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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The U.S. economy is besting expectations for job growth, and the unemployment rate is at its lowest in several decades — but the other side of the story is that millions of jobs out there just aren't good enough.
Why it matters: Almost half of all American workers are stuck in low-wage jobs that often don't pay enough to support their lives, lack benefits and sit squarely inside the automation bullseye.
By the numbers:
"The storyline from the jobs reports is the result of looking at an incomplete set of measures," says Martha Ross, co-author of the Brookings report. "We do have to look at the quality of the jobs we are creating."
The big picture: For decades, the job market has seen steady polarization, Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed, says. There's been growth in high-wage jobs in tech and finance in big cities, and there's been a similar surge in jobs at the lower end — but the middle has hollowed out, primarily due to the collapse of manufacturing.
Low-wage work is more pervasive in parts of the country that have been left behind by the winner-take-all cities on the coasts, Brookings found.
Minorities are disproportionately impacted by low-wage work. Per the study, 54% of black workers and 66% of Hispanic workers are low wage, compared to 37% of white workers.
What to watch: Polarization in the job market is projected to get worse. At the same time, low-paying jobs in the retail and restaurant industries are among those with the highest automation potential. Says Ross: "The question of these low-wage jobs disappearing or changing means we have to think about how to support these workers. I think, as a country, we are terrible at doing that."
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
After conquering e-commerce and cloud computing, Amazon is claiming its spot at the very top of the massive shipping industry this holiday season.
Why it matters: Logistics might make your eyes glaze over, but it's one of the key businesses of the future — and it could become Amazon's next windfall. The industry is already worth $1.5 trillion, and it'll get even bigger as more and more people order everything online.
What's happening: Amazon is already the leading shipper of its own packages (delivering about 48% of them). The tech giant is adding vans, jets, workers and warehouses to become an even more formidable shipper.
Amazon's rise is putting legacy shippers at risk. After brushing off the e-commerce giant as a competitor for years, FedEx CEO Fred Smith called it a threat this year.
The stakes: Amazon is already the subject of antitrust investigations in the U.S. and Europe, and its shipping prowess could strengthen opponents' arguments.
About a quarter of the U.S. population — and more than 8 in 10 residents of Detroit — live in areas likely to be difficult for the census to accurately count next year, according to census data analyzed by the Associated Press, Axios' Stef Kight and Courtenay Brown report.
Why it matters: "Hard to count" often translates to underrepresentation. The 2020 census will be the basis for allocating political power and government funding for the next decade.
By the numbers: In half of U.S. census tracts nationwide, more than 20% of the population is predicted to not respond to the initial census questionnaire.
The bottom line: Undercounting has long been an issue for racial and ethnic minorities, giving the issues these communities care about even less political weight.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
A threat to American AI talent (Kaveh Waddell — Axios)
America after climate change, mapped (Sarah Holder — CityLab)
Holiday delivery and the future of retail (Kaarin Vembar — Retail Dive)
How Amazon wields power in the tech world (Daisuke Wakabayashi — NYT)
The one-traffic-light town with speedy internet (Sue Halpern — New Yorker)
Date night in 1970. Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images
We're in the heart of cuffing season, which is the popular millennial term for the winter months when people stop dating around and pair up with someone to spend the cold, snowy days with.
To that end, dating apps are seeing a flurry of activity.
The big picture: Bumble has close to 80 million users worldwide. Per the company's analysis, there will be around 20 million in-app messages sent on Jan. 5 alone. Last year, Tinder told Bustle that it saw 44 million matches on Dating Sunday.
Thanks for reading!