Job-Related Relocations Declining

(p. A1) Fewer U.S. workers are moving around the country to seek new job opportunities, as changing family ties and more openings near home make people less willing to uproot their lives for work.

About 3.5 million people relocated for a new job last year, according to U.S. census data, a 10% drop from 3.8 million in 2015. The numbers have fluctuated between 2.8 million and 4.5 million since the government started tracking annual job-related relocations in 1999—but have been trending lower overall, even as the U.S. population grew by nearly 20% over that stretch.

Experts cite a number of factors that in some periods have kept people in one place, including a depressed value for their home or limited job openings. In the current strong economy, real-estate values have rebounded, but that has made housing costs prohibitively high in some regions where jobs are abundant, such as major East and West Coast cities.

For the full story, see:

Rachel Feintzeig and Lauren Weber. “Fewer Workers Move for New Jobs.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, August 20, 2018): A1-A2.

(Note: the online version of the story did not give a date, and has the title “Fewer Americans Uproot Themselves for a New Job.”)

“Freakin’ Ridiculous” Regulation

(p. A1) REHOBOTH BEACH, Del.—Capt. Kent Buckson’s radio crackled with word of a situation on the beach. A lifeguard had spotted a large canopy amid the sea of umbrellas. That meant one thing. Time for a takedown.

“We’ve got to get to that one,” said Mr. Buckson, the soft-spoken beach patrol boss. He and his deputy, Aaron Tartal, jumped into an all-terrain vehicle and headed over. Mr. Tartal, shirtless and in red swim trunks, strode over to the canopy owner.

“Good morning, sir. I’ve got bad news,” Mr. Tartal told the man. Then he laid out the new law on the two-mile beach. No tents or canopies allowed, except baby tents up to 3 feet high, wide or deep.

“Freakin’ ridiculous,” groused the man, who declined to give his name, as he dismantled the black 8-by-10-foot canopy he had just erected.

“New city ordinance, it’s a little bit of a learning curve,” Mr. Tartal gamely replied, pointing out the nearby shacks that rent umbrellas for $12 a day.

. . .

(p. A14) . . . , the 25-year-old Mr. Tartal, who is a lifeguard in addition to Capt. Buckson’s beach patrol deputy, told Marjorie Danko, a receptionist from Hershey, Pa., that the $40 three-sided tent she bought for her grandchildren didn’t pass muster, either.

“I don’t understand this,” she said. “I think umbrellas are much more dangerous. What kind of ordinance is that? I mean, really dumb.”

Mr. Tartal apologized but didn’t debate her. “We don’t write the ordinances,” he said, “we just enforce them.”

Clutching some cash, Ms. Danko marched off to go rent an umbrella.

For the full story, see:

Scott Calvert. “Beach Patrol Draws a Line In the Sand: No More Tents.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, July 5, 2017): A1 & A10.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 4, 2017, and the title “Beach Patrol Confronts a New Menace: Oversize Tents.”)

If You Have Lost Your Spouse, Chatbot Asks: “What’s Your Tracking Number?”

(p. B4) When LivePerson Inc. started piloting chatbots in early 2018, one of them made an embarrassing faux pas, assuming a client’s customer was talking about a lost package after mentioning losing a spouse.

“And the bot goes, ‘All right, great, I can help you with that. What’s your tracking number?’” said Malik Jenkins, an employee at the artificial-intelligence software company who was involved in the pilots. He said the issue was immediately flagged by someone at the client company and his team tweaked the bot to avoid such responses in the future.

For the full story, see:

Jared Council. “A Human Touch Is Given to Chatbots.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, June 13, 2019): B4.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 12, 2019, and the title “When Chatbots Falter, Humans Steer Them the Right Way.”)

Clayton Christensen Wrongly Predicted Bombardier Would Disrupt Boeing

Clayton Christensen and co-authors predicted in Seeing What’s Next that Bombardier was well-positioned to use disruptive innovation to leapfrog Boeing and Airbus.

(p. B8) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said it would acquire Bombardier Inc.’s regional-jet business for $550 million in a transaction that puts the companies on different paths in the aviation sector.

The deal unveiled Tuesday [June 25, 2019] marks the Canadian company’s exit from the commercial passenger-aircraft business following failed bets that it could compete with Airbus SE and Boeing Co. in the 100-seat single-aisle plane category.

Bombardier has restructured its aviation division over the past two years, highlighted by its joint venture with Airbus that put the European plane maker in charge of the production and sales of the 110- to 130-seat planes that the Montreal company had originally conceived as the CSeries. Those jets are now rebranded as the Airbus A220.

For the full story, see:

Vieira, Paul. “Bombardier to Sell Jet Unit.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, June 26, 2019): B8.

(Note: bracketed date added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the same date June 25, 2019, and has the title “Mitsubishi to Acquire Bombardier’s Regional Jet Unit for $550 Million.”)

The Christensen book mentioned above, is:

Christensen, Clayton M., Scott D. Anthony, and Erik A. Roth. Seeing What’s Next: Using Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2004.

In Batteries We Don’t Need Perfect; We Need Goodenough

(p. B5) In the race to make the next leap in battery technology, there is a 96-year-old who won’t give up.

Four decades ago, John Goodenough helped invent the battery that is used to charge cellphones, iPads and many other of today’s electronic goods. His work made batteries more powerful and portable by introducing lithium cobalt oxide to their inner workings.

Now Dr. Goodenough wants to kill off that creation by removing the cobalt that meant his lithium-ion battery could charge faster and last longer. In April [2018], the World War II veteran published research with three co-authors that he said is being used to develop a prototype of a liquid-free and cobalt-free battery.

“My mission is to try to see if I can transform the battery world before I die,” Dr. Goodenough says. “When I’m no longer able to drive and I’m forced to go into a nursing home, then I suppose I will be retiring.”

. . .

“He is driven by scientific curiosity, and he really wants to do something for society with the science he does,” says Arumugam Manthiram, a professor of engineering at the University of Texas at Austin who has worked with Dr. Goodenough for 33 years.

. . .

Dr. Goodenough arrives at the university between 8 and 8.30 a.m. and leaves around 6 p.m., working from home throughout the weekend, Dr. Manthiram says.

. . .

Despite having dyslexia, Dr. Goodenough excelled and went to study mathematics at Yale University.

. . .

. . . , Dr. Goodenough is supervising what he says is his final doctoral candidate, a 24-year-old materials science and engineering student.

“Dr. Goodenough says I’m going to be his last Ph.D. student, but apparently he says that every couple of years and then takes on new candidates,” says student Nick Grundish.

For the full story, see:

Sarah McFarlane. “Meet the 96-Year-Old Battery Pioneer Who Keeps Going and Going.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018): B5.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 9, 2018, and the title “The Battery Pioneer Who, at Age 96, Keeps Going and Going.”)