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Tech Hubs in the US Are Fueling Regional Divides

Source: Brookings Institution

America’s high-tech innovation sector has exacerbated the nation’s regional divides, fueling growth in select metropolitan areas at the expense of other cities in the country. Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and San Diego have benefited the most from the tech boom, accounting for “more than 90% of the nation’s innovation-sector growth during the years 2005 to 2017.” 

A recent Brookings Institution report warned that the sector’s geographical concentration was a “grave national problem.” From spiraling home prices in tech hub cities to underdevelopment in regions left behind, “regional divergence is … clearly driving ‘backlash’ political dynamics.”

The report urges the U.S. government to immediately counter the trend by “creating eight to 10 new regional ‘growth centers,’” tying in tax and regulatory benefits to encourage the tech-innovation industry to expand beyond its concentrated hubs. The think tank estimated federal government investment for such an initiative to be $100 billion over 10 years — “substantially less than the 10-year cost of U.S. fossil fuel subsidies.”

Gen Z Faces Long-Term Setbacks in the Job Market

Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

The unemployment rate for Generation Z more than doubled in most OECD countries between February 2020 and March 2021. Spain saw the highest Gen Z unemployment: 38% of 15- to 24-year-olds, compared to the 14% of workers between ages 25-74. Gen Z — born between 1997 and 2009 — will represent about 27% of the workforce by 2025.

Young people in Spain suffered concerning levels of unemployment prior to the pandemic, due to an outdated education system, low wages and a lack of economic diversity — all issues exacerbated by COVID-19. Tourism and construction, also significantly impacted by the pandemic, include a higher percentage of young Spaniards as well. Already in 2019, 17.3% of young Spaniards were leaving to pursue opportunities in neighboring European countries.

Experts state that the pandemic will be “scarring” for Gen Z due to immediate risks to education and job opportunities, as well as “long-term harm to income levels, access to training, career prospects and even mental well-being.” Gen Z is, however, identified as being more “risk averse” and “financially conscious” than other generations. 

Concern for Hunger and Homelessness Reaches 20-Year Peak in US

Source: Gallup

For the first time in nearly two decades, the majority of Americans are worried about hunger and homelessness to a great extent. Concerns over poverty are at their highest point in the 20 years that Gallup has tracked this issue, having increased eight percentage points since last year.

A study shows that chronic homelessness is expected to increase by 49% in the U.S. due to economic complications stemming from the pandemic. Economists predict homelessness will peak in 2023, with over 600,000 at risk of losing their homes. 

When it comes to providing enough food for their household, about 22 million — or 11% — of all U.S. adults fall short, while 77% of U.S. adults cite financial restraints in obtaining food. COVID-19 has shown how fragile the global food system is, but collaboration between farmers, consumers, funders, governments, businesses and NGOs can help move the country to a healthier system. 

The Rising Urgency of Climate Change-Related Health Crises

Source: Marsh McLennan

Climate change is exacerbating existing health risks and costs and creating new ones. These effects will intensify over time and greatly challenge health care and life sciences, according to a new interactive climate health navigator, Climate Health Threat Illustrator, from Marsh McLennan. 

The data shows that 8.2 million annual excess deaths — or 73 deaths out of every 100,000 people — are forecast worldwide for 2100 due to extreme temperatures in a high-emissions scenario. In addition, 300 million people already live on land that will likely be underwater or annually flooded by 2050 due to sea-level rise, even in a low-emissions scenario. Health and socioeconomic disparities will continue to widen, as people and countries least able to cope are hardest hit.

How can health care providers, payers, life sciences and employers proactively respond to these challenges? Building resilience and reducing emissions are critical to mitigate potentially devastating climate-related health outcomes. Organizations can ensure continuity of care during crises and prepare for intensifying demands in the future. Industry leaders are also curbing their own emissions while incentivizing health care and life sciences to do the same. 

 

Rise in Carbon Emissions Brings Concern Over Building Sector’s Carbon Footprint

Source: The Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction (5th edition)

The operation of global buildings reached their highest-ever carbon emissions level in 2019 at 28% of total global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, pushing the sector further away from achieving its Paris Agreement goals. That number jumps to 38% when emissions from building construction is accounted for, according to this year’s Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction

This year’s report highlights the disruptions from COVID-19 in the building and construction sectors, as well as introduces a new index to track the progress of climate initiatives. The pandemic slowed global construction activity, which led to a drop in global energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions — 5% and 7%, respectively. 

But COVID-19 also grew interest in and the market for “green” buildings as governments and key players in the buildings and construction sector plan for a post-COVID green recovery. However, these commitments and initiatives will need to rapidly increase in scale to get on track for a net-zero carbon building plan by 2050.

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