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COVID-Related Job Losses in Asia and Pacific Region Predominantly Impact Young Workers

Source: International Labor Organization

Unprecedented working-hour losses for youth in the Asia and Pacific region — especially in South Korea — were more likely to result in immediate job loss compared to adult workers during the pandemic. 

The young population in the Asia and Pacific region is more likely to face longer-term economic damage from the pandemic, according to a report from the International Labor Organization: Nearly half of the youth work in wholesale and retail, manufacturing, real estate and food services — the four sectors hit the hardest by shutdowns. 

South Korea had one of the highest youth unemployment rates prior to COVID-19, and its younger generations were still recovering from past recessions — the unemployment rate has hovered at 13% or more since 2013. ILO found that during a recession, the youth unemployment rate in the Asia and Pacific region can persist for up to five years, with the second and third years being the worst. 

The report states that “maximizing youth productivity in the COVID-19 recovery process will improve Asia and the Pacific’s future prospects for inclusive and sustainable growth, demographic transition and social stability.”

Americans Are Less Willing to Get COVID Vaccine Now Compared to in May

Source: Pew Research Center

The percentage of Americans who say they are likely to immediately get a vaccine for COVID-19 has dropped from 72% to 51% since May — a 21 percentage point drop. Despite the continued increase in cases, only 21% of Americans surveyed said they would definitely get a vaccine, according to Pew Research Center.

Concern about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine is the main reason for the drastic change — 78% said the development will move too quickly. Typically, vaccine development takes over a decade. Seventy-six percent of respondents are concerned about the possible side effects of the vaccine, and some cite concern about cost. However, the majority would be more willing to get vaccinated if they knew more about the development process.

The first vaccine trials started in March, and now, researchers are analyzing 42 vaccines in clinical trials on humans. Although the timeline for the vaccine still remains uncertain, the CDC says it will not be available to the public until summer of 2021. 

89% of Executives Reject the Idea That Companies Exist Solely To Make a Profit

Source: GlobeScan Incorporated

This month marks the 50th anniversary of Milton Friedman’s influential statement that: “There is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits.”  

A recent survey, A Test of Corporate Purpose, shows that 89% of corporate executives and 76% of investors now disagree with Friedman’s notion that “the social responsibility of a business is to increase profits.” Last year, the Business Roundtable defined the purpose of a corporation as needing to promote an economy that serves all people, not just shareholders. 

The global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement this year have also pushed companies to seek engagement with a wider group of stakeholders. Employees and consumers have been demanding a more socially aware agenda from companies rather than a singular focus on profits.

US Boards Are Not Diversifying Fast Enough

Source: New York Times; Institutional Shareholder Services’ ESG division

Despite a lot of activist pressure, representation of minority ethnic and racial groups on U.S. boards has increased by only 2.5% over the last five years. None of the industries surveyed fill even 20% of their board seats with members of minority groups, according to the Institutional Shareholder Services. 

IT company boards reflect the most diversity — at just 17% — up 3.9 percentage points from 2015, followed by utility companies at 16.5%. Both the energy and real estate industries suffer the lowest levels of diversity, at 9% and 10%, respectively. Many big companies are taking the The Board Challenge — a pledge to add at least one Black director to their boards. But ISS found that Black women represent only 1.5% of more than 20,000 directors analyzed. 

The U.S. is lagging behind other countries in workplace diversity, despite the majority of the American public wanting to see change. “A diverse and inclusive workforce ensures that the innovations created are reflective of the organization’s diverse customer base,” according to Marsh and McLennan Insights. 

US Active Oil Rig Count Collapses From COVID-19

Source: Baker Hughes, North America Rig Count

The U.S. active oil and gas rig count hit a record low of 251 in July due to the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic — the year started with the rig count at 796. Prior to COVID-19, the lowest rig count was 404 during the oil crash of 2014. 

Texas, the largest oil-producing state in the U.S., lost 336 land rigs this year. Each of these rigs creates an estimated 31 jobs immediately and more than 300 in the long term. 

The pandemic first majorly impacted the oil industry at the beginning of March 2020 when oil prices plummeted. By August, the oil industry had lost more than 100,000 jobs. Although the U.S. administration implemented measures to bail out big oil companies, thousands of workers are still struggling financially. Devashree Saha of The World Resources Institute states that government responses need to prioritize workers and communities to ensure they “are not collateral damage in the pandemic-fed downturn or during the longer-term energy transition.”

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