November 2019 Jobs Report and Industry Update
“THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — October 2019”
“A stretchable stopwatch lights up human skin”
“New AI deep learning model allows earlier, more accurate ozone warnings'”
“Malaria pathogen under the X-ray microscope”
“Firm’s strategic orientation shapes how it resolves workplace disputes”
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Economics & Job Creation:
THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — OCTOBER 2019
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 128,000 in October, and the
unemployment rate was little changed at 3.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau
of Labor Statistics reported today. Notable job gains occurred in food
services and drinking places, social assistance, and financial activities.
Within manufacturing, employment in motor vehicles and parts decreased
due to strike activity. Federal government employment was down, reflecting
a drop in the number of temporary jobs for the 2020 Census.
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
Both the unemployment rate, at 3.6 percent, and the number of unemployed
persons, at 5.9 million, changed little in October. (See table A-1.)
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men
(3.2 percent), adult women (3.2 percent), teenagers (12.3 percent),
Whites (3.2 percent), Blacks (5.4 percent), Asians (2.9 percent), and
Hispanics (4.1 percent) showed little or no change in October. (See
tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more)
was essentially unchanged at 1.3 million in October and accounted for 21.5
percent of the unemployed. (See table A-12.)
The labor force participation rate was little changed at 63.3 percent in
October, and the employment-population ratio held at 61.0 percent. Both
measures were up by 0.4 percentage point over the year. (See table A-1.)
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, at 4.4 million,
changed little in October. 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 October, 1.2 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force,
down by 262,000 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 341,000 discouraged workers in
October, down by 165,000 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 888,000 persons marginally
attached to the labor force in October 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 128,000 in October. Job growth
has averaged 167,000 per month thus far in 2019, compared with an average
monthly gain of 223,000 in 2018. In October, notable job gains occurred in
food services and drinking places, social assistance, and financial activities.
Employment declined in motor vehicles and parts manufacturing due to strike
activity. Federal government employment also was down, reflecting a drop in
the number of temporary jobs for the 2020 Census. (See table B-1.)
In October, food services and drinking places added 48,000 jobs. Job growth
in the industry has averaged 38,000 over the past 3 months, compared with an
average monthly gain of 16,000 in the first 7 months of 2019.
Employment in social assistance increased by 20,000 in October and by 139,000
over the last 12 months. Most of the gain occurred in individual and family
services, which added 17,000 jobs over the month and 111,000 over the year.
In October, employment in financial activities rose by 16,000, with gains
in real estate and rental and leasing (+10,000) and in credit intermediation
and related activities (+6,000). Financial activities has added 108,000
jobs over the last 12 months.
Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in
October (+22,000). The industry has added an average of 33,000 jobs per
month thus far in 2019, compared with an average gain of 47,000 jobs per
month in 2018.
Health care employment continued on an upward trend in October (+15,000).
Health care has added 402,000 jobs over the last 12 months.
Manufacturing employment decreased by 36,000 in October. Within manufacturing,
employment in motor vehicles and parts declined by 42,000, reflecting strike
Federal government employment was down by 17,000 over the month, as 20,000
temporary workers who had been preparing for the 2020 Census completed their
Employment in other major industries–including mining, construction, wholesale
trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, and information–showed
little change over the month.
In October, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm
payrolls rose by 6 cents to $28.18. Over the past 12 months, average hourly
earnings have increased by 3.0 percent. In October, average hourly earnings of
private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 4 cents to $23.70.
(See tables B-3 and B-8.)
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged
at 34.4 hours in October. In manufacturing, the average workweek decreased by
0.2 hour to 40.3 hours, while overtime was unchanged at 3.2 hours. The average
workweek of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees held at 33.6
hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised up by 51,000
from +168,000 to +219,000, and the change for September was revised up by 44,000
from +136,000 to +180,000. With these revisions, employment gains in August and
September combined were 95,000 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 176,000 over the last 3 months.
“A stretchable stopwatch lights up human skin”
Imagine a runner who doesn’t need to carry a stopwatch or cell phone to check her time: She could just gaze at the glowing stopwatch display on the back of her hand. Such human-machine interfaces are no longer science fiction, but they still have a way to go before becoming mainstream. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Materials Letters have developed a stretchable light-emitting device that operates at low voltages and is safe for human skin.
Recently, scientists have developed stretchable light-emitting devices called alternating-current electroluminescent (ACEL) displays that can be stuck on skin or other surfaces like a temporary tattoo. However, the displays require relatively high voltages to achieve sufficient brightness, which could create safety concerns. So, Desheng Kong and colleagues wanted to develop an ACEL that could operate at lower voltages and thus be safer for human skin.
To make their device, the researchers sandwiched an electroluminescent layer, made of light-emitting microparticles dispersed in a stretchable dielectric material, between two flexible silver nanowire electrodes. The device contained a new type of dielectric material, in the form of ceramic nanoparticles embedded in a rubbery polymer, that increased the brightness compared with existing ACEL displays. They used this material to make a four-digit stopwatch display, which they mounted onto a volunteer’s hand. At low voltages, the stretchable display was sufficiently bright to be seen under indoor lighting. The bright stretchable display could find a broad range of applications in smart wearables, soft robotics and human-machine interfaces, the researchers say.
“New AI deep learning model allows earlier, more accurate ozone warnings”
Researchers from the University of Houston have developed an artificial intelligence-based ozone forecasting system, which would allow local areas to predict ozone levels 24 hours in advance.
That would improve health alerts for people at heightened risk of developing problems because of high ozone levels.
Yunsoo Choi, associate professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and corresponding author for a paper explaining the work, said they built an artificially intelligent model using a convolutional neural network, which is able to take information from current conditions and accurately predict ozone levels for the next day. The work was published in the journal Neural Networks.
“If we know the conditions of today, we can predict the conditions of tomorrow,” Choi said.
Ozone is an unstable gas, formed by a chemical reaction when sunlight combines with nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds, both of which are found in automobile and industrial emissions. It can cause respiratory problems in people, and those especially susceptible to ozone — including people with asthma, the elderly and young children — are advised to reduce their exposure when ozone levels are high.
Alqamah Sayeed, first author on the paper and a Ph.D. student in Choi’s Air Quality Forecasting and Modeling Lab, said most current ozone forecasting models don’t incorporate artificial intelligence and can take several hours to predict future ozone levels, rather than just a few seconds for the new model. They also are less accurate; the researchers reported their model correctly predicted ozone levels 24 hours in advance between 85% and 90% of the time.
A key difference, Choi said, is the use of convolutional neural networks, networks capable of “sweeping” data and using that to form assumptions based on what it has learned. The convolutional networks are generally used to improve imaging resolution, he said. Choi and Sayeed said using the networks to extract information and then using artificial intelligence in order to make predictions from that data is a new application, illustrating the strength of the networks’ ability to gather information and make inferences based upon that information.
The researchers used meteorological and air pollution data collected at 21 stations in Houston and elsewhere in Texas by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, representing conditions between 2014 and 2017. Sayeed said they programmed the convolutional neural networks using meteorological data — temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed and other variables — for each day, and added ozone measurements from each station for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
To test their belief that the model would be able to predict ozone levels given meteorological conditions from the previous day, they added weather data for 2017 and checked the forecasts the network produced for accuracy.
The model’s forecasts reached 90% accuracy, and Choi said it will become more accurate over time, as the network continues to learn.
Although the tests were done using Texas data, the researchers said the model could be used anywhere in the world. “The U.S. is geographically different from East Asia,” Choi said, “but the physics and chemistry of ozone creation are the same.”
Sayeed said the researchers are currently working to expand the model to include predictions of other types of pollutants, including particulate matter, as well as to extend the time period beyond 24 hours.
“Malaria pathogen under the X-ray microscope”
Around 40 percent of humanity lives in regions affected by malaria, around 200 million people contract the disease every year, and an estimated 600,000 people die as a result. Anopheles mosquitoes that transmit malaria pathogens are spreading due to climate change. These pathogens are unicellular organisms (plasmodia) that settle inside the red blood cells of their hosts and metabolize hemoglobin there to grow and multiply.
The main avenue to deal with the disease is treatment by active compounds in the quinoline family and, more recently, from the artemisinin family. However, the exact way that active compounds keep the pathogenic plasmodia in check has so far been subject to controversy.
One thesis relates to the digestive process of the pathogenic plasmodia. Research has shown that plasmodia store large amounts of hemoglobin in their digestive vacuole, an organelle that resembles a bag. This releases iron-containing hemozoin molecules that the plasmodia cannot tolerate. The plasmodia manage to crystallize these toxic hemozoin molecules so that they can no longer poison them. The idea was that active compounds might prevent the formation of hemozoin crystals and thus boycott the detoxification process of the plasmodia.
A team led by Sergey Kapishnikov from the University of Copenhagen and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, together with Danish, Spanish, French and Berlin colleagues, has now investigated this process in infected blood cells for the first time. The blood cells were infected with the malaria pathogen Plasmodium falciparum and then mixed with different concentrations of bromoquine from the quinoline family.
Malaria pathogens in blood cells can only be examined in vivo and in their natural environment using X-ray microscopy at synchrotron sources. Other investigation methods, such as electron microscopy, require the pathogens to be dried and cut into ultra-thin slices.
At BESSY II, Stephan Werner and Peter Guttmann together with Sergey Kapishnikov were able to examine the samples using X-ray microscopy. “The blood samples are flash-frozen for the examination so that we can observe the pathogens in vivo and also produce three-dimensional X-ray tomography images,” explains Guttmann. Further X-ray microscopy studies were carried out at the ALBA synchrotron light source in Barcelona.
Fluorescence spectromicroscopy at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility ESRF in Grenoble made it possible to map the distribution of elements in blood cells . When combined with the cellular structure revealed by the three-dimensional X-ray images, the bromoquine distribution and its mode of action could be precisely interpreted. “We see in our images that the bromoquine accumulates at the surface of hemozoin crystals. This should lead to inhibition of the crystal growth and thus disrupt the detoxification process by the plasmodia parasites,” explains Kapishnikov.
These investigations can also be extended to other drug groups such as Artemisinin and provide valuable information for the design of more effective malaria treatments.
“Firm’s strategic orientation shapes how it resolves workplace disputes”
A new paper co-written by a University of Illinois expert who studies labor and employment arbitration examines the strategic underpinnings of why firms use certain alternative dispute resolution practices when sorting out a workplace issue.
As firms have increasingly looked to contain costs associated with employment conflicts or take workplace conflict out of the public eye, the use of third-party alternative dispute resolution mechanisms has grown to be commonplace. And that growth has been driven by a shift in the willingness of executives in nonunion firms to adopt and implement dispute resolution methods — primarily arbitration and mediation — that have been used for the last 30-plus years by unionized firms, said J. Ryan Lamare, a professor of labor and employment relations at Illinois.
“Since the 1970s, firms have tried to channel workplace conflict in such a way that it doesn’t always end up litigated in court,” he said. “Litigation is very expensive, there’s a lot of uncertainty around the process, and it can be very damaging to relationships between employees and managers.”
In the corporate world, the field of alternate dispute resolution has been understudied from a strategic perspective, Lamare said.
“We’ve had very little understanding until recently of the extent to which firms have underlying strategic orientations for their preferences or their likelihood of using alternate dispute resolution,” he said. “What drives them to use mediation or arbitration? Is it the same thing, or are there strategies behind choosing one over the other?”
To investigate the potential link, Lamare and co-authors Ariel C. Avgar and David B. Lipsky, both of Cornell University, surveyed more than a third of the general counsels or high-ranking attorneys from Fortune 1000 corporations about the strategic drivers for alternative dispute resolution usage. The researchers augmented the responses with public data — financial performance, firm size — for each of the companies included in the sample.
The researchers uncovered four latent strategic orientations — efficiency, satisfaction, sustainable resolutions or litigation avoidance — that drive firms’ usage of alternative dispute resolution. They found firms that value efficiency are significantly more likely to use mediation than firms that place less emphasis on efficiency. Similarly, firms focused on enhancing satisfaction with dispute resolution outcomes are significantly more likely to use mediation than firms that attach less value to it, but a satisfaction orientation was also found to be significantly related to the frequency of arbitration usage, according to the paper. On the other hand, litigation avoidance was not a significant driver of arbitration usage.
The researchers also found that a firm’s sustained commitment to alternative dispute resolution predicted higher usage of both mediation and arbitration.
Taken together, the evidence points to an important link between a firm’s strategic posture toward and commitment to alternative dispute resolution and its actual use of those specific vehicles, Lamare said.
“One of the advantages of this paper is the strength of the data collection,” he said. “The fact that we were able to go to the 1,000 largest companies in the U.S. is really valuable because it’s very difficult to find data on underlying behaviors at the firm level.”
Much of the controversy around arbitration is that companies use it strategically to limit their exposure to lawsuits and other high-profile, high-cost disputes that have the potential to generate negative publicity, Lamare said.
“Arbitration is a quasi-judicial process that is essentially a replication of the court system but is conducted by a private third-party arbitrator,” he said. “The reason you might want to use arbitration over litigation would be that it’s more efficient, cost-effective and informal; some would argue that it leads to more equitable outcomes. But others reject that idea, and argue that it allows for an unleveling of the playing field that benefits employers, so really it depends on which side of the fence you’re on.”
On the other hand, mediation is a voluntary process, and “you don’t necessarily have to reach an agreement,” Lamare said.
“The only requirement is that the mediator is acceptable and the settlement is acceptable to both parties,” he said. “There’s no binding consequence for failing to resolve the conflict.”
Overall, the findings provide evidence that corporations continue to rely on mediation and, to a greater extent, arbitration because “they believe these practices result in more satisfactory outcomes than litigation,” Lamare said.
“In contrast to litigation, arbitration allows employers to maintain nearly total control over the rules that lead to the outcomes of employment disputes,” he said. “Employers can, for example, ensure the confidentiality of the proceedings, exercise significant influence on the selection of the neutral party and limit discovery. Perhaps most importantly, the cadre of experienced, neutral third-party arbitrators who specialize in employment disputes is growing, and many employers would prefer to have them decide such disputes rather than judges and juries.”