Modern society is literally built on sand. Most of our buildings and bridges are made with concrete, which consists mostly of sand and gravel. The same is true for the asphalt that covers our roads and parking lots. Glass, from window panes to eyeglass lenses to smartphone screens, is made by melting sand, and the semiconductors in our electronics come from heating silica sand ... After air and water, sand is humankind’s most consumed natural resource.

Google is “in the extraction industry.” Its business model is “to extract as much personal data from as many people in the world at the lowest possible price and to resell that data to as many companies as possible at the highest possible price.” And so Google profits from just about everything: cat videos, beheadings, alt-right rants, the Band performing “The Weight” at Woodstock, in 1969.

Foxconn...has shown willingness to make a huge investment in Wisconsin — in exchange for a similarly hefty commitment from the state... On the table is up to $3 billion in state tax breaks... As long as Foxconn keeps hiring U.S. workers at the new flat-screen manufacturing facility, Wisconsin would cut the company $200 million to $250 million a year for up to 15 years. That works out to a rough cost to the state of about $230,700 per worker, assuming the factory goes on to generate 13,000 jobs.

Historically, there is usually an uptick in 1099 work during tough economic times, and then W-2s resurge as jobs are added in recovery. But W-2 jobs did not resurge as usual during our recovery from the last recession; instead, the growth has happened in the 1099 column. That shift raises problems because the United States’ benefits structure has traditionally been attached to the corporation rather than to the state: the expectation was that every employed person would have a W-2 job.

America is getting richer every year. The American worker is not. Far from it: On average, workers born in 1942 earned as much or more over their careers than workers born in any year since, according to new research — and workers on the job today shouldn’t expect to catch up with their predecessors in their remaining years of employment.

while the industry as a whole isn’t that large, job losses in the coal industry have an outsize effect, devastating coal towns (partly via multiplying effects). That’s because coal workers tend to be concentrated in small areas, around mines. Half of coal miners work in just 25 counties ... Those counties are in nine states: Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming.

More workers in general merchandise stores have been laid off since October, about 89,000 Americans. That is more than all of the people employed in the United States coal industry ... The job losses in retail could have unexpected social and political consequences, as huge numbers of low-wage retail employees become economically unhinged, just as manufacturing workers did in recent decades. About one out of every 10 Americans works in retail.

After years of marijuana being cultivated in small plots out of sight from the authorities, California cannabis is going industrial. Over the past year, dilapidated greenhouses in the Salinas Valley, which were built for cut flower businesses, have been bought up by dozens of marijuana entrepreneurs, who are growing pot among the fields of spinach, strawberries and wine grapes.

There are 23 black banks today — far fewer than during segregation, when they were the only option for many African Americans ... Black banks, on average, are five times as likely as traditional big banks to back mortgages for properties in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods ... they were hit hardest by the recession, when a disproportionate share of African Americans lost their jobs and could not make their loan payments.

researchers estimate that half of the job losses resulted from robots directly replacing workers. The rest of the jobs disappeared from elsewhere in the local community ... after a factory sheds workers, that economic pain reverberates, triggering further unemployment at, say, the grocery store or the neighborhood car dealership ... some consultants believe that the number of industrial robots will quadruple in the next decade, which could mean millions more displaced manufacturing workers.