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Future

The Future Of Flying Is Closer Than Ever-Sustainable Fuel Is The Key


By Lauren Uppink, Head of Aviation, Travel and Tourism, World Economic Forum

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a drastic reduction in air travel, leaving many airlines facing an uncertain future. It might be tempting to assume that once air travel resumes, it would be business as usual as the airline industry focuses on a return to profitability over commitments to achieve net-zero emissions . But as Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer at Airbus,  recently stated, pursuing one at the expense of the other “is a false choice.”

At pre-pandemic levels, aviation was responsible for 2-3% of overall global emissions, and current forecasts from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) anticipate significant growth in air travel throughout the 2020s. In addition, as the world looks to build back better, a growing proportion of airline passengers will be millennials who are likely to book with sustainable brands with which their values align.

To drive a sustainable, long-term recovery in the aviation industry, facilitating the transition to net-zero flying by the middle of this century remains a priority across aviation’s value chain. Achieving net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 will not only help create an environmentally sustainable future but also ensure a financially resilient and competitive aviation industry as a whole.

How to achieve net-zero flying

The use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) – fuel either made from biogenic feedstocks such as waste cooking oil, agricultural residues and municipal waste, or through next generation SAF technologies such as power-to-liquid from recycled CO2 and carbon-capture technologies – will play an indispensable part in achieving this transition.

SAF is especially relevant for addressing carbon emissions from long-haul flights and has the distinct financial advantage of not requiring any major new equipment or infrastructure investment, since it can be blended with conventional jet fuel. Given the long lead time for new propulsion technologies like hydrogen and electric to come to market, SAF is a way to make substantial progress on net zero immediately, for both long and short haul aviation.

SAF that is currently commercially available can reduce GHG emissions by up to 80% on a life-cycle emissions basis  as compared to fossil fuels, offering airlines a way to become greener while continuing to fly. The problem of wider adoption is two-fold: the cost and current limited supply of SAF. Today’s commercial production of SAF is only approximately 0.05% of total EU jet fuel consumption – and the current pace of growth is nowhere near what it should be to meet global climate objectives.

To help support the development and use of SAF, the World Economic Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow (CST) initiative created the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Certificate (SAFc) system to serve as an accounting tool that will allow SAF emissions reductions to be claimed by the traveler if they cover the higher cost of the fuel. In other words, corporations will be able to pay extra for sustainable aviation fuel certificates against their chosen routes, boosting demand for SAF and unlocking additional funding sources to stimulate this nascent industry. Instead of buying offsets, the SAFc framework provides customers with the option to invest directly into SAF and furthermore receive recognition for this purchase to prove Scope 3 carbon abatement for their corporations.

Commitments to net-zero emissions

International aviation and shipping are unique in that they were excluded from national carbon budgets under the Paris Agreement. Instead, Parties were requested to work through the international regulators to reduce emissions from these sectors. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, traction was slow with governments and industry alike in the will or commitment to a net-zero by 2050 target for the sector. That being said, the industry were already aligned around environmental targets, including to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and by 2050 to have halved carbon emissions from aviation against 2005 levels. In 2019 ambitious leaders in the sector joined the Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition as a crucial mechanism through which actors across the value chain could collaborate to advance efforts towards net-zero flying.

Being an industry with low profit margins to begin with, it is promising to see airlines emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic with the recognition of the false choice between longer-term profitability and sustainability. Over the last year we have witnessed this in the many commitments to net-zero that have come to pass.

In September 2020, oneworld – which includes American Airlines, British Airways and Cathay Pacific Airways – announced that all 13 of its member airlines have committed to net-zero emissions by 2050, becoming the first global airline alliance to unite behind a common target to achieve carbon neutrality. The airlines said they will develop individual approaches to reach the net-zero target by 2050, through a mix of various initiatives such as efficiency measures, investments in SAF and more fuel-efficient aircraft, reduction of waste and single-use plastics, and carbon offsets, among other measures.

This was followed in February by Europe’s aviation sector unveiling its flagship sustainability initiative Destination 2050 – which lays out a route to reduce CO2 emissions from all flights within and departing from the EU by 45% by 2030, reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. This document is backed by major European flight industry associations, covering airports (ACI EUROPE), airlines (A4E), aerospace and defense (ASD Europe), air traffic control (CANSO), and regional airlines (ERA).

In March 2021, Airlines for America, the industry trade organization representing the leading US airlines, announced the commitment of its member carriers to work across the aviation industry and with government leaders to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In April, British Airways-owner International Airlines Group announced the first SAF commitment, to ensure SAF accounts for 10% of their fuel usage in 2030. They plan to achieve this by investing US$400 million into SAF development in the next 20 years and purchasing one million tons of sustainable fuel on an annual basis. .

And just recently, Airports Council International (ACI) World and their five ACI regions adopted a long-term carbon goal for their member airports.  ACI EUROPE not only reaffirmed the commitment of 235 airports to net zero by 2050 but also significantly raised ambitions with 91 airports run by 16 operators, being set to deliver on their net-zero commitment already by 2030.

On the consumer side, there are growing commitments from multinational corporations to fly on airlines using SAF. In October, Alaska Airlines and Microsoft signed a partnership agreement to reduce carbon emissions via flights powered by sustainable aviation fuel on key routes, while in February Deloitte struck agreements with Delta Air Lines and American Airlines to buy flights using SAF as part of its efforts to reduce emissions. Agreements like this enable corporations to help carry the extra cost of SAF to the airlines and the SAFc accounting framework is designed to facilitate, incentivize and standardize these transactions to ensure they are environmentally credible and result in additional sources of funding to rapidly accelerate SAF production and use

One of the goals for COP26 is to rally the aviation fuel value chain behind a 10% SAF by 2030 ambition. Tools such as SAFc, coalitions of the willing and ambitious commitments from airlines themselves offer a promising way forward.



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Gadgets

Denver nonprofit offers cash assistance to Colorado Black women struggling


DENVER — A Denver faith-based nonprofit organization is helping Black women struggling financially with a cash assistance program.

On Juneteenth, Soul 2 Soul Sisters, a nonprofit, launched a COVID-19 cash assistance program for Black women. Applicants can request $50 to $350.

“The funds can be used for any personal, medical professional expenses,” said Niyankor Ajuaj, a spokesperson with the nonprofit.

The initial goal of the program was to help 90 to 100 Black women living in Colorado, and so far, more than 500 have applied.

“We are finding out that it’s not business as usual for a lot of Black women in our community due to the fact that they are behind on so many different payments, like rent, the car, childcare, school,” Ajuaj said. “We are hoping that we can help all the Black women that apply.”

The organization hopes by providing financial assistance to Black women, they can also boost vaccination rates.

“The narrative is, ‘How can I get vaccinated when I don’t even know how I am going to feed my kids today?’” Ajuaj said.

The pandemic impacted minority communities at a greater rate and drove millions of women out of the workforce.

A study conducted by UCLA found that at the end of 2020, Latinas and Black women had nearly double the unemployment rate of their white counterparts, according to the Associated Press.

Lauren Hawkins applied for the program. She is a single mother on a fixed income. Hawkins said she only receives $215 dollars a month from the Americans with Disabilities.

“I’m struggling, barely making ends meet,” Hawkins said.

She says she’s been out of work for eight years after undergoing reconstructive foot surgery. If Hawkins is selected, she plans to use the money for rent, food or her cell phone bill.

The application for the COVID-19 cash assistance program can be accessed in the Instagram bio of Souls 2 Souls Sisters. The deadline to apply is Saturday, June 26 at 11:59 p.m.

“Cash assistance is open to anybody who lives in the state of Colorado who identifies as a Black woman and in need of financial assistance,” Ajuaj said.

Money is already being dispersed to applicants by check and Paypal. The organization is also accepting donations online to assure everyone’s needs are met.





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Hardware

Marking a milestone: N.B. man to become hardware store’s longest-serving employee after nearly half a century on the job


FREDERICTON —
A man in Fredericton, N.B. is set to celebrate a big milestone as he marks 47 years working for the same company.

Gerald Gorman, 66, works at the Home Hardware store in Fredericton. On Friday, he will become the longest-serving employee at that location.

“I just came in looking for work one day and here I am, never went home,” said Gorman.

Over the years, Gorman says he has grown a close bond with many who visit the store.

“This is all like a family. My customers come here and I’ve known them for years and years,” Gorman explained. “Now I’m into second and third generation of my customers.”

During a period of nearly five decades, the 66-year-old says he has learned almost every job there is to do at the hardware store.

“They don’t work me very hard here,” said Gorman. “It’s busy, I keep steady on the desk, but I don’t have to go out and load trucks anymore.”

As much as Gorman says he enjoys his customers, frequent visitors to the store say they also look forward to seeing him. Some even visit almost seven days a week.

“I probably see Gerald almost every day. My wife gives me a hard time about that,” said Brian Whitters, one of Gorman’s frequent visitors. “I have to go see the boys at the hardware store, Gerald especially.”

“He makes me cross the river, I live on the south side of Fredericton now, but I’ve always come to Wilkins (Home Hardware) because of Gerald and because of the family that’s running it,” explained Scott Carson, who shops at the hardware store. “It’s worth coming to the place that people know your name.”

Gorman’s coworkers say they can’t imagine a day at work without his presence.

“He keeps you on your toes. He’s very quick and you never know what he’s going to say. He’s very knowledgeable,” said Kevin King, an employee at Home Hardware in Fredericton.

“He’s a lot of fun and he won’t retire because he will miss it,” said Dave Withers, an employee at the hardware store.

Gorman says, as far as retirement, he’s tried once before, but quickly returned after missing the atmosphere. He’s not sure when he will try to take the leap again.





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Future

Future Economy Collective mutual aid effort hits one-year milestone


BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) – Wednesday marked one year since a Blacksburg nonprofit organized mutual aid efforts to keep feeding families in the New River Valley.

Twice a week volunteers from the Future Economy Collective fill boxes with food, clothing and cleaning supplies to fill the gap between other financial assistance programs.

In December, the nonprofit opened a brick and mortar location to keep distributing these boxes and launched the Southpaw Café. All proceeds from the café go directly back to mutual aid efforts to help families.

“It’s been a mix but overall a massive honor to be able to do this and it fills us with so much pride and joy knowing that folks really do care about their fellow man,” co-director Gretchen Dee said.

The volunteers have filled 948 boxes this past year. If you need a box or want to help with the nonprofit’s efforts, you can do that on their website.

The Southpaw Café is open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and sells coffee, bagels, soup, vegan options, plants, zines, art and spiced hot chocolate. There are suggested prices.

You can also choose to pay it forward for a future customer of the shop.

The nonprofit is located at the intersection of Draper Road and Jackson Street.

Copyright 2021 WDBJ. All rights reserved.



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Gadgets

Third Round Of Small Business Assistance Headed To Hamilton County


Hamilton County will fund a third round of small business assistance using leftover funding from the federal CARES Act. County commissioners voted Thursday to approve the new funding plan that includes $4.35 million for the small business program.

The plan also allocates about a million dollars for navigators to help people find and apply for help, including technical assistance for business owners.

“We wanted to make sure that as more small business relief hits the street that we do more than just tell people to call various numbers to get in the queue,” said County Administrator Jeff Aluotto.

The Freestore Foodbank is slated to receive a million dollars for food assistance.

The increased funding for navigators leaves the county short on full funding to replace the county’s phone system, which is needed because the health department has gotten a high volume of calls related to the pandemic and vaccinations.

County administrators initially recommended $800,000 for the phone system replacement, but that’s reduced to $200,000 based on feedback from commissioners.

Aluotto says the remainder of that cost could come from another round of federal stimulus, or from yet another reallocation of CARES money.

For example, $500,000 is reserved for an alternative care facility in case the hospital system gets overwhelmed.

“We are getting to the point in the path of this pandemic where I’m very hopeful that we don’t have to talk about opening an alternative care facility,” Aluotto said. “But we’re not quite taking our foot off of that particular accelerator yet.”

Funding currently allocated for COVID-19 testing could also shift to vaccination efforts in the near future.

Read the full reallocation plan below: 

Hamilton County CARES Plan Reallocation by WVXU News on Scribd



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Gadgets

Sacramento County OKs more emergency rental assistance. Here’s how to apply


MILITARY HEALTH SYSTEM. APPLICATIONS OPEN TOMORROW FOR PEOPLE IN SACRAMENTO COUNTY WHO MIGHT NEED SOME HELP RENT RIGHT NOW BECAUSE OF THE IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC THE ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE FOR LOW-INCOME RENTERS THROUGH THE SACRAMENTO HOUSING AND REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY LANDLORDS CAN ALSO APPLY FOR ASSISTANCE ON BEHALF OF THEIR TENANTS THE CITY AND COUNTY WILL USE NEARLY $10

Sacramento County OKs more emergency rental assistance. Here’s how to apply

The new infusion of state and federal funds adds to the $31 million allocated by the City of Sacramento — meaning $95.6 million in all is available for those who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic


The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors has approved more than $64 million for emergency rental assistance for those in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who qualify can apply for the relief here starting Thursday. The new infusion of state and federal funds adds to the $31 million allocated by the City of Sacramento — meaning $95.6 million in all is available for those who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. The money can be used to cover past due rent or utility payments, and property owners can also apply on behalf of their tenants, according to the county. Those who previously applied for the Sacramento Emergency Rental Assistance program are allowed to apply again. Here are more rules about who qualifies for the aid: Must rent their home in Sacramento CountyMust have household gross annual income at or below these low-income limits:1 person: $48,350 ​2 person: $​55,250​3 person: $62,150​4 person: $69,050​5 person: $74,600​6 person: $80,100​7 person: $85,6508 person: $91,150Must have at least one household member who is unemployed or has experienced a reduced household income, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19Must show a risk of being unhoused or housing instabilityThe application period runs from Feb. 25 through March 19. More info: SERA2 Program

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors has approved more than $64 million for emergency rental assistance for those in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who qualify can apply for the relief here starting Thursday.

The new infusion of state and federal funds adds to the $31 million allocated by the City of Sacramento — meaning $95.6 million in all is available for those who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

The money can be used to cover past due rent or utility payments, and property owners can also apply on behalf of their tenants, according to the county. Those who previously applied for the Sacramento Emergency Rental Assistance program are allowed to apply again.

Here are more rules about who qualifies for the aid:

  • Must rent their home in Sacramento County
  • Must have household gross annual income at or below these low-income limits:

1 person: $48,350

​2 person: $​55,250

​3 person: $62,150

​4 person: $69,050

​5 person: $74,600

​6 person: $80,100

​7 person: $85,650

8 person: $91,150

  • Must have at least one household member who is unemployed or has experienced a reduced household income, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19
  • Must show a risk of being unhoused or housing instability

The application period runs from Feb. 25 through March 19.

More info: SERA2 Program



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Reviews

States ranked by percentage of COVID-19 vaccines administered: Jan. 25


North Dakota has administered the highest percentage of COVID-19 vaccines it has received, according to the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration data tracker.

The CDC’s data tracker compiles data from healthcare facilities and public health authorities. It updates daily to report the total number of COVID-19 vaccines that have been distributed to each state and the total number each state has administered.

As of 6 a.m. EST Jan. 24, a total of 41,411,550 vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S., and 21,848,655 have been administered, or 52.76 percent. That means about 6.66 percent of the U.S. population has been vaccinated. Additionally, 18,502,131 people have received their first dose of the vaccine, and 3,216,836 have received the full two doses. 

Below are the states ranked by the percentage of COVID-19 vaccines they’ve administered of those that have been distributed to them. Some numbers may not reflect the actual number of vaccines administered, as coding problems and data lags have hindered efforts to accurately count and publicly report how many doses are administered daily in some states. 

  1. North Dakota
    Doses distributed to state: 86,750
    Doses administered: 73,175
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 84.35
  2. West Virginia
    Doses distributed to state: 243,100
    Doses administered: 202,883
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 83.46
  3. New Mexico
    Doses distributed to state: 257,075
    Doses administered: 200,141
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 77.85
  4. South Dakota
    Doses distributed to state: 106,575
    Doses administered: 80,441
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 75.48
  5. Connecticut
    Doses distributed to state: 492,850
    Doses administered: 321,737
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 65.28
  6. Oklahoma
    Doses distributed to state: 496,350
    Doses administered: 322,810
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 65.04
  7. Montana
    Doses distributed to state: 119,500
    Doses administered: 76,590
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 64.09
  8. Kentucky
    Doses distributed to state: 471,000
    Doses administered: 299,493
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 63.59
  9. Michigan
    Doses distributed to state: 1,095,675
    Doses administered: 695,273
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 63.46
  10. Colorado
    Doses distributed to state: 692,700
    Doses administered: 434,496
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 62.72
  11. South Carolina
    Doses distributed to state: 453,250
    Doses administered: 278,795
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 61.51
  12. Louisiana
    Doses distributed to state: 543,700
    Doses administered: 334,086
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 61.45
  13. Alaska
    Doses distributed to state: 155,700
    Doses administered: 94,257
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 60.54
  14. Utah
    Doses distributed to state: 341,725
    Doses administered: 202,729
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 59.33
  15. Arkansas
    Doses distributed to state: 368,650
    Doses administered: 214,240
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 58.11
  16. Oregon
    Doses distributed to state: 492,450
    Doses administered: 285,922
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 58.06
  17. Wyoming
    Doses distributed to state: 70,750
    Doses administered: 40,803
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 57.67
  18. Vermont
    Doses distributed to state: 90,000
    Doses administered: 51,872
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 57.64
  19. Texas
    Doses distributed to state: 3,070,825
    Doses administered: 1,763,299
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 57.42
  20. New Hampshire
    Doses distributed to state: 162,950
    Doses administered: 93,338
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 57.28
  21. New York
    Doses distributed to state: 2,395,950
    Doses administered: 1,365,404
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 56.99
  22. Maine
    Doses distributed to state: 178,450
    Doses administered: 99,815
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 55.93
  23. Nebraska
    Doses distributed to state: 238,100
    Doses administered: 132,846
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 55.79
  24. Delaware
    Doses distributed to state: 116,325
    Doses administered: 64,186
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 55.18
  25. New Jersey
    Doses distributed to state: 989,900
    Doses administered: 535,625
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 54.11
  26. Tennessee
    Doses distributed to state: 838,825
    Doses administered: 452,042
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 53.89
  27. Florida
    Doses distributed to state: 2,908,275|
    Doses administered: 1,544,794
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 53.12
  28. Washington
    Doses distributed to state: 846,625
    Doses administered: 449,385
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 53.08
  29. Nevada
    Doses distributed to state: 286,950
    Doses administered: 152,203
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 53.04
  30. Indiana
    Doses distributed to state: 841,725
    Doses administered: 446,029
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 52.99
  31. Iowa
    Doses distributed to state: 361,475
    Doses administered: 191,183
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 52.89
  32. Ohio
    Doses distributed to state: 1,233,075
    Doses administered: 647,104
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 52.48
  33. North Carolina
    Doses distributed to state: 1,246,600
    Doses administered: 636,439
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 51.05
  34. Wisconsin
    Doses distributed to state: 610,100
    Doses administered: 308,290
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 50.53
  35. Mississippi
    Doses distributed to state: 358,100
    Doses administered: 177,636
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 49.61
  36. Illinois
    Doses distributed to state: 1,417,250
    Doses administered: 699,072
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 49.33
  37. Georgia
    Doses distributed to state: 1,235,775
    Doses administered: 604,067
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 48.88
  38. Massachusetts
    Doses distributed to state: 859,175
    Doses administered: 419,806
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 48.86
  39. Idaho
    Doses distributed to state: 181,100
    Doses administered: 87,128
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 48.11
  40. Missouri
    Doses distributed to state: 661,400
    Doses administered: 317,737
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 48.04
  41. Pennsylvania
    Doses distributed to state: 1,564,125
    Doses administered: 744,591
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 47.60
  42. Minnesota
    Doses distributed to state: 680,700
    Doses administered: 321,180
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 47.18
  43. Arizona
    Doses distributed to state: 829,500
    Doses administered: 390,623
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 47.09
  44. Alabama
    Doses distributed to state: 521,225
    Doses administered: 243,737
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 46.76
  45. Maryland
    Doses distributed to state: 742,175
    Doses administered: 338,544
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 45.62
  46. Rhode Island
    Doses distributed to state: 149,225
    Doses administered: 67,566
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 45.28
  47. California
    Doses distributed to state: 4,906,525
    Doses administered: 2,199,908
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 44.84
  48. Hawaii
    Doses distributed to state: 191,575
    Doses administered: 84,792
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 44.26
  49. Kansas
    Doses distributed to state: 348,175
    Doses administered: 151,249
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 43.44
  50. Virginia
    Doses distributed to state: 1,069,725
    Doses administered: 451,668
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 42.22

More articles on public health:
Mixing COVID-19 vaccine doses OK in rare situations, CDC says
Some evidence indicates UK strain is more deadly, Boris Johnson says
COVID-19 hospitalizations by state: Jan. 25

 


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Vegas Economic Report For January 2021


Las Vegas continues to operate at a fraction of normal capacity, as vaccine deployment brings hope to end the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the January Vegas economic update; here is my Vegas economic report from December 2020, discussing the likelihood of a K-shaped recovery.

Epitomizing Sin City’s economic situation, the annual Consumer Electronics Show that usually takes over the city in Vegas in January has gone virtual. In 2020, 170,000 people attended, bringing $169 million in direct spending and $291 million in broader economic impact, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). In 2020, the CES’s financial impact, along with dozens of other conferences and conventions, has virtually vanished.

US overview: After revision, third-quarter Gross Domestic Product jumped an unprecedented 33.1%. “Upward revisions to non-residential fixed investment and residential investment were offset,” writes Stephen M. Miller, director of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER), “by downward revisions to consumer spending, state and local government spending, private inventory investment and net exports.”

In other words, financial and real estate markets are doing a lot better than the rest of the economy.

The GDP jump mostly reflected a better-than-expected recovery from the pandemic-caused historically worst 31.4% second-quarter drop in GDP, “boosted by the CARES Act and the Fed’s unlimited Quantitative Easing,” according to Miller. GDP still remained 3.5% below its peak in the final quarter of 2019.

All data below comes from UNLV’s CBER and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics unless otherwise noted.

Unemployment: According to October 2020, data, Nevada’s statewide unemployment declined to 12% statewide and dropped from 14.5% to 13.9% in Clark County, which includes greater Las Vegas and two-thirds of Nevada’s 3.3 million people. That’s down two-thirds from its April peak of an unprecedented 34.2%, but still higher than any major US metropolitan area, and double the national average of 6.7%. In Vegas, leisure and hospitality continue to be hit the worst, with 21.4% less employment than a year earlier. Leisure and hospitality make up over 25% of Nevada’s employees, so that’s over 62,000 fewer jobs.

Average weekly wages in Clark County came out to $1026, compared to the US average of $1188, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Looking at selected industries, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates average hourly wages in the Las Vegas are currently $22.43, compared to $25.72 nationwide.

Public finances. Taxable sales dropped 6.6% year-over-year in September in Clark County and 4% statewide, the most recent data CBER had available.

Airport traffic. October air passengers dropped 56.8% statewide in October. At Las Vegas’s premier McCarran Airport, visitors continued to rebound from the spring shutdown but remain far below average. Total passengers served dipped 57% and visitor volume fell 50% year-over-year. Total visitation has dropped in half in 2020 from the over 42 million people who came here in 2019.

Hotel occupancy. According to the LVCVA, visitors for October dropped 49.4% year over year, and hotel occupancy rate dropped 43.1%. The average room rate came out to $104, down from $143 in 2019. Many premier resorts, like Palazzo, Mandalay Bay, and Mirage, are closing during the week or closing parts of their operations.

Gaming revenues statewide dropped 19.5% year-over-year in October.

Real estate gained 4.7% nationally year-over-year in October, with housing starts up 14.2% year-over-year, according to CBER. But in Clark County, residential housing permits/units dropped sharply – down 17.2% – relative to previous months and year-over-year. This is one indication the real estate market may be peaking.

Inflation. Prices have risen a little over 1% in the West, but food has risen 4.8% as pandemic-related challenges stress supply and demand.

Getting beyond the pandemic. “A potential second COVID-19 relief package,” UNLV’s Miller writes, and a successful vaccine deployment “could reinvigorate the economy in the near future.”

A K-shaped economic recovery appears underway. As the pandemic forces and accelerates technological and cultural changes, some industries and businesses within industries are thriving – like food delivery, digital services, and socially distanced activities like golf – while many others, including small businesses and event industries like music, sports, and conventions – suffer.

According to Fitch Ratings, Vegas can’t expect a full recovery until the convention business returns – and that depends on an end to the pandemic. Fitch forecasts 2024, but locals hope it’s a lot sooner.

Toward that end, Nevada is prioritizing casino workers to get vaccinated. The idea is, since they come into contact with so many people from all over the world, vaccination will interrupt the spread. And vaccination “will accelerate the consumer confidence needed to drive the visitor volume our economy depends on,” according to Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association.

Steve Hill, president and CEO of the LVCVA, hopes successful vaccine deployment will start Vegas’s convention recovery, starting with the approximately 50,000-strong World of Concrete gathering in June at the Las Vegas Convention Center’s new $980 million West Hall. The annual gathering brings in about $90 million annually, according to LVCVA. “I’m optimistic, and I’m really looking forward to World of Concrete in June,” Hill said. “It looks to us like visitation will be able to pick up by then. Once it does, I think it will stay.”



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The future of work in 2021: Perspectives from South Africa


This article is part of the series — Africa in 2021.


The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the livelihoods of many South Africans and as has happened time and time again in times of economic strain, the poor and unskilled suffer the most. The number of unemployed South Africans rose by 2.2 million to 6.5 million people altogether, between the second and third quarters of 2020. With the economy slipping deeper into recession, 2021 will be another difficult year. How must the world of work change to raise productivity and keep people economically active? For the unemployed, is there a future of work, without work?

To adequately address this matter, it is important to start by framing the future of work as a dynamic that goes beyond the automation of simple tasks and remote working. At a fundamental level, the future of work is about how societies optimally leverage their human capital to do the work of delivering goods and services that create value. This involves determining the tasks to be done of wide-ranging complexity, matching human capability to the tasks that require human capability, matching when the task is done with available capacity, and deciding how and where the tasks get done. The future of work will spur significant innovation to support the range of end-to-end activities required.

The primary trends I expect to see in 2021 as South Africa seeks to adapt and cope are:

• Re-organisation of how we work to fully maximise the benefits of cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools.

• Uberisation of more services expanding the reach of the gig economy.

• Large-scale use of just-in-time, just-in-context, bite-sized learning on the go.

• Greater adoption of virtual reality and augmented reality for experiential and practical training for artisans and professionals and real-time performance support.

While South African professionals have had access to the latest cloud collaboration and productivity tools for communications, workflow management, knowledge sharing and the like for decades already; it is only in 2020, the year of COVID-19, that we saw a dramatic adoption of such Software as a Service (SaaS) tools even by technophobes. Zoom jumped from 148th position to become the most popular app within a few days at the onset of lockdown regulations. Now that these tools are embedded, professionals should, in 2021, grow from novice usage, to more integrated, productivity-enhancing usage patterns that are non-negotiable to transform into data-driven organisations. 2021 is the best year to hope that documents will no longer reside on individual’s devices; that calculations will no longer be done manually on spreadsheets; and that email will cease to be used as a disastrous combination of internal and external communication, project and progress tracking, document sharing, information storage and appointment setting, amongst others. COVID-19 has finally proven that most workers in the services sector really don’t need to drive to a building every single day to work, which should certainly speed up this re-organisation.

With formal sector employment trends indicating a downward shift across the spectrum from highly skilled to semi-skilled workers, the gig economy will start to seem like the standard way of work. It was estimated that, before the impact of COVID-19, the gig economy directly touched one percent of the South African population and indirectly half a million people, with expectations of 10 percent growth a year. In the semi-skilled market, SweepSouth has proven the case for the uberisation of domestic services, having celebrated 1 million bookings and work opportunities provided to domestic workers in South Africa. SweepSouth pushes aside outdated views that the digital economy is inaccessible to the marginalised communities, as they have been able to provide dignified work at decent pay to many South African women. While there are, no doubt, concerns about worker’s rights and work conditions for gig-workers — who often work without adequate health insurance or leave options — this trend will expand into other industries, from more home services, to retail stores and customer service agents for example. The gig economy is key to keeping more people economically active as cost pressures increase. This trend will directly address the aspects of the future of work related to the matching of tasks to human capability and availability. McKinsey estimates that 63 million African people across the continent are self-employed.

South Africa’s greatest challenge by far and away is the skills gap that negatively impacts our ability to match tasks to human capability. The country only produces 77,000 high school graduates that pass higher grade mathematics a year and over 90 percent of unemployed people are semi-skilled or low-skilled, showing the strong link between skills and employment. Instead of seeing the fourth industrial revolution as a threat, it will be crucial here to use digital technologies to close the skills gap. Changes in technology, ways of work, business models and industry regulations have, from our experience at Rekindle Learning, generated a tremendous demand for continuous learning and development. Yet many organisations are still sending out emails with long memos hoping people will read them. Or herding people into one room or webinar for workshops and hoping they listen. Or forcing people to flick through dozens of slides with a quick quiz at the end and hoping something sticks. Tick-box training has no place in the future world of work — there is only space for high-impact digital learning experiences that deliver measurable business results. Employee experience and micro-learning platforms in the form of short videos, contextual interactive content, chats and personalised messaging, rapid two-way surveys and feedback, and real-time reporting are an essential part of enabling continuous learning integrated with work.

The upskilling conversation also has to expand beyond the knowledge-transfer mode of learning, and tackle experiential learning using mixed-reality technologies that can more effectively train for complex tasks and/or train people with weak educational backgrounds for whom, an academic approach to learning is onerous. Jendamark is one of the pioneers in manufacturing using augmented reality glasses to provide real-time performance support to machine operators through which they can view instructions and guidance as they work. Their virtual reality training means their operators are able to reach peak performance in a much shorter space of time.

Harvard Business Review has framed the impact of COVID-19 as the ‘most significant social experiment of the future of work in action, with work from home and social distancing policies radically changing the way we work and interact.’ The experiment continues into 2021, and thanks to local technology players in the future world of work, South Africa is able to drive its own version to meet contextual demands. One thing is for sure, the future of work is digital.





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Reviews

Students endure tumultuous school year amid pandemic


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In 2020, students across the mid-state endured the roller coaster of the COVID-19 pandemic as districts navigated trying to safely return to school.

Juggling work, school, and family life during a pandemic was challenging for many families.

“It is loud and busy but at least there’s a mute button on most of the calls so it’s a little wild, we’re all in this together, it’s okay,” Meagan Smith said. “And the other days we just kind of ping pong it at home.”

In Nashville, Metro Schools Director Dr. Adrienne Battle closed schools to in-person learning in March. Dr. Battle said, “There was not, and is not, a playbook for unprecedented times like these.”

In the summer, families found out MNPS was going to start the fall semester virtually. Rachel Welty said she was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“I totally understand that it’s potentially dangerous for kids to go to school, it’s also an impossible situation for a working parent,” Welty said. “It’s going to cause a lot of problems for people.”

In October, Metro officials took steps to return to school and phase-in students. The decision sparked a rally, and some teachers were worried about the risks according to Amanda Kail, the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association President. “A lot of teachers right now are feeling that they are in some medical experiment and they didn’t consent to that,” Kail said.

In neighboring Williamson County, a group of parents also protested. People like Kelly Jackson were demanding the option to send students back virtually or in-person, which parents were ultimately given. “Students should have a choice, parents should have a choice, teachers should have a choice,” Jackson said.

In Williamson and Coffee County, school officials also faced lawsuits regarding mask mandates in the classroom.

Fast forward to December, COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed. Now families across Tennessee are wondering what’s in store for the 2021 school year.

What is the rebound?

As Middle Tennessee works to rebound from the impact of the Coronavirus, we want to help. Whether it’s getting back to work, making ends meet during this uncertain time, or managing the pressure, we’re committed to finding solution. In addition, we want to tell your stories of hope, inspiration, and creativity as Middle Tennessee starts to rebound.

Find more in the sections below





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