For Starters -- August 2020

A Decade of Healing

It looks as if the economic scars of COVID-19 will be a long time healing.

Recovery from the pandemic recession could take the better part of a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s 10-year forecast, which was published in early July.

“Even though states are slowly reopening, it will be a tough next decade as the country recovers from this recession,” CNN Business reported, citing the CBO projections. “On top of that, the forecast is riddled with uncertainty in terms of the virus itself, changes to consumer behavior and policy responses, the CBO cautioned.”

Unemployment is expected to remain higher than its prepandemic level until at least 2030. The average unemployment rate for the decade is projected to be 6.1%, higher than the 4.2% that had been predicted in January, prior to the pandemic.

Other telling numbers from the CBO report: The real U.S. gross domestic product will be an average 3.4% lower over the next decade than originally projected, and the federal budget deficit for this year could reach a whopping $3.7 trillion.

Waste of Space

If you’re not familiar with the term “e-waste,” you might want to familiarize yourself. E-waste, a term for the disposal of electronic products, is the world’s fastest-growing category of domestic waste.

In 2019 alone, the world generated 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste, which includes everything from televisions, smartphones and computers to refrigerators. And if you think 53.6 million metric tons sounds like a lot, you’re right — it’s roughly the same weight as 350 cruise ships the size of the Queen Mary 2.

And here’s the kicker: Of all the e-waste generated in 2019, only 17.4% of it was recycled, according to “Global E-Waste Monitor 2020,” a new report from the United Nations, the International Telecommunication Union and the International Solid Waste Association.

“What is most concerning is not only the quantity of e-waste, but also the fact that recycling technologies are not keeping pace,” said Vanessa Forti, a lead author of the report. “That is the key message — the recycling needs to improve.”

The Cost of College

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact has spread to college affordability.

More than half of college students say they can no longer afford to pay for college, according to a spring survey by OneClass, which polled nearly 11,000 current undergraduates from more than 250 colleges and universities.

According to the survey, 56% of students say the pandemic has impacted their ability to pay for college, forcing them to seek new financial options. Another 7% said they’ve had to unenroll and find full-time employment or an alternative education option.

In another survey, conducted by LendingTree, nearly 40% of parents said they had dipped into their child’s college fund to help pay for expenses caused by the pandemic, according to a June 4 CNBC article.

Among the high school Class of 2020, nearly 40% said the pandemic would impact their decisions about going to college, according to the College Savings Foundation.

Some 36% plan to attend community college to save money — that number was only 28% prior to the pandemic — and 15% said they’ll attend a public college rather than private. Another 27% said they’ll take a gap year before attending college, to allow themselves to get back on track financially.

If student enrollment declines, colleges and universities may choose not to purchase beds. Decreased enrollment also may impact Labor Day sales. Fewer students heading off to college mean fewer mattress and sleep product sales.

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