This is the 208th of these emails I’ve written.
That’s the equivalent of exactly four years of Saturday missives, which is hard to get my head around. In the inaugural one I wrote – “This is the first of what I hope will become a weekly write-up.” Little did I know.
While they’ve all followed largely the same preamble + insights formula, I’d like to think they’ve each been unique. This will be a particularly memorable one for me.
We had a tragedy happen in our family. It’s too private for me to tell you about, but too preoccupying for me to write profound thoughts or funny stories about anything else. In the preamble, anyway.
I’ll still share the weekly insights. Because I want to. Writing makes me feel better.
On a more uplifting note, we released the first episode of our podcast this week. It’s me and Mark Cuban talking about the future of sports, sports media, and lots of other things. You’ll love it. And you’ll laugh. I promise.
Download it here. And please tell me what you think.
Thanks for indulging me for 208 Saturdays, especially this one.
Here’s what we’re seeing:
At the one-year mark – and for the first time ever – more Americans this week said they’re better off financially than they were before the pandemic. It’s crazy if you think about it. And now that there’s finally relief coming for the not-better-off group, hold on to your hats. You’re about to see what an economic rocket ship feels like.
Before you start celebrating the good news, realize that not everyone is thriving – especially women. This week, we released one of the most important studies I can ever remember. The outsized impact of the pandemic on women in America is something we need to talk about…a lot. Job loss, economic hardship, stress, physical and mental trauma – all disproportionately awful for women. It’s all traced to things like wage inequality, stigmatization, and a bunch of other stuff we should be ashamed of. Soak it in. Then resolve yourself to fixing it.
No surprise, but the people who are most likely to put tax refunds (and stimulus checks) toward debt are the people with the most student loan debt. The student loan forgiveness debate isn’t a no-brainer for me, but stats like these give the problem a lot of context. The have-nots in the pandemic are more likely to have a slug of school debt hanging around their necks. We should fix that too while we’re at it.
As we work to predict the pace of spending on experience categories like concerts and sporting events, nothing is more crucial than the vaccine rollout. A lot of things will dictate the pace of economic vibrance coming out of the pandemic. Return to work (or not), commuting, worker availability, and even the weather will impact various categories in different ways. Nothing matters more than vaccines, however. Concerts need it the most.
Part of me thinks the leisurewear surge is going to plateau, but we don’t have any data to substantiate it. Chances are, you’re probably wearing sweatpants right now, even those of you slackers who wait until Monday morning to read this. The explosion of comfy clothes during the pandemic is one of the biggest retail stories of the COVID era and it may not fade away. So what if it doesn’t? Do what makes you feel good.
A large majority of Americans support expansion of the child tax credit, except political conservatives, which is infuriatingly ironic. U.S. adults support greater tax benefits for parents of children aged 17 and younger, included in the new stimulus bill, by a 2:1 margin. Support climbs to nearly 3:1 among actual parents. Conversely, people who identify as “conservative” oppose the measure by a lot. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans were fiscal conservatives who supported tax credits. But in today’s era of pernicious political tribalism, otherwise-fiscal-conservatives are against the provision, presumably – and merely – because it’s part of a Democrat-led stimulus bill.
Check out the other studies we published this week:
We explored several dimensions of gender inequity on International Women’s Day;
Over half of Americans are reporting the negative impact of the pandemic on their mental health;
Anti-vaxxers are more likely to dine out, which is messed up;
People are making fewer sacrifices to help the environment, even in the cleaning supplies they use;
The largest number of Americans bought masks online during the pandemic, but overall purchases have finally reached a plateau.
Have fun with our most popular questions this week:
About how often do you buy new postage stamps?
How do you feel about air fryers?
What is your salsa preference: chunky or liquidy?
Have you ever gone scuba-diving?
How do you feel about prenuptial agreements?
How would you rate the performance of your own memory?
Hoping you’re well.
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In case you’re wondering, this is an informal email I write to CivicScience clients, friends, and other VIPs every Saturday morning. If you’re getting this, you’re either one of those people or were referred to me by one of them. I always love your comments and feedback.
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