COVID Influence Is Reflected in Mortality and Birth Rates Across U.S.

By Staff
Friday, February 23, 2024 3:02 PM Birth rates are on the rise in the U.S. after mortality rates fell for the first time since before the pandemic. A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that more than half of the U.S. is seeing births outpace deaths. New data shows that across most of the U.S., a natural rebound in birth rates was experienced by July 2023, however, 19 states still saw a decrease, with areas of the South and Northeast seeing more deaths than births. 

Birth rates fell steadily beginning in 2020. This was particularly evident in communities with older populations and areas experiencing low migration. In 2020, the natural birth rate increase was around 1 million people per year. 

Areas like Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia were among the states to see the highest number of deaths versus births. This shifted between 2020 and 2020 when half of all states saw a natural decrease. In 2020, the natural increase fell by 27 percent, mostly due to a rise in deaths resulting from COVID-19 and a fall in births by 1.4 percent. 

As the pandemic continued through 2021, a natural decrease switched to a natural increase in deaths in New York by 28,326. Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts and New Jersey saw similar patterns.

According to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, globally the U.S. saw the highest number of COVID-19-related deaths at 1,123,836, followed by Brazil at 699,276, and India at 530,779.

The World Health Organization noted that the true numbers may never be known as the percentage of registered deaths ranged from 98 percent in the European region to only 10 percent in the African region.

Despite Calls for Equality, Women Are Still Falling Behind Men When It Comes to Compensation in the Workplace

By Staff
Thursday, February 22, 2024 4:00 PM According to the Pew Research Center, in 2022 American women earned an average 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. This was only a 2 cent increase over 2002 figures. Closing the pay gap has been a slow journey, with women only earning 65 cents to each dollar earned by men in 1982. This is only an increase of 17 cents in more than 40 years. 

At this pace, the gender pay gap will not be closed until 2088 according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW). These figures become even more detrimental to women as they enter their retirement years. New figures show that women earn just 70 percent of what men do after leaving the workforce, forcing many people holding onto jobs well into their 70s and 80s. 

The U.S. Department of Labor reports, on average, men are paid $1,219 per week and women $1,002. With less than a high school diploma, men receive $745 per week, while women only earn $594. With an advanced degree, men are paid $1,998 and women $1,546. 

The AAUW report noted, in some professions, women collectively are receiving billions less than they would with equal pay. This was particularly noticeable in the medical field, where female physicians and surgeons were paid $19 billion less annually than their male counterparts. 

According to American Progress, despite the pay gap being illegal since 1963, many companies can still get away with discriminatory practices. AP research shows that it is particularly prevalent in workplaces that discourage open discussion about wages, in a place where employees fear retaliation.

Travelers Are Ready to Hit the Road, But Remain Leary of a Possible Economic Downturn

By Staff
Wednesday, February 21, 2024 1:42 PM The travel industry continues on the road to recovery. A new report from Deloitte finds that passenger throughout was up more than 12 percent, year over year, between January and November 2023. Sharp increases have been seen in the areas of leisure travel which took a significant hit during the pandemic, however, experts are concerned that recent economic woes may once again undo any post-pandemic gains. 

In what was deemed “revenge travel” in 2021, half of summer travelers headed for tourist destinations out of a need to “escape after lockdown,” while others said they were “making up for trips” they hadn’t taken during the pandemic. 

Many travelers are using the opportunity to travel again to splurge, with more than 50 percent saying they were staying in paid lodging. One in five travelers said they now see travel as a priority since the pandemic. Baby Boomers said they were cutting their travel budget in 2023 to spend on an even more expensive trip in the future. 

The report stated that Americans may also be more likely to ride out the financial storm close to home, shortening the length and distance of trips. Many Americans may choose to stay with family or friends.  

It’s expected that younger and lower-income travelers may also choose to stay with family and friends rather than pay for lodging.

“Americans’ recent behavior and attitudes suggest that many place a higher value on travel than they did pre-pandemic. Pent-up demand is likely tapped, but it appears that in 2024, travel will benefit from a more lasting shift in spending priorities,” the report noted. 

“In the event of economic turbulence, travel’s complex nature can offer a silver lining. It provides ample opportunities for travelers to adjust their trips according to their budgets, and for suppliers to adjust their offers to suit consumer demand. Suppliers and marketers should optimize the flexibility of their offerings to make the most of 2024’s prevailing financial mood—whether exuberant or subdued,” the Deloitte report noted.

Climate Change Is Affecting Migration Patterns

By Staff
Tuesday, February 20, 2024 1:45 PM Climate change is affecting more than just the weather in the U.S. Many Americans are now being forced to rethink where they live as storms wipe out homes and make living in certain areas of the county more dangerous and costly. 

Climate refugees are people who have been displaced due to the effects of climate change, whether this is due to changes in weather patterns, damage to land or destruction of homes. 

According to a report from First Street Foundation that focused on Climate Abandonment Areas, there has been more than $2.65 trillion in damage from billion dollar disasters since 1980. 

If the impact of climate change continues, it will become more difficult to find alternative places to live. Nearly 3 million people already live in areas with flood risk levels “above the tipping point.” Meanwhile, many areas have already reported significant flood risk in places where 34 percent or more than 113 million Americans already live. 

Experts believe, most of the climate abandonment areas which have developed over the last 30 years, will continue to see losses in population totaling an additional 2.5 million in loss by 2053. The report noted ongoing climate abandonment will also have a detrimental effect on house values, reduced labor force and falling tax revenues.

Which Employees Are Most Likely to Quit Their Job Over Rigid Return to Office Mandates?

By Staff
Friday, February 16, 2024 5:38 PM When organizations implement rigid return to office (RTO) mandates, high-performers, women and Millennials are the most likely to quit their job, according to Gartner, Inc. A Gartner survey of 2,080 knowledge worker employees from May through June 2023 measured the impact of mandated requirements on employee outcomes among various employee categories. 

Intent to stay at a job among average employees was 8 percent lower with strict RTO mandates. Among high-performing employees, their intent to stay was 16 percent lower with these RTO mandates, double the rate of average employees. Among Millennials and women, the intent to stay was 10 percent and 11 percent lower, respectively.

“Mandated on-site requirements can carry very steep costs for talent attraction and retention. This is especially true for high-performers, women and Millennials—three employee segments who greatly value flexibility,” said Caitlin Duffy, director in the Gartner HR practice. “Often these costs far outweigh the moderate benefits to employee engagement and effort.”

Retail Sales Start Strong in 2024, National Retail Federation Says

By Staff
Thursday, February 15, 2024 2:42 PM Retail sales showed a strong beginning for the year in January, nearly matching December’s busy holiday spending and rising significantly year over year, according to the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, released this week by the National Retail Federation. Click here to access January’s retail data.

“January sales continued the strong performance of retail sales in December, which is impressive coming off a record holiday season,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “More importantly, year-over-year growth was solid, showing consumers are still optimistic and willing to act on the spending power brought by growing employment and wages. This is a great start to the new year.”

Total retail sales, excluding automobiles and gasoline, were down just 0.16 percent seasonally adjusted month over month and up 2.34 percent unadjusted year over year in January, according to the Retail Monitor. That compared with increases of 0.44 percent month over month and 3.07 percent year over year in December.

Alcohol Related Traffic Deaths Remain at an All-Time High

By Staff
Wednesday, February 14, 2024 4:07 PM In a country as large as the U.S., the car has become the top mode of transportation. Despite years of education, alcohol and impaired driving continues to be a nationwide problem. Many people are still not getting the message about the risks of drinking and driving. 

Nearly 40 people a day die in the U.S. in drunk driving crashes. This is one person every 39 minutes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

More than 13,000 people died in 2021 due to alcohol-impaired related traffic deaths, an increase of 14 percent from 2020. The NHTSA noted that all of these deaths were preventable. 

More than 62 percent of people who died in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers in 2020 were the alcohol-impaired drivers themselves. Meanwhile, 38 percent were passengers of the alcohol-impaired drivers, drivers or passengers of another vehicle, or pedestrians. 

In 2020, 229 children or 21 percent of traffic related deaths among those aged 0 to 14 years old were killed in crashes involving alcohol impairment.

People are not just getting impaired from alcohol. The number of people driving under the influence of other dangerous substances is growing. In 2020, more than 18.5 million people aged 16 years and older drove under the influence of alcohol. Nearly 12 million drove under the influence of marijuana and 2.4 million drove with other illicit drugs in their system, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Dating Apps Are a Popular Way to Meet a Partner

By Staff
Tuesday, February 13, 2024 12:56 PM Valentine’s Day is a day to share your feelings with the one you care about. For many Americans, this begins with meeting someone on a dating app. In an increasingly digital world, fewer people are meeting at coffee shops or dances, and more are turning to dating apps to find that special someone. 

According to the Pew Research Center, 1 in 10 partnered adults met their current significant other through a dating site or app.

Data from Statista indicated that Tinder was the top-grossing dating app worldwide in 2023. The app, known for swiping to find that special someone, made more than $808 million in 2023 from its users. This was followed by Bumble, which grossed just over $424 million, and Hinge, owned by Match, which generated $223 million. 

The future of dating apps remains unclear as many people are choosing to live alone. App downloads have been steadily increasing since 2019. This can be due to a variety of factors, including the pandemic and a change in attitudes toward the need to be in a relationship. 

According to Pew Research, 69 percent of Americans are in some form of partnership, with 51 percent saying they are married, 11 percent are living with a partner and 8 percent are otherwise in a committed romantic relationship.

As of 2021, a quarter of 40-year-olds in the U.S. had never been married, up from 6 percent in 1980.

Meanwhile, many Americans are saying “no thanks” to Valentine’s Day or relationships in general. More than 56 percent of single adults said they were not looking for a casual relationship or dating. More than 72 percent of single adults are reporting they prefer to be single, with 63 percent saying they have more important priorities.

Pancakes Remain a Staple of American Diets

By Staff
Monday, February 12, 2024 12:08 PM It’s Pancake Tuesday, also known as Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, and across America, millions of people will be digging into a stack of pancakes. The event marks the end of Carnival and the beginning of the Christian observance of Lent, a time when Christians are expected to make Lenten sacrifices and observances. Shrove Tuesday, the day preceding Lent, is a time when Christians can use up rich foods such as eggs, milk and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. 

According to the PM Group, more than 2.5 tons of pancakes are consumed each year. That is equal to 75 billion pancakes annually. It’s believed pancakes were eaten as far back as prehistoric times.

Current data shows that this is growth in the market expected to decrease slightly to 5.42 percent by 2028.

Experts believe this may be due to a variety of factors including a slumping economy, supply chain issues and interventions of governments through higher interest rates. Despite these factors, growth is still expected to remain steady due to consumers looking for more inexpensive and easy meal options at home. Consumers are also looking for additional ways to save money on dining out experiences. 

Many restaurants are tapping into this market and have added pancakes to their menus in an effort to provide hearty and affordable meal options. They also increase profits for restaurants as they are quick and easy to make, while offering some health benefits. 

Packaged mixes remain one of the favorite ways for consumers to eat pancakes, with healthier and more diverse options available, such as gluten-free mixes.

Minorities Own a Greater Share of Nonemployer Businesses

By Staff
Friday, February 9, 2024 3:31 PM Business ownership in the U.S. is getting more diverse. A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau finds that women and minorities own a greater share of nonemployer businesses. These are businesses that do not have paid employees.

According to the report, women owned 11.2 million nonemployer businesses in 2020, while minorities owned 10 million businesses. Despite the pandemic, these business owners saw more than $307 billion and $345 billion in receipts, respectively.

Overall, there were more than 7 million nonemployer businesses in the U.S. in 2020, with a total of $1.3 trillion in receipts. 

Nonemployer businesses are subject to federal income tax when more than $1,000 in receipts is made in a year. 

Overall, there were nearly 33 million employer and nonemployer businesses, with $40.2 trillion in receipts. Minorities owned 11.1 million businesses, with $1.9 trillion in receipts, while women owned 12.4 million businesses, with $2.2 trillion in receipts. Hispanics owned 4.8 million businesses, with $636.2 billion in receipts and veterans owned 1.6 million businesses, with $983.7 billion in receipts.

Is the Relationship Between Parents and Their Young Adult Children Changing?

By Staff
Thursday, February 8, 2024 2:55 PM Most parents of young adult children are highly invested in how life turns out for their offspring, with the majority feeling more proud and hopeful than disappointed or worried as they venture into adulthood. That’s according to a pair of new surveys from Pew Research Center which finds the lives of parents and their young adult children (ages 18 to 34) are closely knit together through emotional and financial ties.

According to the survey results, most parents of young adults (71 percent) say their children’s successes and failures reflect on the job they’ve done as parents. This is especially true of upper-income parents.

Parents are very involved in their young adult children’s lives, the survey noted. Majorities of respondents said they text (73 percent) or talk on the phone (54 percent) with a young adult child at least a few times a week. About 6 in 10 (59 percent) said they’ve helped their children financially in the past year.

Similarly, most young adults are fine with their parents’ level of involvement in their lives: 69 percent said their parents are about as involved in their day-to-day lives as they’d like them to be. About one-in-five (22 percent) said their parents aren’t involved enough, while only 9 percent said their parents are too involved. Majorities of young adults said they turn to their parents for advice at least sometimes on their jobs, finances and even their physical health.

More Americans Are Celebrating Lunar New Year

By Staff
Wednesday, February 7, 2024 1:48 PM This weekend marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year. Many people across America take part in New Year festivities, including the more than 20 million residents of Asian descent. People from China, Japan, Vietnam and Korea use the lunar calendar.

According to the Pew Research Center, 68 percent of Asian Americans celebrate the Chinese New Year. The highest commemoration rates are among Vietnamese Americans at 93 percent and Chinese Americans at 82 percent. Meanwhile, Korean Americans and Japanese Americans celebrate the holiday at a rate of 45 percent and 30 percent, respectively. 

Many other religious and ethnic groups have also adopted customs of the Lunar New Year, such as horoscopes and traditional foods. Approximately 81 percent of Buddhists and 77 percent of Catholics report celebrating the Lunar New Year. Additionally, half of Protestants, including 49 percent of evangelicals, recognize the beginning of the Lunar New Year. 

The Asian population is one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the U.S. It is expected to top 46 million by 2060. Between 2000 and 2019, the number of Asian Americans rose by 81 percent, faster than Hispanics at 70 percent and African Americans at 20 percent. There was no change in the growth of the white population during this same time frame. 

Asians continue to make up a larger segment of the U.S. population, with Chinese Americans making up 24 percent, followed by Indian Americans at 21 percent and Filipinos at 19 percent. 

California has the largest population of U.S. Asians, with 30 percent calling The Golden State home. More than 6.7 million Asians live in California, followed by New York at 1.9 million, Texas at 1.6 million, New Jersey at just over 950,000 and Washington with 852,000. Fifty-five percent of Asians in the U.S. lived in these states.

Heart Disease Remains the Number One Cause of Death in U.S. for Men and Women

By Staff
Tuesday, February 6, 2024 12:04 PM February is Heart Health Month and new research is showing that Americans are still at risk of heart attacks and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men and women. Data shows that in the U.S., one person dies every 33 seconds from cardiovascular disease. 

In 2021, more than 695,000 people died from heart disease, or one in five of all deaths. This is putting a huge burden on the American health care system. Heart disease cost the U.S. nearly $240 billion between 2018 and 2019 including health care services, medicines and lost productivity. 

At Henry Ford Health, education and awareness is at the forefront of heart attack and heart disease prevention. 

They offer three key suggestions people can do to lower their risk of a heart attack.

Know your risk. It is important to know if you have a family history or lifestyle factors which can influence your likelihood of developing heart disease. 

Healthy body, healthy heart. Experts recommend making lifestyle changes to lower your risk of heart disease. This includes getting enough exercise and eating a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and lean proteins. 

Be mindful of emotions. Finally, experts suggest lowering stress and getting help for depression. These two things can have a negative effect on your heart as well as on your overall health.

Owning a Home Is Still Out of Reach for Many Buyers

By Staff
Monday, February 5, 2024 11:52 AM Housing experts are predicting some relief in the 2024 housing market. For nearly three years, housing prices have plummeted from record highs, while mortgage rates have soared from record lows. Many homebuyers have seen their buying power shrink in recent years, with some forced to give up homes they purchased at 1 percent and 2 percent interest rates, according to a new report from Zillow.

Many homeowners are also more willing to sell, now that profit margins have regained some of what they lost over the past two years. Zillow economists are predicting more homeowners who locked in long-term payments when rates were near all-time lows will list their homes as they tire of waiting for rates to return to 2021 levels. 

Many homebuyers may choose less traditional home options, such as “flipper” homes that require some upgrades in order to save some initial purchase costs. 

AI may also become a homebuyer's new friend with new technologies that will help both agents and their clients find the perfect home through virtual resources such as 3D listings, financial tools and multimodal capabilities.

Many Americans Have Little or No Access to Paid Sick Days

By Staff
Friday, February 2, 2024 3:59 PM There is nothing more frustrating than being sick. Not only does it interfere with your day-to-day activities, but it can disrupt your work schedule and even cost you money in medication and time off. February 5 is National Sickie Day, a day to recognize the need to take both unplanned and the occasional planned “sick day.” 

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires eligible employers to provide certain workers unpaid family leave. However, many employers are not required to provide for sick days, however, they often can’t be avoided as germs make the rounds of offices, schools and homes. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, 78 percent of private-sector workers have access to sick days. This is up from 63 percent in 2010. The number of low-wage workers with paid sick time is far lower, sitting at just 39 percent, up from 20 percent in 2010. However, the Institute noted this means 61 percent of low wage workers have no access to paid sick time. 

Many Americans are reluctant or unable to take sick days, leaving them and their co-workers at risk of the spread of germs. A survey from Statista found that of the 80 percent of adult respondents who worked or studied, almost one quarter, did not take any sick leave in the last 12 months.  

Of those who did take sick days, 2 or 3 days was the most common length of time. 

Many workplaces are instituting workplace well-being programs with 75 employees reporting they strongly agree, agree or slightly agree that employee well-being programs offered by their employer are one of the reasons they stay at their job. This was an increase of 70 percent from 2019.

Young people were the most likely to go to work despite being sick, according to Statista, with 47 percent of respondents aged 18 to 30 years reporting they went to work when they were sick, compared to 38 percent of those aged 46 to 60.