National Parks See Jump in Post-Pandemic Tourism

By Staff
Friday, September 29, 2023 5:34 PM National Parks are playing a more significant role in the success of the nation's economy. 

According to the 2022 Visitor Spending Effects—Economic Contributions of National Park Visitor Spending the result was the maintenance of 378,000 jobs and $17.5 billion in labor income. Additionally, these visits generated $29.0 billion in value added, and $50.3 billion in economic output in the national economy.

The National Park System includes 424 areas covering more than 85 million acres. Park units can be found in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

In 2022, the National Park System received 312 million recreation visits. This was up 5 percent from 2021. In total, visitors to national parks spent an estimated $23.9 billion in local gateway regions and communities, climbing 16 percent from 2021. 

The greatest impact was in the lodging sector, which saw economic output reach $9 billion in 2022. This includes hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and other specialty lodging, and an additional $500 million on camping fees. Meanwhile, the restaurant sector saw an impact of $4.6 billion in economic output directly contributed to this sector nationally. 

An additional $1.5 billion was spent at grocery stores and convenience stores by park visitors.

Halloween Spending to Reach Record $12.2 Billion

By Staff
Thursday, September 28, 2023 1:17 PM Total Halloween spending is expected to reach a record $12.2 billion, exceeding last year’s record of $10.6 billion, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. A record number of people (73 percent) will participate in Halloween-related activities this year, up from 69 percent in 2022.

“More Americans than ever will be reaching into their wallets and spending a record amount of money to celebrate Halloween this year,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Consumers will be shopping early for festive décor and other related items and retailers are prepared with the inventory to help customers and their families take part in this popular and fun tradition.”

Like previous years, the top ways consumers are planning to celebrate are handing out candy (68 percent), decorating their home or yard (53 percent) or dressing in costume (50 percent). However, in a return to pre-pandemic norms, more consumers also plan to throw or attend a party (32 percent) or take their children trick-or-treating (28 percent).

U.S. Census Is a Reflection of Racial and Ethnic Diversity

By Staff
Wednesday, September 27, 2023 2:58 PM The U.S. continues to become a more ethnically and racially diverse country. New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau highlights new information collected during the 2020 census, including the addition of 200 new race and ethnic groups not tabulated in past censuses. 

The report finds that the Mexican population is the largest Hispanic origin group at approximately 6 million people, followed by Puerto Rican at 5.7 million and Salvadorian at 2.3 million. Meanwhile, Colombian and Honduran populations topped one million for the first time at 1.3 million and 1.1 million respectively.

The English made up the largest segment of the white population at 46.6 million, followed by German at 45 million, and Irish at 38.6 million. 

Of the Asian community, Asian Indian was the largest alone group at 4.4 million and Chinese, except Taiwanese, the largest alone or in any combination group at 5.2 million. Individually the Asian community is made up of 4 key groups including Filipinos at 4.4 million, Vietnamese at 2.3 million, Korean at 2.0 million and Japanese at 1.6 million.

Humans Pose Risk to Bird Migration Patterns

By Staff
Monday, September 25, 2023 2:42 PM Changing weather patterns and conservation challenges are having a significant impact on bird migration patterns. According to the National Audubon Society (NAS), North America has lost more than 2.5 billion migratory birds since 1970.

The NAS tracts migration data for 458 bird species that breed in the U.S. and Canada. Recent tracking data, from the interactive Bird Migration Explorer, finds that at least 299 species connect New York City to at least 30 other countries and territories in the hemisphere, including Argentina and Uruguay. 

Birds tend to follow the same migration patterns each year and travel anywhere from 15 to 600 miles per day. Birds can average 15 to 55 miles an hour depending on wind and weather patterns. The Arctic Tern can fly more than 49,700 miles each year.

Free-roaming birds also have a devastating impact on migration of birds. Introduced to the U.S. in the 15th century, they are now the number-one direct, human-caused threat to birds, killing approximately 2.4 billion wild birds there each year.

Global Art Experiences a Resurgence as Sales Near $68 Billion

By Staff
Friday, September 22, 2023 3:44 PM Despite an economic downturn, the global art market continues to thrive. A new report from UBS, titled The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report 2023, finds that the art market has experienced a post-pandemic resurgence.

The study, authored by cultural economist Dr. Clare McAndrew of Arts Economics, shows global art sales have increased 3 percent year-over-year, reaching nearly $68 billion. This follows a sales increase of 31 percent in 2021. This returns the market to near pre-pandemic levels. 

Three key markets led the purchasing resurgence, with the U.S. in the forefront, followed by the U.K. and China. American art investors sales grew by 2 percent year-over-year to 45 percent, while the U.K. fell slightly to 18 percent. This has been one of the strongest recoveries in the U.S. art market, with sales reaching their highest levels at $30 billion.  Meanwhile, China’s stake in global art sales fell 3 percent to 17 percent. 

The sale of the works of female artists has also steadily increased. Galleries who had fewer female artists in their galleries saw their sales growth performance fall, while those who had a gallery with more than 80 percent of works by females saw their sales grow by 21 percent. 

The report noted this demonstrates that “having a higher share of women’s art work has not been a negative factor for sales in 2022, but having very few could be.”

The Vision Council Releases Focused inSights Telehealth Report

By Staff
Friday, September 22, 2023 12:24 AM ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Today, The Vision Council released Focused inSights Telehealth 2023, a new report offering critical insights into the evolving role of telehealth in eyecare. Despite its ability to provide quality care to patients whenever and wherever it is needed, the report found that telehealth awareness and use for eyecare remains low. These findings come just in time for Telehealth Awareness Week, celebrated by the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) from September 17 – 23.

Do U.S. Workers Fear That Technology Is Making Their Jobs Obsolete?

By Staff
Thursday, September 21, 2023 12:10 PM Twenty-two percent of U.S. workers worry that technology will make their jobs obsolete, according to Gallup’s Work and Education poll. That fear is up seven points since 2021, while other job concerns are stable. The figure had previously varied between 13 percent and 17 percent, with little upward movement in that trend.

The recent rise in people’s concern about their job becoming obsolete is due almost entirely to college-educated workers, among whom the percentage worried has jumped from 8 percent to 20 percent. At the same time, worry among workers without a college degree is virtually unchanged at 24 percent. 

As a result, whereas non-college-educated workers were previously much more concerned about technological replacement than college-educated workers, these groups now express similar levels of concern.

According to the poll, concern about technology making one’s job obsolete is also up more among younger than older workers, widening the generational gap evident in 2021. It has also increased more among those making less than $100,000 than those earning $100,000 or more.

Eyecare Is Important to Employees Amid Greater Attention to Holistic Health, Transitions Optical Survey Says

By Staff
Thursday, September 21, 2023 12:18 AM PINELLAS PARK, Fla.—Transitions has released its latest 2023 Workplace Wellness Survey which examines the influences that play a role in employee eye health and eyecare. The report finds increased attention to holistic health may motivate employees to seek care for eye health concerns.

Library Users Find New Ways to Enjoy Services

By Staff
Wednesday, September 20, 2023 12:23 PM September is Library Card Sign-Up month. For decades, Americans have relied on libraries to help them increase their knowledge and explore the world of books. In recent years, the number of library books checked out has declined, but this hasn’t stopped libraries from remaining a community hub for learning. 

According to the latest figures from Statista, there are over 9,000 public libraries in the U.S., all of which offer a wide variety of resources and services to the communities they serve. Additionally, there are more than 125,000 librarians across the country.

Though the number of users may be on the decline, the types of services offered by libraries have expanded. In 2019, there were around 392 in-person visits to public libraries per 100 people in the U.S. In the same year, there were around 686 circulated library items per 100 people. 

In-person visitation peaked in 2009 with around 535 visits per 100 people, while the number of circulated items peaked in 2010 with 826 circulated items per 100 people. While the number of traditional materials is on the decline, digital materials remain in demand, with electronic collections of material growing by more than 3,000 percent between 2010 and 2019.

Libraries are adding additional services such as the loaning of household items, meeting spaces and community spaces to meet the needs of communities. Libraries across the country are increasingly offering diverse kinds of programs for all ages, such as story-time sessions for toddlers, after-school programs for teens, and computer classes for adults and seniors.

Smart Eyewear Awareness Grows According to New Research From The Vision Council

By Staff
Wednesday, September 20, 2023 12:18 AM ALEXANDRIA, Va.—On the heels of New York Fashion Week, where wearable tech was featured among the year’s hottest trends, The Vision Council has released a new report delving into consumer awareness, interest and sentiment toward smart eyewear products. The report, Focused inSights Smart Eyewear 2023, found that more than a third of Americans intend to purchase tech eyewear within the year, with men aged 18-44, those in urban communities and early adopters of technology especially likely to purchase.

Existing Home Sales Trend Lower in July

By Staff
Tuesday, September 19, 2023 3:00 PM Existing home sales in the U.S. fell in July according to a new report from TD Economics. Rates dropped 2.2 percent month-on-month to 4.07 million units in July. This was below market expectations and it represented a decline to 4.15 million. 

Overall activity was down 16.6 percent compared to 2022, but up 1.8 percent from the cyclical low of 4.0 million recorded in January. 

Single-family home sales fell 1.9 percent to 3.65 million units in July, while sales in the smaller condo/co-op segment fell 4.5 percent to 420 thousand units. Mortgage rates are also on the rise, with higher interest rates and inflation driving up numbers. Rates increased to 6.8 percent in June and July, with rates now sitting at 7.3 percent to 7.5 percent.

Experts believe this may have an impact on the home building industry as sales slow and single-family housing permits stall.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Diagnosis Remains Low Among Women of Childbearing Age

By Staff
Monday, September 18, 2023 2:38 PM September is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) awareness month. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 8 percent to 13 percent of reproductive-aged women are affected by PCOS. Additionally, more than 70 percent of affected women are undiagnosed. 

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal condition that affects women of reproductive age. It usually starts during adolescence, but symptoms may fluctuate over time.

According to the PCOS Challenge, studies show women with PCOS to be at three times higher risk for endometrial cancer and two times higher risk for ovarian cancer. Additionally, these women are two to four times higher for risk of breast cancer.

Experts with PCOS Challenge believe earlier diagnosis can give them the opportunity to better manage the emotional, internal and physical effects of PCOS. It can also help them prevent the onset of more serious illnesses related to PCOS.

The WHO recommended improving symptoms though lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise can help reduce weight and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Contributions From Refugees Help Grow the U.S. Economy

By Staff
Friday, September 15, 2023 11:30 AM As the U.S. continues to welcome refugees, their contributions are having a positive impact on the economy. A new report from the American Immigration Council finds that the almost 2.4 million refugees included in the council’s analysis earned a collective $93.6 billion in household income in 2019.

In addition, refugees contributed $25 billion in taxes. As a result, refugees had more than $68 billion in disposable income, or spending power, to use at U.S. businesses.

The economic impact of refugees has been felt in several states including North Carolina, Michigan and Massachusetts. In California, their spending power totals more than $20.7 billion, while in Texas it has reached more than $5.4 billion.

In Buffalo, New York, the “refugee renaissance” has been credited with transforming the city, revitalizing abandoned areas and bringing back factory workers. Refugees have also been credited with improving the safety of these communities.

The Vision Council Releases Focused inSights 2023: Vision Equipment Use and Purchasing Habits

By Staff
Friday, September 15, 2023 12:21 AM ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Today, The Vision Council released a new report featuring key insights into U.S. eyecare providers’ lens processing and diagnostic equipment use and purchasing habits. The report is titled Focused inSights 2023: Vision Equipment Use and Purchasing.

How Americans Feel About Health and Wellness

By Staff
Thursday, September 14, 2023 1:50 PM Approximately 90 percent of Americans have some form of health insurance, according to a report "Defining Health & Wellness, and the Barriers to Change" from The 3rd Eye. Despite this, the data demonstrate that many still face challenges in accessing health care due to barriers that exist for consumers when accessing quality health care—such as the lack of time, energy, and cost. 

Based on a survey conducted among 1,200 adults across the nation, the report is a snapshot of Americans' influences and behaviors regarding health and wellness. The findings establish that today's consumers have redefined their perspective on health and wellness, with those under the age of 45 spearheading the way. 

Despite this, the data demonstrate that many still face challenges in accessing health care due to barriers that exist for consumers when accessing quality health care—such as the lack of time, energy and cost.