Reynolds Weekly: July 8, 2019

by July 8, 2019

Each week, the Reynolds Center brings you story angles you can use in your local business coverage. (Image credit to gerald via Pixabay)
Massive heatwave rips through U.S., Europe

Over the Fourth of July weekend, temperatures rose to 90 degrees in the Alaskan town of Anchorage––a record high. High temperatures also ripped through the midwest and the Gulf Coast prompting heat advisories.

Temperature not only climbed stateside–– western Europe also experienced unseasonably warm temperatures. The mercury climbed to 113 degrees in France, (45 degrees celsius) and in Greece, it got so hot that Athenian authorities had to briefly shut down the Acropolis, a major tourism draw.

How to start your reporting:

Aside from the human and environmental toll climate change presents, it also has an enormous potential to impact the way we do business globally. The Reynolds Center has written before about how rising ocean waters and worsening natural disasters can impact global markets.

Virtually every corner of the planet has been impacted by the effects of climate change. In northern California, the fishing industry lost an entire of crop of muscles which were cooked in their shells in the heatwave. At the same time, iceberg lettuce in Salinas wilted en masse, causing prices on consumers to skyrocket to recoup the losses.

To drill down how climate change is affecting your local economy, look no further than your primary industry. Talk to experts and see how they’re adapting (or not adapting) industry methods. You can use a variety of online tools to track changes in weather patterns over time.

Hostel-style living takes hold in U.S.’s most expensive costal cities

Rent has been skyrocketing in cities across the U.S., and companies are taking advantage. PodShare, a company operating in L.A. and San Francisco, offers city dwellers dorm-style living for the price of what use to get you a one bedroom apartment––$1,200 per bed. 

The downpayment includes a bunk bed, a locker, a communal bathroom, some snacks and very little privacy. “Pod” dwellers tend to be young, and those who many not have the funds for a big deposit, or the credit needed to secure traditional housing.

But hostel-style living isn’t the only manifestation of precarious living situations born of necessity. Beyond the millennial “van life” or “tiny house” trends, a record number of Americans are living out of their vehicles, because they’ve been priced out of their apartments or homes.

How to start your reporting:

Affordable housing is a big problem in many cities. One of the best ways to gauge how your area is doing in terms of affordable housing, is to look at the rates of homelessness. Every January, cities across the county do an annual homeless count called Point-In-Time or PIT. Type in Point-In-Time homeless count and the name of your city into Google and you should find you cities results.

Another great resource are social service agencies like shelters and soup kitchens. Are they seeing an influx in families needed services? Finally, talk to developers in your city. Your county recorder website will have details on property sales. Give them a call and ask if the property will be affordable. If not, why? Maybe your city doesn’t incentive affordable housing, or perhaps an affordable housing project faced push back from your neighborhood association.

Amazon workers to strike on “Prime Day”

Amazon’s “Prime Day” is an annual discount extravaganza for Amazon Prime members, which is set to last for two days this year, July 15 and 16. Employees at a Minnesota shipping center are taking the opportunity to go on strike in protest of what they feel is an intense quota system, and Amazon’s reluctance to convert temporary workers into permanent employees.

How to start your reporting:

While the strike in Minnesota alone will have a negligible impact on sales, the strike could have a ripple effect, causing other fulfillment center works to strike. Beyond Prime Day, increased media attention to worker dissatisfaction at Amazon could create pressure to make changes. It’s worked before: Last year, the massive e-commerce giant was pressured into offering its employees a $15 starting wage. Monitor changes happening at your Amazon fulfillment center locally and see how it corresponds to the national conversation about increased wages and precarity workers.