Air travel was one of the hardest hit industries when the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdowns occurred in the spring of 2020. Things are looking up, but continue to be well below pre-pandemic levels. The recent weekend of cancellations and delays illustrates one aspect of the ongoing challenges.
Recent quotes from many politicians claim that the proposed $3.5 trillion spending bill costs "zero." Just in case you were wondering, this is not so. Even if taxes are raised by enough to theoretically cover the costs (a problem in and of itself given the methods and time periods used to arrive at this conclusion), there are nonetheless negative effects on individuals, families, corporations, and the economy.
The $3.5 trillion (or more) federal spending proposal now under consideration has some worthy components, but on the whole is concerning. It’s too large and expensive, and funding it would cause negative dynamic responses through the economy. Here's a brief overview.
From June to July 2021 (the latest available data), the number of job openings was up 749,000 to 10.9 million, the highest level since the US Bureau of Labor Statistics started keeping such records in December 2000. The largest increases in available positions occurred in health care and social assistance (+294,000), finance and insurance (+116,000), and accommodation and food services (+115,000).
Like almost any American over the age of 25, I vividly remember September 11, 2001. The images of planes striking buildings and people fleeing in terror–and the resulting acts of heroism–are indelibly etched.
August job gains for the US were disappointing, with an increase in total nonfarm payroll employment of 235,000 and the unemployment rate down 0.2 percentage point to 5.2%. An increase of this magnitude isn't bad by historical standards and is, in fact, somewhat above the average during the 11 years of expansion prior to the pandemic. However, it's not the strong economic recovery from the COVID downturn we would like to see, and it's a far smaller increase than those observed in recent months.
Housing prices are up. Way up! The robust market reflects a variety of factors, including population growth, job opportunities, and interest rates. During the pandemic, demand increased as people looked to upsize to allow more room for at-home work and/or school. Remote work also allowed many households to relocate, while stimulus funds helped many with down payments. At the same time, the pandemic slowed construction due to production shutdowns, logistics bottlenecks, and resulting shortages (and price increases) of some building materials – and a tight labor market didn't help. In other words, in our highly complex modern economy, the basics of supply and demand are alive and well.
Newly released Census data indicates that the US population is becoming increasingly diverse. The most prevalent racial or ethnic group was the White alone non-Hispanic population at 57.8%, down from 63.7% in 2010. The Hispanic or Latino population was the second largest, comprising 18.7% of the total, while the Black or African American alone population was third at 12.1%.
The US Census Bureau continues to release results of the 2020 Census. The information is crucial to effective corporate planning, as well as to understanding the dynamics of the nation’s population and potential policy needs or implications. One recent dataset describes overall population growth and trends in the number of people under age 18.
The US Senate recently passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill in a rare and much needed bipartisan action to inject funds to fix and expand roads, bridges, water systems, the power grid, and other pressing priorities. It will doubtlessly go through some delays, detours, and drama in the House, but seems destined to ultimately make its way to the President's desk and a waiting pen (hopefully sooner rather than later). After a laughable number of "Infrastructure Weeks" in Washington DC for many years, we are finally on the cusp of an "Infrastructure Decade."