American Veterans chose James Cole, formerly at Fort Smith, as the LVER of the Year, and Doug Short of Rogers was given the DVOP of the Year Award.
Jesse L. Boyd, an LVER in Conway, was given the James C. Gates Award by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Boyd placed third in the nation for the award. The VFW gives this award to an individual, company or organization in recognition of extraordinary, meritorious services that have substantially contributed to advancing the meaningful employment for veterans.
The VFW also awarded the Harrison office the National Employment Service Office Award.
Department of Workforce Services
P.O. Box 2981
Little Rock, AR 72203
The Department of Workforce Services is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request for individuals with disabilities.