Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Flu Season / Retail and Robots

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, WITF's Smart Talk | Jan 21, 2018 8:00 PM
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On the Monday January 22nd, 2018 edition of WITF's Smart Talk:

The United States is in the grip of a vicious flu epidemic; the CDC reports Americans are visiting hospitals with flu-like symptoms at the rate of 22.7 per 100,000.  32 deaths in Pennsylvania have been attributed to the virus; CDC tracking shows the influenza A - H3N2 strain has been recorded in every state in the nation for the first time since 2004.

Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable - 20 pediatric deaths have been recorded since the beginning of the 2017-18 flu season.  Health officials are encouraging everybody to get flu shots and to see a doctor and avoid contact with others if symptoms surface.

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Dr. Loren Robinson, Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention with the Pennsylvania Department of Health

On Monday's Smart Talk, we'll discuss flu prevention, minimizing the contagion and what to do if symptoms persist with Dr. Loren Robinson, Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Dr. Creston Tate, medical director of WellSpan Urgent Care.

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Also, the internet has been applying pressure on brick and mortar retail businesses for years and now modern technologies are increasing the squeeze on retail jobs.  Automated self-check out systems and robotic inventory control may prove cost effective for large retailers, but their employees aren't as optimistic about the benefits of those technologies.

CVS Pharmacies have implemented automated checkouts at 448 locations and many fast-food restaurants are experimenting with automated kiosks.  Walmart is using automated cashiers that can count eight bills a second, 3,000 coins a minute and electronically deposit the money in the bank.

A 2017 report compiled by the Cornerstone Capital Group predicts automation will eventually displace 30 to 50% of retail employees leading to a loss of seven million jobs, creating a class identified as "stranded workers."  Women are especially vulnerable as they make up 73% of the retail cashier employees in the US.

Smart Talk will discuss the report with one of its authors, Sebastian Vanderzeil, Director and Global Thematic Analyst with Cornerstone Capital Group.  We'll also be joined by PA State Representative Mike Schlossberg (D-Allentown) who is spearheading efforts to research and retrain a workforce ready to handle accelerated automation and Wendell Young, IV, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, will discuss the union's efforts to prepare retail and food workers for this new paradigm in commerce.

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Sebastian Vanderzeil, Director and Global Thematic Analyst with Cornerstone Capital Group / PA State Representative Mike Schlossberg (D-Allentown) / Wendell Young, IV, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776

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