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52% of Consumers Expect US Stock Prices to Be Higher One Year From Now

Source: New York Fed Survey of Consumer Expectations, April 2020

More than half of respondents to a New York Federal Reserve survey expect stock market prices to be higher in a year’s time, despite consumer expectations deteriorating sharply in other economic categories. Expectations for higher prices increased from 47.7% of respondents in March to 51.8% — higher than they’ve been for at least six years. 

Conversely, the survey continued to show a steep decline in expectations for growth in household income, dropping from 3.10% of consumers in February who expected their income to be higher next year to 1.87% in April. Perhaps surprisingly, expectations for higher unemployment, though currently at a high, started to decline in April at 47.57% compared to 50.86% recorded in March. 

With stock prices at record lows, some are wondering if this is a good time to buy stocks and hoping they’ll see substantial increases in value as the economy recovers. The stock value of some companies has actually risen due to the pandemic, according to Forbes. The companies seeing success have leveraged the increased demand for e-commerce and delivery services, setting themselves up for success in a post-coronavirus economy.

Employee Stress Levels Hitting New Highs Due to Coronavirus

Source: MetLife, U.S. Employee Benefit Navigating Together: Trends Study 2020

Sixty-seven percent of employees are experiencing higher levels of stress due to COVID-19 — with work and finances being their biggest concerns. Not surprisingly, a larger proportion of health care workers and women, many of whom have taken on child care and schooling duties in addition to their careers, are reporting heightened stress levels, a study from MetLife reports.

The findings come as employers grapple with providing conducive working environments for employees in these unprecedented conditions. Data from before and during the crisis show that greater support from employers results in more successful employees. Research from 2019 shows that 67% of successful employees reported having the necessary flexibility in work policies to manage work and life.

Understanding employees’ experiences and needs has never been more paramount for organizations. This “new normal” necessitates enhanced employee emotional wellness support and financial wellness initiatives for managing work-life stress. Employers who lead with empathy will have a “more engaged, productive and successful workforce.” 

Hotel, Food Workers Hardest Hit by COVID Crisis

Source: Urban Institute

As many as 22 million Americans are out of work due to the coronavirus crisis, with the accommodation and food services industries suffering the most job losses, according to figures from the Urban Institute.

The data, which is updated monthly to keep track of the rapidly changing labor market, is an estimate based on Washington State and New York State data. The two states publish weekly unemployment numbers by industry. The purpose of this map is to help nonprofits, foundations and governmental officials to identify where support is needed most.

Predictably so, the majority of job losses are in metropolitan areas, such as New York City, Los Angeles and Boston. However, the map also shows there are extreme job losses in states like Georgia and Kentucky — both of which are starting to relax restrictions on nonessential businesses in an effort to revive their economies.

US Wind Power Sector Could Lose 35,000 Jobs, Despite Strong Q1

Source: American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)

The U.S. wind power industry reported strong Q1 results, although challenges for the industry lie ahead due to the coronavirus crisis. According to the American Wind Energy Association’s first quarter report, the industry installed more than 1,800 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity, while the volume of projects under construction set a new record, with 24,690 MW under construction across the country. 

The industry also experienced an advancement in turbine technology and offshore wind in Q1. Wind energy is now the largest provider of renewable energy in the U.S., supplying more than 7% of the nation’s electricity in 2019, enough to power 32 million homes.

However, much like the rest of the economy, the wind energy sector is experiencing significant challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 25 GW of planned wind projects are at risk, representing $35 billion in investment. The wind power industry represents more than 114,000 jobs in the U.S. economy and could lose more than 35,000 jobs as the economy retracts, the AWEA warns.

Plunge in Oil Demand Far Worse Than Previous Recessions

Source: BP Statistical Review, IEA, and World Bank

The severe shock to the oil industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is far worse than previous recessions, World Bank data shows. Reflecting the steep drop in prices, demand for oil has dropped markedly by 9.3%. By comparison, the Great Recession of 2008 only saw a demand drop of 0.66%. 

The sharp drop in demand is owed to global social distancing measures, which have essentially cut excess need for electricity and fuel for transportation. But the world had seen an oversupply of oil even prior to the pandemic, largely due to stiff competition between Saudi Arabia and Russia for increased market share. The International Energy Agency says the plunge in oil demand is “staggering”, with renewable energy set to make up 30% of this year’s demand for electricity.

Oil prices are now expected to average $35 per barrel in 2020 — a huge decrease from the October 2019 forecast of $58 per barrel and a 43% drop from the 2019 average of $61 per barrel. The U.S. administration is weighing possible bailout options, but so far Congress has declined this option. The pinch has been felt by major oil companies, with reported staff layoffs and a 25%-35% reduction in spending on new production.

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