This time last year, America was fresh off the high of a change in executive leadership. Americans started rolling up their sleeves for COVID-19 vaccinations, and the nation was undergoing a racial awakening generations in the making. Then a week into the new year, democracy was breached, and the ensuing fallout would test the ideals of what it means to be American. In our 2021 ThinkNow year-end report we examine the economic highs and lows of the past twelve months, and how consumers, in their resilience, have weathered the storms by tapping into their power and wielding it to demand a fair and just society for all. Here’s a preview of what you can expect when you download Coming Into Focus: 2021 Year In Review here.
To say the ongoing pandemic, social injustice, and the contentious 2020 elections put a strain on the economy would be an understatement. By December of that year, Americans were worn out and skeptical about the future. In a year-end survey, Americans ages 18-64 reported worsened or stable personal finances and a perception of a weakening economy. Only one-fourth (23%) of Americans reported improved household income in 2020, significantly less than the prior year and the lowest proportion over the past five years.
According to the Work Institute, the unemployment rate in Feb 2020 was 3.5%. When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in April, it soared to 14.8%. The market responded with a flurry of layoffs. Over 11 million Americans lost their jobs in March 2020 and seven million in April. Over 1 million women left the workforce due to pandemic-related conditions like child care and virtual learning.
But not all exits from the workplace were involuntary. Voluntary resignations reached 3.4 million during the same period, driven primarily by career opportunity, health and family, and work-life balance. The trend continued in 2021, with a record-breaking 10.9 million job openings at the end of July. In 2020, Hispanics and Black Americans were most likely to have lost their jobs. Asians reported a significant increase in the number of people who lost their job in the last 12 months. Considerably more non-Hispanic Whites, however, reported having had work hours reduced.
Essential to getting Americans back to work was delivering a safe and effective vaccine. FDA Emergency Use Authorization of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines at the end of last year brought a return to normalcy into view for most. Still, for minorities, the view wasn’t as good.
Download Coming Into Focus: 2021 Year In Review to continue reading about Vaccine Hesitancy, Black Identity, Multicultural Business Ownership, and more.