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Which metro areas have fared better in the COVID-19 rebound?

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in March 2020, the U.S. economy was riding the crest of a decade-long expansion. The Brookings…



By Alan Berube, Eli Byerly-Duke

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in March 2020, the U.S. economy was riding the crest of a decade-long expansion. The Brookings Metro Monitor found that from 2009 to 2019, 179 of the nation’s 191 largest metro areas had posted growth in jobs, adult employment rates, and median earnings. While that growth did not consistently close significant economic gaps by race and place, a tightening labor market in the late 2010s seemed to finally be spurring more inclusive outcomes in many metro areas. 

That momentum dissipated nearly overnight. Between February and April 2020, the U.S. economy shed 22 million jobs—nearly 15% of total employment. Shortly thereafter, Brookings Metro began to track the local impacts of the pandemic economic crisis in our Metro Recovery Index. Over the succeeding 12 months, the Index revealed significant differences in the pace of the economic rebound across metro areas, with local trends in the labor market and other indicators of economic activity often tracking the ups and downs of successive COVID-19 waves. 

Now, a little more than two years removed from the pandemic’s onset, we are revisiting the data to see whether metro area economies are truly back on their feet, even as their residents continue to navigate the effects of a persistent virus and the more recent challenge of inflation. While the data does not yet tell us much about who is benefiting—or not—from the recovery (e.g., by race, gender, age, or other demographic characteristics), it does indicate where the recovery has been stronger and weaker. The picture, as ever, remains mixed. 

Most metro areas still have fewer jobs and higher unemployment than before the pandemic 

The U.S. economy has posted a stronger, faster jobs recovery than almost anyone anticipated in the spring of 2020. Starting in May 2020, the economy added an average of nearly 900,000 jobs per month over the subsequent 22 months. Nevertheless, there were still 1.2 million fewer jobs economy-wide in March 2022 versus just prior to the pandemic—equivalent to a 0.8% decline. 

Not surprisingly, then, most of the nation’s largest metro areas still fall somewhat short of their pre-pandemic job totals (Map 1). Of 191 U.S. metro areas with populations of at least a quarter million, 121 (63%) had fewer jobs in March 2022 than in February 2020. In many of these metro areas, the jobs shortfall was relatively minor, similar to the national average. A dozen metro areas, however, had at least 5% fewer jobs than before the pandemic, including several in the Eastern Great Lakes area, and a couple (Honolulu and New Orleans) in which significant tourism sectors have not fully rebounded. 

By the same token, there were a handful of metro areas that posted significant job gains over pre-pandemic levels. Most were in states whose economies and populations were growing quickly prior to the pandemic, such as Idaho, Florida, Texas, and Utah. Indeed, the rate of job growth a metro area experienced from 2010 to 2019 alone explained more than one-third of the variation in metro area job trends over the two-year recovery period.  

However, patterns in metro area unemployment rates were quite different. Similar to the jobs trend, 116 metro areas (61%) overall had a higher unemployment rate in March 2022 than prior to the pandemic. However, the metro areas with the largest increases in unemployment included not only tourism-dependent economies (including Atlantic City, N.J. and Las Vegas, in addition to Honolulu and New Orleans), but also several in Texas. Texas metro areas were gaining working-age residents even as jobs increased, slowing the decline in local unemployment. By contrast, several metro areas in states such as Indiana, Minnesota, and Ohio, where jobs recovered more modestly, nonetheless experienced reductions in unemployment rates compared to pre-pandemic. This seemed to be because their labor forces grew more slowly—or in many cases, shrank—likely due to a mix of retirements, out-migration, and people dealing with sickness (such as long Covid) or caring for family members.  

Trips to workplaces are still down everywhere, but retail vacancy has also dropped in many metro areas 

In the early stages of the pandemic, mobility data from Google based on users’ geolocation data showed that fewer than half of workers in many metro areas were traveling to their usual place of work. Nearly anyone who could work from home did; only essential workers made daily trips to their workplaces, risking exposure to COVID-19 in the process. These rates of workplace visits began to rebound in many metro areas in the summer of 2020, as many cities and states reopened restaurants and entertainment venues.  

Yet in metro areas with particularly large populations of office workers, trips to workplaces were slower to rebound, and remain well below pre-pandemic levels given the persistence of the virus and growing trends in remote/hybrid work. Not one of the 192 metro areas we analyzed had met or exceeded their January 2020 levels of workplace visits (Map 2). Yet that deficit ranged widely, from just 3% in Ocala, Fla. to 33% in the San Francisco Bay Area. In several other tech capitals—Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Jose, Calif., and Seattle—workplace visits were down at least 25%, reflecting what may be a permanent reduction in the prevalence of office work in tech industries. At the other extreme, a range of midsized metro areas around the country had workplace visits in March 2022 that neared pre-pandemic levels. This may indicate that these regions have relatively fewer office jobs that can be performed remotely, or a stronger cultural leaning toward in-person work. 

Regular travel to workplaces dropped in every metro area

Notwithstanding the across-the-board decline in regular workplace visits, retail vacancy rates in most metro areas (113 of 192, or 59%) are at least somewhat below their pre-pandemic levels. Many of these metro areas, particularly midsized ones, experienced a small initial rise in vacancies after the pandemic’s onset, which has since abated. Of the metro areas experiencing significant increases in retail vacancies, several are college towns—Ann Arbor, Mich.; Boulder, Colo.; College Station, Texas; Lansing-East Lansing, Mich.; and Santa Cruz, Calif.—in which the extended absence of students seems to have resulted in permanent business closures and challenges for landlords seeking to re-lease those properties. 

To be sure, the metro-wide figures tracked here tend to mask trends in big-metro submarkets—particularly, highly impacted central business districts. The often-cited Kastle Back to Work Barometer still shows only 43% office occupancy in the 10 cities where Kastle’s clients’ buildings are most highly concentrated. Many tech capitals are beginning to confront the need to rethink the role and design of their downtowns, which for the foreseeable future seem unlikely to serve as large a commuter class as they did before the pandemic.  

Rents and home prices are up nearly everywhere from pre-pandemic levels

In stark contrast to the Great Recession, which brought—and was brought on by—a crash in home prices, the pandemic recession fueled a run-up in residential real estate prices. Households sought more space as they stayed home more, took advantage of exceedingly low borrowing costs, moved to new locales for remote work, and/or repurposed savings once reserved for travel and entertainment to acquire more square footage.  

The upshot: Prices for homes and apartments rose nearly everywhere, albeit by varying degrees. The median listing price for homes was higher in March 2022 than March 2020 in 169 of 192 metro areas (88%), and the median apartment rent was higher in 146 of 148 metro areas (99%) for which data is available.  

Median home listing prices skyrocketed by 40% or more in metro areas, including second home/retirement destinations (several in Florida alone), secondary metro areas just outside large tech capitals (e.g., Bridgeport, Conn. outside New York; and Salinas, Calif. outside San Jose), and emerging hubs for tech growth and remote work (e.g., Austin, Texas; Boise; and Huntsville, Ala.) (Map 3). The small handful of metro areas where home prices declined since the pandemic’s onset were mainly places with older industrial economies in the Midwest (e.g., Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Toledo, Ohio) and South (e.g., Birmingham, Ala.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Roanoke, Va.). 

Home prices have risen in most metro areas

 Rents also jumped significantly in Florida metro areas, as well as in a wider set of Sun Belt destinations such as Albuquerque, N.M.; Asheville and Greensboro, N.C.; Killeen-Temple and Waco, Texas; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; and Riverside, Calif. By contrast, rents plateaued or even dropped slightly in some of the largest metro areas where tech and professional services jobs dominate: Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Several of these ranked among the regions experiencing the largest domestic out-migration during the first year of the pandemic, which appears to have alleviated the pressure on several previously overheating rental markets.  

Both home listing price and rental price trends in metro areas tracked closely with job trends; where jobs rebounded most strongly, price increases tended to follow. 

Rents are higher almost everywhere

 Toward convergence, or divergence? 

Two years on from COVID-19’s outbreak in the United States, our metro areas exhibit a wide spectrum of economic recovery. It remains to be seen, though, whether their diverse experiences will eventually narrow economic gaps across our places, further expand them, or leave us somewhere in between. 

 On the one hand, the pandemic has greatly impacted some of America’s most economically prosperous regions. “Superstar” metro areas such as Boston, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. have not posted strong job recoveries, their office workers have not returned in large numbers, and their rental markets have softened considerably. While there is understandable concern about what all this means for their continued ability to spur innovation and national growth, these regions could undoubtedly stand to become more affordable and accessible. Meanwhile, regions that have rebounded more strongly while remaining somewhat more affordable—such as Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Raleigh-Durham, and Utah’s Wasatch Front—could yet become more prominent drivers of national prosperity in the pandemic’s wake. 

On the other hand, the two years since COVID-19’s onset do not appear to have fundamentally altered the long-standing uphill battle for growth and prosperity in much of the nation’s heartland. Many of the same metro areas that were growing slowly before the pandemic—in regions such as the Great Lakes, Appalachia and the Piedmont, and the older industrial Northeast—continue to do so today. Their unemployment rates remain low mainly because they are losing working-age residents. Their downtowns, many of which were beginning to show new signs of life just before the pandemic, confront a difficult road ahead. These regions are most in need of a national response that invests in a broader geographic distribution of innovation-led, inclusive economic growth, through initiatives such as the Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge, the National Science Foundation’s Regional Innovation Engines program, and the proposed regional technology hub program in the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act.  

With potentially choppier economic waters ahead, the pace and character of our nation’s diverse metro area recovery bear continued monitoring and national policy responses. 


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Repeated COVID-19 Vaccination Weakens Immune System: Study

Repeated COVID-19 Vaccination Weakens Immune System: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Repeated COVID-19…



Repeated COVID-19 Vaccination Weakens Immune System: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Repeated COVID-19 vaccination weakens the immune system, potentially making people susceptible to life-threatening conditions such as cancer, according to a new study.

A man is given a COVID-19 vaccine in Chelsea, Mass., on Feb. 16, 2021. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

Multiple doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines lead to higher levels of antibodies called IgG4, which can provide a protective effect. But a growing body of evidence indicates that the “abnormally high levels” of the immunoglobulin subclass actually make the immune system more susceptible to the COVID-19 spike protein in the vaccines, researchers said in the paper.

They pointed to experiments performed on mice that found multiple boosters on top of the initial COVID-19 vaccination “significantly decreased” protection against both the Delta and Omicron virus variants and testing that found a spike in IgG4 levels after repeat Pfizer vaccination, suggesting immune exhaustion.

Studies have detected higher levels of IgG4 in people who died with COVID-19 when compared to those who recovered and linked the levels with another known determinant of COVID-19-related mortality, the researchers also noted.

A review of the literature also showed that vaccines against HIV, malaria, and pertussis also induce the production of IgG4.

“In sum, COVID-19 epidemiological studies cited in our work plus the failure of HIV, Malaria, and Pertussis vaccines constitute irrefutable evidence demonstrating that an increase in IgG4 levels impairs immune responses,” Alberto Rubio Casillas, a researcher with the biology laboratory at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico and one of the authors of the new paper, told The Epoch Times via email.

The paper was published by the journal Vaccines in May.

Pfizer and Moderna officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Both companies utilize messenger RNA (mRNA) technology in their vaccines.

Dr. Robert Malone, who helped invent the technology, said the paper illustrates why he’s been warning about the negative effects of repeated vaccination.

“I warned that more jabs can result in what’s called high zone tolerance, of which the switch to IgG4 is one of the mechanisms. And now we have data that clearly demonstrate that’s occurring in the case of this as well as some other vaccines,” Malone, who wasn’t involved with the study, told The Epoch Times.

So it’s basically validating that this rush to administer and re-administer without having solid data to back those decisions was highly counterproductive and appears to have resulted in a cohort of people that are actually more susceptible to the disease.”

Possible Problems

The weakened immune systems brought about by repeated vaccination could lead to serious problems, including cancer, the researchers said.

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Tyler Durden Sat, 06/03/2023 - 22:30

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Spread & Containment

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Banned By Major Social Media Site, Campaign Pages Blocked

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Banned By Major Social Media Site, Campaign Pages Blocked

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),




Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Banned By Major Social Media Site, Campaign Pages Blocked

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Twitter owner Elon Musk invited Democrat presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for a discussion on his Twitter Spaces after Kennedy said his campaign was suspended by Meta-owned Instagram.

Interesting… when we use our TeamKennedy email address to set up @instagram accounts we get an automatic 180-day ban. Can anyone guess why that’s happening?” he wrote on Twitter.

An accompanying image shows that Instagram said it “suspended” his “Team Kennedy” account and that there “are 180 days remaining to disagree” with the company’s decision.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. attends Keep it Clean to benefit Waterkeeper Alliance in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 1, 2018. (John Sciulli/Getty Images for Waterkeeper Alliance)

In response to his post, Musk wrote: “Would you like to do a Spaces discussion with me next week?” Kennedy agreed, saying he would do it Monday at 2 p.m. ET.

Hours later, Kennedy wrote that Instagram “still hasn’t reinstated my account, which was banned years ago with more than 900k followers.” He argued that “to silence a major political candidate is profoundly undemocratic.”

“Social media is the modern equivalent of the town square,” the candidate, who is the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, wrote. “How can democracy function if only some candidates have access to it?”

The Epoch Times approached Instagram for comment.

It’s not the first time that either Facebook or Instagram has taken action against Kennedy. In 2021, Instagram banned him from posting claims about vaccine safety and COVID-19.

After he was banned by the platform, Kennedy said that his Instagram posts raised legitimate concerns about vaccines and were backed by research. His account was banned just days after Facebook and Instagram announced they would block the spread of what they described as misinformation about vaccines, including research saying the shots cause autism, are dangerous, or are ineffective.

“This kind of censorship is counterproductive if our objective is a safe and effective vaccine supply,” he said at the time.

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Tyler Durden Sat, 06/03/2023 - 20:30

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Study Falsely Linking Hydroxychloroquine To Increased Deaths Frequently Cited Even After Retraction

Study Falsely Linking Hydroxychloroquine To Increased Deaths Frequently Cited Even After Retraction

Authored by Jessie Zhang via Thje Epoch…



Study Falsely Linking Hydroxychloroquine To Increased Deaths Frequently Cited Even After Retraction

Authored by Jessie Zhang via Thje Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

An Australian and Swedish investigation has found that among the hundreds of COVID-19 research papers that have been withdrawn, a retracted study linking the drug hydroxychloroquine to increased mortality was the most cited paper.

Hydroxychloroquine sulphate tablets. (Memories Over Mocha/Shutterstock)

With 1,360 citations at the time of data extraction, researchers in the field were still referring to the paper “Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine with or without a macrolide for treatment of COVID-19: a multinational registry analysis” long after it was retracted.

Authors of the analysis involving the University of Wollongong, Linköping University, and Western Sydney Local Health District wrote (pdf) that “most researchers who cite retracted research do not identify that the paper is retracted, even when submitting long after the paper has been withdrawn.”

“This has serious implications for the reliability of published research and the academic literature, which need to be addressed,” they said.

Retraction is the final safeguard against academic error and misconduct, and thus a cornerstone of the entire process of knowledge generation.”

Scientists Question Findings

Over 100 medical professionals wrote an open letter, raising ten major issues with the paper.

These included the fact that there was “no ethics review” and “unusually small reported variances in baseline variables, interventions and outcomes,” as well as “no mention of the countries or hospitals that contributed to the data source and no acknowledgments to their contributions.”

A bottle of Hydroxychloroquine at the Medicine Shoppe in Wilkes-Barre, Pa on March 31, 2020. Some politicians and doctors were sparring over whether to use hydroxychloroquine against the new coronavirus, with many scientists saying the evidence is too thin to recommend it yet. (Mark Moran/The Citizens’ Voice via AP)

Other concerns were that the average daily doses of hydroxychloroquine were higher than the FDA-recommended amounts, which would present skewed results.

They also found that the data that was reportedly from Australian patients did not seem to match data from the Australian government.

Eventually, the study led the World Health Organization to temporarily suspend the trial of hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients and to the UK regulatory body, MHRA, requesting the temporary pause of recruitment into all hydroxychloroquine trials in the UK.

France also changed its national recommendation of the drug in COVID-19 treatments and halted all trials.

Currently, a total of 337 research papers on COVID-19 have been retracted, according to Retraction Watch.

Further retractions are expected as the investigation of proceeds.

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/03/2023 - 17:30

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