Shift towards digital currency: For the first time in centuries, central banks are beginning to embrace the reinvention of money with a shift towards digital currencies. Modern technology has facilitated a global shift towards cashless economies, and increased traction of cryptocurrencies has policy makers acting to ensure they stay on trend. Bloomberg speculates that “this might one day mean central banks could make currencies directly available electronically for people to spend with their smartphone, backed by the integrity of the state.”
Some governments are quicker to adapt than others, however. China is leading the way with a real-world trial of a digital yuan, and experts believe they could issue an official digital currency as early as 2023.
Sunshine state migration: Miami has attracted a huge influx of new residents since the onslaught of the pandemic. Many are financial and tech workers who have opted to trade their cramped city apartments for warmer weather and larger plots of land. Business Insider points to financial and tech giants establishing new headquarters in the Sunshine State as additional motivation for professionals looking to return to the office sometime in the near future. Uber and Twitter already call Miami home, and private-equity firm Blackstone is set to soon open an office in the city. The result has been a boom in demand for luxury housing in Florida. Sales for 2020 were up 55% across the state, while Miami set new records with sales surging to 116% in the fourth quarter.
Pipeline permit criticism: On his first day in office, President Biden signed a controversial executive order revoking the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. While the decision was supported by climate activists and Indigenous groups, critics cite the State Department’s estimate of nearly 4,000 jobs which were eliminated. According to CBS News, TC Energy (the Canadian company building Keystone) has had to lay off “nearly 1,000” laborers and tradesmen due to the executive order. The Biden Administration is looking to the future, however, stating that future job opportunities in clean energy as part of the president’s economic plan outweigh the number of jobs sacrificed from the halted pipeline construction.
Widening labor gaps: The new issue of Fortune Magazine reports that “working women have now lost more than three decades of labor force gains.” The pandemic in January forced another 275,000 women out of the U.S. labor force, accounting for almost 80% of adults who stopped working or looking for work last month. The ongoing employment crisis is closely aligned with a widespread caregiving crisis, and has disproportionately impacted women of color who work in restaurants, retail, education or other “essential” industries. Some economists estimate that the pandemic will cause the gender wage gap to widen by five percentage points.