MONEY The Economy

What Do the Jobs Numbers Actually Mean?

A look at the monthly employment reports and what they mean.

The unemployment rate can often be used as a measure of how tough or easy it may be to get a job at a certain time. That one number, however, paints a picture that’s a little too simplistic. The unemployment rate fails to include people who have given up looking for work and those who consider themselves underemployed. To get a clearer picture, look at the employment growth number and the unemployment rate together.

MONEY Workplace

Minority Retail Workers Paid Less Than Whites

A higher minimum wage could help even things out.

A study revealed minority retail workers are paid less than white peers. Researchers say this feeds into poverty and recommend an increase in minimum wage. The minimum wage nationwide is $7.25 an hour, but many states have higher minimum wages. Fast food workers have been protesting for higher pay recently as well.

MONEY Workplace

Should You Give Someone a Bad Job Reference?

Donna Rosato, MONEY's Careerist, addresses the question of whether you should give someone a negative reference.

What happens when someone asks you to be a job reference, but you don’t have anything nice to say about him or her? The best thing you can do is say you don’t feel comfortable being a reference for them. Some companies even have policies against giving people negative job references because it could come back to haunt them—and you. Check with your company’s human resources department; if they say no, that’s an easy out.

TIME Careers

Why High School Athletes are Cool Even After Graduation

(c) davepeetersphoto

They're just better at everything

Nerds are supposed to get their revenge after graduation.

Sure, high school jocks are popular. But as mothers across America tell their uncoordinated children: Study hard, get good grades, and you’ll have the last laugh by making more money later in life.

However soothing as this tale may be to athletically challenged youngsters, economists say it’s a lie. Former high school athletes “display significantly more leadership, self-confidence, and self-respect than those who were active outside of sports—such as being in the band or on the yearbook staff,” according to a recent study published in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies (via The Atlantic).

Not only that, but former high school athletes retain these qualities as long as 60 years after they hung up their varsity jackets. The Atlantic also points to several other studies that former athletes earn “from 5 to 15 percent” more than non-athletes.

The jury is still out on whether this statistical difference is because the act of playing sports in high school teaches kids skills like hard work and determination, or because kids with those qualities gravitate towards sports in youth. Either way, it would appear that there are more reasons than fleeting glory to go out for the football team this fall.

TIME Careers

These are the Most Extreme Jobs

skydiving
Getty Images

Venom milker and skydiving instructor make the list

Adrenaline addicts looking for a new job may want to consider a few of the following: Crocodile physiologist, venom milker and skydiving instructor. They all made a list of the world’s most extreme jobs, at least according to YourTradeBase, a company that helps other businesses with the entirely sedate job of completing their paperwork.

Take safari guide, for example, which was identified as the extreme career with the highest average salary. They are exposed to potentially dangerous animals like lions, work in an area lacking in medical facilities and drive on muddy and bumpy dirt tracks. But let’s face it: Despite the danger, it’s a great job.

Here are he most extreme jobs ranked by average salary per year (or season) are:

  1. Safari Guide: $73,000
  2. Professional Stuntman: $70,000
  3. Crocodile Physiologist: $62,500
  4. Storm Chaser: $60,968
  5. Cave Diver: $58,640
  6. Smoke Jumpers: $33,000
  7. Venom Milker: $30,000
  8. Skydiving Instructor: $24,000
  9. Whitewater Rafting Guide: $6,675 per season
  10. Everest Guides: $5,000 per season

In case you were wondering what a venom milker does, YourTradeBase writes that it’s a position to “massage the venom glands of many snakes, whilst pressing their fangs on a plastic plate/tube, to collect their venom.” It notes that “snakes don’t enjoy being milked.” Well, imagine that.

TIME Careers

These Jobs Are Most Likely To Be Taken by a Computer

SPAIN-TECHNOLOGY-ROBOT
Gerard Julien—AFP/Getty Images A man moves his finger toward SVH (Servo Electric 5 Finger Gripping Hand) automated hand made by Schunk during the 2014 IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots in Madrid on November 19, 2014.

Great news, dentists!

Telemarketers’ jobs have the highest chance of being automated, according to recent report. Other positions with huge potential for being overtaken by robots? Cashiers, tellers and drivers, among others, according to this new NPR interactive.

While telemarketers have a 99% chance of one day being totally replaced by technology (it’s already happening), cashiers, tellers and drivers all have over a 97% chance at being automated. Many positions within the “production” category put together by NPR, including packaging and assembly jobs, tend to rank highly as well.

The job with the lowest shot at being overtaken by technology in the future? Mental health and substance abuse social workers. They have a 0.3% chance, according to the data. Occupational therapists also rank at 0.3%, while dentists, surgeons and nutritionists appear pretty safe at just 0.4%.

Per NPR:

The researchers admit that these estimates are rough and likely to be wrong. But consider this a snapshot of what some smart people think the future might look like. If it says your job will likely be replaced by a machine, you’ve been warned.

To play around with the complete data, check here. But beware, it’s pretty addicting.

MONEY Wages

Here’s One Statistic Explaining Why You Haven’t Gotten a Raise Lately

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Krakozawr—Getty Images

A big chunk of workers are yearning for more hours, raise or no raise.

More than one-third of American workers would be willing to work longer hours without a raise, according to a new Federal Reserve report.

The report, which surveyed nearly 6,000 individuals about their financial well-being, found 36% of respondents would prefer to work more hours at their currently hourly wage. Another 58% of respondents said they are happy with the number of hours they currently work, while 5% wished they could work fewer hours.

While those who took the survey were not necessarily hourly workers, a Federal Reserve spokesperson said the question is a general proxy for whether employees would be willing to work longer for higher pay.

As Bloomberg notes, the Federal Reserve’s findings may help explain why inflation-adjusted wages have remained essentially flat, even as the economy has improved.

“When [Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen] says that the unemployment rate probably does not fully capture the extent of slack in the labor market, this is exactly what she’s talking about,” said Thomas Simons, a money-market economist at Jefferies LLC, in an email to Bloomberg. “Until workers perceive that there are more opportunities available that offer higher wages, they will be content to work for the same rate rather than take a risk for more.”

MONEY Sports

These 10 Women Athletes Are The Top Earners

Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates her victory over Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain in the Women's Singles Final on Day Eight of The Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2015 at the Foro Italico on May 17, 2015 in Rome, Italy.
Mike Hewitt—Getty Images Maria Sharapova of Russia celebrates her victory over Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain in the Women's Singles Final on Day Eight of The Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2015 at the Foro Italico on May 17, 2015 in Rome, Italy.

Guess who raked in more than $24 million last year?

We often hear about astronomical salaries in men’s sports, but we hear little about the top female sports earners. The main reason is the greater popularity of men’s professional sports leagues and the corresponding TV and merchandising revenue. There is no women’s counterpart to the NFL or Major League Baseball. In sports where there are counterparts such as the WNBA in basketball, salaries lag far behind.

As a result, we find the majority of top female sports earners in the non-team sports of tennis, golf, and figure skating. In tennis, the prize money and sponsorship opportunities for women are nearly equal to that of men (and occasionally greater). Otherwise, equality is elusive — first place on the women’s list of sports earnings only earns 34th place in the overall sports earnings list.

Accordingly, the Forbes list of the top ten highest paid female athletes for 2014 (using values from June 2013 to June 2014) features seven tennis players, one golfer, and one figure skater. The other sport represented is auto racing.

  1. Maria Sharapova – The Russian-born tennis star (pictured above) does not earn the most on the court, but thanks to multiple endorsement deals, she was the top earner at $24.4 million. Sponsors include Nike, Porsche, Evian, Samsung, and Avon. She even created a line of gummy candies, appropriately named Sugarpova.
  2. Li Na – This up-and-coming tennis star from China hauled in $23.6 million, with $5.6 million in prize money and the rest through multiple endorsements in worldwide markets.
  3. Serena Williams – Propelled by $11 million in prize money, the younger of the Williams sisters earned $22 million in total income last year. Serena has earned the most in prize money over her career in women’s tennis, nearly twice that of second-place Sharapova.
  4. Kim Yuna – The top figure skater on the list, Korean star Yuna earned approximately $16.3 million on top of winning a silver medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
  5. Danica Patrick – Auto racing’s entry into the top ten, Patrick earned $15 million despite having no Sprint Cup wins and limited top-ten finishes. She is arguably as well known outside racing for her sponsorship with GoDaddy (although that sponsorship recently ended, as will her contract with Stewart-Haas Racing in 2016).
  6. Victoria Azarenka – Azarenka, the second ranked female tennis player in 2013, pulled in $11.1 million with $7.5 million in endorsements from Nike and Red Bull, among others.
  7. Caroline Wozniacki – The tennis star and up-and-coming men’s golf star Rory McIlroy ended their engagement last year, but it seemed to work out well for both. Wozniacki earned $10.8 million, propelled by $1.3 million in prize money and a lucrative deal with Adidas.
  8. Agnieszka Radwanska – The Polish-born tennis star earned $6.8 million, with $3.8 million in prize money and a sponsorship from the Cheesecake Factory.
  9. Ana Ivanovic – The “comeback kid” of sorts with respect to earnings, Ivanovic won three tennis tournaments in 2014 and earned $6.4 million total in 2014, buoyed by a lifetime contract with Adidas.
  10. Paula Creamer – Golf’s lone representative on the top ten list earned $5.5 million in 2014. The “Pink Panther” earned $1 million in prize money, with the rest in endorsements from the likes of Citizen Watches and Bridgestone Golf.

The future top-ten earners are likely to come from these same sports with one possible exception. Ronda Rousey, the best-known female fighter in the increasingly popular sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), may break into the fold before long. She’s already broken into the entertainment field, co-starring in Expendables 3. We’ll have to wait until the next Forbes list in August to see if Rousey makes the 2015 list. After all, who dares to tell her “no”?

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