May 2019 Jobs Report and Industry Update

 


Economics & Job Creation:

“THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — April 2019”

Life Sciences:
“Perseverance toward life goals can fend off depression, anxiety, panic disorders”

Technology:
“‘High thermal conductivity of new material will create energy efficient devices”

Healthcare:
“Synthetic biology used to target cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue”

The Industrials:
“How to hack your deadline: Admit it’s uncertain”

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:

THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — APRIL 2019

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 263,000 in April, and the
unemployment rate declined to 3.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics reported today. Notable job gains occurred in professional
and business services, construction, health care, and social assistance.

This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The
household survey measures labor force status, including unemployment,
by demographic characteristics. The establishment survey measures nonfarm
employment, hours, and earnings by industry. For more information about
the concepts and statistical methodology used in these two surveys, see
the Technical Note.

Household Survey Data

The unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 3.6 percent in
April, the lowest rate since December 1969. Over the month, the number
of unemployed persons decreased by 387,000 to 5.8 million. (See table
A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates declined in April
for adult men (3.4 percent), adult women (3.1 percent), Whites (3.1
percent), Asians (2.2 percent), and Hispanics (4.2 percent). The jobless
rates for teenagers (13.0 percent) and Blacks (6.7 percent) showed little
or no change. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed
temporary jobs declined by 186,000 over the month to 2.7 million. (See
table A-11.)

In April, the number of persons unemployed less than 5 weeks declined by
222,000 to 1.9 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless
for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.2 million in April and
accounted for 21.1 percent of the unemployed. (See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to
62.8 percent in April but was unchanged from a year earlier. The employment-
population ratio was unchanged at 60.6 percent in April and has been either
60.6 percent or 60.7 percent since October 2018. (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 at 4.7
million in April. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time
employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or
because they were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)

In April, 1.4 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 454,000 discouraged workers in
April, about unchanged from 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 963,000 persons
marginally attached to the labor force in April 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 263,000 in April, compared with
an average monthly gain of 213,000 over the prior 12 months. In April, notable
jobs gains occurred in professional and business services, construction,
health care, and social assistance. (See table B-1.)

Professional and business services added 76,000 jobs in April. Within the
industry, employment gains occurred in administrative and support services
(+53,000) and in computer systems design and related services (+14,000). Over
the past 12 months, professional and business services has added 535,000 jobs.

In April, construction employment rose by 33,000, with gains in nonresidential
specialty trade contractors (+22,000) and in heavy and civil engineering
construction (+10,000). Construction has added 256,000 jobs over the past 12
months.

Employment in health care grew by 27,000 in April and 404,000 over the past
12 months. In April, job growth occurred in ambulatory health care services
(+17,000), hospitals (+8,000), and community care facilities for the elderly
(+7,000).

Social assistance added 26,000 jobs over the month, with all of the gain in
individual and family services.

Financial activities employment continued to trend up in April (+12,000). The
industry has added 110,000 jobs over the past 12 months, with almost three-
fourths of the growth in real estate and rental and leasing.

Manufacturing employment changed little for the third month in a row (+4,000
in April). In the 12 months prior to February, the industry had added an
average of 22,000 jobs per month.

Employment in retail trade changed little in April (-12,000). Job losses
occurred in general merchandise stores (-9,000), while motor vehicle and
parts dealers added 8,000 jobs.

Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade,
transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality, and
government, showed little change over the month.

In April, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm
payrolls rose by 6 cents to $27.77. Over the year, average hourly earnings
have increased by 3.2 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector
production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 7 cents to $23.31 in
April. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased
by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in April. In manufacturing, both the workweek and
overtime were unchanged (40.7 hours and 3.4 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.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised up
from +33,000 to +56,000, and the change for March was revised down from
+196,000 to +189,000. With these revisions, employment gains in February and
March combined were 16,000 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 169,000 per month over the
last 3 months.

 

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

 

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Life Sciences:

“Perseverance toward life goals can fend off depression, anxiety, panic disorders”

People who don’t give up on their goals (or who get better over time at not giving up on their goals) and who have a positive outlook appear to have less anxiety and depression and fewer panic attacks, according to a study of thousands of Americans over the course of 18 years. Surprisingly, a sense of control did not have an effect on the mental health of participants across time.

The study was published by the American Psychological Association in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

“Perseverance cultivates a sense of purposefulness that can create resilience against or decrease current levels of major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder,” said Nur Hani Zainal, MS, from The Pennsylvania State University and lead author of the study. “Looking on the bright side of unfortunate events has the same effect because people feel that life is meaningful, understandable and manageable.”

Depression, anxiety and panic disorders are common mental health disorders that can be chronic and debilitating and put a person’s physical health and livelihood at risk, according to Zainal and her co-author, Michelle G. Newman, PhD, also of The Pennsylvania State University.

“Often, people with these disorders are stuck in a cycle of negative thought patterns and behaviors that can make them feel worse,” said Newman. “We wanted to understand what specific coping strategies would be helpful in reducing rates of depression, anxiety and panic attacks.”

Zainal and Newman used data from 3,294 adults who were studied over 18 years. The average age of participants was 45, nearly all were white and slightly fewer than half were college-educated. Data were collected three times, in 1995 to 1996, 2004 to 2005 and 2012 to 2013. At each interval, participants were asked to rate their goal persistence (e.g., “When I encounter problems, I don’t give up until I solve them”), self-mastery (e.g., “I can do just anything I really set my mind to”) and positive reappraisal (e.g., “I can find something positive, even in the worst situations”). Diagnoses for major depressive, anxiety and panic disorders were also collected at each interval.

People who showed more goal persistence and optimism during the first assessment in the mid-1990s had greater reductions in depression, anxiety and panic disorders across the 18 years, according to the authors.

And throughout those years, people who began with fewer mental health problems showed more increased perseverance toward life goals and were better at focusing on the positive side of unfortunate events, said Zainal.

“Our findings suggest that people can improve their mental health by raising or maintaining high levels of tenacity, resilience and optimism,” she said. “Aspiring toward personal and career goals can make people feel like their lives have meaning. On the other hand, disengaging from striving toward those aims or having a cynical attitude can have high mental health costs.”

Unlike in previous research, Zainal and Newman did not find that self-mastery, or feeling in control of one’s fate, had an effect on the mental health of participants across the 18-year period.

“This could have been because the participants, on average, did not show any changes in their use of self-mastery over time,” said Newman. “It is possible that self-mastery is a relatively stable part of a person’s character that does not easily change.”

The authors believe their findings will be beneficial for psychotherapists working with clients dealing with depression, anxiety and panic disorders.

“Clinicians can help their clients understand the vicious cycle caused by giving up on professional and personal aspirations. Giving up may offer temporary emotional relief but can increase the risk of setbacks as regret and disappointment set in,” said Zainal. “Boosting a patient’s optimism and resilience by committing to specific courses of actions to make dreams come to full fruition despite obstacles can generate more positive moods and a sense of purpose.”

 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190502100852.htm

 

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Technology:

“‘High thermal conductivity of new material will create energy efficient devices”

Researchers at the University of Bristol have successfully demonstrated the high thermal conductivity of a new material, paving the way for safer and more efficient electronic devices — including mobile phones, radars and even electric cars.

The team, led by Professor Martin Kuball at the Center for Device Thermography and Reliability (CDTR), found that by making an ultra-pure version of Boron Nitride it was possible to demonstrate its thermal conductivity potential for the first time, which at 550W/mk is twice that of copper.

The paper: Modulating the thermal conductivity in hexagonal boron nitride via controlled boron isotope concentration is published today in Communications Physics.

Prof. Kuball explained:

“Most semiconductor electronics heat up when used. The hotter they get, the greater the rate at which they degrade, and their performance diminishes. As we rely more and more upon our electronic devices, it becomes increasingly important to find materials with high thermal conductivity which can extract waste heat.

“Boron Nitride is one such material which was predicted to have a thermal conductivity of 550 W/mK, twice that of copper. However, all measurements to date seemed to show its thermal conductivity was much lower. Excitingly, by making this material ‘ultra-pure’, we have been able to demonstrate for the first time its very high thermal conductivity potential.”

Professor Kuball said the next step was to start making active electronic devices from Boron Nitride, as well as integrating it with other semiconductor materials.

“In demonstrating the potential of ultra-pure Boron Nitride, we now have a material that can be used in the near future to create high performance, high energy efficiency electronics.”

“The implications of this discovery are significant. Certainly, our reliance on electronics is only going to increase, along with our use of mobile phones and adoption of electric cars. Using more efficient materials, like Boron Nitride, to satisfy these demands will lead to better performance mobile phone communication networks, safer transportation and ultimately, fewer power stations.”

 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190502100829.htm

 

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Healthcare:

“Synthetic biology used to target cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue”

Synthetic proteins engineered to recognize overly active biological pathways can kill cancer cells while sparing their healthy peers, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The customizable approach, which the researchers call RASER, relies on just two proteins: The first is activated in the presence of an “always on” growth signal often found in cancer cells, and the second carries out a researcher-programmed response, such as triggering the expression of genes involved in cell death.

Although the experiments were confined to cells grown in the laboratory, the researchers believe the results could lead to a new type of cancer therapy in which synthetic proteins deliver highly targeted and customizable treatments to sidestep the sometimes devastating side effects of current options.

“We’re effectively rewiring the cancer cells to bring about an outcome of our choosing,” said Michael Lin, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurobiology and of bioengineering. “We’ve always searched for a way to kill cancer cells but not normal cells. Cancer cells arise from faulty signals that allow them to grow inappropriately, so we’ve hacked into cancer cells to redirect these faulty signals to something useful.”

A paper describing the work will be published May 2 in Science. Lin is the senior author. Former graduate student Hokyung Chung, PhD, is the lead author.

Signals from receptors

Many cancers rely on a series of signals that originate from proteins called receptors that span the membrane of the cell. These signaling cascades, or pathways, are used by healthy cells to grow in response to external cues, for example during development or recovery from injury. Often, however, these receptor proteins are mutated or overexpressed in cancer cells in ways that render the receptor protein “always on,” providing the cell with constant, unwarranted signals for growth. The researchers focused on two receptors, EGFR and HER2 — members of a family of receptors called the ErbB receptors — that often drive the growth of brain, lung and breast cancers. HER2, for example, is targeted by Herceptin in breast cancer.

Many common anti-cancer drugs, including Herceptin, work by blocking the cascade of signals triggered by receptor activation. Unfortunately, however, these drugs have no way to discriminate between cancerous cells, in which the pathway is always activated, and healthy cells going about their business as usual. That’s where Lin and his team come in.

“We haven’t had a drug that can tell the difference between a pathway signaling normally and one that is abnormally active,” Lin said. “We knew we needed a better strategy, a more rational way of treating cancer. But we’ve not had a way to do it until recently.”

Designing a synthetic protein

Chung and her colleagues designed a synthetic protein consisting of two natural proteins fused together — one that binds to active ErbB receptors and another that cleaves a specific amino acid sequence. They then engineered a second protein that binds to the inner surface of the cell membrane and contains a customizable “cargo” sequence that can carry out specific actions in the cell. When the first protein binds to an active ErbB receptor, it cuts the second protein and releases the cargo into the interior of the cell.

“When the receptor protein is always on, as it is in cancer cells, the released cargo protein accumulates over time,” Chung said. “Eventually enough accumulates to have an effect on the cell. In this way, the system produces an effect only in cancer cells, and we can convert the always-on state of the receptor into different outcomes through the choice of cargo protein.”

After several rounds of tinkering, the team saw that their RASER system, which stands for “rewiring of aberrant signaling to effector release,” was highly specific for cancer cells dependent on ErbB receptor activity. For their first test they chose to use a protein involved in triggering cell death as the RASER cargo.

Killing only overactive cells

The team compared the RASER system to two therapies currently used for metastatic breast cancer — a chemotherapy regimen and a drug that blocks ErbB activity — on several types of cultured cells: breast and lung cancer cells in which the ErbB pathway was overly active; breast cancer cells in which ErbB activity was normal; and noncancerous breast and lung cell lines.

The researchers found that the traditional chemotherapy regimen of carboplatin and paclitaxel killed all the cells indiscriminately. The effect of the ErbB pathway inhibitor on the viability of the cells varied and did not reliably correlate with ErbB pathway activity levels. Only RASER specifically killed those cells in which the ErbB pathway was overly active while sparing those in which ErbB activity was normal.

While much work remains to be done to learn whether RASER is effective in human tumors, the researchers are excited about the possibilities of re-engineering the system to recognize other receptors mutated in cancers and swapping the cargos to achieve different outcomes. Challenges include learning how best to deliver synthetic proteins into tumors and understanding how the immune system might react to RASER. But Lin is optimistic.

“We have so much more information now about cancer genomics, signaling and how cancer cells interact with the immune system,” Lin said. “It’s finally becoming practical to combine this knowledge with synthetic biology approaches to tackle some of these pressing human health problems. RASER is both customizable and generalizable, and it allows us for the first time to selectively target cancer cells while sparing normal signaling pathways.”

 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190502143454.htm

 

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The Industrials:

“How to hack your deadline: Admit it’s uncertain”

Deadlines tend to radiate a sense of existential finality, but project managers know that they’re rarely set in stone.

While it might sound counterintuitive, embracing that uncertainty could be key to more successful projects, University of Michigan researchers have found.

The team devised a way to peek under the hood of deadlines, map out their uncertainty and fold it into a project management system.

“Our society tends to think of deadlines as less flexible than other aspects of a project, but in reality, that’s often not the case,” said Tom Logan, a U-M doctoral student in industrial and operations engineering. “When we recognize that, it enables us to do some really novel things.”

Logan worked on the project with Robert Bordley, professor of practice and program director in Integrative Systems + Design at the U-M College of Engineering.

In a series of experiments testing the team’s technique, it improved the success rate of projects by up to 40 percent. That improved success rate can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including more timely completion, projects that are better tailored to their original requirements and improved profitability.

“A deadline is just another stakeholder requirement and we all know that stakeholder requirements hold a certain amount of uncertainty,” Bordley said. “We can’t eliminate that uncertainty, but we can often quantify it. And I’ve found that the value of doing that is very big.”

The solution, detailed in a study published in the European Journal of Operational Research, is to work with stakeholders to understand the uncertainty and work it into the project as an active, manageable variable.

The hard part comes first — managers should ask for more than just the optimistic and pessimistic completion dates that are part of Project Evaluation and Review Technique, the statistical tool that underpins modern project management. This requires an honest sit-down with stakeholders and some digging to learn the reasoning behind those dates.

“Stakeholders are always dealing with a complex set of uncertainties, but they are rarely shared with project managers. The goal is to bring the two worlds closer together and incorporate the knowledge that’s uncovered into the management process,” Bordley said.

“I like to ask stakeholders to think of a situation that would cause a deadline to get pushed forward by a month, for example. Tell me about that situation, estimate how likely it is to happen. Focus on the extremes. That way, you end up with optimistic and pessimistic deadlines that are more than just numbers.”

With optimistic and pessimistic deadlines in hand, the next step is to indicate the uncertainty of the deadline within the project management system.

To do this, Bordley says, add an additional, virtual activity to a project. The activity begins on the optimistic completion date and ends on the pessimistic completion date, creating a virtual bullseye for on-time completion. As long as the project finishes between the optimistic and pessimistic dates, it’s considered on time. The more uncertainty in the deadline, the larger the bullseye.

The manager can then make decisions based on the uncertainty of the deadline. A less certain deadline means a larger target and more flexibility to focus resources on other project requirements that are more certain.

The virtual activity can also be adjusted as the project progresses — shrinking as the deadline firms up or growing as uncertainty mounts. Either way, it gives the manager a running forecast of deadline uncertainty and the ability to plan accordingly.

“This technique can save a manager from spending a lot of time and resources on a deadline that might not matter much in the end,” Bordley said. “If it’s soft, the manager can quickly see that it’s soft and focus resources on other requirements that are less likely to change.”

To test the effectiveness of the modification, the team built a computer model that cycled through 1,000 simulated projects. First, they applied a traditional PERT project management model that ignores deadline uncertainty, then they applied their modified model that recognizes deadline uncertainty and adjusts resources as needed.

Bordley and Logan devised the strategy along with Jeffrey Keisler, a professor at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190418131348.htm

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