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December’s Jobs report reveals a growing racial employment gap, especially for Black women

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) December jobs report, released January 7, provides some good news for the state of the nation’s economic recovery, yet the increase in jobs was lower than expected and disparities remain across race and gender….

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By Kristen E. Broady, Anthony Barr

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) December jobs report, released January 7, provides some good news for the state of the nation’s economic recovery, yet the increase in jobs was lower than expected and disparities remain across race and gender.

“2022 is not only a new year, it’s a new horizon for the American labor market—and [last week’s] disappointing report suggests we have some work to address supply and match challenges,” Becky Frankiewicz, regional president of ManpowerGroup North America, told Brookings Metro.

In December, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 199,000 (lower than the 422,000 forecasted) and the unemployment rate decreased from 4.2% to 3.9%. The number of unemployed persons fell by 483,000, to 6.3 million. While these numbers indicate a robust economic recovery, December’s unemployment rate was still higher than in February 2020, prior to the pandemic.

Table 1 shows the U.S. unemployment rate by race for the three-month period between October and December 2021. The unemployment rates for white people (3.2%), Asian American people (3.8%) and Latino or Hispanic people (4.9%) declined in December. The unemployment rate for Black people, however, increased from 6.5% in November to 7.1% in December.

Table 2 shows the U.S. unemployment rate by race, gender, and age from December 2020 to December 2021. There was a decrease in the unemployment rate for Black men from 7.2% in November to 7% in December, as their labor force participation rate decreased from 66.4% to 65.7%. The unemployment rate for Black women increased from 4.9% in November to 6.2% in December, as their labor force participation rate increased from 60.3% to 61.1%.

In December 2021, the labor force participation rate for Black teens ages 16 to 19 was 28.6%—down from 29.8% in November 2021 and 30.9% in December 2020. The Black teen unemployment rate dropped slightly (from 22% to 21%) but still remains the highest of any group, with December marking the second consecutive month where the rate has exceeded 20%.

Table 2

December’s low unemployment reflects November’s job openings data

According to the latest BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary, released January 4, the number of job openings decreased by 529,000 in November 2021 (to 10.6 million), for a job openings rate of 6.6%. Total separations increased by 382,000 (to 6.3 million), and the number of workers who quit their job increased to a new high of 4.5 million, up from 4.2 million in October 2021.

The largest increases in the number of quits occurred in accommodation and food services; health care and social assistance; and transportation, warehousing, and utilities. The number of workers quitting their jobs during the pandemic has been higher in low-wage sectors, as workers take advantage of increased labor demand to look for jobs with higher wages and better working conditions.

“With more open jobs than available workers and wages increasing among white- and blue-collar jobs alike, employers must turn their focus toward compensation necessary to attract and retain strong talent,” ManpowerGroup’s Becky Frankiewicz told Brookings Metro.

In a recent analysis of BLS data,  Economic Policy Institute senior economist Elise Gould wrote, “The media has focused on the high quits rate, but what’s often missing from that coverage is that workers who are quitting their jobs aren’t dropping out of the labor force, they are quitting to take other jobs.” Indeed, given that hires exceed quits in every sector, it is likely that many workers are switching to better paying jobs within the same sector. Gould also noted that “the labor force fell by nearly 8 million workers in March and April 2020 and has regained about 70% of those losses since then.”

This data, while lagging a month behind the jobs report, suggests that labor markets across sectors are still tight, providing workers with leverage and making it easier for unemployed workers to quickly find jobs. Nevertheless, the decrease in job openings also makes sense given that both the November and December jobs reports reveal a lower number of added jobs than was forecasted.

The Fed is shifting monetary policy to cool the economy

In its December meeting, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would speed up its tapering of bond purchases and likely hike interest rates as early as March, with two more subsequent hikes spread throughout the year to cool off the economy. Several members also advocated for diminishing the Fed’s bond portfolio.

This monetary shift reflects changes in the Fed’s assessment of both full employment and inflation metrics. According to the meeting minutes, “many participants saw the U.S. economy making rapid progress toward the Committee’s maximum-employment goal” and “several participants viewed labor market conditions as already largely consistent with maximum employment.” Regarding inflation, the minutes reveal that “participants remarked that inflation readings had been higher and were more persistent and widespread than previously anticipated.” In addition, “while participants generally continued to anticipate that inflation would decline significantly over the course of 2022 as supply constraints eased, almost all stated that they had revised up their forecasts of inflation for 2022 notably, and many did so for 2023 as well.”

Fed participants are still looking to a broader range of indicators to evaluate economic conditions, including racial disparities. The minutes state that “a few participants noted the recent decline in the unemployment rates of African Americans and Hispanics and the narrowing of the racial and ethnic gap in the prime-age employment to-population ratio as suggesting a more inclusive labor market recovery.” But given this most recent jobs report, it is clear that the recovery is far less inclusive than was previously hoped.

The Omicron variant continues to disrupt the economy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of January 6, 74% of the U.S. population had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, 62.4% were fully vaccinated, and 35.3% had received a booster dose. COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths remained concentrated among the unvaccinated, with unvaccinated people being nine times more likely than fully vaccinated people to be admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. In addition to the long-term personal health impacts of COVID-19, the business and economic risks associated with unvaccinated employees include exposure and infection of other employees and customers; hospitalization expenses; apprehension for employees and customers to come to a workplace with lower rates of employee vaccination; and risk of business closure due to insufficient staffing.

On December 1, the CDC announced the first confirmed case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in the United States—likely a late indicator of spread that was already taking place. Over the course of the month, Omicron  became the dominant strain in the U.S., and led to large increases in the number of COVID-19 cases. While Omicron’s full economic impacts remain to be seen, it is a likely cause of the muted numbers in December’s job report. In response to the Omicron variant, Reuters reports that Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, adjusted his projection for first quarter economic growth from 5% to 2%. “Omicron is already affecting people’s behavior and business practices,” Zandi noted, which can be observed in lower credit card spending and less dining out.

In addition to depressing economic growth, the new variant could also fuel inflation concerns. “To the extent that Omicron causes people to be unable to work, that does have the potential to exacerbate supply chain issues and push up pricing,” PNC Bank chief economist Gus Faucher told CNN. This effect might be offset by a change in the CDC’s recommendation from 10-day isolation to five days for people with COVID-19 who are experiencing diminished symptoms—a policy change that commercial interests such as airlines lobbied for and has led to reductions in paid sick leave by firms such as Walmart.

Finally, it is unclear what the impact of this variant will have on schools and child care access, which could also affect labor force participation and employment ratios in the short term.

Racial disparities must be addressed before the economic recovery cools

December’s jobs report shows positive trends at the aggregate level in terms of employment, labor force participation, and added jobs. Nevertheless, the growing racial disparity in employment underscores that the economic recovery is still being impeded by systemic bias against Black workers—particularly, Black women and Black teens.

Now that the Fed is shifting its monetary policy, it is likely that the labor market will grow slacker, which will codify these racial disparities over a longer period. As the Omicron variant continues to impact economic conditions, it is crucial that policymakers continue to use all available tools to aid economic recovery for everyone.

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Spread & Containment

A dog has caught monkeypox from one of its owners, highlighting risk of the virus infecting pets and wild animals

The monkeypox virus can easily spread between humans and animals. A veterinary virologist explains how the virus could go from people to wild animals in…

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A dog in Paris has become the first case of a pet contracting monkeypox from its owners. Cavan Images via Getty Images

A dog in Paris has caught monkeypox from one of its owners, both of whom were infected with the virus, according to a scientific paper published on Aug. 10, 2022. This is the first case of a dog contracting the monkeypox virus through direct contact with skin lesions on a human.

I am a veterinary pathologist and virologist who has been working with poxviruses for over 20 years. I study how these viruses evade the immune system and am working on modifying poxviruses to prevent infection as well as treat other diseases, including cancer.

With monkeypox spreading in humans throughout the world, my colleagues and I have begun to worry about the increased risk of monkeypox spreading from humans to animals. If monkeypox spreads to wildlife species in the U.S. and Europe, the virus could become endemic in these places – where it has historically been absent – resulting in more frequent outbreaks. The report of the infected dog shows that there is a decent chance these fears could become a reality.

A microscope image of a bunch blue circles in a brown-colored cell.
The monkeypox virus – the blue circles in this image of an infected cell – is a poxvirus similar to smallpox and cowpox and can easily infect many different species. NIAID/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

A species-jumping virus

Monkeypox is a poxvirus in the same family as variola – the virus that causes smallpox – and cowpox viruses and likely evolved in animals before jumping to humans. Monkeypox causes painful lesions in both humans and animals and, in rare cases, can be deadly. Researchers have found the monkeypox virus in several species of wild rodents, squirrels and primates in Africa, where the virus is endemic. Monkeypox does not need to mutate or evolve at all to be able to infect many different species. It can easily spread from animals to people and back again.

Though there is a fair bit of research on monkeypox, a lot more work has been done on cowpox, a similar zoonotic poxvirus that is endemic in Europe. Over the years, there have been several reports of cowpox infection spreading from animals to humans in Europe.

From people to animals

Until recently, most monkeypox infections occurred in specific areas of Africa where some wildlife species act as reservoirs for the virus. These outbreaks are usually contained quickly through isolation of infected individuals and vaccinating people around the infected individual. The current situation is very different though.

With nearly 40,000 cases globally as of Aug. 17, 2022 – and more than 12,500 cases in the U.S. alone – monkeypox is now widespread within the human population. The risk of any one person transmitting the virus to an animal – particularly a wild one – is small, but the more people are infected, the greater the chances. It’s a numbers game.

There are a number of ways viruses can transfer from animals to people – called spillover – and from people back to animals – called spillback. Since monkeypox is most easily spread through direct skin-to-skin contact, it is a bit more difficult to transmit between species than COVID-19, but certainly possible.

The case of the dog in Paris provides a clear example of how cuddling or being close to a pet can spread the virus. Previous studies on poxviruses like monkeypox have shown that they can stay active in fecal matter. This means that there is a risk of wild animals, likely rodents, catching it from human waste.

A grey rat.
There are a number of species that host monkeypox in Africa – like this gambian rat. Monkeypox can spread from humans to many other animals, including dogs and likely cats and other species of rodents. Louisvarley/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

The monkeypox virus is also present in saliva. While more research needs to be done, it is potentially possible that an infected person could discard food that would then be eaten by a rodent.

The chances of any one of these events happening is extremely low. But I and other virologists worry that with more people becoming infected, there is a greater risk that rodents or other animals will come into contact with urine, feces or saliva that is contaminated with the virus.

Finally, there is the risk of people giving monkeypox to a pet, which then passes it on to other animals. One case study in Germany described an outbreak of cowpox that was caused when someone took an infected cat to a veterinary clinic and four other cats were subsequently infected. It is feasible that an infected household pet could spread the virus to wild animals somehow.

How to help

One of the key reasons that the World Health Organization was able to eradicate smallpox is that it only infects people, so there were no animal reservoirs that could re-introduce the virus to human populations.

Monkeypox is zoonotic and already has several animal reservoirs, though these are currently limited to Africa. But if monkeypox escapes into wild animal populations in the U.S., Europe or other locations, there will be always be potential for animals to spread it back to humans. With this in mind, there are a number of things people can do to reduce the risks with regard to animals.

As with any infectious disease, be informed about the signs and symptoms of monkeypox and how it is transmitted. If you suspect you have the virus, contact a doctor and isolate from other people.

As a veterinarian, I strongly encourage anyone with monkeypox to protect your pets. The case in Paris shows that dogs can get infected from contact with their owners, and it is likely that many other species, including cats, are susceptible, too. If you have monkeypox, try to have other people take care of your animals for as long as lesions are present. And if you think your pet has a monkeypox infection, be sure to contact a veterinarian so they can test the lesion and provide care when needed.

Even though monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency, it is unlikely to directly affect most people. Taking precautionary steps can protect you and your pets and will hopefully prevent monkeypox from getting into wildlife in the U.S., too.

Amy Macneill does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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International

A-levels: A grades are up compared to pre-pandemic results

The pandemic has has a serious impact on school pupils – but a record number have applied to university.

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Fewer students are getting their first choice of university than in 2021. Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

The 2022 A-level results are in, and the number of students receiving A or A* grades has fallen – down by 8.4% on 2021.

For the first time since 2019, A-level results are being decided by formal exams. Students were warned that grades were likely to be lower than in 2020 and 2021, when cancelled exams and teacher assessments in A-levels led to record high results. Nevertheless, the proportion of students receiving A grades is up from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

A busy end to the admissions round is under way for universities and students, and the next steps for students still living with the impact of the pandemic are becoming clearer.

In 2021, some universities were over subscribed and had to offer significant incentives for students to defer their places. While the number of students in 2022 accepted on a UK university course – 425,830 – is higher than in 2019 and the second highest on record, it is 2% lower than in 2021. Just a few days before the results were out, thousands of students did not yet hold an offer of an university place.

Over the past two years, students studying qualifications, whether BTEC, T-level or A-level, have had to cope with the consequences of the pandemic for a significant proportion of their course. This has included school closures and remote lessons, social isolation, illness and increased levels of mental stress.

Highest number of applications

Nevertheless, 2022 has seen the highest ever numbers of applications to higher education, with 44% of 18 year olds applying. This number includes record numbers of students from areas of the country with historically low participation in higher education. It demonstrates that many young people believe higher education can make a difference to their future opportunities.

For the lucky ones who get the grades to gain a place at their first choice of university, planning for their degree course starts right away. A record number of Scottish students have already been accepted to their first choice of university.

The best advice for those students who don’t receive confirmation that they have been accepted by their first choice university is to ring the university, who will have staff on hand to explore their options.

For students who haven’t got a university place, it is still possible to explore options though clearing – which allows students without offers to find places on university courses that haven’t been fully subscribed. Students in this position should try to keep calm, write down their options and avoid quick decisions.

For those young people who do go to university, there will be challenges. With the cost of living for all rising rapidly, people on a lower income – as many students are – will feel the pinch of higher bills for food or rent.

Support from universities

The pandemic saw a serious and concerning rise in mental health issues affecting young people. Universities need to be ready to give holistic support to students as they transition into university and settle into undergraduate life. This means support for academic transition needs to be delivered in the context of good available support for mental health and wellbeing.

However, Universities UK, an advocacy groups for universities, has recently pointed out the wide range of benefits for those who study for a degree, including the £9,500 more per year on average graduates in England earn compared with non-graduates. It also draws attention to the value of degrees to improve the life chances of young people, to build skills and to contribute to society.

For many young people, getting a degree gives them access to a vocation such as teaching or working as a health professional. For others it is a path to travel and adventure. For many, the university journey is a place where young people find their tribe and begin to understand their identity.

For the class of 22, making it to university might mean life-changing opportunities. Given the challenges and restrictions of the last few years, this has never been more important.

Helena Gillespie receives funding from the European Union.

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Government

Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) To Acquire Global Blood Therapeutics For $5 Billion

According to sources familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) was in advanced discussions to acquire pharmaceutical…

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According to sources familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) was in advanced discussions to acquire pharmaceutical company Global Blood Therapeutics (NASDAQ: GBT) for $5 billion.

Pfizer, too, acquired Global Blood Therapeutics 

Pfizer wants to close a deal soon, but there are still other interested parties, according to the article.

Global Blood Therapeutics, which manufactures Oxbryta, the blood disorder medication, saw its shares jump 44%  on Friday afternoon to a two-year high. As of Thursday’s closing, the company’s market cap was $3.12 billion.

A spokesman for Global Blood stated the company does not “comment on market rumors or speculation,” while Pfizer declined to respond on the matter.

With plenty of cash left over after selling its COVID-19 vaccine, New York-based Pfizer is searching for deals that may generate billions of dollars annual sales by 2030.

Its $11.6 billion acquisition of migraine medication manufacturer Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding (NASDAQ: BHVN) in May was the most recent in a series of purchases that also included Trillium Therapeutics and Arena Pharmaceuticals in recent years.

Oxbryta received approval last year for sickle cell disease management 

In 2019, the US government approved Global Blood’s Oxbryta to manage sickle cell disease in individuals aged 12 and over. The oral medication was approved in December 2021 to treat the illness in younger children. The drug’s sales increased by almost 50% to $194.7 million in 2021.

After a gloomy start to the calendar year, when a lack of significant purchases and clinical-stage treatment failures lowered investor morale and restricted funding, the biotech dealmaking pace has recently picked up again.

Also, Amgen Inc (NASDAQ: AMGN) also decided to purchase ChemoCentryx Inc on Thursday for $3.7 billion to obtain access to a possible breakthrough medication for inflammatory illnesses. AstraZeneca’s $39 billion acquisition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals in 2020 has put the realm of immune diseases in the limelight. The deal, which was announced before trading opened, will also give the corporation control of at least two investigational immune disorders medicines.

Please make sure to read and completely understand our disclaimer at https://www.wallstreetpr.com/disclaimer. While reading this article one must assume that we may be compensated for posting this content on our website.

The post Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) To Acquire Global Blood Therapeutics For $5 Billion appeared first on Wall Street PR.

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