Ten times, Matthew and Bethany Clewett found a house they could envision themselves making their home, where they would raise their now almost 1-year-old daughter, Nellie. Ten houses they liked enough to put in an offer.
But each time, one by one, their offers were passed over. One after another, the young couple started to lose hope, getting increasingly frustrated with each rejection. Even though their “bulldog” of a real estate agent was persistent and aggressive, each time they lost, and it became increasingly heart-wrenching.
And they weren’t picky. They were willing to buy anywhere along the Wasatch Front — an area of between 80 miles and 120 miles in length, depending on which northern and southernmost communities one claims. They were open to buying in Stansbury Park in the west, to Saratoga Springs farther south, to Syracuse up north.
They were offering above asking prices — $20,000 to $30,000 over. They were competitive bidders, but in some cases not competitive enough. Matthew Clewett — who himself is a housing wonk as the public policy director for the Salt Lake Board of Realtors — said their real estate agent told them one house they lost out on went for $60,000 to $70,000 over asking price. That’s not even the highest some Salt Lake real estate agents have seen in other cases, with some bids up to $100,000 over asking price, though that’s not too common.
“It was absolutely insane,” Matthew Clewett said.
Again and again, it wasn’t enough.
“There were plenty of times where we were really frustrated with the process, being denied and having been told, ‘Hey, you had a great offer but we found a better one,’” Matthew Clewett, 26, said, “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
“And then it’s just like the thought of, ‘Well, should we just give up?’” said his wife, Bethany Clewett, 27. “Should we just live in my parent’s basement forever?”
The Clewetts’ struggle to buy a home is what thousands of Utahns have already faced in 2021 — a year that’s already shaping up to be one like no other for real estate in Utah, on the heels of an already record-shattering year for Wasatch Front home sales in 2020.
“It’s absolutely unheard of,” Dave Robison, president of the Utah Association of Realtors, said about Utah’s record-breaking housing trends. “I mean, it’s insane. It’s crazy. It’s unprecedented.”
Consider these figures from the Salt Lake Board of Realtors:
Wasatch Front homes were on the market a median of five days — a slim five days — in the first quarter of 2021, a huge drop from 28 days in the first quarter of 2020. Buyers are now having to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives in a matter of hours — without the luxury of waiting a few days before deciding to submit an offer.
The year 2020 shattered records for home sales in Salt Lake County, Utah’s most populous county. In the year of the pandemic, a whopping 19,194 Salt Lake County homes sold, breaking the previous all-time record of 18,907 homes in 2005, before the market crashed and sent the U.S. spiraling into the Great Recession.
Wasatch Front home prices are skyrocketing by double-digit percentages. In Salt Lake County, the median single-family home price climbed to $468,000 in the first quarter of 2021, up $68,000 or 17% from a year earlier when the median price was $400,000. In Utah County, that price is up to $450,000, up an even bigger 20% from the first quarter of 2020. In Davis County, that price is $430,000, up 21%. In Tooele County, it’s up to $360,000, up 18%. And in Weber County, it’s up to $340,000, up 23%.
Meanwhile, inventory is struggling to keep up with demand. Across Utah’s five-county Wasatch Front, there were 7,703 overall home sales of all housing types in the first quarter of 2021, down from 7,978 sales in the first quarter of 2020. In Salt Lake County, single-family home sales were down 1% year over year. Tooele County sales were down 4%. Utah County saw a bigger fall in sales, down 7%. In Davis County, an even bigger drop of 16%. Weber County, Davis County’s northern neighbor, saw the biggest decline at 18%.
With demand at an all-time high, buyers are getting increasingly aggressive. Some Salt Lake real estate agents have seen home offers up to $100,000 over asking price. Bidding wars are now the norm.
Now zoom out.
The housing market is red hot just about everywhere in the U.S., still boiling over in wake of the strange year that will forever be marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Beehive State in particular — a state that, even before the pandemic, not only ranks high in population growth, economic health and low unemployment rates, but is also seen as an attractive place to live due to its outdoor recreation opportunities, proximity to world class skiing and hiking, and a thriving tech sector at Silicon Slopes — ranks high in numerous lists analyzing the U.S. housing market.
Utah, with its Salt Lake metro area, is a contender for having one of the hottest housing markets in the West. Its big competitor is Idaho, which has also seen major housing price increases as more and more people, spurred by the pandemic, moved from big cities — from San Francisco on the West Coast, to New York in the East — in search of homes with more space at much lower price points.
To Robison, Utah’s long track record of strong population growth and economic health, even before the pandemic, puts the Beehive State at the top of the list in the western U.S. for its housing market, excluding outlier markets like California.
“I think we’re No. 1 in the West,” he said, pointing to Utah’s top-of-the-nation population growth and low unemployment rates as “big indicators” that also influence Utah’s appeal to homebuyers.
Salt Lake City metro ranks third-highest in nation for housing price increases, with a spike of 15.9% over the past year and 6.5% over the last quarter, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. That’s behind the Tacoma-Lakewood metro area in Washington, with housing prices that spiked by 16.3%. Boise, Idaho, ranked No. 1 in the nation, with a 23.4% rise in housing prices.
Now consider more than just housing prices, but also economic conditions. Utah topped Bankrate.com’s Housing Heat Index published in March 2021, topping five states the site reported as the having the strongest housing markets in the fourth quarter of 2020. In that ranking, Utah beat out Montana, Nebraska, Idaho and Indiana.
To arrive at that ranking, Bankrate.com’s analysis used six metrics from the fourth quarter of 2020 — annual home price appreciation reported by the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Home Price Index; share of mortgages past due as reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association; unemployment and job growth from the U.S. Labor Department; the cost of living index from the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness; and state-by-state tax burdens as reported by the Tax Foundation.
Utah’s home values jumped 15.4% in 2020, third-best among the U.S. states, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Utah also had the second-strongest job growth in the nation from December 2019 to December 2020, according to a Bankrate analysis of Labor Department data. Plus, Utah’s tax burden is among the lowest in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation.
The high rankings of states like Utah, Montana and Idaho, Bankrate.com reported, demonstrates a housing market “shift” happening in the West.
“The prominent rankings of states in the Mountain time zone illustrate a shift in the housing market: Americans are still drawn to healthy labor markets, but even before the coronavirus pandemic, they were growing, less willing to pay up to live in places like San Jose, Seattle and Boston,” Bankrate.com wrote. “COVID-19 has pushed many — especially those who can work remotely — to leave the priciest areas for more affordable regions.”
Meanwhile, Utah’s population continues to boom, mostly thanks to its higher-than-the-national-average birth rate, but also because more people are moving in. Utah ranked as the fastest-growing state in the nation according to the 2020 census released in April, which showed the Beehive State grew 18.4% over the past decade, beating out Idaho, Texas, North Dakota and Nevada in the top five in terms of percentage growth.
Even though the U.S. population growth remains sluggish, Utah and Idaho are two Western states that have bucked that trend. Births were the biggest growth driver in Utah, while a majority of the growth seen in its northern neighbor of Idaho, about 60%, was driven by people moving into the state between 2010 to 2019, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. One in 5 of those came from California, many of them retirees seeking lower housing prices and a home among Idaho’s pristine wilderness areas.
But that’s not to say out-of-state movers aren’t coming to Utah, too. Net migration accounted for 35% of Utah’s growth, totaling 177,242 people between 2010 and 2020, Mallory Bateman, a senior research analyst and state data center coordinator at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, told the Deseret News in April.
One metro area in Utah in particular saw a big jump in migration from out of state amid the pandemic, putting Utah on the national map on another list.
An ‘explosion’ in the West
The story of the West’s housing market is one of growth — while other areas of the nation begin to stagnate or “drain,” as James Wood, the Ivory-Boyer senior fellow at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, put it.
“If you look at population change, and the same with employment growth, the country is really draining from the center to the southeast,” Wood said. But if you look to the West — Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Arizona, Oregon and Washington — “that’s where the growth is.”
Now factor in Utah’s continually high population and economic rankings for at least the past decade, Wood said it’s no wonder the state is seeing a booming housing market, which was only accelerated by the pandemic.
“When you’re leading the country with that kind of growth, there’s no way you’re going to avoid pressure on the housing market,” Wood said. “And that’s what we’ve seen.”
Though out-of-state movers don’t statistically make up the biggest chunk of growth in Utah, it’s still happening. Anecdotally, real estate agents report a big uptick in interest from out-of-state buyers, especially in the past year, who view Salt Lake’s rising housing prices still a steal compared to what their dollar would buy them on the West or East coasts.
“I’ll tell you this,” Robison said. He noted the website UtahRealEstate.com had about 500,000 people based in California browsing the site last year. “We don’t have that many homes for sale, but we had half a million looking from California. Half a million.”
Missy Coman, an Idaho real estate agent of 12 years, described what she’s witnessed in her state — and what’s gone on in other metro areas like Salt Lake City — as “just an explosion.”
“Inventory is low and demand is high,” she said simply, describing how homes in the Boise area are often selling 10% to 20% over asking price.
Affordability is one of the big factors that’s fed Idaho’s housing market and why it’s such a close contender to Utah. But now, since Boise ranked No. 1 in the nation for spiking housing prices, with a 23.4% increase in the last year, that’s changing.
“I think we’re now on par as far as affordability for everyone,” Coman said. “Whereas before we were more affordable, but the way the market has gone we are now more on par.”
Like Salt Lake City metro area, the Boise metro area has similar draws. To Coman, the biggest draw is the great outdoors, its climate, and plenty of land. But Idaho is also similar to Utah in culture and lifestyle.
“What has made both Salt Lake City and Boise so attractive is they are wholesome cities,” Coman said, pointing to their generally low crime rates and welcoming communities.
But the housing frenzy has resulted in all kinds of new pressures, from the homebuilder to the buyer. And while it’s certainly a seller’s market, sellers still have to navigate a sea of buyers whose financing may fall through because in their desperation they’ve stretched to an offer they can’t feasibly manage.
“It’s hard on everybody,” Coman said. “It really is.”
The buyer’s battleground
The Clewetts eventually did find their dream home.
Bethany Clewett found it first on UtahRealEstate.com. It was a cute, updated three bedroom, 2 3⁄4 bath, nearly 2,300-square-foot home in a charming Kaysville cul-de-sac. It already had a lush lawn, landscaping and a new deck in the backyard. The kitchen was remodeled, with white cabinets and a large window above the farmhouse sink. The walls had fresh coats of gray paint.
And their daughter’s upstairs bedroom window would have a beautiful view of the mountains.
It was perfect. But it wasn’t the first time they’d walked into a home, thought, “This is it,” only to end up losing it.
“There was one in Bountiful that I loved,” Bethany Clewett said.
“Yeah, and that one probably went for $90,000 over asking,” Matthew Clewett said, laughing.
When they lost the Bountiful home, they said no tears were shed, but they were certainly frustrated and angry.
“But I also think we knew something better would come along,” Bethany Clewett said.
“We had faith that we would keep finding good properties,” Matthew Clewett said. “And we did.”
But it didn’t come without willingness on their end to widen their price range.
Originally, the Clewetts wanted to find a home priced in the high $300,000 range. “But as we were searching, we realized it wasn’t going to work out for our situation,” Matthew Clewett said.
“There were very few and far between,” Bethany Clewett said.
So the Clewetts made an aggressive offer on the Kaysville home. They offered $30,000 over asking price, putting their bid in the mid-$400,000 range.
“Which is, you know, it’s a stretch,” Matthew Clewett said. “But in this market you’ve kind of got to stretch a little bit.”
Their offer included an “escalation clause,” he said, where they included a provision in their offer to beat any other offer by $500 up to a certain amount.
When they submitted their offer, Bethany Clewett said she was “more optimistic,” while her husband didn’t want to get his hopes up. “He was like, ‘We’re not going to get it,’” she said, laughing. Matthew Clewett laughed, too, explaining he prefers to brace himself for the worst.
But they got the house. Even though they were thrilled, the young couple still held their breath for the next step: the inspection. It passed with flying colors.
“We took a sigh of relief,” Matthew Clewett said.
Next came the mortgage process. They got a mortgage rate at 2.99% — and they were able to move in.
“We decided to stick with it. We were very persistent. And I think you have to be very persistent in this market,” Matthew Clewett said. “You’re going to be let down a time or two. You’re going to find a house that you think is perfect for you, and you’re not going to get it, unfortunately. But you’re going to eventually find something.”
Matt Ulrich, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, said Utah’s housing market has shaped up to be “one of the toughest, most difficult markets we’ve ever been in.”
It’s now the norm for home sellers to field at least a dozen offers on homes, Ulrich said. Wasatch Front real estate agents have even seen some offers $100,000 over asking price, though that’s not too common. However, he said winning offers are now pretty much always over asking price, and buyers are having to get increasingly “more aggressive and more creative” as far as waiving contingencies.
“It’s the most challenging market that I’ve witnessed, and I’ve seen it across the board,” Ulrich said. “It may be hot, but it’s not easy.”
The dark side of a hot housing market
Utah’s red hot housing market is a great indicator that shows “we’ve been doing things right,” Robison said. “It’s validation that we’re doing awesome and we’ve created an awesome lifestyle in Utah.”
It’s the state’s low unemployment, diverse workforce — boasting not only a growing tech sector, but also lots of other types of jobs, especially manufacturing — proximity to hiking, biking and skiing, Salt Lake City’s cultural diversity alongside plenty of quiet suburban neighborhoods, that makes Utah an attractive place to live, Robison said.
“They want to feel like they’re in a good community that’s safe. Low crime. They want to feel like they’re in an area with good education, job availability, affordable housing.”
But that’s the clincher: affordability.
There’s an obvious downside to it all. As Utah’s market booms, its affordability declines. More people will be priced out, now realizing they’re unable to afford the same type of home that might have been in their price range just three to five years ago.
A striking 80% of Utahns said in a recent Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll they’re concerned about Utah’s current housing market, with 47% who said they’re “very concerned” while 33% said they are “somewhat concerned.” Of those, a whopping 70% said they were concerned about affordability.
“The dark side is more competition,” said Nadia Evangelou, senior economist and director of forecasting and research with the National Association of Realtors.
The good news, Evangelou said, construction is up in the Salt Lake metro area. She said building permits rose 9% compared to a year earlier, so the Salt Lake Valley continues to be an area with “great opportunities for homebuilders.” She noted that over the past 20 years, the Salt Lake City metro area issued an average of 4,800 single-family home permits in a 12-month time frame, but that’s since increased. In the latest 12-month period ending in March, she said that number ticked up to 5,600. So more inventory is coming, and that may help with pricing, she said.
But, for Utahns, especially for those who have lived here their whole lives, it’s obvious the state’s changing, and won’t be the same for future generations.
“It definitely is concerning,” Robison said, “and that’s one reason why it’s important we figure out ways now to (address affordability). And if we’re doubling our population in the next 40 years, the worst thing we can do is have sprawl.”
Robison said Utah leaders must plan for affordable housing, “which, contrary to what we grew up with, means we’re going to have a little more density and we’re have to do it properly.”
No end in sight
Real estate agents and market experts don’t see any end in sight for Utah’s and the nation’s housing boom — and they repeatedly say there’s no “bubble” similar to the 2007 market crash that led to the Great Recession.
Leading up to the crash, Robison noted that the U.S. had overbuilt housing and there was a subprime mortgage crisis, depicted in such films as “Margin Call” and “The Big Short.”
“Today, we don’t have a bubble because we have a lack of housing, and in order to have a bubble we would have to have oversupply. Instead, we have more demand than supply,” Robison said. “It’s unprecedented. We haven’t experienced it before, and so it’s just really mind-boggling.”
So long as demand continues to outpace inventory, it’s likely the housing market will continue on its same trajectory.
“I don’t see it changing just because there is so much demand,” Ulrich said.
Meanwhile, builders — who are facing spikes in lumber and construction labor costs — aren’t keeping up with demand either, Ulrich said. “I’ve heard they’ve stopped taking offers because it’s costing builders more to build than they anticipate, and they’re not sure with COVID and materials being backed up (about) the cost of supplies.”
Ulrich said the “only thing” that may slow it down a little bit is if interest rates rise — which Evangelou predicted will happen by the end of 2021, but not by a lot. She said she expects maybe a 3.2% interest rate for mortgages by the end of the year.
But that rate increase likely won’t stop people from buying, Evangelou said.
To her, the key to relieving the pressure on the market, is building inventory.
“We need to build even more,” she said, “and avoid pricing out homebuyers.”
You may have seen diabetes weaved in to the storyline of a favorite TV show or new movie every so often. The condition is frequently used as a quick punchline or one-liner, or some kind of a foil that trips up the characters.
These portrayals matter because movies and media have the power to shape the public’s view regarding people with diabetes (PWDs). Movies and media can shape how people react in certain emergencies, kids’ experiences at school and adults’ experiences in workplaces, and how people make healthcare policy decisions.
Popular shows like “The Blacklist,” “Law and Order: SVU” and “Person of Interest” have all briefly incorporated insulin pumps and device-hacking into their storylines — but they didn’t always handle it well.
“Nobody likes seeing any part of diabetes portrayed incorrectly, but certainly, I think it’s a lot better in today’s media than it was years ago. We’ve made huge strides and we’re a lot more ‘right’ than we have been,” says D-Dad Tom Karlya, who has two adult children with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and has long advocated for factual representation of diabetes in the media.
Historically, movies and TV often got it wrong when delving into diabetes.
A few examples that stand out in TV series include:
A “Big Bang Theory” episode tied diabetes to a group of individuals with overweight ordering dessert, including one PWD with an insulin pump.
In a “Walking Dead” episode a single character recovered immediately from passing out after receiving an insulin injection.
In the short-lived “Do No Harm” series, a neurosurgeon with T1D had to be cleared for surgery by checking his blood sugar with a futuristic hospital-version fingerstick meter the size of a tabletop.
In a “Hannah Montana” spot, a character was teased for not being able to eat candy because of his T1D. Disney eventually revised that and later pulled the episode.
More examples where advocates called out errors and misinformation in TV shows include multiple mentions on medical dramas “New Amsterdam” and “Nurses” on NBC, as well as an insulin affordability storyline written into a different “New Amsterdam” episode, and “The Resident” on FOX.
Some also took notice of the mention of an “artificial pancreas” in the April 28, 2021, episode of ABC’s new sitcom “Home Economics,” where the grandfather character spoke with his young grandchildren in one scene, but there was absolutely no context for the mention of diabetes technology.
On the big screen, errors seem to take on a whole new dimension.
“Hansel & Gretel”
One striking example of getting it glaringly wrong was the 2013 movie “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” in which the director used a “spin on diabetes” in the fanciful script.
Star actor Jeremy Renner played Hansel, who lives with “the sugar sickness,” an uncanny resemblance to T1D that Hansel contracts after the evil witch force-fed him candy as a child. Thanks to all that candy, Hansel grows up needing regular daily injections at the beep of his timepiece. Without those injections, as we see at one point in the movie, he will go into immediate convulsions — apparently the result of high blood sugar?
Of course, the big takeaway from this movie is that candy consumption leads to T1D, which is clearly not the case. Some in the community found that portrayal to be a form of bullying, and a whole advocacy campaign of letter-writing to the director ensued.
Another movie often cited for inaccuracies and misinformation is the “Panic Room” from 2002, starring Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart.
The story centers on a divorced mom and her teen daughter, who hide in their brownstone’s secret room after burglars break into the home to steal a hidden fortune. The daughter Sarah has T1D, and at one point experiences an urgent low blood sugar while trapped in the panic room.
In the movie, the teen gets “a shot” for the low blood sugar, which PWDs may recognize as rescue glucagon. But of course, most people with no knowledge of this condition could easily assume it was insulin. Unfortunately, several film reviewers incorrectly referred to this lifesaving shot as an “insulin injection.” This obviously imparts the dangerous misperception that a person having a low blood glucose level needs more insulin instead of sugar.
Of course, the teenager recovers immediately after the injection rather than the several minutes it typically takes after using emergency glucagon. At one point, the writers even made Sarah turn blue — which doesn’t happen with hypos. And at another point in the film, the teen gets anxious, and the mom cautions her to not get worked up, as it can lead to diabetes problems.
“There’s no law saying we have to be right in every movie scene,” the film’s technical medical advisor Donna Cline says. “Frankly, we deliver what the public wants.”
Cline claims she researched the appearance and behavior associated with low blood glucose and other aspects of diabetes. She even consulted textbooks and sought help from experts in diabetes care, finding in one manual on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) that stated “great emotional stress” could lead to hypos. That’s what led to the mom’s scripted comment about her daughter getting worked up.
Even more interesting is the producer of “Panic Room” has a daughter with T1D, and still, the script was far from technically accurate in many spots. Although, one could argue that it got the urgency of diabetes emergencies across.
“Steel Magnolias” movie(s)
There’s also the classic example of the 1989 film “Steel Magnolias,” which upset more than one generation of PWDs even though it was based on a play that was based on a true story.
The Shelby character played by Julia Roberts lives with T1D and, despite her mother and doctor’s concerns, she gets pregnant, which puts a strain on her kidneys and body. A signature scene for our D-Community is where she has severe low blood sugar while getting her hair styled for her wedding, and her mom says the classic line “Drink your juice, Shelby!” as Roberts’ character resists and sobs in her hypoglycemia confusion.
That scene scarred many women with diabetes, who felt they’d be unable to have children safely. While that’s certainly not the case, it was a common prevailing medical opinion at the time of this original movie.
The juice scene was quite dramatic, and many felt it didn’t accurately represent what PWDs experience. Yet many others it was spot-on and embodied their experiences having low blood sugar. So, accuracy is sometimes in the eye of the beholder.
In the 2012 remake with a new cast, the storyline doesn’t shift much from the original but has updates with cell phones and modern diabetes tech making appearances. There is some dialogue that attempts to clarify the risk of pregnancy complications with diabetes.
Thankfully, there are also examples where diabetes is handled on-screen in ways that have positive impacts. It’s important to point out what these shows did right.
“Body of Proof”
The ABC show “Body of Proof” featured a storyline in which the lead character’s daughter was diagnosed with T1D and used a Medtronic Minimed insulin pump. The actress was Mary Mouser, who actually lives with T1D herself (and went on to roles like Daniel LaRusso’s daughter in the Cobra Kai series picked up by Netflix).
At the end of that episode, a 10-second message aired to inform viewers that every day 80 kids and adults are diagnosed with T1D and inviting them to contact JDRF for more information. The organization says the community expressed widespread support for the episode’s accurate portrayal of the medical details, as well as the feelings and fears many families face during times of diagnosis.
The JDRF told DiabetesMine that while it doesn’t always proactively reach out to media regarding portrays of diabetes, the organization is always willing to work with TV producers and filmmakers who contact them to learn about T1D. That’s what happened with the “Body of Proof” show.
Medtronic confirmed that they were a part of that show, as well, providing information and lending the crew a Medtronic pump for Mouser’s character to wear.
“We thought they did a nice job of capturing on screen some of the emotions that many families with diabetes experience. And they allowed us to send a member of our clinical team over to the studio so that she could help them ensure that the pump was depicted realistically,” former Medtronic spokeswoman Karrie Hawbaker tells DiabetesMine.
“New Amsterdam” on NBC
A 2019 “New Amsterdam” episode tackled insulin affordability in a storyline focused on drug pricing and pharma culpability. Then another episode in March 2021 had the main character’s mom struggling with the learning curve after a new diagnosis — learning how to give insulin injections and calculate dosages for food.
Impressively, the show’s main character Max played by Ryan Eggold talked her through the initial diagnosis moments, explaining the basics on how to inject insulin with a syringe and even carb-counting for dosing.
Yet, the needle used to demonstrate was HUGE… a point that many in the patient community griped about as being incorrect.
Stepping back from what many of us know to be true about modern syringe sizes, it’s important to recognize that many newly diagnosed adults perceive the insulin syringes to be large and scary.
One of the likely reasons for these “New Amsterdam” scenes mentioning diabetes is Carolyn Gershenson, a D-Mom in New York who happens to be a set nurse for movie and TV show productions. She’s a diabetes care and education specialist (DCES) whose son was diagnosed with T1D back in the late 90s, and she’s had a hand in reviewing scripts to ensure they are medically accurate as it relates to diabetes.
Her adult son is also involved behind the scenes on hit shows like “Blue Bloods” and “Mr. Robot,” so no doubt their dual personal experience with T1D can make a difference when it matters most.
Working with real patients and medical experts makes all the difference when it comes to accurately portraying any health condition on screen.
“The Baby-Sitter’s Club” on Netflix
In 2020, Netflix produced a remake of this TV series adapted from a classic children’s book series from the 1980s. In the third streaming episode, the main teen character Stacey McGill is hiding her diabetes from friends as much as possible, until word comes out about her recent diagnosis with T1D.
The producers did a decent job, showing the teenager subtly avoiding candy and higher carb foods in the presence of friends, so she wouldn’t’ have to dose insulin with her pump. And then, the story has social media revealing that the girl left a previous school because of a seizure just before her T1D diagnosis, which triggers concern from the other girls parents. In fact, in one scene, the parents discuss their hesitancy about Stacey’s diabetes and her being around their kids.
Even though the pre-T1D seizure and the parents’ meeting may seem a bit off, the producers focused on showing Stacy’s feelings and how she handled her condition around others. In that sense, they did a great job. The episode felt true to life for many kids and teens living with diabetes.
In 2020, the fictional apocalyptic movie “Greenland” featured a main character with T1D.
The screenwriter Chris Sparling is well-known in the diabetes community as the husband of longtime T1D advocate and author Kerri Sparling.
The movie is about meteors crashing into Earth and potentially wiping out human existence, and people must scramble to avoid that apocalypse, in part by journeying to Greenland, where bunkers await them.
Sparling made the main character’s teenage son have T1D, which added another emergency scenario on top of the larger plot.
He says he tried to stay true to T1D on the page as a writer, but the final production was beyond his full control as he didn’t serve as a director or producer.
He says he feels a strong responsibility even though it’s not always as easy as some may think to “get it right” completely when it comes to representing diabetes on-screen.
“There are blatant failures, and things that are blatantly offensive. But leaving those things aside… the maxim of filmmaking is show, not tell,” Sparling says during a Children with Diabetes video interview. “You don’t want people to just be talking about something, you want to show it happening, to dramatize it. Diabetes is a slightly difficult disease to dramatize.”
He points out that there’s always a risk of over-sensationalization that becomes inaccurate.
“You have an obligation,” Sparling says, so he always asks himself, “How do I show it in a way that gives it the weight it deserves, but also adds clarity to the audience?”
Tom Karlya, the parent of two T1Ds who’s been involved in diabetes advocacy within media and film, reminds us that every little mention of diabetes in those mediums matters. That’s because dangerous misinformation can carry over into real-life scenarios. And negative stigma can turn people off from donating to critical diabetes research, for example.
“Sometimes I wonder if the artistic license to make things suspenseful supersedes how much something needs to be 100 percent factual,” he says.
“And are we as a community OK with some of it being wrong, for artistic license, as long as it’s not completely wrong or over-dramatized?”
That’s a question that our diabetes community revisits frequently, as new instances arise.
He points to the controversial Dexcom commercial during Super Bowl 2021, where actor and singer Nick Jonas (a T1D himself) did a 30-second spot about the continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system. While some criticized the commercial — the millions of dollars spent in the context of how unaffordable this technology can be for some people, as well as how it stigmatizes fingersticks — Karlya looks to the awareness it brought to T1D and CGM use in general.
“Sometimes I feel like we’re never happy, no matter what we get,” he says.
Karlya believes it’s important for advocates to contact media, writers, movie producers when they get diabetes right, just as much as when they get something wrong.
“I love how we’re seeing them bringing in people with personal experience to oversee the writing or be involved on medical review to make sure the portrayal accurate,” Karlya says
“Sometimes you have to whittle away at the wrongness… to get it correct,” he says.
The recent Supreme Court decision in Ford Motor Co. v. Eighth Judicial District Court of Montana et al. goes against the recent trend of the Court to reverse lower court approaches to personal jurisdiction. The Court found that Ford’s contacts with the forum states were sufficient to support the specific personal jurisdiction of the courts of those states over product liability claims brought by residents of those states resulting from automobile accidents in those states. States. Although Ford did not sell the specific vehicles involved in the accidents to buyers in forum states, it was sufficient, according to the court, for Ford’s forum contacts to “relate” to the plaintiffs’ claims regarding the particular facts. of the case.
The Court said that the phrase “relate to” places “real limits” on the exercise of a specific personal jurisdiction – but, according to the Court, the standard of personal jurisdiction does not require a causal link but for or near between the plaintiff’s claims and the defendant’s forum contacts. The contours of these “real limits” are likely to be hotly debated in future cases, and plaintiffs across the country may seek to apply. Ford enginethe wording “related to” outside the context of product liability to support jurisdiction over non-resident businesses whose services are offered or advertised in the forum, including foreign banks providing banking services in the United States .
Ford Motor Company, which is incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Michigan, challenged two state court decisions ruling that Ford was subject to personal jurisdiction in Montana and Minnesota because the plaintiffs, each having brought an action in their home state, were injured in their respective state. States while driving a Ford vehicle. For specific or case-related jurisdiction to exist, due process requires that the plaintiff’s claims “arise out of or relate to the defendant’s contacts” with the forum. Ford argued that this standard imposes a requirement of causation and that the requirement was not met because Ford did nothing in the states that were causally related to the complainants’ claims: it did not designed or manufactured the vehicles in the forum states, and Ford did not sell the specific vehicles involved in the crashes to buyers in those states.
The court rejected Ford’s attempt to limit specific jurisdiction only to cases where there is a strict causal connection between the defendant’s activities in the state and the plaintiffs’ claims. Instead, the Court ruled that the exercise of a specific jurisdiction may also be appropriate if the prosecution “concerns” the defendant’s behavior in the forum, while noting that the phrase places “real limits” on the exercise of a specific competence. The Court then focused on the facts of the case, detailing Ford’s contacts in the State – advertising, sale, resale and servicing of the particular model of vehicle at issue in the cases – and determined that those contacts were “Close enough” to support the exercise of a specific personal skill in the circumstances.
The Court’s ruling may lead plaintiffs to seek to assert jurisdiction more aggressively over non-resident financial institutions by seizing certain terms. Ford engine. For example, plaintiffs can point out the court’s statement “that when a company like Ford serves a market for a product in a state and that product causes damage in the state to one of its residents, the courts of the state can hear the resulting lawsuit ”(emphasis added). It is not clear what it means to “serve a market” for a financial product – will the “product” be defined narrowly as, for example, “mortgages“, “interest rate swaps” or ” cross-border correspondent accounts ”or more broadly as“ bank ”? In Ford engine, the court noted that the specific models of vehicles involved in the crashes (and not just Ford cars in general) were advertised, sold and serviced in Montana and Minnesota. This analysis indicates that in order to maintain competence, the product in question must be defined narrowly. Of course, this issue will undoubtedly be addressed by lower courts in the months and years to come as they grapple with Ford engine.
Other types of complainants might seek to interpret Ford engine widely too. The Supreme Court’s decision limiting general jurisdiction in Daimler AG v Bauman, some courts have dismissed investor claims against corporate trustees that are not presented in the original forum of the trustee or that do not relate to its activities in the forum. An investor can argue on the basis Ford engine that if the bank “serves the market” for trustee services in the state, by soliciting local issuing clients, it makes itself susceptible to prosecution of claims involving foreign issuers. More broadly, complainants may also seek to use Ford engine to open the door to the jurisdictional discovery of the activities of a bank in the forum. Indeed, these types of facts, relating to the general activities of the defendant in the forum, evoke pre-Daimler dispute over general jurisdiction, when claims regarding (and discovery) of advertising, physical locations and sales volumes in the Forum State were common.
That said, the best read from Ford engineThe conclusion is that it is based on the particular facts of the business. The majority examined closely the depth and nature of Ford’s contact – regarding the very model of vehicle that caused the complainants ‘injuries – to determine that these contacts “relate” sufficiently closely to the complainants’ requests to warrant a particular jurisdiction. . As Judge Alito pointed out in his agreement, those same contacts could easily have causal relation to injuries: “It is reasonable to infer that the vehicles in question here would never have been on the roads of Minnesota and Montana if they were a totally unknown make that had never been advertised in those states, no. ‘was not sold in those states, would not be familiar to mechanics in those states, and could not have been easily repaired with parts available in those states. “
Taking into account the specific facts Ford engine and the Court’s close attention to these facts, financial institutions have powerful arguments that FordEngine does not disrupt the Second Circuit’s approach to specific jurisdiction: “Where the defendant has had only limited contact with the state, it may be appropriate to say that he will not be subject to prosecution in that state only if the plaintiff’s injury was caused immediately by such contact. However, where the defendant’s contacts with the jurisdiction which relate to the cause of action are more substantial, it is not unreasonable to say that the defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction even if the acts committed in the state are not. are not the immediate cause of the plaintiff’s prejudice. . ” SPV Osus Ltd. against UBS AG, 882 F.3d 333, 344 (2d Cir. 2018).
One last point. Ford engine leaves Daimler unchanged. But as we observed when this case was decided, a possible reaction to DaimlerThe contraction of general jurisdiction as a vehicle for obtaining jurisdiction over defendants could be an expansion of specific jurisdiction. Whether Ford engine represents such an expansion is sure to be frequently argued in lower courts in the months and years to come.
Amazon said Tuesday that it would indefinitely prohibit police departments from using its facial recognition tool, extending a moratorium the company announced last year during nationwide protests over racism and biased policing.
The tool has faced scrutiny from lawmakers and some employees inside Amazon who said they were worried that it led to unfair treatment of African-Americans. Amazon has repeatedly defended the accuracy of its algorithms.
When Amazon announced the pause in June, it did not cite a specific reason for the change. The company said it hoped a year was enough time for Congress to create legislation regulating the ethical use of facial recognition technology. Congress has not banned the technology, or issued any significant regulations on it, but some cities have.
The primary suppliers of facial recognition tools to police departments have not been tech giants like Amazon, but smaller outfits that are not household names.
“This is a huge win for privacy and is the direct result of years of work by activists and advocates who have shed light on the dangerous use of this flawed technology,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Google held its I/O developer conference on Tuesday. And, as usual, it was a dizzying two-hour procession of new features, products and services across the company’s vast array of businesses, from its smartphone software to its artificial intelligence systems.
But each demonstration laid bare the gap between how Google wants to present itself — a tech pioneer pushing the boundaries of what’s possible — and how politicians and regulators see the company — a deep-pocketed monopoly choking off the competition. There was no talk of the antitrust trials facing the company or the congressional hearings that have become a routine part of the calendar of Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google’s parent company Alphabet.
Google barely discussed any of the ways it makes money. There was almost no mention of advertising, the main driver of Google’s revenue last year, or even up-and-coming financial engines like Google’s cloud computing business.
Instead, Google focused on its technological vision. Mr. Pichai revealed the company’s next so-called moonshot. Google aims to power the entire company using carbon-free energy by 2030. It will require using artificially intelligent software systems to allocate energy wisely as well as investments to tap into geothermal energy in addition to wind and solar.
“We aim to operate on carbon-free energy 24/7,” Mr. Pichai said. “This means running every data center, every office on clean electricity every hour of every day. It’s a moonshot.”
As for products and software, there were new privacy controls for its Android smartphone software as well as new design elements that select a personal color palette based on a person’s photos. There were also improvements in how computers understand human communication.
In one odd demonstration of a computer’s ability to carry on a natural-sounding conversation, Google demonstrated how the language model could be used to take on the character of Pluto (the “dwarf planet,” not the Disney character) to answer questions.
Like most big tech conferences, there was an awkward celebrity cameo with the actor Michael Peña trying to find humor in quantum computers. There were inspirational examples of how Google technology was bringing information to people outside Silicon Valley with a video of an Indonesian high school student using Google’s camera vision technology to help her with her math homework.
It was hard to pinpoint a common theme of the show-and-tell event. Mr. Pichai tried to fit everything under a big tent of “building a more helpful Google for everyone,” and Google explained that there was so much to share, because the company had to call off the event last year because of the pandemic.
Traditionally, the conference has been held in an outdoor amphitheater near the company’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, but this year’s presentation was held virtually from an outdoor stage at Google’s offices, with a handful of in-person attendees sitting in lounge chairs.
Texas, Indiana and Oklahoma this week joined the growing number of states that are withdrawing from federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
Supported by Republican governors and lawmakers as well as national and state chambers of commerce, the decision will eliminate the temporary $300-a-week supplement that unemployment recipients have been getting and will end benefits for freelancers, part-timers and those who have been unemployed for more than six months.
In Wisconsin, where the governor is a Democrat, Republicans in the Assembly and Senate have introduced legislation to end participation.
“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news release. “According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits.”
The moves will affect more than 3.4 million people in the 21 states, according to a calculation by Oxford Economics, a forecasting and analysis firm. Of those workers, 2.5 million currently on unemployment would lose benefits altogether, it said.
Although business owners and managers have complained that unemployment benefits are discouraging people from answering help-wanted ads, the evidence is mixed. Vaccination rates are picking up but less than half of adults are fully vaccinated. In surveys, people have cited continuing fear of infection. A lack of child care has also prevented many parents from returning to work full time.
Arizona, Montana and Oklahoma are offering newly hired workers an incentive bonus.
Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, a Democrat, said this week that his state would offer $1,000 bonuses to 10,000 workers who have experienced long-term unemployment and obtain new jobs. His state is not dropping the federal benefits.
Fox News Media, the Rupert Murdoch-controlled cable group, filed a motion on Tuesday to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against it in March by Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company that accused Fox News of propagating lies that ruined its reputation after the 2020 presidential election.
The Dominion lawsuit and a similar defamation claim brought in February by another election company, Smartmatic, have been widely viewed as test cases in a growing legal effort to battle disinformation in the news media. And it is another byproduct of former President Donald J. Trump’s baseless attempts to undermine President Biden’s clear victory.
In a 61-page response filed in Delaware Superior Court, the Fox legal team argues that Dominion’s suit threatened the First Amendment powers of a news organization to chronicle and assess newsworthy claims in a high-stakes political contest.
“A free press must be able to report both sides of a story involving claims striking at the core of our democracy,” Fox says in the motion, “especially when those claims prompt numerous lawsuits, government investigations and election recounts.” The motion adds: “The American people deserved to know why President Trump refused to concede despite his apparent loss.”
Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News presented the circumstances in a different light.
Dominion is among the largest manufacturers of voting machine equipment and its technology was used by more than two dozen states last year. Its lawsuit described the Fox News and Fox Business cable networks as active participants in spreading a false claim, pushed by Mr. Trump’s allies, that the company had covertly modified vote counts to manipulate results in favor of Mr. Biden. Lawyers for Mr. Trump shared those claims during televised interviews on Fox programs.
“Lies have consequences,” Dominion’s lawyers wrote in their initial complaint. “Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process.” The lawsuit cites instances where Fox hosts, including Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, uncritically repeated false claims about Dominion made by Mr. Trump’s lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell.
A representative for Dominion, whose founder and employees received threatening messages after the negative coverage, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday night.
Fox News Media has retained two prominent lawyers to lead its defense: Charles Babcock, who has a background in media law, and Scott Keller, a former chief counsel to Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas. Fox has also filed to dismiss the Smartmatic suit; that defense is being led by Paul D. Clement, a former solicitor general under President George W. Bush.
“There are two sides to every story,” Mr. Babcock and Mr. Keller wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “The press must remain free to cover both sides, or there will be a free press no more.”
The Fox motion on Tuesday argues that its networks “had a free-speech right to interview the president’s lawyers and surrogates even if their claims eventually turned out to be unsubstantiated.” It argues that the security of Dominion’s technology had been debated in prior legal claims and media coverage, and that the lawsuit did not meet the high legal standard of “actual malice,” a reckless disregard for the truth, on the part of Fox News and its hosts.
Media organizations, in general, enjoy strong protections under the First Amendment. Defamation suits are a novel tactic in the battle over disinformation, but proponents say the strategy has shown some early results. The conservative news outlet Newsmax apologized last month after a Dominion employee, in a separate legal case, accused the network of spreading baseless rumors about his role in the election. Fox Business canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight” a day after Smartmatic sued Fox in February and named Mr. Dobbs as a co-defendant.
Jonah E. Bromwich contributed reporting.
JPMorgan Chase named two female executives as joint heads of its largest division, potentially paving the way for the nation’s largest bank to be led by a woman.
Marianne Lake, chief executive of the consumer lending division, and Jennifer Piepszak, chief financial officer, both age 51, were named heads of JPMorgan’s consumer and community bank, the sprawling division that handles auto loans, mortgages and private wealth management for bank customers. Their promotions are effective immediately.
In a message to employees on Tuesday, Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s longtime chief executive, praised both Ms. Lake and Ms. Piepszak, who will now run a division that takes in more than $50 billion per year in revenue and competes neck and neck with the bank’s corporate and investment bank for dominance.
“We are fortunate to have two such superb executives who are both examples of our extremely talented and deep management bench,” Mr. Dimon wrote. “They have proven track records of working successfully across the firm.”
The two executives step into a role previously held by Gordon Smith, the firm’s co-president and chief operating officer, who said he would retire at the end of the year. His retirement also paves the way for Daniel Pinto, the other co-president and chief operating officer, as well as the head of its corporate and investment bank, to become the sole No. 2. Jeremy Barnum, currently global head of research for the corporate and investment bank, will succeed Ms. Piepszak as chief financial officer.
Tuesday’s announcement brings renewed attention to what has been a hotly debated question within financial circles for years: who would replace Mr. Dimon, the charismatic C.E.O. who led JPMorgan through the financial crisis and is the longest-tenured bank leader on Wall Street. Mr. Dimon, 65, took on his role in late 2005 and has since quadrupled the bank’s stock price. He has said that leading JPMorgan is his calling, adding on more than one occasion that he planned to stay at the helm for at least another five years. But over the past decade, as a number of executives once viewed as potential successors have exited, concerns about who might replace Mr. Dimon have mounted.
The market’s reaction to the announcements was modest, suggesting that investors didn’t expect imminent changes at the top of the bank.
“Obviously, with each year that goes by, how could he not be a year closer,” Glenn Schorr, a banking analyst who covers JPMorgan for Evercore ISI, said of Mr. Dimon’s retirement. At the same time, he added, the elevation of Ms. Lake and Ms. Piepszak doesn’t necessarily mean that the chief executive’s departure is any closer. “I’ve seen this so many times,” Mr. Schorr said. “It doesn’t mean that at all.”
“The board has said it would like Jamie to remain in his role for a significant number of years,” Joseph Evangelisti, a JPMorgan spokesman, said in a statement.
If Ms. Lake or Ms. Piepszak were eventually named to succeed Mr. Dimon, neither would be the first woman to run a Wall Street bank. That distinction belongs to Jane Fraser, who took the top role at Citigroup earlier this year.
A sell-off near the close of trading on Tuesday caused the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite to end the day lower.
The S&P 500 fell 0.9 percent, and the Nasdaq composite lost 0.6 percent. The Nasdaq had been in positive territory for most of the day.
Shares of Apple, which has the biggest weight in the S&P 500, lost 1.1 percent, mostly in the last 10 minutes of trading. The next six largest companies in the index — including Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company — all had similar dips.
Energy prices fell, with West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S. benchmark, down 1.2 percent, to $65.49 a barrel. The S&P’s energy sector fell 2.6 percent, led by Chevron, with a 3 percent drop.
AT&T, which fell 2.6 percent Monday after it announced it was spinning off its WarnerMedia division and becoming more of a strictly telecommunications company, was the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500, with a decline of 5.8 percent.
In Asia, the Nikkei in Japan gained 2.1 percent the same day the government reported that the economy had contracted in the first quarter, after two consecutive quarters of growth.
In Taiwan, the stock market jumped more than 5 percent after the government recently imposed restrictions to control a coronavirus outbreak. Reuters reported that Taipei’s top official in Washington was in talks with President Biden about securing doses of vaccine from the United States.
The fallout from one of the most prominent retail bankruptcies of the pandemic continues.
The billionaire Italian former owners of Brooks Brothers have been sued in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York by TAL Apparel and Castle Apparel Limited, manufacturing companies based in Hong Kong and the retailer’s former minority shareholders, claiming more than $100 million in damages.
The lawsuit, which was filed Monday, claims that Claudio Del Vecchio, the former chief executive of Brooks Brothers, and his son, Matteo Del Vecchio, who was the company’s chief administrative officer, “put their own financial interests ahead of those of the company” by refusing to pursue acquisition bids solicited in 2019 “that would have yielded hundreds of millions of dollars for Brooks Brothers’ shareholders.” Instead, they held on to the brand and then were forced into bankruptcy proceedings last year.
TAL, a longtime Brooks Brothers supplier that claims to make one out of every six shirts sold in the United States, became an investor in 2016. It claims that the reason for what the lawsuit termed “bad faith” was a clause in the shareholder agreement that made the Del Vecchios responsible for paying back the balance of TAL’s $100 million investment if the company was sold for less than its $652 million valuation at the time of investment. The suit claims that the Del Vecchios wanted to avoid that eventuality at all costs and opted to “roll the dice” with a Chapter 11 declaration.
Brooks Brothers, which was founded in 1818 and is known for its suits and preppy clothes, is the oldest apparel brand in continuous operation in the United States. It was bought for $225 million in 2001 by the elder Del Vecchio, whose father, Leonardo, is one of the richest men in Europe. Despite Brooks Brothers’ storied past (it has dressed all but five U.S. presidents), it struggled to adapt to the casualization of workplace dress codes and the digital era. In 2019, Claudio Del Vecchio hired the investment bank PJ Solomon to explore the possibilities of a sale or further investment, and a restructuring plan was put together.
In 2020 he told The New York Times that none of the sale and investment discussions “matched the needs we saw.” The TAL lawsuit, which also names the Del Vecchio family’s holding company, Delfin, as a defendant, claims that none of the discussions were shared with the board or the shareholders. Like many global apparel suppliers, TAL, which owns 11 factories and employs over 26,000 people, according to the lawsuit, was hard-hit by the volatility caused by the onset of the pandemic. At one point, the slump in demand from retailers saw garment production fall to just 30 percent of group capacity, prompting the permanent closure of several factories and a shift toward manufacturing personal protective equipment.
In August 2020, after the forced store closures of lockdown wreaked havoc on their balance sheet, Brooks Brothers was sold for $325 million to SPARC group, a joint venture between Simon Property Group, the biggest mall operator in the United States, and Authentic Brands Group, a licensing firm. TAL is also an unsecured creditor in the bankruptcy litigation.
Paul Lockwood of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a lawyer for Claudio Del Vecchio, said, “The allegations in the complaint are false and we expect the court to dismiss the case.” Katie Jakola of Kirkland & Ellis, the law firm representing TAL, said they were looking forward to their day in court.
Some observers doubt it will come to that, however.
“This seems like two rich parties airing grievances,” said William Susman, managing director at Threadstone Advisors. “Brooks Brothers’ owners have taken their pain already. TAL is a large, sophisticated company. Hard to feel they were swindled. Sounds like a settlement is in everyone’s future.”
Elizabeth Paton contributed reporting.
Walmart reported a strong first quarter on Tuesday, as its e-commerce business continued to drive sales and customers were helped by stimulus checks.
The retail giant said its sales in the United States in the first quarter increased 6 percent to $93.2 billion, while operating profit grew about 27 percent to $5.5 billion.
“Our optimism is higher than it was at the beginning of the year,” Walmart’s chief executive, Doug McMillon, said in a statement. “In the U.S., customers clearly want to get out and shop.”
Walmart is among a group of larger retailers that have experienced blockbuster sales during the pandemic, particularly for online groceries. The company’s e-commerce sales increased 37 percent in the first quarter.
The question now is whether Walmart can continue its pace of growth as shopping habits start to normalize.
Mr. McMillon said although the second half of the year “has more uncertainty than a typical year, we anticipate continued pent-up demand throughout 2021.”
Sales in the company’s international division declined 8.3 percent in the first quarter, as Walmart divested from some of its subsidiaries in places like Japan and Argentina. The company’s total revenue increased 2.7 percent to $138.3 billion.
Walmart raised its financial guidance for the rest of the year, projecting “high single digit” growth in operating income in its United States operation, with sales up in the single digits.
AT&T is painting a rosy picture for the future of its media business, which it will spin off and merge with Discovery. That new streaming giant is a formidable stand-alone competitor to Netflix and Disney. The move leaves AT&T to focus on its telecom business, which looks less bright after being overshadowed by its expensive — and ultimately futile — deal-making binge in media and entertainment under its previous chief, Randall L. Stephenson.
The DealBook newsletter explains how AT&T got here, in three key deals:
A $39 billion bid to buy T-Mobile. After regulatory pushback, in 2011 AT&T walked away from an effort to become the country’s largest wireless company. T-Mobile paired up instead with Sprint, and the two went on to buy huge amounts of spectrum in the high-stakes battle for 5G, leaving AT&T behind as it lobbies regulators to step in. The failed deal hit AT&T with a $3 billion dollar breakup fee, at the time the largest ever.
The $67 billion acquisition of DirectTV. In 2015, AT&T bet on cable TV as a way to amass customers whom it could eventually convert to streaming. But DirectTV bled subscribers as customers cut the cord, and AT&T unloaded a stake in the company last year to TPG that valued DirectTV at about a third of its acquisition price. The deal also cost AT&T about $50 million in advisory fees, according to Refinitiv.
The $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. In 2018, Mr. Stephenson called the deal a “perfect match,” but the combined group struggled to invest in its telecom business while also spending enough to compete with the entertainment specialists at Netflix and Disney. Three years later, AT&T is now spinning off the company so it can (re)focus on its quest for 5G market share. AT&T paid $94 million in advisory fees to put the two companies together and an estimated $61 million to split them apart.
After all of that deal-making, AT&T is sitting on more than $170 billion in debt. As part of the deal with Discovery, AT&T will get $43 billion to help reduce its debt load. (The spun-off media business will begin its independent life with $58 billion in debt.)
AT&T also said it would reduce its dividend payout ratio — effectively cutting the amount it pays in half, according to Morgan Stanley. “You can call it a cut, or you can call it a re-sizing of the business,” said John Stankey, AT&T’s chief executive, in an interview. “It’s still a very, very generous dividend.”
AT&T’s shares closed down 2.7 percent on Monday. They lost another 5.8 percent on Tuesday, bringing the total decline in market capitalization since the deal was announced to nearly $20 billion. “Based on our conversations with investors today, sentiment seems mostly negative,” analysts at Barclays wrote in a research note on the day of the deal, citing overly optimistic cost savings targets and cash flow forecasts, among other things.
Market watchers expect the deal to kick off more consolidation among content providers as they race for scale to compete against another giant. Candidates include what John Malone, a Discovery board member (and not the chairman as was previously reported here), calls the “free radicals” — like Lionsgate, ViacomCBS and AMC, as well as NBCUniversal and Fox. Meanwhile, Amazon is in talks to buy another independent studio, MGM.
In a sign of the pressure that players face to spend big to bulk up, shares in Comcast, the telecom company that owns NBCUniversal, fell 5.5 percent on Monday.
Long working hours are leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths per year, according to a new study by the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization.
Working more than 55 hours a week in a paid job resulted in 745,000 deaths in 2016, the study estimated, up from 590,000 in 2000. About 398,000 of the deaths in 2016 were because of stroke and 347,000 because of heart disease. Both physiological stress responses and changes in behavior (such as an unhealthy diet, poor sleep and reduced physical activity) are “conceivable” reasons that long hours have a negative impact on health, the authors suggest. Other takeaways from the study:
Working more than 55 hours per week is dangerous. It is associated with an estimated 35 percent higher risk of stroke and 17 percent higher risk of heart disease compared with working 35 to 40 hours per week.
About 9 percent of the global population works long hours. In 2016, an estimated 488 million people worked more than 55 hours per week. Though the study did not examine data after 2016, “past experience has shown that working hours increased after previous economic recessions; such increases may also be associated with the Covid-19 pandemic,” the authors wrote.
Long hours are more dangerous than other occupational hazards. In all three years that the study examined (2000, 2010 and 2016), working long hours led to more disease than any other occupational risk factor, including exposure to carcinogens and the non-use of seatbelts at work. And the health toll of overwork worsened over time: From 2000 to 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease because of working long hours increased 42 percent, and from stroke 19 percent.
Dr. Maria Neira, a director at the W.H.O., put the conclusion bluntly: “It’s time that we all, governments, employers and employees, wake up to the fact that long working hours can lead to premature death.”
Investment in new oil and natural gas projects must stop from today, and sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles must halt from 2035. These are some of the milestones that the International Energy Agency said Tuesday must be achieved for the global energy industry to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
These conclusions seem surprisingly stark for the agency, a multilateral group whose main mandate is helping ensure energy security and stability. But it has increasingly embraced a role in combating climate change under its executive director, Fatih Birol.
In a news conference, Mr. Birol said he wanted to address the gap between the ambitious commitments on climate change that government and chief executives have been making and the reality that global emissions are continuing to rise strongly.
Just a year ago, the agency was deeply concerned about the disruptive implications of the collapse of the oil market from the effects of the pandemic. At the time, Mr. Birol referred to April 2020 as “Black April.”
NowMr. Birol’s analysts are outlining in a report what looks like decades of disruption for the global energy industry. Oil production, for instance, will need to fall from nearly 100 million barrels a day to around 24 million a day by 2050, the report says.
The agency acknowledges that the disruption for the global energy sector, which produces three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions, could threaten five million jobs. “The contraction of oil and natural gas production will have far-reaching implications for all the countries and companies that produce these fuels,” the Paris-based group said in a news release.
Oil-producing countries may see different affects. This report, for instance, is likely to lead to further calls from environmental groups for the British government, which heads the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), to end new oil and gas drilling to set a global example. A halt would threaten jobs in Britain’s declining but still large oil and gas industry.
On the other hand, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are likely to see their share of a much-reduced market rise from about a third to more than 50 percent, the agency said, as nations with less efficient, higher-cost oil industries cut back.
At the same time, Mr. Birol said, there would be major economic benefits from the trillions of dollars in investment in wind, solar and other sources of renewable energy. Doing so could create 30 million jobs,and add 0.4 percent year to world economic growth, he said.
Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen called on American business leaders on Tuesday to support the Biden administration’s proposals for making robust infrastructure investments that would be paid for by raising taxes on corporations, arguing that the plan would ultimately strengthen U.S. firms.
The comments, made at an event sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, came as the Biden administration is pressing ahead with negotiations with lawmakers over the scope of an infrastructure and jobs package. The White House has been exchanging proposals with Republicans in Congress and is under pressure from Democrats not to scale back its ambitions.
“We are confident that the investments and tax proposals in the jobs plan, taken as a package, will enhance the net profitability of our corporations and improve their global competitiveness,” Ms. Yellen said. “We hope that business leaders will see it this way and support the jobs plan.”
Business leaders have been supportive of government investment in infrastructure but are wary of paying for it with higher taxes. The Biden administration wants to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent. It has been working on an agreement with other countries to raise their corporate tax rates, believing that a global minimum tax will help countries raise revenue and allow the United States to raise its rate without making its companies less competitive.
“With corporate taxes at a historical low of 1 percent of G.D.P., we believe the corporate sector can contribute to this effort by bearing its fair share: We propose simply to return the corporate tax toward historical norms,” Ms. Yellen said. “At the same time, we want to eliminate incentives that reward corporations for moving their operations overseas and shifting profits to low-tax countries.”
Ms. Yellen’s pitch was met with wariness from the nation’s largest business lobbying group. The Chamber has been arguing against the corporate tax increase and making the case that raising the rate would be bad for small businesses.
Immediately after Ms. Yellen’s remarks, Suzanne Clark, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, offered a rebuttal.
“It’s always an honor to hear from the Treasury secretary, including and maybe even especially when we disagree, as we do on taxes,” Ms. Clark said. “The data and the evidence are clear: The proposed tax increases would greatly disadvantage U.S. businesses and harm American workers. And now is certainly not the time to erect new barriers to economic recovery.”
Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics heavyweight best known for making Apple’s iPhones, has founda big new partner for its auto-industry ambitions: the European-American car giant Stellantis.
The two companies on Tuesday announced a joint venture for building in-car digital systems and software, which automakers believe will be an increasingly important selling point for consumers in the coming decades.
“This is core to the future of Stellantis,” the automaker’s chief executive, Carlos Tavares, said during a conference call with reporters. The new partnership, he said, “is about putting software at the core of the company.”
Stellantis was created in January from the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA, the French maker of Peugeot, Citroën and Opel cars. The tie-up was motivated in part to put the companies in a stronger position to develop electric cars as fossil fuel-burning vehicles become history.
The 50-50 venture with Foxconn, which is called Mobile Drive, will supply so-called digital cockpits not only to Stellantis brands like Jeep and Maserati, but to other automakers as well, the two companies said on Tuesday. Mobile Drive will make digital systems for gas-powered cars in addition to electric ones.
Foxconn is moving rapidly to claim a bigger role in the car business, betting that its expertise in gadgets will give it a leg up as auto making fuses with electronics.
In October, the company released a kit of technology and tools aimed at helping automakers develop electric vehicles. Last week, it finalized an agreement with the California-based automaker Fisker to develop a new electric car that the companies aim to begin manufacturing in the United States in 2023.
During Tuesday’s call, Stellantis and Foxconn executives declined to say whether the two companies would also explore contract car manufacturing as part of their cooperation.
Eurostar, the high-speed train service between London and cities on the continent that has been financially crippled by the pandemic, said on Tuesday it had received a refinancing package of 250 million pounds, or $355 million, from a group of banks and its shareholders.
The package includes £150 million in loans guaranteed by its shareholders, including SNCF, the French national rail service, which owns 55 percent. The financing notably did not include the British government, which in 2015 sold its stake in the rail company and last month declined to back a bailout package.
“Everyone at Eurostar is encouraged by this strong show of support from our shareholders and banks,” said Jacques Damas, chief executive of Eurostar International. The company said the backing would help it meet its financial obligations “in the short to mid term.”
The Eurostar once ran at least 17 trains a day linking Britain and France. The pandemic and lockdowns forced it down to one train a day between London and Paris, and one a day between London and Brussels and Amsterdam. But next week, it is scheduled to expand to two daily trains between Paris and London, and then three a day beginning the end of June.
Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide talks to Jack Nicas about The New York Times investigation into the compromises that Apple makes to stay in the good graces of the Chinese government.
Carlos Barros was elated when he refinanced his mortgage in May 2020, freezing a rate of 3.125% and reducing his monthly payments by about $ 220. Unfortunately, the feeling did not last long.
“Just a week or so after I closed my refinance – thinking I had a lethal interest rate – I spoke to two of my closest friends and they both got better rates than me,” explains Barros, web developer and personal finance writer. based in Chandler, Arizona.
Immediately after closing its first refinance, Barros connected with a new loan officer, surveyed the market, and refinanced again and less than a year later. This time, lowering his rate to just 2.875% and his payments an additional $ 70.
In a year filled with near-constant mortgage rate cuts, Barros’ story is not unique. According to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac, more than 10% of refinancings were repeated in 2020, which means the borrower refinanced at least twice in a 12-month period.
It was the second-highest repeat rate on record, surpassed only in 2003, when sharp rate cuts led to a similar cascade of refinancing. The prices were much higher back then, but the mechanics were the same. In 2020, rates started at 3.62%. By the end of the year, they had fallen below 2.7%.
On a mortgage of $ 250,000, that would be the difference between a payment of $ 1,362 and a payment of $ 1,216. Since bigger mortgages mean bigger savings, repeat refinancing was especially common in higher-cost housing markets
“What we saw last year was a sharp and rapid drop in interest rates due to the pandemic,” said Pat Stone, CEO of Williston Financial Group. “People refinanced, and then the rates went down again, so it was worth refinancing again. “
Your lender is calling you
However, most consumers ignore the daily movements in mortgage rates, and the savings that flow from them. So, part of this repeat refinancing trend? It falls on the shoulders of mortgage lenders.
“It’s quite common for a borrower to be contacted by the loan officer or mortgage broker who worked on their last loan and told that rates have come down and their monthly savings are already over. calculated, ”says Tom Piercy, Managing Director of Incenter Mortgage Advisors. .
This type of proactive communication is exactly what encouraged marketing coordinator Krystle Harvey to refinance her loan last February.
“I received a solicitation from my current mortgage lender, Rocket Mortgage,” says Harvey, who is located in Sarasota, Florida. “It seemed like a good opportunity to lower my interest rate. “
The offer did not require any evaluation, and it was able to lower its interest rate by almost a percentage point to 3.99%. Much like Barros, however, Harvey refinanced again later in the year when rates fell further. She went around and reported her quotes to Rocket, who agreed to match the lower rate.
Now she has a 2.5% rate and a shorter term loan. The second refi alone will save him over $ 68,000 in long-term interest.
When to refinance your mortgage – again
Despite the extra time and work it takes, refinancing quickly enough after the last one can actually have major benefits.
“Interestingly, the sooner you can take advantage of a lower rate, the better,” says Shashank Shekhar, founder of Arcus Lending. “The way a mortgage amortization schedule works, in the first few months, borrowers pay a lot more for interest than principal. “
As you advance through your loan term, more of each payment goes toward your principal balance. Since refinancing would mean starting the clock over again – and most of your payments would go back to interest – it would take a bigger rate cut to make the move worth it.
But the status of your loan isn’t the only thing to consider when considering a second refinance. Your long-term plans as a homeowner should also play a role.
Generally speaking, refinancing is best for homeowners who plan to stay put for a few years. Since refinances come with closing costs, it’s important that borrowers stay in their homes long enough to recoup these expenses. This is called breaking even – or the point at which refinancing saves the homeowner more than the cost of refinancing to run. This is especially important for refinancing, when you will have to cover closing costs multiple times.
“Generally – and this is a personal rule for me – I like to see my clients recoup their costs in two years or less,” says Noel Bennett, a senior loan originator with Premier Mortgage Group in Boulder, Colorado. “There is nothing magic about that number, but if someone refinances and it takes four years to recoup their costs, it tells me that it might be wise to stay focused on the loan. current and monitor rates. lower.”
According to ClosingCorp, the closing costs for refinancing are on average around $ 3,400. In many cases, these costs can be built into the loan balance – often referred to as a “no closing cost” loan. Although these refinances do not entail any initial cost for the borrower, they do have drawbacks. To know? They increase your monthly payments and your long-term interest costs.
“A lot of borrowers think refi doesn’t cost them anything, which isn’t true,” said Bill Dallas, president of Finance of America Mortgage. “No-cost refinancing is a mirage. “
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Beware of prepayment penalties
In some cases, there may also be waiting periods and prepayment penalties to think about. Some lenders require that you wait at least six months before refinancing a loan, otherwise you may owe fees.
This was the case for Emma Alda, who refinanced her loan last February and then again in July. Although she had to pay a $ 95 prepayment charge on her second refi, she believes the charge will be more than worth it in the end.
“I’m dizzy,” says Alda, a marketing executive based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Who will save over $ 130,000 due to the lower rate. “That’s enough to buy another house altogether!”
If you are planning to refinance a second time like Alda has done, make sure you are qualified. If your credit score has dropped since your last refinance, it could hurt your chances of getting a lower rate – or even getting approved.
As Stephen Rosen, Sales Manager at Better Mortgage Lender, explains, “If you have more debt, less income, or a lower credit rating now than when you last refinanced, you might have a hard time getting approved. . “
What are your goals?
Ultimately, the decision to refinance – or refinance again – is a personal one.
“Whether you refinance two, three or ten times, it always depends on your goals,” says Sean Cahan, president of Cornerstone First Mortgage.
These goals might be to free up cash, cover sudden expenses, lower your long-term interest charges, or pay off your mortgage faster. If you can meet these goals and recoup the costs associated with refinancing, refinancing will generally be a smart decision.
“If other monthly expenses have piled up beyond your mortgage payment and you need more space in your budget, refinancing can give you a bit of a break,” says Rosen. “The best rule of thumb is if the numbers make sense, grab the opportunity, whether it’s your first, second, or third refi. “
More money :
6 ways refinancing your mortgage could cost you money
The pros and cons of switching lenders when refinancing your mortgage
Want to refinance your mortgage? Do these 7 things now
Attorney General Chris Carr and 18 other state attorneys general call on President Joe Biden to support additional energy infrastructure – including the Keystone XL pipeline – following the closure of the colonial pipeline which caused price spikes, shortages fuel and Carter-style lines at gas stations in the southern and eastern parts of the country. In a letter to President Biden, the coalition details the damage caused by its alleged cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and urged him to put Americans’ national security and environment first.
“Georgians are now seeing firsthand that pipelines are the most critical mode of transportation for fuel,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “We will continue to push for President Biden’s unilateral and unconstitutional cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline in Federal Court because his politically symbolic decision destabilized our energy security and eliminated quality jobs and investment opportunities.”
The colonial pipeline situation showed the panic and widespread disruption that can occur when a single pipeline system goes offline. In the aftermath of the cyberattack, the Biden administration relaxed environmental and safety rules to secure[e] critical energy supply chains… alleviating shortages… [and] avoid potential disruptions to the energy supply of affected communities. “
“Most Americans, especially those do not located along the coasts – I now wish I had been so diligent and responsive before deciding that Keystone XL could be sacrificed on the altar of signaling left virtue, ”the letter reads.
In addition to meeting our own energy needs, an energy infrastructure is necessary to maintain our country’s leadership as a net energy exporter – a position that enhances our national security, increases global stability and creates well-paying jobs. for American workers.
“Americans depend on a safe and secure energy supply, which is why we must build and maintain a robust energy infrastructure that resists accidents and sabotage. A temporary halt to full-capacity pipeline operations should not put half the country on the brink of collapse. We need safer, cleaner sources of energy, ”Carr and the other attorneys general wrote to Biden. “But your administration’s current approach trades these factual findings for the fashionable concerns of your coastal elites.”
President Biden claimed to unilaterally cancel the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office, even though the Obama State Department has repeatedly concluded that Keystone XL is a net positive for the economy, the environment and energy security. And just a few days ago, President Biden’s own Energy Secretary recognized that pipelines are “the best way to go” when it comes to transporting fossil fuels.
“To be clear, we believe your Keystone XL decision was unconstitutional and illegal, and many, the undersigned states are now lobbying these claims in Federal Court. But beyond the fundamental anarchy of your decision, the current situation shows how bad a political decision it was, ”the letter said. “Your impulse to bow to an extreme climate program unrelated to scientific fact or reality – demonstrated by the cancellation of Keystone XL and other similar actions – is robbing Americans of the safe and clean energy supply they have. need now. It is undermining our energy independence by eliminating a large and secure source of oil at a time of growing global unrest. It damages our reputation with geopolitical allies, such as Canada, by reneging on our commitments. It destroys sophisticated, well-paying jobs. And it’s holding back sustainable economic growth in pipeline communities and across the country. “
In addition to Carr, the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana , North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming also signed on the letter.
Carr is also part of a coalition of 21 states currently suing the Biden administration over its unconstitutional revocation of the Keystone cross-border license.
EAST HELENA – The material atop the East Helena slag heap has been in the same spot for over 20 years. Now some of that slag is packaged for a trip across the ocean.
The teams are currently working on the former ASARCO foundry site, bringing together the first of many expeditions. Over five years, they will send around 2 million tonnes of slag to South Korea, where it will be reprocessed.
“I think this will be a great result for the environment and for the economy and community of East Helena,” said Cindy Brooks, managing director of the Montana Environmental Trust Group, which oversees ongoing cleanup efforts on the foundry site.
METG has entered into an agreement with New York-based Metallica Commodities Corp. to remove the top layer of slag. The company will then transfer it to Korea Zinc Company, which will extract the zinc and other metals from the material and then use what is left to make cement.
The slag, which usually looks like large black rocks, is a byproduct of lead production at the East Helena smelter, which operated from 1888 to 2001. Workers currently load some of the material into hundreds of heavy bags. – each carrying a Thousand Pounds. The bags are then stacked in covered wagons.
Earlier this year, Montana Rail Link built new rail liner over the slag heap. The slag will be transported by rail to Washington State, then by boat to Korea.
This process is only followed for certain initial test shipments. Next month, a crusher is expected to be installed on the slag heap. Once the slag has been crushed, it can be loaded directly into the railcars, greatly speeding up the assembly of shipments.
When the project reaches its peak, 30,000 tonnes of slag will be shipped each month from East Helena. The 2 million tonnes of material that will be removed is only a small part of the 16 million tonnes of slag, but it could halve the height of the pile.
Metallica only takes “non-smoked” slag, which still contains zinc. A zinc plant operated on the foundry site from 1927 to 1982, and most of the material in the pile was already processed there, so companies weren’t as likely to move it.
Brooks said unburned material is believed to be responsible for nearly three-quarters of selenium contamination in East Helena’s groundwater. Reducing the size of the pile will also make it easier and cheaper to style it – the last major step in the foundry site clean-up project. Finally, Metallica is paying around $ 1 a tonne for the slag – money that will go into an account to support ongoing cleanup and monitoring efforts.
“These are just good results,” said Betsy Burns, EPA project manager for the site. “I don’t know how a project gets better, actually.”
However, the job brings mixed feelings for people like Manley Stallings. He worked for ASARCO for approximately 36 years, 30 of which were at the East Helena Foundry. He was working as a production manager when the foundry closed.
Stallings says the slag heap is now part of the East Helena community.
“The people who have lived here feel comforted when they have left and come back to see him: ‘Well, here we are, home again! “, He said.
He said it was a good thing that the slag was used, but that he was sad to see one of the last visible callbacks from the foundry getting smaller.
“You kind of feel bad because you’ve lived and worked here and it’s been your home for over 30 years,” he said. “A lot of those people who worked here were second, third generation family members – and seeing their family history disappear and not continue as it has for so many generations.
Burns said they had always been interested in moving some of the slag as part of the smelter site cleanup, but that was only after the growing need for raw materials over the past year that it eventually became economically viable.
Slag shipments are expected to continue until 2025.
HAMILTON – State Superintendent of Education Elsie Arntzen says it will be exciting to see Montana’s first new community college in over half a century create new opportunities for public and home school students .
Arntzen made the observation during last week’s swearing-in for the trustees of the new Bitterroot Valley Community College, saying it was a chance to make the connection between K-12 learning and the lifelong learning.
“And that’s what the administrators and the community are going to do,” Arntzen told MTN News. “They’re going to make sure they visit our K-12 partners. And it’s the public school, but it’s also the home and private school. To make sure that this opportunity is there for the continuity of learning. ”
It’s been 53 years since Montana launched a new community college. And Arntzen hopes BVCC will not only promote the economic development of Ravalli County and the surrounding region, but also provide new options for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. She says it’s especially good for high school students, who will no longer be exposed to a one-day-related career, but a continuous path to their future.
“But if we let our kids, our young kids from their schooling, know to really focus on this college, this year of training, they’re not saying high school is easier, but they know the doors are coming. open to the next step ”. Arntzen noted. “What could certainly be a community college, where that local flavor, that local control, those local Montana values that are so dear to us, are at the heart.
Arntzen says the establishment of Bitterroot Valley Community College not only “rejuvenates” the economy emerging from the pandemic with “workforce development,” but also “rejuvenates people in the hope that they can. learn better, improve their lives and make Montana proud ”.
“We have extended unemployment benefits for people who lost their jobs during the pandemic, and we have increased the amount of those benefits,” Smith said.
“This has tended to make it more difficult for industries where workers typically earn relatively modest wages to attract these workers to work.”
And now you see fast food restaurants in Bozeman offering higher starting salaries, like $ 17 an hour.
But Smith says some of our local businesses just can’t rock those higher wages.
One of the fundamental laws of economics must therefore take its course.
“What is likely to happen is that with the prices of the products sold by the small firms in the service sector that are particularly struggling, the prices they charge consumers will likely have to increase,” Smith said.
But he adds that the tight job market in County Gallatin runs deeper.
He says the unemployment rate in the valley is around 3%, roughly the same as it was in January 2020 before the pandemic.
“Bringing people to Bozeman who have relatively low incomes or the ability to earn relatively low incomes right now is very difficult because of the housing costs,” Smith said.
Smith predicts here in Gallatin County, as long as housing costs continue to skyrocket, this demand for service workers could persist.
As for Paccione at Red Tractor Pizza, he’s optimistic people will eventually return to work – and in the meantime he’s grateful for his hard-working team.
“I have a good team. There aren’t many of us right now, but we are all working very hard, ”said Paccione.
“These guys have my back, they have the restaurant back. We will therefore continue to make pizzas!
Flathead Valley is growing, as are the challenges facing its residents, leaders and business owners.
At the Growth Summit 2021, a new event hosted by the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, local experts discussed issues facing housing, transportation, child care and other critical components of the Kalispell economy. Flathead. They offered potential solutions, emphasizing again and again the interconnected nature of recent development.
The evidence for the growth trend is everywhere.
Kalispell City Manager Doug Russell said the city is awaiting the completion of 420 construction units already approved this year, in addition to a still countless number of units still awaiting approval.
In Whitefish, the number of short-term rentals recorded within city limits has increased from four in 2016 to 210 today, according to City Manager Dana Smith.
And even Columbia Falls, long known as “the entry-level, blue-collar place in Flathead where people found an affordable place to live,” as planner Eric Mulcahy describes it, recently overtook Kalispell in terms of median house value.
The spillover effects of these changes are considerable and, in many sectors, problematic.
Housing stood out as a unifying issue addressed by almost all of the speakers during the half-day conference.
It became so acute that some of the Growth Summit panelists moved away from the colloquial term “affordable housing” and instead emphasized the need for “accessible housing”. The subtle difference is a nod to the fact that even homes considered “affordable” under current market conditions are not realistically achievable for many workers and families in the area.
As Joe Kola, market president of First Interstate Bank pointed out, a worker earning $ 15 an hour could afford rent of $ 650, according to the Housing Accessibility Index guidelines which suggest spending 25 % of his annual housing salary.
Nikki Lintz, a representative for Entrust Property Solutions, said the cheapest efficiency unit at Highline Apartments in Columbia Falls – heralded as the beacon of affordability in the valley – starts at $ 700 per month.
Even there, Lintz said potential tenants must wait for an opening on the waiting list. In the rest of the valley, vacancy is only 1%.
And even higher-level buyers can’t find any housing inventory. “We can bring in people at any of those salaries – $ 100,000, for example,” said Jerry Meerkatz, president and CEO of Montana West Economic Development. “[They are] certainly able to buy in the valley and they say, “I can’t find anything”. “
As a result, the panelists explained, workers are unable to relocate to the area or stay here, leaving opportunities in tourism, hospitality, childcare and other important industries.
THERE IS downstream effects on services and infrastructure, such as public transport, where there are not enough drivers, or parking lots and roads, which lack manpower to build improved structures.
It’s a cyclical web of problems, but local experts see solutions.
“We need to attract better paying jobs here,” Kola suggested.
One way to do this could be redevelopment and infill, like the kind Bill Goldberg is striving to undertake in the KM building in downtown Kalispell. The new owner of the historic building wants to install a new restaurant, several bars and accommodation in the former mercantile.
“My real goal is to get residential units downtown,” said Goldberg, who was primarily drawn to Kalispell for the possibility of growing vertically in the city.
Others believe that these local issues could be better addressed by redirecting funding sources to areas that need it most.
“There really needs to be a shift in support for public investment of public money in early childhood systems,” said Colette Box of the Discovery Developmental Center in Kalispell. “It will take a huge, huge, billion dollar investment in child care to make the system work for families.
Nic McKinley, CEO of tech company Verafi in Whitefish, had a similar perspective to Box’s, except that he focused on the private sector rather than public funding.
In his keynote address, McKinley urged the local business community to “start siphoning money from the rest of the country into our state and then circulating it locally.”
“Most of the issues we talk about when we talk about pay, child care, housing… most of these issues can be solved by throwing money at them,” he said.