Employment: Pick a Number, Any Number

Counting the employed requires not only data but insight into the human condition, something bureaucrats tend to lack

3 min read
opening illustration for Numbers Don't Lie column
Photo-illustration: Stuart Bradford

Many economic statistics are notoriously unreliable, and the reason often has to do with what’s included in the measurement and what’s left out. Gross domestic product offers a good example of a measure that leaves out key environmental externalities, such as soil erosion, biodiversity loss, and effects of climate change.

Measuring unemployment is also an exercise in exclusion. Casual consumers of U.S. economic news are familiar with only the official figure, which put the country’s total unemployment at 4.8 percent at the beginning of 2017. But that is just one of six alternatives used by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to quantify “labor underutilization.”

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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