Stocks began the holiday-shortened week with steep declines, as the markets reacted to North Korea’s latest missile test, conducted on Sunday. Meanwhile, investors tracked news on yet another major weather event, Hurricane Irma, as it approached Florida.

The Dow sank 234 points, with 22 of its 30 components declining, the S&P 500 Index fell 18 points, and the Nasdaq lost 59. Decliners topped advancers by about 9 to 4 on the NYSE and on the Nasdaq. Treasury prices strengthened. Gold futures jumped $14.10 to close at $1,344.50 an ounce. Crude-oil futures rose $1.37 to settle at $48.66 a barrel.

In other business news:

  • New orders for U.S.-manufactured goods in July posted their largest decline in about three years, driven largely by a 19.2% decrease in transportation equipment orders. According to the Commerce Department, factory goods orders dropped 3.3%. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a measure of business spending, rose 1.0%; shipments increased 1.2%.
  • Aerospace supply firm United Technologies Corp. will buy avionics and interiors manufacturer Rockwell Collins Inc. for $30 billion. United Tech will pay $140 a share for Rockwell, divided between $93.33 in cash and $46.67 in stock. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018. United Tech’s shares (UTX) tumbled 5.96%. Rockwell’s shares (COL) edged up 0.30%.
  • Federal Reserve (Fed) Governor Lael Brainard said in remarks that U.S. inflation is falling “well short” of the central bank’s target and, therefore, the Fed should be cautious about increasing interest rates further until it’s confident that prices will rise. Later in the day, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari said that the Fed’s recent interest-rate hikes may be slowing inflation, job growth, and wage growth. Kashkari said there might be “a lot more slack in the labor market than we appreciate,” while suggesting the Fed’s recent rate increases may be harming the economy.

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Landing a job is taking longer than ever. Employers’ average hiring time for the first half of 2017 has been 23.8 days, according to research from employer review website Glassdoor. The companies’ average hiring time metric tracks job interview processes from start to end, and includes data from about 84,000 interview surveys posted on the website by workers in 25 countries. According to USA Today, Glassdoor’s new average hiring time is up nearly 4% from three years ago, the last time the company issued its survey.

Here are a few key findings:

* The three job fields with the quickest interview processes are restaurants & bars (10.2 days), private security (11.6), and supermarkets (12.3). Turning to the corporate job market, the three job fields with the fastest interview processes are consumer services (13.5), marketing & advertising (14.9), and recruiting & staffing (14.9). If you happen to be interviewing for a job as a security guard for a supermarket who serves a top-notch martini, while also running a promotional hummus kiosk, and handing out job applications, the average interview time would be 12.9 days. I wish you luck.

* Now let’s look at delays. Screening methods that employers use to vet candidates have also expanded. In 2010, Glassdoor reported that a quarter of employers used background checks. That metric jumped to 42% in 2014. The two U.S. sectors with the longest interview processes in 2017 are industries that often require background checks: government (53.8 days) and aerospace and defense (32.6 days). But these metrics don’t take into account the mom-and-dad check. A Michigan State University study shows that 40% of employers set aside time to deal with candidates’ parents seeking details about their companies on their kids’ behalf.

* However, time-consuming vetting doesn’t fully explain 2017’s hiring delays. According to Glassdoor, company-specific factors make up about 14.7% of variation in global hiring delays. Foot-dragging practices that are inherent to individual employers are twice as influential on average job interview times than factors such as industry or company size. This can include firms that don’t encourage hiring managers to be responsive, firms that require extensive skills testing, or perhaps firms that no longer exist but forgot to take their websites down sometime in the mid-1990s. For your reference, here’s an excerpt of an outdated job listing full of red flags:

“The candidate should be proficient at Microsoft Office 95 and serious about his or her work, but not afraid to kick back after hours to enjoy an ice-cold Zima with co-workers, who’ll no doubt banter about the latest episode of that new TV show “Friends.” Don’t you love “Friends”? I sometimes think about this show while listening to a Compact Disc of Ace of Base in my brand new 1995 Dodge Stratus. If you’d like to chat more about Friends, I just created a GeoCities page dedicated to the program. I cannot stress enough how important it is that the job candidate be up to speed on all things Friends.”

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