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As the jobs recovery nears completion, it’s time to talk about job quality

The economy added 431,000 jobs in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the unemployment rate fell to a historic low of 3.6% that has…

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By Makada Henry-Nickie, Regina Seo, Anthony Barr

The economy added 431,000 jobs in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the unemployment rate fell to a historic low of 3.6% that has only been matched three times in the past 50 years (See Figure 1). The job numbers paint a positive story of economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession. However, persistent racial gaps, job gains accruing mostly to lower-paying industries, and rising prices call for continued support to ensure all workers have quality jobs with decent pay and benefits.

Who benefitted most from the jobs gains in March?

Although unemployment rates fell for most race and gender groups, Black unemployment rates continue to be almost the twice the national rate at 6.2%. Disaggregated further by gender, Black men and women have the highest unemployment rates (5.6% and 5.5%), followed by Hispanic women and men (4.2% and 3.8%).

Most job gains accrued to women, but Black women gained the least

Most of the job gains in March accrued to women who outmaneuvered men in the scuffle to match to better job opportunities. Women clutched a total of 271,000 jobs in March and that is roughly two of out every three jobs employers created during March, leaving men with just about 160,000 or 37% of the job gain. Most of these women-earned jobs (161,000) were concentrated in three primary sectors: Leisure and Hospitality (24.7%), Education and Health Services (19.2%), and Professional Business Services (15.5%).

A healthy upthrust in women’s labor force participation supports the notion that the promise of higher wages and plentiful jobs are encouraging women to return to work. Nearly 250,000 women entered the labor force in March but the participation rates across racial groups were markedly skewed. Asian women made significant progress in their labor market participation with approximately 174,000 Asian women entering the labor force. 64,000 white women and 74,000 Hispanic women entered the labor force, compared to a mere 32,000 Black women. In a prior analysis, we identified several structural barriers to female employment including misalignment between job schedules and care needs. Policymakers should address these hurdles that women face working to regain their pre-pandemic progress.

Black and Hispanic men are exiting the workforce

The March job landscape was especially daunting for minority men. Roughly 230,000 Black and Hispanic men exited the labor force, with the former accounting for 65% of these exits. What sectors were most affected? Cross-referencing Hispanic and Black men’s labor force contraction to industry-level job changes provides some insight into the potential drivers of this dynamic. For example, while the transportation and warehousing sector shed 500 jobs in the aggregate, trucking transportation was among the six subsectors within transportation that posted net job losses. Black men and Hispanic men are overrepresented in the transportation sector, especially in the truck transportation subsector which was the largest driver of job loss in the transportation sector.

Why did Black and Hispanic men fare so poorly? These countervailing job losses in select male-dominated sectors could explain why the employment fortunes of Black and Hispanic men seemed to reverse course. Numerous reports and studies have also examined how racism in the labor market crowds minority men into select occupations that expose them to volatility in the business cycle. Part of the decline in their labor force participation may also be due to men of color taking on more roles in dependent care as our survey with SaverLife suggested. Our colleague has pointed out that the decline in labor force participation accounted for most of the decline in employment. Missing men from the labor force is a concern because prime-age men that are out of the labor force are more likely to have poorer health and experience lower well-being compared to their female counterparts.

Most Job Gains Accrued to Lower-Paying Industries

Most of the job gains in March came from industries that pay lower wages compared to the national average in the private sector. While the average hourly earnings for total private industries was $31.70, the average hourly earnings for leisure and hospitality, retail trade and manufacturing were below the national average at $19.70, $22.90, and $30.60 respectively. Notably, Hispanic and female workers are overrepresented in the leisure and hospitality sector, while Black, Hispanic, and female workers are overrepresented in the retail trade sector.

While leisure and hospitality is the lowest paying industry, it has seen the highest wage gains relative to last year — an encouraging indication that labor market tightness is generating substantial financial benefits for low-wage workers. Undoubtedly, anxious employers increasing their demand for workers and strong wage growth in these sectors are compelling factors to drawing women in from the sidelines into the Great Workforce Shuffle in search of higher-paying jobs. Leisure and hospitality employers continue to compete on wages to rebuild already strained workforces. According to Figure 2, average earnings in the sector rose 11.8% from a year ago. But the fact remains that job gains were most dominant in low-paying sectors.

Graph showing incremental increases in hourly wage jobs across all sectors

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 2.7% of workers in the leisure and hospitality industry are represented by a union. The lack of unionization may have further implications for wages: workers in the industry who are represented by a union have median weekly earnings that are a little over a $100 than the median earned by those not represented by a union. In addition, the low rate of unionization likely contributes to the lack of employer-provided benefits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 68% of workers in the leisure and hospitality industry do not have access to employer-sponsored healthcare, and 70% of workers do not currently have access to a retirement plan through their employer.

Policy recommendations to support workers with low pay and few benefits

The consumer price index increased by 8.5% in the last 12 months, erasing real gains in wages. Inflation can disproportionately hurt Black households who spend a higher share of their income on necessity goods with shorter price durations such as electricity, utilities, and groceries compared to discretionary items that white households devote a higher income share on such as full-service restaurant meals, hospital services, and dental services. It is crucial to support low-paid workers to keep up with the rising prices of necessity goods.

As an effort to address low wages in tipped occupations mostly in the leisure and hospitality sector, new regulations from the Department of Labor went into effect in December requiring employers to pay tip-based workers at least the federal minimum wage for any labor that is not work that produces tips or work that directly supports tip-producing work. The Labor Department and Congress should look to implement additional policies to ensure workers in this industry are properly compensated. In addition, federal policies that ensure better benefits for part-time workers such as expediting their access to 401(k) plans or making matching contributions on employees’ student loan payments are needed to address the absence of employer-sponsored benefits in the lowest paying industries.

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University of Kentucky researchers develop online portal to show how biases in RNA sequences affect gene expression

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 29, 2022) — A recent publication from researchers at the University of Kentucky explains the importance of identifying and understanding…

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 29, 2022) — A recent publication from researchers at the University of Kentucky explains the importance of identifying and understanding how differences between tissues and cells alter gene expression without changing the underlying genetic code.

Credit: Pete Comparoni | University of Kentucky Photo

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 29, 2022) — A recent publication from researchers at the University of Kentucky explains the importance of identifying and understanding how differences between tissues and cells alter gene expression without changing the underlying genetic code.

Introductory biology classes teach that DNA is transcribed into RNA, which is then translated into proteins. However, many cellular processes affect how quickly transcription and translation occur. Gene expression looks at the differences in RNA concentrations within a cell, and it can help scientists know which genes are active within that tissue or cell.

“Changes in gene expression can significantly affect various diseases and disease trajectories,” said Justin Miller, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UK College of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

Miller, who is also affiliated with the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and Biomedical Informatics, says he and his colleagues previously developed the first algorithm to identify ramp sequences from a single gene sequence. Through their recent work, Miller and fellow UK co-authors Mark Ebbert, Ph.D., and Matthew Hodgman created an online version of that algorithm and showed that ramp sequences change between tissues and cells without changing the RNA sequence.

A ramp sequence is part of the RNA sequence that slows translation at the beginning of the gene by using codons (sequences of three DNA or RNA nucleotides) that are not easily translated. Ramp sequences counterintuitively increase overall gene expression by evenly spacing the translational machinery and preventing collisions later in translation.

In their recent publication in NAR Genomics and Bioinformatics, the researchers present the first comprehensive analysis of tissue- and cell type-specific ramp sequences and report more than 3,000 genes with ramp sequences that change between tissues and cell types, which correspond with increased gene expression within those tissues and cells.

“This research is the first time that variable ramp sequences have been described. Our comprehensive web interface allows other researchers to creatively explore ramp sequences and gene expression,” said Miller.

The research team says this work is important because while there are multiple ways for our RNA to encode the same proteins, the specific RNA sequence is important to regulate protein and RNA levels.

“Essentially, a ramp sequence works like an on-ramp to a freeway so that ribosomes do not crash into each other, but the length and speed limit of that onramp can change depending on the cell and the available resources within that cell,” Miller explained.

He says he enjoyed working on this project not only with his colleagues at UK but as well as his former colleagues at Brigham Young University and his brother, Kyle Miller, at Utah Valley University. Together, the group created a web interface for people to see how ramp sequences correspond with human and COVID-19 gene expression in different tissues and cells.

Miller says he believes this work will eventually impact patient care. “We created an online interface for researchers to query all human genes and see if a specific gene has a ramp sequence in a given tissue and how that gene is expressed within that tissue,” said Miller. “We also show that various COVID-19 genes and human entry factors for COVID-19 have ramp sequences that change between different tissues. Ramp sequences are much more likely to occur in tissues where the virus is known to proliferate.”

So, the researchers believe that COVID-19 genes have genetic biases (ramp sequences) that allow them to use the available cellular machinery to increase their expression. “Our research may help us better predict which tissues and cells new viruses will infect and also provides a potential therapeutic target to regulate tissue-specific gene expression without changing the translated protein,” said Miller.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers P30AG072946 and R01AG068331, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R35GM138636. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

This work was also funded by the BrightFocus Foundation, under awards A2020118F and A2020161S, and the Alzheimer’s Association, under award 2019-AARG-644082.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for” three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes’ list of “America’s Best Employers.”  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.


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White House Is Quietly Modeling For $200 Oil “Shock”

White House Is Quietly Modeling For $200 Oil "Shock"

While the Biden administration is hoping and praying that someone – anyone – will watch…

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White House Is Quietly Modeling For $200 Oil "Shock"

While the Biden administration is hoping and praying that someone - anyone - will watch the comical "Jan 6" kangaroo hearsay court taking place in Congress and meant to somehow block Trump from running for president in 2024 while also making hundreds of millions of Americans forget that the current administration could very well be the worst in US history, it is quietly preparing for the worst.

As none other than pro-Biden propaganda spinmaster CNN reports, when it comes to what really matters (at least according to Gallup), namely the economy, and specifically galloping gasoline prices, the White House is in a historic shambles.

For an administration that ended last year forecasting a leveling off of 40-year high inflation and eager to tout a historically rapid recovery from the pandemic-driven economic crisis, there is a level of frustration that comes with an acutely perilous moment. Asked by CNN about progress on a seemingly intractable challenge, another senior White House official responded flatly: "Which one?"

The suspects behind the historic implosion are well known: "soaring prices, teetering poll numbers and congressional majorities that appear to be on the brink have created no shortage of reasons for unease. Gas prices are hovering at or around $5 per gallon, plastered on signs and billboards across the country as a symbolic daily reminder of the reality -- one in which White House officials are extremely aware -- that the country's view of the economy is growing darker and taking Biden's political future with it."

"You don't have to be a very sophisticated person to know how lines of presidential approval and gas prices go historically in the United States," a senior White House official told CNN.

A CNN Poll of Polls average of ratings for Biden's handling of the presidency finds that 39% of Americans approve of the job he's doing. His numbers on the economy, gas prices and inflation specifically are even worse in recent polls. What CNN won't tell you is that Biden is now polling well below Trump at this time in his tenure.

The CNN article then goes into a lengthy analysis of what is behind the current gasoline crisis (those with lots of time to kill can read it here) and also tries to explains, without actually saying it, that the only thing that can fix the problem is more supply, but - as we first explained - this can't and won't happen because green fanatics and socialist environmentalists will never agree to boosting output.

Which brings us to the punchline: as CNN's Phil Mattingly writes, "instead of managing an economy in the midst of a natural rotation away from recovery and into a stable period of growth, economic officials are analyzing and modeling worst-case scenarios like what the shock of gas prices hitting $200 per barrel may mean for the economy."

Well, in an article titled "Give us a plan or give us someone to blame", this seems like both a plan, and someone to blame.

But unfortunately for Biden - and CNN which is hoping to reset expectations - it's only going to get worse, because as we noted moments ago, while nobody was paying attention, Cushing inventories dropped to just 1 million away from operational bottoms at roughly 20MM barrels. This means that the US is officially looking at tank bottoms.

But wait, there's more... or rather, it's even worse, because as even Bloomberg's chief energy guru Javier Blas notes, over the last 2 weeks, the US gov has drained 13.7 million barrels from the SPR, "and yet, commercial oil stockpiles still fell 3 million barrels over the period."

Just imagine, Blas asks rhetorically, "if the SPR wasn't there. Or what would happen post-Oct when sales end."

And here is the punchline: at the current record pace of SPR drainage, one way or another the Biden admin will have to end its artificial attempts to keep the price of oil lower some time in October (or risk entering a war with China over Taiwan with virtually no oil reserve). This means that unless Putin ends his war some time in the next 5 months, there is a non-trivial chance that oil will hit a record price around $200 - precisely the price the White House is bracing for - a few days before the midterms. While translates into $10+ gasoline.

And while one can speculate how much longer Democrats can continue the "Jan 6" dog and pony show as the entire economy implodes around them, how America will vote in November when gas is double digits should not be a mystery to anyone.

Tyler Durden Wed, 06/29/2022 - 13:05

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European Commission says it doesn’t have texts between president Ursula von der Leyen and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla

Under fire from the European ombudsman, the Commission said on Wednesday that it hasn’t found any text messages between president Ursula von der Leyen…

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Under fire from the European ombudsman, the Commission said on Wednesday that it hasn’t found any text messages between president Ursula von der Leyen and Pfizer chief Albert Bourla regarding the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines.

The messages became of interest last April, when the New York Times reported that a series of texts and calls between von der Leyen and Bourla led to Pfizer’s largest vaccine deal — 900 million doses of the current vaccine and a vaccine adapted to variants, with the option to purchase an additional 900 million doses through 2023.

Emily O’Reilly

Upon a public access request made by a journalist, the EC responded that it had no record of them. However, it was later revealed by ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, the EU’s internal watchdog, that the EC never explicitly asked the cabinet to look for the texts.

Instead, the EC requested other documents that fall under its internal criteria for recording, which doesn’t include text messages.

O’Reilly accused the Commission of “maladministration,” and urged the administration to conduct a more thorough search.

“When it comes to the right of public access to EU documents, it is the content of the document that matters and not the device or form,” she said in a statement back in January. “If text messages concern EU policies and decisions, they should be treated as EU documents.”

On Wednesday, the EC claimed to side with O’Reilly: “The Commission and the Ombudsman agree that what matters is the content of a document,” a spokesperson said in an email to Endpoints News. 

However, the Commission maintained that the texts were not registered as documents “due to their short-lived and ephemeral nature.”

“Text and instant messages in general do not contain important information relating to policies, activities and decisions of the Commission, nor are they in the possession of the institution,” the EC shared in a letter.

The administration added that it intends to issue further guidance on the use of “modern communication tools” such as text and instant messages to clear up any confusion.

“The Ombudsman could equally be invited to participate in those discussions, if she wishes to do so,” the statement said.

Pfizer declined to comment on the content of the text messages.

Stella Kyriakides

The EC struck its third vaccine deal with Pfizer and BioNTech last May, after its other major supplier AstraZeneca ran into production issues and announced it would significantly reduce deliveries.

The contract, which called for up to 1.8 billion doses through 2023, also reserved the EU right to resell or donate doses to countries in need.

“We need to be one step ahead of the virus. This means having access to adapted vaccines to protect us against the threat of variants, booster vaccines to prolong immunity, as well as protecting our younger population,” commissioner for health and food safety Stella Kyriakides said at the time.

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