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Ups, downs, and levels in labor and work data to make sense of

There are several data points out I want to try and make some sense of.

In numbers that are up, long COVID has sidelined as many as 4 million U.S. workers, per new research cited by NPR. The researcher noted that it’s 2.4% of the U.S. working population.

Also up – residential energy costs due to work from home.  In research from Carnegie Mellon, looking at January 2019 through April 2020, residential electricity use ticked up by around 5 percent as many people spent more time in their homes.   A separate study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that Americans paid $6 billion more on their home electricity bills from April to July 2020 than before pandemic lockdowns.  In that energy data, Low-income households and communities of color saw the most significant increase in electricity consumption, 

In the leveling group, US Residential broadband penetration of U.S. occupied housing units has leveled off – After a sizeable jump from Q2 2020 to Q2 2021, the last three quarters have shown a leveling. 

Also slowing – home prices in those pandemic boomtowns like Boise, Idaho, and Austin.    One of the reasons – is higher mortgage rates and increased prices. 

And down — New monthly job postings across all industries with “metaverse” in the title declined 81% between April and June, according to workplace researcher Revelio Labs.  Yes, it coincides with the general slowdown in the tech sector, as Job postings in tech hubs like San Francisco and Austin, Texas, dropped8.4% in the past four weeks, according to the job site Indeed.

Why do we care?

While I put them into that up, level, and down groups… that’s not the story. 

Two themes.  First, labor – when you hear noise about labor shortages… 2.4% of the US working population being sick is pretty significant.   Not often referenced, but worth knowing.   Plus, let’s note that the metaverse may quickly become a fad over labor – that’s a pretty substantial drop in job listings.  Are they all hired… or just not a priority anymore?   We’ll see.

Second, remote work.  I think we’re settling into the new pattern, even if we don’t see it fully yet.     Broadband growth and home prices leveling tell us there have been less movement and change in the past quarter.    There’s a new cost to work transferred to workers – energy – but I suspect most will happily trade that for the commute savings.