News Article | May 10, 2017
Despite recent increases in oil and gas activity, some doubt that employment in the sector will ever reach the highs of 2014 again. Producers have been cutting costs and increasing productivity, partly thanks to an increased deployment of technology. Does this technological progress mean that some of the jobs lost in the sector over the last two years will not come back, even if high oil prices do? Fears that technological progress might eliminate jobs are nothing new. While technology increases productivity and makes society wealthier, these gains aren’t always equally shared. For some, it can be difficult to switch careers, and new jobs might not pay as well as the old ones. But the story of technological progress in the U.S. oil and gas industry is a hopeful one. Technology has had a record of creating jobs, not destroying them. Today, lackluster hiring is due to cyclical pressures, not the replacement of people with machines. In the mid-2000s, a singular innovation— combining hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling—dramatically lowered the cost of extracting oil and gas from shale. This cost-reduction kicked off an energy revolution: the North American shale boom. For the next 10 years, further improvements in oil and gas extraction technology spurred unprecedented employment growth in both E&P firms and oilfield services (Figure 1). The timing of the shale boom could not have been better. While most of the country suffered high unemployment during the Great Recession and its aftermath, the oil patch was hiring. As our research at the Center for Energy Studies has shown, this helped create jobs at a time when the country needed them most. However, just like the oil booms before, this one also came to an abrupt end. Oil prices began falling quickly in mid-2014. On November 27 of that year, OPEC decided to maintain oil production levels and allow prices to stay low. The incredible expansion of the American oil and gas industry stopped. As Figure 1 shows, employment fell precipitously in what the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calls the oil and gas extraction sector (E&P firms) and especially oil and gas support activities (oilfield services firms). Though employment levels in both extraction and support activities have followed similar trajectories, the paths of wages have diverged for several years. Average wages in support activities have been falling since the 2014 OPEC meeting, but they have been growing in the extraction sector. (Figure 2) The opposite trajectories of extraction and support wages, while at first glance surprising, are consistent with classical economic theory. Theory sees wages as a measure of labor productivity: the marginal worker is paid the value he or she brings to the firm. Higher wages, therefore, are associated with higher productivity and vice versa. Classical theory would suggest that as oil prices fell, firms would cut low-productivity workers and keep high-productivity ones. E&P firms, captured in the extraction sector, appear to be retaining their highest-value workers who are more experienced and more expensive. In contrast, wages in oil and gas support activities began a steady decline beginning in mid-2013, suggesting that on average, oilfield services produced less output per worker. Though employment fell significantly in oil and gas support activities starting in 2015, the drop was nowhere near as fast or far as the drop in the number of rigs actively drilling for oil and gas (Figure 3). A higher number of workers in support services per active rig meant that on average, each hour of work in the sector was associated with fewer new wells than before. Figure 4 takes a closer look at the ratio of employees in oil and gas support activities to the number of active rigs. The ratio spiked immediately following the 2014 OPEC meeting, marked by the second vertical dashed line. It is far easier and less costly to idle rigs than fire people, so the adjustment of employment in oil and gas support activities is slower than adjustment in rig-counts. This is especially true in times of uncertainty. During a downturn, if prices and investment are projected to come back up, a larger labor force gives firms the flexibility to ramp operations back up. In fact, during the price swings of 2008—2009, rig-counts also dropped quickly, while layoffs were slower to materialize. This made the employee-rig ratio spike and allowed the sector to recover when prices rose and drilling activity picked back up.
News Article | May 9, 2017
Restaurant Revolution Technologies, Inc. (RRT), a leading provider of order management, virtual call center and technology solutions for restaurants helping them to manage and optimize their off-premise takeout and catering business, has announced that its takeout solutions – in particular its virtual call center services, has helped relieve the labor pressures that continue to challenge operators throughout the restaurant industry. In a recent article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, there is clear evidence that as minimum wages are increasing, new jobs within the industry have slowed based on measurements monitored from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A year-over-year comparison of restaurants jobs in the State of California have steadily slowed each year from an annual 6.6% increase in 2014, to 2.9% currently in 2017. RRT’s virtual call center offloads a significant number of calls each month for each of its clients. With an average call time anywhere between 3-5 minutes, RRT clients are saving numerous hours of labor each month keeping the need for additional staff minimal by also reallocating this time back to their in-store guests for an augmented guest experience. With some clients, they have been able to reduce staffing by anywhere from 1-3 full time employees per location. Combine this reduction in labor hours with the outsourced ability to now handle all of the incoming calls; especially during peak hours where calls are regularly missed altogether or not handled well, the result is an improvement in overall takeout revenues, and an improved guest experience – all leading to a very positive ROI for its clients. During the month of March, RRT handled hundreds of thousands of calls for its client base – this number continues to grow exponentially each month with more and more clients seeing the value of having RRT handle their off-premise transactions while then allowing their staff to stay focused on their dine-in customers. With the average handle time of calls being in the 3-5 minute range, this led to a significant number of labor hours either saved or reallocated back to the client’s internal operations. With documented case studies which clearly validate the positive ROI RRT is providing, combined with consistent, positive feedback from their guests, and the desire to have their staff’s focus more intently on their dine-in business, more and more clients are reaching out to RRT to handle their off-premise operations. RRT is forecasting that its overall call volume will more than triple by the end of 2017. While most CFO’s will label this as a “soft cost”, it’s valuable and helpful to restaurants in keeping operations succinct and streamlined while minimum wage increases continue to climb in regions across the country. In California, the minimum wage has increased from $8 per hour in 2014 to $10.50 per hour in 2017 and is scheduled to increase annually up to $15 per hour by 2022. Additionally, in a survey of over 300 restaurants conducted by Nation’s Restaurant News, 24% of respondents indicated that the rising costs of labor via minimum wage hikes continue to be the number one concern for 2017. “The current labor law issues and minimum wage increases continue to be at the forefront of concerns for operators. Many of our clients have experienced direct and indirect relief to their labor pressures through our virtual call center services by offloading phone calls from their store locations, keeping staff focused on their dine-in business,” said David Schofield, CEO of RRT. “Coupled with the dynamic changes surrounding takeout the past few years, restaurants are turning to us for just this type of support to not only generate new revenue streams , but also to reduce labor pressures that lead to more efficient internal operations and a better overall guest experience.” About Restaurant Revolution Technologies Restaurant Revolution Technologies, Inc. (RRT) provides popular restaurant chains nationwide easy-to-implement phone, online and mobile takeout, order management, customer loyalty and catering solutions that enable restaurant operators to offer their takeout customers a consistently professional and delightful ordering experience where the customer rarely waits on hold, speaks to a friendly and knowledgeable menu-certified virtual waiter, and can be confident that the order is accurate. It’s what we refer to as going Beyond Takeout®. The turnkey, patented takeout order management software system provides a positive ROI by reducing operational costs, while increasing the number of orders and improving profits by leveraging the feature rich call center, online and mobile ordering platforms all integrated with top POS systems that service a majority of restaurant’s nationally. Visit us online at: http://www.rrtusa.com
News Article | May 12, 2017
ATLANTA, May 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the childcare industry will have some of the fastest employment growth of all industries through 2020. Discovery Point, a leading childcare franchise, plans to contribute to the growing industry...
News Article | May 10, 2017
Low-wage cities such as Las Vegas, Orlando, and El Paso will be hit the hardest by job automation, according to a recent report from the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis (ISEA). And the impact of automation on job losses is likely to be more severe than previously predicted, the report stated: Due to advances in machine learning and mobile robotics, jobs such as truck driving, healthcare diagnostics, and education are more likely to be affected. "The replacement of jobs by machines has been happening continuously since the Industrial Revolution, but it's expected to significantly accelerate in the coming 10 or 20 years," said Johannes Moenius, founding director of ISEA, in a press release. "Pretty much everyone will be affected, but some metropolitan areas will see a lot more jobs vanish than others." ISEA examined Oxford University research on the probability of automation for a number of occupations, as well as employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the 100 metropolitan areas in the US with more than 250,000 people employed, the following 10 cities have the largest share of jobs that may become automated: SEE: Future jobs: How humans and robots will complement each other Almost all large metropolitan areas in the US could lose more than 55% of their current jobs due to automation, the report stated. High-tech hubs such as Silicon Valley and Boston are least likely to be affected. SEE: Video: Panera's automation investment is actually creating jobs At-risk occupations include office and administrative support occupations, food preparation and serving related occupations, and sales and related occupations. These three categories account for half of the automation potential in the largest metro areas. Meanwhile, transportation and material moving positions contribute to potential employment losses in Riverside, Louisville, and Greensboro. However, the probability of automation does not equal future unemployment rates, said ISEA faculty fellow and report co-author Jess Chen. A recent report from Forrester Research estimated that automation and robotics will displace 24.7 million US jobs by 2027—but that the technology will create 14.9 million new jobs in the same time period, leading to a net loss of 9.8 million jobs. "Technical feasibility does not imply that automation necessarily makes economic sense. And historically, automation went hand in hand with new job creation both in skilled and less skilled labor," Chen said in the release. "However, the speed and the high share of automation in less skilled jobs raises many questions about whether the economy will be able to make up for the expected job losses. What we do expect is that automation will create winners and losers among cities and regions of the U.S., where losers may not recover to their original employment levels within even a decade's time."
Agency: NSF | Branch: Contract Interagency Agreement | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 247.00K | Year: 2013
Agency: NSF | Branch: Contract Interagency Agreement | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 236.00K | Year: 2012
Agency: NSF | Branch: Contract Interagency Agreement | Program: | Phase: SCIENCE & ENGINEERNG INDICATRS | Award Amount: 330.00K | Year: 2016
Agency: NSF | Branch: Contract Interagency Agreement | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 262.00K | Year: 2014
Agency: NSF | Branch: Contract Interagency Agreement | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 329.00K | Year: 2015
Agency: NSF | Branch: Contract Interagency Agreement | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 222.00K | Year: 2011