As of March 1st, 2021, the average number of unemployed Americans is 9.7 million people according to data released by the Labor Department today. The unemployment rate was 5% in January and February but increased to 7.8% in March on account of more than half a million people dropping out of the labor force over those two months. This brings us back to where we were during all of 2015 following an unprecedented drop in employment throughout 2014. Many economists had expected this stagnation of employment figures since wages have not increased with productivity for more than 40 years – wages are now less than half what they were four decades ago once you adjust them for inflation. This stagnation is partly due to outsourcing but also because many routine jobs that used to require humans can now be done by computers.
The rise of automation has led to concerns about income inequality in wealthy countries like the U.S., with middle classes struggling even in good economic times, much less when incomes decline during an economic downturn. Unfortunately, there is no sign that this trend will slow down any time soon – many white-collar professions are at risk of being replaced in favor of computers in the next several decades including not just routine jobs but also high-skilled jobs like law and medicine that used to require years of education to do. This highly automated future is one where most people will struggle just to get by while a few lucky many live very comfortable lives supported almost entirely by machines a handful will even become rich beyond imagination – owning vast fortunes of robots that they will use sparingly to maintain the illusion that they still need their exceptional abilities.
There is a silver lining in all this, however: unemployment figures have begun declining for the first time in four years. This is being partly driven by a good job market and increasing wages at entry-level service jobs where unskilled people can find employment. Many other countries around the world are noticing similar upticks in employment figures, but it remains to be seen whether or not these increases will hold out as more and more workers leave their routine jobs for better opportunities even if these new jobs aren’t nearly as well paid. These same countries have been dealing with increasing rates of since 2008 when The Recession hit which has only started to improve in the past few years.
In other news, a groundbreaking discovery about how to solve climate change was published today in the journal Science. Scientists have discovered a way to convert greenhouse gasses into energy that can be used as fuel or power machines. This is an incredible discovery for what seems like an impossible problem since all of our current solutions just mask the gas – getting rid of it entirely has always been considered impossible because it’s everywhere and we’re adding more every day. The new technology works by using special bacteria found growing naturally on rocks near volcanic vents deep under the ocean floor where they thrive despite not having any light or oxygen available at all. These bacteria were tested by scientists successfully converting carbon dioxide into methane which can be used not just as fuel but also as an important chemical that plants and other organisms need to grow.
Many scientists are concerned about the effects of testing this new technology on a large scale, however: The bacteria that produce the gas is only found where conditions are extremely harsh, so there’s no way it can be cultivated without taking over these habitats for its own growth. This isn’t merely conjecture – scientists have already noticed unusual patterns in some undersea rock formations they’re studying off the coast of Japan which could mean these “extremophile” bacteria are expanding their range on the seafloor rapidly because of our carbon dioxide emissions – if this continues unchecked within 100 years or so, mammals may face extinction because plankton won’t survive any longer. This discovery is more reason that we have to do our best to solve this problem as soon as possible – the consequences of not making a concerted effort could be unimaginably horrible.
Despite these concerns, however, there is some good news on that front: in March, an international panel of climate scientists reported in The Lancet that the Earth’s atmosphere may contain considerably less carbon dioxide than they thought just last year in September when they estimated 400 parts per million (ppm) – today’s findings show the atmosphere contains only 395 ppm which is encouraging for reasons beyond just this. If carbon dioxide levels continue dropping at their current rate, starting next year when new policies go into place, atmospheric concentrations will only hit 450 ppm by 2050 and will continue dropping until they reach the carbon dioxide levels our ocean bacteria evolved to survive on which is about 280 ppm. Meanwhile, some scientists are hopeful that this new technology may improve so drastically it will allow us to start using fossil fuels again without worrying about global warming – if anything can do this, surely this is it since many of these gasses would be converted into fuel or fertilizers immediately instead of building up in the atmosphere like they currently do today.
Amidst all of this good news, there is also some bad: while unemployment numbers are finally starting to decline after more than four years of stagnation and underemployment rates have begun trending downward for the first time in six years, new figures show income inequality has worsened slightly due to long-term unemployment. The good news is that the Unemployment Rate is now at its lowest level in six years as just 20 million people remain unemployed or under-employed which means more jobs are becoming available as their skills improve, but the bad news is that income inequality is slightly worse than last year and there is no guarantee it will continue improving without further reforms. Scientists believe this problem can be fixed with “aggressive redistribution” of wealth – something they say must happen within the next few decades if we want anything like a stable society by century’s end: if drastic change doesn’t happen soon, social tensions could threaten our way of life sooner than later.
Despite these problems, however, all hope has not been lost for 2021: in an exciting breakthrough in renewable energy, scientists have announced the development of a new type of wind farm that could power entire countries with clean energy. The turbines are built using an advanced hexagonal design that allows them to capture more powerful winds at greater altitudes – these new turbines can reach twice as high into the atmosphere, capturing much stronger winds that move faster and generate more electricity. This means they’ll produce roughly five times the amount of electric current compared to previous turbine designs which have been used since the early 2000s when modern wind farms were first developed.
These new turbines are also far cheaper to make than their predecessors because they require much less material to construct while being able to handle larger loads – in addition, this technology will offset greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 1.8 billion tons per year because these turbines will be built mostly in countries that are still developing using the same mass-production techniques developed for cars and other common appliances.
The implications of this breakthrough mean that similar designs could eventually power entire buildings soon, allowing people to produce their own electricity at home instead of purchasing it from a utility company – according to some predictions, wind power may even become cheaper than fossil fuels within the next decade which would lead to more widespread deployment across the globe. If these new turbines continue advancing as quickly as they have been, we might finally begin seeing large-scale switchover from fossil fuels to renewables within just five years’ time – something climate says is long overdue given what’s at stake.
Despite all of these exciting new developments, it seems likely that we’ll continue to experience a few setbacks before 2021 is over: while scientists have announced a promising new gene-editing technique that could potentially wipe out mosquito populations and stop the spread of Zika, Dengue Fever and Malaria, some say not enough research has been conducted yet to prove this will actually work in practice – others worry releasing genetically modified mosquitoes into the wild could lead to unforeseen consequences when they inevitably breed with other insects in nature (a recent study also found such lab experiments may be more dangerous than previously thought).
Predictions for 2021 are looking good overall, however: experts predict population growth will slow down significantly by then as death rates begin exceeding birth rates in less developed countries – this will lead to a major demographic shift in which more people die annually than are born, inevitably leading to a net population decline. This is thought to be a good thing because it could mean we’ll see significant improvements in living standards and life expectancy by 2021: while some experts assert that death rates must inevitably outpace birth rates eventually due to the natural progression of our species, others believe such an event may ultimately be avoidable with proper government intervention within the next few decades.
Scientists also predict that 3D printing will become widespread by 2021, something they say could change how we produce and purchase goods forever: instead of having to create complicated supply chains between multiple, manufacturers will simply use one printer to make many different items for household use – experts say this will increase the efficiency of production, eliminate waste and significantly reduce energy consumption. Finally, it seems likely that 2021 will mark a new era of space research as NASA has announced plans to put humans on Mars within the next decade, something they feel is necessary given changing climate conditions here at home: scientists say there’s no way we can ignore the effects of our actions on Earth while preparing an exploration budget for outer space since not studying why things are happening could lead to disaster once astronauts land on Mars or beyond.