U.S. Public Sees Multiple Threats from the Coronavirus—and Concerns Are Growing

By Staff
Friday, March 27, 2020 9:29 AM NEW YORK—As coronavirus cases increase across the United States, 70 percent of Americans say the COVID-19 outbreak poses a major threat to the U.S. economy and 47 percent say it is a major threat to overall health across the nation, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

But, so far, Americans are less concerned about how the new coronavirus is affecting their health, finances and local communities. Only 27 percent said in their responses that the coronavirus is a major threat to their personal health, while 51 percent said it is a minor threat, and only 22 percent said the coronavirus does not threaten their personal health, according to the findings of the Pew Research Center survey, as noted here.

“Underscoring the rapidly changing nature of this crisis, the shares of Americans who say the COVID-19 outbreak is a major threat to the economy and other aspects of life increased substantially over the past week,” the Pew report noted. “For example, in interviews conducted March 10-11, 42 percent of the public said the coronavirus was a major threat to the health of the U.S. population; in interviews conducted March 14-16, 55 percent say it is a major threat to the nation’s overall health.”

The national survey by Pew Research Center—conducted March 10-16 among 8,914 adults using the Center’s American Trends Panel—found widespread public confidence that public health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local government officials are doing a good job in responding to the coronavirus outbreak, according to the report.

More than eight-in-ten (83 percent) said they are very or somewhat confident that CDC officials are doing a good job, including 40 percent who said they are very confident. Most (73 percent) also said they are confident in state and local government officials.

Before the Coronavirus, Telework was an Optional Benefit, Mostly for the Affluent Few

By Staff
Thursday, March 26, 2020 4:45 PM One of the key public health responses to the global coronavirus pandemic has been social distancing—avoiding large groups of people in close quarters in order to inhibit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Along with shutting down sports leagues, closing churches and stores and limiting restaurants to take-out service only, a major tactic for social distancing has been encouraging—or requiring—people to work from home.

In that respect, COVID-19 may yet do what years of advocacy have failed to: Make telework a benefit available to more than a relative handful of U.S. workers. According to a recent feature by Pew Research Center, Only 7 percent of civilian workers in the U.S., or roughly 9.8 million of the nation’s approximately 140 million civilian workers, have access to a “flexible workplace” benefit, or telework, based on data in the 2019 National Compensation Survey (NCS) from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. And those workers who have access to it are largely managers, other white-collar professionals and the highly paid. (“Civilian workers” refers to private industry workers and state and local government workers combined.) 

Click here to read the full story from Pew Research Center.

Coronavirus Outbreak Puts 37 Million U.S. Jobs At Risk

By Staff
Wednesday, March 25, 2020 1:33 PM The coronavirus pandemic has brought life in the United States to a near standstill in recent days. Many cities and states are in complete lockdown as strict social distancing looks like the only way to slow down the spread of the virus at the moment. As people are no longer leaving their houses, let alone meeting in restaurants, movie theaters or at the mall, some industries have lost a significant portion of their income virtually overnight, putting millions of American jobs at risk.

According to estimates from Goldman Sachs economists, initial jobless claims may have exceeded 2 million in the week ended March 21, but that may only be the beginning of an unprecedented jobs crisis. According to the Job Quality Index (JQI), a research project from Cornell Law School and the Coalition for a Prosperous America that assesses job quality in the United States, more than 37 million (mostly lower-wage) jobs may be vulnerable to short-term layoffs due to the COVID-19 crisis and the response to it. 

As this chart from Statista.com shows, the wider restaurant industry, including everything from full-service restaurants to bars, cafeterias etc. is expected to be most vulnerable to short-term job losses with more than 10 million lower-wage positions at risk. Retailers and firms operating in travel, tourism and leisure are also expected to be heavily affected, with 7.7 million and 5.1 million jobs at risk, respectively.

Click here to read the full story.

Connecting With Reliable News Sources During the COVID-19 ‘Infodemic’

By Staff
Tuesday, March 24, 2020 9:57 AM The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) warns that in addition to being in the midst of a pandemic, we are also facing an “infodemic” resulting from the increasing speed and level misinformation and disinformation about the COVID-19 crisis that is circulating in public arena. “The result is too much information—sometimes inaccurate, and often in scientific terms or medical language that might be difficult to understand,” the organization stated in in a recent press release.

PRSA noted in a recent press release that PR professionals are “uniquely positioned to guide communications and offer resources to the public as they navigate a dearth of information” in the crisis.

Courts in Some Areas Hard Hit by Pandemic Face a Caseload Crisis

By Staff
Monday, March 23, 2020 1:15 PM Many of the states that are hardest hit by coronavirus—New York, Washington, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Florida—are also home to some of the most overburdened federal courts in the country. Several different but related factors contribute to that caseload crisis, according to an article on Law360.com, a website that covers the news in the legal field.

As Cara Bayles of Law360 noted, “First is the sheer number and complexity of filings. States that are home to many tech companies, like California, or many pharmaceutical companies, like New Jersey, might see a lot of intellectual property cases with reams and reams of paper. In border states like Texas and Arizona, immigration cases overwhelm the courts, especially under a Trump administration policy that charges undocumented immigrants with criminal illegal entry.”

Research Firm Revises Ad Spending Forecast Downward for 2020

By Staff
Friday, March 20, 2020 10:19 AM NEW YORK—With so many uncertainties around the COVID-19 situation and how it will spread worldwide, the global advertising market is in a state of flux right now. As a result, the research firm eMarketer said it is taking a “cautious approach” and has updated its global ad-spending forecast.

In 2020, the firm now expects total media ad spending worldwide will reach $691.7 billion, up by 7.0 percent from 2019. But note that this is a decrease in projected growth from the firm’s previous forecast, which estimated worldwide ad spending growth in 2020 to rise by 7.4 percent to $712.02 billion.

“Our downward revision is primarily due to one country: China, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak,” eMarketer said in its recent report on global advertising. “The first case was discovered there in late December 2019, so we have had more time to track the virus’s impact on the country’s ad market.” (China is the world’s second-largest ad market after the United States, so a reduction in our China estimates would lower our global forecast.)

The research firm said it now expects total media ad spending in China to reach $113.7 billion, down from the previous estimate of $121.13 billion.

eMarketer also noted that its forecast is for the full year, “and there is still a strong possibility that the virus could be contained in the coming months, allowing for a rebound in [the second half of 2020].” Ad spending takes place in the latter part of the year for the holiday season in most countries, the firm noted.

Americans Immersed in COVID-19 News; Most Think Media Are Doing Fairly Well Covering It

By Staff
Thursday, March 19, 2020 2:09 PM The COVID-19 pandemic has caught Americans’ rapt attention. Roughly half of U.S. adults (51 percent) are following news about it very closely, with another 38 percent following it fairly closely, according to a new Pew Research Center Election News Pathways survey conducted from March 10-16, 2020. During this period, the number of confirmed casesin the U.S. increased from about 650 to over 3,000, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, President Donald Trump announced a ban on travel to the U.S. from European countries and many universities announced closures or remote classes

Americans give the news media fairly high marks for their coverage of COVID-19, though most think their reporting has at least somewhat exaggerated the risks.

Misinformation—has also found its way into the information stream. About half the public (48 percent) say they’ve been exposed to at least some made-up news and information related to the virus. And when asked two questions about the virus, substantial portions express belief in claims that are in fact false. These findings come from a survey of 8,914 U.S. adults who are members of the Center’s American Trends Panel.

Click here to read the full story from Pew Research Center.

Coronavirus Fears Surge in U.S., Gallup Poll Says

By Staff
Wednesday, March 18, 2020 4:33 PM With cities around the U.S. taking extraordinary measures to distance people from one another during the coronavirus outbreak, the fear and worry about COVID-19 among Americans has risen sharply from just a month ago, according to a recent feature from Statista.com. 

In a poll conducted in February and March by Gallup, 60 percent of all U.S. adults say they are worried about their potential exposure to the fast-spreading coronavirus. This number is up substantially from February, where only 36 percent of U.S. adults expressed fear or worry about their exposure to the COVID-19 disease. 

All demographics in the poll showed large increases in fear and anxiety about the coronavirus. Those responding as Democrats saw the largest shift, where 26 percent of Democrats in February turned into 73 percent expressing fear in March. Republicans saw a modest increase, going from 30 percent to 42 percent. 

Click here to read the full story from Statista.com. 

Who Gets Paid Sick Leave?

By Staff
Tuesday, March 17, 2020 1:23 PM As the number of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. mounts daily, the question of who is entitled to get paid sick leave has become critically important for millions of workers and employers.

A recent Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data found that nearly a quarter of civilian workers in the U.S. still do not have access to paid sick leave. Pew found that paid sick leave is a nearly universal option among high earners, but becomes noticeably rarer among lower earners, data journalist Niall McCarthy noted yesterday on Statista.com

Lively Releases 2019 Data Showing HSA Users are Spending, Not Saving

By Staff
Friday, March 13, 2020 12:05 PM NEW YORK—Lively Inc., a creator of the modern Health Savings Account (HSA), has released its second annual HSA Spend Report, which provides a view into how and where consumers spend on health care costs each year. The findings show that 96 percent of annual contributions were spent on expected expenses and routine visits. What this means, according to the Lively analysis, is that “the rising cost of health care is preventing people from achieving the long-term benefits of using an HSA to save for unexpected health events and the high cost of health care in retirement.”

The report also noted that about 5 percent of Health Savings Account money went toward vision and eyewear in 2019.

In addition, the average HSA account holder in 2019 spent their savings on doctor visits and services (50 percent); prescription drug costs (10 percent); dental care (16 percent); vision and eyewear (5 percent); chiropractor (3 percent); lab work (2 percent); and other (1 percent).

Among the key findings and trends from the report to note:

1. Online spending is key for vision and mental health: More than 15 percent of all HSA vision and eyecare spending happened online, dominated by 1-800-Contacts and Warby Parker. Additionally, more than 15 percent of all mental health spending was through virtual experience apps, and/or digital experiences that connect consumers to mental health professionals.

2. Health care spending increased across all categories. Doctor visits and services spending increased moderately by 22 percent, from 41 percent in 2018 to 50 percent in 2019. Dental spending increased 78 percent—from 9 percent in 2018 to 16 percent in 2019.

Why Canceling Events and Self-Quarantining Is So Important

By Staff
Thursday, March 12, 2020 2:13 PM According to a recent post by Vox, “Covid-19 has quickly made large-scale gatherings and conferences unpopular if not socially frowned upon. This change arrived quickly, and may seem jarring, but it’s easier to see the logic when you understand the theory behind this kind of ‘social distancing’ policy. The key is to ‘flatten the curve,’ slowing the rate of increase in infections so that you spread out the cases, even if the total number doesn’t change. A disastrous inundation of hospitals can likely be averted with protective measures we’re now seeing more of—closing schools, canceling mass gatherings, working from home, self-quarantine, self-isolation, avoiding crowds—to keep the virus from spreading fast. Flattening the curve slows the rate at which new cases arrive in hospitals, easing the burden on health care infrastructure and improving the odds that individual patients will survive." For more on this, read How Canceled Events and Self-Quarantines Save Lives, in One Chart.

Tesla: 1 Million and Counting

By Staff
Thursday, March 12, 2020 11:51 AM On March 9, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted congratulations to his team for producing the company’s one millionth vehicle, a milestone that took the electric car pioneer and his company 12 years to reach.

Statista’s Felix Richter noted that after producing very small numbers for many years, Tesla ramped up its production capacity significantly with the release of the lower-cost Model 3. “Last year alone, the company made 365,000 cars, exceeding the total number of cars it produced in 10 years between 2008 and 2017,” he observed.

Coronavirus Impact on Imports Expected to Be Larger and Longer Than Previously Expected, NRF says

By Staff
Wednesday, March 11, 2020 5:24 PM WASHINGTON—The coronavirus outbreak is expected to have a longer and larger impact on imports at major U.S. retail container ports than previously believed as factory shutdowns and travel restrictions in China continue to affect production, according to the Global Port Tracker report released on March 9 by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. Hackett Associates provides expert consulting, research and advisory services to the international maritime industry, government agencies and international institutions.

“There are still a lot of unknowns to fully determine the impact of the coronavirus on the supply chain,” NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “As factories in China continue to come back online, products are now flowing again. But there are still issues affecting cargo movement, including the availability of truck drivers to move cargo to Chinese ports. Retailers are working with both their suppliers and transportation providers to find paths forward to minimize disruption.”

This month’s report comes as a separate NRF survey of members found 40 percent of respondents said they are seeing disruptions to their supply chains from the virus and that another 26 percent expect to see disruptions as the situation continues.

U.S. ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.82 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in January, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 5.7 percent from December but down 3.8 percent from unusually high numbers a year ago related to U.S. tariffs on goods from China. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent. April, which had not previously been expected to be affected, is now forecast at 1.68 million TEU, down 3.5 percent from last year and lower than the 1.82 million TEU forecast last month.

How Amazon and Walmart’s Grocery Wars May Change the Shopping Experience

By Staff
Tuesday, March 10, 2020 3:15 PM Stella Rising, the market research and branding company, recently looked at the escalation in the Amazon vs. Walmart grocery wars. As Rina Yashayeva, Stella Rising’s vice president of marketplace strategy, observed, Amazon launched in February its first Amazon Go Grocery, a full-scale, cashierless grocery store powered by discreet cameras and light sensors. Almost simultaneously, Walmart introduced a new e-commerce logistics hub for third-party sellers.

“As the two retailers engage in moves and countermoves, the winner will be the consumer,” Yashayeva remarked in a blog post. There are implications for everyone, and the time is now for brands to set and cement their strategies for the marketplace era.”

The accompanying Stella Rising infographic focuses on Amazon, the current e-commerce leader in the U.S. grocery market, as new methods have emerged for food and beverage brands to expand on the platform in a very meaningful way.

Exploring AI’s Potential to Transform Organizations

By Staff
Monday, March 9, 2020 11:45 AM Implementing Artificial Intelligence (AI) will lead to significant changes in how organizations are managed, according to a recent survey of more than 2,200 business leaders, managers, and key contributors conducted by MIT SMR Connections on behalf of SAS. The survey respondents, representing organizations across the globe, expect that reaping the benefits of AI will require changes in workplace structures, technology strategies, and technology governance.

Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents reported increased spending on AI technologies in the past year. However, for most, it’s still too early to realize benefits at scale. Less than half of respondents reported active adoption, with just one in 20 indicating that they have implemented AI broadly, while 18 percent have implemented AI in a few processes and 19 percent are running pilot projects.