It has been almost three years because the begin of the pandemic, and loads has modified. Some components of the world are returning to regular, as individuals go to dwell occasions and eating places, whereas different issues, like going again to the workplace, really feel caught in time. Internationally, a battle is raging, and within the US, politics have been as contentious as ever.
The pandemic appears to have irreversibly modified Individuals’ relationship with work. They’re persevering with to quit their jobs searching for greener pastures, even because the financial system sours. In the meantime, the tech stocks that flourished when Individuals have been staying house and have been very on-line have come again right down to earth — as has their extra speculative cousin, crypto. Persons are getting priced out of homeownership, because of excessive costs and rising rates of interest. However they’re getting priced into electric vehicle possession as some EV costs decline. That needs to be excellent news for Telsa, nevertheless it isn’t. The corporate is affected by rising competitors and its CEO’s divided consideration at Twitter.
To attempt to make sense of all of the adjustments we’ve seen this previous yr, we’ve put collectively a collection of charts that deal with a few of the yr’s largest traits. It’s not exhaustive, however we hope it helps you make sense of one other very bizarre yr.
What has returned and what hasn’t
One technique to measure progress because the pandemic upended the world in 2020 is to take a look at what has returned and what hasn’t. From the appears of it, many issues have come again. US hotel occupancy on the finish of November was on the identical stage it was in 2019, as was attendance at sporting events. Persons are as soon as once more eating at restaurants and flying on planes. They’re additionally going to concerts, although at 88 %, attendance continues to be shy of 2019 ranges.
The holdout right here is places of work, whose occupancy is at lower than half what it was pre-pandemic. The distant work revolution taught many workplace employees — and their employers — that workplace area wasn’t important to work. And that lesson might stick. Future of labor consultants, like Stanford’s Nick Bloom, count on present ranges to carry, even after the pandemic turns into a distant reminiscence.
Flu season is worse than ever
The final week of November noticed more positive flu test results than any week on file, which fits again to 1997. The flu has additionally unfold earlier and extra shortly than it has in earlier years. A part of the rise has to do with extra individuals getting examined, however that’s not all of it. Hospitalization charges are 4 instances as excessive as they usually are at the moment of yr.
One principal cause for this bonkers flu season is that the inhabitants has low levels of flu antibodies, since many Individuals didn’t get the flu previously two years, as preventive measures like masks and quarantining saved individuals from getting sick. Now, nonetheless, that implies that numerous individuals are getting sick unexpectedly, so it’s in all probability time to mud off these measures, this time to flatten the curve for the flu.
Persons are nonetheless getting abortions
With its Dobbs v. Jackson choice in June, the Supreme Courtroom overturned the half-century-old Roe v. Wade and successfully made abortion illegal in nearly half of US states. New data from the Society of Family Planning reveals that the variety of clinician-provided abortions in these states has plummeted. (It’s vital to keep in mind that information wouldn’t embrace self-managed abortions, the place girls take abortion capsules at house.)
What’s maybe extra attention-grabbing is the notable jumps in abortion in states surrounding these the place abortion is unlawful, suggesting that girls are touring to get medical care. In Kansas, the variety of abortions rose 36 % from April to August; abortion turned unlawful in neighboring Oklahoma throughout the identical time. North Carolina, which is surrounded by the much less abortion-friendly South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, noticed a 37 % soar.
These jumps present up in nationwide numbers. Regardless of declining by 100% in various states, the variety of recorded abortions within the US solely declined a modest 6 % nationwide, from 85,020 in April to 79,620 abortions in August 2022. In fact, touring to a different state might be prohibitively expensive for a lot of, which means that poorer individuals could have a more durable time terminating pregnancies within the states with strict abortion legal guidelines.
Houses are more and more unaffordable
On an annual foundation, current single-family house costs went up simply 8 % by September this yr in line with information from S&P Dow Jones Indices. That represents a welcome reprieve from the breakneck 19 percent growth final yr. On a month-to-month foundation, costs have truly come down for 3 consecutive months.
That doesn’t imply it’s a superb time to purchase a home. Costs are nonetheless very excessive, and it’s not clear if and after they’ll come down in a significant means. In the meantime, rising rates of interest have made shopping for a house much more costly. Homeownership affordability is presently the worst on file, with annual funds for a median house representing 46.3 % of the median revenue, in line with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s House Possession Affordability Monitor. The brink is taken into account to be 30 % of revenue, after which housing is taken into account unaffordable.
The Nice Resignation continued
The Nice Resignation is actual, with empirical evidence exhibiting that it’s greater than only a enjoyable catchphrase. It’s additionally nonetheless taking place. Whilst excessive rates of interest, high-profile layoffs, and a possible recession batter the job market, Individuals have continued to stop their jobs at elevated charges.
A part of that has to do with the still-tight job market, which is enabling these employees to search out higher alternatives. In October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics discovered there have been a powerful 10.3 million job openings within the US, or 6.3 % of employment. In the meantime, the speed of layoffs was nicely beneath its historic price, as employers selected to make cuts elsewhere. Maybe there’s been a cultural shift as nicely, because the pandemic helped put work — as soon as a cornerstone of American identification — into perspective.
Wages are going up, however inflation is ruining it
In March, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the primary time since 2018 — and has performed so a number of extra instances since, with more to come. The hope is that if cash is dearer to borrow, individuals will spend much less of it, and inflation, which was at a 40-year excessive, will subside. Whereas down from its peak of 9 % in June, inflation continues to be fairly excessive. Costs for all items have been up 7.7 percent on average nationally in October, in contrast with a yr earlier.
A part of the problem is that the rate of interest hikes haven’t been sufficient to stunt the job market, which retains including jobs and elevating wages. Nevertheless, because of inflation, these greater wages don’t imply as a lot as they used to. Whereas precise wages are up about 5 percent yr over yr, employees find yourself having much less shopping for energy once you consider inflation.
Distant work continues to work
A full 78 % of Individuals who can make money working from home are doing so, both in a hybrid or totally distant setting, in line with Gallup. Contemplating some 56 % of full-time employees, or greater than 70 million Individuals, are in remote-capable jobs, that has large impacts on the way forward for work.
For many workplace employees, which means they’ll make money working from home a few of the time whereas spending a few of the time within the workplace. About 30 % of all paid full work days within the US have been spent working from house in November, according to WFH Research — a price they count on to see proceed after the pandemic. One cause is that though many employers would really like their employees to return, they’re up in opposition to worker needs in a good labor market and a possible recession, wherein they might should cut back on office space to economize.
An excellent yr for unions
This yr, greater than 1,000 unions have received their elections — essentially the most since 2015 and doubtlessly longer, in line with information from Bloomberg Regulation. These numbers solely monitor exercise by the start of December and are preliminary, which means that they’ll seemingly be revised upward. The speed at which unions received their elections was additionally very excessive at 75 %, up from about 53 % in 2000, which means unions that maintain elections are more and more extra prone to win them.
Unions are additionally popping up in industries beforehand thought ununionizable, like retail. Retail identify manufacturers like Apple, Starbucks, Amazon, Dealer Joe’s, and REI all noticed profitable union drives this yr, regardless of an incredibly difficult unionization process within the US. The variety of strikes to date this yr was up almost 50 % from final yr, in line with information from Cornell’s ILR Labor Action Tracker. Some 15,000 nurses in Minnesota went on strike in September to get higher staffing and affected person care. Congress narrowly avoided a crippling rail strike last week, as rail employees fought for paid sick days.
That is all taking place as American approval of unions is at its highest level since the 1960s. Whereas this won’t be sufficient to counter the decades-long decline in union membership, it actually can’t harm.
Twitter is Tesla’s albatross
Tesla is a notoriously risky inventory, recognized to swing wildly from someday to the subsequent. This yr, nonetheless, it has principally headed south. Tesla’s share value is down greater than 50 % from the beginning of the yr, whereas the S&P 500 is down simply 17 %.
Plenty of points have plagued the electrical carmaker, from a tightening financial system to elevated competitors, however Elon Musk’s choice to purchase Twitter has made issues worse. Musk, who already break up his time as CEO of each Tesla and SpaceX, determined to purchase Twitter again in April and has since spent long hours making an attempt — and seemingly failing — to proper the social media firm. In the meantime, Musk’s controversial choices to do issues like convey again right-wing extremists, together with former President Donald Trump, are inflicting shoppers and traders to sour on him and, by extension, Tesla.
Electrical automobiles go mainstream
This was a giant yr for electrical automobiles, because of excessive fuel costs, extra inexpensive fashions, and huge government investment, together with a revamped tax credit. President Joe Biden has mentioned he needs half of the brand new automobiles bought within the US to be electrical by 2030, and that’s a risk. EVs made up almost 6 % of all new car registrations within the third quarter, at the same time as provide chain points meant that many Individuals have been essentially in a position to buy the electrical automobiles they needed. Whereas nonetheless a minority of whole auto gross sales, that’s thrice the speed it was at simply two years in the past, and a giant step towards transferring Individuals away from dependence on fossil fuels.
Progress has been stronger on a world stage, with plug-in electrical automobiles representing 16 percent of vehicles sold in October. Apparently, as electrical automobiles turn out to be extra mainstream, essentially the most well-known EV model, Tesla, is shedding its dominance. As corporations like Ford and GM enter the market, Tesla’s share of recent electrical car registrations dropped from 71 % in the beginning of the yr to 61 % within the third quarter of 2022, in line with information from S&P International Mobility. S&P has forecast that Tesla’s market share will decline to less than 20 percent by 2025.
Provide chain points eased however aren’t over
Final yr, provide chain points prompted delays in getting every thing from furnishings to meals. Issues have eased up quite a bit this yr, thanks partly to slowing demand, which prompted the price of items and supply, together with the time it takes to ship them, to fall.
To fight worldwide provide chain issues, the Biden administration has made a concerted effort to maneuver extra manufacturing to the US and to crack down on excessive delivery trade costs, however such efforts will take a very long time and the availability chain is by no means fixed. The Federal Reserve Financial institution of New York’s Global Supply Chain Pressure Index ticked again up in October and November, attributable to gradual supply instances in China.
Tech market cap collapse
This was the yr that Large Tech’s seemingly inexorable development lastly slowed. As tech corporations have matured, there simply isn’t as a lot room for fast development — they usually don’t have something wildly worthwhile on the horizon. So whereas income continues to be rising for a lot of the main corporations, it’s not rising as quick because it used to.
Wall Road has taken notice, and inventory costs at main tech corporations have plummeted. Apple, Meta, Amazon, Alphabet, and Microsoft mixed have misplaced greater than $3 trillion in market cap this yr. That has meant hiring freezes and even mass layoffs, which have been as soon as extraordinary in Silicon Valley. It has additionally meant that these corporations have needed to minimize down on a few of their extra progressive initiatives. Amazon is gutting Alexa. Apple has tapped the brakes on its self-driving car project. Meta is scaling again its experimental products division and Portal to make means for the metaverse.
In fact, these corporations aren’t going anyplace. They only won’t be as indestructible as they was once.
Crypto freezes over
Whereas 2021 was a boom year for cryptocurrencies and affiliated applied sciences like NFTs and Web3, 2022 was a bust. And issues look like going from dangerous to worse. What was dubbed a “crypto winter” within the first half of the yr turned a crypto ice age within the second half.
Because of impressively irresponsible monetary skullduggery by its boy genius leader Sam Bankman-Fried, the spectacular fall of crypto trade FTX prompted a lot of the remainder of the crypto trade to tumble. As of early December, the most important cryptocurrencies by market cap have been down greater than 50 %. Whether or not this spells the end of crypto or simply one other drop in its long-chaotic journey stays to be seen.
The US continues to spend cash preventing the battle in Ukraine
The war in Ukraine, which started in February when Russia invaded its neighbor, is raging on. Ukrainians are enduring missile strikes, blackouts, and death. It has additionally turn out to be a supply of rising worldwide tensions, as Europe and the US have ratcheted up sanctions in opposition to Russia.
Maybe essentially the most direct technique to measure US involvement is its navy support. Because the begin of the battle, the US has given Ukraine greater than $18 billion in safety help, in line with an announcement by the Division of Protection in early November. That quantity has doubled since Vox final wrote about it in May. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin lately said the battle in Ukraine may very well be a “lengthy course of,” so we would see that support rise much more.