Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Gig is Up!

The dream job has turned into a nightmare:

"The ‘gig economy’ benefits some more than others, research shows" by Abha Bhattarai Washington Post  July 03, 2017

WASHINGTON — The ‘‘gig economy,’’ popularized by the likes of Lyft, Airbnb, and TaskRabbit, has for years been promoted as an effective way for Americans to make money on their own terms. But new data show that the majority of workers — 85 percent of them — make less than $500 a month, on average, with such services.

That is below poverty wages. You can't pay for anything with that.

The home-sharing site Airbnb yielded the highest monthly return.

‘‘We’re starting to see that these gigs are filling in the gaps for a lot of people — a little bit of extra money here for a student loan payment, or a few hours of work there to create additional income,’’ said Catherine New, a senior editor at Earnest. ‘‘But bigger picture, you also see that people are having to work two or three jobs to make ends meet.’’

Remember when W. Bush told a woman that was great, great.

Nearly one in four Americans earns money from the digital ‘‘platform economy,’’ according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. And increasingly, their experiences — and their earnings — are split between those who are supplementing their incomes with side gigs and those who rely on those piecemeal earnings to eke out a living.

There are ‘‘profound differences’’ in the ways people use the gig economy, said Aaron Smith, associate director of research on Internet and technology at Pew.

‘‘A young professional who occasionally supplements her income by renting out her apartment on Airbnb is much different from a single mother who works for a ride-hailing service in between child-care obligations,’’ Smith wrote in the report.

Black and Latino workers, and those with lower household incomes, tend to take on labor-intensive tasks — driving passengers for Uber or Lyft, say, or delivering groceries through Instacart or Postmates, the survey found.

Their wealthier, white counterparts were more likely to make money by renting out rooms in their homes through Airbnb or selling handmade or used goods online on sites like Etsy. 

Not very lucrative, from what I read

‘‘In the case of gig work, workers who describe the income they earn from these platforms as ‘essential’ or ‘important’ are more likely to come from low-income households, to be non-white and to have not attended college,’’ the report says.


‘‘They are also significantly more likely to say that they are motivated to do this sort of work because they need to be able to control their own schedule or because there are not many other jobs available to them where they live.’’

In either case, experts say a slow job market recovery, growing income inequality, and stagnant wages — combined with ballooning student loan debt — have exacerbated financial burdens for many Americans, leading to the growing popularity of side gigs. As a result, platforms like Uber, which has more than 1 million drivers, have grown rapidly in recent years.

This comes on the receptive heels of daily reports telling us how healthy is the labor market, and Uber et al are heavily investing in driverless. Then where will we go?

‘‘While we continue to be at what is considered full employment, the quality of each of those jobs has been dwindling, causing people to seek out new ways to supplement their full-time income,’’ said Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. ‘‘There is a lot more volatility in the world of work today than there was 20 or 30 years ago.’’

Who exactly con$iders it that way anyway?

At the same time that it’s become harder to find a stable source of income to sustain a family, it’s become easier than ever to download an app that allows you to drive around passengers, rent out your bed, or stand in line for concert tickets in exchange for money, said Sundararajan, author of the book ‘‘The Sharing Economy.’’

I like to know who I'm waking up next to, thanks.

But, he added, the findings raise concerns about whether these arrangements are in the best interest of workers. 

Make 'em all AI robots and there will be no more concern.

One in five Americans feels that gig-economy jobs place ‘‘too much financial burden’’ on workers, Pew says; 23 percent said such jobs allow companies to take advantage of workers, who often shoulder many of the costs.....

It has ever been thu$.


Related: "Microsoft Corp. is reorganizing its sales and marketing operations in a bid to woo more customers in areas like artificial intelligence and the cloud by providing sales staff with greater technical and industry-specific expertise. The changes will mean thousands of job cuts in areas such as field sales, said a person familiar with the restructuring who asked not to be named because the workforce reductions aren’t public. The company unveiled the steps in an e-mail to staff Monday that was obtained by Bloomberg. Commercial sales will be split into two segments — one targeting the biggest customers and one on small and medium clients. Employees will be aligned around six industries — manufacturing, financial services, retail, health, education, and government. They’ll focus on selling software in four categories: modern workplace, business applications, apps and infrastructure, and data and AI...." 

You know, if they are cutting loose the techies who are the vanguard of future employment.... what will they do with the rest of us, get rid of us any way they can? 

Sort of explains the chaos and institutional incompetence around the planet, doesn't it?

The front lineHospital care would not suffer under nurses’ strike, Tufts says

They will coach you through it.

"Energy companies made large gains in Monday’s abbreviated trading session as oil prices rose for the eighth day in a row. Banks rose as bond yields and interest rates continued to rise. Companies that stand to benefit from faster economic growth, like industrial companies and basic materials makers, climbed after the Institute for Supply Management said manufacturing activity climbed in June to its highest level in almost three years. JPMorgan Chase rose 2 percent Monday, and Citigroup rose 2.1 percent. Morgan Stanley climbed 2.4 percent. General Electric rose 1.6 percent, and DuPont added 1.8 percent. Before their recent winning streak, crude prices had reached their lowest levels of the year. Exxon Mobil stock rose 1.7 percent, and ConocoPhillips added 3.9 percent. Car companies reported monthly sales on Monday, and while overall sales continued to slip, the stocks mostly traded higher as investors felt the results were reasonably strong. Ford and GM said their sales each fell about 5 percent, but Ford stock gained 3.3 percent, and GM rose 1.8 percent. Fiat Chrysler advanced 4.1 percent, despite a 7 percent decline in sales....."

Yes, the economy is strong, but auto sales did drop in 1st half of year.

"Tesla’s first mass-market car hits production this week" by Neal E. Boudette New York Times   July 03, 2017

To prepare for the addition of the Model 3 to its lineup, Tesla built a $5 billion factory in Nevada to produce batteries for the company’s electric cars. Tesla has also bolstered its coffers. Earlier this year, it raised $1 billion through offerings of stock and debt. A Chinese Internet giant, Tencent Holdings, acquired a 5 percent stake in the company.

The company needs the extra capital because it continues to post losses in most quarters. In the first quarter this year, Tesla lost $397 million, compared with a loss of $282 million in the same period a year earlier. The company’s revenue more than doubled, however, to $2.7 billion.

Investor optimism about the Model 3 has pushed Tesla shares up about 67 percent this year. Shares were down Monday, but the company has a market value of $59 billion, about $7 billion more than General Motors and $15 billion more than Ford Motor.....

How can they be worth so much more?


"GE oil-field giant is ready to prosper, if recovery cooperates" by David Wethe and Richard Clough Bloomberg News  July 03, 2017

General Electric’s new oil-field services behemoth is poised to capitalize on a recovery from the worst crude crash in a generation — except no one is sure when that will actually happen.

The merger of GE’s oil and gas business with Baker Hughes Inc. officially closed Monday, creating a provider of services and equipment that’s second in size only to Schlumberger Ltd. While Lorenzo Simonelli, the GE oil executive who will lead the new Baker Hughes, said his company carries built-in advantages over its rivals, the launch comes at a time of growing risks and uncertainty in the oil market at large.

Shale explorers have been leading a fresh drilling boom, boosting budgets 10 times faster in the United States than in the rest of the world. Whether that growth continues, though, is far from certain. After almost six months of growth, the number of rigs targeting oil fell last week and production declined. That hints at growing caution among producers for next year.

‘‘I think they need a little more time over the course of this year to make those decisions,’’ Simonelli said in an interview Friday ahead of finalizing the merger Monday. Likewise, he’s not ready to make any new predictions on the profit outlook for his company in 2018. ‘‘It’s a little early to say.’’

The new company begins trading under the ticker BHGE on Wednesday. Simonelli said his initial focus is on how he can reap the most savings as he stitches together the two businesses without sacrificing market share. To do that, he’s touting how the merger brings together strengths that can’t be matched by competitors such as Halliburton Co., Schlumberger, or Weatherford International.

‘‘I think we’re number one,’’ Simonelli said shortly after a shareholder meeting where 99 percent of votes cast were in favor of the deal. ‘‘When you look at the people we play against — a Schlumberger, a Halliburton, a Weatherford — they don’t have the same portfolio that we do.’’

After oil prices hit bottom at $26.05 a barrel in February 2016, a short-lived rally earlier this year fizzled on worries that a global glut wasn’t getting any better. Oil fell briefly into a bear market last month, and now is trading around $46 a barrel.

Looks to me like the geniuses calling the economic shots are pushing levers.

Oil service companies, which were hit first and worst by the oil crash, have been slow to benefit from the past year’s drilling renaissance. GE’s reconstituted Baker Hughes was forecast by executives to have 2018 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of $5.5 billion. Yet analysts including J. David Anderson at Barclays are now predicting it will be a billion less.

Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. recently downgraded Baker Hughes to a hold rating until some of the clouds clear. ‘‘We like the pro forma business, but wrestle with 2018 growth prospects,’’ analysts at the Houston bank wrote June 23 in a note to investors.

Simonelli is counting on more predictable income such as equipment maintenance contracts around the world to help compensate for the ups and downs of the US drilling outlook.

‘‘It provides more continuity and stability in the earnings and less volatility,’’ Simonelli said.

GE owns 62.5 percent of the new Baker Hughes. In the past, the oil business has been a drag on earnings for the Boston-based industrial giant, frustrating investors who bemoaned GE’s terrible timing in building up the business ahead of the 2014 market crash. The merger creates a stronger company that should turn that around, Simonelli said.

In turn, GE’s financial discipline may help smooth out some of the quarterly earnings misses Baker Hughes has reported in the past, Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones, said in an interview.

‘‘GE will run a pretty tight ship as majority owner,’’ Youngberg said. ‘‘They’ll probably bring some of that GE discipline to Baker Hughes.’’

Which would be what, cooking the books?


Now that you've gassed up:

"Taxi injures cab drivers at Logan Airport in ‘tragic accident’" by Adam Vaccaro, Martin Finucane and Matt Rocheleau Globe Staff  July 03, 2017

A taxi jumped a curb and barreled into a group of cabdrivers at Logan International Airport Monday, injuring 10 people in what officials described as a “tragic accident.”

There is no information to suggest the crash at the taxi lot was intentional, and the State Police said the driver — a 56-year-old Cambridge man who works for Metro Cab — has been cooperative with investigators. His cab was seized for investigation.

“He is known to be a very nice gentleman to his peers,” State Police Major Frank McGinn said about the driver at a news conference. He has “no history of violations or anything.”

It was not clear how fast the cab was going at the time of the crash, and with the investigation unfolding, officials offered few details about the cause. Officials were examining the mechanics of the car, a computer system inside the cab, and surveillance video from the lot as part of the investigation, McGinn said. They will also interview witnesses.

McGinn said it was “still too early to know” if there were any mechanical issues with the vehicle. He also said it didn’t appear the man had a medical problem but noted the investigation was just beginning.

Metro Cab did not respond to calls or e-mails seeking comment.

The crash occurred at about 1:40 p.m. on the airport’s outskirts, at a massive asphalt lot where hundreds of cab drivers wait to be dispatched to airport terminals. At the head of the lot is a building with restrooms and a cafeteria. Outside the building, cab drivers often relax at tables and chairs on a sidewalk terrace. That is where the crash occurred.

Abdias Pierre, a taxi driver, said cabbies often play cards and dominoes at the tables. “It’s all taxi drivers around here,” he said.

He said the driver involved in the crash has been around a long time, and Pierre did not believe the incident was deliberate.

The taxicab was visibly damaged at the site of the crash, its hood crunched open and airbags deployed. It was surrounded by debris from the seating area.

Next to the seating area, a small worship center where drivers can pray throughout the day appeared to have been damaged. Nobody was inside the center at the time of the accident, McGinn said.

The victims were taken to Mass. General, Tufts Medical Center, and other area hospitals, State Police said. Tufts said it cared for five patients, one of whom had been discharged by Monday evening, two of whom were listed in good condition, and two of whom were in serious condition.

Hamid Amri, another driver at the taxi lot, said Monday was a very slow day at the airport, so drivers were forced to wait for hours.

Donna Blythe-Shaw, a former union representative for Boston taxi drivers who still advocates on their behalf, said that is an increasingly common circumstance at the Logan taxi pool. As more riders throughout the city turn to ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, taxi drivers head to the airport searching for fares.

“There’s no work (on) the streets anymore,” Blythe-Shaw said. “All the steady work is at the airport.”

Many cabdrivers work long hours — in some cases 16-hour shifts — and Blythe-Shaw speculated that fatigue may have played a role in the crash. In 2013, a Boston Globe Spotlight series on the cab industry found that some overworked drivers slept in their vehicles at the taxi pool.

“This could have just been a very exhausted cabdriver,” she said.

Trooper Paul Sullivan, a State Police spokesman, declined to comment on whether fatigue was an issue. He also declined to say whether the driver could face charges.

State Police said the driver’s name will not be released unless he is criminally charged.

Boston police Lieutenant Thomas Lema, who oversees the department’s hackney unit, declined to comment specifically about Monday’s crash, saying the investigation was being handled by the State Police.

Laura Oggeri, a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston, said by e-mail Monday that city officials, including Boston police and Emergency Medical Services, did not have data about the safety track record of taxis in the city.

But Logan has seen some notable taxi accidents in the past, including an incident in 2003 when a traveler was killed by a cab that jumped the curb at a taxi stand outside baggage claim after a driver allegedly left a cab in drive as he stepped out of the vehicle.

And in 1997, a taxi driver lost his legs after he was struck by another taxi driver at the airport.

The incident also comes about two months after another professional driver — an employee at the Lynnway Auto Auction — killed five people in a crash at the site.....


Driverless is looking better all the time, isn't it?


"A Jamaica Plain man with a lengthy criminal record was held on $500,000 bail at his arraignment Monday on gun and trespassing charges after he allegedly fired a gun at Boston police. Kristopher Jordan, 30, allegedly shot at members of the Boston police Youth Violence Strike Force early Saturday morning as the officers pursued another man who was riding a scooter without a helmet, authorities said....."

That's worth a beating.

And with that, this blog has flat-lined.