June 2018 Prosperity at Work E-Tip

Economics & Job Creation:


Life Sciences:
“Cellular recycling process is key to longer, healthier life”

“Framework to stop cyber attacks on internet-connected cars”

“Understanding the origin of Alzheimer’s, looking for a cure”

The Industrials:
“How to Attract and Keep Talent from Jumping Ship”

Human Capital Solutions, Inc. (HCS) www.humancs.com is a Retained Executive Search and Professional Recruiting firm focused in Healthcare, Life Sciences, the Industrials, and Technology. Visit our LinkedIn Company Page to learn more about HCS and receive weekly updates.

HCS has created the Prosperity at Work proposition which focuses on creating prosperous relationships between companies and their employees (associates). HCS assists companies in improving bottom line profitability by efficiently planning, organizing and implementing optimized, practical and value-added business solutions.


Economics & Job Creation:


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 223,000 in May, and the unemployment rate edged
down to 3.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment continued
to trend up in several industries, including retail trade, health care, and construction.

Household Survey Data

The unemployment rate edged down to 3.8 percent in May, and the number of unemployed persons
declined to 6.1 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate was down by 0.5 percentage point,
and the number of unemployed persons declined by 772,000. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.5 percent), Blacks
(5.9 percent), and Asians (2.1 percent) decreased in May. The jobless rates for adult women
(3.3 percent), teenagers (12.8 percent), Whites (3.5 percent), and Hispanics (4.9 percent)
changed little over the month. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at
1.2 million in May and accounted for 19.4 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months,
the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 476,000. (See table A-12.)

Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.7 percent, and the employment-population ratio,
at 60.4 percent, changed little in May. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as
involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 4.9 million in May. These
individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because
their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)

The number of persons marginally attached to the labor force, at 1.5 million in May, was little
different from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were
not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime
in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for
work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 378,000 discouraged workers in May, little changed
from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons
not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The
remaining 1.1 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in May had not searched
for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 223,000 in May, compared with an average monthly
gain of 191,000 over the prior 12 months. Over the month, employment continued to trend up in
several industries, including retail trade, health care, and construction. (See table B-1.)

In May, retail trade added 31,000 jobs, with gains occurring in general merchandise stores
(+13,000) and in building material and garden supply stores (+6,000). Over the year, retail
trade has added 125,000 jobs.

Employment in health care rose by 29,000 in May, about in line with the average monthly gain
over the prior 12 months. Ambulatory health care services added 18,000 jobs over the month,
and employment in hospitals continued to trend up (+6,000).

Employment in construction continued on an upward trend in May (+25,000) and has risen by
286,000 over the past 12 months. Within the industry, nonresidential specialty trade
contractors added 15,000 jobs over the month.

Employment in professional and technical services continued to trend up in May (+23,000) and
has risen by 206,000 over the year.

Transportation and warehousing added 19,000 jobs over the month and 156,000 over the year. In
May, job gains occurred in warehousing and storage (+7,000) and in couriers and messengers

Manufacturing employment continued to expand over the month (+18,000). Durable goods accounted
for most of the change, including an increase of 6,000 jobs in machinery. Manufacturing
employment has risen by 259,000 over the year, with about three-fourths of the growth in
durable goods industries.

Mining added 6,000 jobs in May. Since a recent low point in October 2016, employment in mining
has grown by 91,000, with support activities for mining accounting for nearly all of the

In May, employment changed little in other major industries, including wholesale trade,
information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.5 hours
in May. In manufacturing, the workweek decreased by 0.2 hour to 40.8 hours, and overtime edged
down by 0.2 hour to 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees
on private nonfarm payrolls remained at 33.8 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 8 cents
to $26.92. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 71 cents, or 2.7 percent.
Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by
7 cents to $22.59 in May. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised up from +135,000 to
+155,000, and the change for April was revised down from +164,000 to +159,000. With these
revisions, employment gains in March and April combined were 15,000 more than previously
reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and
government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal
factors.) After revisions, job gains have averaged 179,000 over the last 3 months.



Life Sciences:

“Cellular recycling process is key to longer, healthier life”

Building on two decades of research, investigators at UT Southwestern have determined that “cellular housekeeping” can extend the lifespan and healthspan of mammals.

A study jointly led by Drs. Salwa Sebti and Álvaro Fernández, postdoctoral researchers in the Center for Autophagy Research, found that mice with persistently increased levels of autophagy — the process a cell uses to dispose of unwanted or toxic substances that can harm cellular health — live longer and are healthier. The study, published online today, is found in Nature.

“Specifically, they have about a 10 percent extension in lifespan and are less likely to develop age-related spontaneous cancers and age-related pathological changes in the heart and the kidney,” said Dr. Beth Levine, Director of the Center for Autophagy Research at UT Southwestern.

Twenty years ago, Dr. Levine and her colleagues discovered beclin 1 — a key gene in the biological process of autophagy. The group’s research has since shown that autophagy is important in many aspects of human health, such as preventing neurodegenerative diseases, combating cancer, and fighting infection.

In 2003, Dr. Levine’s team found that the genetic machinery required for autophagy was essential for the lifespan extension observed in long-lived mutant roundworms.

“Since then, it has become overwhelmingly clear that autophagy is an important mechanism necessary for the extended lifespan that is observed when model organisms are treated with certain drugs or when they have mutations in certain signaling pathways,” said Dr. Levine, also a Professor of Internal Medicine and Microbiology who holds the Charles Cameron Sprague Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science. “The body’s natural ability to perform autophagy declines with aging, which likely contributes to the aging process itself.”

Yet a crucial question remained unanswered: Is increased autophagy throughout mammalian life safe and beneficial? In other words, can autophagy extend lifespan and improve healthspan?

To answer this question, Dr. Levine and her UTSW colleagues created a genetically engineered mouse that had persistently increased levels of autophagy. The researchers made a mutation in the autophagy protein Beclin 1 that decreases its binding to another protein, Bcl-2, which normally inhibits Beclin 1’s function in autophagy. As the researchers expected, these mice had higher levels of autophagy from birth in all of their organs.

Last summer, Dr. Congcong He, a former trainee in Dr. Levine’s laboratory at UT Southwestern who originally made the mice, reported in PLOS Genetics that these mice are partially protected against mouse models of Alzheimer’s-like disease. The most recent findings now show that mice with increased cellular housekeeping live longer, healthier lives.

Additionally, in collaboration with Dr. Ming Chang Hu, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics who holds the Makoto Kuro-o Professorship in Bone and Kidney Research, and Dr. Orson Moe, Professor of Internal Medicine and Physiology who holds The Charles Pak Distinguished Chair in Mineral Metabolism and the Donald W. Seldin Professorship in Clinical Investigation, the Nature study also shows that the mice with increased autophagy are protected from the early death that occurs when the anti-aging hormone klotho is lacking.

“These studies have important implications for human health and for the development of drugs to improve it,” said Dr. Levine, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. “They show that strategies to increase the cellular housekeeping pathway of autophagy may retard aging and aging-related diseases. The results suggest that it should be safe to increase autophagy on a chronic basis to treat diseases such as neurodegeneration. Furthermore, they reveal a specific target for developing drugs that increase autophagy — namely the disruption of Beclin 1 binding to Bcl-2.”

Dr. Levine’s group is collaborating with Dr. Jef De Brabander, Professor of Biochemistry and a member of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center who holds the Julie and Louis Beecherl, Jr. Chair in Medical Science, and his team to synthesize such drugs. Based on the results reported in the Nature study, drugs acting through this mechanism might be expected to improve the health and prolong the lifespan of human beings.



“Framework to stop cyber attacks on internet-connected cars”

A new study by Maanak Gupta, doctoral candidate at The University of Texas at San Antonio, and Ravi Sandhu, Lutcher Brown Endowed Professor of computer science and founding executive director of the UTSA Institute for Cyber Security (ICS), examines the cybersecurity risks for new generations of smart which includes both autonomous and internet connected cars.

“Driverless and connected cars are increasingly becoming a part of our world, where cybersecurity threats are already a reality,” Sandhu said. “It’s imperative that we support research that addresses these concerns and presents a strong, innovative solution.”

Cars with internet connectivity, also known as “connected cars,” offer potential for many conveniences and innovations. They could allow for real-time and location-sensitive communication between drivers or even pedestrians, which could help make the roads safer for both. The connectivity could also allow the cars to capture safety and environmental conditions around the vehicle, including road obstructions, accidents, which also enables real-time vehicle-to-vehicle interaction on road.

“Connected cars have almost infinite possibilities for creative technological applications,” Gupta said. “Companies could even take advantage of the connectivity to implement location-based marketing tactics, providing drivers with nearby sales and offers.”

However, the researchers caution that as soon as cars are exposed to internet supported functionality, they are also open to the same cybersecurity threats that loom over other electronic devices, such as computers and cell phones. For this reason, Gupta and Sandhu created an authorization framework for connected cars which provides a conceptual overview of various access control decision and enforcement points needed for dynamic and short-lived interaction in smart cars ecosystem.

“There are vulnerabilities in every machine,” said Gupta. “We’re working to make sure someone doesn’t take advantage of those vulnerabilities and turn them into threats. The questions of ‘who do I trust?’ and ‘how do I trust?’ are still to be answered in smart cars.”

Gupta and Sandhu framework discussed an access control oriented architecture for connected cars and proposed authorization framework, which is a key to determine what and where vulnerabilities can be exploited. They further discuss several approaches to mitigate cyber threats in this ecosystem.

Using this framework, the team at ICS is trying to create and use security authorization policies in different access control decision points to prevent cyber attacks and unauthorized access to sensors and data in smart cars.

“There are infinite opportunities in this new IoT domain but at the same time cyber threats will have serious implications in smart cars. Can you imagine if someone controls your car steering remotely, or shuts down the engine in the middle of the road?” Gupta said. “There should not be absolutely any open end to orchestrate attacks on these cars.”

According to Gupta, the authorization framework can also be applied to driverless cars, noting that these vehicles may be even more vulnerable to cyber threats.

“If we’re going to open the world to cars driven by machines, we must be absolutely certain that they aren’t able to be compromised by a malicious attack,” he said. “That it what this framework is for.”




“Understanding the origin of Alzheimer’s, looking for a cure”

After a decade of work, a team led by Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont researcher and Université de Montréal associate professor Dr. Gilbert Bernier has shed promising light on the origin of the most common and prevalent form of Alzheimer’s disease, hoping to someday help mitigate or even reverse the progress of the disease. The team’s results are published in the  scientific journal Cell Reports.

One person in two over the age of 90 will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease (AD) to some degree. As the population ages, AD and its related conditions are becoming a veritable epidemic, with seemingly no cure in sight. Genetic in a small proportion of people (those with early-onset AD), the disease’s origin is unknown in 95 per cent of cases; age is the principal risk factor. Many researchers are trying to better understand the genetic and pathophysiological risk factors of AD, but few studies have focused on the origin of Alzheimer’s disease and its relationship with aging of the brain.

Working from the premise that the causes of the most prevalent form of AD are not genetic but instead epigenetic (i.e. there is a change in gene function), Dr. Bernier and his team carried out an extensive scientific investigation to better understand the role of a specific gene, BMI1, in the onset and development of the disease.

Following the BMI1 gene, step by step

In a study published in 2009, researchers found that, in mice, the mutation of the BMI1 gene triggered an accelerated and pathological aging of the brain and eyes. Based on this finding, Dr. Bernier’s team deduced that if the BMI1 gene stopped functioning in a human, it would also cause accelerated aging of the brain and the development of conditions related to AD.

By comparing the brains of deceased AD patients (taken from samples in the Douglas Bell Canada Brain Bank) with those of deceased non-AD patients of the same age, the team observed a marked decrease of the BMI1 gene only in patients who died of AD. To verify that this decrease was not simply a consequence of the disease, the researchers repeated the process with patients who died of early onset AD, a genetic and much rarer form of the disease that strikes before the age of 50 and sometimes even before 40. The researchers discovered that there was no change in BMI1 gene expression in these cases.

In a third step, the team examined the brains of individuals who died from other aging-related dementias, and once again observed no change in BMI1 gene expression. Finally, using a complex method, the researchers were able to recreate, in the laboratory, neurons found in Alzheimer’s disease patients and healthy individuals. Once again, BMI1 gene expression only decreased in neurons of Alzheimer’s-disease patients.

The team concluded that the loss of BMI1 gene expression in the brains and neurons of patients with the common form of AD was not a consequence of the disease and could therefore be the cause.

Reproducing Alzheimer’s disease in the lab

The researchers then wanted to test their hypothesis that the loss of BMI1 plays a direct role in the development of AD. To do so, they created healthy human neurons in the lab. Once the neurons reached maturity, they deactivated the BMI1 gene using a genetic method.

The results were truly spectacular. All the neuropathological markers of AD were reproduced in the lab. The researchers concluded that the loss of BMI1 function in human neurons was enough to trigger AD.

Encouraged by their unexpected findings, the researchers also ran molecular studies to understand how the loss of BMI1 triggers AD. These studies revealed that the loss of BMI1 causes an increase in production of beta-amyloid and tau proteins and a decrease in the neurons’ natural capacity to eliminate toxic proteins.

Hope for the future

Encouraged by their results, the researchers have good reason to believe that the restoration of BMI1 gene expression in the neurons of Alzheimer’s disease patients in the early stages could mitigate or even reverse the progress of the disease.

In 2016, researchers established a company (StemAxonTM) that aims to develop a drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease.



The Industrials:

“How to Attract and Keep Talent from Jumping Ship”

Finding ways to attract the right, talented employees for their organizations remains a major concern and a challenge for the world’s human resources professionals. But today, with the economy making it easier for many employees to land another job, HR departments are also worrying about how to keep their best talent from jumping ship.

According to the Randstad Employer Brand Research report for 2018, unsatisfactory compensation (44 percent), a limited career path (43 percent) and insufficient challenges (30 percent) are the key reasons that employees cite for looking for work elsewhere. For 28 percent, work-life balance issues make people decide to quit. And 27 percent are driven away by a lack of recognition from their employer.

“Now more than ever, an employer’s reputation is critical to attracting the right talent,” said James Foley, global SVP, employer brand, talent innovation center at Randstad. “We see shifts in attitudes that indicate workers want more than just an attractive salary and benefits. A good work-life balance, career growth opportunities and flexible work arrangements are increasingly important qualities they seek in a potential employer.”

An employer brand perceived to offer these prized qualities is critical during these times of talent scarcity, Mr. Foley said. “Workers want to know they can count on their companies to help achieve a sense of purpose in their jobs, grow professionally and provide inspiration for their long-term goals. Especially to the Millennial generation, an organization’s intangible qualities such as its mission and culture can also play a huge role in winning high-quality workers.”

Employee Retention

The Randstad report underlined that for employers, employee retention is all about knowing how to keep the music playing and understanding what aspects of their employer brand make talent stay or drive them away.

Young employees (18 to 24) are more likely to stay with their employer if they receive good training, said the report. For higher educated employees, attractive salary and benefits play a bigger role – 47 percent mention this as their reason to stay. Only 39 percent of the lower educated employees consider this a major consideration to stay.

As it is not always easy to find a new job, employees who are 45 years of age and up find job security (placed second in the ranking) and an employer’s financial health to be more relevant.

More than Money

But money alone will not keep employees from applying for a job elsewhere. This is particularly true for higher educated employees: Forty-seven percent of employees in this category consider a limited career path an important reason to say farewell to their employer.

Employers who want their talent to stay should consider ways to improve and expand the career paths, identify new challenges, offer a better work-life balance, better and more recognition and rewards for their employees, said the study.

To attract the 18-to-24 year old, organizations might want to focus on factors like good training, career progression, very good reputation, giving back to society and diversity & inclusion, said Randstad. For workers that are 45 and up, job security and the employer’s financial health are more relevant for organizations to focus on in their employer brand strategy.

Career Progression

The trend of career advancement being a decisive factor in successful retention also comes up when workers are asked to list what they look for in an employer. “Career progression” is a strong factor, mentioned by 38 percent this year (up from 35 percent in 2017).

The study’s “top 10 reasons to choose an employer” were as follows: salary and benefits (mentioned by 60 percent), job security (48 percent), work-life balance (45 percent), work atmosphere (44 percent), career progression (38 percent), a financially healthy employer (34 percent), flexible arrangements (32 percent), strong management (28 percent), good training (28 percent) and location (28 percent).

The Threat Is Real

The threat of losing the best hands on the work floor – even after extensive investments in education and training – is very real, now that the economic crisis is over in most countries. The report showed that today, people are willing to leave their boss fairly easily. At a global level, 45 percent of the respondents said that they have either changed jobs in the past year or plan to do so in the next 12 months.

A Paradigm Shift

How companies handle their talent management strategies in the 21st century workplace matter more than just about anything. According to Dan Davenport, president of career transition leader RiseSmart, there is “a paradigm shift in how talent is moving into, within and out of an organization.” As a result, he noted, “business outcomes are increasingly dependent on a company’s ability to achieve high levels of employee engagement, loyalty and trust.” Here’s some further reading from Hunt Scanlon Media.

Globally, 18 percent planned to switch jobs in 2017 and 27 percent actually did. In EMEA and North America the numbers are 17 percent and 26 percent and 20 percent and 26 percent respectively. In Latin America the gap between “planning and acting” is much bigger: Nineteen percent planned to go, 36 percent actually left the organization. This gap can be explained by the low importance of job security in this region.

In-Depth Research

The Randstad Employer Brand Research report surveyed over 175,000 individuals (general public, aged 18 to 65) from 5,755 companies in 30 countries. Its purpose was to provide insights into the perceptions and drivers of choice of potential employees. Why do people prefer one company, or a specific industry, over another? What motivates them to stay with an employer or start looking elsewhere?

“Our research also reveals that what attracts workers to an employer may not always be the reasons for them to stay,” said Mr. Foley. “Even though compensation remains the most important consideration when choosing an employer, its impact is less of a factor in the decision to stay. In other words, salaries may help initially win talent, but job security, work-life balance and convenience of the office location convince them to stay.”

So what does the survey data say about how employers should support its employer brand internally and externally? “Fostering the employer brand has always been a complex task that too many companies oversimplify, believing that a universal message should resonate with all of its employees and prospective workers,” said Mr. Foley. “The reality, however, is that brand strategy must be directed at various stakeholders but supported by the same employer value proposition. Moreover, with the rise of independent workers and the gig economy, employers need to deliver relevant messaging to attract this growing segment of the workforce.”


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