The economy of the Golden State, already the toast of the town, will continue to outperform the rest of the country next year – this according to a new forecast announced by the UCLA Anderson School. California’s economic output expanded by 2.6% this year, down from 3.5% in Q4 2018 but above the 2.1% GDP growth the US experienced last quarter. The unemployment rate is expected to remain near historic lows and state payrolls should grow by 1.9%. Still, a moribund real estate market and the ongoing trade war could pose threats to the robustness of California’s economy.
The latest jobs report shows the US economy produced a surprisingly strong 266,000 new jobs in November, pushing the unemployment rate to a 50-year low of 3.5%. While the increase in employment was partly inflated by the return of nearly 50,000 striking auto workers at GM, the numbers still surpassed economists' wildest imaginings. Hiring was strong almost across the board, with health care, hospitality and professional occupations leading the way. Unfortunately, the manufacturing sector continues to underperform; manufacturers have added virtually no jobs this year, hurt by a slowing global economy and the U.S. trade war.
80,000 – that’s the number of jobs global carmakers will likely shed as production shifts from gas-powered automobiles to electric vehicles. The axe has already fallen at Daimler and Audi which announced nearly 20,000 job cuts just this past week. Carmakers the world over are reassessing their workforce as they make substantial investments in electrification and autonomous driving technology, all while figuring out their place in the era of ride-sharing services. A massive slowdown in auto sales is also prompting some retrenchment; the auto industry will produce 88.8 million passenger vehicles this year, a steep 6% drop from 2018.
SpaceX is making astronautics look like child's play with yet another successful launch and recovery of its reusable rocket vehicle. The company blasted an uncrewed Dragon spacecraft for NASA, sending fresh supplies and science equipment to the International Space Station. The cargo includes a hotel of sorts for the station's robotic residents, and a Budweiser experiment that will evaluate how barley seeds germinate in the harshness of space. It’s actually the fourth science experiment Bud is conducting in microgravity. Researchers on this project are seeking to better understand why different plant genes are turned on and off in space.
SmallSat launcher Rocket Lab is proving it can hang with the big boys after pulling off its 10th flight to space – and this time its Electron rocket returned back to Earth unscathed. The launch continues Rocket Lab’s record of 100% mission success. While Electron is designed for a single use, the return of the rocket in one piece is huge for Rocket Lab as the company is pushing into reusability in order to drive down prices for customers. But unlike SpaceX’s gobsmacking vehicle landings, Rocket Lab’s proposed recovery system involves guiding a launch vehicle back into Earth’s atmosphere, then catching the falling booster with a helicopter.
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A bi-weekly roundup of the latest happenings in industrial tech, hiring and the future of work.