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Economics in the News - July 5-11 How Economics Impacts our lives on a Daily basis

Economics impacts our lives every day. Below are some of the top storylines from this past week related to economics.

"Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work." -- Stephen King, author
With the Olympic Games set to begin in less than two weeks in Tokyo, Olympic organizers announced that spectators would be banned from most events. The decision comes as Japan has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases and a state of emergency declaration by the Japanese government.

It marks the fourth time that Tokyo has been under a state of emergency since the beginning of the pandemic. The declaration came after 920 new coronavirus cases were reported in Tokyo Wednesday, July 7 – the most reported cases since May. The Japanese public is in opposition with the Games proceeding, even as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledged that the Olympics would be an example of fortitude in the face of adversity. [The New York Times]

Nearly 10 million Americans remain unemployed. However, the disconnect between companies seeking workers and workers searching for employment remains.

Many workers have moved locations during the pandemic to areas where fewer jobs are available, while others are seeking a change in career. For example, a recent survey from ZipRecruiter found that 70 percent of job seekers who previously worked in leisure and hospitality are now looking for work in a different industry. Extended unemployment benefits and relief payments have allowed workers to become more selective for their next job. [The Wall Street Journal]

How would you like a shorter work week? New research by the Association for Democracy and Sustainability from Iceland has found that working fewer hours for the same pay led to improved well-being and no loss in productivity among workers. Roughly 86 percent of Iceland’s 200,000 workforce has moved to shorter hours.

Workers went from a 40-hour work week to 35 or 36-hour schedules without a reduction in pay. Workers from various industries participated in the trials conducted in 2019. The study found that participants were able to organize their schedules and delegate tasks more easily. [NPR]

As Gen Z and millennials are returning to large cities, places to rent are in more demand. Nationwide, the cost to rent has climbed 7.5 percent this year, three times more than normal. In some areas, rental prices have climbed 33 percent.

Americans have put a greater emphasis since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic on more space and a more reasonable cost of living. Most economists predict that the high demand for rentals will continue for months to come. [The Washington Post]

Americans commuting or travelling over the summer are likely to encounter higher fuel costs. Prices for a barrel of oil hit its highest level in six years, nearly $10 more per barrel than in mid-May. The average price of gasoline in the United States has risen to $3.13 according to AAA, an increase from $3.05 last month.

Energy experts explain that the recent increase in prices has to do with international economic and geopolitical forces. As American consumers and businesses shift to more efficient renewable energy sources, the impact should be more modest than in past decades. [The New York Times]

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All images credited to iStock