Posts

Americans Are Resigning From Their Jobs At Record Rates

It’s been recorded that around 4.4 million American workers have handed in their resignation during the month of September alone. Certain states are experiencing major spikes in job resignations, so much so that it’s being referred to as “The Great Resignation.” 

The increase in resignation is due to a multitude of pandemic and economic factors. Many parents are dealing with the dual demands of childcare and working full time, so many of them are opting to resign and apply for unemployment so they have enough time in the day to take care of themselves and their families. 

Embed from Getty Images

Some employees are able to find better paying jobs as well, as many companies are reacting to this spike in unemployment by offering raised wages and attractive benefit packages. 

Beyond the pandemic, some states are experiencing a shortage in labor due to aging employees, low workforce participation rates, and other long-term issues that have existed long before the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“A lot of states with elevated quits are states with higher-than-average COVID cases, but a lot of it is due to labor market tightness. Idaho has an extremely aging population — a lot of the tightness in Idaho is that it’s an older workforce. They also have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, so that means it’s a very good environment if you are a worker” looking for a new job,”  said Liz Wilke, chief economist at Gusto, which provides payroll and other services to small businesses. 

New Hampshire and Indiana are seeing an increase in resignation for similar reasons. Employees are leveraging their benefits and salaries to find more lucrative jobs. Typical hourly earnings increased by 4.9% in October due to these leveraging tactics as well. 

Embed from Getty Images

The top 10 states with the highest resignation rates for the month of September are Hawaii (7.1%), Montana (4.8%), Nevada (4.5%), Alaska (4.3%), Colorado (4.3%), Indiana (4.3%), Idaho (4.1%), Oregon (3.9%), Louisiana (3.8%), and New Hampshire (3.8%).

According to Oxford Economics, for every job opening created in September there were only .74 unemployed people available to take the position, marking the lowest ratio on record. Economists are still confident, however, that America’s workforce will be able to rebuild itself in 2022. 

“One reason for optimism about the labor force re-entry of prime-age workers is that nearly all workers who left the labor force during the pandemic intend to re-enter in the next 12 months, suggesting that most prime-age exiters still view their exits as temporary,” Goldman Sachs analysts noted.

“Workers have ongoing concerns about workplace safety given the ongoing pandemic. It may take some time for some people to feel comfortable returning to work,” they also noted.

Cyber Monday Sales Drop For The First Time Ever In 2021

This Cyber Monday, consumers spent upwards of $10.7 billion collectively on deals from their favorite online retailers. However, according to data from Adobe Analytics, this total marks a 1.4% decrease when compared to the lowest amount spent during Cyber Monday on record. 

Adobe Analytics initially began tracking e-commerce in 2012, and analyzes more than 1 trillion visits to retailer websites. This year’s tally for Cyber Monday marks the first time that the company has recorded a slowdown in spending on a major shopping day during the holiday season. 

Embed from Getty Images

Last Cyber Monday wasn’t much different either, with consumers spending about $10.8 billion online. Last year was more predictable, however, as we were still in the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, and most people weren’t leaving their house or in a position to spend a lot of money for the holidays. 

Adobe is still expecting that throughout the rest of this year’s holiday season, online retailer’s will see a relative increase in e-commerce activity. More shoppers have been opting to spread out their orders when it comes to holiday shopping to make it easier to pay off certain gifts. 

Between November 1st and Cyber Monday consumers in the US alone have spent about $109.8 billion online, which is an 11.9% increase from last year’s numbers, and the previous year’s. The company is anticipating digital sales to reach $207 billion by the end of the year, which would represent a record hain of 10%. 

Adobe reported that the Cyber Monday sales stats aren’t exactly surprising either. As previously mentioned, more shoppers have been spreading out the days in which they spend their money, as opposed to waiting for “Cyber Week” (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday) to get all their shopping done. 

Embed from Getty Images

Many larger online retailers have seen these patterns, and have even gone as far as to offer Black Friday deals all autumn and winter. Adobe reported that retailers made about $8.9 billion in online sales this Black Friday, and about $5.1 billion in online sales on Thanksgiving Day. 

According to data from Sensormatic Solutions, another retail tracker, shopper traffic on Black Friday was up 47.5% when compared to last year’s numbers, however, it was still down 28.3% when compared to 2019/pre-pandemic levels. 

“With early deals in October, consumers were not waiting around for discounts on big shopping days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday,” said Taylor Schreiner, director at Adobe Digital Insights.

Adobe predicts that online retail trends will continue to fuel the market throughout the holiday season as deals on major retail websites like Amazon, Target, and Walmart continue to push “Black Friday Deals” throughout the entire holiday season.

Experts Warn Omicron Covid Variant Is A ‘Reason To Be Worried’

The Omicron Covid-19 variant was first detected in South Africa, and has now spread to 14 countries, with some experts claiming the variant has already reached the US. Scientists are working to figure out how much more dangerous and contagious the new variant is when compared to other variants, especially as international governments race to ease travel restrictions. 

The US has been imposing travel restrictions on travelers from South Africa since Monday, as well as other countries around the region. The variant has already been confirmed in Canada, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, discussed the variant on the news recently. 

“The new variant is likely already in the United States, but the government is better positioned to detect cases of the new strain than it was a year ago.”

Embed from Getty Images

As of this week, most travelers from southern Africa are barred from entering the United States, and restrictions have been renewed for all travel from southern Africa to most European countries. Within 36 hours of discovering the new strain, scientists in South Africa alerted the world and began testing current vaccines against the strain immediately. Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed the increased risk for unvaccinated Americans when it comes to any variant. 

“The US certainly has the potential to go into a fifth wave of high infections if enough people don’t come forward for vaccination and booster shots.”

South Africa’s government and president, however, are worried that the region is being unjustly blamed for the new variant, when the reality is these variants only have the opportunity to develop due to uneven distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines throughout the world. 

“We want all travel bans to be reversed, as they have no basis in science. These restrictions are completely unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country,” South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said. 

Embed from Getty Images

“I think there’s good reason to be worried. I don’t think that means that we’re powerless, answers are coming. We need to collect data. We need to investigate and understand this variant,” said Professor Anne Van Gottberg of South Africa’s Institute for Communicable Diseases.

“We should be doing the things that we know work when you’re dealing with a pandemic virus. It’s not the time to panic. We should be concerned, and our concern should spur us to do the things that we know work,” Dr. Fauci said.

Fauci explained that “the concern over the new variant comes from the number and type of mutations found around the spike protein, the part of the virus molecule that allows it to attach itself to human cells. The high number of mutations and where they were found suggests that this would be more transmissible, and also suggests that it might evade some of the immune parameters that we have, such as antibody and plasma treatments, and the current vaccines.”

“It appears to be spreading very readily and has a transmission advantage. One of the key things we don’t know right now is whether the new variant causes more severe COVID-19 symptoms than previous strains.”

Omicron currently accounts for more than 2,000 new daily cases in South Africa. One expert in the nation is worried that the daily infection rate could triple within the next week alone. 

“I am expecting we will top over 10,000 cases by the end of the week per day,” Dr Salim Abdool Karim said during an online press briefing by the Health Ministry.

President Biden’s Vaccine Mandate For 100 Million Workers Officially Being Enforced

Back in September President Biden announced that he would be working on creating multiple vaccine mandates to get more Americans vaccinated. On Thursday, the administration started the process by releasing mandates for over 100 million workers. 

The first rule has been issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and covers mandates for companies with 100 or more employees; it’s estimated this rule will apply to 84 million workers. Companies need to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by January 4th, or they will need to provide a negative test in order to come into work every week. 

Embed from Getty Images

OSHA’s rule also requires employers to pay their employees for the time it takes for them to get vaccinated, and recover from any potential side effects that arise. 

Employers also won’t be required to pay for weekly testing for their unvaccinated employees, or even provide the testing in the first place. This is in an attempt to get more employees to actually receive their vaccines as opposed to remaining at higher risk for exposure. 

Unvaccinated workers will also be required to wear face coverings at all times; this rule will be enforced starting December 6th. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are requiring around 17 million health care workers to be vaccinated by January 4th. However, healthcare workers won’t be given the option to decline being vaccinated to opt for weekly testing. 

Embed from Getty Images

Some employers are worried that the deadlines OSHA provided won’t give some of them enough time to gather the information required to find out who’s already vaccinated and who’s not. However, the Biden Administration asserted their authority in issuing these mandates due to OSHA’s responsibility to provide safe and healthy working conditions for all employees. 

“A virus that has killed more than 745,000 Americans, with more than 70,000 new cases per day currently, is clearly a health hazard that poses a grave danger to workers,” said a senior administration official.

Companies will mainly be responsible for enforcing the OSHA rule, as there’s only a couple thousand state and federal OSHA inspectors nationwide. It’s expected that OSHA inspectors will more likely be responding to employee complaints regarding their employers or fellow workers who aren’t abiding by the mandates. 

Employers that violate the rule can face fines up to $13,000 per violation, and depending on how severe the violation is that fine could multiply by ten.

Almost 80% Of Americans Have Been Exposed To Misinformation Online Regarding Covid-19, Survey Says

Between social media and the plethora of news outlets reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic, many Americans aren’t sure what information to believe. New data from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly 80% of Americans surveyed said they had heard of at least one of the falsehoods perpetuated by online misinformation and either believed it, or were unsure whether or not it was true. 

“Most commonly, six in ten adults have heard that the government is exaggerating the number of Covid-19 deaths by counting deaths due to other factors such as coronavirus deaths and either believe this to be true (38%) or aren’t sure if it’s true or false (22%).”

Embed from Getty Images

“One-third of respondents believe or are unsure whether deaths due to the Covid-19 vaccine are being intentionally hidden by the government (35%), and about three in ten each believe or are unsure whether Covid-19 vaccines have been shown to cause infertility (31%) or whether Ivermectin is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19 (28%),” the authors wrote.

The survey also found that “between a fifth and a quarter of the public believe or are unsure whether the vaccines can give you COVID-19 (25%), contain a microchip (24%), or can change your DNA (21%).”

Outlandish ideas such as vaccine microchips, trackers, or changes to DNA have been reported by “trusted” media outlets and have made a vast impact on many Americans in their choice to get vaccinated or not. 

“People’s trusted news sources are correlated with their belief in COVID-19 misinformation. At least a third of those who trust information from CNN, MSNBC, network news, NPR, and local television news do not believe any of the eight false statements, while small shares (between 11% and 16%) believe or are unsure about at least four of the eight false statements.”

Embed from Getty Images

These results prove that traditional sources of media are helping people separate facts from falsehoods. However, Republicans have made it clear that sources such as CNN and NPR are not to be trusted. 

The survey found that “nearly 4 in 10 of those who trust Fox News (36%) and One America News (37%), and nearly half (46%) of those who trust Newsmax, saying they believe or are unsure about at least half of the eight false statements.”

The researchers cautioned, however, that “whether this is because people are exposed to misinformation from those news sources, or whether the types of people who choose those news sources are the same ones who are pre-disposed to believe certain types of misinformation for other reasons, is beyond the scope of the analysis.”

Post reporter Aaron Blake followed up with Kaiser and concluded that the overall numbers “obscure just how ripe the right is for this kind of misinformation. That’s because, “in most cases, if you exclude Republicans who haven’t heard the claims and focus on just who is familiar with them, a majority of them actually believe the claims.”

David Leonhardt of The New York Times wrote “Covid vaccines are remarkably effective at preventing severe Covid, and almost 40 percent of Republican adults remain unvaccinated, compared with about 10 percent of Democratic adults. In the Kaiser research, unvaccinated adults were more likely than vaccinated adults to believe four or more of the eight false statements.”

Travel Ban

US Lifts Pandemic Travel Ban For International Visitors 

This Monday the US lifted restrictions on travel from a long list of countries which will allow tourists to make long-delayed trips and reconnect with their family members living in the states, more than a year and a half since the pandemic began. Some of the countries included on the list are Mexico, Canada, and most of Europe. 

The US is now accepting fully vaccinated travelers at airports and land borders, fully removing all Covid-19 restrictions initially imposed during the last presidential administration. 

Embed from Getty Images

The new guidelines allow air travel from previously restricted countries as long as the individual has proof of vaccination in addition to a negative Covid test. If an individual is traveling into the US by land, from Mexico or Canada, they’ll just need proof of vaccination, but no negative test. 

Airlines in general are preparing for an influx of travelers from Europe specifically as well. Data from Cirium, a travel and analytics firm, shows that airlines are increasing flights between the United Kingdom and the US by 21% this month. 

The new guidelines will also likely impact the Mexico-US and Canada-US borders tremendously, as traveling back and forth between all three countries was a normalized means of travel pre-pandemic. 

These new guidelines will also ideally help improve local and state economies on the border. Malls, restaurants, and retail establishments in general have been devastated economically by the lack of visitors from Mexico and Canada. 

Embed from Getty Images

There’s also a lot of personal motivation from Americans that have motivated officials to reopen the borders. So many families in the US were forced to stay away from their families due to pandemic restrictions and how far away they live.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the U.S. will accept travelers who have been fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those in use in the U.S. That means that the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, will be accepted.”

Airlines will require air travelers to verify their vaccine records and match them against their ID, and if they don’t, they could face up to nearly $35,000 in fines for every violation. Airlines will also be collecting information about passengers for contact tracing purposes.

CDC workers will be spot-checking travelers for compliance in the US as well. At land borders, Customs and Border Protection agents will be checking proof of vaccines, to ensure everyone’s information is legitimate. 

Hawaii Set To Welcome Back Travelers On Nov. 1

After seeing a considerable drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Hawaii’s governor David Ige said on Twitter that the state plans to reopen to both essential and non-essential travelers (regardless of vaccination status) starting on Nov. 1.

“I’m encouraged by the continuing trend of lower case counts of COVID in our islands. Our hospitals are doing better and seeing fewer patients. This gives us the ability to move forward in our economic recovery and safely welcome back fully vaccinated domestic travelers.”

Due to Hawaii’s “Safe Travels” program (which will continue to remain in effect), non-vaccinated travelers will be required to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their departure time to Hawaii, or be subjected to a 10-day mandatory quarantine. Visitors will also have to have to go through temperature screening upon arrival.

Ige stated that Hawaii is continuing to see information from the federal government about international travels plans, and that an appropriate plan will be in place prior to Nov. 8. Ige also assured Hawaii will continue to monitor case counts and hospitalizations, and will make adjustments when necessary while also prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of its residents.

Embed from Getty Images

Hawaiian Airlines has also stated that it’s important for Hawaii to match its travel policies with federal rules on internal travel in order to avoid confusion while erasing further screenings and testings.

According to John Hopkins University, Hawaii has recorded 82,730 COVID-19 cases and 876 deaths. The state saw a spike in late August, when it had a seven-day average of 921 cases and five deaths. Due to the uptick, Ige asked travelers on Aug. 23 to stay away.

Hawaii local news station KHON noted that Ige’s request for non-essential travelers to stop entering the state was just that – no enforcements were made to travel rules. However, visitors listened, and the impact it had was very visible.

Hawaii’s stoppage of non-essential travelers sent shockwaves throughout the Hawaii tourism industry. At one point, Maui County saw up to 52,000 room cancellations and a loss of around $25.2 million. Hotel occupancy, which is typically around 50 to 60% in September, dropped to 30%.

“Since the governor’s request for nonessential travel to halt, the industry has seen cancellations increase and occupancy cut nearly in half in some instances,” Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association President and CEO Mufi Hannemann stated at the time. “Some hotels have been forced to offer discounts in order to keep operating, and all of this taking place during our normal slow season.”

Embed from Getty Images

Businesses also had to pull back job offers and experienced layoffs due to the lack of visitor activity. When it was all said and done, the industry lost millions of dollars in economic revenue. Now, tourism leaders will hope to recoup those losses once the visitor numbers start to inch back up.

It remains to be seen whether businesses and hotels will be ready for the reopening in two weeks. However, while Hannemann said that there could be challenges — such as large gatherings — he would rather face a problem like this than what they had to go through in September and October.

Currently, Hawaii has a seven-day average of 124 cases and three deaths. Hawaii also possesses close to a 70% vaccination rating. As USA Today notes, most of Hawaii’s visitors during the pandemic have come from the other 49 states due to other countries continuing to have rigid travel restrictions.

Tourism plays a major role in Hawaii’s economy – in 2019, visitor spending added up to $17.75 billion, and tourism supported 216,000 jobs. In August 2021, Hawaii saw 211,269 total visitors. That’s greatly up from August 2020’s total of 22,625 visitors, but still down from August 2019’s 252,916 visitors.

Football Player

Despite COVID And Vaccine Controversies, NFL Ratings Are Better Than Ever

Everything seemed to be pointing the wrong way for the NFL’s ratings heading into 2021. The previous year saw record-lows, and the league has been right in the middle of COVID-19 vaccine feuds. However, they’re managed to overcome the predictions and have soared to rating highs.

Unemployment Form

U.S. Economy Adds Just 194,000 Jobs In September, Unemployment Falls To 4.8%

According to a news release by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the economy added just 194,000 jobs in September. The results are about 306,000 less than the Dow Jones estimated growth. That number is also a significant drop from August, when the U.S. added 366,000 jobs.

In addition, the unemployment rate fell by 0.4% to a total of 4.8%, and the total number of unemployed persons dropped to 7.7 million.

Leisure and hospitality led the way when it comes to the industries that saw the biggest job growths in this period by adding 74,000 jobs. Professional and business services added 60,000 jobs, which was down from the 74,000 jobs added in August. Retail trade finished third in overall job growth, adding 56,000 positions.

Embed from Getty Images

Other upward growths include warehouse and transportation (+47,000), information (+32,000), social assistance (+30,000), manufacturing (+26,000), construction (+22,000), wholesale trade (+17,000), and mining (+5,000). One noteworthy detail is that warehouse and transportation is the only industry listed on the BLS report that currently sits above its pre-pandemic level (up 72,000) back in February of 2020.

With continually easing COVID-19 restrictions and an increasing amount of customers returning, it’s not surprising that restaurants have been able to rehire many workers. However, those increase in job numbers don’t tell the whole story, as restaurant staffers are still dealing with difficult conditions such as low wages, extra hours, and increased workloads.

In terms of overall wages, employees on private nonfarm payrolls saw their average hourly salary increase by .19 cents to a total of $30.85. The BLS explains this trend could be thanks to the increased demand for labor as the nation goes into COVID-19 recovery mode.

Unfortunately, a number of other industries— such as education— are still suffering in regards to employment. Local government education decreased by 144,000 jobs, and 17,000 jobs in state government education. Private education also saw little change.

The BLS notes that the “back-to-school” hiring period that typically occurs in September is lower than usual, although the results are difficult to interpret due the pandemic inflating seasonal patterns.

Embed from Getty Images

These education numbers come out among the news that President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate could eventually lead to a “teacher vaccine requirement in many states,” which the Associated Press reports many education leaders believe. It’s an additional factor that could play a part in the movement of education employment in the coming months.

Employment in health care saw downgrades at residential care facilities and hospitals with 38,000 and 8,000 job losses, respectively. However, 28,000 jobs were added in ambulatory health care services.

Talking to CNBC, Indeed’s economic research director Nick Bunker explained that the overall results of the report were disappointing despite the presence of many people who have strong desires to return to the workforce after COVID-19 ravaged the nation.

“This is quite a deflating report. This year has been one of false dawns for the labor market. Demand for workers is strong and millions of people want to return to work, but employment growth has yet to find its footing.”

Despite the somber feeling these results may bring, there is some reason for optimism when it comes to a possible unemployment turnaround in the distant future as CNN Business notes. The reports were conducted around mid-September, when COVID-19 cases were at a high. Since that time, the U.S. is currently averaging 102,000 COVID-19 cases per day, which is a 22% drop over the past two weeks (per Axios).

If the Delta wave is truly tapering off, job employment across all industries should be heading towards better days. This news also helps to certify that the fight against COVID-19 and any of its variants is just as important as ever, given the extreme impact it can have on the economy and workers nationwide.

White Pill

Experts Are Hopeful Over Covid-19 Antiviral Pill, But Emphasize Vaccines Are Still Our Way Out Of The Pandemic 

Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics announced this past week that they created an antiviral pill that can reduce Covid-19 hospitalization and death by 50%. Experts believe this pill could be a “game-changer” in the way we treat Covid, however, they’re also emphasizing that this pill is not an alternative to getting vaccinated, and vaccinations against the coronavirus arte the most effective way Americans can bring this pandemic to an end. 

Over 255,000 Americans are becoming fully vaccinated every day, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 65% of Americans are now fully vaccinated. On the opposite end, the US surpassed 700,000 Covid-related deaths this week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The US is currently the world’s leader in Covid deaths. 

Embed from Getty Images

“This new antiviral pill can be used in conjunction with the vaccine. And it’s not an alternative to vaccination. We still have to try to get more people vaccinated. The antiviral medicine could be effective for those who choose not to get vaccinated, as well as those who catch the virus while fully vaccinated,” explained Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration. 

“This is the most impactful result that I remember seeing of an orally available drug in the treatment of a respiratory pathogen, perhaps ever. I think getting an oral pill that can inhibit viral replication — that can inhibit this virus — is going to be a real game-changer.”

Merck is now seeking FDA emergency use authorization for its medication, and if it’s permitted, it will become the first oral medicine that fights viral infection for Covid-19. 

Embed from Getty Images

“If approved, I think the right way to think about this is; this is a potential additional tool in our toolbox to protect people from the worst outcomes of Covid. Inoculation remains our best tool against Covid-19 because the shots can prevent people from getting infected in the first place, and we want to prevent infections, not just wait to treat them once they happen,” White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said.

The FDA is also meeting with its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on October 14th and 15th to discuss booster shots for Americans who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

The FDA’s vaccine committee is also set to discuss approving Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The company has already begun submitting data about that specific age group. 

Vaccine mandates are beginning to appear all throughout the country as well as a means of getting more Americans to receive their inoculations so the nation has an actual fighting chance at bringing this pandemic to an end.