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Quick Takes

Dining Out Is More Appealing Than Going to a Concert — What Consumers Are Thinking About Opening Up

Source: Morning Consult

A majority of U.S. adults still aren’t comfortable engaging in leisure or social activities, despite an increasing number of “nonessential” businesses reopening across all 50 states. Morning Consult has been tracking public opinion on this topic since late May and conducted its latest poll in early June. 

Only about 25% of respondents, on average, say they feel safe participating in activities like going out to eat or going on vacation. However, the general trend is inching toward increased comfort in all categories, and respondents who would feel at ease dining out increased by 31% since late-May. In the poll, 22% of respondents say they could see themselves dining out within three months. 

Respondents are most uncertain about attending concerts and traveling abroad. Notably, 44% say they won’t feel safe traveling internationally until at least the end of the year. 

A new analysis found that after reopening nonessential businesses, 21 states saw a spike in coronavirus cases. This has prompted both Oregon and Utah to hit pause on lifting their states’ lockdown restrictions.

News Deserts Are a Major Loss for Communities Across the US

Source: UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media

More than 2,100 — or one quarter — of newspapers have disappeared in the United States since 2004. 

News deserts, or areas with one local newspaper or none, “contribute to the cultural, economic and political divide within the country,” according to a report from the University of North Carolina. Those who live in news deserts tend to be older, less formally educated and more economically vulnerable, and their lack of access to local news may result in less political engagement and interest in voting. 

During a crisis, local news outlets play a vital role in distributing the latest safety information, but the Brookings Institution found that half of the counties reporting COVID-19 cases in April were in news deserts. Without information from local news on how the pandemic is playing out on a community level and how locals can best protect themselves against the virus, those in news deserts could be more vulnerable to its spread.

Working Hours Lost at 10 Times the Rate of the 2008 Crisis During COVID-19

Source: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

The impact of job hours lost during the coronavirus pandemic is already 10 times greater compared to the early months of the 2008 Great Recession. The economy is not expected to bounce back to its pre-pandemic levels until after 2021, according to the OECD.

COVID-19 has seen a steeper rise in unemployment and a broader reach among the population compared to the Great Recession. The Great Recession reached its unemployment peak in January 2010 at 10.6% — a rate that we surpassed in May 2020 at 13.0% (and it’s still rising). Almost every age group has been economically affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, while during the Great Recession, parts of the older generations were relatively more insulated from the economic fallout.

This drastic job loss could further expand the poverty-wealth gap and backtrack both progress toward gender equality and the ability of younger generations to be financially independent, purchase a home or pay off student loans. The effects of unemployment on mental health are substantial as well and will likely continue increasing during this crisis.

Most US Adults Believe Pressure Led to Corporate Statements About Race

Source: Pew Research Center

Note: Across racial, ethnic groups, more see pressure rather than genuine concern as contributing a great deal to companies’ statements about race.

Only 19% of U.S. adults believe corporate statements about race were made from genuine concern, as opposed to societal pressure. Conversely, nearly 70% of respondents to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center perceive pressure as the main contributor to public statements about race or racial equity, with 59% of white respondents, 43% of Asian respondents and 32% of both Black and Hispanic respondents feeling the same way. 

In making these statements, a mirror has been held up to companies’ own internal diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, as well as their actions of support for marginalized communities local to their area. 

Without their own DEI initiatives, intentional recruitment, diverse leadership, pay equity reviews, or external action to support statements about the imperative of racial justice, for example, these companies may be criticized for empty virtue signaling. The majority of consumers want to know where companies stand on certain issues, but they also need to see how companies exemplify their own purported beliefs.

New Tool by NASA Brings Clarity to the 2020 Wildfire Season

Source: NASA

There has been a surge in wildfire activity this year throughout the southern Amazon states of Pará, Mato Grosso and Amazonas in areas where there was already extensive deforestation. A new tool by NASA tracks the fires and distinguishes between the most damaging types of fires: deforestation and understory fires.

NASA released this satellite-driven, web-based tool on August 19, right before the peak of wildfire season in September and October. The tool accounts for fire location, intensity, duration and spread rate. “By providing more information about fire types and locations in real time, we hope this dashboard will give decision-makers better information needed to manage and respond to fires,” says Douglas Morton of NASA. 

Scientists are monitoring this season closely because of early warning signs, like the growth of fire activity last year, a gradual rise in deforestation and a much drier season. The Amazon has already seen a 17% rise in fires compared to last year — with over 10,000 fires in the first 10 days of August 2020.

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