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NY won’t recover all pre-pandemic jobs until 2026: Hochul

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Happy days are far from here again — when it comes to New York’s lagging jobs recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s budget office released a sobering quarterly report that said New York State won’t recover all the jobs it lost during the COVID-19 outbreak until 2026.

The report, citing a worsening economic picture than projected just months ago, also admitted New York considerably trails the nation as a whole in post-pandemic jobs recovery.

“Although the nation has nearly recovered all its pandemic-related job losses as of June 2022, the State has only recovered 80.1 percent of its losses,” the quarterly budget report said.

“As a result of the downward revisions to the jobs growth forecast, the State’s employment is now expected to reach its pre-pandemic level in 2026.”

Previously state officials hoped New York would recover all its pre-pandemic jobs no later than 2025.

A report from the governor’s office revealed New York is far from recovering all the jobs the state lost during COVID.
AP
A person walks past a sign advertising job openings outside a retail store in New York, New York
Pedestrians walk past a sign advertising job openings outside a retail store in New York, New York.
EPA

New York was the nation’s hardest hit epicenter of the initial COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, disrupting much of the Big Apple’s economy. New York City’s hotel and tourism industry, largely dependent on domestic and global travel, has particularly suffered.

Hochul’s original budget plan released earlier this year said the hotel and tourism sector would take longer to recover than other parts of New York’s economy.

Democrat Hochul faces off against Republican Lee Zeldin in the governor’s race this fall. She took over as governor after three-term Democrat Andrew Cuomo resigned last year under the threat of impeachment amid a sexual harassment scandal.

People ride the escalators in the JP Morgan & Chase Co. building in New York October 24, 2013.
The grim report also revealed New York is behind the nation as a whole when it comes to post-pandemic recovery.
REUTERS

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World Cup fans choose party city Dubai over buttoned-down Qatar

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Football fan Chris Leek was born in 1958, the last time Wales qualified for the Fifa World Cup. “All I ever wanted was to see Wales in the World Cup — now I can be happy for the rest of my life,” he said of the principality’s participation in this year’s tournament in Qatar.

Leek plays alto saxophone with The Barry Horns, a brass band made up of 11 Welsh football fans. Seven of them have travelled to the Gulf to play at Wales’ matches in Qatar, not only to try to galvanise the crowd with their music but also to promote Welsh identity and independence from the UK.

But like thousands of other supporters, they have based themselves in nearby Dubai, the regional trade hub in the United Arab Emirates, making the tiring day-long trip to the Qatari capital Doha via hour-long shuttle flights connecting the cities during the tournament.

Fans from the participating countries have opted for Dubai’s lively nightlife scene over Doha’s buttoned-down atmosphere. Qatar’s last-minute decision to ban alcohol sales around the stadiums only served to underline the country’s more conservative culture.

The party atmosphere starts at Dubai’s two airports, where outlets have been so busy this week that some ran out of McDonald’s and Heineken beer.

Football fans watch a match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia on a large screen, at a fan zone in Dubai, United Arab Emirates © Hussein Malla/AP

Across the city, fan zones have been bustling with supporters from every nation, reflecting the diverse nature of Dubai’s expatriate population, which makes up 90 per cent of the 3.5mn population.

In the downtown financial centre, bankers have been swapping suits for football shirts to watch matches at its fan park, where companies have been renting out lounges at $5,500 for 20 people, which includes food and booze.

With 60 daily shuttle flights between Dubai and Doha, up to 350,000 people could be transported from the region’s tourism hub throughout the tournament, which expects to host about 1.5mn visitors.

The deluge of fans comes in the middle of Dubai’s tourism season, when visitors flock there in search of winter sun. The government-owned airport operator says passenger throughput has eclipsed pre-pandemic numbers, with traffic surpassing 6mn a month during the third quarter. Dubai’s Emirates airline has recorded a 228 per cent rise in passengers in its first-half results.

“Dubai has extremely strong demand at this time of year and I’m sure there will be people travelling through Dubai to the World Cup,” said Issam Kazim, chief executive of Dubai Tourism. “This tournament will be a boost for the entire region.”

But officials say the number of fans who are visiting the emirate with the sole purpose of catching games in Qatar is likely in the low tens of thousands, or the equivalent of an uptick in hotel occupancy of up to three percentage points. Many match tickets have been sold to expatriates in the Gulf, including some of the 100,000-plus Britons living in the UAE.

Many hotels are now operating at near full capacity anyway as travel demand has soared. In September, the last available statistics, average occupancy at the roughly 140,000 available rooms across the emirate was 71 per cent with the average daily rate around a quarter higher than 2019.

Dubai-based Expat Sport has brought in about 2,000 fans through its hotel and flight packages for supporters who have tickets to attend games in Qatar. Fans from South America, India and the UK are staying in the popular Palm Island district of Dubai, shuttling to and from Qatar on flights booked by the company, which also sells World Cup hospitality packages for UAE-based expatriates.

“There’s general excitement, it’s suddenly here,” said Sue Holt, executive director of the sports tourism group. “People who weren’t thinking about it are saying ‘why don’t we just go’.”

For visitors such as The Barry Horns’ founder Fez Watkins, Dubai also offered a chance to visit “amazing” clubs where the blend of south Asian and Arabic-influenced rhythms was “absolutely, mind-blowingly good”.

Local well-wishers have been lending the band sound equipment and drums for the matches in Doha as well as their gigs for expatriate enthusiasts at hotels and events at the British embassies in Qatar and Dubai.

The group, formed in 2011 when the national team’s fortunes were at a low point, plays tunes such as the military march “Men of Harlech” and Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough”, to raise the morale of the “Red Wall” of Welsh fans decked out in national colours and bucket hats.

“There have been a few hassles, but it’s been great overall — arriving at the airport with the fans from likes of Mexico and Argentina has been a joyful World Cup experience,” said Watkins.

“The World Cup has always been like a party we were never invited to. And now we’re finally part of it.”

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Whole Foods upsets Maine politicians with decision to stop selling lobster

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Whole Foods’ decision to stop selling Maine lobster has been cheered by environmental groups, but made politicians steaming mad.

The high-end grocery giant took lobster from the Gulf of Maine off the menu at hundreds of its stores nationwide, citing a pair of sustainability organizations yanking their support for the US lobster fishing industry.

The organizations, the Marine Stewardship Council and Seafood Watch, said they were concerned about the risks fishing gear posed to the endangered North Atlantic right whales. The whale population is estimated to be around 340.

The decision, revealed last week, has drawn ire from Maine, which boasts the nation’s largest lobster fishing industry.

In a joint statement, Gov. Janet Mills and the state’s four congressional legislators voiced their concern about the impact on local fishermen’s livelihoods and defended the state’s fishermen, saying they’ve been committed to sustainability and protecting right whales.

Whole Foods cited a pair of sustainability organizations yanking their support for the nation’s lobster fishing industry in their decision to stop selling the crustacean.
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“The Marine Stewardship Council, with retailers following suit, wrongly and blindly decided to follow the recommendations of misguided environmental groups rather than science,” the politicians said.

Whole Foods said that it is “committed to working with suppliers, fisheries, and environmental advocacy groups as [the situation] develops.”

With Post wires.

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How to leave Twitter but keep your followers

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Thanks to Elon Musk’s rather erratic approach to free speech, employee relations, subscriptions, parodies and disinformation, a lot of people have taken to Twitter to declare that they are leaving Twitter. They will find it hard.

This is not because Twitter is addictive; for most people it is not. It’s because Twitter gives them something they can’t get anywhere else — a set of connections with other users and the ability to reach them and be reached by them. If you could only get to one supermarket, you wouldn’t describe it as “addictive”. You’d describe it as a local monopoly.

Like many, I have departed for pastures new, namely Mastodon (you can find me on Mastodon’s EconTwitter server). But I’m sure I’ll still be tweeting, because I have nearly 200,000 people following me on Twitter. It’s an annoyance; it would be much better if I could bring them all with me to Mastodon. It’s an outrageous failure of public policy that I can’t.

To see this more clearly, imagine that I decided I didn’t want to stick with my mobile phone provider. After minimal paperwork, I could move to a different network. My friends wouldn’t even know I’d done it; I could keep the same phone and the same phone number.

Even if that weren’t true, my mobile phone is already vastly superior to Twitter in another respect: I can phone people whose phones are connected to different networks. It’s completely seamless; they may be on EE or Vodafone or O2, and it just doesn’t matter. A world in which you could only call people who used the same phone network as you would be the proverbial pain in the backside. It would also be, quite likely, a world in which the largest one or two networks became dominant — and in which many people felt obliged to carry two phones. Which, for social media power users who scurry between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn, might sound familiar.

The difference here is that the phone networks are interoperable in a way that Twitter simply isn’t. Not just the phone networks, either: Apple and Google make software that will read and write Microsoft Word files; you don’t need an Outlook account to send email to your Outlook friends and a separate Gmail account for your Gmail friends; I can send you a bank transfer even if your bank is different from mine.

Sometimes (as with email) this interoperability is by design. Sometimes (as with banks and mobile phones) it has been strengthened by regulatory rules. Sometimes it is a matter of competitive compatibility: Apple decided to make software that would play nicely with Microsoft Office, and Microsoft couldn’t do much to stop them.


As Rebecca Giblin and Cory Doctorow explain in their new book Chokepoint Capitalism, there is no technical reason why such portability cannot extend to the likes of Twitter and Facebook. A short essay written by Doctorow for the Electronic Frontier Foundation sketches out what it might look like.

First, you sign up for an alternative — a Mastodon server, perhaps. You give it your Twitter password. Twitter checks that you’re happy to allow the connection and that it’s not some hacker; then it notifies your friends that you’ve moved to Mastodon and asks if they’re happy for their tweets to be forwarded to you or not. (If you’d moved to the crazy town of Truth Social or Parler instead, they might refuse.)

Why did you move to a new service? Any number of reasons. Maybe the blue ticks are free over there, or the ads don’t rely on creepy surveillance, or you have more control over the kinds of things you see. Maybe the content moderation is more muscular. Or maybe the content moderation is nonexistent, and that’s what you’d prefer.

The point is, if Facebook and Twitter were interoperable with rivals, it would be easy to move and to bring your digital network with you. If your friends preferred the old social networks, they could happily stay there while still being able to reach you. And the whole arrangement would self-evidently encourage new competitors to enter the market, while pushing established players to raise their game.

Interoperability will often work best with some regulatory muscle behind it, and one approach (not the only one) is to legislate to establish a broad defence for the interoperators. If I, as a Twitter user, wish to sign up for a new interoperating service that uses my password to send my posts from Mastodon to Twitter, and pulls tweets from Twitter to Mastodon for me to view, then Twitter is not allowed to ban me or sue the interoperating service for doing so.

A world of interoperable social media would be unnerving to some. It might boost struggling rightwing platforms such as Parler and Truth Social. It would certainly make it much more difficult for social media companies to act as arbiters of what sort of speech is unacceptable. But it was never a good idea to give social media companies monopoly power over what can and cannot be said. And it was an even worse idea to let them put obstacles in the way of users who wish to bring their friends with them when they leave.

Tim Harford’s new book is “How to Make the World Add Up

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