The state of unemployment rolls and the push to get Americans back to work.
Getting an accurate picture of the economic recovery hasn’t just been about jabs in the arm—it is also about the true health of the labor market. How quickly workers can jump back in to meet demand and, in turn, leave behind the unemployment assistance created during the pandemic is at the core of today’s challenge. Some indicators are simple: The hospitality and entertainment jobs that remained scarce throughout the past year are now returning at a rapid pace as hotels, restaurants, and venues open their doors this summer. On the other hand, many states came to a fork in the road as overall worker shortages became all too real. This shortage has sparked a trend, prompting over 20 states to pull the plug on the enhanced unemployment benefits in hopes of jumpstarting the economy. The move may be working: overall unemployment rolls are now shrinking in the states that cut the additional benefits. Challenges do remain: gig workers also face hurdles, and if workers cannot come back quickly enough, the ripple effect will be felt throughout the recovery. In the wake of a global pandemic, everything is on the table, and the economy is attempting to get workers to play a hand. Read more in the Wall Street Journal.
Facebook reaches a trillion-dollar valuation – what it means for the future of Big Tech.Do you know what the market deems cool? It’s no longer making a billion dollars—try a trillion. Facebook joined the ranks of four other companies that have ever passed the trillion-dollar market cap. Along with Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google-parent company Alphabet, Facebook crossed the milestone this week, climbing from its $104 billion debut in 2012. Facebook derives nearly all of its revenue from personal advertisements on its Facebook and Instagram platforms. The milestone is not just a number–it also signals a setback to the regulators aiming to break up big tech. The jump past $1 trillion was due to the market’s reaction after a federal judge dismissed several Facebook antitrust lawsuits by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorney generals. Despite data leaks, misinformation, and market saturation, it seems big tech is here to stay. What was a blowback to regulators is a boom for the market. Read more in CNBC.
What to expect from the economy in the second half of this year.
It has been a wild first half of the year – as we have learned, coming out of a global pandemic can do that to an economy. But after declining 3.5 percent in 2020, the pendulum is expected to swing back the other way: the U.S. economy should likely grow 6.5 percent in 2021, fueled by continued vaccine distribution, receding childcare problems, higher spending, and unemployment rates dropping. While this growth is expected to continue, it will also put our economy to the test. Some investors, including Warren Buffett, recently noted the pandemic’s impact has been very “uneven” and isn’t over yet, which is becoming more evident with the threat of the new Covid-19 Delta variant. As Americans get back out into the world and spend their money more frivolously than the year before, more dangers of inflation may be on the horizon. Core PCE inflation appears to be peaking, but experts believe it will likely remain above 2 percent for the remainder of the year. Above all, more growth is expected on the horizon, but the ride will likely be bumpy. Strap in. Read more in AXIOS.
Better to buy or sell? Explaining the current housing squeeze and its shift to rentals.
The housing market spike that began in the pandemic has finally appeared to be entering a “cooling period”, and Americans are starting to understand its full impact. A University of Michigan sentiment index found that while overall U.S. consumer is increasing, it is also down on housing – in fact, that is the lowest it’s been since 1982. But is it really better to buy or sell right now? Experts recommend looking at the situation as less of a bubble that’s about to burst and more like getting over the current “sticker shock” of higher housing prices. No one is really spared from this impact, however: the housing headache is now shifting to the rental market, fueled by high vacancy rates and falling rental prices in metro areas hit hardest by the pandemic. As Americans return to their pre-pandemic routines, revisiting their office buildings, and move into new apartment units, rental prices continue to rise at a substantial rate. Because most renters often sign one-year leases, increases will phase in over the next year as contracts expire and reset. While many look at the lumber and fuel industry as a threat of inflation, the rental market is not far behind. Read more in Bloomberg.
How telemedicine has become a new bipartisan rallying point in Congress.
Who would have thought that health care could be an uniter in Congress? Telemedicine policies have emerged as an unexpected bipartisan rallying point as the path towards “normal” life post-pandemic continues. During lockdowns, Americans quickly embraced remote care, specifically in rural communities that don’t have the same access to healthcare services that urban and suburban communities do. Coverage policies that include telehealth visits are due to expire once the pandemic ends. Sponsors of a leading Senate plan remain confident they’ll have enough votes to ensure Medicare covers telehealth. Still, as with most everything, skeptics remain, warning of a new surge of health spending – the ease of “seeing” your doctor remotely could lead to more visits, and the reliance on technology could create a higher financial burden and increased threats of fraud and identity theft. There is also the matter of the financial value of a virtual visit versus an in-person visit and the costs associated with each. The pandemic saw payment parity between the two in many cases, but does that match the reality of the cost of delivering care for each? Insurers and providers may have differing points of view on that one. Read more in POLITICO.
The “No-Fun” Olympics? What to expect when the games start this month.
The start of the long-awaited Summer Olympic Games is fast approaching, and Japan is still facing international pressure to put on a “normal” event without a hitch. There have been several challenges including enough vaccine coverage and international athlete safety, to name a few. As the Olympic Team Trials wrap up and Team USA preps for their trip to Tokyo, Americans are getting ready to cheer their favorite athletes on the world stage. Expect to see some measures are taken that will limit some of the games’ impact, but support for holding games is increasing too. The Olympics are shaping up to be a rallying event for the U.S. and others. Beyond any medal counts, pulling off a successful event will provide a great example that we are rapidly headed towards normalcy. Read more in the Associated Press.
145: The number of people still unaccounted for after the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South in Miami last Monday. As of Friday morning, the death toll stands at 18, with search and recovery efforts still underway.
118.098: The score that landed gymnastics icon Simone Biles a ticket to another Summer Olympic Games. Biles is joined by Jordan Chiles, Sunisa Lee, Grace McCallum, MyKayla Skinner, and Jade Carey to compete for the U.S. in Tokyo.
270: The number of Boeing and Airbus aircrafts United Airlines recently purchased: the largest order by any carrier in the past decade. This order expects to create 25,000 unionized jobs by 2026 to capitalize on the rebound in passenger travel.
$800 million: The amount for which education-technology company 2U Inc. bought web-based course provider edX. The sale focuses on reducing inequalities in access to education as campuses around the United States look to build on and polish their online programs.
$73: The cost for a vial of insulin now offered through Walmart pharmacies. The megastore will offer a less expensive version of insulin that may better fit into the budgets of millions of Americans who struggle to pay for the lifesaving diabetes drug.
14.6%: The percentage increase on the national index of average home prices in the United States, up from a 13.3 percent annual rate the prior month. April marked the highest annual rate of price growth since the index began in 1987.
39,438: The number of Delta variant infections in the U.K. The rapid spread of the Delta variant has led countries to uphold travel bans to stop the Covid-19 virus mutation. Experts say a booster to the Covid-19 vaccine may be on the horizon for such variants.
76: The United States’ Bloomberg Resiliency Score, landing the #1 spot as the most COVID-19 resilient country. Metrics include vaccination rates, available plane seats, and severity of lockdowns.
25 million: The number of states who have passed name, image, and likeness (NIL) bills, 15 of which went into effect on Thursday. The bill allows NCAA athletes to earn money from their NIL without losing their eligibility. Athletes are wasting no time signing deals, filing for trademarks, and teasing apparel lines.
3.9 million: The number of Americans at the first U.S. Census in 1790, compared to 332.8 million in 2021. Ninety-four percent of the U.S. population was considered rural in 1790, compared to 2021, when it’s just over 17 percent.
Travel is back! More than 47 million Americans are expected to travel this #July4, just 2.5% less than pre-pandemic. https://t.co/NzT9RyqLVx #AAATravel #IndependenceDay #TravelForecast pic.twitter.com/aQRkpD0F2P— AAA (@AAAnews) June 22, 2021