The Workweek: A Round-Up of Labor Market Links for the Week Ending 3/17/17

Here’s the latest Workweek, the Indeed Hiring Lab’s round-up of the latest research, news, and perspectives that made us think deeply or differently about the labor market this week. It’s your guide to the most important new insights about work.

These are our picks for this week:

Attacking Official Jobs Data

Last weekend, the current U.S. budget director said that the Obama administration “was manipulating the numbers” to make the unemployment rate seem lower than it was (reported here). While there’s plenty of room to argue over whether the unemployment rate is the best single measure of how the labor market is doing (we like prime-age EPOP too), it would take a “conspiracy theory of massive proportions” to manipulate these closely protected and highly scrutinized data. (FiveThirtyEight)

What Elevator Operators Teach Us

Several recent studies have assessed which jobs are most threatened by automation. Most jobs involve multiple tasks, some of which are more at risk of automation than others. But could entire occupations disappear? History suggests very few will. Among occupations that existed in 1950, only one — elevator operators — “owe their occupation’s demise mostly to automation.” (Quartz)

Economic Projections from the Federal Reserve

As was widely expected, the Fed raised its key target interest rate this week. The effect of this rise on the labor market may be minimal. In fact, the Fed was steadfast in its economic forecasts, despite all of the uncertainty around economic policy in the new administration. The Fed’s short-term and long-term economic projections for unemployment, GDP growth, and inflation were essentially unchanged in March relative to last December. (Federal Reserve)

Ending the “Office Thermostat Wars”

Do you have to open your office window in the wintertime? Run a space heater under your desk all summer? New technologies to personalize workplace climate include “thermal bubbles” that follow you around, and on-demand bursts of cooling or warming air in your personal space. Not only would these innovations make work more comfortable, but they could curb those wasteful workarounds. (Wall Street Journal)

A Move Back Home

Americans are less likely to move than they used to, and when they do move long-distance it’s often for a new job or better opportunities. J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, explains why he’s making a different kind of move, from San Francisco back to his home state of Ohio. “Not every town can or should be saved,” he writes, but “what many communities need most is not just financial support, but talent and energy and committed citizens.” (New York Times)

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