Business Briefs: Workers quitting jobs reaches 17-year high

Business Briefs: Workers quitting jobs reaches 17-year high

July 10th, 2018 by Staff Report in Business Around the Region

Tennessee awarded for state use of data

Tennessee is among the top five states leading the way in the use of data to create evidence-based results for citizens, the national nonprofit organization Results for America said Tuesday.

Tennessee joined Colorado, Oregon, Minnesota and Washington as states recognized for making significant strides towards using data and evidence as decision making tools to achieve better outcomes.

Results for America cited Tennessee's record in establishing strategic goals in education and workforce development; fiscal strength and efficient government; health and welfare; jobs and economic development; and public safety. It noted Tennessee's performance management system is aligned with its goals through the website Transparent TN.

The report also highlighted the state's evaluation policy in the Tennessee Education Research Alliance, a formal partnership between the state Department of Education and Vanderbilt University's Peabody College of Education.

"This recognition is another example that Tennessee will lead the nation in efficient and effective government," Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said.

DOE awards grants for nuclear technology

The U.S. Department of Energy is awarding $53 million for advanced nuclear technology development, including a $160,000 grant to Yellowstone Energy in Knoxville under DOE's Gateway for Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) program.

The Yellowstone Energy project is getting federal help to develop a reactor using a molten nitrate salt primary coolant and a high-temperature, ambient-pressure liquid heat transfer fluid that can be deployed in chemical and concentrated solar power systems.

"The technical readiness and manufacturability of this molten nuclear salt reactor design, coupled with the cost reductions and revenue enhancements relative to current reactors, makes the MNSR an ideal candidate to replace the aging U.S. nuclear capacity to be retired in 2030s," DOE said in its announcement of the grant.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the newly funded projects will help the U.S. continue to develop advanced reactors and technologies to support nuclear generation after the current fleet of plants is idled over the next couple of decades.

"DOE is investing in advanced nuclear technologies, because we are looking to the future," Perry said. "Nuclear energy is a critical part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy for the country, and early-stage research can help ensure it will continue to be a clean, reliable, and resilient source of electricity."

Judge questions but allows Roundup cancer evidence

Evidence that Roundup weed killer can cause cancer seems "weak," but experts can still make that claim at trial, a U.S. judge ruled Tuesday.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco allows hundreds of lawsuits against Roundup's manufacturer, Monsanto, to move forward. The lawsuits by cancer victims and their families say the agrochemical giant long knew about Roundup's cancer risk but failed to warn them.

Many government regulators have rejected a link between cancer and the active ingredient in Roundup — glyphosate. Monsanto has vehemently denied such a connection, saying hundreds of studies have established that glyphosate is safe.

Chhabria said the evidence, "viewed in its totality, seems too equivocal to support any firm conclusion that glyphosate causes" non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Still, the judge said he would not go as far as saying that three experts presented by attorneys for the cancer victims and their families presented "junk science" that should be excluded from trial.

Cleveland Chamber seeks Leadership applicants

The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce is seeking applicants for its 34th year of the Leadership Cleveland adult program that provides an educational experience which builds bridges to community leadership.

Bernadette Douglas, the Chamber 's executive vice president, siad more than 470 participants have graduated from the nine-month program since 1984. The program covers topics such as education, public safety, law enforcement, local economy, healthcare, local and state government and tourism, all presented through lectures, discussion, tours, on-site visitations, and informal question-and-answer sessions.

"Our program is intended to open the minds of participants to the perspectives that surround each issue," Douglas said.

The 2018-19 class will run from September 2018 through May 2019. Those interested should call the Chamber at 423-472-6587 for application information.

Trucking industry sues Rhode Island over tolls

A national trucking industry group is fighting Rhode Island over new tolls arguing that large commercial tractors are being unfairly targeted.

The lawsuit was filed in Providence federal court Tuesday by Virginia-based American Trucking Associations and claims Rhode Island Department of Transportation tolls violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The state's first two electronic truck tolls started June 11 as part of a $5-billion infrastructure plan to repair bridges and roads across the state, and will eventually expand to 14 sites. Lawmakers authorized the system to help pay for crumbling roads and bridges. The entire system is expected to bring in $450 million over 10 years. Current law only allows for tolling trucks, not cars.

The plaintiffs say that imposes discriminatory and disproportionate burdens on out-of-state operators and on truckers who are operating in interstate commerce, and that other vehicles damage roads.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo has said trucks were targeted because they cause the most damage.

Workers quitting jobs reaches 17-year high

The proportion of American workers that quit their jobs in May reached the highest level in 17 years, a sign that more people are confident they can find a new job, likely at higher pay.

Businesses also advertised fewer jobs in May than the previous month, but the tally of open positions outnumbered the ranks of the unemployed for only the second time in the past two decades, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

The figures reflect a strong job market driven by optimistic employers seeking to expand their workforces. Last week's jobs report showed that businesses hired workers at a healthy pace and the unemployment rate remained very low, at 4 percent.

The percentage of workers quitting their jobs reached 2.4 percent in May, the highest level since April 2001. More quits are a sign of a strong job market because workers typically leave jobs for a new one that pays more. Workers who switch jobs see larger raises than those who stay in the same position, government data shows.

There were 6.64 million available jobs in May, down 3 percent from April's figure of 6.84 million, which was the most in the nearly two decades that records have been kept. At the same time, there were just 6 million unemployed people in May.

Nick Bunker, an economist at the job-listing website Indeed, calculates that there are now just 0.91 unemployed workers for each available job, also the lowest on record.

The need to compete for such a small pool of workers should force companies to raise pay in order to fill their open jobs, yet pay gains remain modest. But in June, average hourly earnings rose just 2.7 percent compared with a year earlier.