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Hollowing Out?

November 22, 2011

Well-written books like Hollowing Out the Middle and Caught in the Middle have noted the net outward migration of education populations to urban areas. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago shows that real per capita income shows there is not as much disparity in real income per capita between the upper Midwest metro areas and non-metro areas as one might guess.

Iowa, where research in Hollowing Out the Middle was based, has transformed from agriculture as a final good to agriculture as an input into manufacturing. The greater value-added from manufacturing–such a Marxian concept, I know–has helped keep real income higher in the non-metro areas.

This data does not negate the other concerns raised by the authors of the aforementioned books, but non-metro areas can provide a base for manufacturing that may not be easily outsourced.

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Earnings and Unemployment by Major

November 14, 2011

Wall Street Journal posted data from the venerable Center on Education and the Workforce on earnings and unemployment by college major.

There is a relative floor at $40,000 with a wide variation of unemployment (poor clinical psychology). There is a negative correlation between earnings and unemployment rate, but it might be too presumptuous to presume that high-paying majors get their cake and eat it too. Depending on the methodology, the higher earnings might simply reflect the fact they have a job.

Read more…

Battling Bad Science

October 9, 2011

A few important statistical concepts are mentioned here, including observational versus randomized trails (randomization apparently is mentioned in Daniel 1:12); causality; publication bias; and a “funnel” plot.

How to find salaries for a new job

July 5, 2011

There use to be a lot of talk about H1-B visas. Mostly the conversation focused on whether workers born overseas were somehow “stealing” jobs, but in reality, it reflected an insufficient number of trained workers in a given sector. Regardless of that feeling, you can use H1-B visa applications to your advantage while job-hunting.

H1-B visa applications contain the company name, the occupation they’re attempting to hire, the “target” salary for the worker, and prevailing salary taken from the Census or Bureau of Labor Services. Each visa application is a public record which you can use to search salaries for a new job or promotion. Immihelp is one site where you can search a database of H1-B applications, below is a screenshot for a Senior IT Application Analyst at Principal Life Insurance

If the same occupation as you’re applying for is listed, then you should at least aim for the target salary. The prevailing wage amount gives you a sense of the minimum acceptable wage (unless you’re demanding more) since it’s the typical wage for that particular job in the U.S. In the above example, the prevailing wage data was taken from the Occupational Employment Statistics survey.

There are a few sites which attempt to provide the same service, such as GlassDoor and PayScale. These are limited since they rely on self-reported data and seldom contain all occupations. The H1-B visa database has it’s own limitations since it only contains data from applications. This is especially applicable if you’re in a field that doesn’t require a Bachelor’s degree or your company hasn’t filed for a visa application in recent years.

The challenge of finding notes

May 31, 2011

I ran across an old notebook from my days at the American Institute for Economic Research–the days when I studied and wrote in the philosophy of science–with a note the back pag:

In describing the human body we must realize the whole and particulars. The whole is the body we see and touch. It is what we assign names, such as Scott or Tara. However, there are particulars, namely atoms that comprise the whole.

Now let’s look at the forces on the body. One may ask, how can such a body stay together here on Earth? Why not when we walk do our legs move and our torso remain in place? That being so, why are we not being pulled apart, but instead remain steady on Earth.

The answer is two-fold. For one, we stay together because bones and tissue make us continguous. Bone and tissue are comprised of cells which are built by atoms. We, therefore, stay in one piece becasue of atoms and the strong and weak forces of physics.

The second part, why we are not floating away, rests on gravity.

So to answer the question, how can we physically exist on Earth, is answered by two parts, both necessary and yet not sufficient. We stay as a whole because of the strong and weak forces of atomic physics. We remain together in one piece here on Earth because of gravity. Is this not two theories to answer one question which can also be phrased as a hypothesis? If it is a bad hypothesis/question, what makes it so?

It seems to be an introduction to a paper I never finished writing. I think it was going to address the Duhem-Quine thesis with some elements relating to a good or bad hypothesis. Probably on the separability of the two concepts. I wonder if it was going to be a good paper…

Education the Workforce of the Future

May 26, 2011

GOOD Magazine has put together an infographic on the education demands for next generation’s workforce. It’s a very timely topic for me and always a good reminder for students. Unfortunately, students who need to know this the most often do not understand.

Some common problems are abound in this infographic that are also apparent in other analysis. The “completion rate” of two-year colleges is underestimated since many students transfer to four-year universities instead of completing a degree. There is also a lot of pressure on colleges here, but there is an entire pipeline–from birth through school–that needs to be addressed.

I really like Zotero’s new tab

May 26, 2011

Firefox 4’s implementation is neat, 3.x was bland.