July 2019 Jobs Report and Industry Update


Economics & Job Creation:


Life Sciences:
“Upbeat music can sweeten tough exercise”

“Smart glasses follow our eyes, focus automatically”

“Nerve transfer surgery restores hand function and elbow extension in 13 young adults with complete paralysis”

The Industrials:
“How bosses react influences whether workers speak up”

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.


Back to Top



Economics & Job Creation:


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 224,000 in June, and the
unemployment rate was little changed at 3.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau
of Labor Statistics reported today. Notable job gains occurred in
professional and business services, in health care, and in transportation
and warehousing.

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 3.7 percent, and the number of unemployed
persons, at 6.0 million, changed little in June. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.3
percent), adult women (3.3 percent), teenagers (12.7 percent), Whites
(3.3 percent), Blacks (6.0 percent), Asians (2.1 percent), and Hispanics
(4.3 percent) showed little or no change in June. (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 1.4 million in June and accounted for 23.7 percent
of the unemployed. (See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate, at 62.9 percent, was little changed
over the month and unchanged over the year. In June, the employment-
population ratio was 60.6 percent for the fourth month in a row. (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 4.3 million in June. 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 June, 1.6 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 425,000 discouraged workers in
June, little changed 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
1.1 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in June 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 224,000 in June. Employment
growth has averaged 172,000 per month thus far this year, compared with
an average monthly gain of 223,000 in 2018. In June, notable job gains
occurred in professional and business services, in health care, and in
transportation and warehousing. (See table B-1.)

Professional and business services added 51,000 jobs in June, following
little employment change in May (+24,000). Employment growth in the
industry has averaged 35,000 per month in the first half of 2019,
compared with an average monthly gain of 47,000 in 2018.

Employment in health care increased by 35,000 over the month and by
403,000 over the past 12 months. In June, job growth occurred in
ambulatory health care services (+19,000) and hospitals (+11,000).

Transportation and warehousing added 24,000 jobs over the month and
158,000 over the past 12 months. In June, job gains occurred among
couriers and messengers (+7,000) and in air transportation (+3,000).

Construction employment continued to trend up in June (+21,000), in
line with its average monthly gain over the prior 12 months.

Manufacturing employment edged up in June (+17,000), following 4 months
of little change. So far this year, job growth in the industry has
averaged 8,000 per month, compared with an average of 22,000 per month
in 2018. In June, employment rose in computer and electronic products
(+7,000) and in plastics and rubber products (+4,000).

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

In June, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm
payrolls rose by 6 cents to $27.90, following a 9-cent gain in May.
Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.1
percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and
nonsupervisory employees increased by 4 cents to $23.43 in June. (See
tables B-3 and B-8.)

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls
was unchanged at 34.4 hours in June. In manufacturing, the average
workweek edged up 0.1 hour to 40.7 hours, while overtime was unchanged
at 3.4 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory
employees on private nonfarm payrolls held at 33.6 hours. (See tables
B-2 and B-7.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for April was revised
down from +224,000 to +216,000, and the change for May was revised
down from +75,000 to +72,000. With these revisions, employment gains
in April and May combined were 11,000 less 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 171,000 per month over the last 3 months.



Back to Top

Life Sciences:

“Upbeat music can sweeten tough exercise”

New research coming out of UBC’s Okanagan campus demonstrates that upbeat music can make a rigorous workout seem less tough. Even for people who are insufficiently active.

Matthew Stork is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences. He recently published a study examining how the right music can help less-active people get more out of their workout — and enjoy it more.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) — brief, repeated bouts of intense exercise separated by periods of rest — has been shown to improve physical health over several weeks of training. But, cautions Stork, it can be perceived as gruelling for many people, especially those who are less active.

“While HIIT is time-efficient and can elicit meaningful health benefits among adults who are insufficiently active, one major drawback is that people may find it to be unpleasant. As a result, this has the potential to discourage continued participation,” he says.

Previous research led by Stork and UBC Okanagan’s Kathleen Martin Ginis has examined the effects of music during HIIT with recreationally-active people. Their latest study tested the effects of music with participants who were insufficiently-active, used a more rigorous music selection process and implemented a HIIT regimen that is more practical for less-active adults.

The study took place at Brunel University London and Stork worked with Professor Costas Karageorghis, a researcher who studies the effects music has on sport and exercise. First, Stork gathered a panel of British adults to rate the motivational qualities of 16 fast-tempo songs. The three songs with the highest motivational ratings were used for the study.

“Music is typically used as a dissociative strategy. This means that it can draw your attention away from the body’s physiological responses to exercise such as increased heart rate or sore muscles,” says Stork. “But with high-intensity exercise, it seems that music is most effective when it has a fast tempo and is highly motivational.”

Next, a separate group of 24 participants completed what has been referred to as the ‘one-minute workout’ — three 20-second all-out sprints, totaling 60 seconds of hard work. A short rest separated the sprints, for a total exercise period of 10 minutes including a warm-up and cool-down. Participants completed these HIIT sessions under three different conditions — with motivational music, no audio or a podcast that was devoid of music.

Participants reported greater enjoyment of HIIT. They also exhibited elevated heart rates and peak power in the session with music compared to the no-audio and podcast sessions.

“The more I look into this, the more I am surprised,” he says. “We believed that motivational music would help people enjoy the exercise more, but we were surprised about the elevated heart rate. That was a novel finding.”

Stork believes the elevated heart rates may be explained by a phenomenon called ‘entrainment.’

“Humans have an innate tendency to alter the frequency of their biological rhythms toward that of musical rhythms. In this case, the fast-tempo music may have increased people’s heart rate during the exercise. It’s incredible how powerful music can be.”

Stork’s research indicates that for people who are deemed insufficiently active, music can not only help them work harder physically during HIIT but it can also help them enjoy HIIT more. And because motivational music has the power to enhance people’s HIIT workouts, it may ultimately give people an extra boost to try HIIT again in the future.

“Music can be a practical strategy to help insufficiently active people get more out of their HIIT workouts and may even encourage continued participation.”

The study was published this week in the Psychology of Sport and Exercise. Stork received financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research over the course of this project.




Back to Top


“‘Smart glasses follow our eyes, focus automatically”

Though it may not have the sting of death and taxes, presbyopia is another of life’s guarantees. This vision defect plagues most of us starting about age 45, as the lenses in our eyes lose the elasticity needed to focus on nearby objects. For some people reading glasses suffice to overcome the difficulty, but for many people the only fix, short of surgery, is to wear progressive lenses.

“More than a billion people have presbyopia and we’ve created a pair of autofocal lenses that might one day correct their vision far more effectively than traditional glasses,” said Stanford electrical engineer Gordon Wetzstein. For now, the prototype looks like virtual reality goggles but the team hopes to streamline later versions.

Wetzstein’s prototype glasses — dubbed autofocals — are intended to solve the main problem with today’s progressive lenses: These traditional glasses require the wearer to align their head to focus properly. Imagine driving a car and looking in a side mirror to change lanes. With progressive lenses, there’s little or no peripheral focus. The driver must switch from looking at the road ahead through the top of the glasses, then turn almost 90 degrees to see the nearby mirror through the lower part of the lens.

This visual shift can also make it difficult to navigate the world. “People wearing progressive lenses have a higher risk of falling and injuring themselves,” said graduate student Robert Konrad, a co-author on a paper describing the autofocal glasses published June 28 in the journal Science Advances.

The Stanford prototype works much like the lens of the eye, with fluid-filled lenses that bulge and thin as the field of vision changes. It also includes eye-tracking sensors that triangulate where a person is looking and determine the precise distance to the object of interest. The team did not invent these lenses or eye-trackers, but they did develop the software system that harnesses this eye-tracking data to keep the fluid-filled lenses in constant and perfect focus.

Nitish Padmanaban, a graduate student and first author on the paper, said other teams had previously tried to apply autofocus lenses to presbyopia. But without guidance from the eye-tracking hardware and system software, those earlier efforts were no better than wearing traditional progressive lenses.

To validate its approach, the Stanford team tested the prototype on 56 people with presbyopia. Test subjects said the autofocus lenses performed better and faster at reading and other tasks. Wearers also tended to prefer the autofocal glasses to the experience of progressive lenses — bulk and weight aside.

If the approach sounds a bit like virtual reality, that isn’t far off. Wetzstein’s lab is at the forefront of vision systems for virtual and augmented reality. It was in the course of such work that the researchers became aware of the new autofocus lenses and eye-trackers and had the insight to combine these elements to create a potentially transformative product.

The next step will be to downsize the technology. Wetzstein thinks it may take a few years to develop autofocal glasses that are lightweight, energy efficient and stylish. But he is convinced that autofocals are the future of vision correction.

“This technology could affect billions of people’s lives in a meaningful way that most techno-gadgets never will,” he said.

This research was funded in part by Intel Corporation, NVIDIA, an Okawa Research Grant, a Sloan Fellowship and the National Science Foundation.




Back to Top


“Nerve transfer surgery restores hand function and elbow extension in 13 young adults with complete paralysis”

13 young adults with tetraplegia are able to feed themselves, hold a drink, brush their teeth, and write as a result of a novel surgical technique which connects functioning nerves with injured nerves to restore power in paralysed muscles Nerve transfer surgery has enabled 13 young adults with complete paralysis to regain movement and function in their elbows and hands, according to the largest case series of this technique in people with tetraplegia (paralysis of both the upper and lower limbs), published in The Lancet.

During the surgery, Australian surgeons attached functioning nerves above the spinal injury to paralysed nerves below the injury. Two years after surgery, and following intensive physical therapy, participants were able to reach their arm out in front of them and open their hand to pick up and manipulate objects. Restoring elbow extension improved their ability to propel their wheelchair and to transfer into bed or a car.

They can now perform everyday tasks independently such as feeding themselves, brushing teeth and hair, putting on make-up, writing, handling money and credit cards, and using tools and electronic devices.

The findings suggest that nerve transfers can achieve similar functional improvements to traditional tendon transfers, with the benefit of smaller incisions and shorter immobilisation times after surgery.

In 10 participants, nerve transfers were uniquely combined with tendon transfers allowing different styles of reconstruction to be performed in each hand, and enabling participants to benefit from the innate strengths of both tendon and nerve transfers. Nerve transfers restored more natural movement and finer motor control in one hand, and tendon transfers restored more power and heavy lifting ability in the other hand.

While only a small study, researchers say that nerve transfers are a major advance in the restoration of hand and arm function, and offer another safe, reliable surgical option for people living with tetraplegia.

Nevertheless, four nerve transfers failed in three participants and the authors conclude that more research will be needed to determine which people are the best candidates to select for nerve transfer surgery to minimise the incidence of failure.

“For people with tetraplegia, improvement in hand function is the single most important goal. We believe that nerve transfer surgery offers an exciting new option, offering individuals with paralysis the possibility of regaining arm and hand functions to perform everyday tasks, and giving them greater independence and the ability to participate more easily in family and work life,” says Dr Natasha van Zyl from Austin Health in Melbourne, Australia who led the research.

“What’s more, we have shown that nerve transfers can be successfully combined with traditional tendon transfer techniques to maximise benefits. When grasp and pinch was restored using nerve transfers in one hand and tendon transfers in the other, participants consistently reporting that they liked both hands for different reasons and would not choose to have two hands reconstructed in the same way.”

Traditionally, upper limb function has been reconstructed using tendon transfer surgery, during which muscles that still work, but are designed for another function, are surgically re-sited to do the work of muscles that are paralysed. In contrast, nerve transfers allow the direct reanimation of the paralysed muscle itself. Additionally, nerve transfers can re-animate more than one muscle at a time, have a shorter period of immobilisation after surgery (10 days in a sling vs 6-12 weeks in a brace for a nerve transfer for elbow extension), and avoid the technical problems associated with of tendon transfer surgery including tendon tensioning during surgery and mechanical failure (stretch or rupture) after surgery.

Previous single case reports and small retrospective studies have shown nerve transfer surgery to be feasible and safe in people with tetraplegia. But this is the first prospective study to use standardised functional outcome measures and combinations of multiple nerve and tendon transfer surgeries.

In total the study recruited 16 young adults (average age 27 years) with traumatic, early (less than 18 months post injury) spinal cord injury to the neck (C5-C7), who were referred to Austin Health in Melbourne for restoration of function in the upper limb. Most were the result of motor vehicle accidents or sports injuries.

Participants underwent single or multiple nerve transfers in one or both upper limbs to restore elbow extension, grasp, pinch, and hand opening. This involved taking working nerves to expendable muscles innervated above the spinal injury and attaching them to the nerves of paralysed muscles innervated below the injury to restore voluntary control and reanimate the paralysed muscle.

For example, the surgeons selected the nerve supplying the teres minor muscle in the shoulder as a donor nerve and attached it to the nerve supplying the triceps that activates the muscles that extend (straighten) the elbow. To restore grasp and pinch the nerve to a spare wrist extensor muscle was transferred to the anterior interosseous nerve.

In total, 59 nerve transfers were completed in 16 participants (13 men and three women; 27 limbs). In 10 participants (12 limbs), nerve transfers were combined with tendon transfers to improve hand function.

Participants completed assessments on their level of independence related to activities of daily living (e.g., self-care, toilet, upper limb function, muscle power, grasp and pinch strength, and hand opening ability) before surgery, one year after surgery, and again two years later. Two participants were lost to follow up, and there was one death (unrelated to the surgery).

At 24 months, significant improvements were noted in the hands ability to pick up and release several objects within a specified time frame and independence. Prior to surgery, none of the participants were able to score on the grasp or pinch strength tests, but 2 years later pinch and grasp strength were high enough to perform most activities of daily living.

Three participants had four failed nerve transfers — two had a permanent decrease in sensation, and two had a temporary decrease in wrist strength that resolved by 1 year after surgery. Overall, surgery was well tolerated. Five serious adverse events were recorded (including a fall from a wheelchair with femur fracture), but none were related to the surgery.

Despite these achievements, nerve transfer surgery still has some limitations. For the best results nerve transfers should ideally be performed within 6-12 months of injury. Additionally, it can take months after nerve transfer for nerve regrowth into the paralysed muscle to occur and for new movement to be seen, and years until full strength is achieved. However, the authors note that one of the benefits of nerve transfers is that most movements not successfully restored by nerve transfers can still be restored using tendon transfers.

Discussing the implications of the findings in a linked comment, Dr Ida Fox from Washington University in the USA writes, “Stem cells and neuroprostheses could change the landscape of regenerative medicine in the future. For now, nerve transfers are a cost-effective way to harness the body’s innate capability to restore movement in a paralysed limb. As nerve transfers are adopted and their uses adapted, careful ongoing outcomes research — including comparison of nerve versus tendon transfer outcomes, which nerve transfers produce the greatest functional improvements, and optimal timings for surgery after injury — is paramount to advancing the field. Detailed study of the reasons for nerve transfer failure is also required, as is improving our understanding of the effects of biopsychosocial factors (including access to information and care, psychological readiness, and social support) on patient decision making and outcomes.”




Back to Top

The Industrials:

“How bosses react influences whether workers speak up”

Speaking up in front of a supervisor can be stressful — but it doesn’t have to be, according to new research from a Rice University psychologist. How a leader responds to employee suggestions can impact whether or not the employee opens up in the future.

Danielle King, an assistant professor of psychology at Rice, is the lead author of “Voice Resilience: Fostering Future Voice After Non-Endorsement of Suggestions,” which will appear in an upcoming special issue of the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. The paper explains how leaders can use language that encourages workers to offer more ideas in the future, even if their suggestions are not implemented.

After conducting two studies, King found that people who speak up at work only to have their ideas rejected by supervisors will nonetheless offer more suggestions later if their bosses respond properly.

“Given that many employee ideas for change cannot be endorsed, our results highlight the practical importance of providing sensitive explanations for why employee suggestions cannot be embraced,” she said. “Specifically, it is critically important for leaders to exhibit sensitivity in their communication with employees.”

The first study, with 197 participants, included a survey asking workers to describe a time when they gave their supervisor a suggestion that was rejected. They also answered questions about the adequacy of their leader’s explanation, how the experience made them feel and how likely they were to speak up in the future.

The second study, including 223 students, involved two 30-minute online surveys. In this experimental study, students worked as interns for a marketing firm that was developing advertisements for businesses frequented by other students.

Students who provided suggestions about the marketing materials received one of four responses, all of which indicated their boss didn’t agree with their advice. Those four responses covered a range of answers, from sensitive and well-explained to insensitive and poorly explained. The students then had a second chance to offer suggestions on different material.

King, whose future research will explore other forms of resilience at work, hopes this study will encourage more sensitive communication between leaders and employees.

“It would be useful for organizations to offer training and development for leaders on how to let employees down gently while encouraging them to speak up in the future,” King said. “As demonstrated in our study, explanation sensitivity led to employees opening up again. In addition, it may be valuable to help employees understand that extenuating circumstances sometimes prevent implementation of potentially good ideas. It also would be useful to provide justification for why complete explanations cannot be revealed for strategic or confidentiality reasons. If such explanations are delivered in a sensitive manner, this should maintain the type of leader-employer relationship that encourages employees to speak up in the future.”



Recent Posts