Afternoon Coffee: U.S.-China Trade Talks Resume at Surprisingly High Level; Gig Economy Theory Had Flaws, Researchers Say

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The U.S. and China’s face-to-face trade talks resumed Monday in Beijing, with a surprise visit by the top trade negotiator to China’s president, Bloomberg reports. “Chinese Vice Premier Liu He unexpectedly attended the first day of talks aimed at resolving the trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies, according to people familiar with the matter and a photo seen by Bloomberg,” the news service reported. His participation in what was billed as a lower-level meeting signifies how seriously China is taking these talks, the first since the nations’ presidents met in early December and announced a tariff truce, Bloomberg reports.

2015 Survey Overestimated Impact of Odd Jobs?

Two leading experts on the gig economy — the collection of odd jobs driven by technology like the Uber app — now say they overestimated its effect on the overall economy, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“Alan Krueger of Princeton University and Lawrence Katz of Harvard sifted through new evidence to explain how, in a 2015 survey, they overestimated how people cobbling together a living from odd jobs, especially via apps like Uber, would upend traditional work arrangements,” the Journal reports. The details are expected to come out in a working paper to be released this week, the Journal reports.

Two findings from the paper conclude that the recession skewed findings about why people were takings part-time jobs and that spotty government data didn’t paint a clear picture, the Journal reports. “Since 2005, the Labor Department had repeatedly sought, but been denied, funding for a survey that examined contingent and alternative workers, such as independent contractors, on-call workers, temporary-agency workers or workers provided by contract firms. Many jobs in the gig economy were a subset of these jobs,” the Journal reports.

The researchers said their own survey didn’t ask about spouses and jobs, leading to a discrepancy with Labor Department findings, which in 2017 showed a clearer picture that the gig economy wasn’t so robust, the Journal reports.

Procurement PeopleCloud launches in UK

According to a recent announcement, UK-based Procurement PeopleCloud has been launched as a separate company that specializes in the market for professional interim/contract procurement and supply chain professionals. It appears that Procurement PeopleCloud was incubated at UK-based Odesma, which was founded in 2014. It bills itself as a “new breed of procurement advisory” firm offering “procurement as a service.” Rather than offering advisory services, Procurement PeopleCloud is a provider of individual contingent workers.

Based on the company’s website, one distinguishing feature of the sourcing solution, Candidate Excellence Programme, is how it provides clients with rapid access to available, validated interim experts. The website also indicates that the company has “created an applicant tracking system which allows the company, the candidate and the client to view when a candidate becomes available for an interim position.” It also uses the Odesma Assessor as a capabilities matrix tool to assess and classify experts and their skills/expertise.

The announcement notes that “with an established talent pool of experienced sourcing interims, Procurement PeopleCloud covers all aspects of direct and indirect spend, as well as change and program management. All candidates have a demonstrable track record of delivery and achievement, allowing them to respond to and grow with the business.”

Shutdown Now Third-Longest Closure

And finally, and update on the partial government shutdown: On Monday it reached its 17th day, which CNBC says is the third-longest government shutdown in history. CNBC does a roundup of the latest news and fallout for workers, including an update on weekend meetings between high-level Trump administration officials and Democrats.

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