June 23, 2021
🐪Welcome back. Today's newsletter is 673 words ... 2 1/2 minutes.
🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed down 0.1%.
- Biggest gainer? Tesla (+5%). The electric vehicle maker said today it opened a solar-powered charging station in Tibet — its first in China.
- Biggest decliner? Oil and gas services provider Nov (-7%), which slumped along with the broader market.
1 big thing: America's child care sticker shock
Parents looking to return to the job market may find child care options have gotten pricier — and that's if they can enroll their kids at all.
Why it matters: The fate of the recovery partially relies on the return of parents who left the workforce to care for their children.
- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told lawmakers on Tuesday the lack of participation by caretakers is holding back the labor market.
What to watch: An index that tracks day care and preschool costs has shot well above its pre-pandemic level. Its biggest monthly increase in two years happened last month.
- Child care costs have been growing twice as fast as inflation since 2000, says Rasheed Malik, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress.
Flashback: At the onset of the pandemic, massive under-enrollment helped push 1 in 10 child care centers to close permanently, Malik says.
What's happening: Higher costs for things like gloves for changing diapers and food for meals are getting passed on to families.
- "Right now we have no choice but to go back to the paying parents [with price hikes] — those that don't qualify for any subsidy or child care assistance," says the National Childcare Association's Cindy Lehnhoff.
Another cost stems from the issue plaguing other low-wage industries: worker shortages. Child care centers are upping pay — by an average of $2 per hour — to lure back the exodus of child care workers, says Lehnhoff.
- Staff shortages mean fewer slots for children, making a pre-pandemic problem even worse.
What to watch: The child care industry got over $50 billion in pandemic-era relief — with the biggest chunk set to be disbursed by states in coming months.
2. Charted: What's leading the retail rebound
Consumer interest in shopping has recovered to more than 90% of 2019 levels — with rugs and sporting goods leading the way — according to a new report by Yelp that tracks consumer interactions with local businesses on its platform.
- Restaurants have recovered to more than 85% of 2019 levels.
Queries for handymen and carpenters are above where they were in 2019, thanks to the housing and renovation boom.
3. What's happening
🚨John McAfee — the creator of the antivirus software provider with the same name — was found dead in a Spanish jail. (Reuters)
- The country had just ruled that McAfee could be extradited to the U.S., where he faces tax evasion charges.
🏈The NFL says it's exploring options — including a possible sale — for its media properties, including NFL Network and digital platforms. (CNBC)
4. Buffett out at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Why it matters: It's the second-largest philanthropy in the world. The two remaining trustees, Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, are going through a divorce.
- Buffett said he's 50% toward his goal of giving away all of his Berkshire Hathaway shares to charity, following his latest $4.1 billion distribution.
- Buffett gave no indication that his schedule of large annual donations to the foundation would change in any way.
The bottom line: Today's announcement from Buffett does nothing to clear up the uncertainty about the future of the Gates Foundation, but is consistent with a plan to keep the foundation largely intact while beefing up its governance.
5. Burnout response tracker: Shorter workweek, companywide time off
Bumble gave its 700 employees worldwide the week off, CNN Business reports — the latest effort by a company to fight employee burnout.
- The dating platform told CNBC the time off is on top of normal vacation allowance.
Kickstarter is also testing a four-day workweek with some or all of its employees, to offer more flexibility, Axios' Ina Fried reports.
6. 👢What they're saying
“[G]rowth over two years ago [is] up 60% in total sales, and that’s really prior to all the country music artists starting to tour again, and the events and rodeos beginning to emerge."— Boots Barn CEO Jim Conroy, in a CNBC interview, betting the Western-wear retailer will see a bigger boost with the full return of concerts and county and state fairs.
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