Oxfam on Covid inequality, tax wealthy to pay for vaccines, defend local weather

A pedestrian wearing a face mask delivers food to a homeless man who died on March 23.

Tolga Akmen | AFP | Getty Images

The pandemic has made the rich richer while the income of the rest of the world – about 99% of humanity – has plummeted, according to a new Oxfam report titled “Inequality Kills”.

The wealth of the world’s 10 richest men has doubled from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion during the pandemic, according to the global charity said on Monday.

“It has never been more important to right the violent injustices of this obscene inequality by reclaiming the power and extreme wealth of the elites, including through taxes – to put that money back into the real economy and save lives,” Gabriela said , Executive Director of Oxfam International Bucher.

A 99% windfall tax on the pandemic profits of the world’s 10 richest men would raise enough money to pay for vaccines for the world — and fund various social measures for more than 80 countries, the report said.

Billionaire wealth has risen more sharply since the start of Covid compared to the past 14 years, and a new billionaire has been minted every 26 hours since the pandemic began, Oxfam said.

The CEOs of the Covid vaccine developers Modern and BioNTech earned billions in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

At the same time, the vast majority of the population is worse off after losing income during Covid-19, and 160 million more people fell into poverty, the press release said.

windfall tax

One way to “recoup” the huge gains billionaires made during the crisis is to tax the money billionaires have made since the pandemic began, the report said.

“A one-time windfall tax of 99% on the wealth gains from Covid-19 for the 10 richest men alone would generate $812 billion,” the report said.

“These resources could be enough to produce enough vaccines for the entire world and to fill funding gaps in climate action, universal health and social protection, and efforts to combat gender-based violence in over 80 countries,” it said.

If these ten men lost 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of everyone on the planet.

Gabriella books

Managing Director, Oxfam International

Even after taxes, the world’s 10 richest men would still be billionaires and, as a group, have increased their wealth by $8 billion since the pandemic began, the report said.

“If these ten men lost 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of all people on this planet,” said Bucher.

Beyond a one-time windfall tax, governments must also introduce or increase permanent wealth and capital taxes to “fundamentally and radically reduce wealth inequality,” the report says.

The Oxfam report was released ahead of this week’s virtual meetings of the World Economic Forum, where world leaders will discuss global challenges.

Main League Soccer viewership is up, now it wants networks to pay extra

New York City FC striker Valentín Castellanos (11) plays the ball forward against Portland Timbers midfielder in the MLS Cup Final between the Portland Timbers and New York City FC on December 11, 2021 at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon Diego Chara (21).

Brian Murphy | Sportswire icon | Getty Images

While other US sports leagues battle another Covid outbreak, Major League Soccer ended its 2021 season on some good news as it tries to convince TV networks to pay $ 300 million a year to broadcast their games numbers.

ESPN said this week the 2021 MLS Cup averaged on ABC 1.14 million viewers, with a high of 1.6 million viewers, the fifth most viewed viewer for an MLS Cup on a Disney-owned broadcaster since 2009. New York City FC defeated the Portland Timbers on penalties (4-2) to win their first championship.

That’s an increase from the 1.07 million average viewers who saw the 2020 game at Fox Sports last year, and 38% from an average of 825,000 viewers for the 2019 game.

The audience report comes at a good time for MLS as the league is looking for a significant boost from the broadcasters. Industry sources suggest that MLS is aiming for $ 300 million per season – versus the roughly $ 90 million it brings in from ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision combined.

However, the MLS rights package could be devalued due to important aspects of its offering.

“You will do well,” said Lee Berke of LHB Sports, a sports media consultancy. “But there are things that will work for them and things that may reduce their surge.”

New York City FC celebrates winning the 2021 MLS Cup during the MLS Cup Final between the Portland Timbers and New York City FC on December 11, 2021 at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon.

Brian Murphy | Sportswire icon | Getty Images

MLS uses the entire fleet

Let’s stay at the front of the audience figures – it is the most critical metric in rights business. The MLS had some exciting moments for the 2021 season that the league can use to highlight the increased fan interest.

Fox Sports broadcast the Thanksgiving Day playoff game between the Timbers and Colorado Rapids, which was average 1.8 million viewers on Fox platforms. It became the most watched MLS game on the network and the highest MLS audience since April 2004.

That year, the then 14-year-old soccer star Freddy Adu made his MLS debut with DC United at RFK Stadium against the San Jose Earthquakes. The competition drew an average of 1.97 million viewers.

For the 2021 regular season, MLS said it had an average of 276,000 viewers for 31 regular season games on ESPN channels, including ABC. That’s more than the average of 233,000 viewers who consumed 39 MLS games on ESPN platforms in 2020.

And on Fox Channels, MLS said viewership was up 4% compared to the 2020 season.

“The ratings were okay for linearity, but they still have difficulty comparing to ratings for MX league or Premier League, “said Berke, referring to international leagues.

MLS said it had an average of 284.00 viewers per game on the Spanish-speaking network Univision. But soccer viewers have shown more interest in consuming international leagues through MLS.

NBCUniversal, CNBC’s parent company, said it was average 414,000 spectators for the English Premier League football package for the 2020/21 season. And for EPL’s current season so far, NBC Sports has said the games have been average 609,000 spectators through its TV channels.

The network supposedly ready to pay $ 2.7 billion retain US Premier League rights. That number is higher than the $ 1 billion EPL the network received in the previous agreement.

Berke said the networks will pay premium rights fees for soccer because the sport’s fan base is typically “younger and more tech-savvy”.

“That’s why you see Paramount + aggressively bidding on a wide variety of international offerings Football packages“He said, referring to Viacom’s streaming service. “That’s why you saw the huge step up NBC paid to keep the Premier League. And that will work well for MLS. “

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said all MLS content, including games in local markets and the league’s data rights, will be used for the 2023 media package.

“Many years ago we went to our clubs and said that all of your local deals had to expire by the end of the year [2022] Season, “Garber told reporters on December 7th.

“All of your streaming deals need to expire,” Garber added. “All of your data deals, all of your sports betting deals, everything that comes in contact with a consumer are now in one package that we can share with traditional media companies that are digitally transforming into new media companies.”

Does MLS have bargaining power?

The new MLS agreement may differ from its current rights package, which the former ESPN boss John Skipper once called a “futures deal” and how “Buy pork bellies.”

In the current deal, ESPN has the rights to most MLS games and rotates all-star games and MLS Cup events with Fox. The companies also share a set of US men’s national games.

The media rights for the national team were negotiated by Soccer United Marketing, the marketing arm of the MLS. But the U.S. football association that exercises the rights ended his partnership with SUM last May. This means that MLS cannot add these rights to its new package.

It is unclear how this will affect MLS’s position at the negotiating table. Media experts estimate that MLS could approach $ 200 million in rights as it lost US national rights.

“You have to weigh the variety of factors that add value to football against the fact that SUM commitment is no longer there on the men’s and women’s teams,” said Berke.

“And the NFL took a lot of money off the table,” added Berke, referring to the more than $ 100 billion deal last March.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber (left) and Charlotte MLS owner David Tepper announce that Major League Soccer 2021 will come to Charlotte at an event in Charlotte, NC on Tuesday, December 17, 2019.

Nell Redmond | AP

MLS adds more content

The MLS could make up for the loss of national team rights with its new league cup format.

The new month Championship tournament starts in 2023 and all MLS teams will play against clubs from the Mexican League MX. MLS can benefit from the popularity of Liga MX in the US as Liga MX has more than 3 million viewers for games on Univision.

MLS will add TV stores in Charlotte in 2022 and St. Louis in 2023 and plan a 30th MLS franchise in the US Las Vegas Market. It will also use its rights to add additional teams to its MLS Next Pro Minor League operation.

The minor league component could help streaming services create storytelling opportunities that can attract viewers. The concept helped Liberty Media– own Formula 1 expand its audience about a Netflix series, for example.

In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Seth Bacon, senior vice president of media at MLS, said this MLS offering was “a package for the 21st century media landscape.”

Bacon said MLS had “numerous and productive conversations with every rights agent” despite refusing to identify any particular networks. He also agreed with Garber’s comments that a new agreement would be reached by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

“We got a lot of momentum from our regular season and our playoff spectators,” said Bacon. “And we have the tailwind of the 2026 World Cup,” which will be held in the USA, Canada and Mexico.

When asked about confidence in attracting a cheap media deal that will help stabilize MLS, Bacon said the league was “very excited about where we’re going to end up”.

Texas has spent $7B in federal cash to pay short-term well being care staff throughout COVID pandemic

AUSTIN — The state is trying to wind down an expensive, federally paid program of hiring nurses and other health care professionals to keep its hospitals from buckling under staffing pressures and burnout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the plan could be upended by any spike in COVID-19 cases prompted by gatherings over the upcoming holidays. Already, the state decided to keep up surge staffing at hospitals in El Paso and the Panhandle because of recent outbreaks.

After three huge waves of hospitalizations – in each of the past two summers and the big daddy of them all, last December and January – the state has spent nearly $7 billion of federal COVID-19 money for temporary nurses, respiratory therapists and some doctors to maintain operations at hospitals and “alternate care sites.”

The state set up the alternate care sites, mostly at nursing homes and convention centers, to free up hospital beds for coronavirus patients.

The decision to begin ramping down the “medical surge staffing” could be premature. Some public health officials worry that many Texans will mingle indoors and maskless during the upcoming holidays, among them unvaccinated state residents, creating a spike in both seasonal flu and COVID-19 that strains hospitals to capacity.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has told the three vendors who provide the hospitals with temporary caregivers that it plans to stop doing that in most parts of the state over the next month or so, said spokesman Chris Van Deusen.

“Of course, we’re always flexible about that,” he said. “If the situation changes, we’ll change the direction we’re headed.”

Critics of Gov. Greg Abbott’s management of the public health crisis say he’s used hospital staffing support when he should have used a full range of mitigation measures that are far less expensive, such as mask and vaccine mandates.

While the staffing expense is covered 100% by the federal government, the extravagant spending distorted the marketplace for nursing labor, which was already in short supply, said Rep. Donna Howard, an Austin Democrat and retired nurse who has studied the state’s response closely.

‘Burden on the hospitals’

Early in the pandemic, Abbott ordered hospitals to postpone elective surgeries, which choked off vital revenue streams, Howard said. But the Republican governor only hesitatingly embraced a statewide masking and distancing order, which he fully lifted in early March, she noted.

More recently, Abbott has stressed state provision – again, thanks to Uncle Sam – of COVID-19 treatments and infusion centers, where infected patients receive monoclonal antibodies that reduce the severity of symptoms.

“Those are great,” Howard said. “But again, though, rather than trying to do things to prevent it from happening in the first place, the interventions have been after the fact. And it’s really been a burden on the hospitals.”

Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze, noting that nearly 36 million shots have been administered to Texans, said Abbott has launched “innovative strategies” to combat the pandemic. She cited mobile vaccine clinics and a “Save Our Seniors” program he announced in March. Under the program, modeled on one in Corpus Christi given statewide attention by The Dallas Morning News, local first responders and other volunteers take shots to homebound seniors or set up central drive-through vaccine clinics.

“Governor Abbott has prioritized protecting the safety of Texans from COVID while also safeguarding their livelihoods and personal freedom,” Eze said in a written statement.

Abbott continues to work closely with state Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt and Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd “to get shots in arms and provide support to communities across the state,” she said.

“While the vaccine has proven effective at reducing the severity of COVID cases and slowing the spread of COVID, Governor Abbott also recognizes the right of Texans to refuse the shot, especially those who have acquired immunity, have health conditions, or other reasons to not take the shot.”

Many Texans, though, are still resistant to the shot. Only 59% of Texans age 5 or older have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Flu prospects

So far this flu season, Texans haven’t been catching influenza at an alarming rate. Of the nearly 39,000 who’ve been tested since early October, just 0.35% tested positive. At the peak of the 2018-2019 flu season, in February 2019, about one quarter of specimens tested positive for flu, noted epidemiologist Diana Cervantes of the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center at Fort Worth.

Still, on Wednesday, the federal Centers for Disease Control issued an alert warning of a recent increase in flu viruses detected in recent weeks, especially among young adults. The federal agency said it “also is aware of influenza outbreaks in colleges and universities in several states.”

Flu seasons in which the particular strain noticed in the recent uptick – A(H3N2) – is predominant “were associated with more hospitalizations and deaths in persons aged 65 years and older,” the alert said.

The CDC urged all Americans six months old and older – if they haven’t already, and many haven’t – to get flu shots.

UNT’s Cervantes explained public health officials’ concern.

“As the COVID vaccine has become available, there are many fewer restrictions and prevention measures directed at COVID prevention such as mask usage, physical distancing this year – so we may likely see a more active flu season compared to last year,” she said.

She continued, “There is a possibility that due to the holidays and increased travel and general contact with others, we could see an increase in COVID cases and flu cases jointly and unfortunately there are always severe cases of both that can require hospitalization leading to dual stresses on our health care system.”

With COVID-19 vaccine widely available and “no new variant of concern” at this point, “I am hopeful we will not see a spike of COVID like we experienced last winter,” Cervantes said.

The surge staffing began in July 2020 with just more than 3,500 visiting health care workers helping Texas hospitals. Peak deployment came after last winter’s surge of cases, with almost 14,000 temporary nurses and other workers used during one week in early February. Last summer, the numbers dwindled. From mid-May to mid-August, no surge staffing was needed.

But then deployments kicked back up with the spike of cases caused by the delta variant. By early October, the department’s three private vendors were supplying nearly 7,800 health care professionals a week. As of Nov. 17, that had dropped to 3,176.

A demobilization ‘pause’

In recent weeks, the department told its three vendors supplying the nurses and other front-line workers – San Antonio-based nonprofit BCFS Health and Human Services, San Antonio-based Angel Staffing Inc. and Columbia, Md.-based Maxim Healthcare Group – that it planned to stop all hospital support in early December.

A flare-up of positive cases in El Paso and the Panhandle has forced the department to keep providing the surge staffing to those two regions, even as it hopes to be able to stop providing nurses and therapists to hospitals in most of the state, said Van Deusen, the state health department spokesman.

“We’ve paused sort of demobilizing staff out in El Paso, for example, because they’ve seen things really start to go up more,” he said. “But yes, that’s been the idea,” to end the program as more Texans are vaccinated and severe cases of the disease taper off.

On Tuesday, the hospital regions where coronavirus patients are taking up the highest percentage of available beds were El Paso (13.3%), Amarillo (11.8%) and Lubbock (9.9%), according to the department’s coronavirus dashboard. Of the four major metros, Dallas had the highest share of its hospital beds devoted to COVID-19 patients – 4.9%. There were 768 people with COVID-19 hospitalized in the Dallas trauma service area’s hospitals. Of them, 94 had been admitted in the previous 24 hours.

From just over a year ago, Dallas has zoomed to account for 28% of the surge staffing statewide, from under 10%. South Texas, which in October 2020 drew 35% of the temporary workers helping Texas hospitals, now is using only 11%. As a share of the statewide deployment, Houston has tapered off (to 21% of the total, from 25% a year earlier), while Austin and Central Texas account for nearly 10% of the statewide staffing help, up from about 1% a year earlier.

President Joe Biden recently said that 100% reimbursement of states’ coronavirus-related response efforts, such as the hospital staffing, would continue through April 1.

Van Deusen said that leaving aside considerations about federal reimbursements, the need for the surge staffing has diminished.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Texas have decreased dramatically from the delta variant-driven spike of confirmed cases in late summer. From nearly 14,000 in late August and early September, hospitalized patients have fallen to under 2,700 as of Tuesday.

“We had started ramping down earlier this month, with the idea that it would take probably four to six weeks to do that,” Van Deusen said.

‘Worth it to them’

Some of the health care workers, such as nurses, have commanded high prices to come work at Texas hospitals.

Howard said at one point, she was told by the state health department that nurses cost the state $100 an hour to $125 an hour. She said she didn’t know if that was the amount being paid to the vendor or the nurses. The online job site Indeed shows the average registered nurse in Texas commanding about $36 an hour, she noted.

Department officials and vendors have declined to discuss wages paid to the temporary hospital workers.

“You had nurses who left their jobs to become traveling nurses because they could make a heck of a lot more money,” said Howard, who said she’s heard from one of her staff members an anecdote about one who gambled on treating COVID-19 patients in order to get a piece of the American dream – a house.

“They knew that it was going to be short term, but it was worth it to them to leave where they were and go wherever they needed to be for the fairly short period of time and bring in an exorbitant salary,” Howard recounted.

“It allowed them to actually get a mortgage. That was out of out of sight for them before. They are now able to buy a house because of this, which is great for them. But the distortion in the market is that those very people who are leaving, now, the hospitals are having to find ways to increase what they pay in order to retain their nurses. They’re doing bonuses, they’re doing premium pay, they’re doing whatever they can do, to try to keep the nurses that they have.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has received Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment to help him fight COVID-19, said Saturday that he is wants to see antibody infusion centers opened across the state.

By far the biggest chunk of the nearly $6.9 billion spent since July 2020 has gone to BCFS – $5.3 billion, or 77%.

The state also processed invoices from Angel for $1.14 billion (17% of the total) and from Maxim, the former Medcall Medical Staffing, for $455 million (6%). Angel and Maxim are privately held, for-profit companies.

As of Nov. 15, BCFS had 1,945 medical personnel working in 235 Texas hospitals, said BCFS spokeswoman Evy Ramos. Except for about 300 respiratory therapists, they were all nurses, she said. None was a physician.

Of the $6.88 billion spent, just under $2.4 million was state funds, according to a spreadsheet of vendor payments obtained by The Dallas Morning News.

“The funds obligated are federal, FEMA and CARES Act dollars,” said state health department spokesman Doug Loveday, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020.

Another $8.7 million of the money went to alternate care sites.

None of the money spent yet has come from the American Rescue Plan Act passed in March, though state lawmakers last month approved spending up to $2 billion of the American Rescue Plan money on hospital surge staffing, COVID therapeutics and infusion centers.

Texas soon will have spent more than $5.1 billion to hire nurses and other frontline health-care workers at premium rates to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients and deter the disease at group residential settings such as nursing homes. The effort will eat up nearly two-thirds of the $8.1 billion in federal Coronavirus Relief Fund money the state has received. In February file photo, three nurses at Dallas' Parkland Memorial Hospital -- one a traveling nurse and two on-staff -- review an intubated COVID-19 patient’s oxygen levels.

Southwest affords workers additional pay, frequent flyer miles to keep away from vacation journey disruptions

A bag handler pushes a bag near a Southwest Airlines plane at Hollywood Burbank Airport in Burbank, Calif., October 10, 2021.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines On Saturday, its flight attendants offered new incentives to avoid further flight cancellations, especially during the main holiday season, amid staffing concerns, an internal memo said.

Southwest canceled more than 2,000 flights around Columbus Day weekend, disruptions the airline said cost it $ 75 million. American Airlines, which also offers flight attendants and other crews additional payment for vacation shifts, had to contend with mass cancellations of flights at the end of last month and also at the beginning of November.

Flight attendants, pilots and other operations staff could earn up to 120,000 Rapid Rewards points valued at more than $ 1,400. Flight attendants are entitled to work 36 days between November 15 and January 14, while cabin crews who work 28 days during that period could earn 60,000 points, the note said. Southwest said the number of qualifying shifts or days varies by work group.

The number of no-shows or unreachable flight attendants has risen recently, Southwest’s vice president of Sonya Lacore, vice president of in-flight operations, said in her message to cabin crew that was reviewed by CNBC. Sick calls have also increased when the company lifted emergency policies that required flight attendants to produce a medical certificate when they called sick. Lacore said, for example, when the airline last lifted these procedures on Nov. 9, two consecutive hours of sickness went from 20 to 90 an hour.

“We have a great opportunity here to maintain that commitment to you and her amid a difficult time for all of us,” wrote Lacore. “Our first step in addressing this and actively working to keep operations safe was to cut the schedule and we believe this incentive program will take us one more step in the right direction.”

The airline also offers ground operations workers triple pay for Thanksgiving and Christmas work, and double pay for overtime between November 17th and November 30th and December 17th through January 3rd. half salary.

The airlines had offered their employees early retirement packages and leave of absence to cut their labor costs during the pandemic, but were under staff shortages when demand picked up again this year. More flight attendants are returning from vacation to America and the Southwest, while these and other airlines are also aggressively hiring.

American Airways jacks up flight attendant vacation pay to keep away from extra flight cancellations

An American airline Airbus A321-200 approaches Washington Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia on February 24, 2021.

Daniel Slim | AFP | Getty Images

American Airlines, shocked by Bulk cancellations last weekend offered flight attendants three times their salary for work-holiday trips, even if they are perfectly staffed by the beginning of January.

The offer comes just days after American canceled hundreds of flights last weekend and earlier this week, many of them related to flight attendant staff shortages. The added incentives show Americans are willing to pay to avoid recurrence.

American said flight attendants and reserve cabin crew members who go on business trips between November 23 and November 29 or December 22 through January 2 will be given one and a half time, according to an internal memo verified by CNBC. If you do not have any absences from November 15 to January 2, you will receive an additional 150% of the remuneration for these main travel times.

“The past few months, and last week in particular, have been challenging,” wrote Brady Byrnes, vice president of flight service to flight attendants.

“With Mother Nature devastating the operations, the myriad policy changes you had to keep up with, and an increase in incidents of customer misconduct, you are dealing with a lot,” added Byrnes, referring to an increase in recalcitrant travelers, including an alleged attack on a flight attendant by a passenger last week.

Airlines spent much of the last year pushing their employees to take vacations or accept takeovers.
When travel demand recovered in late spring and summer, some airlines did not have enough staff to cover routine disruptions such as bad weather. Southwest Airlines offered flight attendants double pay to get more people to pick up their shifts on the weekend of July 4th.

LG to pay as much as $1.9 billion to GM over Bolt EV battery fires

A 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV caught fire at a house in Cherokee County, Georgia, on September 13, 2021, according to local fire departments.

Cherokee County Fire Department

LG Electronics has agreed to make a refund General Motors Up to $ 1.9 billion for the recall of Chevrolet Bolt EVs due to fire risks from faulty batteries from the South Korean supplier.

Issues with the Bolt – the company’s flagship mainstream electric vehicle – have led the automaker to recall every electric car since production began in 2016. The repair of the vehicles, including the complete replacement of some batteries, is on expected to cost $ 2 billionsaid GM on Tuesday. That’s an increase from an earlier estimate of $ 1.8 billion.

The deal between the companies is a huge win for the automaker, who Wall Street missed expectations in the second quarter due to provision costs for the recall.

As a result of the agreement, GM will recognize an estimated recovery in the third quarter that will offset $ 1.9 billion of the $ 2.0 billion in costs related to the recalls.

The production problems occurred at LG Battery Solution’s plants in South Korea and Michigan. The “rare manufacturing defects” on the Bolt electric vehicles are a torn anode strip and a folded separator, which GM says increases the risk of fire when they are in the same battery cell.

“LG is a valued and respected supplier to GM and we are excited to enter into this agreement,” said Shilpan Amin, GM’s vice president of global purchasing and supply chain, in a statement. “Our development and manufacturing teams continue to work together to accelerate the production of new battery modules and we expect to start repairing customer vehicles this month.”

If on the lookout for a lodge deal, it would pay to attend till the final minute

d3sign | Moment | Getty Images

When it comes to hotel reservation reservations, Aesop and its fabled ants may have done it backwards – it may actually be worth waiting until the last minute to book.

While it is popular belief that booking early will provide travelers with better prices on accommodation, flights, and other vacation components, Research by NerdWallet found that waiting to book a hotel room up to 15 days before arrival would save them more time 66% of the time, compared to four months.

With the idea that it is better to book early, it was actually more about the choice, said Sally French, a travel expert at NerdWallet.

“It’s less about ‘buy early for better deals’ and more about the opportunity cost of not booking early – you could limit your options a lot by waiting,” she said. “Booking in advance gives you more choice to book the hotel that really fits your budget.”

More from Personal Finance:
How travelers could benefit from the hotel industry struggles
Travel app offers nervous hotel guests the ability to freeze prices
Hotel prices rise as travel resumes

In 2019, 2020 and the first half of 2021, NerdWallet examined more than 2,500 hotel room prices in hotels worldwide by price range and brand and compared the prices for nights for 15 days and four months.

From 2019 to 2021, the average room rate in North America booked on 15 days was $ 203 while that for a unit booked four months outside was $ 233, NerdWallet found, a difference of 12. 7%. Internationally, the respective rates and differences were similar at USD 201 and USD 232, which corresponds to a difference of 13.5%.

“International trends largely coincide with domestic trends,” said French, adding that it was “comforting to know that you are not missing out on even better international deals.”

Meanwhile, the average price across all high-end hotels was $ 302 when booked 15 days in advance, compared to $ 386 four months in advance – a 21.6% difference. The difference is even bigger – 50%, NerdWallet found – when comparing prices for 15 days in advance to 11 months ago.

However, “cheaper” is a relative term, French noted. As an example, she cited pre-pandemic nightly rates at the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA LIVE, which were $ 1,110 when booked 11 months ago and $ 450 just 15 days earlier.

“Still, $ 450 is more than most people pay for a night in a hotel,” said French. “Although you get a ‘better’ price at this hotel, it is often still more expensive than a mid-range option.”

The savings in hotels in the middle and lower price range were rather meager at 9.4% and 5.5%, respectively. French said NerdWallet found that “budget-friendly” hotels like the Best Western Market Center in Dallas for $ 100 a night – which never deviated from that price over the course of the study – are less likely to fluctuate in price even until the last Minute.

“But what if you think it’s okay to hesitate and then all the budget hotels are sold out because there was a huge festival or conference in town?” French said. “Maybe you have no choice but to book the Ritz-Carlton, which is often over $ 1,000.

“That’s a $ 900 mistake if you wait until the last minute,” she said.

Now, if you are comfortable traveling, grab deals while you can because I don’t expect them to stay.

Sally French

Travel expert at NerdWallet

Did the pandemic and the resulting drop in travel help keep prices down? French said prices were down about 33% year-over-year in 2020 but are now 30% cheaper than in 2019, which means they are rising.

“As more people get vaccinated and countries open up to tourists, I expect this trend to continue,” she noted. “Now if you are comfortable traveling, grab deals while you can because I don’t expect them to stay.”

Travelers should consider booking direct with their hotel of choice, be it online or by phone. According to French, it’s less about price and more about flexibility. “Many Hotels have super generous cancellation policies Nowadays, however, this is often only taken into account once the reservation has been made with them.

In addition, according to French, most hotels will offer lower rates for the same room and travel dates, or travelers with reservations at hotels with flexible cancellation policies will be able to cancel more expensive reservations and rebook them at lower rates. However, booking on online sites is “certainly faster and more convenient,” she added.

Destinations with cheaper hotel prices include Bangkok and Tokyo abroad – where prices are still more than 50% below 2019 prices – and in the US business centers like New York and Philadelphia, according to French.

Where to avoid

“I see a lot of hotels – especially in more remote, domestic destinations – whose prices have actually increased,” she said. “Two different luxury hotels in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch and the Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows, averaged 80% more than their 2019 rates in 2021.”

Why retailers are embracing purchase now, pay later financing companies

Supply chains are jumbled and production is limited. For weeks, headlines have been telegraphing a clear message to buyers: This Christmas season shop early.

In recent years, early risers may have made holiday gift plans to reserve Christmas gifts and pay for their purchases over time. But many retailers – including the largest in the country, Walmart – have abolished or reduced these programs. One reason for this is that there are new tools available to buyers to distribute payments.

A popular option for consumers is to buy now, pay later. Dealers are big fans too. The point of sale loans are easy for retailers to manage, and research shows that these options translate into bigger shopping carts and greater customer loyalty. RBC Capital Markets estimates that a BNPL option increases retail conversion rates by 20% to 30% and increases the average ticket size between 30% and 50%.

Add incremental sales

“It’s about incrementality,” said Russell Isaacson, director of retail and automotive lending at Ally Lending, “to reach that incremental sale or incremental consumer.”

Installment payments offer consumers options and convenience when it comes to managing budgets and shopping, according to Hemal Nagarsheth, associate partner in Kearney’s Financial Services Practice. He said the option also builds trust between retailers and consumers, resulting in “incremental sales, higher average purchase sizes and higher frequency of purchases.”

Buy Now, Pay Later Payment plans offered by companies like Confirm, based in Australia additional payment and Klarna from Sweden, are particularly attractive to younger buyers, such as the coveted Generation Z and millennial consumers. While every plan has differences – from the number of payments to the specific terms and conditions – the most important thing they have in common is the promise of a handful of equal payments over a relatively short period of time with no hidden fees. Often the plans are interest-free.

Installment payments are more popular with consumers who either do not have access to credit or who do not want to shop with credit cards for various reasons. According to Hans Zandhuis, President of Ally Lending, the option also makes a lot of sense for buyers who don’t have the money to cover the entire purchase but who can survive the next paychecks.

The average transaction value is around $ 200 for a purchase that is paid for later, Zandhuis said. Often times, if the option to pay later had not been available, the checkout value for the retailer would have been around $ 100, he said. This allows the same consumer to spend $ 175 to $ 200, with 4 monthly payments of $ 50. Payments should match the paycheck cycles.

Take the clothing retailer Rue21, for example. The most important target group is an 18 to 25 year old shopper who often does not use credit cards. With lots of cheap items on the website and decreasing traffic in the malls, increasing the average order volume is a top priority.

When the pandemic closed stores, Rue21 had to figure out how to sell to its buyers online with no credit. Since Rue21 added Klarna as a payment option in-store and online, the average order volume is 73% higher than other payment methods published a case study by Klarna. Rue21 shoppers doing business with Klarna have the highest sales per customer with a 6% higher purchase frequency. In May, Klarna purchases made up more than a quarter of rue21’s e-commerce sales.

A logo sign outside of a retail store on rue21 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania on January 25, 2019.

Kristoffer Tripplaar | Sipa over AP pictures

Affirm boasts that its merchant customers report an 85% increase in average order value when consumers choose to use its BNPL plan over other payment methods. Affirm approves installment payments for purchases up to $ 17,500, which has been proven to be very important to Pelotons expensive exercise equipment and services. FT Partners, an investment bank focused on the fintech space, estimated that 30% of Affirm’s revenue in the first quarter of 2021 came from sales on the Peloton website.

Klarna’s merchant base reports a 45% increase in average order value when a buyer pays more than four payments. Buyers can also choose to pay interest-free within 30 days or, for larger purchases, get financing with monthly payments of 6 to 36 months with an APR between 0% and 29.9%.

New customers

Attracting a customer whom a retailer might otherwise not have influenced is another benefit of offering a buy-it-now option.

Earlier this year Macys CEO Jeff Gennette told investors that his partnership with Klarna will help attract new customers.

“We launched Klarna on the Macy’s website in October [2020] and since then we have scaled it to Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury both online and in stores, “he said.” With Klarna we continue to see higher spend per visit and increased acquisition of new younger customers, 45% are under 40 years old. Our goal is to turn all of these new customers into loyal Macy’s customers who will come back for future purchases. “

Around 93% of Afterpay’s gross goods value in the last financial year came from repeat users of the installment payment service, with the longest-serving consumer making 30 additional transactions per year.

Higher conversion

Installment payments allow the retailer to “a [consumer’s] Desire into a sale, “said Chris Ventry, vice president of global advisory group SS&A.” It removes the payment block, “said Ventry through BNPL is enticing, ultimately enticing enough to drive conversion, which is the primary goal of all digital commerce websites . “

An analysis by Similarweb of the top 100 US fashion and retail websites compared 50 retailers who offer a buy-it-now option at checkout and 50 who don’t. On average, sites with a BNPL option had a conversion rate of 6% compared to 4% for those who didn’t.

Afterpay said it increases a retailer’s conversion rate and additional sales by 20 to 30% more than other payment options.

The incremental sales and increased conversion also make the additional transaction costs that the retailer pays to the fintech companies worthwhile. Zandhuis said that while the retailer pays the BNPL company an additional 2% higher transaction fees compared to the transaction fees charged by a traditional credit card company, “the math speaks for itself. The additional revenue is greater than the cost.”

Afterpay and Klarna charge merchants a 3% to 5% transaction fee, Affirm declined to disclose its transaction fees.

The programs also have advantages over the traditional layaway, which requires retailers to store items purchased locally while customers make installment payments over time. More and more retailers are using stores as mini-fulfillment centers to service online orders. With this model, the storage space is scarce.

Growth opportunity

Buy now, pay later, according to FIS Worldpay, is the fastest growing e-commerce payment method in the world, followed by the growth of digital wallets. In 2019, the $ 60 billion BNPL market accounted for 2.6% of global e-commerce, excluding China.

Worldpay estimates that use of the option could grow to $ 166 billion by 2023, with an average annual growth rate of 28%. At this rate, it would account for around 5% of global e-commerce outside of China.

According to FIS WorldPay, BNPL currently accounts for less than 2% of North American sales.

Coresight Senior Analyst John Harmon recognizes the opportunity for retailers but does not see it as a panacea.

“I don’t see BNPL as a magical solution, despite its booming adoption, as it’s just a different kind of loan,” Harmon said.

Pay elevate for house well being suppliers depends on federal cash and ‘compliance evaluations’

The state legislature voted this week to approve one complex plan That would increase the pay of frontline workers caring for older adults and people with disabilities.

The plan stems from a bill passed earlier this year that included guidance to the State Department of Health (HCPF) running Colorado’s Medicaid program for people on low incomes and people with disabilities. With Senate Act 21-286, called on state lawmakers to come up with a proposal on how federal pandemic aid money – sent to Colorado through the American Rescue Plan Act – could be used to expand and expand Medicaid’s home and community-based services to enhance.

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On Tuesday, lawmakers in the Joint Budget Committee voted 5-1 to adopt the department’s proposed plan, which would, among other things, increase pay for direct caregivers. Colorado’s direct care staff includes the home health workers, personal care assistants, and certified nursing assistants who provide home or community services to Medicaid patients in need of long-term care.

The HCPF’s plan aims to achieve the raise by using $ 262 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to increase the rates Medicaid pays to the health care providers who employ direct caregivers for home and community-based services. HCPF intends to conduct “financial compliance reviews” in accordance with the Plan documentto ensure that the additional funds are channeled through the providers to the workers themselves.

In a statement Tuesday, Governor Jared Polis’s office said the pay increase would allow a minimum wage of $ 15 for direct caregivers.

“Colorado has one of the fastest growing aging populations in the country, so it is important that we recruit and retain caregivers today and for years to come,” Polis, a Democrat, said in the statement. “In Colorado, we value our employees, so I fully support the transition to a minimum wage of $ 15 for nurses.”

As soon as the federal money has been used up, the legislature must intervene in the state budget if it wants to maintain the higher provider tariffs.

Rep. Kim Ransom, a Lone Tree Republican, was the only “no” vote on the voluminous proposal.

“I’m always concerned about the administrative burden,” she said before the vote, questioning the breakdown of overhead spending versus services.

But Ransom and others spoke out in favor of a workforce that, despite the difficult care work, earns historically close to the legal minimum wage.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced closings last year, direct care providers were hit. To balance the budget amid the pandemic recession, lawmakers cut fees for Medicaid providers by 1% in 2020 before increasing them by 2.5% in the 2021 legislature.

The average hourly wage for a domestic or personal hygiene helper was $ 13.50 in Colorado Springs, $ 13.96 in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metropolitan area, and $ 14.32 in Fort Collins as of May 2020, the data said of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Meanwhile, nursing assistants were paid an average hourly wage of $ 15.53 in Colorado Springs, $ 16.25 in Fort Collins, and $ 17.32 in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood Metro.

The Denver minimum hourly wage is now $ 14.77 and will increase to $ 15.87 in January. Elsewhere in Colorado the minimum wage is $ 12.32.

RSS says federal cash will not be long-term answer for workers pay – Salisbury Put up

SALISBURY – Rowan-Salisbury Schools received an unprecedented amount of federal funding over the past year, but funding will only go so far as to keep the district’s staff competitive.

In total, the district raised $ 96.9 million in federal funds. The amount is spread across approximately $ 70.6 million in COVID-19 aid and a federal grant of $ 26.3 million granted in 2020 to advance renewal plans.

The district has some of the least competitive salaries for its employees when compared to comparable school districts. In June, Superintendent Tony Watlington collapsed where the district landed. Teachers, teaching assistants, caretakers and bus drivers are at the bottom of the lists in eight or nine districts.

The employees are roughly divided into certified and classified categories. Certified employees include faculties such as teachers and school principals. The classified employees include bus drivers, nutrition workers, maintenance and teacher assistants.

During the school committee meeting last week, Watlington briefly touched on the subject, noting that the district lags not only behind the more affluent surrounding districts in terms of pay for classified staff, but also behind comparable districts.

A bus driver for RSS starts at $ 12.07 per hour while a starting bus driver for Davidson County starts at $ 16.07 per hour. A salary study for classified employees is ongoing.

RSS chief finance officer Carol Herndon said it is rare for a salary study to return whose results show pay should stay the same. It is likely that the district will need to implement the study in a phased manner rather than implementing its recommendations in a single year, Herndon said.

Chief Operational Officer Anthony Vann said the district is struggling to recruit and hold classified positions under its umbrella. He said there were several reasons. Pay is one. Another is the high level of competition from private companies and other school districts for people with the skills RSS is looking for. The COVID-19 pandemic also contributes to this.

While demand fluctuates, Vann cited the example of around 50 vacancies in a workforce of 200 nutritionists. Central Office nutritionists and other RSS staff work in cafeteria lines in schools, much like staff who stand in as substitute teachers to make up for lengthy teacher absences.

Vann said he has lost several very skilled employees to the surrounding counties and sees companies in the city offering signing rewards.

“It makes it difficult to keep qualified staff unless you can compete with them,” said Vann.

Where the county will find the funding for the raise is still open, but there are a few options.

Why not the federal money?

Some of the federal aid money will go into the pockets of the faculty and staff, but it will not provide the county with a solution to long-term funding goals for the people who work there for two reasons: used to pay staff, and it will run out of money too .

The aid money is divided into three parts based on the primary and secondary school emergency fund. The district received $ 4.7 million from the CARES bill in the early days of the pandemic, which has already been issued. The remaining federal aid came in two installments, a package of $ 20.3 million in the final months of President Trump’s administration and $ 45.6 million under the US bailout plan passed earlier this year.

All three aid packages came with slightly different rules. The last two packages, which make up the bulk of the funding, were not issued. The use of the latter packages must pass a three-step test to either prevent, reduce or respond to COVID-19.

Currently, the district is trying to shift some of its funds to pay grants to employees taking on additional duties due to COVID-19, but the state has consistently declined districts to use the money to largely pay the salaries or bonuses. In the meantime, the $ 20.3 million must be spent by the end of September 2023 and the $ 45.6 million the following year.

Herndon said it was dangerous to try to fund permanent bonuses with volatile cash because the district could not sustain increases after the grants expired.

“Our goal is to find sustainable funding,” said Herndon, adding that the district is in the process of setting a price for the implementation of the wage study.

The district will spend more than $ 30 million in aid on repairing and upgrading HVAC systems in its schools. This will achieve a long-term capital goal by removing this funding from the capital requirement list of more than $ 200 million in the district’s facilities.

These expenses are acceptable as they improve the air quality in the buildings. When all work is complete, every school in the district will have HVAC systems with fresh air exchangers.

The $ 26.3 million grant is different. Its express purpose is to give teachers incentives to advance the work of the district on its special renewal status.

Earlier this year, the district announced its first grant incentive program, which will provide $ 585,000 in signing and retention bonuses at 13 schools. The district management has discussed creating an incentive payment with the subsidy at their schools in need, in order to also attract teachers.

Where does the district find money?

North Carolina is one of the few states that has left the funding of its public schools to the total grace of the state and local governments.

School systems in NC have no authority to collect taxes or generate income of their own accord, except through grants and private donations. The overwhelming majority of the district’s $ 207.6 million budget for this fiscal year comes from a combination of federal, state and local funds awarded directly by these institutions.

Most of the money comes from the state. One possibility is for the state to pass one of the proposed budgets currently circulating in the legislature. The budget could include either a $ 13 or $ 15 minimum wage for civil servants, with the state government assuming the state-funded portion of the increase. But a budget passed by the legislature that could come at the end of this month would also apply nationwide.

The second place to find funding is through the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. That year, the commissioners cut nearly $ 500,000 from current expenses for the district, while the local portion of salary and welfare expenses increased by $ 416,000. Local funding is $ 38.8 million.

“One of the things our county needs to sell to businesses and potential citizens is quality schools,” Herndon said, adding that it requires quality staff and competitive wages.

Herndon said RSS should meet with the commissioners in person to have a conversation so that district officials can understand the district’s needs. Letters sent to district officials each year may lack the emotion and passion behind the district’s work.

The district has introduced itself to commissioners in the past, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made this meeting difficult.

The county also provides almost all of the capital funding for the county. Small purchases of equipment such as furniture could be made, but local money is used to build schools.

The final way to find money is to exercise some financial discretion. Renewal gives the district more government funding flexibility than the average district, making it easier to keep track of the district’s spending.

Herndon cited as an example of buying curriculum materials and analyzing whether that product gives the district what it wants. If not, RSS could test competing products or free up that money for other initiatives.

“If we are serious about offering competitive wages to our employees, we need to look very carefully at what we are currently funding,” said Herndon.