This weekend begins the start of the summer tourist season in the U.S.
A lot of small towns around the country make their money for the year in the weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day, like farmers tending a crop that pays for the entire year at harvest.
That industry, and adjacent ones like hospitality and leisure, took it in the shorts last year.
The ones that survived rely on a steady supply of cheap seasonal labor, which is hard to find.
Meanwhile, we've cracked over half of American adults vaccinated, and Biden's consistent under-promising and over-delivering puts him on track to have 70% of Americans vaccinated by July 4.
Back at Wayne Manor, feds started hemming and hawing that a record 8.1 million jobs were available, but the unemployment rate actually went up a tenth of a percent.
For whatever reason you want to claim, about half of the states are opting out of federal unemployment programs early. (They were set to expire in September anyway, most states are ending their involvement sometime in June).
Not a lot of people are pointing out that this doesn't just affect the "extra" 300/week payment. It includes the program that allows gig workers to be on unemployment in the first place (they're normally unqualified for state programs).
Hrm. A large number of gig workers back on the market just as the tourist season kicks in.
Unfortunately, a good number of the real cesspits turned out to be in the restaurant industry. And while a good number of them did fail forever, almost every fast food joint with a drive-thru survived. Being able to isolate staff, prepackage food, and have minimal in-person contact was exactly what the market wanted, and they delivered.
Meanwhile, forcing grocers into disbursing "hero pay" to their employees by force of law backfired spectacularly in the areas that enacted it. Forcing people to operate in the red at gunpoint. Yeah, that'll learn 'em. Not that any of their champions are going to realize it's their fault when they start bitching about food deserts in those areas in a few years.
The other big hammer that kicks in at the end of June is when the eviction moratorium expires.
While a good move to make in the midst of a pandemic, fuckery has abounded around it.
On the one hand, at best the moratorium only prevented eviction for nonpayment of rent. Other reasons like lease violations or criminal activity on the premises were fair game. This led to the kind of Karening you'd expect.
On the other hand, there were also cases of people stimmied to the gills, more than capable of paying, saying ha ha fuck you the fed says I ain't gotta.
While I don't know how ugly it's going to get once courts start clearing the backlog, I can guarantee ugly.
I can also take a good guess that a lot of mom-and-pop landlords get out of the business entirely. It used to be that owning rentals was a decent side hustle for upper-middle-class professionals. Unfortunately, unless you were already a skilled handyperson, it was a recurring pain in the ass. And I can easily see a number of people who had been relying on these units as a supplement to pensions or such saying "Fuck you back. I'm out. Have fun dealing with the bank, jerkoff."
End of the day, I think we're going to see a big load of evictions and a lot more rental units owned by big companies. Which means a lot of people with hits on their credit report entering the market when more units are owned by folks less likely to cut you slack about such things.
Oh, and then there's the owner's market. It's looking more and more that one of the more reliable assets out there are higher-end and larger residential rental properties. Which means more companies buying houses because paying renters grant a better ROI than traditional blue chips. Especially with the volatility in the oil market, the chip shortage, and the worldwide struggle to pull out of pandemic mode.
So yeah, if you're trying to buy a house now, you're bidding against some brokerage firm, possibly multiple ones.
As for what it all means?
I think the tourist industries are going to have a good but not great season. There's enough people out there who have been cooped up with money to burn that they'll go out for the summer. But I think consumer spending's going to start going down in August as more people realize how ugly it's getting. At the same time, the chip shortage is going to make prices go up just as people don't have as much to spend on holiday retail this year, leading to a crap fourth quarter.
We might really wind up ripping the class divide wide open, resulting in a call for Biden to throw yet more spaghetti at the wall in the hopes he'll pull an FDR.
But it's just as likely we'll slowly course correct back into the hustle we spent the 2010's in, just trying to keep heads above water.
Take care of yourselves out there.