June 2022 Jobs Report & Industry Update

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Economics & Job Creation
“The Employment Situation — May 2022”

Life Sciences
“Air pollution linked to adverse outcomes in pregnancy”

“How to compete with robots”

“Cellular secrets of aging unlocked by researchers”

The Industrials
“Electric Truck Hydropower, a flexible solution to hydropower in mountainous regions”

Private Equity

“Who are the most active PE investors in healthcare?”

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Economics & Job Creation
“The Employment Situation – May 2022”

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 390,000 in May, and the unemployment
rate remained at 3.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in professional and
business services, and in transportation and warehousing. Employment in retail
trade declined.

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 May, the unemployment rate was 3.6 percent for the third month in a row, and
the number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 6.0 million. These
measures are little different from their values in February 2020 (3.5 percent
and 5.7 million, respectively), prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
(See table A-1.) 

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for Asians declined to 2.4
percent in May. The jobless rates for adult men (3.4 percent), adult women (3.4
percent), teenagers (10.4 percent), Whites (3.2 percent), Blacks (6.2 percent),
and Hispanics (4.3 percent) showed little or no change over the month. (See
tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers remained at 1.4 million
in May. The number of persons on temporary layoff was little changed at 810,000.
Both measures are little different from their values in February 2020. (See
table A-11.) 

In May, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more)
edged down to 1.4 million. This measure is 235,000 higher than in February 2020.
The long-term unemployed accounted for 23.2 percent of all unemployed persons
in May. (See table A-12.) 

Both the labor force participation rate, at 62.3 percent, and the employment-
population ratio, at 60.1 percent, were little changed over the month. Both
measures are 1.1 percentage points below their February 2020 values. (See table

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons increased by
295,000 to 4.3 million in May, reflecting an increase in the number of persons
whose hours were cut due to slack work or business conditions. The number of
persons employed part time for economic reasons is little different from its
February 2020 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. (See table A-8.) 

The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job was 
little changed at 5.7 million in May. This measure remains above its February 
2020 level of 5.0 million. These individuals were not counted as unemployed
because they were not actively looking for work during the 4 weeks preceding
the survey or were unavailable to take a job. (See table A-1.) 

Among those not in the labor force who wanted a job, the number of persons
marginally attached to the labor force, at 1.5 million, changed little in May.
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. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached
who believed that no jobs were available for them, numbered 415,000 in May,
also little changed from the prior month. (See Summary table A.) 

Household Survey Supplemental Data 

In May, 7.4 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus
pandemic, down from 7.7 percent in the prior month. These data refer to employed
persons who teleworked or worked at home for pay at some point in the 4 weeks
preceding the survey specifically because of the pandemic. 

In May, 1.8 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 4 weeks preceding
the survey due to the pandemic. This measure is little changed from the previous
month. Among those who reported in May that they were unable to work because
of pandemic-related closures or lost business, 19.9 percent received at least
some pay from their employer for the hours not worked, also little different
from the prior month. 

Among those not in the labor force in May, 455,000 persons were prevented from
looking for work due to the pandemic, down from 586,000 in the prior month. (To
be counted as unemployed, by definition, individuals must be either actively
looking for work or on temporary layoff.) 

These supplemental data come from questions added to the household survey
beginning in May 2020 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 390,000 in May. Notable job gains 
occurred in leisure and hospitality, in professional and business services,
and in transportation and warehousing. Employment in retail trade declined 
over the month. Nonfarm employment is down by 822,000, or 0.5 percent, from
its pre-pandemic level in February 2020. (See table B-1.)

Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 84,000 in May, as job
growth continued in food services and drinking places (+46,000) and 
accommodation (+21,000). Employment in leisure and hospitality is down by
1.3 million, or 7.9 percent, compared with February 2020.

Employment in professional and business services rose by 75,000 in May.
Within the industry, job gains occurred in accounting and bookkeeping 
services (+16,000), computer systems design and related services (+13,000),
and scientific research and development services (+6,000). Employment in
professional and business services is 821,000 higher than in February 2020.

In May, transportation and warehousing added 47,000 jobs. Employment rose
in warehousing and storage (+18,000), truck transportation (+13,000), and 
air transportation (+6,000). Employment in transportation and warehousing
is 709,000 above its February 2020 level.

Employment in construction increased by 36,000 in May, following no change
in April. In May, job gains occurred in specialty trade contractors (+17,000)
and heavy and civil engineering construction (+11,000). Construction
employment is 40,000 higher than in February 2020.

In May, employment increased by 36,000 in state government education and
by 33,000 in private education. Employment changed little in local 
government education (+14,000). Compared with February 2020, employment
in state government education is up by 27,000, while employment in private
education has essentially recovered. Employment in local government
education is down by 308,000, or 3.8 percent, compared with February 2020.

Employment in health care rose by 28,000 in May, including a gain in hospitals
(+16,000). Employment in health care overall is 223,000, or 1.3 percent,
lower than in February 2020.

Manufacturing employment continued to trend up in May (+18,000). Job gains
occurred in fabricated metal products (+7,000), wood products (+4,000),
and electronic instruments (+3,000). Employment in manufacturing overall 
is slightly below (-17,000 or -0.1 percent) its February 2020 level. 

Wholesale trade added 14,000 jobs in May, including gains in durable goods 
(+10,000) and electronic markets and agents and brokers (+6,000). Employment
in wholesale trade is down by 41,000, or 0.7 percent, compared with February

Mining employment increased by 6,000 in May and is 80,000 higher than a recent
low in February 2021. 

Employment in retail trade declined by 61,000 in May but is 159,000 above 
its February 2020 level. Over the month, job losses occurred in general
merchandise stores (-33,000), clothing and clothing accessories stores 
(-9,000), food and beverage stores (-8,000), building material and garden
supply stores (-7,000), and health and personal care stores (-5,000). 

In May, employment showed little change in other major industries, including
information, financial activities, and other services.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose
by 10 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $31.95 in May. Over the past 12 months, average
hourly earnings have increased by 5.2 percent. In May, average hourly earnings
of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 15 cents,
or 0.6 percent, to $27.33. (See tables B-3 and B-8.) 

In May, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls 
was 34.6 hours for the third month in a row. In manufacturing, the average 
workweek for all employees was little changed at 40.4 hours, and overtime fell
by 0.1 hour to 3.2 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory
employees on private nonfarm payrolls remained unchanged at 34.1 hours. (See
tables B-2 and B-7.) 

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised down
by 30,000, from +428,000 to +398,000, and the change for April was revised
up by 8,000, from +428,000 to +436,000. With these revisions, employment in
March and April combined is 22,000 lower 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.)

Employment Situation Summary (bls.gov)

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Life Sciences
“Air pollution linked to adverse outcomes in pregnancy”

A new study in mice by UCLA scientists reveals how exposure to traffic-related air pollutants causes cellular changes in the placenta that can lead to pregnancy complications and affect the health of both mother and offspring.

The researchers found that the cellular changes caused by chronic exposure to air pollutants were related to immune activation by foreign substances entering the blood from the lungs. This immune response attacks some of the placental cells that are required to maintain the placenta structurally, and most importantly, the blood flow from mother to developing baby.

Although previous research has analyzed the effect of air pollution on pregnancy, those studies did not utilize cell-specific methods or focus on molecular signatures of the placenta. This study is the first to assess how such exposure can negatively affect the placenta, leading to adverse outcomes in pregnancy.

One group of female mice was exposed to environmental air pollutants nasally starting two months before conception and during pregnancy, while the control group of mice was exposed to saline. By the end of the study, tissue samples indicated that inhaled air pollutants had compromised the composition of the placental cells and molecular signatures. Researchers also identified inflammation in the mucosal lining of the uterus triggered by pollution.

The placenta is essential for a successful pregnancy and for maintaining the health of both the mother and the baby. These study findings suggest that maternal cells of immunity may be responsible for destruction of vital vascular cells in the placenta. This auto-destruction of placental structures can disrupt the maintenance of a healthy pregnancy or at least affect nutrient supply from the mother to the baby, with the potential for adverse pregnancy consequences or outcomes such as preterm labor or uteroplacental insufficiency as encountered in pre-eclampsia.

“The cellular changes we have observed could provide the missing link between exposure to air pollutants and adverse pregnancy outcomes, thereby helping to focus development of preventive strategies for at-risk pregnancies,” said Dr. Sherin Devaskar, lead author of the study and physician-in-chief of UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital and distinguished professor of pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The research also underscores the need to examine the timing of exposure and whether acute v. chronic exposures have different effects. The authors also plan to study dietary interventions to alleviate distress on placental molecular signatures, nutrient supply and development.

The collaborative study also involved Dr. Suhas G. Kallapur, chief of neonatology and developmental biology; Amit Ganguly, staff research associate; Shubhamoy Ghosh, PhD, assistant project scientist; Monica Cappelletti, PhD, adjunct assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, all four in the department of Pediatrics-Neonatology at UCLA; Matteo Pellegrini, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology at UCLA and Anela Tosevska, PhD, bioinformatics scientist in the division of rheumatology, internal medicine at Medical University of Vienna, Austria.

Read original article here

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“How to compete with robots”

When it comes to the future of intelligent robots, the first question people ask is often: how many jobs will they make disappear? Whatever the answer, the second question is likely to be: how can I make sure that my job is not among them?

In a study just published in Science Robotics, a team of roboticists from EPFL and economists from the University of Lausanne offers answers to both questions. By combining the scientific and technical literature on robotic abilities with employment and wage statistics, they have developed a method to calculate which of the currently existing jobs are more at risk of being performed by machines in the near future. Additionally, they have devised a method for suggesting career transitions to jobs that are less at risk and require smallest retraining efforts.

“There are several studies predicting how many jobs will be automated by robots, but they all focus on software robots, such as speech and image recognition, financial robo-advisers, chatbots, and so forth. Furthermore, those predictions wildly oscillate depending on how job requirements and software abilities are assessed. Here, we consider not only artificial intelligence software, but also real intelligent robots that perform physical work and we developed a method for a systematic comparison of human and robotic abilities used in hundreds of jobs,” says Prof. Dario Floreano, Director of EPFL’s Laboratory of Intelligent System, who led the study at EPFL.

The key innovation of the study is a new mapping of robot capabilities onto job requirements. The team looked into the European H2020 Robotic Multi-Annual Roadmap (MAR), a strategy document by the European Commission that is periodically revised by robotics experts. The MAR describes dozens of abilities that are required from current robot or may be required by future ones, ranging, organised in categories such as manipulation, perception, sensing, interaction with humans. The researchers went through research papers, patents, and description of robotic products to assess the maturity level of robotic abilities, using a well-known scale for measuring the level of technology development, “technology readiness level” (TRL).

For human abilities, they relied on the O*net database, a widely-used resource database on the US job market, that classifies approximately 1,000 occupations and breaks down the skills and knowledge that are most crucial for each of them

After selectively matching the human abilities from O*net list to robotic abilities from the MAR document, the team could calculate how likely each existing job occupation is to be performed by a robot. Say, for example, that a job requires a human to work at millimetre-level precision of movements. Robots are very good at that, and the TRL of the corresponding ability is thus the highest. If a job requires enough such skills, it will be more likely to be automated than one that requires abilities such as critical thinking or creativity.

The result is a ranking of the 1,000 jobs, with “Physicists” being the ones who have the lowest risk of being replaced by a machine, and “Slaughterers and Meat Packers,” who face the highest risk. In general, jobs in food processing, building and maintenance, construction and extraction appear to have the highest risk.

“The key challenge for society today is how to become resilient against automation” says Prof. Rafael Lalive. who co-led the study at the University of Lausanne. “Our work provides detailed career advice for workers who face high risks of automation, which allows them to take on more secure jobs while re-using many of the skills acquired on the old job. Through this advice, governments can support society in becoming more resilient against automation.”

The authors then created a method to find, for any given job, alternative jobs that have a significantly lower automation risk and are reasonably close to the original one in terms of the abilities and knowledge they require — thus keeping the retraining effort minimal and making the career transition feasible. To test how that method would perform in real life, they used data from the US workforce and simulated thousands of career moves based on the algorithm’s suggestions, finding that it would indeed allow workers in the occupations with the highest risk to shift towards medium-risk occupations, while undergoing a relatively low retraining effort.

The method could be used by governments to measure how many workers could face automation risks and adjust retraining policies, by companies to assess the costs of increasing automation, by robotics manufacturers to better tailor their products to the market needs; and by the public to identify the easiest route to reposition themselves on the job market.

Finally, the authors translated the new methods and data into an algorithm that predicts the risk of automation for hundreds of jobs and suggests resilient career transitions at minimal retraining effort, publicly accessible at https://lis2.epfl.ch/resiliencetorobots.

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“Cellular secrets of aging unlocked by researchers”

New research has uncovered how genetic changes that accumulate slowly in blood stem cells throughout life are likely to be responsible for the dramatic change in blood production after the age of 70.

The study, by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute and collaborators, is published today (1 June) in the journal Nature, and suggests a new theory of ageing.

All human cells acquire genetic changes throughout life, known as somatic mutations. Ageing is likely to be caused by the accumulation of multiple types of damage to our cells over time, with one theory being that build-up of somatic mutations causes cells to progressively lose functional reserve. However, it is currently unclear how such gradual accumulation of molecular damage could translate into the abrupt deterioration in how our organs function after the age of 70 years.

To investigate this ageing process, the team from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute and collaborators studied the production of blood cells from the bone marrow, analysing 10 individuals ranging in age from new-borns to the elderly. They sequenced the whole genomes of 3,579 blood stem cells, identifying all the somatic mutations contained in each cell. The team used this to reconstruct ‘family trees’ of each person’s blood stem cells, showing, for the first time, an unbiased view of the relationships among blood cells and how these relationships change across the human lifespan.

The researchers found that these ‘family trees’ changed dramatically after the age of 70 years. The production of blood cells in adults aged under 65 came from 20,000 to 200,000 stem cells, each of which contributed in roughly equal amounts. In contrast, blood production in individuals aged over 70 was very unequal. A reduced set of expanded stem cell clones — as few as 10 to 20 — contributed as much as half of all blood production in every elderly individual studied. These highly active stem cells had progressively expanded in numbers across that person’s life, caused by a rare subset of somatic mutations known as ‘driver mutations’.

These findings led the team to propose a model in which age-associated changes in blood production come from somatic mutations causing ‘selfish’ stem cells to dominate the bone marrow in the elderly. This model, with the steady introduction of driver mutations that cause the growth of functionally altered clones over decades, explains the dramatic and inevitable shift to reduced diversity of blood cell populations after the age of 70. Which clones become dominant varies from person to person, and so the model also explains the variation seen in disease risk and other characteristics in older adults. A second study, also published today in Nature, explores how different individual driver mutations affect cell growth rates over time.

Dr Emily Mitchell, Haematology Registrar at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, PhD Student at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and lead researcher on the study, said: “Our findings show that the diversity of blood stem cells is lost in older age due to positive selection of faster growing clones with driver mutations. These clones ‘outcompete’ the slower growing ones. In many cases this increased fitness at the stem cell level likely comes at a cost — their ability to produce functional mature blood cells is impaired, so explaining the observed age-related loss of function in the blood system.”

Dr Elisa Laurenti, Assistant Professor and Wellcome Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow at the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute at the University of Cambridge, and joint senior researcher on this study, said: “Factors such as chronic inflammation, smoking, infection and chemotherapy cause earlier growth of clones with cancer-driving mutations. We predict that these factors also bring forward the decline in blood stem cell diversity associated with ageing. It is possible that there are factors that might slow this process down, too. We now have the exciting task of figuring out how these newly discovered mutations affect blood function in the elderly, so we can learn how to minimise disease risk and promote healthy ageing.”

Dr Peter Campbell, Head of the Cancer, Ageing and Somatic Mutation Programme at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and senior researcher on the study, said: “We’ve shown, for the first time, how steadily accumulating mutations throughout life lead to a catastrophic and inevitable change in blood cell populations after the age of 70. What is super exciting about this model is that it may well apply in other organ systems too. We see these selfish clones with driver mutations expanding with age in many other tissues of the body — we know this can increase cancer risk, but it could also be contributing to other functional changes associated with ageing.”

This research was funded by Wellcome and the William B Harrison Foundation.

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The Industrials

“Electric Truck Hydropower, a flexible solution to hydropower in mountainous regions”

Mountain regions have a large potential for hydropower that cannot be harnessed effectively by conventional technologies. IIASA researcher Julian Hunt and an international team of researchers developed an innovative hydropower technology based on electric trucks that could provide a flexible and clean solution for electricity generation in mountainous regions.

In our transition towards a more sustainable future, hydropower will likely grow in importance as a renewable energy source. Despite its potential, innovation in hydropower technology has been slow in the last century. Conventional methods used today rely on two connected reservoirs with different water levels where the potential energy of the water is converted into electricity.

In steep mountain regions, the potential for generating electricity from a small stream of water is high, however, the hydropower potential of these regions remains untapped as it requires storage reservoirs, which have environmental and social impacts. IIASA researcher Julian Hunt and an international team of researchers developed a new technology called Electric Truck Hydropower that could become a key method for electricity generation in steep mountainous regions. The results of the study have been published in the Energy Journal.

Electric Truck Hydropower would use the existing road infrastructure to transport water down the mountain in containers, applying the regenerative brakes of the electric truck to turn the potential energy of the water into electricity and charge the truck’s battery. The generated energy could then be sold to the grid or used by the truck itself to transport other goods. Electric Truck Hydropower could also generate electricity in combination with solar and wind resources or provide energy storage services to the grid.

“The ideal system configuration is in mountainous regions with steep roads, where the same electric trucks can be used to generate hydroelectric power from different locations. This increases the chances that water will be available,” says Hunt.

The proposed technology is an innovative, clean source of electricity that is competitive with solar, wind, and conventional hydropower. Cost estimates show that the levelized cost of Electric Truck Hydropower is US$30-100 per MWh, which is considerably cheaper than conventional hydropower at US$50-200 per MWh.

The environmental impacts of Electric Truck Hydropower are also significantly smaller than that of conventional hydropower.

“This technology does not require dams, reservoirs, or tunnels, and it does not disrupt the natural flow of the river and fish passage. The system requires only roads, which already exist, charging and discharging stations similar to small car parks, a battery facility connected to the grid, and the trucks,” explains Hunt.

When looking at the global reach of this technology, the research team estimated that Electric Truck Hydropower could generate 1.2 PWh electricity per year, which is equivalent to about 4% of global energy consumption in 2019. The technology could harness the previously untapped potential for hydropower on steep mountain ranges. The regions with the highest potential are the Himalayas and the Andes.

“It is an interesting electricity generation alternative due to its high flexibility. For example, if a country is in an energy crisis, it can buy several electric trucks to generate hydropower. Once the crisis is over, the trucks can be used to transport cargo,” Hunt concludes.

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Private Equity

“Who are the most active PE investors in healthcare?”

Healthcare dealmaking remained steady entering this year, with the first quarter headlined by mammoth buyouts targeting sizable companies such as Australian private-hospital operator Ramsay Health Care and cloud-based health IT vendor Athenahealth.

Even amid a series of macro headwinds, private equity firms poured billions of dollars into healthcare assets during that period, extending a string of mega-deals that started last year.

If inflationary pressure continues to take a toll on economics and erode corporate margins, PE firms are expected to rotate out of consumer-facing businesses into more defensive assets such as healthcare and energy, according to a recent PitchBook analyst note.

High-profile US PE deals in the first quarter include the $17 billion buyout of healthtech company Athenahealth by Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman, as well as Clearlake‘s rollover of Symplr, a healthcare governance, risk and compliance company.

Other investors are looking for ever-larger acquisitions. A KKR-led consortium offered to buy Ramsay Health Care for A$20.1 billion (about $15 billion), which would rank as the largest PE-backed buyout in Australia if the takeover becomes successful.

Meanwhile, healthcare-focused funds appear to be gaining traction with limited partners—even amid ongoing market turmoil.

Several sector specialists—such as US PE shop Havencrest Capital and Chinese healthcare investor CBC Group—were able to close new funds in excess of targeted fund sizes.

And heavyweights have been back on the fundraising trail this year to pitch new buyout funds targeting healthcare assets. TPG is seeking $3.5 billion for a fund focused exclusively on healthcare deals, while Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe also has doubled down on the sector with a plan to raise $5 billion.

Here are the most active PE healthcare investors globally by deal count since 2017.

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