MONEY The Economy

The Worrisome Number in This Month’s Jobs Report

Despite a jump in jobs and lower unemployment, analysts are focusing on a different stat.

MONEY Jobs

U.S. Job Growth Slowed in June

The share of working-age Americans who are employed or at least looking for a job sank to the lowest rate since October 1977.

U.S. job growth slowed in June and Americans left the labor force in droves, according to a government report on Thursday that could tamper expectations for a September interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 223,000 last month, the Labor Department said. Adding to the report’s soft note, April and May data was revised to show 60,000 fewer jobs were added than previously reported.

With 432,000 people dropping out of the labor force, the unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.3%, the lowest since April 2008.

The labor force participation rate, or the share of working-age Americans who are employed or at least looking for a job, fell to 62.6%, the weakest since October 1977. The participation rate had touched a four month high of 62.9% in May.

In addition, average hourly earnings were unchanged, taking the year-on-year increase to a tepid 2.0%.

MONEY Workplace

Science Games for Girls Can Open Doors to Lucrative Careers

Courtesy Roominate Roominate rPower, available this fall, lets girls control ferris wheels, RVs and other creations using a phone or tablet.

But are they learning the money management and fundraising skills that will allow them to run their own companies?

Pink Legos not being quite enough, a slew of start-ups, many of them founded by women, are attempting to motivate girls into lucrative and satisfying careers in the traditionally male-dominated areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

But while girls string together HTML instructions and tinker with circuits, are they learning the money management and fundraising skills that will allow them to run their own companies – or even just manage their bank accounts?

Women have traditionally lagged men in financial literacy and investing prowess, according to Annamaria Lusardi, a professor of economics at the George Washington School University of Business in Washington, DC.

“Knowing science is not enough for women,” says Lusardi, an expert in financial literacy. “You need a capacity to make good financial decisions.”

Confidence is the key to unlocking women’s potential in these areas, Lusardi says. She helps run annual studies testing financial literacy, science and math knowledge around the world. When “I don’t know” is included as an option, women pick that much more than men, Lusardi says. Yet in a test case removing that option for some respondents, women answered the questions and mostly got the answers right.

“We have to really show to women that they should take the plunge, because it is very important,” says Lusardi.

Try, Try Again

Debbie Sterling, who founded the building kit GoldieBlox, says her products teach confidence by allowing girls to fail. “It opens their minds to say it’s ok to tackle a problem even if you’re not going to get it perfect the first time,” she says.

Players can fit the toy’s interlocking plastic building pieces in many different ways, so they experience trial and error.

Storybooks accompany the set, featuring positive role models. The main characters, Ruby and Goldie, are purposefully not prodigies, but rather are B+ students who are really open-minded and willing to try, try, try again.

“There’s the boy-genius archetype in media that suggests that unless you have IQ off the charts, you’re not good enough. I think that archetype is really damaging,” says Sterling.

Supply and Demand

The goal of STEM play is to get children’s creativity flowing, and the founders of GoldieBlox and other programs such as Roominate have seen all sorts of inventions come to life.

The best of them identify some sort of need and figure out how to capitalize on it – the basic laws of supply and demand that drive all successful business.

The lesson to learn, says Lusardi: Think of how you can build something you can sell, and then creatively manage your resources.

With Roominate, a modular building system with circuits, players create rooms with functional lights, fans, furniture and other features. While the pastel-colored pieces are designed to fit together into rather domestic configurations, the company’s founders, Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen, have seen customers take off from there. They develop play storefronts, lemonade stands and other businesses, which teach them mini-business lessons as well.

One GoldieBlox user took the kit and some paintbrushes and created a drawing machine, according to Sterling. She made original paintings with it that she sold, and then she donated all the profits to charity.

Another success story: Tampon Run, a free iPhone app designed by two New York city teenagers. It is an old-fashioned arcade game where the heroine uses tampons as weapons to defeat enemies. The app was created by students of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit aiming to teach computer programming to one million girls by 2020.

More wide-reaching is that many girls have graduated from Girls Who Code to paid internships in the community. “I think they are now comfortable making money,” says founder Reshma Saujani.

MONEY job search

3 Ways to Fire Up Your Job Search During the Summer Slowdown

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nico_blue—Getty Images

Summertime can be a great opportunity for the determined job seeker.

It’s a myth that people don’t get hired over the summer. Yes, people are on vacation, so hiring typically slows down as interviews are harder to schedule, but people do get hired. As a job seeker, this means that the summer is a great time to rev up your search – your competition may take time off, assuming a hiring slowdown. Your hard-to-reach networking contacts may have a lighter, summer schedule and actually be reachable. Depending on your search goals, you might even have new opportunities because of the summer season. Here are three ways to tailor your job search activity for the summer:

1) Make it easy to schedule time with you

Summer is already a scheduling nightmare on the employer side because multiple vacation demands need to be considered. Make yourself readily available. Always carry an updated calendar with you — sync your phone with your main computer if you keep calendars in different places; sync your family calendar with your business one. You might also try an online scheduler, like TimeTrade or ScheduleOnce, where you can provide a link for the other person to see your availability and schedule directly.

2) Incorporate summer’s unique value proposition into your search activity

Propose outdoor networking meetings to take advantage of the warm weather. Reconnect with lost networking contacts by asking about vacation plans or sharing exciting plans of your own – the conversation may turn back to business but in the meantime at least you’ve kept in touch. If you have kids at sleepaway camp, take advantage of the quiet time by adding evening networking events. Many people work better when it’s brighter so exploit the longer summer days and get up earlier to put in extra research time and stay out later to add in more networking.

3) Pitch for summer “internships”

Many companies offer a summer internship program to take advantage of the off season for students. But with more of the workforce now in freelance and temporary roles, experienced professionals should consider tapping into summer opportunities for their own employment prospects. After all a company might need vacation coverage for experienced employees that is beyond the scope of what an intern can provide. Or the company may want to get a jumpstart on a longer-term project during the lighter summer season and could use extra experienced hands to get started. If you have only been focused on permanent, full-time jobs, consider adding consulting services to your pitch.

If you’re just starting your search, don’t assume the summer is too slow to gain traction. Use the summer to research company targets, update your marketing material, and rekindle personal contacts so that when the busy fall season hits you’re ready to move quickly.

If you’re in the busy part of a search and the summer vacation scheduling has put a delay in otherwise fast-moving interviews, don’t get discouraged. Check in regularly with whomever is coordinating your interviews — HR and/or the hiring manager. Give them lots of availability, and keep them posted if other prospective employers are moving faster than they are (employers are competitive and will not want to lose you to their competitors).

Regardless of where you are in your job search, summer is still a good time to stay active and make progress.

TIME Jobs

This Is the Best Job in America

Finding a growing career path is one thing, but finding one that won’t stress you out is another

If you have a particular interest, odds are there’s a job in America that aligns perfectly with it. Got a knack for public speaking? Become a broadcast journalist. Love spending hours on the open road? Why not drive a truck.

For this year’s Answers Issue, we compared 40 occupations ranging from firefighters to university professors to parse out which out of the group was the fastest growing, least stressful and had a decent median salary to boot. By analyzing Bureau of Labor Statistics data on the fastest growing jobs and data from CareerCast.com on work-related stress, we were able to determine which job is America’s “best.”

As it turns out, audiologists, medical professionals who treat hearing and balance problems, don’t have it so bad.

BLS projects the profession is expected to experience a 34% boost in jobs between 2012 and 2022. The median salary for audiologists is a stable $69,720. The projected growth is likely a reflection of the fact that as the nation ages — the over-65 population is expected to double by 2050 — the need for doctors who specialize in addressing that community’s ailments will only grow. And given millennials’ and youngsters’ tendency to blast music into their earbuds, which is partly to blame to the increasing levels of hearing loss among young Americans, the need for folks who can help us hear better will only grow.

This article was originally published in the July 13 issue of TIME.

MONEY Workplace

The Best Places for Millennials to Work

For FORTUNE's 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials in 2015, go to California. Or Texas.

As you might imagine, with tech winning for millennial workers, California is the place to be. FORTUNE has released its list of 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials in 2015, and 20 of the top 100 are in technology, like Google, Twitter and Yelp. Some are smaller companies though, like #3 AlliedWallet.com, based in Los Angeles. Nineteen of the top 100 are in California, 17 are in Texas, while only 7 are in New York. Financial services and insurance is the second-best industry for millennials with companies like Edward Jones and Pinnacle Financial Partners.

Read next: The Best Youngest Places to Live

MONEY Jobs

Here’s Why the Summer Job is Disappearing

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PeopleImages.com—Getty Images

Teens today are half as likely to have summer gigs compared to the 1970s.

A new Pew report finds that employment for 16 to 19-year-olds has been on a steady decline over the last couple of decades, with fewer than a third of teenagers working a summer job last year.

Between 1950 and 1990, employment of U.S. teens generally rose and fell with the economy. But ever since the recession in 1991, young people have had a harder and harder time getting jobs—even during periods of recovery.

Last summer, less than 32% of teens were employed between June and August, compared to 58% in 1978. The current rate is barely higher than the all-time low of about 30% in 2010 and 2011.

fewer teens have summer jobs

One reason for this steady drop in employment, the Pew report suggests, is a declining number of entry-level jobs, as well as an increase in pressure on young people to take unpaid internships rather than waitressing or lifeguarding gigs. Many of these problems aren’t limited to Americans, as younger workers across the world are facing much tougher labor markets than in years past.

Pew researchers also found that teen employment differed across racial groups. White teenagers in the U.S. were more likely to work summer jobs last year, with employment at 34% for white 16 to 19-year-olds—versus 19% for black teens, 23% for Asian teens, and 25% for Hispanic teens.

White Teens Most Likely to be Employed, Especially During the Summer

Read next: These 5 Industries Are Hiring Like Crazy Right Now

MONEY Workplace

The 3 People It Pays to Befriend at Work

You'll obviously make friends at your new job, but these are three people you should absolutely befriend.

At the very least try to make these folks friendly acquaintances.

Someone in human resources will likely already have an ear to the ground when it comes to layoffs or new job opportunities within the company. This person can also be a good sounding board for salary and personnel issues.

You should also try to befriend your boss’s assistant, the gatekeeper to your boss. He or she can get you on the boss’s schedule and alert you to the boss’s mood.

Finally, reach out to the office rockstar. You know who that one is: the person who just kills it day in and day out.

TIME Innovation

How to Fit a Medical Lab in Your Pocket

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. How to fit an entire medical lab in your pocket.

By Cécilia Carron at EPFL

2. In New Orleans, the future of education is now.

By Richard Whitmire in RealClearEducation

3. The full time job is dead. Welcome to the age of microcareers.

By Kevin Maney in Backchannel

4. Forty-nine states are doing government wrong.

By Charles Chieppo in Governing

5. Tiny injectable electronics will monitor and treat brain injuries.

By Phys.org

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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