August 06, 2023

๐Ÿฅž Hello, Sunday! Erica Pandey is your weekend steward โ€” give her a follow: @erica_pandey.

  • Smart Brevityโ„ข count: 1,189 words ... 4ยฝ mins. Edited by Donica Phifer.

1 big thing: Tipping backlash

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The onslaught of tipping nudges has ignited a backlash, with some consumers admitting they're tipping even less often than they did before.

  • Why it matters: Technology and COVID combined to spark a great tip grab. Now we're confused and irritated by such extremes as being asked to chip in at a self-service register, Axios' Erica Pandey writes.

The stakes: The rise of tip requests is pushing consumers to close their wallets โ€” even in scenarios where tips are a critical part of workers' wages.

  • 65% of Americans say they always tip servers, down from 73% last year and 77% in 2019, Axios' Kelly Tyko reports from a Bankrate survey.

What's happening: New point-of-sale tech has made it easy to request tips โ€” so we're getting prompted more often.

  • Some of the new places virtual or physical tip jars have popped up include sandwich shops, cafes, self-service car washes and movie theater concession stands, Axios Charlotte reports.

But etiquette would dictate that you're not required to tip individuals whose wages don't rely on it, says Elaine Swann, an etiquette expert and the founder of southern California's Swann School of Protocol.

  • Feel free to tip at the coffee shop if the barista was patient with you while you rattled off a long list of drinks. But it's also acceptable to choose that "no tip" option, she says.

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2. ๐Ÿ’ฐ '24 candidates spend big to survive

Data: FEC. Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FEC. Chart: Axios Visuals

Five months before the first votes of the 2024 presidential race, candidates are burning through tens of millions in cash โ€” especially Republicans trying to beat former President Trump.

  • Why it matters: Campaign "burn rates" offer a window into early aggressiveness โ€” and are being stoked by the scramble to meet steep RNC requirements to join upcoming debates, Axios' Stef Kight writes.

At the end of June, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' campaign had spent about 40% of the more than $20 million it had taken in since he launched his campaign in May. He has laid off dozens of staffers while struggling to dent Trump's lead.

  • DeSantis is overwhelmingly relying on wealthy donors who soon may reach their primary-donation limits of $3,300, Axios found.

The Trump campaign's grassroots energy remained strong in the second quarter: He reported more than $44 million from small donors ($200 or less).

  • Trump has a network of PACs able to spend on his behalf. But tens of millions of those dollars are flying out the window to pay for Trump's mounting legal fees, The New York Times reports.

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3. โšฝ The dayโ€™s biggest brunch talker

U.S. women react after losing to Sweden. Photo: Hamish Blair/AP

The U.S. women's run in the 2023 World Cup has come to a heartbreaking end in the Round of 16 for the first time in team history.

  • Sweden defeated the U.S. in a dramatic penalty shootout today, AP reports.

"I know we were criticized for the way we played, and for different moments in the group stage. I think we came out today and showed the grit, the resilience, the fight," U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said.

  • "The bravery showed we did everything we could to win the game. And, unfortunately, soccer can be cruel sometimes."
Photo: Hamish Blair/AP

"Megan Rapinoe will arguably feel this heartbreak more than most," CNN's Ben Church writes.

  • "[She] came on as a second-half substitute against Sweden but failed to score her penalty in the shootout."

"Still, Rapinoe, [who is retiring after this World Cup], is sure to leave an indelible legacy, both on her nation and the sport."

4. ๐Ÿ’ผ Remote work's hiring edge

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Over the last year, companies that allow at least one day of remote work per week hired new employees at nearly twice the rate of firms that are fully in-person, The Wall Street Journal reports with data from Scoop Technologies and People Data Labs.

  • Why it matters: Executives are turning against telecommuting, but workers are hanging on their power to demand flexibility in a hot labor market.

Companies offering one or more days of remote work per week have a leg up in the recruiting game because workers see flexible working arrangements as equivalent to a roughly 8% raise, Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom told The Journal.

5. ๐ŸŠ Florida's new education agenda

DeSantis speaks after signing three education bills on the campus of New College of Florida in Sarasota, Fla., in May. Photo: Thomas Simonetti/Getty Images

Florida could become the first state to offer a conservative-backed "classical" exam in lieu of the SAT and ACT for public college admissions, Axios' April Rubin writes.

  • Why it matters: The state's education measures have been a national Republican bellwetherโ€” driven by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Catch up quick: The classical education model โ€” not to be confused with "classics" or "classical humanities" โ€” focuses on a return to "core values" and the "centrality of the Western tradition."

  • It has gained momentum in Florida charter schools and private Christian schools.
  • The model's critics say that the emphasis on Western civilization in classical education centers white Europe and America as most important, per the Tampa Bay Times.

State of play: The Florida Board of Governors is expected to vote on the Classical Learning Test on Aug. 30, according to a spokesperson.

  • If adopted by the board, universities could start accepting classical test scores for the 2023-24 admissions cycle.

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6. ๐ŸŽ’ Back-to-school-flation

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Back-to-school shoppers can't escape inflation as they prepare for the 2023-2024 school year, Axios' Kelly Tyko writes.

๐Ÿงฎ By the numbers: Back-to-school spending is expected to reach $41.5 billion, up from $36.9 billion last year and surpassing the previous high of $37.1 billion in 2021, according to the National Retail Federation's annual survey.

  • 69% of parents of kids in elementary through high school expect to buy electronics this year, up from 65% last year โ€” and the highest in the NRF survey's history.

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7. ๐Ÿผ Twin births decline

Data: CDC; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals
Data: CDC; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

After a major national twin birth boom or "twinflux," twinning rates (an actual science term) have been dropping, Axios' Carly Mallenbaum writes.

In vitro fertilization โ€” which gained popularity after the first IVF baby was born in 1978 โ€” contributed to an increase in twin births.

  • Doctors used to transfer multiple embryos into the uterus of a patient trying to conceive, with the hopes of at least one leading to pregnancy.
  • The increase in average maternal age was also a factor, as the likelihood of spontaneously conceiving twins increases with age.

What's happening: After advances were made in IVF in the early '00s, implantation rates improved and some experts started to discourage multiple embryo transfers.

  • The thinking: Transferring only one embryo would avoid twin pregnancies, which remained risky.

As of 2020, more than 80% of U.S. embryo transfer cycles involve only a single embryo, according to CDC data.

8. ๐Ÿ“ธ Parting shot

Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Simone Biles celebrates with her coach, Laurent Landi, after competing on the vault in the U.S. Classic yesterday.

  • She's back. It was Biles' first time competing since she withdrew from the Olympic final in Tokyo two years ago โ€” and she won by a large margin.

"Oh, and yes: She finished the competition with a Yurchenko double pike, a vault not contemplated, much less competed, before Biles introduced it in 2021," The New York Times' Maggie Astor writes.

  • Biles has not yet said whether she plans to compete in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.