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The Delta Variant Could Disrupt the Newest Job Market Gain

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The U.S. labor market is still 5.7 million jobs short, on a seasonally adjusted basis, below its peak in February 2020. The leisure and hospitality sector accounts for 1.74 million jobs of the total 4.99 million lost in the service sector. In contrast, jobs in the utilities, transportation and financial sectors experienced a quicker recovery. 

The July job report indicated the biggest gain in jobs since August 2020, with an additional 943,000 jobs added back into the economy. The leisure and hospitality sector accounted for more than one-third of the total at 380,000 jobs, followed by 230,000 jobs in local government and 83,000 education and health services jobs. U.S. unemployment dropped to 5.4% in July — a new low for the COVID-19 era — but the economy still has a long way to go. As the world tackles the Delta variant, governments are bringing back pandemic-related restrictions that could further jeopardize the labor recovery.

Net-Zero-Aligned Investments Increase Nearly Fivefold in 6 Months

The Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative has grown from 30 signatories with $9 trillion in AUM at the end of 2020, to 128 signatories managing $43 trillion today

In order to facilitate the global transition to net-zero emissions by 2050 and reduce the risks climate change poses to their investments, investors are setting commitments to steer their portfolios to net-zero emissions. With COP26 approaching, the first half of 2021 has seen rapid growth in the number and value of assets under management (AUM) aligned with the net-zero goal.

The Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative has grown from 30 signatories with $9 trillion in AUM at the end of 2020, to 128 signatories managing $43 trillion today, representing around 36% of global AUM. The Initiative has joined with the Net-Zero Asset Owners Alliance and Net-Zero Banking Alliance to form the Glasgow Alliance for Net Zero, with over $70 trillion of assets between them.

As more investors align their portfolios with net-zero targets, companies will face mounting investor pressure to adopt credible net-zero transition plans and improve their disclosures of emissions and climate risks.

Lower-Income Households Are At Risk of the ‘Homework Gap’

Source: Pew Research Center

Remote learning during the pandemic exposed the already fragile technological gap among income groups — 46% of lower-income families report having at least one problem related to the “homework gap.” Pew Research identifies this gap as “school-age children lacking the connectivity they need to complete schoolwork at home.”

Ninety percent of Americans state in a Pew Research report that the internet has been essential during COVID-19; however, about a quarter of home broadband users and smartphone owners cite affordability as a key concern as the pandemic continues. 

Over 60% of Americans believe that the government should take responsibility and ensure fair access to high-speed internet. And, as COVID-19 continues to expose the digital divide, more U.S. adults are in favor of schools providing digital technology for online learning than they were in April 2020. 

Shipliner Schedule Reliability Halves to 40% Compared to 2019

Source: Sea-Intelligence

The reliability of shipliners’ schedules has dropped by 38.2 percentage points, compared to 2020. Sea-Intelligence analyzed 34 different trade lanes and more than 60 carriers in its Global Liner Performance report and notes that “None of the top-14 carriers recorded a Y/Y improvement in schedule reliability, with all carriers recording double-digit declines of over -31.0 percentage points.”

Vessels’ late arrival times increased by almost half a day to 6.41 days. “The level of delays in 2021 have been the highest across each month compared to previous years,” notes Sea-Intelligence.

Efforts to stay on schedule have been hindered by a block in the Suez Canal in March, the Yantian terminal closure, and “border restrictions and port worker absences,” according to The Financial Times, as well as a “partial shut down of Ningbo-Zhoushan port.” High shipping prices and congestion at ports are also contributing to the logistical issues, which are expected to continue into next year. 

Ransomware Attacks on Critical Infrastructure Are Surging

According to Temple University’s Cybersecurity in Application, Research & Education Laboratory, ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure are on the rise, with about 75% of recorded incidents since 2013 having taken place in the last 18 months. The increasing frequency and severity of ransomware attacks are reflected by the steady increase in cyber insurance prices.

Threat actors can target critical infrastructure with geopolitical or financial motivations. They are well aware of the potential knock-on impacts on businesses and economies, as these attacks can cripple unprepared organizations by halting operations for extended periods.

A failure to prevent or respond to ransomware incidents can lead to reputational and liability risks, with lasting impacts on trust dynamics between infrastructure operators and key stakeholders such as governments, investors and consumers. These trust implications are further discussed in Built to Last: Infrastructure and Trust In A Changing World, a new report from Marsh McLennan.

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