Fourth Anniversary of Workinthoughts.com

Big day for my blog. I’m proud of what it has become over the last four years and what is still awaiting me.  We all get inspired and many of us translate that into a journal or a twitter entry. I’ve grown through my critical thinking and writing discipline. Assembling ideas and making it relevant either through timeliness, story, or research for the reader is fun but it’s hard work. It isn’t easy to focus and concentrate on a topic that others will learn from.

With that said, I’m changing gears with the blog. It began a few months ago when my entries started to be a bit more long form. Twitter does a great job at the short form and I’ll incorporate it as an accompanying communication channel but my main entries will continue to be more in depth. Probably more spaced out too.

I like creating engaging entries with illustrations, videos, and meaningful explanations and stories. I’m going to push for more interaction via facebook, twitter, linkedin, interviews, guest entries, and comments. I already have a new format, which will continue to change, and I’m going to mature the site as a platform. We’ll see where it goes.

Working Thoughts 6/27/07

1st Blog Entry

Working Thoughts 6/27/08

First Year Anniversary of Working Thoughts

Working Thoughts 6/27/09

Two Year Anniversary of Working Thoughts – Part 1

Two Year Anniversary of Working Thoughts – Part 2

Working Thoughts 6/27/10

Three Year Anniversary for Working Thoughts

May 2011 Jobs Report and Wages

Here are the job market and compensation numbers for April 2011 (based on the job report):

Net gain of 54,000 jobs in the month (revised to a gain of 25,000 jobs)
  • Analysts expected an overall gain of 180,00Private sector payrolls increased by 83,000
  • Private service producing industries added 80,000 (194,000 last month and 154,000 the month before
  • Goods producing industries gained 3,000 (38,000 last month and 40,000 the month before)
  • The US has added 908,000 private sector jobs this year and 2.1 million since the start of 2010
  • April was revised to a gain of 232,000 from an original reading of 244,000
  • March was revised to a gain of 194,000 from an original reading of 216,000 and a revision of 221,000
  • Revisions subtracted 39,000 jobs from earlier readings
  • Payroll processing company ADP said private-sector payrolls grew by 38,000 in May
  • downwardly revised 177,000 increase in April
  • economists’ expectations for private sector job growth of 170,000 for the month.
  • the manufacturing sector cut 9,000 jobs
  • the financial services sector lost 6,000 jobs
  • the construction sector cut 8,000 workers
  • the broader services sector added 48,000 jobs overall
  • McDonald’s hired 62,000 workers, which are part of a subcategory called food services. Without this hiring spree, the report could conceivably be a neutral report (no jobs gained or lost)
    In April, the number of job openings was 3 million, down a touch from 3.1 million in March
    About 13.9 million people were out of work in April
  • 6.2 million had have been jobless for six months or longer
    45.1% of the unemployed are long term unemployed.
  • Employers announced plans to cut 37,135 jobs in April, down 4.3% from May 2010
  • 1.8% increase over April’s 36,490 planned job cuts
  • comparing the first five months of 2010 to 2011 shows 2011 has 21% fewer announced job cuts (things are bad, but not as bad as last year)

Unemployment rate rose to 9.1%

  • Analysts predicted it would remain at 8.9%
  • The labor force
    participation rate is 64.2% (66.5% is average to good) – unchanged for the fifth straight month
  • The employment to population ratio is 58.4% – No change
  • The U-6 report, which is a broader group to count (workers who are part time but want to be full time and discouraged worker), rose to 15.8% from 15.9% last month
  • PMI, a measure of manufacturing pace, is 53.5% and the 22nd consecutive month of readings over 50 percent. Anything above 50% means the machines are running. This is a significant drop from April’s reading of 60.4%
  • Service sector activity rose to 54.6% (52.8% last month and 57.3% before that and down from 59.7%). It was the 17th straight month of growth


Specific Segment Job numbers:

  • Manufacturing lost 5,000 jobs
  • Construction gained 2,000 jobs
  • Retailers lost 8,500 jobs
  • Leisure and Hospitality Services lost 6,000 jobs
  • Government sector lost 29,000, 28,000 was in local government
  • Education and Health Services grew by 34,000 jobs
  • Health Care and Social Assistance grew by 27,200
    • Professional and Business Services grew by 44,000
    • 1,200 jobs lost in Temporary Help

Wage (can be revised):

  • The average hourly earning (seasonally adjusted) is $19.43 – up six cents from last month and 11 cents over the last two months
  • Average weekly hours and overtime of production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls by industry sector, seasonally adjusted is 33.6 hours, no change again

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Split Personalities – Tax Breadth and Tax Depth

We seem to have split personalities when it comes to the news and our politics. In the news we hear about natural disasters and the sour economy. In politics we hear about the failings of the President and the deficit. Why are these two voices talking about different subjects?

The truth is they are talking about the same problem, just different ends of it. The US is maturing. A large portion of the population is entering their retirement years. Every day, for the next 19 years, 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65. By 2030, 18% of the U.S. population will be over 65, compared with today’s 13%.

This is important for several reasons, but here are two:

  1. Federal tax collection is based on income. Those that are retired usually don’t make significant income, so the taxes they contribute are very low. A change or decrease of 5% is a huge impact to the revenue of the government. Or said another way, 10,000 people, who have a high average income, can drop out of the tax pool everyday.
  2. The baby boomers have been in leadership positions for two decades. The groups behind them, smaller in numbers, will need to fill the void.

The first reason is why you hear about Medicare and the budget. The second reason is why you hear about stimulus and silicon valley.

– When we talk about the deficit and paying down the debt we are talking about the inevitability of time. Our demographics show an aging population who will not be contributing to tax rolls. Less income means less spending. Tax Breadth.

– When we talk about innovation and stimulus spending we are pushing for investment and hopefully an improvement in future wealth and the standard of living. This would offset the loss of tax income from those no longer in the workforce. Tax Depth.

Both of these are concerns. I tend to be more transfixed with the latter. Many young professionals are either not entering the workforce or they are at compensation levels below the norm of 5 years ago. This lag in pay is not easily overcome and tends to persist for a career. Smaller income means smaller taxes paid. In addition to that, younger professionals are not moving into challenging roles as they would have in the past. Opportunities for learning experiences are reduced. Plus what they’ve been taught in school isn’t applicable e.g. China has changed dramatically since 2007, but the text books didn’t.

The 18% not in the workforce is unavoidable, but what should be asked is what’s to come of the under employed?

There will always be some number of the under employed, but we are currently looking at a devastating mix of long durations and loss of skills. The recession as it began in 2007 was a supply and demand recession, meaning nothing out of the ordinary occurred. But the last two years has led to a structural recession. This means that the skills and knowledge the US worker has isn’t quite matching up with what labor is needed. If this is more than a blip then high unemployment will continue for a few years as education and training requirements sort themselves out.

But I also feel like the 16-24 group, or more broadly the under 30 age group, is pioneering a new track. The way the view the world is much different than their older counterparts. As a consumer group they can influence the creation and offering of products and services. The next 24 months will be telling about the future of this country.

April 2011 Jobs Report and Wages

Here are the job market and compensation numbers for April 2011 (based on the job report):


Net gain
of 244,000 jobs in the month

  • Analysts expected an overall gain of 185,000 (200,000 for private sector growth)
  • Private sector payrolls increased by 268,000
    • Private service producing industries added 224,000 (199,000 last month and 152,000 the month before)
    • Goods producing industries gained 44,000 (31, 000 last month and 70,000 the month before)


  • The US has added 800,000 private sector jobs this year and 2.1 million total over the past 14 months
  • The last three months have averaged a job gain of 233,000- this is the fastest rate of growth since early 2006
  • February was revised to a gain of 235,000 from a revised 194,000 and an original reading of 192,000
  • March was revised to a gain of 221,000 from an original reading of a 216,000 gain
  • Revisions added 46,000 jobs
  • There are 6,955,000 fewer total nonfarm jobs since the recession started in December 2007. Although 244,000 jobs added is good, it will take 29 more months to dig out of the hole
  • Payroll processor ADP reported an employment gain of 179,000 jobs
    • 47% of the 179,000 ADP reported gain came from small business (firms with less than 50 employees). It was 49 last month and 46% the month before
    • Large businesses (greater than 500 employees) hired 6.25% of the 179,000 gain


  • McDonald’s hired 62,000 workers, but those hirings missed the survey window and will be more associated with the May Jobs Report
  • About 13.7 million people were out of work in April – however, in a positive move many newly unemployed people are not getting fired.
    Instead they are leaving voluntarily, presumably because they think they
    can do better.
    The number of people unemployed because they lost jobs fell to 8,144,000 in April, the lowest figure in two years
  • 5.8 million had have been jobless for six months or longer (a drop of 283,000 from last month, which is good) down from 6.5 million in March 2010

    • 43.4% of the unemployed are long term unemployed. Down from 45.5% last month
  • Employers
    announced plans to cut 36,490 jobs in April, down 4.8% from April 2010 when the economy stalled

Unemployment rate rose to 9.0%

  • Analysts predicted it would remain at 8.8%
  • The labor force
    participation rate is 64.2% (66.5% is average to good) – unchanged for the fourth straight month
    • Lowest since 1984
    • The participation rate was dropping before the recession began due to changing demographics of the US population
    • Every day, for the next 19 years, 10,000 boomers will turn 65. By 2030, 18% of the U.S. population will be over 65, compared with today’s 13%
    • Job expansion to account for population growth (keeping the unemployment rate steady) is estimated to be 150,000 and 200,000, but the partially delayed retirement of the baby boomers is moving these numbers to 75,000 to 100,000

  • The employment to population ratio is 58.4% – No change
  • Normally the unemployment rate moves in lock step with changes to the participation rate and the employment ratio but the diverge this month because the household survey is finding a reduction of employed people by 190,000 people. With surveys there tends to be noise and the drop from 10% to 8.8% was probably too quick so a little rise is natural to sort things out
  • The
    U-6
    report, which is a broader group to count (workers who are
    part
    time but want to be full time and discouraged worker), rose to 15.9% from 15.7% last month
  • PMI,
    a measure of manufacturing pace, is 60.4% and the 22nd consecutive
    month of readings over 50 percent. Anything above 50% means the
    machines are running
  • Service
    sector activity dropped to 52.8% from 57.3% last month and down from 59.7% in February. A dramatic drop when compared to other improvements (lowest level since August 2010). It was the
    16th straight month of growth
  • GDP, the most widely used measurement of the the American economy grew at a lackluster 1.8 percent in the first quarter,
    according to the government’s estimate for the first quarter
  • Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased at a 1.6 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2011

Specific Segment Job numbers:

  • Manufacturing gained 29,000 jobs
  • Construction gained 5,000 jobs
  • Retailers gained 57,100 jobs
  • Leisure and Hospitality Services gained 46,000 jobs
  • Government sector lost 24,000, 22,000 was state and local government
  • Education and Health Services grew by 49,000 jobs
    • Health Care and Social Assistance grew by 41,800

  • Professional and Business Services grew by 51,000
    • 2,300 jobs lost in Temporary Help

Wage (can be revised):

  • The
    average weekly paycheck (seasonally
    adjusted) is $650.83
  • The average hourly earning (seasonally adjusted) is $19.37 – up a nickle from last month
  • Corporations set a new record for profits: $1.68 trillion annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2010
  • Average
    weekly hours and overtime of production and nonsupervisory employees on
    private nonfarm payrolls by industry sector, seasonally adjusted is
    33.6 hours, no change

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart – A Book Review

Quick Take: Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart is a collection of academia based essays proving the comparative value of decision making based on good enough information. The examples and anecdotes are good, but there is complex math to wade through. It isn’t a leisure read. However, each section can be consumed on it’s own. If you’re a student of decision making, whether it’s group dynamics or individual situations, then this book is a good heuristics reference.

Simple Heuristics that Make Us Smart Cover

Detail Review: Many of us have a comfortable chair which serves as our place to relax.
Its great for 40 winks. But why do we relish peacefully falling asleep
in a chair? Most of the time it’s because we are mentally exhausted. Everyday we are faced with an ever changing list of choices to make and each has a list of known variables and all kinds of factors which are unknown. We try to streamline choices that have worked so we don’t need to concentrate on it. I take the same route to work everyday even though there are probably another ten ways to get there, for instance.

I wish I had a computer in my head to compute all the different inputs into making a decision. I could continually collect data and analyze it practically to a 100% decision certainty. But I don’t have a computer or unlimited time, instead I rely on heuristics. Heuristics are simple methods for using particular cues and constraints to make a choice. Gerd Gigerenzer, Peter M. Todd, and The ABC Research Group authored this tome as a study of how accurate specific heuristics are.

Here are a few heuristics covered in the book:

Recognition
Definition – If one of two objects is recognized and the other is not, then infer that the recognized object has the higher value with respect to the criterion.
Example – If I ask 100 Americans which city in Germany is more populated Berlin or Saarburg? The results will be close to 100% correct – Berlin is more populated. Of the 100 people few, if any, will recognize Saarburg as a city, but practically all of them will have heard of Berlin. Because of that recognition they will answer Berlin even though they know little about the actual number of people who live in either city.

Take the Best
Definition – When making a judgment based on multiple cues, the criterion are tried one at a time according to their cue validity, and a decision is made based on the first criterion which discriminates between the alternatives.
Example – Suppose we ask the question about population again, but instead of Saarburg we use Frankfurt. Berlin and Frankfurt are both recognizable so we must use other reasons to discriminate population. We pose a list of usual indicators of large populations – historical relevance, it’s a capital, tourism, sports teams, and so on. From that list we rank the list based on which ones usually are more of an indication of population and try to separate the two. We compare Frankfurt and Berlin for tourism and realize that Berlin is much more of a destination than Frankfurt is. We stop there and don’t review the other reasons. We take the best separator – tourism – and decide to invest no more time in evaluating. Berlin is the answer.

Take the Last
Definition – When making a judgment based on multiple cues, the criterion are sorted according to what worked last time. It uses memory of prior problem solving instances and works from what was successful before.
Example – I’m now comparing Frankfurt and Munich in population. I’ve heard of both so I can’t use Recognition. I use Tourism as the candidate since it worked with Berlin and Frankfurt. This time I go with Munich because they’ve hosted an Olympics and is more of a destination than Frankfurt. This answer is correct and time and energy was saved because I didn’t need to sort through all the other criteria.

In addition to those there are:

  • Franklin’s Rule – calculates for each alternative the sum of the cue values multiplied by the corresponding cue weights (validaties) and selects the alternative with the highest score.
  • Dawes’s Rule – calculates for each alternative the sum of the cue values (multiplied by a unit weight of 1) and selects the alternative with the highest score.
  • Good Features (Alba & Marmorstein, 1987) selects the alternative with the highest number of good features. A good feature is a cue value that exceeds a specified cutoff.
  • Weighted Pros (Huber, 1979) selects the alternative with the highest sum of weighted “pros.” A cue that has a higher value for one alternative than for the others is considered a pro for this alternative. The weight of each pro is defined by the validity of the particular cue.
  • LEX or lexicographic (Fishburn, 1974) selects the alternative with the highest cue value on the cue with the highest validity. If more than one alternative has the same highest cue value, then for these alternatives the cue with the second highest validity is considered, and so on. Lex is a generalization of Take the Best
  • EBA or Elimination by Aspects (Tsersky, 1972) eliminates all alternatives that do not exceed a specified value on the first cue examined. If more than one alternative remains, another cue is selected. This procedure is repeated until only one alternative is left. Each cue is selected with a probability proportional to its weight. In contrast to this probabilistic selection, in the present chapter the order in which EBA examines cues to determine by their validity, so that in every case the cue with the highest validity is used first.
  • Multiple Regression is a statistically analysis of how the typical value of the dependent variable changes when any one of the independent variables is varied, while the other independent variables are held fixed. This is beyond the capacity of a normal human and usually requires a resources like a computer.

The book uses the city example to run a test against a few heuristics and Regression testing (computing intensive). The results are startling when you consider the number of cues needed to reach the decision (a low number for Take the Best and Take the Last and a high number for the other three).

Here’s a chart showing relative performance for this particular case study:

As you can see, Take the Best and Regression Analysis are very similar in performance. This means if you pick the right Heuristic to use for the situation you can save time and resources and still get the performance that is comparable for the trade off (time and energy).

So what does this mean? Sometimes it’s the difference between life and death.

A
man is rushed to a hospital in the throes of a heart attack. The doctor
needs to decide quickly whether the victim should be treated as a
low-risk or a high-risk patient. He is at high risk if his life is
truly threatened, and should receive the most expensive and detailed
care. Although this decision can save or a cost a life, the doctor does
not have the luxury of extensive deliberation: She or he must decide
under time pressure  using only the available cues, each of which is,
at best, merely an uncertain predictor of the patient’s risk level. For
instance, at the University of California, San Diego Medical Center, as
many as 19 such cues, including blood pressure and age, are measured as
soon as a heart attack patient is admitted. Common sense dictates that
the best way to make the decision is to look at the results of each of
those measurements, rank them according to their importance, and
combine them somehow in to a final conclusion, preferable using some
fancy statistical software package.

Consider in contrast the simple decision tree below, which was designed
by Breiman and colleagues to classify heart attack patients according
to risk using only a maximum of three variables. A patient who has  a
systolic blood pressure of less than 91 is immediately classified as
high risk – no further information is needed. Otherwise, the decision
is left to the second cue, age. A patient under 62.5 years old is
classified as low risk; if he or she is older, the one more cue (sinus
tachycardia) is needed to classify the patient as high or low risk.
Thus, the tree requires the doctor to answer a maximum of three yes/no
questions to reach a decision rather than to measure and consider 19
predicators, letting life-saving treatment proceed sooner.

 

 

To wrap up, the book has many interesting essays as chapters, ranging from bicycle races, hindsight bias, ants, mate selection, and bargaining. It’s a solid 365 pages with small font. The math and the science can be dense, but the applicability of the results are real. It doesn’t sugar coat what goes into making heuristics worthwhile – a lot of up front analysis. It does however show how powerful those paths or decision trees can be once they are implemented.

Gerd Gigerenzer has other books that are probably more digestible for the heuristically curious (Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious and Calculated Risks: How to Know When Numbers Deceive You) but if you’re into behavior and why particular decision paths are more economical than others, then this book is a good educational read.


Other Reviews:
The IBM Data Governance Unified Process: Driving Business Value with IBM Software and Best Practices – A Book Review / How Pleasure Works – A Book Review / Why We Make Mistakes – A Book Review / Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates US – A Book Review / Rules of Thumb – A Review / I Hate People – A Review / The Job Coach for Young Professionals – A Review / A Review of The Fearless Fish Out of Water: How to Succeed When You’re the Only One Like You / A Quick Review of Johnny Bunko (a manga story)

March 2011 Jobs Report and Wages

Here are the job market and compensation numbers for March 2011 (based on the job report):


Net gain
of 216,000 jobs in the month

  • Analysts expected an overall gain of 192,000
  • Private sector payrolls increased by 230,000
    • Private service producing industries added 199,000 (152,000 last month)
    • Goods producing industries gained 31,000 (70,000 last month)


  • February was revised to a gain of 194,000 from an original reading of 192,000
  • January was revised to a gain of 68,000 from a revision of 63,000 and an original reading of a 36,000 gain
  • Payroll processor ADP reported an employment gain of 201,000 jobs
    • 49% of the 208,000 ADP reported gain came from small business (firms with less than 50 employees). It was 46% last month
    • The last four months average an increase of 211,000 jobs. The prior four months saw an average increase of 74,000 jobs


  • 6.1 million people have been jobless for more than 6 months (long term
    unemployed) – up from 6.0 million last month
    and down from 6.5 million in March 2010

    • 45.5% of the unemployed
      are long term unemployed

  • Employers
    announced plans to cut 41,528 jobs in March. It was 50,702 jobs in February and 57,724 in March 2010

Unemployment rate dropped to 8.8%

  • Analysts predicted it would remain at 8.9%
  • Since November 2010 the unemployment rate has dropped 1%
  • The labor force
    participation rate is 64.2% (66.5% is average to good) – unchanged
  • The employment to population ratio is 58.5% – up from 58.4%
  • The
    U-6
    report, which is a broader group to count (workers who are part
    time but want to be full time and discouraged worker), dropped to 15.7% from 15.9% last month and from 16.7% in December 2010
  • PMI,
    a measure of manufacturing pace, is 61.2% and the 22th consecutive
    month of readings over 50 percent. Anything above 50% means the
    machines are running
  • Service
    sector activity dropped to 57.3%, down from 59.7% last month. An unexpected drop when compared to other improvements. It was the
    16th straight month of growth

Specific Segment Job numbers:

  • Manufacturing gained 17,000 jobs
  • Construction lost 1,000 jobs
  • Retailers lost 17,700 jobs
  • Leisure and Hospitality Services gained 37,000 jobs
  • Government sector lost 14,000, all state or local
  • Education and Health Services grew by 45,000 jobs
    • Health Care and Social Assistance grew by 44,500

  • Professional and Business Services grew by 78,000
    • 28,800 jobs gained in Temporary Help

Wage (can be revised):

  • The
    average weekly paycheck (seasonally
    adjusted) is $648.48 –
  • The average hourly earning (seasonally adjusted) is $19.30 – down 2 cents from last month
  • Average
    weekly hours and overtime of production and nonsupervisory employees on
    private nonfarm payrolls by industry sector, seasonally adjusted is
    33.6 hours, up slightly from 33.5 last month and 33.4 in January 2011
  • 6.3% of hourly-paid workers in Pennsylvania earned the minimum wage or less in 2010
  • 9.5% of hourly-paid workers in Texas earned the minimum wage or less in 2010

Bureau of Labor Statistics

February 2011 Jobs Report and Wages

Here are the job market and compensation numbers for February 2011 (based on the job report):


Net gain
of 192,000 jobs in the month
(Revised in March to a gain of 194,000)

  • Analysts expected an overall gain of 190,000
  • Private sector payrolls increased by 220,000
    • Private service producing industries added 152,000
    • Goods producing industries gained 70,000


  • December was revised to a gain of 152,000 from a revision of 121,000 and an original reading of 103,000
  • January was revised to a gain of 68,000 from a revision of 63,000 and an original reading of 36,000 gain
  • Payroll processor ADP reported an employment gain of 217,000 jobs
    • 46% of the 217,000 came from small business (firms with less than 50 employees)


  • 6.0 million people have been jobless for more than 6 months (long term
    unemployed) – down from 6.2 million last month
    and 6.4 two months ago

    • 43.9% of the unemployed are long term unemployed – up from 43.8% last month (the overall population count has changed resulting in one number improving positively, but another appearing to be negative compared to last month)
  • Employers
    announced plans to cut 50,702 jobs in February, a subdued number but a year over year increase (42,090 in Feb 2010)

Unemployment rate dropped to 8.9%

  • Analysts predicted it would rise to 9.1%
  • The unemployment rate dipped below 9.0% for the first time 21 months
  • Last month there was an oddity of a low increase in jobs but a large drop in unemployment rate. After further inspection this is the result of an unusual squeeze of the components to this equation Number of people in the workforce (civilian labor force) – number of people with jobs (employed) = number of unemployed people.
    • The civilian labor force shrunk a little more than a normal drop with people dropping out of the labor force and the number of people with jobs increased a touch resulting in a significant drop in the unemployment rate
    • The “Not in Labor Force” number rose by 2.4 million people from February 2010 to February 2011

  • The labor force
    participation rate is 64.2% (66.5% is average to good) – unchanged
  • The employment to population ratio is 58.4% – unchanged
  • The
    U-6
    report, which is a broader group to count (workers who are part
    time but want to be full time and discouraged worker), dropped to 15.9% from 16.1%.
  • PMI,
    a measure of manufacturing pace, is 61.4% and the 21th consecutive
    month of readings over 50 percent. Anything above 50% means the
    machines are running
  • Service
    sector activity rose to 59.7%, up from 59.4% last month. It was the
    15th straight month of growth

Specific Segment Job numbers:

  • Manufacturing gained 33,000 jobs
  • Construction gained 33,000 jobs (lost 32,000 so an even start to the year)
  • Retailers lost 8,100 jobs
  • Leisure and Hospitality Services gained 21,000 jobs
  • Government sector lost 30,000, all state or local
  • Education and Health Services grew by 40,000 jobs
    • Health Care and Social Assistance grew by 36,200

  • Professional and Business Services grew by 47,000
    • 15,500 jobs gained in Temporary Help (lost jobs last month after several months of gains)

Wage (can be revised):

  • The average weekly paycheck (seasonally adjusted) is $647.56 – an increase of $1.94 and a $3.35 positive change from December, 2010. $19.08 gain in the last year (there’s been low inflation so this is good)
  • The average hourly earning (seasonally adjusted) is $19.33 – flat from last month
  • Average
    weekly hours and overtime of production and nonsupervisory employees on
    private nonfarm payrolls by industry sector, seasonally adjusted is
    33.5 hours, up slightly from 33.4

Bureau of Labor Statistics

January 2011 Jobs Report and Wages

Here are the job market and compensation numbers for January 2011 (based on the job report):


Net gain
of 36,000 jobs in the month
(revised in March to a gain of 68,000)

  • Analysts expected an overall gain of 149,000
  • Private sector payrolls increased by 50,000
    • Private service producing industries added 32,000
    • Goods producing industries gained 18,000


  • December was revised to a gain of 152,000 from a revision of 121,000 and from an original reading of 103,000
  • November was revised to a gain of 93,000 from a revised reading of 71,000 and an original reading of 39,000 gain
  • October was revised to a gain of 171,000 from a second revision of 210,000 a revised reading of 172,000 and an original reading of 151,000
  • Payroll processor ADP reported an employment gain of 187,000 jobs (a revised 247,000 jobs in December, 2010)
    • The ADP survey and the Jobs Report survey aren’t usually this varying in their results, which, coupled with other data, makes people think the economy is shifting and the models used in the Government report are not currently effective

  • The Labor Department estimates there were 886,000 workers who had a job but couldn’t get to work due to weather (5th largest account of this situation) – if true, this means the real gain in jobs is estimated to be 200,000
  • 6.2 million people have been jobless for more than 6 months (long term
    unemployed) – down from 6.4 million last month

    • 43.8% of the unemployed are long term unemployed – down from 44.3% last month and up from 41.9% in November, 2010
  • Employers announced plans to cut 38,519 jobs in January, a 20% increase over December, according to outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. This is a really low number because it usually averages just over 100,000 for the month of January every year
  • Benchmark revisions were made for April 2009 to March of 2010 and show combined additional loss of 215,000 jobs during that period
  • Overall, it was a  confusing report – the numbers seem to contradict each other

Unemployment rate dropped to 9.0%

  • Analysts predicted it would rise to 9.5%
  • The 0.8% drop in a span of two months is rare: only 4 larger two month declines on record and those were in the 1940s and 1950s
  • The unemployment rate has been at 9% or higher for 21 months
  • Normally, when a decrease in the unemployment number happens without a very large number of new jobs it means people have dropped out of the count, but that isn’t the case this month – this is odd (504,000 people did drop out though)
  • The labor force
    participation rate is 64.2% (66.5% is average to good) – relatively unchanged
  • The employment to population ratio is 58.4% – relatively unchanged from 58.3% last month
  • The
    U-6
    report, which is a broader group to count (workers who are part
    time but want to be full time and discouraged worker), dropped to 16.1% from 16.7%.
    This reflects an even greater decrease seen in the overall unemployment rate (9.0% from 9.4%)
  • PMI,
    a measure of manufacturing pace, is 57% and the 20th consecutive
    month of readings over 50 percent. Anything above 50% means the
    machines are running
  • Service sector activity rose to 59.4%, up from 57.1% last month. It was the 14th straight month of growth and the highest reading since August 2005
  • 2010 fourth quarter productivity is reported at 2.6% and annualized at 3.6%

Specific Segment Job numbers:

  • Manufacturing gained 49,000 jobs
  • Construction lost 32,000 jobs
  • Retailers gained 27,500 jobs
  • Leisure and Hospitality Services lost 3,000 jobs
  • Government sector lost 14,000, Federal lost 2,000
  • Education and Health Services grew by 13,000 jobs
    • Health Care and Social Assistance grew by 12,900

  • Professional and Business Services grew by 31,000
    • 11,400 jobs lost in Temporary Help (had been gaining for several months)

Wage (can be revised):

  • The average weekly paycheck (seasonally adjusted) is $645.96 – an increase of $1.42
  • The average hourly earning (seasonally adjusted) is $19.34
  • Average
    weekly hours and overtime of production and nonsupervisory employees on
    private nonfarm payrolls by industry sector, seasonally adjusted is
    33.4 hours

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Report Stats Summary

Thank You to Those that Inspired Me in 2010

For the past several years I’ve taken time to review the last 365 days of this Working Thoughts blog. I’d say the main theme of 2010 was people. I pull in interviews, achievements, and personal stories. As evidenced by my list below, there is a foundation of great thinkers ready to lead the next wave of economic prosperity in this country. It just won’t look like the last 50 years.

Other Years:

On to the stats:

  • 90 citations of work
  • 86 different contributors referenced comprised of:
  • 36 Articles
  • 20 Blog Entries
  • 4 Books
  • 4 Research Papers
  • 3 Speeches
  • 16 Videos
Thank You!


Blog Entry Last Name First  Cite Link Date Type
1 Learning
to Think and Business Training are Not the Same Thing
Zernike Kate Making
College ‘Relevant’
1/6/2010 Article
2 Job
Creation in the 2000s?
Norris Floyd US
Labor Market in the 2000s
1/11/2010 Blog Entry
3 Drive:
The Surprising Truth About What Motivates US – A Book Review
Pink Dan Dan Pink
on the surprising science of motivation
1/13/2010 Book
4 What
Motivates Conan O’Brien?
O’Brien Conan Conan
O’Brien’s Speech to the Harvard Class of 2000
1/14/2010 Speech
5 The Apple
Brand
Jobs Steve Steve
Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address
1/20/2010 Speech
6 Tactics
for Winning at Political Science
Friedman Tom More (Steve)
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
1/25/2010 Opinion
7 Unsurprising
Job Survey Results Show a Ready to Jump Workforce
Grasz Jennifer Despite
Competitive Labor Market, One-in-Five Workers Plan to Change Jobs in 2010,
New CareerBuilder Survey Reveals
1/28/2010 Research
8 Understanding
Your Customers in Context
Tjan Anthony The
Three-Minute Rule
2/3/2010 Blog Entry
9 The
Last Mile is a Land of Opportunity
Mullainathan Sendhil Solving social
problems with a nudge
2/11/2010 Video
10 Take
a Moment and Ask “What Story Would I Tell about Myself?”
Bregman Peter A
Story About Motivation
2/14/2010 Blog Entry
11 “EL
GRANDE BIGOTE” Victory
Szarowicz Mike Donorschoose.org 2/17/2010 Blog Entry
12 Unemployment
Is Not Distributed Evening Across Income Levels – No One Thought It Was
Sum Andrew Labor
Underutilization Problem of US Workers Across Household Income Groups at the
End of the Great Recession: A Truly Great Depression Among the Nation’s Low
Income Workers Amidst Full Employment Among the Most Affluent
2/23/2010 Research
Khatiwada Ishwar
Palma Sheila
13 Business,
Federal Government, and Exports Carries GDP to 5.9% Growth
Kennedy Bobby Remarks
of Robert F. Kennedy at the University of Kansas, March 18, 1968
2/26/2010 Speech
14 In
a Service Economy, Make the Experience Good, but the Memory Even Better
Kahneman Daniel The
riddle of experience vs. memory
3/4/2010 Video
15 Awards,
when they are genuine and sincere, they are highly motivating
Frey Bruno Awards:
A Disregarded Source of Motivation
3/13/2010 Research
Neckermann Susanne
16 Awards,
when they are genuine and sincere, they are highly motivating
Hoffman Calem neutron-rich
isotopes
3/13/2010 Research
17 Open-Book
Management, Motivation, and Progress
Stack Jack Starting
Over in Lexington: Turning the Plant on Its Head
3/17/2010 Blog Entry
18 Lists
for Successful Business Growth
Harnish Verne 6
ways to grow your business
3/18/2010 Article
19 A
Time of Year to Ask “What could I have done better?”
Bates Erik Math
Puts a Decision From M.I.T. in Context
3/23/2010 Blog Entry
20 Google
and China: A Social Take
Oreskovic Alexei Google finds few
allies in China battle
3/25/2010 Article
21 Who
is Gary Vaynerchuk?
Vaynerchuk Gary Building
Your Personal Brand
3/30/2010 Video
22 Marrying
“Out of Sight, Out of Mind” & “You Can’t Manage What You
Can’t Measure”
Schell Jesse Design
Outside the Box
4/6/2010 Video
23 Is
the Job Market Ready for Good News?
Rose Stephen Relax, We’ll
Be Fine
4/9/2010 Article
24 Is
the Job Market Ready for Good News?
Litan Robert “Between
1980 and 2005, virtually all net new jobs created in the U.S. were created by
firms that were 5 years old or less,”
4/9/2010 Article
25 Is
the Job Market Ready for Good News?
Gardella Adriana Make
the case for a bigger raise
4/9/2010 Article
26 Is
the Job Market Ready for Good News?
Norris Floyd Why So Glum?
Numbers Point to a Recovery
4/9/2010 Article
27 Last
One in the Pool is a Rotten Egg
Quick Becky Who
Says the Economy is Rebounding?
4/16/2010 Article
28 Last
One in the Pool is a Rotten Egg
Surowieki James Timing
the Recovery
4/16/2010 Article
29 Beyond the
Bend
Carter  Bill The Scoreboard
Can’t Tell You Everything
4/21/2010 Interview
30 Beyond the
Bend
Rampell Catherine Young
and Unemployed, Around the World
4/21/2010 Blog Entry
31 To
Implement a Change You Need a Leader but You also Need a First Follower
Sivers Derek How
to start a movement
4/27/2010 Video
32 The
Next 10 Years a Leadership Change will Occur
Kaihla Paul The
Coming Job Boom
4/30/2010 Article
33 Knowledge
and Stories
Gladwell Malcolm Pandora’s
Briefcase
5/6/2010 Article
34 Looking
at the Scoreboard Only Takes a Second – It’s Worth It
Schrage Michael Why
Keeping Score Is the Best Way To Get Ahead
5/12/2010 Blog Entry
35 Lulled
Into a False Sense that the System Knows Better than You Do
Surowieki James The
Flaky Stock Market
5/13/2010 Blog Entry
36 Lulled
Into a False Sense that the System Knows Better than You Do
Norris Floyd Time for
Regulators to Impose Order in the Markets
5/13/2010 Article
37 Why
We Make Mistakes – A Book Review
Hallinan Joseph Why
We Make Mistakes
5/17/2010 Book
38 A
National Review of Education – Start Evolving Now
Meyer Dan Math
class needs a makeover
5/20/2010 Video
39 New
Graduates Entering the Workforce: What to Expect
Greenhouse Steven ‘Glimmers
of Hope’ for Grads
5/24/2010 Article
40 Consider
Your Influence
Chafkin Max The
Oracle of Silicon Valley
5/26/2010 Article
41 The
Chicken and the Egg – Influence and Motivation
Solman Paul Examining
the Motivations of the Modern Workforce
5/28/2010 Video
42 Practice
for the Glory. I’m excited about the World Cup.
Napier Sharon On Her Team,
It’s All About Bench Strength
5/31/2010 Interview
43 Considering
a Passionate Outlet: For You and Your Employees
Christian  Derek Training
workers to leave for a better job
6/1/2010 Article
44 Dan
Pink on HBR Video
Pink Dan Daniel Pink on How the 21st
Century Brain Affects Creativity
6/9/2010 Video
45 The
Less is More Gadget Guy
Darlin Damon While
You Were Sleeping…
6/11/2010 Article
46 Data
Collection is Getting Cheaper, Better, and Automated: Sensors
MacManus Richard Why
HP Thinks Sensors Will Lead to The Next Big Wave of Computing
6/13/2010 Article
47 We
Respond to Small Cues Very Effectively
Sutherland Rory Sweat
the small stuff
6/15/2010 Video
48 A
Belief System Redefined
Davis Wes The
‘Learning Knights’ of Bell Telephone
6/17/2010 Opinion
49 Figuring
Out Repeatable Decision Guidelines is So Valuable
Gigerenzer Gerd Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart 6/18/2010 Book
Todd Peter
50 Wealth
Distribution Around the World
Elliott Michael The
New Global Opportunity
6/22/2010 Article
51 To
Succeed in Life You Must Have the Ability to Accept Failure as an Outcome,
Rebound From It, and Try Again.
Johnson Whitney The
Long of Coming Up Short 
6/24/2010 Blog Entry
52 There
is a Flip Side to Risk, The Side that Ignores It
Dunning David The
Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is
(Part 5)
6/25/2010 Opinion
53 Be
More Creative By Brushing Your Teeth
Tierney John Discovering
the Virtues of a Wandering Mind
6/29/2010 Article
54 Opinions
on the Economy for Today and Tomorrow
Isidore Chris 7.9
million jobs lost – many forever
7/9/2010 Article
55 Opinions
on the Economy for Today and Tomorrow
Rich Motoko Factory
Jobs Return, but Employers Find Skills Shortage
7/9/2010 Article
56 Opinions
on the Economy for Today and Tomorrow
Alsever Jennifer Forget
India, outsource to Arkansas
7/9/2010 Article
57 Matching
a Job Opportunity with the Appropriate Labor
Rodriguez Arturo Take
Our Jobs
7/13/2010 Video
58 What
Do You Know about Your Produce?
Kiviat Barbara Creating
not just jobs, but good jobs
7/16/2010 Blog Entry
59 “The
Gap is Between Doing Nothing and Doing Something”
Shirky Clay How
cognitive surplus will change the world
7/21/2010 Video
60 “The
Gap is Between Doing Nothing and Doing Something”
McCandless David Cognitive
Surplus visualized
7/21/2010 Blog Entry
61 A
Good Kindergarten Teacher is Worth More than Dollars and Cents
Leonhardt David The
Case for $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers
7/27/2010 Article
62 Showing
the Economy Through Illustrations
Mulbrandon Catherine Billionaires of
the World
8/2/2010 Blog Entry
63 Wealth
Distribution and Taxes: What’s Fair?
Tseng Nin-Hai Why
these billionaires are pledging away their wealth
8/9/2010 Article
64 Wealth
Distribution and Taxes: What’s Fair?
Haris Lex Raise
taxes now — the elders of the economy say so
8/9/2010 Article
65 Wealth
Distribution and Taxes: What’s Fair?
Surowieki James Soak
The Very, Very Rich
8/9/2010 Article
66 Well
Said Leadership Characteristics
Barrett George Team
Insights? Just Use Your Peripheral Vision
8/17/2010 Interview
67 Billions
of Dollars: Giving, Spending, Fighting, Accumulating, Owing, Losing, and
Earning
McCandless David The
Billion Dollar-o-Gram
8/25/2010 Blog Entry
68 TED
Talk: David McCandless from Information is Beautiful
McCandless David The
beauty of data visualization
8/27/2010 Video
69 He
Quit His Job and the World Got Richer – The Khan Academy
Khan Salman The
Khan Academy
8/30/2010 Video
70 He
Quit His Job and the World Got Richer – The Khan Academy
Kaplan David Bill
Gates’ favorite teacher
8/30/2010 Article
71 Teachers
Often Go the Extra Mile for Their Students – There’s a Means to Help Them Get
There
Guggenheim Davis Waiting for
“Superman” 
9/9/2010 Video
72 Taking On
Tests
Carey Benedict Forget
What You Know About Good Study Habits
9/13/2010 Article
73 Not
Always Ready to Hear Feedback
Bregman Peter How
to Handle Surprise Criticism
9/17/2010 Blog Entry
74 How
Pleasure Works – A Book Review
Bloom Paul How
Pleasure Works
9/24/2010 Book
75 Inspiration
and Institutions
Gladwell Malcolm Small
Change
10/3/2010 Article
76 Right
Place at the Right Time Happens, It Isn’t a Fluke.
Tjan Anthony Make
Luck Work in Your Favor
10/7/2010 Blog Entry
77 Generational
Delay in Leadership
Lashinsky Adam 40
under 40
10/18/2010 Article
78 Generational
Delay in Leadership
Sullivan Paul Scrutinizing
the Elite, Whether They Like It or Not
10/18/2010 Article
79 Learning
about Risk and Reward in the Marketplace
Govindarajan Vijay Marketplace
Literacy: A Reverse Innovation Opportunity?
10/21/2010 Blog Entry
80 Learning
about Risk and Reward in the Marketplace
Stibel Jeff How
Forethought (Not Intuition) Separates the Good from the Great
10/21/2010 Blog Entry
81 Learning
about Risk and Reward in the Marketplace
Colvin Geoff Uncertain
of future regulation, businesses are paralyzed
10/21/2010 Article
82 Cartoons:
A Subtle Story Telling Mechanism
Chappatte Patrick The
power of cartoons
11/2/2010 Video
83 Good
Time to be a Tech Startup
Cournoyer JS The
implications of too much VC money and too little startup talent
11/19/2010 Article
84 Scared
of Ideas or Open to Change?
Bailey James Employees
See Death When You Change Their Routines
11/29/2010 Blog Entry
Raelin Jonathan
85 Scared
of Ideas or Open to Change?
Miller Claire Cain Google
Grows, and Works to Retain Nimble Minds
11/29/2010 Article
86 Scared
of Ideas or Open to Change?
Brennan Bob Defensive? It
Leads to Destructive
11/29/2010 Interview
87 Moved
to an Emotional Brink?
Hoefen Bret My Story 12/14/2010 Blog Entry
88 Value
Creator – CEOs
Morris Drew 2010
CEO Wealth Creation Index Shows a Few Surprises
12/22/2010 Article
Burdi Michael
89 As Time Goes By,
Is the Economy Getting Better or Worse?
Yousuf Hibah Jobless
claims drop below 400,000 mark
12/30/2010 Article
90 As Time Goes By,
Is the Economy Getting Better or Worse?
Wells John The Company Men 12/30/2010 Video

November 2010 Jobs Report and Wages

Here are the job market and compensation numbers for November 2010 (based on the job report):


Net gain
of 39,000 jobs in the month

  • Private sector payrolls increased by 50,000
    • Down from 160,000 last month
    • Worst performance in 10 months

  • Analysts expected an overall gain of 150,000
  • September was revised to a loss of 24,000 jobs from an original reading of 95,000 lost and a revised loss of 41,000
  • October was revised to a gain of 172,000 from an original reading of 151,000
  • The revisions for August, September, and October added 145,000 jobs to the economy
  • 6.1
    million people have been jobless for more than 6 months (long term
    unemployed) – virtually unchanged from August, September, and October

    • 41.9% of the unemployed are long term unemployed – inched up from 41.8% last month and 41.7% the month before
  • The main type of hire was for Temporary Help Service (+40,000) and since September of 2009 this employment has improved by 494,000
    • Its normally an indicator of an improving economic cycle, but a year of it indicates uncertain business conditions

  • Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), shows that job openings increased by 351,000 in October
  • The total number of job openings in October was 3.4 million, while the total number of unemployed workers was 14.8 million
  • The ratio of unemployed workers to job openings improved to 4.4-to-1 in October

Unemployment rate went up to 9.8%

  • Analysts predicted it would be 9.6%
  • The unemployment rate has been over 9% for 19 months – the longest such streak since the early ’80s
  • The employment to population ratio is 58.2% – relatively unchanged
  • The
    U-6 report, which is a broader group to count (workers who are part
    time but want to be full time and discouraged worker), stayed at 17.0%. This indicates the increase of the unemployment rate to 9.8% is a reflection of more people actively looking for jobs in November (these individuals are only counted if they are actively looking)
  • The unemployment rate for those with a college education is 5.1%
    • Highest in 40 years

  • PMI,
    a measure of manufacturing pace, is 56.6% and the 19th consecutive
    month of readings over 50 percent. Anything above 50% means the
    machines are running
  • Productivity, measured for the quarter, showed tepid growth of 2.3%

Specific Segment Job numbers:

  • Manufacturing lost 13,000 jobs
  • Construction lost 5,000 jobs
  • Retailers lost 28,100 jobs
  • Leisure and Hospitality Services gained 11,000 jobs
  • Government sector lost 11,000, Federal gained 2,000
  • Education and Health Services grew by 30,000 jobs
    • Health Care and Social Assistance grew by 34,000

  • Professional and Business Services grew by 53,000
    • 39.500 jobs added in Temporary Help

Wage (can be revised):

  • The average weekly paycheck (seasonally adjusted) is $642.87 – a decrease of $1.91
  • The average hourly earning (seasonally adjusted) is $19.19
  • Average
    weekly hours and overtime of production and nonsupervisory employees on
    private nonfarm payrolls by industry sector, seasonally adjusted is
    33.5 hours

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Report Stats Summary