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Ford Will Build Electric Cars in Mexico, Shifting Its Plan

NYT > Economy

Almost a year ago, after heavy criticism from President-elect Donald J. Trump, Ford Motor Company canceled plans to build a $1.6 billion car plant in Mexico and announced that it would instead equip a Michigan factory to make electric and hybrid models. Now the automaker is changing its plans again, saying it intends to assemble new battery-powered cars in Mexico, not Michigan. But the Michigan location will get an even larger investment than previously planned and will focus on making a range of self-driving cars. The switch comes as the Trump administration has been pushing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. Few industries are more heavily affected by the accord than the auto sector, which has rushed to build plants in Mexico over the last several years to take advantage of lower labor costs and that country's extensive network of trade agreements.


Self-Driving Trucks May Be Closer Than They Appear

NYT > Economy

Trucks will someday drive themselves out of warehouses and cruise down freeways without the aid of humans or even a driver's cab -- about that there seems little disagreement. The question is how soon that day gets here. And while the answers vary -- technologists, not surprisingly, are more bullish than truckers -- billions of dollars and a growing parade of companies, from tiny start-ups to the country's biggest trucking operations, are betting it will be here sooner than most people think. This year, companies and investors are on pace to put just over $1 billion into self-driving and other trucking technologies, 10 times the level of three years ago, according to CB Insights, which tracks the venture capital industry. Tesla is widely expected this week to showcase an electric truck that will have some self-driving capabilities.


Economic View: Get Ready for Technological Upheaval by Expecting the Unimagined

NYT > Economy

Instead we need the kind of in-depth education and training people receive routinely at age 13. A lifetime of work will be a lifetime of change, moving between firms, jobs, careers and cities. But if we had a social insurance system that allowed workers to move fluidly between jobs, we could comfortably allow firms to follow their natural life and death cycle. In the 1990s, Denmark began adopting what has been called "flexicurity," combining policies that promote a flexible economy -- allowing creative destruction as needed -- with those that promote security for workers.


Pittsburgh Welcomed Uber's Driverless Car Experiment. Not Anymore.

NYT > Economy

Uber said it planned to share some data collected by its autonomous vehicles with the city this year, though Pittsburgh officials say the data Uber shares with other cities is insufficient. "Uber is proud to have put Pittsburgh on the self-driving map, an effort that included creating hundreds of tech jobs and investing hundreds of millions of dollars," the company said in a statement. Pittsburgh's frustrations with Uber are encapsulated in the Hazelwood neighborhood along the Monongahela River, where the company opened a driverless vehicle testing track last year. He said he was now talking to Ford, which is investing $1 billion in a Pittsburgh-based driverless technology company, Argo AI, about signing commitments on data sharing and work force development.


Unemployment Rate at 10-Year Low as Hiring Grows and Wages Rise

NYT > Economy

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former Congressional Budget Office director who advised Senator John McCain's Republican presidential campaign in 2008, noted, "The April jobs report showed a labor market in the homestretch of recovery from the Great Recession," adding, "This sets the Fed up for another rate hike in June." But he said that since the official jobless rate sank in March to its then-lowest point in 10 years, "headline job growth appears less and less important" compared with other factors like wage growth and the labor-force participation rate. "It's not an employer's market," said Patrick Bass, chief executive of Thyssenkrupp North America, which makes elevators, steel and other industrial products. The left-leaning Economic Policy Institute in Washington issued a report this week that had a complementary message.


Texas Oil Fields Rebound From Price Lull, but Jobs Are Left Behind

NYT > Economy

Roughly 163,000 oil jobs were lost nationally from the 2014 peak, or about 30 percent of the total, while oil prices plummeted, at one point by as much as 70 percent. The job losses just in Texas, the most productive oil-producing state, totaled 98,000. Several thousand workers have come back to work in recent months as the price of oil has begun to rise again, but energy experts say that between a third and a half of the workers who lost their jobs are not returning. Many have migrated to construction or even jobs in renewable energy, like wind power. "People have left the industry, and they are not coming back," said Michael Dynan, vice president for portfolio and strategic development at Schramm, a Pennsylvania manufacturer of drilling rigs.


Kenneth Arrow, Nobel-Winning Economist Whose Influence Spanned Decades, Dies at 95

NYT > Economy

The backdrop for Professor Arrow's influential early work was the centuries-long recognition that majority voting can produce arbitrary outcomes. Consider a legislature choosing its leader from among three candidates: Alice, Betty and Harry. If the legislature were to vote first on Alice versus Betty, with the winner running against Harry, it could come to a different decision than had it first started by voting on Alice versus Harry. Because the order with which the legislature takes votes is arbitrary, the ultimate winner of this system of majority voting becomes arbitrary. That puts politics in an awkward corner.


The Future of Work: The Retraining Paradox

NYT > Economy

When Nathan Kecy graduated from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire a decade ago with a bachelor's degree in communications, he found himself with about $10,000 in debt and few clear career options. He first found work as a door-to-door salesman ("a pyramid scheme," he recalls) and then in telemarketing. Finally he landed a job as an infrastructure specialist for Datamatic, a Texas-based water-meter-technology company. He was traveling across the country installing meters, making a decent salary. But he lost his job after the company restructured in 2012, he said, and soon he found that his skills weren't easily transferable to a new field; Datamatic's technology was proprietary, and his expertise in the company's installation program wasn't appealing to employers outside that particular industry.


The Future of Work: The Future of Not Working

NYT > Economy

The village is poor, even by the standards of rural Kenya. To get there, you follow a power line along a series of unmarked roads. Eventually, that power line connects to the school at the center of town, the sole building with electricity. Homesteads fan out into the hilly bramble, connected by rugged paths. There is just one working water tap, requiring many local women to gather water from a pit in jerrycans.


The Future of Work: The Jobs Americans Do

NYT > Economy

Forget the images of men in hard hats standing before factory gates, of men with coal-blackened faces, of men perched high above New York City on steel beams. The emerging face of the American working class is a Hispanic woman who has never set foot on a factory floor. That's not the kind of work much of the working class does anymore. Instead of making things, they are more often paid to serve people: to care for someone else's children or someone else's parents; to clean another family's home. The decline of the old working class has meant both an economic triumph for the nation and a personal tribulation for many of the workers.