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Financial News

Oct 18, 2021

The Weekly Scan October 18, 2021

By Stash Team

Find out what’s happening in the world of business this week.

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Welcome to the Weekly Scan. Here’s what we’re following for the week of October 18, 2021.

I quit. A record 4.3 million people left their jobs in August, 2021, the highest number of “quits” since December 2000, according to the latest data from the Department of Labor. August’s numbers also demonstrated an increase from July 2021, when quits totaled 4 million. Available jobs also decreased to 10.4 million, from a record high of 11.1 million in July. Quits were highest in services jobs that involve dealing with the public, such as restaurant, hotel, retail, and education jobs. Quits were lower for people in manufacturing, construction, transportation, and warehousing. Numbers stayed mostly flat in professional and business services. 

  • The takeaway: Low-wage workers are saying no to difficult jobs that may expose them to Covid-19, labor experts say, and they may have the upper hand given the ongoing worker shortage nationwide. The increase in quitting could also be attributed to growing fears around more transmissible Covid-19 variants, since most of the quits were from public-facing sectors. Additionally, quits were mostly concentrated in the South and Midwest U.S., where Covid-19 outbreaks were the worst in August. These numbers coincide with a disappointing September jobs report, which found that the U.S. added just 194,000 jobs, with employment falling to 4.8% from 5.2%. In August, hiring fell to 6.3 million from 6.8 million the previous month. 

ABC News

Squid pro quo. Netflix’s “Squid Game,” a South Korean show about financially struggling people competing to the death through children’s games, had the biggest debut of any show on the streaming platform to date, amassing 111 million views since it hit screens on September 17. The show has generated commentary about its depictions of violence and class struggle. “Squid Game” has even surpassed the previous biggest premiere on Netflix, when 82 million households tuned into “Bridgerton” within the first 28 days of its release on December 25, 2020. 

  • The takeaway: Netflix has reportedly invested heavily in the production of original content in Asian markets, especially South Korea. Since 2016, the streaming giant has invested $645 million USD in the South Korean market, resulting in 80 original South Korean series and films. In February 2021, Netflix said it planned to invest $500 million on original content from South Korea alone. 

NBC News, Bloomberg

Social change. Retirees have something new to cheer about. Starting in 2022, the average annual Social Security benefit will increase by 5.9%. That’s reportedly the biggest boost in the so-called cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in nearly 40 years, and amounts to an additional $92 per month on average. Typical monthly payments to single retirees will reportedly increase to $1,657 and $2,753 for couples. 

  • The takeaway. The COLA for 2022 is more than three times the 1.65% annual COLA for the past 10 years. The increase takes into account recent inflation as well as rising costs for things like groceries and at-home care for seniors. However, Congress must still confront ongoing challenges for the Social Security trust fund, including its ability to meet future payment obligations. About half of seniors depend on Social Security for half of their monthly costs, and one quarter use it to meet 100% of their expenses. 

AP News

Gas puzzler. Natural gas shortages in Asia and Europe have pushed the price of crude oil to $80 per barrel, the highest in three years, and may threaten the global economic recovery. A shortage of natural gas, liquified natural gas, and coal supplies caused by increasing demand has sparked a run on other sources of energy, such as crude oil, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA estimated that demand for crude would increase by 300,000 barrels per day, bringing the daily demand to 5.5 million barrels. 

  • The takeaway: The increased need for energy is leading to higher prices at the pump for consumers in the U.S. The average price per gallon of gasoline reached $3.28, a $1 increase year-over-year. Prices have increased across industries, as inflation continues. In September, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is the Department of Labor’s measurement of inflation, jumped 5.4%. Snags in supply chains and unpredictable consumer demand have also reportedly contributed to inflation.

Bloomberg, Politico

 Here’s what we covered in last week’s Scan: 

  • The Senate passed a bill temporarily raising the debt ceiling through December 3. 
  • The Department of Education will forgive the student loans of more than 550,000 public workers. 
  • Hackers stole proprietary data from streaming platform Twitch. 

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