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Free Tuesday Trends sample: Johnson Controls rising, health care employment mixed and job creation falling

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Johnson Controls: The Milwaukee-based automotive, battery and energy efficiency giant announces plans for a new battery system for cars that will both reduce carbon dioxide emissions and boost gas mileage. The 48-volt Micro Hybrid battery demonstration module combines a low-voltage lead-acid battery and a lithium-ion battery. The system includes a 12-volt battery to provide power to vehicles' starters, lights and entertainment systems. But during deployment, the 48-volt battery could support higher power loads -- including air conditioning, active chassis technologies and power energy braking -- while providing more fuel efficiency at less cost than a hybrid or electric vehicle. Johnson officials -- who plan to unveil the system at this week's North American International Auto Show -- expect the technology to be adopted in Europe first, due to stricter fuel efficiency standards, with mass adoption in the U.S. by 2020.


Health care employment: As little as a few years ago, Wisconsin health care providers faced such a critical shortage of nurses that signing bonuses were offered to prospective employees. But a new report from the Wisconsin Hospital Association says the state's higher education system -- coupled with a sluggish economy -- has helped produce a historic low in the number of job openings for nurses, pharmacists and other health care-related positions. WHA officials say efforts by the state's universities and technical colleges to churn out more nursing students have paid off. And other factors -- such as comparably better pay, benefits and job security and flexibility -- have helped drive demand for those jobs in the labor market. Still, the report -- which surveyed hospitals in October of 2011 -- showed strong levels of openings for physical therapists, occupational therapists and certified nursing assistants, while the number of nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurse anesthetists increased dramatically over 2009 levels.


Job creation: The latest data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages puts Wisconsin among the worst states for private-sector job creation between the middle of 2011 and the middle of last year. From June 2011 to June 2012, the report showed the Badger State with a jobs gain of 1.5 percent over that span, the same as Alabama and good for No. 42 nationally. In addition, the state also lagged its previous ranking in the QCEW, when it came in at No. 37 in jobs growth between March of 2011 and March of last year. Gov. Scott Walker, who's facing re-election next year as Democrats claim he'll fall well short of his promise to create 250,000 new jobs in his first term, takes some issue with the numbers, saying more recent stats show progress on the jobs front -- and laying out a series of factors holding the state back, including the recall elections, federal health care reform and the national economy. He also notes it's been six months since that QCEW survey ended, predicting the next report will be much more optimistic. His critics, however, charge it's just a series of excuses.

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