August 2018 Jobs Report and Industry Update

 


Economics & Job Creation:

“THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — July 2018”

Life Sciences:
“Importance of language development in low-income, high-risk children”

Technology:
“Artificial intelligence system designs drugs from scratch”

Healthcare:
“Alzheimer’s drug may stop disease if used before symptoms develop, study suggests”

The Industrials:
“Better way found to determine the integrity of metals”

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Economics & Job Creation:

THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — JULY 2018

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 157,000 in July, and the unemployment rate edged down
to 3.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in
professional and business services, in manufacturing, and in health care and social assistance.

Household Survey Data

In July, the unemployment rate edged down by 0.1 percentage point to 3.9 percent, following an
increase in June. The number of unemployed persons declined by 284,000 to 6.3 million in July.
Both measures were down over the year, by 0.4 percentage point and 676,000, respectively.
(See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.4 percent) and Whites
(3.4 percent) declined in July. The jobless rates for adult women (3.7 percent), teenagers
(13.1 percent), Blacks (6.6 percent), Asians (3.1 percent), and Hispanics (4.5 percent) showed
little or no change over the month. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

Among the unemployed, the number of reentrants to the labor force decreased by 287,000 in July
to 1.8 million, following an increase in June. (Reentrants are persons who previously worked
but were not in the labor force prior to beginning their job search.) (See table A-11.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially
unchanged at 1.4 million in July and accounted for 22.7 percent of the unemployed. (See table
A-12.)

The labor force participation rate, at 62.9 percent in July, was unchanged over the month and
over the year. The employment-population ratio, at 60.5 percent, was little changed in July but
has increased by 0.3 percentage point over the year. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as
involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in July, at 4.6 million, but was down by
669,000 over the year. 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.)

In July, 1.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little different from
a year earlier. (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 512,000 discouraged workers in July, little changed
from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because
they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.0 million persons marginally
attached to the labor force in July 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 157,000 in July, compared with an average monthly
gain of 203,000 over the prior 12 months. In July, job gains occurred in professional and
business services, in manufacturing, and in health care and social assistance. (See table B-1.)

Employment in professional and business services increased by 51,000 in July and has risen by
518,000 over the year. Over the month, employment edged up in temporary help services (+28,000)
and in computer systems design and related services (+8,000).

Manufacturing added 37,000 jobs in July, with most of the gain in the durable goods component.
Employment rose in transportation equipment (+13,000), machinery (+6,000), and electronic
instruments (+2,000). Over the past 12 months, manufacturing has added 327,000 jobs.

In July, employment in health care and social assistance rose by 34,000. Health care employment
continued to trend up over the month (+17,000) and has increased by 286,000 over the year.
Hospitals added 7,000 jobs over the month. Within social assistance, individual and family
services added 16,000 jobs in July and 77,000 jobs over the year.

Employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up over the month (+26,000).
Over the year, the industry has added 203,000 jobs.

Construction employment continued to trend up in July (+19,000) and has increased by 308,000
over the year.

In July, employment in retail trade changed little (+7,000). Job gains occurred in general
merchandise stores (+14,000), clothing and clothing accessories stores (+10,000), and food and
beverage stores (+8,000). These employment gains were offset by a decline of 32,000 in sporting
goods, hobby, book, and music stores, reflecting job losses in hobby, toy, and game stores.

Employment showed little or no change over the month in other major industries, including
mining, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities,
and government.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hour to
34.5 hours in July, following an increase of 0.1 hour in June. In manufacturing, both the
workweek and overtime were unchanged in July, at 40.9 hours and 3.5 hours, respectively. 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 July, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 7 cents
to $27.05. 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
3 cents to $22.65 in July. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for May was revised up from +244,000 to
+268,000, and the change for June was revised up from +213,000 to +248,000. With these
revisions, employment gains in May and June combined were 59,000 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 224,000 per month over the
last 3 months.

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

 

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Life Sciences:

“Importance of language development in low-income, high-risk children”

Language sets the stage for how children grow, develop, and learn. University of Miami Assistant Professor of Psychology Lynn Perry, whose research focuses on language and cognitive development in children, says a child’s early years of language development are critical for the fundamentals of school readiness, such as literacy skills and social and emotional growth.

In a recent study published in the journal PLOS One, Perry and a team of fellow researchers who examined child speech interactions over the course of a year at the UM Linda Ray Intervention Center found that vulnerable children benefit from conversations with their peers and their teachers.

“For two decades, the Linda Ray Intervention Center, a research program in the Department of Psychology, has focused on the developmental needs of vulnerable children ages 0 to 3 who are compromised by child maltreatment and maternal substance abuse,” said Director Lynne Katz, who is also a research associate professor at UM. “Critical to that research is understanding the communication experiences in the classroom between children and their teachers, as well as peer-to-peer interactions.”

The study, which measured language experiences in a childcare setting specifically for low-income, high-risk children, examined how language use and development in 2- and 3-year-old children was influenced by what they heard from their teachers and their peers.

“Previous research on language development looked mostly at the role of parent-child interaction within a home setting or a lab environment, which means we’re missing a big part of a child’s everyday life — the classroom,” said Perry. “We know that parent language is important for children’s development and their academic achievement, but we don’t have much research on what happens in the daycare or preschool setting.”

Using a device called a Language ENvironment Analysis (LENA) recorder, Perry collected hundreds of hours of audio recordings at the center. Children wore the LENA recorder in a pocket on the front of their T-shirts once a week. LENA software then assessed whether the recorded audio was speech or not, and whether the speech came from the child wearing the recorder or from an adult or another child talking to them.

“The use of cutting-edge LENA recording devices has broadened our data collection options and allowed us to work as a team to both examine language experiences and utilize data to provide feedback to teachers upon which to build their strategies for infants and toddlers with developmental delays,” said Katz.

After studying hours of the audio data, Perry found that the speech children heard from other children was positively related to their own language use, meaning children who heard the most from their peers learn more new words and vocalized more during the course of the year. Additionally, there was a positive association between a teacher talking and children’s language use and development — but only when that teacher talked to the child in a back-and-forth conversation, rather than just talking to the child with no opportunity for the child to respond.

“One important aspect of the study that stands out to me is how important it was to see those conversational turns with teachers, that back-and-forth conversation with the child is very beneficial. We talked to the teachers at Linda Ray about the results, and they are very excited about this finding and currently brainstorming additional opportunities to have conversations with children,” adds Perry.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180723142948.htm

 

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Technology:

“Artificial intelligence system designs drugs from scratch”

An artificial-intelligence approach created at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Eshelman School of Pharmacy can teach itself to design new drug molecules from scratch and has the potential to dramatically accelerate the design of new drug candidates.

The system is called Reinforcement Learning for Structural Evolution, known as ReLeaSE, and is an algorithm and computer program that comprises two neural networks which can be thought of as a teacher and a student. The teacher knows the syntax and linguistic rules behind the vocabulary of chemical structures for about 1.7 million known biologically active molecules. By working with the teacher, the student learns over time and becomes better at proposing molecules that are likely to be useful as new medicines.

Alexander Tropsha, Olexandr Isayev and Mariya Popova, all of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, are the creators of ReLeaSE. The University has applied for a patent for the technology, and the team published a proof-of-concept study in the journal Science Advances last week.

“If we compare this process to learning a language, then after the student learns the molecular alphabet and the rules of the language, they can create new ‘words,’ or molecules,” said Tropsha. “If the new molecule is realistic and has the desired effect, the teacher approves. If not, the teacher disapproves, forcing the student to avoid bad molecules and create good ones.”

ReLeaSE is a powerful innovation to virtual screening, the computational method widely used by the pharmaceutical industry to identify viable drug candidates. Virtual screening allows scientists to evaluate existing large chemical libraries, but the method only works for known chemicals. ReLeASE has the unique ability to create and evaluate new molecules.

“A scientist using virtual screening is like a customer ordering in a restaurant. What can be ordered is usually limited by the menu,” said Isayev. “We want to give scientists a grocery store and a personal chef who can create any dish they want.”

The team has used ReLeaSE to generate molecules with properties that they specified, such as desired bioactivity and safety profiles. The team used the ReLeaSE method to design molecules with customized physical properties, such as melting point and solubility in water, and to design new compounds with inhibitory activity against an enzyme that is associated with leukemia.

“The ability of the algorithm to design new, and therefore immediately patentable, chemical entities with specific biological activities and optimal safety profiles should be highly attractive to an industry that is constantly searching for new approaches to shorten the time it takes to bring a new drug candidate to clinical trials,” said Tropsha.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180731151326.htm

 

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Healthcare:

“Alzheimer’s drug may stop disease if used before symptoms develop, study suggests”

About 50 percent of people who reach the age of 85 will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Most will die within about five years of exhibiting the hallmark symptoms of the disease — severe memory loss and a precipitous decline in cognitive function.

But the molecular processes that lead to the disease will have begun years earlier.

Currently, there are no known ways to prevent the disease or to stop its progression once it has begun. But research at the University of Virginia offers new understanding of how the disease develops at the molecular level, long before extensive neuronal damage occurs and symptoms show up.

Additionally, the researchers have found that an FDA-approved drug, memantine, currently used only for alleviating the symptoms of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease, might be used to prevent or slow the progression of the disease if used before symptoms appear. The research also offers, based on extensive experimentation, a hypothesis as to why this might work.

The findings are published currently online in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

“Based on what we’ve learned so far, it is my opinion that we will never be able to cure Alzheimer’s disease by treating patients once they become symptomatic,” said George Bloom, a UVA professor and chair of the Department of Biology, who oversaw the study in his lab. “The best hope for conquering this disease is to first recognize patients who are at risk, and begin treating them prophylactically with new drugs and perhaps lifestyle adjustments that would reduce the rate at which the silent phase of the disease progresses.

“Ideally, we would prevent it from starting in the first place.”

As Alzheimer’s disease begins, there is a lengthy period of time, perhaps a decade or longer, when brain neurons affected by the disease attempt to divide, possibly as a way to compensate for the death of neurons. This is unusual in that most neurons develop prenatally and then never divide again. But in Alzheimer’s the cells make the attempt, and then die.

“It’s been estimated that as much as 90 percent of neuron death that occurs in the Alzheimer’s brain follows this cell cycle reentry process, which is an abnormal attempt to divide,” Bloom said. “By the end of the course of the disease, the patient will have lost about 30 percent of the neurons in the frontal lobes of the brain.”

Erin Kodis, a former Ph.D. student in Bloom’s lab and now a scientific editor at AlphaBioCom, hypothesized that excess calcium entering neurons through calcium channels on their surface drive those neurons back into the cell cycle. This occurs before a chain of events that ultimately produce the plaques found in the Alzheimer’s brain. Several experiments by Kodis ultimately proved her theory correct.

The building blocks of the plaques are a protein called amyloid beta oligomers. Kodis found that when neurons are exposed to toxic amyloid oligomers, the channel, called the NMDA receptor, opens, thus allowing the calcium flow that drives neurons back into the cell cycle.

Memantine blocks cell cycle reentry by closing the NMDA receptor, Kodis found.

“The experiments suggest that memantine might have potent disease-modifying properties if it could be administered to patients long before they have become symptomatic and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease,” Bloom said. “Perhaps this could prevent the disease or slow its progression long enough that the average age of symptom onset could be significantly later, if it happens at all.”

Side effects of the drug appear to be infrequent and modest.

Bloom said potential patients would need to be screened for Alzheimer’s biomarkers years before symptoms appear. Selected patients then would need to be treated with memantine, possibly for life, in hopes of stopping the disease from ever developing, or further developing.

“I don’t want to raise false hopes,” Bloom said, but “if this idea of using memantine as a prophylactic pans out, it will be because we now understand that calcium is one of the agents that gets the disease started, and we may be able to stop or slow the process if done very early.”

Bloom currently is working with colleagues at the UVA School of Medicine to design a clinical trial to investigate the feasibility of using memantine as an early intervention.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180801160022.htm

 

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The Industrials:

“Better way found to determine the integrity of metals”

Researchers at the University of Waterloo have found a better way to identify atomic structures, an essential step in improving materials selection in the aviation, construction and automotive industries.

The findings of the study could result in greater confidence when determining the integrity of metals.

Devinder Kumar, a PhD candidate in systems design engineering at Waterloo, collaborated with the Fritz Haber Institute (FHI) in Berlin, to develop a powerful AI model that can accurately detect different atomic structures in metallic materials. The system can find imperfections in the metal that were previously undetectable.

“Anywhere you have metals you want to know the consistency, and that can’t be done in current practical scenarios because current methods fail to identify the symmetry in imperfect conditions,” said Kumar, who is a member of the Vision and Image Processing Research Group under the supervision of Alexander Wong, a professor at Waterloo and Canada Research Chair in the area of artificial intelligence.

“So, this new method of evaluating metallic material will lead to better material design overall and has the potential to affect all the industries where you need material designing properties.”

FHI came up with a new scenario that can artificially create data which relates to the real world. Kumar along with his collaborators was able to use this to generate about 80,000 images of the different kind of defects and displacements to produce a very effective AI model to identify various types of crystal structures in practical scenarios. This data has been released to the public so people can actually learn their own algorithms.

“In theory, all metallic materials have perfect symmetry, and all the items are in the correct place, but in practice because of various reasons such as cheap manufacturing there are defects,” Kumar said. “All these current methods fail when they try to match actual ideal structures, most of them fail when there is even one per cent defect.”

“We have made an AI-based algorithm or model that can classify these kinds of symmetries even up to 40 per cent of defect.”

The study, Insightful classification of crystal structures using deep learning, was published recently in the journal Nature Communications.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180730163700.htm

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