Axios Closer

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November 12, 2021

Hello! Hope King here — how are you? TGIF! 😎

Today's newsletter is 673 words, a 2½-minute read.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed up 0.7%.

  • Biggest gainer? Etsy (+7.4%) shares climbed higher again this week following the company's strong earnings and outlook issued last week.
  • Biggest decliner? Hewlett Packard Enterprises (-8.2%) fell after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to sell and cut its price target, citing slowing IT spending in the U.S.

🚨Situational awareness: Judge Brenda Penny has freed Britney Spears from her 13-year-plus conservatorship.

1 big thing: Mothers make their way back to work

Data: Current Population Survey/Indeed; Note: Younger children defined as kids aged 13 and below; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

As the pandemic-era circumstances that drove a million American mothers out of work start to dissipate, that huge population of workers is coming back in greater numbers, Axios' Erica Pandey writes.

  • Employment for working-age moms rose at a faster rate than any other group of prime-age workers (those between the ages of 25 and 54) in October, according to new Current Population Survey data analyzed by Indeed Hiring Lab.

Why it matters: Working parents make up a third of the U.S. workforce, and employers need the mothers who left their jobs to come back amid the current marketwide labor shortage.

By the numbers: The prime-age employment to population ratio for mothers with young kids (defined as those aged 13 and below) is now 2.9% below what it was pre-pandemic.

  • That's still a lower recovery than fathers (–1.0%), and women without young kids (–2.3%) — but working moms are closing the gap.

What's happening: The Delta variant is receding, and school-age kids are finally able to get the vaccine, notes Alicia Modestino, an economist at Northeastern University.

  • That means more schools will be able to fully reopen and stay open, and the child care constraints that are keeping parents — usually mothers — at home will fade.
  • Wages are also increasing, which could be playing a role in bringing working moms back, Modestino says.

What to watch: Whether employment among moms keeps rising as pandemic-era conditions move further behind us.

  • "This is one month of positive data, but it is just one month of data," says Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed.

2. Charted: "I'm quitting" hits new record

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Workers split from their jobs at another record pace in September.

  • 4.4 million people, or 3% of the labor force, in the U.S. quit — up from 4.3 million in August.

Why it matters: Workers have been feeling more empowered than ever to leave positions amid a tight labor market that can reward job hoppers with higher pay and better benefits.

3. What's happening

💻 President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold a virtual summit Monday. (Axios)

🛍️ Alibaba’s yearly “Singles Day” or 11-11 online shopping campaign generated a record 540.3 billion yuan ($84.5 billion) in sales, but annual growth fell to 8.5%, its slowest pace ever. (WSJ)

✂️ Johnson & Johnson will split in two next year — with one division focused on consumer products including Band-Aid and Johnson’s Baby Powder, and the other on advanced pharmaceuticals and medical devices. (Axios)

  • Toshiba plans to split into three companies by March 2024, similar to GE. (WSJ)

🎮 EA’s “Battlefield 2042” advance release and Take Two’s “Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy” stumbled in their release this week. (Axios)

4. Heading out and tuning out

screenshot of Disney+ image

Photo Illustration: Thiago Prudencio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Disney’s streaming business stumbled last quarter.

  • The company added 2.1 million new Disney+ members, down from 12.6 million added in the previous three months.
  • Concurrently, production and marketing costs rose — pushing Disney+ operating losses higher.

Why it matters: This was the smallest gain in subscribers since Disney+ launched two years ago, a worrying marker for a business unit described as the company’s bet on the future.

Yes, but: Pandemic factors applied forces that were unforeseen when the service first launched 

  • Streaming businesses received a huge initial boost in popularity during lockdowns but now across the board have seen a slowdown in growth as the health crisis wanes and out-of-home options return.

Go deeper

5. Another big day (Taylor's Version)

Singer Taylor Swift at the BRIT Awards on stage

Taylor Swift accepts The BRITs Global Icon award in London, England. Photo: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” landed on streaming services at midnight.

  • This is the re-recording of Taylor Swift’s album "Red," plus 14 extra tracks.

Context: Swift, who owns her songs' copyrights, is using the new releases to regain fuller control over her music.

  • Scooter Braun’s private equity firm acquired her old music label in 2019, and last year it sold Swift's masters to another firm.
  • “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is her second re-release, following “Fearless.”

Chart beat: The album is already No. 1 on Apple Music in the U.S.

6. What they're saying

"I hope they’re able to achieve high production & breakeven cash flow. That is the true test."
— Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Twitter taking a shot at newly public electric truck maker Rivian, a pre-revenue company already worth $110 billion.

Have a good one, and remember to take care of yourself.