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Pandemic and Trump Bump for Media Faded In 2021

The news industry is in dire straits, according to a recently published analysis by Axios. Comparing performance for 2021 to the year prior, top news companies saw a decrease of 65% of social media interactions and a 33% decrease in app downloads. Cable news primetime viewers, similarly, fell by 36%.

Furthermore, unique visits to the top five websites fell 8%. An earlier report by Axios pointed to some publishers seeing as much as a 43% decrease in traffic in the first half of 2021.

The decrease in traffic coincided with the inauguration of President Joe Biden, who intended to be a “no drama” president. As vaccines were deployed, the reopening of the economy meant less focus on COVID-19, which drove a lot of the engagement in 2020. The decrease in engagement also comes as alternative media formats, such as podcasts, continue to increase in popularity, leading to a fragmentation of attention.

Real Wages Fail to Keep Up As Inflation Bites

Real wages are falling, despite the pay hikes over the past three years. While nominal wages have increased 9% in the U.S. since March 2019 off the back of a hot labor market, when paired with the impacts of the pandemic and inflation of 8.6%, real incomes are down by 1%. 

For employers, recession and inflation leave little room for continued wage hikes. Yet, companies are scrambling to fill vacancies. Job openings still outnumber the number of people looking for work by almost two to one, according to U.S. jobs data. 

To attract and retain workers, employers need to cater to the changed needs and demands of the post-pandemic workforce. More than eight in 10 employees said they would forgo a pay increase in return for other benefits — the top benefit being more control over their work schedule, according to a Mercer study. 

More well-being benefits and the ability to work from anywhere were also highly desired. Companies in the U.K. are experimenting with a four-day work week, and employers putting programs in place to support caregivers show how firms are trying to respond to a broader set of employee needs to remain competitive in the talent market. 

The Number of People Without Enough Food Is Rising

Source: UN FAO

As many as 828 million people around the world were without enough food in 2021, an increase of 150 million people since before the pandemic, reports the United Nations. Nearly one-third of the world’s population (29.3%) are moderately or severely food insecure, a number that has also increased since COVID-19.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report found that after remaining relatively stable since 2015, the proportion of people affected by hunger jumped in 2020 and continued to rise in 2021. But food insecurity is unequally distributed — more than half of the people facing hunger live in Asia, and more than one-third are in Africa.

Food prices around the world continue to rise to record highs, driven by inflation and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The UN projects that 670 million people, or 8% of the world’s population, will still face hunger in 2030 — even if there is a global economic recovery.

US and China’s Greenhouse Emissions Cause $6 Trillion in Losses

The economic impacts of greenhouse gas emissions are disproportionately hurting countries with a lower GDP. Wealthy countries are the greatest contributors to climate change, but the economic losses caused by rising temperatures are costing trillions of dollars around the world, according to a new study from Dartmouth College.

The study measured 143 countries’ emissions and found that five countries’ emissions caused $6 trillion in global economic losses from 1990 to 2014. The two top emitters — the U.S. and China — each caused global income losses of over $1.8 trillion. Russia, India, and Brazil individually exceed $500 billion each over the same period.

“This research provides legally valuable estimates of the financial damages individual nations have suffered due to other countries’ climate-changing activities,” said Justin Mankin, an assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth and senior researcher of the study.

Warming temperatures can impact a country’s GDP through many pathways, including decreasing agricultural yields, labor productivity, and industrial output. As the effects of climate change worsen, the most vulnerable populations and poorest countries will be the first impacted.

Global Pilot Shortage Leaves Passengers Stranded

Airlines all over the world are facing a shortage of pilots and are struggling to meet demand as passengers return to air travel en masse. Large numbers of summer travelers have faced canceled and delayed flights as pilot, crew, and aircraft shortages cause strain on the aviation industry.

Experts warn that the staff shortages won’t end anytime soon—in the U.S., the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects about 14,500 openings for airline and commercial pilots each year over the next decade. Oliver Wyman estimates that there will be a global gap of​​ 34,000 to 50,000 pilots by 2025.

The root causes of the pilot shortage stretch back before the pandemic. In the U.S., barriers include an aging workforce facing mandatory retirement, fewer pilots leaving the military, and the high cost of training. In China and other regions with growing air travel, airlines were struggling to expand capacity before COVID-19. During the pandemic, the staffing crisis was exacerbated by airlines firing pilots or offering them early retirement packages as demand plummeted.

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