A watchful eye on a digital-age hazard

Protecting your eyes at work usually involves wearing special goggles or safety glasses that shield against chemicals and particles. Industrial and healthcare workers take routine precautions to avoid eye injury. But desk jobs can affect your eye health as well, and so can your after-hours activity.

The American Optometric Association has identified “digital eye strain,” also called “computer vision syndrome,” as a growing cause of vision problems in the workforce. In fact, the average American worker spends seven hours a day staring at a computer.

Symptoms of computer vision syndrome include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain. Some factors that contribute to the problem include poor lighting, screen glare, poor posture or sitting at the wrong distance from your screen, or working with uncorrected vision problems.

The AOA offers a simple “20/20/20 Rule” of advice to help prevent digital eye strain: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes by looking at something 20 feet away.

More tips and information can be found here: aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome

The best cities for jobs

The biggest opportunities for jobseekers don’t lie in the biggest cities, but in the mid-sized metro areas. So says jobs site Glassdoor.com, which analyzed the job openings, cost of living, and job satisfaction rates in 50 metropolitan centers.

Mid-sized cities have avoided some of the expensive housing and transportation issues of big cites like New York and San Francisco, while still benefiting from the boom in technology and healthcare.

These cities offer “great economic value for job seekers, but are facing a roadblock with branding,” says the report. “The dramatic transformation of America’s mid-sized cities hasn’t kept up with public perception of where the best places for work really are.

”Glassdoor’s top five for 2015:

5 Seattle, Washington
Number of job openings: 69,423
Median base salary: $70,000

4 Austin, Texas
Number of job openings: 33,198
Median base salary: $50,000

3 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Number of job openings: 16,759
Median base salary: $38,100

2 Kansas City, Missouri
Number of job openings: 28,786
Median base salary: $46,000

1 Raleigh, North Carolina
Number of job openings: 24,146
Median base salary: $50,950

See the complete list and metrics on cost of living, job satisfaction, and more:

$809 billion:

What community colleges and their students added to the US economy in 2012. Not too shabby! And that’s not all:

“Over time, the US economy will see even greater economic benefits, including $285.7 billion in increased tax revenue as students earn higher wages and $19.2 billion in taxpayer savings as students require fewer safety net services, experience better health, and lower rates of crime.”

Source: American Association of Community Colleges and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., (EMSI).

Community colleges experiment with Free

Around the country, thousands of new students are entering the doors of community colleges offering a trial run of tuition-free enrollment. Pilot programs in Chicago, Tennessee – and soon a multitude of other places – have been pitched as an engine of economic growth and a debt-free kickstart to careers for young Americans.

Politicians of every stripe have proposed affordable college plans and job training programs to help give a boost to the workforce. The debt burden on graduates has become a drag on economic growth in and of itself, experts say. According to the Institute for College Access & Success, 69 percent of 2014 grads left school with student loans averaging a whopping $28,950.

The waiving of tuition for two-year degrees presents a life-changing opportunity for many students. In Tennessee, 15,000 students jumped into community colleges this year after the state launched its lottery-funded “last dollar” program, which covers everything that federal aid doesn’t.

Oregon is expecting 10,000 applicants when it goes tuition-free this fall. The city of Detroit and at least 10 states are also gearing up to give it a shot, hoping to reinvigorate the economy with
skilled graduates.