Retail sales just notched their best month since 2012 and the industry has added almost one million jobs since 2010. But the rosy headline stats obscure a more complex and potentially troubling story in retail—particularly for its employees.
The business of selling stuff is becoming much more efficient. Sales-per-employee have gone from $12,00 to $25,000 in the last two decades. That means that even as consumers spend more, we need fewer workers to stock shelves and process orders.
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Sweden’s Stadsmission has become the H&M of charity work.
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Employers want their workers to be healthy—both for insurance-cost and humane reasons—but aspects of those very jobs can make workers sick. A study published this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that workers who toiled for more than 40 hours per week or were exposed to a hostile work environment were significantly more likely to be obese.
Both of those are fairly intuitive—long hours at the office can make it hard to squeeze in exercise, and dealing with, shall we say, “a strong personality” all day can make it tempting to indulge in an extra helping of curly fries. (A more tragic explanation would be that people who are already obese are more likely to be harassed at work.)
But surprisingly, the researchers also found that certain industries and occupations in and of themselves correlate with higher obesity rates, even when controlling for the demographic makeup of those jobs.
Instead of following traditional paths, women are using their science, technology, engineering, and math degrees to create new careers.
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Why do women still earn less than men? No seriously, why? The gender wage gap has been a problem ever since I Love Lucy was a primetime hit, and we still don’t have a complete explanation.
"Because sexist bosses," is the knee-jerk explanation, but it’s actually far more complicated than that.
New research out this week from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a feminist think-tank, reveals some surprising, and dismaying, trends that perpetuate this disparity.
Women who worked full time in 2013 made 82.1 percent as much as their male counterparts, an increase of about one percent from last year, the IWPR reported.
That’s a major improvement from a few decades ago. In 1980, for example, women made just 63.9 percent what men did—$565 a week (in 2013 dollars) to men’s $885. The gender wage gap shrank rapidly from there because women started to earn more and more each year. Last year, women made $706 a week on average.
Men’s earnings, meanwhile, “fell, rose, fell, and rose again,” the organization writes, and ultimately stagnated. Last year they made $860—less than they earned in 1980. That is to say, the gender wage gap persists not because men keep earning more, but because women’s wages aren’t rising fast enough.
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Web developers and engineers on the spammy economics of tech recruitment.
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After five years of bitter partisan combat, President Obama warned Congress Tuesday that he will move forward on his economic agenda with or without their help, threatening to make an end run around legislative gridlock through a series of new executive actions designed to lay the groundwork for liberals’ newly declared war on income inequality.
Although he didn’t mention them by name in last night’s State of the Union address, one of the president’s more ambitious ideas to address economic instability is a plan to create “Promise Zones” in low-income communities, where the government would target federal investment to reduce poverty in select neighborhoods.
Obama actually introduced the initiative in last year’s State of the Union address, but earlier this month, he finally got around to selecting the first five zones—in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The plan, he said, is to expand the program to 20 neighborhoods by the end of his second term. “Your country will help you remake your community on behalf of your kids,” he told a White House audience on January 9. “Not with a handout, but as partners with them every step of the way.”
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If you hate performance reviews—and the “if” in that clause is ceremonial; you do hate them—don’t blame your boss. Blame the Wei Dynasty.
Historians aren’t sure who officially invented the annual ritual of grading our colleagues’ performances (technically, a post-hunt slap on the back from a Neanderthal would qualify), but one of the earliest examples of formal appraisal comes from China’s Wei Dynasty, around 230 AD, when an Imperial Rater invented a nine-grade system to evaluate members of the official family. History’s first formal review wasn’t much more popular than its recent iterations. “The Imperial Rater seldom rates men according to their merits, but always according to his likes and dislikes,” Chinese philosopher Sin Yu once lamented, futilely.
Eighteen centuries and several million futile laments later, performance reviews are alive and well. They peaked, perhaps, in the 1980s, when GE’s Jack Welch used the rank-and-yank method to cull the worst-performing 10 percent of his workforce. Today, evals might be less draconian, but are they any less pointless?
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