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While we're all on tenterhooks wondering how the coronavirus outbreak will affect the economy and hiring in the near and long-term, the most recent jobs numbers for February were nothing short of spectacular. Employers added a healthy 273,000 jobs to payrolls and the jobless rate fell down to 3.5 percent. However, once again, wage growth disappointed, ticking up a scant 0.2 percent. Jobs surveys are performed earlier in the month, which means the latest report doesn't take COVID-19 fears into account or how work disruptions might alter the hiring landscape going forward.
In January, Boeing halted production of its troubled 737 Max so engineers could fix its multitude of defects. Naturally, one would assume that the aerospace giant would be handing out pink slips to employees during the work stoppage, but Boeing has taken the opposite approach. The planemaker has hired some 730 mechanics, assembly-line workers and machinists at its Pacific Northwest manufacturing hub. Boeing expects that when operations resume, there will be more than enough work to go around, and fears not having enough hands on deck will be worse than keeping its payroll lean for the time being.
Just a few years ago, Tesla was the auto industry's underdog. But now, Elon Musks's electric vehicle company sports the largest market cap of any U.S. carmaker, and its rivals are playing catch up. General Motors, America's largest carmaker by sales, is responding to the challenge in a big way. The manufacturer is investing a whopping $20 billion in its electrification plans, and just revealed a new electric vehicle platform that is modular in design and will undergird its EV portfolio. The platform features new “large-format, pouch-style cell” batteries that could allow for fast charging times and driving range of "400 miles or more" which would put it well ahead of what Tesla currently offers even in its long-range models.
Can't get enough of rocket launches? Then today is your lucky day. At 11:50 p.m. EST, SpaceX is launching its 20th cargo mission for NASA using a veteran Falcon 9 rocket. The spacecraft is blasting off from Cape Canaveral en route to the ISS with more than 4,300 lbs. of supplies in tow. The mission marks the final flight for SpaceX under its first commercial resupply services contract with NASA signed in 2008 and valued at $1.6 billion. It will also be the final flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Going forward, SpaceX will rely on the upgraded Crew Dragon 2 which is rated for human flight and can make five trips into orbit – up from the current three. Check out Space.com for coverage of tonight's mission.
Drumroll please – NASA's Mars 2020 Rover is set to launch for our planetary neighbor this summer, and the vehicle finally has a name –– Perseverance, or Percy for short! The space agency held a contest to name the vehicle and invited U.S. school children to submit their suggestions along with an accompanying essay. NASA then culled the 28,000 entries to a dozen or so, and opened up voting to anyone with an internet connection around the world. Seventh-grader Alex Mather from Springfield, Virginia submitted the winning essay which can be read on NASA's website.