Human Capital Solutions States Three-Year Lookback & 2021 as a Record Year

The corporate research and data analytics team is reporting a three-year lookback of retained search and professional coaching projects focusing on sectors in Healthcare, Life Sciences, Private Equity, Technology, and the Industrials.

November 2021 Jobs Report & Industry Update

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Economics & Job Creation
“The Employment Situation — October 2021”

Life Sciences
“Global climate change impact on crops expected within 10 years”

Technology
“Revolutionary identity verification technique offers robust solution to hacking”

Healthcare
“Nerves may be key to blocking abnormal bone growth in tissue”

The Industrials
“Healable carbon fiber composite offers path to long-lasting, sustainable materials”

Human Capital Solutions, Inc. (HCS) www.humancs.com 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.

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.


Economics & Job Creation
“The Employment Situation – October 2021”

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 531,000 in October, and the unemployment rate edged down by 0.2 percentage point to 4.6 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics  reported today. Job growth was widespread, with notable job gains in leisure and  hospitality, in professional and business services, in manufacturing, and in  transportation and warehousing. Employment in public education declined over the month.  

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

Household Survey Data 

The unemployment rate edged down to 4.6 percent in October. The number of unemployed  persons, at 7.4 million, continued to trend down. Both measures are down considerably from their highs at the end of the February-April 2020 recession. However, they remain  above their levels prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (3.5 percent and 5.7  million, respectively, in February 2020). (See table A-1. See the box note at the end of this news release for more information about how the household survey and its measures were affected by the coronavirus pandemic.) 

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men (4.3 percent) declined in October. The jobless rates for adult women (4.4 percent), teenagers (11.9 percent), Whites (4.0 percent), Blacks (7.9 percent), Asians (4.2 percent), and Hispanics (5.9  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, at 2.1 million, changed little in October but is 828,000 higher than in February 2020. The number of persons on temporary layoff, at 1.1 million, was little changed over the month. This measure is down  considerably from the high of 18.0 million in April 2020 but is 306,000 above the February 2020 level. (See table A-11.) 

In October, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more)  decreased by 357,000 to 2.3 million but is 1.2 million higher than in February 2020. The  long-term unemployed accounted for 31.6 percent of the total unemployed in October.  (See table A-12.) 

The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 61.6 percent in October and has  remained within a narrow range of 61.4 percent to 61.7 percent since June 2020. The  participation rate is 1.7 percentage points lower than in February 2020. The employment- population ratio, at 58.8 percent, was little changed over the month. This measure is up from its low of 51.3 percent in April 2020 but remains below the figure of 61.1 percent in February 2020. (See table A-1.) 

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, at 4.4 million, was little changed 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. This measure has essentially returned to its February 2020 level. (See table A-8.) 

The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job was 6.0 million in  October, essentially unchanged over the month but up by 968,000 since February 2020. 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 was little changed at 1.7 million in October. 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 essentially unchanged over the month at 455,000. (See Summary table A.) 

Household Survey Supplemental Data 

In October, 11.6 percent of employed persons teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, down from 13.2 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 October, 3.8 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 down from 5.0 million in September. Among those who reported in October that they were unable to work because of pandemic-related closures or lost business, 13.3 percent received at least some pay from their employer for the hours not worked, little changed from the prior month. 

Among those not in the labor force in October, 1.3 million persons were prevented from  looking for work due to the pandemic. This measure is down from 1.6 million in September.  (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 www.bls.gov/cps/effects-of-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic.htm. 

Establishment Survey Data 

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 531,000 in October. Thus far this year, monthly job growth has averaged 582,000. Nonfarm employment has increased by 18.2 million since a recent trough in April 2020 but is down by 4.2 million, or 2.8 percent, from its pre-pandemic level in February 2020. Job growth was widespread in October, with notable job gains occurring in leisure and hospitality, in professional and business services, in manufacturing, and in  transportation and warehousing. Employment in public education declined over the month. (See table B-1. See the box note at the end of this news release for more information about how the establishment survey and its measures were affected by the coronavirus pandemic.) 

Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 164,000 in October and has risen by 2.4 million thus far in 2021. Over the month, employment rose by 119,000 in food services and  drinking places and by 23,000 in accommodation. Employment in leisure and hospitality is  down by 1.4 million, or 8.2 percent, since February 2020. 

Professional and business services added 100,000 jobs in October, including a gain of 41,000 in temporary help services. Employment continued to rise in management and technical  consulting services (+14,000), other professional and technical services (+9,000),  scientific research and development services (+6,000), and legal services (+5,000).  Employment in professional and business services is 215,000 below its level in February 2020. 

Employment in manufacturing increased by 60,000 in October, led by a gain in motor vehicles  and parts (+28,000). Employment also rose in fabricated metal products (+6,000), chemicals  (+6,000), and printing and related support activities (+4,000). Manufacturing employment is  down by 270,000 since February 2020. 

Employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 54,000 in October and is 149,000  above its February 2020 level. In October, job gains occurred in warehousing and storage  (+20,000), transit and ground passenger transportation (+16,000), air transportation (+9,000), and truck transportation (+8,000). Employment in couriers and messengers decreased by 5,000 in October, after increasing in the prior 3 months.  

Construction employment rose by 44,000 in October, following an increase of 30,000 in  September. In October, employment increased in nonresidential specialty trade contractors  (+19,000) and in heavy and civil engineering construction (+12,000). Construction employment is 150,000 below its February 2020 level. 

Health care added 37,000 jobs in October, with most of the gain occurring in home health  care services (+16,000) and nursing care facilities (+12,000). Employment in health care is  down by 460,000 since February 2020. 

In October, employment in retail trade rose by 35,000. Employment gains occurred in food and beverage stores (+16,000), general merchandise stores (+15,000), health and personal care stores (+8,000), and electronics and appliance stores (+6,000). These gains were partially  offset by a job loss in building material and garden supply stores (-10,000). Retail trade  employment is 140,000 lower than its level in February 2020.

Employment in the other services industry increased by 33,000 in October, as personal and laundry services added 28,000 jobs. Employment in other services is 169,000 below its  February 2020 level.  

Employment in financial activities rose by 21,000 in October and has returned to its  February 2020 level. Over the month, job growth occurred in real estate and rental and  leasing (+12,000) and in securities, commodity contracts, and investments (+11,000).  

Employment in wholesale trade increased by 14,000 in October, reflecting a gain in the durable goods component. Employment in wholesale trade is 158,000 lower than in February 2020. 

Mining employment continued to trend up in October (+5,000) but is down by 87,000 from a  peak in January 2019.  

In October, employment decreased in local government education and state government  education (-43,000 and -22,000, respectively). Employment changed little in private  education (+17,000). Recent employment changes in public and private education are  challenging to interpret, as pandemic-related staffing fluctuations have distorted the normal seasonal hiring and layoff patterns. Since February 2020, employment is down by 370,000 in local government education, by 205,000 in state government education, and by 148,000 in  private education. 

Employment in information changed little in October (+10,000) but is 122,000 lower than in  February 2020.  

In October, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 11 cents to $30.96, following large increases in the prior 6 months. Over the past 12  months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.9 percent. In October, average hourly  earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 10 cents to  $26.26. (See tables B-3 and B-8.) 

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hour to 34.7 hours. In manufacturing, the average workweek edged down by 0.1 hour to 40.3 hours, and overtime edged down by 0.1 hour to 3.2 hours. The average workweek for production and  nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.1 hour to 34.1 hours.  (See tables B-2 and B-7.) 

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised up by 117,000, from  +366,000 to +483,000, and the change for September was revised up by 118,000, from +194,000 to +312,000. With these revisions, employment in August and September combined is 235,000  higher 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 November is scheduled to be released on Friday, December 3,  2021, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).

Employment Situation Summary (bls.gov)

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Life Sciences
“Global climate change impact on crops expected within 10 years”

Climate change may affect the production of maize (corn) and wheat as early as 2030 under a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario, according to a new NASA study published in the journal, Nature Food. Maize crop yields are projected to decline 24%, while wheat could potentially see growth of about 17%.

Using advanced climate and agricultural models, scientists found that the change in yields is due to projected increases in temperature, shifts in rainfall patterns, and elevated surface carbon dioxide concentrations from human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. These changes would make it more difficult to grow maize in the tropics, but could expand wheat’s growing range.

“We did not expect to see such a fundamental shift, as compared to crop yield projections from the previous generation of climate and crop models conducted in 2014,” said lead author Jonas Jägermeyr, a crop modeler and climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and The Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York City. The projected maize response was surprisingly large and negative, he said. “A 20% decrease from current production levels could have severe implications worldwide.”

To arrive at their projections, the research team used two sets of models. First, they used climate model simulations from the international Climate Model Intercomparison Project-Phase 6 (CMIP6). Each of the five CMIP6 climate models used for this study runs its own unique response of Earth’s atmosphere to greenhouse gas emission scenarios through 2100. These responses differ somewhat due to variations in their representations of the Earth’s climate system.

Then the research team used the climate model simulations as inputs for 12 state-of-the-art global crop models that are part of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP), an international partnership coordinated by Columbia University. The crop models simulate on a large scale how crops grow and respond to environmental conditions such as temperature, rainfall and atmospheric carbon dioxide, which are provided by the climate models. Each crop species’ behavior is based on their real life biological responses studied in indoor and outdoor lab experiments. In the end, the team created about 240 global climate-crop model simulations for each crop. By using multiple climate and crop models in various combinations, the researchers were more confident in their results.

“What we’re doing is driving crop simulations that are effectively growing virtual crops day-by-day, powered by a supercomputer, and then looking at the year-by-year and decade-by-decade change in each location of the world,” said Alex Ruane, co-director of the GISS Climate Impacts Group and a co-author of the study.

This study focused on climate change impacts. These models do not address economic incentives, changing farming practices, and adaptations such as breeding hardier crop varieties, although that is an area of active research. The research team plans to look at these angles in follow-up work, since these factors will also determine the fate of agricultural yields in the future as people respond to climate-driven changes.

The team looked at changes to long-term average crop yields and introduced a new estimate for when climate change impacts “emerge” as a discernable signal from the usual, historically known variability in crop yields. Soybean and rice projections showed a decline in some regions but at the global scale the different models still disagree on the overall impacts from climate change. For maize and wheat, the climate effect was much clearer, with most of the model results pointing in the same direction.

Maize, or corn, is grown all over the world, and large quantities are produced in countries nearer the equator. North and Central America, West Africa, Central Asia, Brazil, and China will potentially see their maize yields decline in the coming years and beyond as average temperatures rise across these breadbasket regions, putting more stress on the plants.

Wheat, which grows best in temperate climates, may see a broader area where it can be grown as temperatures rise, including the Northern United States and Canada, North China Plains, Central Asia, Southern Australia, and East Africa, but these gains may level off mid-century.

Temperature is not the only factor the models consider when simulating future crop yields. Higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have a positive effect on photosynthesis and water retention, increasing crop yields, though often at a cost to nutrition. This effect happens more so for wheat than maize, which is more accurately captured in the current generation of models. Rising global temperatures also are linked with changes in rainfall patterns, and the frequency and duration of heat waves and droughts, which can affect crop health and productivity. Higher temperatures also affect the length of growing seasons and accelerate crop maturity.

“You can think of plants as collecting sunlight over the course of the growing season,” said Ruane. “They’re collecting that energy and then putting it into the plant and the grain. So, if you rush through your growth stages, by the end of the season, you just haven’t collected as much energy.” As a result, the plant produces less total grain than it would with a longer development period. “By growing faster, your yield actually goes down.”

“Even under optimistic climate change scenarios, where societies enact ambitious efforts to limit global temperature rise, global agriculture is facing a new climate reality,” Jägermeyr said. “And with the interconnectedness of the global food system, impacts in even one region’s breadbasket will be felt worldwide.”

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Technology
“Revolutionary identity verification technique offers robust solution to hacking”

A team of computer scientists, including Claude Crépeau of McGill University and physicist colleagues from the University of Geneva, have developed an extremely secure identity verification method based on the fundamental principle that information cannot travel faster than the speed of light. The breakthrough has the potential to greatly improve the security of financial transactions and other applications requiring proof of identity online.

“Current identification schemes that use personal identification numbers (PINs) are incredibly insecure faced with a fake teller machine that stores the PINs of users,” says Crépeau, a professor in the School of Computer Science at McGill. “Our research found and implemented a secure mechanism to prove someone’s identity that cannot be replicated by the verifier of this identity.”

How to prove you know something without revealing what it is you know

The new method, published in Nature, is an advance on a concept known as zero-knowledge proof, whereby one party (a ‘prover’) can demonstrate to another (the ‘verifier’) that they possess a certain piece of information without actually revealing that information.

The idea of zero-knowledge proof began to take hold in the field of data encryption in the 1980s. Today, many encryption systems rely on mathematical statements which the prover can show to be valid without giving away clues to the verifier as to how to prove the validity of the statement. Underlying the effectiveness of these systems is an assumption that there is no practical way for the verifier to work backwards from the information they do receive from the prover to figure out a general solution to the problem. The theory goes that there is a certain class of mathematical problem, known as one-way functions, that are easy for computers to evaluate but not easy for them to solve. However, with the development of quantum computing, scientists are beginning to question this assumption and are growing wary of the possibility that the supposed one-way functions underlying today’s encryption systems may be undone by an emerging generation of quantum computers.

Separating witnesses to get the story straight

The McGill-Geneva research team have reframed the zero-knowledge proof idea by creating a system involving two physically separated prover-verifier pairs. To confirm their bona fides, the two provers must demonstrate to the verifiers that they have a shared knowledge of a solution to a notoriously difficult mathematical problem: how to use only three colours to colour in an image made up of thousands of interconnected shapes such that no two adjacent shapes are of the same colour.

“The verifiers randomly choose a large number of pairs of adjacent shapes in the image and then ask each of the two provers for the colour of one or the other shape in each pair,” explains co-author Hugo Zbinden, an associate professor of applied physics at the University of Geneva.

If the two provers consistently name different colours in response, the verifiers can be assured that both provers do indeed know the three-colour solution. By separating the two provers physically and questioning them simultaneously, the system eliminates the possibility of collusion between the provers, because to do so they would have to transmit information to each other faster than the speed of light — a scenario ruled out by the principle of special relativity.

“It’s like when the police interrogate two suspects at the same time in separate offices,” Zbinden says. “It’s a matter of checking their answers are consistent, without allowing them to communicate with each other.”

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Healthcare
“Nerves may be key to blocking abnormal bone growth in tissue”

Blocking a molecule that draws sensory nerves into musculoskeletal injuries prevents heterotopic ossification (HO), a process in which bone abnormally grows in soft tissue during healing, UT Southwestern researchers reported in a study. The findings, published in Nature Communications, suggest that drugs currently being tested in clinical trials to inhibit this molecule for pain relief could also protect against this challenging condition.

“Heterotopic ossification is an incredibly debilitating condition for which we have no truly effective therapies,” said study leader Benjamin Levi, M.D., Associate Professor of Surgery and in the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern and the Charles and Jane Pak Center for Mineral Metabolism and Clinical Research. “To be able to prevent HO from occurring after an injury while also decreasing pain would be a substantial step forward.”

HO occurs in a significant number of patients with musculoskeletal injuries or who undergo some surgeries. For example, about 20% of patients undergoing an initial hip replacement develop this abnormal bone growth, and for a second replacement of the same hip, that number rises to up to 80%. HO is also common in patients with large-area burns, traumatic elbow injuries, spinal cord injuries, and pelvic fractures, where it causes contractures that limit mobility. Although pain during healing is an obvious feature of these injuries and surgeries, Dr. Levi explained, it’s been unclear whether pain-sensing nerves play a role in its development.

To investigate this question, Dr. Levi and Johns Hopkins colleague Aaron W. James, M.D., Ph.D., co-led a team of researchers from six institutions to determine how HO is affected by sensory nerves. Using a mouse model, the researchers observed that sciatic nerve axons — long extensions of neurons — grew into the injury site before HO occurred. When the nerve axons were not present, HO did not develop.

In an effort to identify the signal that draws sensory nerve axons into the injury site, the researchers surveyed gene activity to determine which genes might be over- or under-producing proteins after injury. They found that the amount of one protein, called nerve growth factor (NGF), increased several-fold after injury, and it came from cells on the outside of blood vessels. Because nerve fibers usually travel the same routes as blood vessels, NGF seemed like a likely beacon to draw axons in.

Sure enough, when the researchers used a genetic technique to shut down NGF- signaling at the injury site, HO did not develop. The researchers achieved similar success by using small molecules or an investigational drug to block TrkA, the receptor to which NGF binds.

Dr. Levi noted that several drugs that aim to relieve pain by blocking NGF are currently in phase 3 clinical trials at other institutions. These drugs could serve a dual purpose in patients at risk for HO by preventing this condition from developing.

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The Industrials

“Healable carbon fiber composite offers path to long-lasting, sustainable materials”

Because of their high strength and light weight, carbon-fiber-based composite materials are gradually replacing metals for advancing all kinds of products and applications, from airplanes to wind turbines to golf clubs. But there’s a trade-off. Once damaged or compromised, the most commonly-used carbon fiber materials are nearly impossible to repair or recycle.

In a paper published Nov. 2 in the journal Carbon, a team of researchers describes a new type of carbon fiber reinforced material that is as strong and light as traditionally used materials but can be repeatedly healed with heat, reversing any fatigue damage. This also provides a way to break it down and recycle it when it reaches the end of its life.

“Developing fatigue-resistant composites is a major need in the manufacturing community,” said co-lead author Aniruddh Vashisth, University of Washington assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “In this paper, we demonstrate a material where either traditional heat sources or radio frequency heating can be used to reverse and postpone its aging process indefinitely.”

The material is part of a recently developed group known as carbon fiber reinforced vitrimers, named after the Latin word for glass, that show a mix of solid and fluid properties. The materials typically used today, whether in sporting goods or aerospace, are carbon fiber reinforced polymers.

Traditional carbon fiber reinforced polymers typically fall into two categories: thermoset or thermoplastic. The “set” variety contains an epoxy, a glue-like material where the chemical links holding it together harden permanently. The “plastic” version contains a softer type of glue so it can be melted back down and reworked, but this becomes a drawback for high strength and stiffness. Vitrimers on the other hand, can link, unlink and relink, providing a middle ground between the two.

“Imagine each of these materials is a room full of people,” Vashisth said. “In the thermoset room, all of the people are holding hands and won’t let go. In the thermoplastic room, people are shaking hands and moving all around. In the vitrimer room people shake hands with their neighbor but they have the capacity to exchange handshakes and make new neighbors so that the total number of interconnections remains the same. That reconnection is how the material gets repaired and this paper was the first to use atomic-scale simulations to understand the underlying mechanisms for those chemical handshakes.”

The research team believes vitrimers could be a viable alternative for many products currently manufactured from thermosets, something badly needed because thermoset composites have begun piling up in landfills. The team says that healable vitrimers would be a major shift toward a dynamic material with a different set of considerations in terms of life-cycle cost, reliability, safety and maintenance.

“These materials can translate the linear life cycle of plastics to a circular one, which would be a great step toward sustainability,” said co-senior author Nikhil Koratkar, professor of mechanical, aerospace and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The research team also includes Mithil Kamble and Catalin Picu at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Hongkun Yang and Dong Wang at the Beijing University of Chemical Technology. This research was funded by the U.S. Army and NASA through the Vertical Lift Research Centers of Excellence program, the National Science Foundation, the John A. Clark and Edward T. Crossan Chair Professorship at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of Washington, and the company Software for Chemistry & Materials.

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