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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Companies added jobs for the 97th straight month — and the economy has now grown for 112, on track to match the longest economic expansion in American history (120 months ending in 2008). For the second-straight month, U.S. joblessness is 3.7%, the lowest in 49 years. And wages are up 3.1% year-on-year, the highest rate since 2009.
Americans are working hard, but still not at historical rates: The average workweek rose to 34.5 hours from 34.4 hours in September. But the so-called labor force participation rate — a broad measure of how many prime-age people are working — was 62.9%, which is higher than recent lows but still among the smallest number in four decades.
One troubling aspect is that young men are not fully part of the boom:
On a broad level, the economy is cooling: Next year, GDP growth is forecast to steadily shrink as the effect of the tax cut wears off. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said today the U.S. is exporting less for the fourth-straight month, and the trade deficit with China rose again to a record $40.2 billion.
In October, U.S. stock markets marked their worst month since 2011. The S&P 500 fell again today by 0.63% to 2,723.
The forecasts for what comes next are all over the map — but recession is a common theme, Axios' Courtenay Brown reports.
Job interview, 1935. Photo: Ullstein Bild/Getty
Once, a misguided tweet or racist Facebook post from years ago might have avoided a hiring manager’s notice. But now, artificial intelligence is leaving no tweet unread in the search for job candidates' bad online behavior.
Axios' Kaveh Waddell reports: Companies are placing applicants under a high-powered microscope as they seek to avoid hiring employees who might create a toxic environment or harm the firm's image. But it's also limiting employee opportunities.
In February, the NYT fired writer Quinn Norton within hours of announcing her hiring. In that time, several old tweets surfaced in which she had used or amplified racist and homophobic slurs.
Enter the algorithms. Several companies offer to set the pattern-matching power of AI on the social feeds of job hopefuls to uncover posts that are racist, sexist, violent, or otherwise objectionable.
Privacy advocates worry that such systems can make basic mistakes with lasting effects.
"The automated processing of human speech, including social media, is extremely unreliable even with the most advanced AI. Computers just don’t get context. I hate to think of people being unfairly rejected from jobs because some computer decides they have a 'bad attitude,' or some other red flag."— Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union
AI-powered hiring systems can be extremely susceptible to bias.
Both companies’ CEOs told Axios they work to minimize bias by carefully choosing training data, using a diverse group of people to label it, and regularly testing outputs for fairness.
British scientist Michael Faraday, 1856. Painting: Alexander Blaikley. Photo: Rischgitz/Getty
The week passed you by? Never mind — catch up now with the best of Future:
1. The BRICs crash: The last domino falls in the once-hallowed group
2. The great family exodus: No room in the city for kids
3. The curse of bigness: Disturbing likenesses to the Gilded Age
4. English has the scientific edge — for now: Tech is eroding it
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Social scores and now customer scores (Khadeeja Safdar — WSJ)
Homelessness and big tech (Kia Kokalitcheva — Axios)
Belief in ghosts (The Economist)
Sexual harassment threatens engineering (C.D. Mote Jr., Sheila Widnall, Ed Lazowska — IIIE Spectrum)
Politics and the secrets of Tolkien (Eliot Cohen — The Atlantic)
Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty
Homes in a box are not new — a century ago, Sears sold them by the droves for as little as $452, the equivalent of $11,600 today. Even if you went deluxe and splurged on a $2,500 model, in today's money you were only in for $64,000.
The bottom line: We will see a vast whittling down of the 1.3 million U.S. real estate agents who earn a 6% commission on the homes they sell. But in urban America, home as a service may be the only way to get into a house.