Afternoon Coffee: U.S. Unemployment Rate at Historic Low; Big News for Gig Economy Companies?

The U.S. unemployment rate hit a 49-year low of 3.6%, according to today’s Labor Department data release — the lowest since 1969.

Non-farm payrolls increased by a seasonally adjusted 263,000 in April, and average hourly wages for private-sector workers grew 3.2% from a year earlier, according to the WSJ.

Big decision for gig economy businesses

Speaking of the U.S. Labor Department, the body recently made a landmark decision as relates to gig economy workers.

In the specific case of one company, the department decided that the company’s “workers were contractors, not employees. As a result, the unidentified company…will not have to offer the federal minimum wage or overtime, or pay a share of Social Security taxes,” according to the New York Times.

“And while the decision officially applies only to that company, legal experts said it was likely to affect a much larger portion of the industry,” the article stated.

Countering China’s dominance in electric-vehicle supply chain

Alaskan Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who also heads the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has told Reuters that she would be moving forward on the Minerals Security Act alongside Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat.

The piece of legislation aims at streamlining regulation and permissions required for the development of mines for lithium, graphite and other minerals required in the electric-vehicle supply chain — which China currently dominates.

World Economic Forum’s new blockchain supply chain initiative

At least 100 organizations, including Ports of Los Angeles, Oakland, Valencia, Rotterdam, the World Food Program, Hitachi, & Maersk have joined a new initiative by the World Economic Forum (WEF) called “Redesigning Trust with Blockchain in the Supply Chain.”

The aim is to ensure blockchain is deployed in an “interoperable, responsible and inclusive way,” with emphasis on efficiency and transparency.

Microsoft unveils services for AI and blockchain

Just a week before its much-awaited developers conference Build, Microsoft has announced tools for software makers aimed at making technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain easier for businesses to use.

The company said it would also be launching a cloud-based blockchain service, working along with JP Morgan Chase & Co on the bank’s Quorum offering for the same.

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