Welcome back to Future. I'm coming to you from Detroit today, where it was 9°F when I trekked to breakfast this morning. Thanks to those of you who sent me lovely restaurant recommendations and notes about the city. I'll try some of those places this week!
Let me know what you think of today's issue by sending a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or replying to this email. Kaveh, who anchors Saturday's Future, is at email@example.com.
I have 1,205 words for you this evening — a 4.5-minute read. Starting with...
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
DETROIT, Mich. — There's no better symbol of what the American worker's life used to look like than Detroit: a stable, lifelong career at a booming factory, a union membership and a pension.
The big picture: Workers' lives in the future won't look like that. Already, new technologies and the gig economy are breaking down those very forces of stability that defined jobs over the last century — and the future of workers hangs in the balance.
That great upending was the theme at the Fulcrum Conference on the future of work here in Detroit, where I moderated a panel this morning.
What's happening: Technologies developed to connect people and serve as equalizers have, in many cases, pulled people apart and exacerbated existing inequities in the workplace.
On top of these trends, workers' bargaining power is dwindling. In 2018, 10.5% of Americans were part of unions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's down from around one-third of Americans in the 1950s.
Yes, but: The rise of gig work and remote work comes with a slew of perks, too, experts say. New types of jobs that allow workers to set their own hours or work from home can bring people into the workforce who otherwise might not have been able to enter it.
The bottom line: Companies are still designed to cater to full-time employees who work out of big factories or offices. "Workplaces need to change," says Yrthya Dinzey-Flores, who spoke at Fulcrum and was most recently a VP at Warner Media Group. "And there is still this refusal to change."
Go deeper: The two-faced freelance economy
In an age of superstar cities, in which 25 bustling metros account for half the country's economy, some under-the-radar cities and rural areas are thriving, Kaveh writes.
Why it matters: Much of the country is in search of a playbook that can bring in even a fraction of the riches that have rained on the economic frontrunners.
The big picture: The rift between superstars and laggards is in danger of widening, worsening political polarization as it goes.
Driving the news: A report released today by Emsi, an economic analysis firm, charts the cities that the company deemed most attractive to talent, with some unexpected results.
Unlike traditional tech hubs, the front-running Jacksonville isn't built around a single industry or company. The top jobs, Emsi says, are in the ubiquitous restaurant and hospital sectors — but the area has been boosted by new Amazon and Wayfair distribution centers.
For smaller cities, an anchoring corporate headquarters or university can be a boon. But there's hope even for those without a flagship institution.
What's next: Automation threatens to throw the balance even further off-kilter. New jobs are likely to accrue to already advantaged super-cities, while the losers stand to lose even more.
Go deeper: The cities where low-wage workers are being left behind, from Kim Hart's Axios Cities newsletter.
Alibaba's final sales numbers from Singles Day 2019. Photo: STF/AFP/Getty Images
In the first minute of Singles Day — China's Black Friday equivalent — Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba did $1 billion in sales. Within one hour, it was $12 billion, which is nearly double the estimated $7 billion Amazon pulled in during its 48-hour Prime event in July.
The big picture: With a market of 1.4 billion Chinese consumers and a growing presence throughout Asia, Alibaba is becoming an increasingly formidable force in the global economy.
What's next: Alibaba Group is moving forward with a secondary stock listing in Hong Kong that could raise more than $15 billion by the end of November, per multiple media reports.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Data is the new antitrust battleground (Margaret Harding McGill — Axios)
The surprising science of generational conflict (Brian Resnick — Vox)
The business cost of ignoring mental health (Cynthia Koons — Bloomberg)
Wikipedia's colossal gender gap (Jessica Kantor — Fast Company)
Selling burgers — not sex (Tiffany Hsu — NYT)
A billboard promoting e-payments in Mumbai. Photo: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP via Getty Images
Americans continue to rely on their credit cards, while the rest of the world rapidly moves toward mobile payments.
Why it matters: By 2022, mobile payments from companies like Alipay, WeChat Pay and others are projected to account for nearly 50% of global e-commerce sales, Axios' Dion Rabouin reports.
Thanks for reading!