One Year Since The Covid-19 Pandemic Began And America Is Still Down 10 Million Jobs 

Nearly one year after the Covid-19 pandemic initially shut down America the nation is still finding itself down by 10 million jobs compared to where we were at this time last year. 745,000 additional Americans have filed for first-time unemployment benefits on a seasonally adjusted basis last week, according to the US Labor Department. 

The number of new claims is up from the previous week, however, it’s slightly less than what economists were expecting for the month of March. 436,696 workers also applied for Pandemic Unemployment benefits which are mainly available for gig workers or self-employed individuals. 

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First-time jobless claims in total equated to about 1.2 million without seasonal adjustments for last week. Continued benefit claims, which specifically count applicants that submitted their forms for at least two weeks in a row or more, reached 4.2 million in the last week of February, which is slightly smaller when compared to the week prior. 

At this point last year the labor crisis was just beginning with about 6.9 million Americans applying for first-time unemployment, and millions of jobs disappearing in general. While millions of new jobs have been created within the past year and many Americans were able to get back to work, the nation is still struggling to rebuild the economy.

The American Department of Labor employment report cited “fewer jobs added in February than expected: 117,000 versus the 177,000 forecast. Even though the private sector report and the government’s official figures, which are due Friday at 8:30 am ET, aren’t correlated, it’s not a great sign.”

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Economists estimate that about 182,000 new jobs were added to the US market in February, which is up 49,000 from the previous month. When compared to February 2020, however, the nation is still down about 9.7 million jobs; at that point in time the unemployment rate for America was actually at a 50-year low of 3.5%.

“The expectations are widely different, ranging from a 100,000 jobs lost to 500,000 jobs gained. We expect the US jobs recovery to show some encouraging progress in February,” said Lydia Boussour, lead US economist at Oxford Economics.

The rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and the reopening of the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses will hopefully help assist the nation in creating new jobs. The winter storms that have been impacting the country, however, are also influencing how many new jobs are created. The unemployment rate is currently projected to remain at 6.3% for now as well, however, the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell claimed last week that the actual unemployment rate is likely closer to 10%.

California Shutdown Is Causing Restaurants And Other Businesses To Struggle Greatly

After an intense second-wave of Covid-19 infections, California Governor Gavin Newsom shutdown the state with measures that yet again restricted a multitude of businesses and restaurants from making an income.

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10,000 Restaurants Have Closed In The US Since September 

According to a trade group that has been working to get Congress to provide some sort of immediate financial relief to the restaurant industry in America, over 10,000 food establishments have now shut down either temporarily or permanently due to economic troubles brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Many restaurant and small business advocate groups throughout the nation are calling on lawmakers and pushing Congress to approve of a $120 billion bill that would help assist eateries and independently owned restaurants a fighting chance to survive the rest of the pandemic. There are around 500,000 independent restaurants throughout the country that rely on local consumerism to remain afloat. 

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These groups also want the government to revive the Paycheck Protection Program which was initially aimed at protecting small businesses, however, after the initial rounds of these payments, many businesses soon realized a majority of the money was going to largely owned multi-million dollar companies. Even worse, the program didn’t have a specific fund set aside for restaurants only, so they were especially left in the financial dust. 

This summer the US eased a lot of its restrictions for outdoor in-person dining, which allowed the industry to bounce back a little, however, with the winter season fully approaching and now a massive surge of new Covid-19 cases also appearing, many cities are moving to shut down again. Sean Kennedy is an executive vice president for Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) who recently sent a letter to Congress on behalf of the entire association and independently owned restaurants all over the country. 

“More than 500,000 restaurants of every business type are in an unprecedented economic decline. For every month that passes without a solution from Congress, thousands of more restaurants will close for good.” 

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A recent survey performed by the NRA showed that of its members, almost 6 in 10 chain and independent restaurant operators expect to lay off or furlough employees consistently within the next three months. In November, the number of workers in bars and restaurants declined by about 18,000, after being on a steady increase since April when these establishments were able to reopen and keep their workers employed. 

Beyond just the lack of customers, restaurants are also worried about working in the middle of a global health crisis that is killing hundreds of thousands. Ashwin Deshmukh owns an all-day cafe and bar in New York City, and he recently spoke with the local media about how intense this pandemic has actually been for the industry. 

“Owners are really worrying about not being able to cover fixed costs amid the demand destruction caused by the pandemic. Costs are higher due to spending about $100 per week on personal protective equipment.” 

Getting through the winter will pose a major struggle for the industry unless another government funded assistance program is distributed among all the small businesses and establishments that are just trying to remain afloat during the worst global health and economic crisis’ in decades.

Over 14 Million Americans Are Moving In Order To Find Remote Work, Study Shows

According to a study from Upwork’s Remote Workers, between 14 million to 23 million Americans are planning to relocate to a new U.S. city, region, or even state due to the Covid-19 pandemic and rising popularity of work-from-home positions appearing throughout the nation. 

Many businesses and industries have been adapting to the new normals 2020 has presented to us by moving to a more digitized work environment. For some, they’re even realizing that remote work is a much more efficient way for staff to get their daily duties done, and will likely continue to do so post-pandemic. 

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The study specifically surveyed 20,490 Americans over the age of 18 and it was conducted from October 1st to the 15th. The results showed that one of the biggest reasons so many Americans are planning to make the permanent move in order to work remotely is because of the amount of companies who are permanently adopting the work-from-home model. 

For example, Facebook and Twitter both announced offers that they would be making to their employees that would allow them to make their home-office their permanent workspace. 

Even small businesses are seeing the perks of this, in fact 57% of small and medium-size businesses plan to offer remote work plans to their employees in the long term. Small businesses have also reported that employee availability has increased by 19% with the move to remote work; obviously this depends on the specific business and employee duties as well. Adam Ozimek, Upwork’s chief economist, recently discussed the not-so-surprising results of the study. 

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“Companies were thrown feet first into a massive experiment with remote work due to the pandemic. The experiment has gone well; and it’s changing the future of the workforce. Remote work is the fastest game-changer for the U.S. economy since World War II.”

The rise in mobility among Americans looking to relocate means that there could be an increase in economic efficiency for businesses, and individuals, throughout the country.  “Remote work presents a potential solution for those seeking job opportunities that don’t want to pay the high housing costs of a major city,” Ozimek claimed, emphasizing how normally when individuals relocate to work from home, they’re more so focused on living in a city that they can afford and actually want to be in. 

The study also revealed that 20.6% of residents of major cities in the US are planning to move far away from their current home. Specifically, 54.7% said that they want to relocate somewhere two or more hours away from their current location. 

For employers this is also a positive, as the massive migration of individuals throughout the nation gives them a whole new pool of potential employees who are ready and willing to adapt to a permanent work-from-home model that will work well into the future. The renting market in America is currently the worst it’s been in years, and has many real estate industry workers worried about another major housing crisis in the US. However, the moving of up to 23 million Americans can help drive that market back up and boost the local economies throughout the entire nation.

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Business Men with Tablet

How To Successfully Upgrade Your Companies Technology

In 2020, technology and running a business go hand in hand. Now that the world has fully adapted into a digital age, where pretty much anything and everything can be accomplished via the internet, in order to run a successful company, you need to be successfully using online resources as well. Different businesses are obviously going to have much different needs/wants in terms of what they will be using these resources for, however, there are a few universal tools that all companies, and company owners, can use to their advantage when it comes to adopting new tech into their business plans.

The first thing you’ll need to do is actually get specific with your business and the areas in which new upgraded technology could help advance your company as a whole. Take the time to do the research and ask others about their businesses and what tools have led them down the path of success. 

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Obviously, cost is also a major factor, so when looking at the specifications of your business, highlight the areas where an investment in technology would be the most beneficial. Then, budget out which areas get the most funding and what that funding should specifically be going towards. Tech products can really break the bank, so the more specific and direct your plan is, the better. 

Part of your tech budget plan should also highlight your overall business plans for where you’d like to see your company in two or so years. Technology and AI is constantly advancing and upgrading itself, so make a plan about where you’d like to see your company in the future and how a current investment in tech will get you there without needing any additional upgrades down the line. 

For the busy business owner/worker, knowing all the ins and outs of how all this new technology works is close to impossible. When making new investments in the tools for your company, talk to a real professional and give them the business/investment plan mentioned above. You need an external party who’s separated from your business who can give you the most expert advice and service for your specific industry needs. 

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Outside parties can also help if you feel overwhelmed or lost in terms of what upgrades you even need. Companies such as the Geek Squad, who work close with Best Buy, are meant to provide professional advice and help anytime a question arises. Geek Squad is also great because you can hire them as an “on-call” type of tech support service in case something breaks or malfunctions. 

Finally, the biggest concern anyone, regardless of if they own a business or not, should have when it comes to upgrading the technology in their lives is cyber security. The internet is a vast and complex place, and now it’s easier than ever for individuals to hack our devices and get access to all of our personal information. 

For businesses especially, this should always be at the forefront of concern. Looking into a solid online security system for your companies servers/online applications is important and necessary if you want to protect all the specifics that go into running it. This would, again, be a great place to get expert advice, as there’s plenty of “computer security” programs online that end up just being viruses themselves. So be cautious and thorough, this is your work and livelihood, and making new investments should never be taken lightly.

Business Sales

How To Boost Your Business’s Holiday Sales

It’s always a happy holiday for retail businesses. Whether it’s a local boutique, or a major corporate chain, stores seem to flood with eager customers trying to cross off everyone on their shopping list. Businesses seem to thrive the most when it comes to holiday deals. As we grow older, the lists of gifts we need to buy seem to get longer and more expensive. So what can your business do in order to make your life, and your customers’ lives, the easiest during this holiday shopping season? 

Holiday marketing is extremely important for the success of any business regardless of the size of it, and in an age when technology is constantly advancing, a majority of that marketing is done online. Social media presence and an easy-to-navigate website are key in ensuring that your business remains successful, and also that people are able to find out about you. Especially if your business is at a local level, social media is the best way you can spread the word about your sales and deals to your customers and beyond. Additionally, if you have a website that allows for users to create an account or attach an email they’ll be able to stay more informed on everything going on within your business. 

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When it comes to the holidays, however, you should be going above and beyond with your online presence. An amazing way to generate online traffic and customer engagement is by adding a wish list feature to your website. A wish list will not only give your customers the flashback of what it was like to write letters to Santa, but also makes the shopping experience so much easier for both of you. 

Wish lists in general allow customers to curate all of the products that they want for themselves, or need to buy for others, and have it be in one place for when they’re ready to buy. They allow the buyer to take their time and not feel the pressure of a growing online cart looming over them while they shop. Wish lists typically stay saved for a customer regardless of if they leave the website or not; normally this feature means that customers need to create some sort of user account that will save the list for them, however, accounts in general are also another amazing way to ensure that your customers are staying informed and updated with your store. 

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If you do decide to add a wish list feature to your website, a crucial feature will be a “share” button that allows the customer to send their wish list to any of their friends or family. This feature will easily allow people to tell their loved ones what they’re looking to receive, or buy, making the entire shopping experience fairly simple. 

Wish lists are also extremely beneficial to the business itself. As the website’s admin, you’ll have access to every user’s wish list. This means you’ll be able to see the trends of what products customers are gravitating towards. Additionally, keeping the wish list feature active year round will give you an indication of seasonal shopping patterns and allow you to have a greater insight into what products are more in demand depending on the time of year. This information can be crucial for a business owner, as it indicates what supplies/products you may need to stock up on, depending on the time of year. 

Finally, another great feature that can be added to the wish list section of your website is a “recommendations” section. Depending on your website’s algorithm, this section can either show customers other products that your business carries that relates to what they put on their wish list that they might be interested in, or it could show users what products other customers are adding to their wish lists this holiday season. When shoppers see products that are popular, they’re more inclined to add them to their list, whether it be for themselves or as a gift. When it comes to gift giving this feature can be especially useful as it tells customers what products people are really loving that your loved ones may also enjoy. 

Making your online presence known is, in general, an amazing way to generate business. Adding on a special section for holiday wish lists not only makes the shopping experience that much easier all around, but also helps Santa know what everyone wants this year.


South Africa’s Craft Beer Industry Is Booming

Craft beer is defined as any beer that’s brewed by small independent breweries, using traditional, non-mechanical methods. According to the official Craft Brewers Association, less than 25% of craft beer breweries are owned by a major alcohol company, and even in those cases the brewers themselves work independently from the brands. In South Africa, “South Africa Breweries” is the company that has been dominating the entire beer distribution industry since the industry first began in South Africa, according to CNN. However, as this new wave of independent brewing has grown in popularity and blown up online amongst millennials, South Africa is seeing a major shift in it’s otherwise stagnant beer industry. 

According to CNN, craft beer first began its South African journey in 1983 with the first-ever craft brewery location in the Western Cape. The industry remained fairly small until the early 2000’s when more and more of these businesses began appearing, however, the production and market value was still scattered. It wasn’t until around five years ago that craft beer began gaining more traction amongst South Africans. Now, there are around 220 craft breweries in South Africa, according to the Craft Brewers Association – South Africa (CBASA). This number still only makes up about a 1% share of the entire beer industry in South Africa (CBASA), however, it’s important to note that the entirety of this area has been controlled by one manufacturer (South Africa Breweries) since beer first started getting sold there. So the sudden new interest and growth of this more independently owned industry, is quite remarkable. 

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“South Africa went from a handful of microbreweries dotted around the country prior to 2010, to suddenly taking an interest in craft beer. This meant an explosion of brands from garage brewing origins, some of these good, some of them bad, and not many with the packaging technology to present a beer well in retail and distribution channels,” says Brendan Hart, founder of Frontier Beer Co., a craft brewery established in 2016. 

“Craft in South Africa is still quite small, but it does have its share of the market. Younger consumers are looking for alternatives,” said Zoleka Lisa, vice president of corporate affairs at South Africa Breweries. 

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Hart went on to discuss how South Africa has been known for its lager like Italy is known for its pasta, it’s just what’s always been popular. Moving away from traditional consumer wants to something new, young, and refreshing, is always a major risk, hence why it’s taken so long for the craft beer industry to get any traction in South Africa. However, at the same time, companies are aware that as the younger generations grow older and become a new major consumer demographic, moving away from tradition sometimes isn’t an option.

South Africa is also extremely unique compared to European and American markets, as they have access to a handful of indigenous plants and ingrediants to incorporate into their brews. This diversity in potential ingredients allows for independent brewers to have an endless possibility of flavors for their consumers to enjoy. This also means there’s a greater ability for each brewery to have their own unique edge over its competitors. With hundreds of thousands of recipe and priduction options, it’s going to take a lot to slow down this new trend of brewing. 

South Africa has become the world’s 12th largest beer producer in general, and with the global craft beer market earning $38 billion in sales in 2018 and an expectation for that number to grow 14% by 2023 (CNN), South Africa is ready to fully embrace the new wave of beer distribution and manufacturing.