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The latest on the labor market
“The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week in a sign that layoffs may have eased, though applications for aid remain at a historically high level,” the AP’s Christopher Rugaber reports. “Jobless claims declined by 111,000 from the previous week to a seasonally adjusted 730,000,” per the U.S. Department of Labor.
Essential context: “While the numbers saw a sharp decline, federal watchdogs have warned that claims data is extremely vulnerable to being distorted by processing errors,” note The Hill’s Sylvan Lane and Niv Elis. “That raises questions about the true size of last week’s decline, especially as treacherous winter weather disrupted much of the U.S.”
“It’s not just Netflix,” Ad Age Datacenter’s Kevin Brown writes. “Add sweets to the stay-at-home binge list. Sugary snack-food purchases increased 8% in 2020, according to data from research company Numerator’s Sweet Treat Tracker. And as with so many other retail categories, much of the buying took place online, Numerator says.”
Keep reading here.
According to research that data company Sabio has shared exclusively with Datacenter Weekly, Slack users—at least Slack users on Android devices—are kinda purists. Sabio’s AppScience platform tracks app activity across mobile devices, and when Sabio’s data scientists looked at behavior across a panel of 82,000 Android phones, they found that:
• 96.5% percent of Android phones with the Slack app on them don’t have any other workplace-collaboration apps—such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, GoToMeeting or Workplace—on them.
• Compare that to 81% of Microsoft Teams users only having the Microsoft Teams app—and no other competing apps—on their phones.
We’ve got more more data to share about workplace-collab apps, so stay tuned.
Check the math
Tech (and other) companies have been sparing no expense to deploy surveillance technology and algorithms to keep track of their workers—but who’s keeping track of all that tracking?
As Wired’s Aarian Marshall writes in “Gig Workers Gather Their Own Data to Check the Algorithm’s Math,”
Armin Samii had been biking for UberEats for a few weeks last July when he accepted a delivery he estimated would take 20 minutes, tops. But the app led him up one of the steepest hills in Pittsburgh, a 4-mile one-way trip that clocked in at an hour. Then he noticed that Uber had only paid him for 1 mile—the distance between his origin and destination as the crow flies, but not as the man bikes. ...
Samii is a software engineer. So he created a Google Chrome extension, UberCheats, that helps workers spot pay discrepancies. The extension automatically extracts the start and end points of each trip and calculates the shortest travel distance between the two. If that distance doesn’t match up with what Uber paid for, the extension marks it for closer examination.
Keep reading here.
TikTok pay up
“TikTok Inc. agreed to pay $92 million to settle privacy lawsuits claiming the app illegally recorded facial-scan images of users and disclosed private data to third parties,” Bloomberg News (via Ad Age) reports. “U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee in Chicago must approve the deal announced Thursday and told lawyers in September that it will be rejected if it doesn’t represent everyone’s interests.”
Keep reading here.
Most concerning data headline of the week
“China Wants Your Data—And May Already Have It,” from NPR.
Most encouraging data graphic of the week—and, actually, of 2021 so far
As seen on the front page of the international edition of Thursday’s New York Times to illustrate a story headlined “Pandemic loosens it grip” (the graphic atop the page shows the average new COVID-19 cases per day in the U.S., the U.K., Europe, South Africa, Brazil and the rest of the world from Sept. 1 to Feb. 20):