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Quick Takes

Many Working Adults Around the Globe Fear Job Loss

Source: Ipsos/World Economic Forum

More than half of working adults around the globe fear losing their job in the next 12 months. This concern is predominant in Russia (75%), Spain (73%) and Malaysia (71%), according to a survey of 27 countries conducted by the World Economic Forum. 

As businesses rethought how to safely stay open during the coronavirus pandemic, many turned to technology and artificial intelligence to stay afloat. One-third of all jobs could be automatable by mid-2030, with women disproportionately at risk of losing their jobs from the transition. That being said, WEF found that job creation will outweigh the jobs lost by machinery. Sixty-seven percent of working adults also believe that their employers will help them retrain during these changes. 

The pandemic has forced businesses to steer away from the “human versus machine” framework and to focus more on business resiliency and protection against present and future disruptions. Therefore, WEF said that “financing and implementing a ‘reskilling revolution’ is a critical investment for business, workers and economies alike.”

China Receives the Most Foreign Investment in 2020

Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

China surpassed the United States for the first time as the largest recipient of global foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2020. China attracted an estimated $163 billion, compared to $134 billion in the United States. Global FDI flows in 2020 were an estimated $859 billion compared to $1.5 trillion in 2019, according to UNCTAD. 

China’s success was led by a steady recovery in GDP growth and effective government programs that stabilized investment during the first lockdown. East Asia and South Asia reported growth as well because of early rebounds in Hong Kong and a growing digital economy throughout India. West Asia, however, did not experience similar trends, as the region’s economy was devastated by the drop in oil prices.

The COVID-19 pandemic suppressed all investment activity — M&A deals, greenfield investment and cross-border finance deals. Global FDI flow is expected to remain weak in 2021. Although GDP growth and trade are expected to resume growth, investors will proceed with caution. 

How Businesses Can Help With the Vaccine Rollout

Source: Oliver Wyman's Consumer Sentiment survey, December 2020.

Nearly 60% of survey respondents in the U.K. and U.S. said they would be more willing to visit businesses in person once all the staff are vaccinated. However, the latest Oliver Wyman Forum survey indicates that less than half of Americans are “very willing” to get vaccinated, while nearly 15% said they would never get the COVID-19 vaccine. In comparison, 70% of U.K. respondents are “very or somewhat willing” to get the vaccine.

Vaccine skepticism in the U.S. is likely related to the significant drop of public trust in the government since the start of COVID-19. Americans received unclear messages from the previous administration about the pandemic. But businesses can help address this skepticism, as people’s trust in business surpasses their trust in the government and nonprofits. 

Some companies are already assisting in the vaccine rollout, including Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon. These large corporations can assist with data storage, appointment scheduling and the delivery of supplies, as well as offer space for vaccination centers. Eventually, this vaccination rollout can revive the economy, benefiting the business community.

2021 Will Bring an Uptick in 5G Technology, Reaching 1.95 Billion People Worldwide

Source: Bankr

More than half of the world’s population is expected to have access to 5G coverage by 2025. The advanced technology is on track to grow by 253% in the next four years. In 2020, 5G technology had reached about 15% of the world population, or 1.17 billion people. In 2021, its reach could increase by 10%.

As of August 2020, 38 countries had deployed 5G technology, with North America and Asia leading in the implementation. Europe lags behind the two regions due to weaker demand for 5G. In developing countries, general internet reach is at 47%, compared to 87% in developing countries. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced millions into remote working, making access to connectivity more important than ever. However, this abrupt digital transition exposed the billions of individuals who do not have internet access and are, therefore, more likely to fall behind economically and academically. WEF states that “closing this digital divide is reliant on making 5G available to everyone, everywhere, in a modern and open way.” Access to 5G could benefit industries like education and health care, job and skills training, civic engagement and public services.

Millions of People Live in Energy Poverty — and COVID-19 Isn’t Helping

Source: OurWorldInData

Vertical axis shows the per capita carbon dioxide emissions; horizontal axis shows the average income in that country.

Millions of people around the world lack access to sufficient energy, especially in Africa. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed at least 30 million people back into “energy poverty” in sub-Saharan Africa. This is due to increasing energy demand from stay-at-home orders coupled with people’s inability to pay these larger bills

Countries experiencing energy poverty, predominantly lower-income countries, lack access to modern energy and technology. Energy poverty can lead to indoor air pollution, which the WHO calls “the world’s largest single environmental health risk” — accounting for 1.6 million deaths each year. Those living in poverty tend to rely more on solid fuel sources, like firewood, which cause indoor air pollution. 

Without access to energy, people are more likely to live in poverty, making access to this resource a key stepping stone out of poverty. Expanding access to affordable electricity and increasing governmental funding on technological innovation can create an inclusive economic recovery post-coronavirus.

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