Topic: Employment
Jan. 9, 2018

"Robot Apocalypse" is a modern expression that refers to a fear of technological advance, but the anxiety goes back centuries.1 In 1589, Queen Elizabeth refused to grant the inventor of a mechanical knitting machine a patent for fear of putting manual knitters out of work.2 In the early 19th century, textile artisans called Luddites attempted to prevent or derail the mechanization of the textile industry. Even economists, such as John Maynard Keynes, have worried about "technological unemployment."3 The fear has not receded. A recent headline from Business Insider suggests that "machines may replace half of human jobs."4 Before your anxiety rises to uncomfortable levels, consider economist David Autor's warning that journalists tend to overstate the extent to which machines will substitute for human labor and ignore the positive aspects that benefit workers and create jobs.

Jan. 7, 2018

Faced with rising labor costs, thanks in part to a big boost in California’s minimum wage, and shortages of workers, employers throughout the state are trying to replace human labor with machines.

Amazon’s highly automated warehouses that have seemingly sprung up overnight throughout the state are testaments to that desire, as are intensified efforts in large-scale, labor-intensive agriculture to develop machinery that can handle even the most delicate crops such as strawberries.

Jan. 5, 2018

The pace of hiring slowed in December, but the U.S. unemployment rate held at a 17-year low, suggesting it is becoming more difficult for employers to find workers.

Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 148,000 in December, the Labor Department said. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remained at 4.1%, matching the lowest level since December 2000 for the third straight month. Hourly wages improved modestly and rose 2.5% from a year earlier. Economists expected 180,000 new jobs and a 4.1% unemployment rate.

Jan. 3, 2018

So far, there’s little evidence that LCFF is, in fact, narrowing the achievement gap, but defenders of the status quo say it just needs more time and more money to show results.

One of the many fronts in the school war has been the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which requires states, as a condition of receiving federal school aid, to provide some of the direct oversight and accountability that the Equity Coalition seeks, especially in identifying failing schools.

Torlakson and the state school board have chosen to comply with the law minimally but just before Christmas the U.S. Department of Education politely told them, via a 12-page letter, that the plan they submitted was falling short of the ESSA law’s requirements.

Jan. 3, 2018

Even though online food retailing has failed repeatedly, losing several billion dollars of venture capital, a second-generation revolution in underway in online food retailing. This revolution promises even more technology, more online shopping, and new, hybrid models of food retailing. This revolution, unlike the first one spearheaded by new entrants, is being led by existing industry leaders. For this reason, plus what has been learned from the many failures so far, this second-generation revolution is likely to succeed.

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