POSSIBLE TRENDS
By Karl Arnold Belser
26 June 2020

TOWARD HERD IMMUNITY

The economies of many states have opened. The result has been an increase in the Coronavirus infections. However the median age for the infected is now about 35, rather than the age of 65 in April.  The news MEDIA still promotes fear. But the truth is that the death rate continues to fall. I think that this decline is because older people and those with health conditions are staying at home because they realize that they will die if they get infected.

Letting the Coronavirus spread without a lot of deaths appears to be a good step toward herd immunity. The only way lives can be saved is the development of a vaccine, which is not likely in the near future.

US ECONOMY

The applications for unemployment insurance has reached 47 million. Many of these newly unemployed people have gotten jobs such that the unemployment rate is more like 20%. The US stock market has been gradually rising to new highs in some cases. I think that this rise is because of the CARES money given to many people. The real test will happen when the free money and loan forbearances mandated by the government cease.

DE-URBANIZATION

Cities and residential suburbs came about because they allowed large groups of people with different skills to work together efficiently. Today a large part of the US population live in and around cities.

Computer networks and video conferencing now makes a distributed workforce competitive to cities. Certainly cities will not die, but there is a definite move to have people work from home. If this trend sticks even partially cities will be affected because some people and even businesses will move in order to lower costs.

The Coronavirus epidemic upstaged cost as the motivating factor for de-urbanization. Cities are crowded and it can be very difficult to prevent the spread of disease. Social distancing and the wearing of masks is not a viable method for controlling disease in the long run because it only slow disease spreading. I suspect that new diseases will continue to occur such that the crowded city life will become more risky especially for older people.

When people move to the suburbs or rural areas they may be able to lower their cost of living and raise the quality of living given that crowded parties and congested social events will be dangerous. The net might be that the individual car might become the safest form a transportation. People may also be comfortable with and enjoy having meals at home. This implies that restaurants and public transportation will be needed less. On line shopping and food delivery will also affect the local business environments by eliminating workers.

I have read that every worker in a city generates jobs for several, maybe up to 10, other workers. So when income generating workers leave a city many other people will have no work.  Cities like Seattle and San Francisco already have a large number of "street people". These people make the living conditions in cities undesirable, which is another motivation for people to leave.

A large part of the US workforce are service workers. I observe that this de-urbanization mega trend is going to cause a significant social problem for the United States.
      
Last updated June 30, 2020
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