The Indicator from Planet Money - Cold Fronts, Propane And New Jobs - Indicators Of The Week

For our indicators of the week, we're talking about shortages of heating sources during the recent cold snap and trends amongst unemployed Americans.

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Hi, happy indicators of the week Friday Stacey. Thank you. Happy indicators of the week to you to where are you? That is an excellent question. I am at a restaurant close to my house called X. It's 28°, by the way, I just ordered like coffee and a bunch of I don't know what I ordered have the menu for so yeah, let's let's start this thing. This is the indicator from Planet Money. I'm part of Asia and I'm Stacey Vanek Smith and I would pick what we thought were the most striking indicators that we came across and now we're going to share them right after the break and hopefully after Stacy's Taco order has arrived. I will try to finish my tacos for the next 30 seconds.

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They see you got a taco order on the way and you got some indicators coffee a new classical new classical outdoor dining. There's not really indoor dining. There's a tiny bit. But like I'm looking inside of the restaurant and like I don't see anybody sitting inside. I think a lot of people just not really comfortable eating inside yet. So most dining is happening Outdoors where it is Bridget currently snowing and freezing and it's just been really really hard on restaurant. And so my number is more than 50% That's my indicator. And that is the number of people in the US to get their heat from either propane or natural gas. And the reason is that is especially important right now is the Griffin crazy weather happening all week in all parts of the country like kind of unprecedented weather especially like in Texas and a lot of people have lost access to natural gas and propane.

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And thank you.

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Are the tacos here? Thank you. My soup is here. Thank you anyways, so as this like inclement weather has, 200 million Americans apparently dealing with like weather warnings of some kind the kind of extreme weather and all of those people have been cut off from heat a lot of it because of shortages of natural gas in the case of Texas. I think some of the pipes are frozen cuz they're not prepared for this level of cold and also their huge propane and natural gas shortages in the midwest Justice people are trying to use so much heat to like counteract this weather and also because I am sitting right beside a big propane heater outside of this restaurant and restaurants have been like fine up, you know, those tall propane heaters like crazy just to try to stay open and try to get some business through the winter. Meanwhile, like natural gas prices are going up. So there's just a real shortage of natural gas and propane and

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My indicator of the week it's just all these kind of needs converging at once. We just are using this sort of I know that the word impressive and it gets really are using a propane and natural gas and people are suffering from shortages of it now because when the pandemic started and as it is continue a lot of people have hope that essentially the economy could reorient itself for a little while, right so we can't eat indoors to have some social distancing but you can eat outdoors and maybe just like put in propane heaters or whatever and just a reminder that the real world sometimes interferes with those nicely laid plans because reorienting the economy can lead to shortages of the thing that suddenly everybody need light propane or other sources of energy or just a weighted to stay warm. Everybody needs a way to stay warm right now because so many parts of the country but hit and soda

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Are shortages of these kinds of energy that it's incredible just melted cheese cheese. I feel a little guilty because I am warm and cozy inside my recording closet and Shear is my indicator light indicator is 2/3 that is a share of unemployed people who were surveyed by Pew research who said that they have seriously consider changing their occupation or their field of work in tirely so not just going back to work in the field that they were already working in before they lost their jobs. They're considering completely changing their lives and working in a different occupation or a different field. So he is such a dramatic such a surprisingly High number, you know what I mean?

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Things like that. Is that mostly wear that number is coming from possibly. I mean what we know is that low-wage job suffered way more job losses, right? So a way higher share of people who are unemployed because of Cove in our people in low-wage jobs, and it was interesting to me because there were both negative and curiously some positive responses to the survey. So the negative ones are definitely the ones to focus on right now, which is it people who are unemployed or reporting higher levels of emotional and mental health anxiety and suffering, you know, they're reporting that they're having no lot more fights with their loved ones and things of that nature and of course, we do from an economic point of view that it's just really hard to be unemployed because you lose your income and you might lose your skill sets overtime in your contacts do fingers for years like the effects of losing your job. Like even when you get your job back like you can lose years of learning and it's like really really hard on people in all kinds of ways.

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Yeah, there's a ton of suffering and I think it's right that the focus beyond that right now. But the reason I find this statistic so interesting that people are thinking about changing their occupations entirely is it some of the people in the survey also had some positive responses. So for example,

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Don't forget your food. So for example more than 60% of people have said that they have spent their time on unemployment trying new hobbies and trying out new interest and really red baking. Oh, I don't know. They didn't get the details more than half of people have said that they have actually enjoyed not having to work for a while and part of the reason I think is that you know, I think all of us could use a break sometimes and it's been a really tough here and it also seems that people are now enthusiastic about trying new things after this horrible pandemic is over until I think of the two-thirds of people who want to try something new and I can buy it with some other trends like the huge boom in startups huge rise in people who are working from home and the huge numbers of people who are also moving to a new place and it seems like if there was one tiny tiny tiny silver lining

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From this horrible pandemic. It's that on the other side of it. A lot of people will be testing new things. Right? They'll be changing their lives. They'll be trying to tell you no come up with new ways of doing things new ways of working possibly starting new companies. And so they were forced to do this by the most horrible circumstances, but that could yield some unexpected and positive outcomes and I am holding onto that little bit of Hope because things are still kind of sleep right now, but they might get better in the long run. You know, it could be like a pivot point for people where they try something or take a risk that they might not have otherwise taken. So those are our two indicators of the week one invite all our listeners to send in their own indicators if they want to answer in Decatur at NPR. Org and we are going to be doing this every Friday except of course for job site is Friday.

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Says he's got some suggestions for indicators of the week that we can steal from you go ahead and send them to us. And otherwise, thanks for listening. This episode of the indicator was produced by Brittany Cronin. In fact check by SanSai indicator is edited by Patty Hearst and it is a production of NPR.

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