The U.S. Employment Situation – July 2014

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that 209k nonfarm payrolls were added during the month of July. This follows revised payrolls gains of 298k in June and 229k in May.

Highlights:

  • Industry spread could have been better, but also could have been worse.
  • The U-3 unemployment rate increased to 6.2% from 6.1%, while the broader U-6 unemployment rate rose to 12.2% from 12.1%.
  • The labor force participation rate increased to 62.9% from 62.8%, and the employment-to-population ratio was unchanged at 59.0%.
  • For all private sector production and nonsupervisory employees, weekly hours worked was unchanged at 33.7. The average hourly wage improved to $20.61 from $20.57, sending average weekly earnings to $694.56 from $693.21.
  • The average duration of unemployment decreased to 32.4 weeks from 33.5 weeks. This figure tends to be volatile, and is still abysmally high, but a decrease is always good.
  • 80.82% of all jobs held last month were full-time positions, down from 80.84% last month.
  • Unemployment for all men decreased to 6.2% from 6.3%, while the rate for all women increased to 6.2% from 5.9%.
  • The veteran unemployment rate rose to 6.0% from 5.4%.
  • The unemployment rate for Whites was unchanged at 5.3%, for Blacks it increased to 11.4% from 10.7%, for Asians it decreased to 4.5% from 5.1%, and for Hispanics it was unchanged at 7.8%.
  • The unemployment rate increased for high school dropouts, high school graduates, and those who have completed some college, but decreased for those with a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Unemployment decreased for 16 to 19 year olds, but increased or was unchanged for all other age groups.

Employment Situation

The Breakdown Of Low-Wage Americans

There are roughly 21 million workers in the U.S. who earn between the minimum wage and $10 an hour, the NYT reports. The federal minimum wage is still at $7.25, but is higher in 18 states and the District of Columbia.

The breakdown of which Americans are making such low wages is shown below. About 40% of low-wage Americans are 35 or older, and 43% of low-wage Americans have been to college.

Low-Wage Americans

The U.S. STEM Graduation Rate Is Very Low Compared To Other Countries

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects of study are in high demand in the global labor market, and tend to pay well also. Thus, it is important for any nation wanting to maintain its wealth and to fuel growth to ensure that it is producing a sufficient number of professionals in the STEM fields.

McKinsey shows that in 2008 only 15% of U.S. college graduates received degrees in a STEM subject. This compares with a world average of 23% and 42% in China.

STEM Graduation Rates

Google Unveils Project Loon, Internet For All Via Balloons In The Sky

Google has unveiled Project Loon, a plan from their Project [x] division to bring internet to the entire world by carefully placing balloons 20 kilometers in the sky. Among many other benefits, Google explains how internet for all would good for global business, agriculture, healthcare, and education.

Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill in coverage gaps and bring people back online after disasters.

The States That Spend The Most On Education

The U.S. Census Bureau has released some interesting financial data on education at the elementary and secondary school level.

The national average in 2011 for all states was spending $10,560 per student, down 0.4% from 2010.

Current US Spending Per Pupil for Public Elementary and Secondary School

The map below shows states color-coded by how much they spent per pupil on education for elementary and secondary school. The top spenders were New York ($19,076), the District of Columbia ($18,475), Alaska ($16,674), New Jersey ($15,968), and Vermont ($15,925).

US Public Elementary and Secondary School Spending Per Pupil by State

Spending mapped to display expenditures per $1,000 of income shows similar results, with West Virginia, Vermont, and Connecticut emerging as high spenders.

US Spending Per State on Education Per 1k Personal Income

Women Find Men More Attractive If They Are Holding A Guitar

A new study reveals what many already believed to be true: holding a guitar makes you more attractive to women.

Men’s music ability and attractiveness to women in a real-life courtship context“:

This experiment tested the assumption that music plays a role in sexual selection. Three hundred young women were solicited in the street for their phone number by a young male confederate who held either a guitar case or a sports bag in his hands or had no bag at all. Results showed that holding a guitar case was associated with greater compliance to the request, thus suggesting that musical practice is associated with sexual selection.

A second study took a different approach, using the Facebook method.

Guitar Guy

Guitar Increases Male Facebook Attractiveness: Preliminary Support for the Sexual Selection Theory of Music“:

100 females listed as members of student facebook groups in Israel (Tel-Aviv University and Ben Gurion University) who were identified in their facebook status as single. The mean age as reported on the facebook profiles was 24.4 (SD = 1.7)

In an experiment, two identical facebook profiles were created. One was accompanied by a photo of a smiling young man holding a guitar; the second showed the same man without the guitar. A friendship request was sent from each profile to 50 different women with the accompanying text: “Hey, what’s up? I like your photo.”

While only five of the fifty women (10%) responded positively to the friendship request that was sent by the profile without a guitar, 14 of the 50 women (28%) responded positively to the friendship request that was sent by the profile with a guitar.