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NOAA Warns of Severe Hurricane Season

Forecasters at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are predicting an above-average hurricane season this year, with up to 21 storms between June and November 30. 

NOAA estimates there is a 65% chance that the 2022 season is above average, with only a 25% chance of a near-normal season. Of the 14 to 21 named storms, NOAA predicts six to 10 of these could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), and three to six could be major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or higher). This will be the seventh consecutive season with above-average hurricane activity.

As climate change impacts weather patterns, natural disasters like wildfires and hurricanes will be more extreme and their seasons will last longer. The more intense hurricane activity this season is due to “several climate factors, including the ongoing La Niña, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, warmer sea surface temperatures, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon,” NOAA says. 

Employees Are Happiest Working From Home

The vast majority of workers prefer to work from home rather than return to the office, shows a new study from the Policy Institute and King’s College London. The survey of over 2,000 London-based workers reveals that 75% of workers believe that we’re never returning to the previous model of working full-time in an office. 

Eight out of 10 workers say working from home at least once a week has a positive impact on their lives. The top benefits of working from home include no commute, being able to manage home and social responsibilities, less stress, and less exposure to COVID-19.

Women (84%) are more likely than men (76%) to say that remote work has improved their quality of life, and their ability to manage responsibilities at home. Older workers are also more likely than younger workers to experience a positive impact. Contrary to popular assumption, there is no significant difference between introverts (82%) and extroverts (79%) who enjoy working from home.

Black American Unemployment Rate Is Double That of White Americans

For over 40 years, Black Americans have had an unemployment rate twice as high as white Americans, reports the Economic Policy Institute. As of May 2022, the unemployment gap remains unchanged: Black Americans had an unemployment rate of 6.2%, compared to white Americans at 3.2%.

The usual factors cited to explain this gap—differences in education, experience, or skills—fall short of explaining the racial inequality in the labor market without factoring in discrimination. The 2:1 ratio between Black and white workers remains the same, despite gains in educational and skill attainment by Black Americans over the past four decades.

This disparity also extends to wages. In 2019, the average Black worker earned 24% less per hour than the average white worker. Controlling for differences in education, experience, and geography still left Black workers earning 14% less than white workers. This racial wage gap has grown larger over time; in 1979, Black workers earned 8% less than white colleagues. 

Rice Prices Are Rising Amid Global Food Crisis

The price of rice continues to rise for the fifth consecutive month as global food prices soar to record highs, reports the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Rice, a staple food throughout much of the world, has been more resilient against the price increases affecting other food commodities because of abundant harvests. But international rice prices have been rising since the beginning of the year and are now 11% higher than they were at the end of 2021.

Food prices have been rising precipitously around the world, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, higher energy and fertilizer costs, and other factors like food export bans. Wheat, another global food staple, has been particularly affected by the Ukraine crisis, with prices rising 55% since last year. Steep wheat prices could lead to an increased demand for rice, potentially pushing rice prices higher as the conflict continues.

The FAO warns that countries are expected to spend a record $1.8 trillion importing food this year, placing low-income countries at high risk for a food crisis.

American Businesses Have More Work to Do on Racial Equity

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police, businesses across the U.S. committed to increasing racial diversity and equity. But in the two years since, how many have followed through? 

The greatest progress has been made in disclosing diversity data and pay ratios, according to JUST Capital’s 2022 Corporate Racial Equity Tracker. Of the 85 largest employers in the U.S., the majority disclose racial diversity data — 91% of companies now share their data on workforce diversity data, and 95% share board diversity data. 

Fewer companies share salary data, though the increases were significant over the past two years: Racial pay equity analysis increased from 34% to 45%, and disclosure of pay ratios by race increased from 14% to 24%.

But corporate America continues to lag behind on issues like reporting hiring and promotion rates by ethnicity, disclosing local supplier or small business spending, providing anti-harassment training, and sharing re-entry or second chance policies. 

These issues remain important to consumers and investors: A recent JUST Capital survey found that 92% of Americans believe it is important for companies to promote racial diversity and equity in the workplace. And 68% of Americans, and 87% of Black Americans, believe companies have more work to do.

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