Sunday, April 9, 2017

US jobless at 10-year low; Dubai landlords lowering rents; Contact lens that can give a health report

1 US jobless at 10-year low (BBC) The US unemployment rate fell to its lowest in almost a decade in March, despite the economy adding a smaller than expected number of jobs. Employers added 98,000 jobs last month - far fewer than the 180,000 expected by economists and less than half the figure for January and February.

However, the unemployment rate fell from 4.7% in February to just 4.5% - the lowest since May 2007. Anything under 5% is considered to indicate "full employment". The economy needs to create 75,000 to 100,000 jobs a month to keep pace with growth in the working-age population.

The US had added more than 200,000 jobs in both January and February, but March brought lower temperatures and a major storm to the North East, which was likely to have hit hiring. Aberdeen Asset Management investment strategist Luke Bartholomew said the decline in job creation was another sign of a "pretty tight" labour market.

2 Dubai landlords lowering rents (Cleofe Maceda in Gulf News) According to property analysts, owners of residential flats and villas in Dubai are generally being more flexible than they have been for a long time. They’re not just increasing lease instalments, they’re also extending contracts and lowering rents, in a bid to keep their units occupied amid a sluggish market.

The residential rental market continued to post modest declines in 2017, with rates falling by an average of 1 per cent during the first three months of the year compared to the previous quarter, according to CBRE, a commercial property and real estate services adviser.

During the property boom, landlords were wielding control over rental negotiations and tenants always had to set aside a huge lump sum to rent a house in Dubai. It was always mandatory to pay the full rent one year in advance, and many tenants who were in a financial bind had to borrow money from the bank. And every year, residents would see their accommodation expenditures rise.

The current slowdown has been due to limited demand and high inventory in the rental market. The situation looks set to continue for the rest of the year, as more supply is expected to come on stream in the run-up to Dubai’s hosting of the World Expo in 2020.

3 A contact lens that can give a health report (Emily Price in San Francisco Chronicle). A research team at Oregon State is developing a bio-sensing contact lens that would be able to detect everything from when your blood sugar is running a little low to when one of your organs isn’t running at 100%. The group, led by professor Gregory Herman, presented its findings at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in San Francisco.

In its current form, the technology, which was developed as a solution for diabetics, is only able to detect blood glucose levels. Herman is optimistic that in the future it will be able to detect a number of different health conditions, potentially even cancer.

The way it handles testing is through your tears. The water in your tears have the potential to detect things like cancer, as well as diseases such as glaucoma. While the contact lens in its current form only has a sensor to detect glucose built in, there’s room to add additional sensors – more than 2,500 in fact – to a lens to give it the ability to test for much more.

While certainly a high-tech solution to monitoring your health, it also might be an affordable one. The technology inside of the sensor is similar to transistors currently being used for cell phone displays.

One hundred transistors currently cost around $.10, making this a solution that could even find its way into disposable contacts, although some of the components used in the device are still a bit on the pricey side.

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