Financial Fears Are Putting the Brakes on Retirement for Some Americans

By Staff
Monday, October 3, 2022 1:59 PM Some Americans are putting off their retirement due to rising living costs. A recent survey by the Nationwide Retirement Institute found that four in 10 older Americans were putting off retirement. This number has doubled since last year, where many respondents indicated they had been delaying retirement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This is having repercussions across the American workforce as companies delay hiring due to high numbers of employees putting off retirement. One-third of private sector employers noted that delayed retirement was affecting their ability to hire new talent, while 34 percent said it was preventing them from promoting young talent within their companies. Employers also noted that delayed retirement was increasing the costs of providing health and benefit plans. 

Employees are also concerned about their long-term security. One in four Americans feel they are on the wrong track for retirement, and just six in 10 have a positive outlook on their retirement and financial investments. 

Two in three employees cite inflation as a top retirement concern, with workers aged 35 to 44 reporting in higher numbers than those 45 and older that they feel confused and panicked about their retirement plans and financial investments.

The American Diabetes Association Announces Initiative to Prevent Unnecessary Amputation

By Staff
Friday, September 30, 2022 3:25 PM The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has announced a new initiative to address the increase in preventable amputations across the U.S. More than 154,000 amputations are done each year as a result of poor access to quality care. Patients are increasingly forced to have amputations due to diabetes and even lose their lives due to inability to afford care. 

In the U.S., a limb is lost to diabetes every three minutes, according to the ADA. The Amputation Prevention Alliance will work to prevent this disproportional high level of amputations and amputation related mortality through policy, clinical awareness and empowerment of patient advocacy.

The project is slated to run for three years with a focus on enhanced access to quality care, technology and interventions. Rates of amputation are particularly high among minorities, with black Americans four times higher than non-Hispanic white Americans. In the LatinX community, patients are 50 percent more likely to have an amputation. 

A survey by Diabetes.org found that people served were unaware of their risk of amputation. Sixty-five percent said they believed they were not at risk and only 1 in 4 understood the signs and symptoms that could lead to amputation such as peripheral neuropathy, peripheral artery disease or critical limb ischemia.

Americans Are Skipping Medical Treatment Due to Inflation

By Staff
Thursday, September 29, 2022 11:00 AM Inflation has left many Americans scrambling to pay medical bills. According to a recent Debt.com poll, 57 percent of respondents agreed that inflation was making it harder to pay medical bills.

Presently 6 in 10 Americans are struggling to pay health care costs. As many as 28 percent have said they are avoiding medical care due to debts already owed, however, this has not slowed medical providers from trying to collect on debts.

More than 25 percent of respondents said their medical bills had been sent to a collections agency and 28 percent said they have avoided additional care because of this. The report found that respondents owe less than previous years but are finding it more difficult to make payments.

In 2021, 80 percent of respondents said they owed more than $500 in medical debt, in 2021, this number shrank to 40 percent. The report also found that lenders are less willing to negotiate or adjust the cost of bills. Three in 10 respondents said they had tried to negotiate the amount owed to no avail.

Despite Inflationary Pressures, American Eyecare Still Prioritize Spending on Contact Lens and Eyeglass

By Staff
Tuesday, September 27, 2022 10:37 AM Americans overwhelmingly value their contact lenses and eyeglasses, despite inflationary pressures, according to the results of a new survey commissioned by the Contact Lens Institute. Respondents were asked to assign value to 26 different products and services including personal health, entertainment, clothing, dining, and other discretionary spending options. They ranked their contact lenses (84 percent) and eyeglasses (75 percent) as extremely or very important—more than any other category.

Halloween Spending Is on the Rise in 2022

By Staff
Monday, September 26, 2022 2:55 PM Halloween spending has returned to pre-pandemic levels according to the National Retail Federation. According to a recent survey by Proper Insights and Analytics, Halloween spending rose with 69 percent of consumers planning to celebrate this year, up from 65 percent in 2021 and 68 percent in 2019. 

This increased participation is expected to drive Halloween sales up to $10.6 billion in 2022, up from $10.1 billion in 2021. 

Consumers are spending their money on traditional Halloween goods, including 67percent on candy, 51 percent on decor, 47 percent on costumes, 44 percent on pumpkins and 28 percent on parties. The survey also found that one in five people plan to dress their pets in a costume too. Parents are ready to shell out big bucks on kids costumes averaging $2.9 billion this year, while pet parents are going to spend approximately $710 million on costumes for their fur babies. 

Consumers are ready to hit the stores early, with 47 percent reporting they began their shopping in September or earlier. Forty percent of consumers will do their shopping at discount stores, while 36 percent will be doing their shopping in specialty stores. Approximately 31 percent will be doing their shopping for Halloween goods online.

Goldman Sachs Predicts Recession Will Hit Sometime in the Next 12 Months

By Staff
Friday, September 23, 2022 3:11 PM Goldman Sachs is predicting the U.S. economy will continue to take a downturn as recession fears grow. GS Research indicates that a recession is likely to happen within the next 12 months.

Analysts believe that the post-COVID recession will be mild and that the unemployment rate increase should only be approximately 1 percentage point. The reason behind this is a continued glut in jobs versus workers. It’s believed the imbalance between available jobs and workers should absorb much of that contraction without triggering a large rise in unemployment.  

“Recent preliminary evidence suggests this is possible,” said senior global economist Daan Struyven. “In fact, the U.S. job openings rate has declined by 0.7 percentage points since March while the unemployment rate has actually declined by 0.1 percentage points. This suggests that the slowdown in output growth is likely to have a smaller-than-usual effect on employment, which tends to drop sharply in traditional U.S. recessions.”

Struyven noted there are still clear drives for growth in the U.S. economy and as the normalization of COVID-sensitive sectors returns industries like tourism and office work will rebound. 

Resale Market Sales Are on the Rise

By Staff
Thursday, September 22, 2022 2:56 PM The resale market is growing in popularity. A recent study by First Insight and the Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found consumers are choosing sustainability over consumption, with Gen Z leading the way having an outsize impact on older generations, particularly their Gen X parents. 

Gen Z is one of the major drivers behind a resurgence in the second hand market. The resale market has also seen an increase in usage by Baby Boomers at 56 percent, Generation X increasing by 35 percent, Millennials increasing by 33 percent and Gen Z increasing 44 percent. 

All generations are choosing the resale market over traditional shopping for several reasons, including for concern for the planet, a preference for sustainability and circular shopping and better price. Yet affordability is still very important to Gen Z, with nearly 30 percent preferring to shop recommerce based on price.

Consumers are also changing their preferred payment methods when selling their own goods on the resale market, choosing cash over rewards, loyalty points, or discounts on future purchases.

Payment Apps Like Venmo and Cash App Bring Convenience—and Security Concerns—To Some Users

By Staff
Wednesday, September 21, 2022 2:14 PM From books to dating, many aspects of life have gone digital, and wallets are no exception. Today, many Americans use the internet and smartphones to transfer money to friends, family and businesses. And while users praise these platforms for making paying for things easier, they also express concerns about security and privacy, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

PayPal—which was founded more than two decades ago—is used by a majority of U.S. adults (57 percent). Smaller shares report ever using Venmo (38 percent) or Zelle (36 percent) and about one-quarter (26 percent) say they have ever used Cash App, according to the survey, which was conducted July 5-17. In total, 76 percent of Americans say they have ever used at least one of these four payment sites or apps. 

Across each of the platforms measured in the survey, adults under 50 have adopted these tools at higher rates. But the starkest age gap relates to Venmo: 57 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds report using Venmo, compared with 49 percent of those ages 30 to 49 and smaller shares among those 50 to 64 (28 percent) and 65 and older (15 percent).

There are also differences by household income. Adults with upper incomes are more likely than middle- and lower-income adults to be users of Venmo or PayPal. In contrast, lower-income adults are the most likely to say they use Cash App: About 36 percent say this, compared with 24 percent of middle-income and 18 percent of upper-income adults.

Contactless Payments Transaction Values to Surpass $10 Trillion Globally by 2027

By Staff
Tuesday, September 20, 2022 2:29 PM A new study from Juniper Research has found that the value of contactless payment transactions will reach $10 trillion globally by 2027; from $4.6 trillion in 2022. It anticipates that investment in the underlying contactless payments ecosystem, such as contactless enabled POS (Point-of-Sale) terminals and device-level support, will be the key driver of contactless transactions value growth over the next five years, according to Juniper Research.

The World Bank Warns of Global Recession in 2023

By Staff
Monday, September 19, 2022 4:08 PM An increase in interest rates by global central banks have prompted the World Bank to warn of global recession in 2023. This follows a recent increase in financial crises in emerging markets and developing countries that could do lasting harm to overall global markets. 

The rising interest rates have surpassed those seen over the past five decades and banks work to bring global inflation under control. Investors are predicting the central bank will raise global monetary policy rates by up to 4 percent in 2023, a more than 2 percent increase over 2021. 

According to the World Bank, the economy is now in its strongest slowdown since 1970, pointing to the U.S., China and Europe as seeing some of the sharpest economic stagnation.

Employee Well-Being Tops Reasons for Return to Work Hesitancy

By Staff
Friday, September 16, 2022 6:04 PM Employers need to address employee well-being if they want to hold onto staff, according to a finding in a recent report from McKinsey & Company. After nearly three years of an unstable work environment, employees are more concerned than ever about ensuring their health and safety as they return to the office. 

Since 2020 McKinsey has been evaluating the disconnect between employers and employees over mental health. At the time, 66 percent of employers believed they were supporting their employees' mental health very well. Meanwhile, only 51 percent of employees shared this sentiment. 

The group's findings indicate that employees are not ready mentally to return to work. Nearly 49 percent of respondents anticipates that returning to work will have a somewhat or significant impact on their mental health. Employees are also concerned about catching COVID-19 and spreading it to family members, with many employees requesting hybrid working options to help mitigate this risk.

The Job Market Is Improving Despite Mass Layoffs

By Staff
Thursday, September 15, 2022 3:09 PM The jobless rate continues to drop despite mass layoffs at some of the biggest companies in the U.S. Earlier this year, companies like Netflix, Snap and Re/Max Holdings slashed their workforce. According to a report by Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), September job numbers continued to trend upward after seeing increases in August. The national unemployment rate increased to 3.7 percent, however the number of people who describe themselves as “on temporary layoff” dropped to 782,000 reaching levels not seen since February 2020. 

Industries that saw the biggest increase in jobs were health and social service positions, which saw an increase of 61,500 jobs in August. Professional services also saw an increase, reaching 56,400 new jobs. Retail also saw moderate gains of 44,000 jobs in the previous month. 

Overall the economy added 315,000 jobs in August, matching levels predicted by a Bloomberg survey of economists. SIA experts believe rising interest rates will act as a “brake on the macroeconomy.” The report noted the SIA is cautiously optimistic the improved labor market trend will continue mitigating the risk of recession.

The Holiday Shopping Season Is Starting Earlier Than Ever

By Staff
Wednesday, September 14, 2022 1:57 PM A large share of consumers aren’t planning to wait until they stash away their Halloween decorations before they begin shopping for the holidays. Amazon’s new Prime Fall Season Event, which is expected to take place next month, will likely spur many to kick off their holiday shopping earlier than in years past. 

Some consumers have already started. Twenty-five percent of shoppers either began their holiday shopping in August or plan to begin shopping in September, according to Bankrate. Another 25 percent expect to begin in October, while only 40 percent plan to start shopping in the final two months of the year.

Consumers’ desire to snag holiday gifts before prices rise is the top reason that 37 percent of U.S. shoppers (and 42 percent worldwide) plan to start buying gifts earlier this year, according to Salesforce. Click here to read the full story from eMarketer.

Gartner Predicts Conversational AI Will Reduce Contact Center Agent Labor Costs by $80 Billion in 2026

By Staff
Monday, September 12, 2022 3:41 PM By 2026, conversational artificial intelligence (AI) deployments within contact centers will reduce agent labor costs by $80 billion, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner predicts that worldwide end-user spending on conversational AI solutions within contact centers will climb to $1.99 billion in 2022.

“Gartner estimates that there are approximately 17 million contact center agents worldwide today,” said Daniel O’Connell, VP analyst at Gartner. “Many organizations are challenged by agent staff shortages and the need to curtail labor expenses, which can represent up to 95 percent of contact center costs.”

Employee Shortage May Strain an Already Challenging Holiday Retail Season

By Staff
Friday, September 9, 2022 3:45 PM An employee shortage may put a strain on an already challenging holiday retail season. According to a recent survey from MultiMediaPlus, executives are scrambling to address staffing and wage issues on top of supply chain challenges. 

For the past 3 years, the retail industry has faced significant product shortages due to COVID-19 cutting off the supply chain. This, compounded with staffing shortages and employees reluctant to return to the workplace, employers are increasingly worried about keeping up with demand. 

Executives were asked what their focus has been heading into the fall season. Fifty percent responded that staffing and wage issues were their greatest focus this fall, with supply chain issues coming in at 28 percent and global events and gas prices coming in at 15 percent. 

More than 45 percent of respondents noted that employee training will be their Q4 focus. Task management for employees came in at 25 percent.

Employers will be making strides to improve their employee development with 27 percent noting that operations training is their top priority in 2023 followed by leadership development and product knowledge.