February 2019 Jobs Report and Industry Update


Economics & Job Creation:


Life Sciences:
“Artificial skin could give superhuman perception”

“First smartphone app to detect opioid overdose and its precursors”

“Smart, self-powered knee implants could reduce number of knee replacement surgeries”

The Industrials:
“First study to find digital ads work — on millennials”

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.


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Economics & Job Creation:


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 304,000 in January, and the
unemployment rate edged up to 4.0 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported today. Job gains occurred in several industries, including leisure
and hospitality, construction, health care, and transportation and warehousing.

Changes to The Employment Situation Data

Establishment survey data have been revised as a result of the annual
benchmarking process and the updating of seasonal adjustment factors.
Also, household survey data for January 2019 reflect updated population
estimates. See the notes beginning at the end of this news release for
more information about these changes.

Household Survey Data

Both the unemployment rate, at 4.0 percent, and the number of unemployed persons,
at 6.5 million, edged up in January. The impact of the partial federal government
shutdown contributed to the uptick in these measures. Among the unemployed, the
number who reported being on temporary layoff increased by 175,000. This figure
includes furloughed federal employees who were classified as unemployed on
temporary layoff under the definitions used in the household survey. (See tables
A-1 and A-11. For information about annual population adjustments to the household
survey estimates, see the note at the end of this release and tables B and C. For
more information on the classification of workers affected by the partial federal
government shutdown, see the box note at the end of this news release.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Hispanics increased to
4.9 percent in January. The jobless rates for adult men (3.7 percent), adult
women (3.6 percent), teenagers (12.9 percent), Whites (3.5 percent), Blacks
(6.8 percent), and Asians (3.1 percent) showed little change over the month. (See
tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

In January, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more)
was little changed at 1.3 million and accounted for 19.3 percent of the unemployed.
(See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate, at 63.2 percent, and the employment-population
ratio, at 60.7 percent, changed little over the month; both measures were up by 0.5
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) increased by about one-half million to 5.1
million in January. Nearly all of this increase occurred in the private sector and
may reflect the impact of the partial federal government shutdown. (Persons employed
part time for economic reasons would have preferred full-time employment but were
working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find
full-time jobs.) (See table A-8.)

In January, 1.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force,
essentially unchanged 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 426,000 discouraged workers in January,
little different than a year earlier. (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 1.2 million persons
marginally attached to the labor force in January 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 304,000 in January, compared with
an average monthly gain of 223,000 in 2018. In January, employment grew in several
industries, including leisure and hospitality, construction, health care, and
transportation and warehousing. There were no discernible impacts of the partial
federal government shutdown on the estimates of employment, hours, and earnings
from the establishment survey. (See table B-1. For information about the annual
benchmark process, see the note at the end of this release and table A. For more
information on the classification of workers affected by the partial federal
government shutdown, see the box note at the end of this news release.)

In January, employment in leisure and hospitality rose by 74,000. Within the
industry, job gains occurred in food services and drinking places (+37,000) and in
amusements, gambling, and recreation (+32,000). Over the year, leisure and
hospitality has added 410,000 jobs.

Construction employment rose by 52,000 in January. Job gains occurred among
specialty trade contractors, with increases in both the nonresidential (+19,000)
and residential (+15,000) components. Employment also rose in heavy and civil
engineering construction (+10,000) and residential building (+9,000). Construction
has added 338,000 jobs over the past 12 months.

Employment in health care increased by 42,000 in January. Within the industry, job
gains occurred in ambulatory health care services (+22,000) and hospitals (+19,000).
Health care has added 368,000 jobs over the past year.

Over the month, employment in transportation and warehousing rose by 27,000,
following little change in December. In January, job gains occurred in warehousing
and storage (+15,000) and among couriers and messengers (+7,000). Over the year,
employment in transportation and warehousing has increased by 219,000.

In January, retail trade employment edged up by 21,000. Job gains occurred in
sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (+17,000), while general merchandise
stores lost jobs (-12,000). Employment in retail trade has shown little net change
over the past 12 months (+26,000).

Mining employment increased by 7,000 in January. The industry has added 64,000 jobs
over the year, almost entirely in support activities for mining.

Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up over the
month (+30,000) and has increased by 546,000 in the past 12 months.

Employment in manufacturing continued to trend up in January (+13,000). Over-the-
month job gains occurred in durable goods (+20,000), while employment in nondurable
goods changed little (-7,000). Manufacturing employment has increased by 261,000
over the year, with more than four-fifths of the gain in durable goods industries.

Employment in federal government was essentially unchanged in January (+1,000).
Federal employees on furlough during the partial government shutdown were counted as
employed in the establishment survey because they worked or received pay (or will
receive pay) for the pay period that included the 12th of the month.

Employment showed little change over the month in other major industries, including
wholesale trade, information, and financial activities.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at
34.5 hours in January. In manufacturing, both the workweek and overtime decreased by
0.1 hour to 40.8 hours and 3.5 hours, respectively. The average workweek for
production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls held at 33.7
hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls
rose by 3 cents to $27.56, following a 10-cent gain in December. Over the year,
average hourly earnings have increased by 85 cents, or 3.2 percent. Average hourly
earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 3
cents to $23.12 in January. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised up from
+176,000 to +196,000, and the change for December was revised down from +312,000 to
+222,000. With these revisions, employment gains in November and December combined
were 70,000 less than previously reported. After revisions, job gains have averaged
241,000 per month over the last 3 months. (Monthly revisions result from additional
reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published
estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors. The annual benchmark process
also contributed to the November and December revisions.)




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Life Sciences:

“Artificial skin could give superhuman perception”

Our skin’s ability to perceive pressure, heat, cold, and vibration is a critical safety function that most people take for granted. But burn victims, those with prosthetic limbs, and others who have lost skin sensitivity for one reason or another, can’t take it for granted, and often injure themselves unintentionally.

Chemists Islam Mosa from UConn, and James Rusling from UConn and UConn Health, along with University of Toronto engineer Abdelsalam Ahmed, wanted to create a sensor that can mimic the sensing properties of skin. Such a sensor would need to be able to detect pressure, temperature, and vibration. But perhaps it could do other things too, the researchers thought.

“It would be very cool if it had abilities human skin does not; for example, the ability to detect magnetic fields, sound waves, and abnormal behaviors,” said Mosa.

Mosa and his colleagues created such a sensor with a silicone tube wrapped in a copper wire and filled with a special fluid made of tiny particles of iron oxide just one billionth of a meter long, called nanoparticles. The nanoparticles rub around the inside of the silicone tube and create an electric current. The copper wire surrounding the silicone tube picks up the current as a signal. When this tube is bumped by something experiencing pressure, the nanoparticles move and the electric signal changes. Sound waves also create waves in the nanoparticle fluid, and the electric signal changes in a different way than when the tube is bumped.

The researchers found that magnetic fields alter the signal too, in a way distinct from pressure or sound waves. Even a person moving around while carrying the sensor changes the electrical current, and the team found they could distinguish between the electrical signals caused by walking, running, jumping, and swimming.

Metal skin might sound like a superhero power, but this skin wouldn’t make the wearer Colossus from the X-men. Rather, Mosa and his colleagues hope it could help burn victims “feel” again, and perhaps act as an early warning for workers exposed to dangerously high magnetic fields. Because the rubber exterior is completely sealed and waterproof, it could also serve as a wearable monitor to alert parents if their child fell into deep water in a pool, for example.

“The inspiration was to make something durable that would last for a very long time, and could detect multiple hazards,” Mosa says. The team has yet to test the sensor for its response to heat and cold, but they suspect it will work for those as well. The next step is to make the sensor in a flat configuration, more like skin, and see if it still works.




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“First smartphone app to detect opioid overdose and its precursors”

At least 115 people die every day in the U.S. after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

And in 2016, illegal injectable opioids became the most common drug involved in overdose-related deaths. This spike has led to a national public health crisis and epidemic.

During an overdose, a person breathes slower or stops breathing altogether. These symptoms are reversible with the drug naloxone if caught in time.

But people who use opioids by themselves have no way of asking for help in the event of an overdose.

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a cellphone app, called Second Chance, that uses sonar to monitor someone’s breathing rate and sense when an opioid overdose has occurred. The app accurately detects overdose-related symptoms about 90 percent of the time and can track someone’s breathing from up to 3 feet away. The team will publish its results Jan. 9 in Science Translational Medicine.

“The idea is that people can use the app during opioid use so that if they overdose, the phone can potentially connect them to a friend or emergency services to provide naloxone,” said co-corresponding author Shyam Gollakota, an associate professor in the UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. “Here we show that we have created an algorithm for a smartphone that is capable of detecting overdoses by monitoring how someone’s breathing changes before and after opioid use.”

The Second Chance app sends inaudible sound waves from the phone to people’s chests and then monitors the way the sound waves return to the phone to look for specific breathing patterns.

“We’re looking for two main precursors to opioid overdose: when a person stops breathing, or when a person’s breathing rate is seven breaths per minute or lower,” said co-corresponding author Dr. Jacob Sunshine, an assistant professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine at the UW School of Medicine. “Less than eight breaths per minute is a common cutoff point in a hospital that would trigger people to go to the bedside and make sure a patient is OK.”

In addition to watching breathing, Second Chance also monitors how people move.

“People aren’t always perfectly still while they’re injecting drugs, so we want to still be able to track their breathing as they’re moving around,” said lead author Rajalakshmi Nandakumar, a doctoral student in the Allen School. “We can also look for characteristic motions during opioid overdose, like if someone’s head slumps or nods off.”

To be able to use real-world data to design and test the algorithm behind the app, the researchers partnered with the Insite supervised injection facility in Vancouver, Canada. Insite is the first legal supervised consumption site in North America. As part of the study, participants at Insite wore monitors on their chests that also track breathing rates.

“We asked participants to prepare their drugs like they normally would, but then we monitored them for a minute pre-injection so the algorithm could get a baseline value for their breathing rate,” said Nandakumar. “After we got a baseline, we continued monitoring during the injection and then for five minutes afterward, because that’s the window when overdose symptoms occur.”

Of the 94 participants who tested the algorithm, 47 had a breathing rate of seven breaths per minute or slower, 49 stopped breathing for a significant period, and two people experienced an overdose event that required oxygen, ventilation and/or naloxone treatment. On average, the algorithm correctly identified breathing problems that foreshadow overdose 90 percent of the time.

The researchers also wanted to make sure the algorithm could detect actual overdose events, because these occur infrequently at Insite. The researchers worked with anesthesiology teams at UW Medical Center to “simulate” overdoses in an operating room, allowing the app to monitor people and detect when they stop breathing.

“When patients undergo anesthesia, they experience much of the same physiology that people experience when they’re having an overdose,” Sunshine said. “Nothing happens when people experience this event in the operating room because they’re receiving oxygen and they are under the care of an anesthesiology team. But this is a unique environment to capture difficult-to-reproduce data to help further refine the algorithms for what it looks like when someone has an acute overdose.”

For the simulation, the team recruited healthy participants undergoing previously scheduled elective surgeries. After providing informed consent, the patients then received standard anesthetic medications that led to 30 seconds of slower or absent breathing, and these events were captured by the device. The algorithm correctly predicted 19 out of the 20 simulated overdoses. For the one case it was wrong, the patient’s breathing rate was just above the algorithm’s threshold.

Right now, Second Chance is only monitoring the people who use it. The team would eventually like the app to interact with them.

“When the app detects decreased or absent breathing, we’d like it to send an alarm asking the person to interact with it,” Gollakota said. “Then if the person fails to interact with it, that’s when we say: ‘OK this is a stage where we need to alert someone,’ and the phone can contact someone with naloxone.”

The researchers are applying for FDA approval and have plans to commercialize this technology through a UW spinout called Sound Life Sciences, Inc. While this app could be used for all forms of opioid use, the team cautions that right now they have only tested it on illegal injectable opioid use because deaths from those overdoses are the most common.

“We’re experiencing an unprecedented epidemic of deaths from opioid use, and it’s unfortunate because these overdoses are completely reversible phenomena if they’re detected in time,” Sunshine said. “The goal of this project is to try to connect people who are often experiencing overdoses alone to known therapies that can save their lives. We hope that by keeping people safer, they can eventually access long-term treatment.”

This research was funded by the UW Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute and the National Science Foundation.




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“Smart, self-powered knee implants could reduce number of knee replacement surgeries”

Knee replacement surgery is the most common joint replacement procedure, with the number of surgeries increasing every year. Many of those surgeries are done to replace an older implant or one that has worn out. Increasingly, this surgery is being performed for younger, more active patients who are faced with a dilemma. When they undergo the surgery, they are expected to remain physically active for their overall health, but that activity can also wear down the new implant. Often, doctors don’t know if patients are overexerting themselves until they begin to develop symptoms. By that point, the damage to the implant has already been done. For a young patient, going through knee replacement surgery every five or 10 years is a daunting task, but finding the perfect balance of activity levels to maintain the integrity of the implant has been equally daunting.

Researchers decided it was time to create smarter knee implants that could monitor changes in activity as they happened. Assistant Professor Sherry Towfighian from Binghamton University served as the lead principal investigator on the study, which has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“We are working on a knee implant that has built-in sensors that can monitor how much pressure is being put on the implant so doctors can have a clearer understanding of how much activity is negatively affecting the implant,” said Towfighian.

The sensors allow doctors to tell patients when a certain movement has become too much for the implant so patients can quickly adjust and avoid further damage to the implant. It helps them find the sweet spot of activity for each particular patient.

While the sensors solved one problem, they brought in another. The researchers did not want to power the sensors with a battery that might need to be replaced periodically and therefore, defeat the purpose of a smart implant. Instead, they worked on an energy harvesting mechanism that can power the knee implant from motion. Wathiq Ibrahim, a postdoc in Towfighian’s group, developed a prototype of the energy harvester and tested that under a mechanical testing machine to examine its output under equivalent body loads.

They used triboelectric energy, a type of energy that is collected from friction. Once someone walks, the friction of the micro-surfaces coming into contact with each other can be used to power the load sensors.

Associate Professor Emre Salman from Stony Brook University designed the circuit and determined that it would need 4.6 microwatts. The preliminary testing showed the average person’s walk will produce six microwatts of power, more than enough to power the sensors. This part of the research was complemented by Assistant Professor Ryan Willing from the University of Western Ontario, who worked on the implant design and the package of the sensor.

These smart implants will not only give feedback to doctors but will help researchers in the development of future implants. “The sensors will tell us more about the demands that are placed on implants, and with that knowledge, researchers can start to improve the implants even more,” said Towfighian.

Towfighian is hopeful that the combination of activity sensors and a self-powered system will increase the life span of knee implants and reduce the need for follow-up surgeries. For young patients looking at the possibility of knee replacement surgery, this development has the potential to be life-changing.

This research has been supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the National Institute of Health under award number R21AR068572. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

The research was published in Smart Materials and Structures.



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The Industrials:

“First study to find digital ads work — on millennials”

While millions of dollars are spent every day on digital advertising, no research has found these ads actually work — until now.

Katherine Haenschen, assistant professor in the department of communication at Virginia Tech said “this is first time we found that digital ads do something and what they do is they increase voter turnout among millennials in municipal elections.”

According to research published in Political Communication digital ads increased voter participation in a Dallas municipal election.

Why Dallas? Less than 7 percent of residents, and under 2 percent of millennials voted in their 2015 municipal election, making it the worst major city in the United States for voter turnout.

Discouraged by that statistic civic leaders wanted change. The effort led to a collaboration with the Dallas Morning News, Jay Jennings of University of Texas, and of course Haenschen.

In the study, millennials were exposed to two or four weeks of ads in the month leading up to the election. One set of ads focused on providing information about city council and school board candidates published by Dallas Morning News. The other set of ads served as election participation reminders. Some groups were exposed to both sets of ads (information and reminders) while other groups only saw one set of ads. At most, people saw ads four times per day.

“Since many adults encounter over 2,000 ads a day,” we gave people a very small amount of ads and were still able to change their behavior,” Haenschen said.

In competitive districts, when millennials were exposed to all four weeks of ads, voter turnout went up. In non-competitive districts the effect was the opposite, suggesting users in uncontested districts may have chosen not to participate.

One of the more surprising findings was the effect the digital ads had on millennials who “are a notoriously difficult demographic to reach,” said Haenschen. “They don’t have landlines and move around a lot making them difficult targets for candidates.”

That is why Haenschen and collaborators chose to use cookie-targeted digital ads for the study. “Millennials’ IP address is perhaps more stable than their physical address,” said Haenschen.

But the thing that excites Haenschen the most about this research was it showed a path to mobilize people who had never voted in an election.

“One thing that I think is so great about our study is that it was able to mobilize people who had never voted in a municipal election before,” said Haenschen. “So you figure now these folks have been mobilized to vote for their city council member and school board one time. Now they will be on lists of people who voted in prior municipal elections, so future candidates will reach out to them. We can hope that it may have snowball effect over time, and this can be a way to systematically increase turnout among a tough demographic.”



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