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Employment trends show tight market

The U.S. labor market doesn't have much more room to tighten, according to a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco that examines trends in the number of Americans who are either working or looking for jobs for clues on remaining slack.

"Our estimates indicate that the aggregate labor force participation rate is at its trend as of 2018," the regional Fed bank concluded in an Economic Letter published Monday. "Combined with the low unemployment rate, this argues that the U.S. labor market is operating at or beyond its full potential."

Labor force participation measures the share of people aged 16 or older who are either in work or seeking employment. It started declining in the U.S. around 2000 and the trend accelerated during the 2007-2009 recession, though the rate has since steadied. The study said the labor force participation rate since 2015 had stabilized at around 62.8 percent.

The gauge offers a hint of where the economy is operating relative to full employment: If it had room to increase, that would give employers a wider pool of potential candidates to hire and the labor market would be less tight than the jobless rate alone suggested.

Central bankers care about that because an overly tight labor market could spur higher wage gains that eventually show up as unwanted inflation. U.S. unemployment is currently 3.7 percent, the lowest level since 1969, though inflation remains at the Fed's 2 percent target.

-- Bloomberg News

China approves Disney's Fox takeover

LOS ANGELES -- The Walt Disney Co. said Monday that Chinese regulators had unconditionally approved its purchase of 21st Century Fox assets, pushing the $71.3 billion deal closer to completion.

Disney is still awaiting regulatory approval from a handful of countries, which a spokesman declined to identify. But none are as important as China -- a crucial growth market for Disney, given its swelling middle class. Furthermore, analysts had worried that the Disney deal could become collateral damage in the trade war, as China looked for ways to retaliate against the United States for putting tariffs on Chinese goods.

China's approval of the deal is particularly notable because it came without conditions. European regulators cleared Disney's acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox this month, but that agreement required Disney to sell its European stake in A&E Networks, which includes the History and Lifetime cable channels.

U.S. antitrust officials gave their approval with remarkable speed in June, with the stipulation that Disney divest Fox's 22 regional sports networks, including the New York Yankees' YES channel. Disney began taking bids this month. Analysts have valued the chain at roughly $20 billion.

Disney's takeover of most of 21st Century Fox was initially expected to be completed by June of next year. On an earnings-related conference call with analysts on Nov. 8, however, Robert Iger, Disney's chief executive, said he expected the deal to close "meaningfully earlier."

-- The New York Times

Delta deal converts plastic into jet fuel

ATLANTA -- Delta Air Lines' oil refinery subsidiary has struck a deal to convert plastic into jet fuel.

Atlanta-based Delta's subsidiary Monroe Energy, which operates an oil refinery in Trainer, Pa., has a new agreement with environmental technology firm Agilyx.

The agreement calls for Agilyx to supply about 2,500 barrels a day of synthetic feedstock converted from waste plastic by 2020.

Agilyx uses "an innovative process, reducing the amount of plastic that is currently being landfilled," said Monroe Energy CEO Jeff Warmann in a written statement.

Tigard, Ore.-based Agilyx counts Virgin Group founder Richard Branson as an investor. Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airways is also a Delta partner.

Delta earlier this year announced it was seeking an investment partner for the Trainer refinery.

-- The New York Times

GE shuffles management at power units

NEW YORK -- General Electric Co. is shuffling leadership in its struggling power unit, part of the company's ongoing effort to slim down operations.

Power is GE's largest division, and it pulls in more than a third of the company's revenues. But demand for its key gas turbines has fallen as consumers have reduced energy use and switched to renewables.

GE announced last month that it would split its power business into two separate divisions: one that will focus on gas turbines and related services and another that includes its steam, grid solutions, nuclear and power conversion operations.

The GE Gas Power business will be led by John Rice, who retired from GE in December after 39 years with the company. Rice will return to serve as chairman of the Gas Power business. Scott Strazik, currently president Power Services, will serve as CEO of Gas Power.

Russell Stokes, who is currently CEO of GE Power, will serve as CEO of GE Power Portfolio, the new unit focused on steam, nuclear and other areas. Stokes is a 20-year GE veteran who has worked in aviation, transportation and other parts of the company.

-- The Associated Press

Tech giants vow worker training inAsia

BANGKOK -- Microsoft, Google and other major technology companies have promised to help provide training in digital skills for around 20 million people in Southeast Asia by 2020 to make sure the region's burgeoning working-age population is a fit for the future job market. Up to 28 million full-time jobs are subject to being displaced, according to a new estimate.

The World Economic Forum think tank announced Monday its "ASEAN Digital Skills Vision 2020" initiative to improve the technological capacity of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations with training, funds for scholarships, internships and by shaping the curricula of technology and computing courses, among other measures. The forum is best known for its annual meetings in Davos, Switzerland, of top business and political leaders.

Southeast Asia is seeking to increase the digital skills of its workers as the shift to greater use of robots and other automation threatens to rob those without technological savvy of opportunities for employment, even in manufacturing and service industries.

Other companies pledging training include Cisco, Grab, Lazada, Sea Group and Tokopedia. Google leads the pack, with a pledge to train 3 million small-to-medium-size enterprise employees across ASEAN.

-- The Associated Press

Business on 11/20/2018

Print Headline: Employment trends show tight market China approves Disney's Fox takeover Delta deal converts plastic into jet fuel GE shuffles management at power unit Tech firms to train future workforce Tech gi...

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