December 2020 Jobs Report and Industry Update

 In E Tips


Economics & Job Creation:


Life Sciences:
“Glucosamine may reduce overall death rates as effectively as regular exercise, study suggests”

“How automated vehicles can impede driver performance, and what to do about it”

“Healthy muscles are a carrot on a string for healthy lungs”

The Industrials:
“Burnout can exacerbate work stress, further promoting a vicious circle”

Human Capital Solutions, Inc. (HCS) is a Retained Executive Search firm focused in Healthcare, Life Sciences, the Industrials, and Technology. Visit our LinkedIn Company Page to learn more about HCS and receive weekly updates.

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Economics & Job Creation:


Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 245,000 in November, and the unemployment rate
edged down to 6.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. These
improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity
that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to
contain it. However, the pace of improvement in the labor market has moderated in recent
months. In November, notable job gains occurred in transportation and warehousing,
professional and business services, and health care. Employment declined in government
and retail trade.

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

In November, the unemployment rate edged down to 6.7 percent. The rate is down by 8.0
percentage points from its recent high in April but is 3.2 percentage points higher
than it was in February. The number of unemployed persons, at 10.7 million, continued
to trend down in November but is 4.9 million higher than in February. (See table A-1.
For more information about how the household survey and its measures were affected by
the coronavirus pandemic, see the box note at the end of this news release.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult women (6.1 percent)
declined in November. The jobless rates for adult men (6.7 percent), teenagers (14.0
percent), Whites (5.9 percent), Blacks (10.3 percent), Asians (6.7 percent), and
Hispanics (8.4 percent) showed little or no change. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

Among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff decreased by 441,000
in November to 2.8 million. This measure is down considerably from the high of 18.1
million in April but is 2.0 million higher than its February level. The number of
permanent job losers, at 3.7 million, was about unchanged in November but is 2.5
million higher than in February. (See table A-11.)

In November, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more)
increased by 385,000 to 3.9 million, accounting for 36.9 percent of the total
unemployed, while the number of persons jobless 15 to 26 weeks declined by 760,000 to
1.9 million. The number of persons jobless 5 to 14 weeks and persons jobless less than
5 weeks showed little change in November at 2.4 million and 2.5 million, respectively.
(See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate edged down to 61.5 percent in November; this is 1.9
percentage points below its February level. The employment-population ratio, at 57.3
percent, changed little over the month but is 3.8 percentage points lower than in
February. (See table A-1.)

In November, the number of persons who usually work full time rose by 752,000 to 124.3
million, while the number of persons who usually work part time decreased by 779,000
to 25.4 million. (See table A-9.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons was about unchanged over
the month at 6.7 million but remains 2.3 million higher than the February level. 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. This
group includes persons who usually work full time and persons who usually work part
time. (See table A-8.)

In November, the number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job
increased by 448,000 to 7.1 million; this measure is 2.2 million higher than in
February. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not
actively looking for work during the last 4 weeks or were unavailable to take a job.
(See table A-1.)

Among those not in the labor force who currently want a job, the number of persons
marginally attached to the labor force, at 2.1 million, changed little in November.
These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime
in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.
The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed
that no jobs were available for them, was 657,000 in November, little changed from
the previous month. (See Summary table A.)

Household Survey Supplemental Data

In November, 21.8 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus
pandemic, up from 21.2 percent in October. These data refer to employed persons who
teleworked or worked at home for pay at some point in the last 4 weeks specifically
because of the pandemic.

In November, 14.8 million persons reported that they had been unable to work because
their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic–that is, they did not work
at all or worked fewer hours at some point in the last 4 weeks due to the pandemic.
This measure is little changed from October. Among those who reported in November
that they were unable to work because of pandemic-related closures or lost business,
13.7 percent received at least some pay from their employer for the hours not worked,
up from 11.7 percent in October.

About 3.9 million persons not in the labor force in November were prevented from
looking for work due to the pandemic. This measure is up from 3.6 million in October.
(To be counted as unemployed, by definition, individuals must either be actively
looking for work or on temporary layoff.)

These supplemental data come from questions added to the household survey beginning
in May to help gauge the effects of the pandemic on the labor market. The data are
not seasonally adjusted. Tables with estimates from the supplemental questions for
all months are available online at

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 245,000, following gains of larger magnitude
in the prior 6 months. In November, nonfarm employment was below its February level
by 9.8 million, or 6.5 percent. Notable job gains occurred over the month in
transportation and warehousing, professional and business services, and health care.
Employment declined in government and retail trade. (See table B-1. For more
information about how the establishment survey and its measures were affected by the
coronavirus pandemic, see the box note at the end of this news release.)

Employment in transportation and warehousing rose by 145,000 in November but is
123,000 below its February level. In November, employment rose by 82,000 in couriers
and messengers and by 37,000 in warehousing and storage; since February, employment in
these industries has increased by 182,000 and 97,000, respectively. Job growth also
occurred over the month in truck transportation (+13,000).

In November, employment in professional and business services increased by 60,000,
with about half the gain occurring in temporary help services (+32,000). Job growth
also occurred in services to buildings and dwellings (+14,000). Employment in
professional and business services is down by 1.1 million since February.

Health care added 46,000 jobs in November, with gains occurring in offices of
physicians (+21,000), home health care services (+13,000), and offices of other health
practitioners (+8,000). Nursing care facilities continued to lose jobs (-12,000).
Health care employment is 527,000 lower than in February.

Construction gained 27,000 jobs in November, but employment is 279,000 below its
February level. In November, employment rose in residential specialty trade contractors
(+14,000) and in heavy and civil engineering construction (+10,000).

In November, manufacturing employment increased by 27,000. Job gains occurred in motor
vehicles and parts (+15,000) and in plastics and rubber products (+5,000). Employment
in manufacturing was 599,000 lower than in February.

Financial activities added 15,000 jobs in November. Gains occurred in real estate
(+10,000) and in nondepository credit intermediation (+8,000). Financial activities has
added 164,000 jobs over the past 7 months, but employment in the industry is 115,000
lower than in February.

Employment in wholesale trade continued to trend up in November (+10,000) but is
281,000 lower than in February.

Government employment declined for the third consecutive month, decreasing by 99,000 in
November. A decline of 86,000 in federal government employment reflected the loss of
93,000 temporary workers who had been hired for the 2020 Census. Employment in local
government education continued to trend down (-21,000).

In November, retail trade lost 35,000 jobs, reflecting less seasonal hiring in several
retail industries. Employment decreases occurred in general merchandise stores
(-21,000); sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (-12,000); electronics and
appliance stores (-11,000); and health and personal care stores (-8,000). By contrast,
furniture and home furnishings stores and automobile dealers added 6,000 jobs and 4,000
jobs, respectively. Employment in retail trade is 550,000 lower than in February.

Employment in leisure and hospitality changed little in November (+31,000) but is down
by 3.4 million since February. Arts, entertainment, and recreation added 43,000 jobs in
November, while employment in food services and drinking places changed little (-17,000).

Employment in other major industries, including mining, information, and other services,
showed little change in November.

In November, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls
increased by 9 cents to $29.58. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and
nonsupervisory employees increased by 7 cents to $24.87. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls remained unchanged
at 34.8 hours in November. In manufacturing, the workweek decreased by 0.2 hour to 40.3
hours, and overtime decreased by 0.1 hour to 3.1 hours. The average workweek for
production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at
34.2 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for September was revised up by 39,000,
from +672,000 to +711,000, and the change for October was revised down by 28,000, from
+638,000 to +610,000. With these revisions, employment in September and October combined
was 11,000 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.)

The Employment Situation for December is scheduled to be released on Friday, January 8,
2021, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).

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Life Sciences:

“Glucosamine may reduce overall death rates as effectively as regular exercise, study suggests”

Glucosamine supplements may reduce overall mortality about as well as regular exercise does, according to a new epidemiological study from West Virginia University.

“Does this mean that if you get off work at five o’clock one day, you should just skip the gym, take a glucosamine pill and go home instead?” said Dana King, professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine, who led the study. “That’s not what we suggest. Keep exercising, but the thought that taking a pill would also be beneficial is intriguing.”

He and his research partner, Jun Xiang — a WVU health data analyst — assessed data from 16,686 adults who completed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2010. All of the participants were at least 40 years old. King and Xiang merged these data with 2015 mortality figures.

After controlling for various factors — such as participants’ age, sex, smoking status and activity level — the researchers found that taking glucosamine/chondroitin every day for a year or longer was associated with a 39 percent reduction in all-cause mortality.

It was also linked to a 65 percent reduction in cardiovascular-related deaths. That’s a category that includes deaths from stroke, coronary artery disease and heart disease, the United States’ biggest killer.

“Once we took everything into account, the impact was pretty significant,” King said.

The results appear in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

King himself takes glucosamine/chondroitin, one of the most common formulations of glucosamine supplements.

“I’m in a local cyclists’ club, and we go for rides on weekends,” he said. “One day I asked the other cyclists if they took glucosamine, and everyone did. And I thought, ‘Well, I wonder if this is really helpful?’ That’s how I got curious about it.”

He explains that because this is an epidemiological study — rather than a clinical trial — it doesn’t offer definitive proof that glucosamine/chondroitin makes death less likely. But he does call the results “encouraging.”

“In my view, it’s important that people know about this, so they can discuss the findings with their doctor and make an informed choice,” he said. “Glucosamine is over the counter, so it is readily available.”

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“How automated vehicles can impede driver performance, and what to do about it”

As cars keep getting smarter, automation is taking many tricky tasks — from parallel parking to backing up — out of drivers’ hands.

Now, a University of Toronto Engineering study is underscoring the importance of drivers keeping their eyes on the road — even when they are in an automated vehicle (AV).

Using an AV driving simulator and eye-tracking equipment, Professor Birsen Donmez and her team studied two types of in-vehicle displays and their effects on the driving behaviours of 48 participants.

The findings, published recently in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention, revealed that drivers can become over-reliant on AV technology. This was especially true with a type of in-vehicle display the team coined as takeover request and automation capability (TORAC).

A “takeover request” asks the driver to take vehicle control when automation is not able to handle a situation; “automation capability” indicates how close to that limit the automation is.

“Drivers find themselves in situations where, although they are not actively driving, they are still part of the driving task — they must be monitoring the vehicle and step in if the vehicle fails,” says Donmez.

“And these vehicles fail, it’s just guaranteed. The technology on the market right now is not mature enough to the point where we can just let the car drive and we go to sleep. We are not at that stage yet.”

Tesla’s AV system, for example, warns drivers every 30 seconds or less when their hands aren’t detected on the wheel. This prompt can support driver engagement to some extent, but when the automation fails, driver attention and anticipation are the key factors that determine whether or not you get into a traffic accident.

“Even though cars are advertised right now as self-driving, they are still just Level 2, or partially automated,” adds Dengbo He, postdoctoral fellow and lead author. “The driver should not rely on these types of vehicle automation.”

In one of the team’s driving scenarios, the participants were given a non-driving, self-paced task — meant to mimic common distractions such as reading text messages — while takeover prompts and automation capability information were turned on.

“Their monitoring of the road went way down compared to the condition where these features were turned off,” says Donmez. “Automated vehicles and takeover requests can give people a false sense of security, especially if they work most of the time. People are going to end up looking away and doing something non-driving related.”

The researchers also tested a second in-vehicle display system that added information on surrounding traffic to the data provided by the TORAC system, called STTORAC. These displays showed more promise in ensuring driving safety.

STTORAC provides drivers with ongoing information about their surrounding driving environment, including highlighting potential traffic conflicts on the road. This type of display led to the shortest reaction time in scenarios where drivers had to take over control of the vehicle, showing a significant improvement from both the TORAC and the no-display conditions.

“When you’re not driving and aren’t engaged, it’s easy to lose focus. Adding information on surrounding traffic kept drivers better engaged in monitoring and anticipating traffic conflicts,” says He, adding that the key takeaway for designers of next-generation AVs is to ensure systems are designed to keep drivers attentive. “Drivers should not be distracted, at least at this stage.”

Donmez’s team will next look at the effects of non-driving behaviors on drowsiness while operating an AV. “If someone isn’t engaged in a non-driving task and is just monitoring the road, they can be more likely to fall into states of drowsiness, which is even more dangerous than being distracted.”

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“Healthy muscles are a carrot on a string for healthy lungs”

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease caused by long-term inhalation of harmful gases such as cigarette smoke. Scientists have recognized deterioration of muscle tissue, known as, as a secondary effect of damaged lungs. This frailty makes it difficult for individuals to move around and exercise, which is turn worsens the state of their lungs, causing an endless downward spiral in overall health.

Exercise therapy is the only established treatment for the skeletal muscle complications of COPD, however, depending on the severity of sarcopenia frailty in the patient, such treatment may not be possible. This imbalance has become an urgent issue to address. Ninjin’yoeito is a carrot-based Japanese herbal medicine commonly given to people recovering from anorexia and physical weakness after illness or surgery for its supplementary effect in restoring physical strength. Also, the medicine has been seen to improve muscle mass loss in aging mice through the activation of PGC-1α- a protein involved in improving muscle function.

“Based on this, we hypothesized that Ninjin’yoeito enhances PGC-1α expression in skeletal muscle and may improve muscle complications associated with COPD”, explains Associate Professor Kazuhisa Asai from the Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine. He led a research group in testing this hypothesis by including Ninjin’yoeito in the diet of mice who had been exposed to cigarette smoke for 12 weeks. Their findings were published online in the international scientific journal International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease on November 27, 2020.

Professor Asai’s team measured the lower leg muscle mass of the smoke-exposed group of mice with a microCT and noticed they had atrophied, like human COPD patients. However, he saw no such change in muscle mass with the experimental group of mice, suggesting that the addition of the carrot-rich medicine cancels out the effects of sarcopenia frailty.

“We believe that this is a useful finding and that Ninjin’yoeito may break the vicious circle of sarcopenia frailty in COPD patients”, adds Associate Professor Asai. “We would like to consider clinical trials in the future.”

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The Industrials:

“Burnout can exacerbate work stress, further promoting a vicious circle”

Work stress and burnout are mutually reinforcing / Surprisingly, the effect of work stress on burnout is much smaller than the effect of burnout on work stress.

Stress and overload in the workplace are increasing worldwide and are often considered a cause of burnout. Indeed, a new study shows that work stress and burnout are mutually reinforcing. However, contrary to popular belief, burnout has a much greater impact on work stress than vice versa. “This means that the more severe a person’s burnout becomes, the more stressed they will feel at work, such as being under time pressure, for example,” said Professor Christian Dormann of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Employees suffering from burnout should be timely provided with adequate support in order to break the vicious circle between work stress and burnout.

Symptoms of burnout include exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced performance. “The most important burnout symptom is the feeling of total exhaustion — to the extent that it cannot be remedied by normal recovery phases of an evening, a weekend, or even a vacation,” said Dormann. “To protect themselves from further exhaustion, some try to build a psychological distance to their work, that is, they alienate themselves from their work as well as the people associated with it and become more cynical,” added Dr. Christina Guthier. She conducted the study as part of her doctoral thesis in Dormann’s research group and was awarded with the dissertation prize of the Alfred Teves Foundation in 2020. The study has recently been published in Psychological Bulletin.

For the joint publication with Professor Christian Dormann and Professor Manuel Völkle of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Christina Guthier evaluated 48 longitudinal studies of burnout and work stress comprising 26,319 participants. The average age in the initial survey was about 42 years, 44 percent of the respondents were men. The longitudinal studies from 1986 to 2019 came from various countries, including predominantly European countries as well as Israel, the USA, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, China, and Taiwan.

Stopping the downward spiral and reducing the effect of burnout on work stress

The results challenge, or at least relativize, the common perception that work stress is the driving force behind burnout. “Burnout can be triggered by a work situation, but that is not always the case,” Dormann pointed out. Once burnout begins, it develops only very gradually, building up slowly over time. Ultimately it leads to work being increasingly perceived as stressful: The amount of work is too much, time is too short, and work stress is too great. “When exhausted, the ability to cope with stress usually decreases. As a result, even smaller tasks can be perceived as significantly more strenuous,” explained Guthier, the first author of the article. “We expected an effect of burnout on work stress; the strength of the effect was very surprising,” she noted. The effect of burnout on perceived work stress can be somewhat mitigated if employees have more control over their own work and receive support from colleagues or superiors.

According to Dormann, a new research area is emerging on the basis of this unique data because the strong boomerang effect of burnout on work stress has not yet been investigated. Key questions that need to be addressed are: how can the effects of burnout on perceived work stress be reduced and how can the development of this vicious circle be prevented? Dormann and Guthier suggest that the place to start is with management behavior. Employees should have the opportunity to give feedback on their work stress at any time and be appreciated. Last but not least, proper recovery could also help to stop the downward spiral.

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