Quotes of note
“For instance, men are mistaken in thinking themselves free; their opinion is made up of consciousness of their own actions, and ignorance of the causes by which they are conditioned.” -Baruch Spinoza
“We ought not to endeavor to revise history according to latter day notions of what things ought to have been, or upon the theory that the past is simply a reflection of the present.” -Russell Kirk
On Our Desks
Education change: In his weekly column, Kyle Wingfield debunks some popular claims by school choice opponents about private school.
At the Capitol
Hot air: A bill that would prohibit city and county governments from regulating gas-powered leaf blowers differently than electric leaf blowers was discussed in the House Governmental Affairs subcommittee. The legislation was introduced after a rise in local government regulations across the state against the “louder” gas-powered blowers.
Mental health: The House Health and Human Services Committee held its second hearing on the mental health omnibus bill. Provisions in the bill continue to be debated and a vote has not yet been taken to advance this legislation out of committee.
Bear market: After Russia’s announcement late Wednesday night of its invasion of Ukraine, the Dow dropped 700 points at the market’s opening Thursday. Oil prices rose by more than $7 per barrel. Benchmark U.S. crude was at $99 per barrel on Thursday. The Russian ruble fell by 7.5% against the dollar Wednesday night, but recovered by 2.5% on Thursday morning.
Back to work: According to the Georgia State Economic Forecasting Center, Georgia’s state job growth should return to its pre-pandemic level in the coming months. Forecasters believe coronavirus is now on the backburner with other headaches such as inflation, interest rates and energy costs taking precedence.
Back to the skies: Passenger traffic at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is slowly recovering from the effects of the Covid shutdowns and travel restrictions, reports Global Atlanta. In 2021 the airport hosted 75 million travelers, a 76% increase from the low of 42 million in 2020 but still substantially lower than the pre-pandemic record of 110.5 million passengers in 2019. Although international travel originating from and ending in Atlanta has been slower to rebound, cargo moving through the airport hit a record 730,000 metric tons, due to an increase in dedicated shippers and improved cargo infrastructure.
Permit Pinch: Georgia food truck operators are spending large sums of money to satisfy permitting requirements, according to Fresh Take Georgia. In addition to a business license, the Georgia Department of Public Health requires a health permit and a separate health inspection for each county in which the truck operates. Because Georgia has 159 counties, 29 of which comprise the Atlanta metro area, the cost adds up rapidly. One owner reported paying over $2,000 for permitting to operate in only three counties, plus all of the inspections.
Market watch: Atlanta finished 2021 with another record-setting month of home prices. According to the latest Case-Shiller home price indices, home prices were up 21.9% year over year in December. That makes the fourth record-breaking month in a row.
Land rush: Atlanta was the largest U.S. market for the share of homes bought by investors in the fourth quarter of 2021, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports. Investors, running the gamut from private equity to individual landlords, bought 32.7% of all homes purchased in the final three months of last year. Nationally, investors bought up $49.9 billion in homes during the quarter, accounting for 18.4% of home sales. Just behind Atlanta were Charlotte (32.1%), Jacksonville, Fla. (29.8%), Las Vegas (29.2%) and Phoenix (28.4%).
Good news: Total hospitalizations from COVID-19 are on the decline. Hospitalizations related to the virus represent only 13% of total hospital patients across Georgia. At least 55% of Georgians are now fully vaccinated.
Long haul: The effects of “long Covid” may explain part of the lag in the number of people in the workforce, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Common symptoms of post acute sequelae SARS-CoV-2 infection or PASC include extreme fatigue, pain, shortness of breath and brain fog that come and go irregularly, making full-time employment difficult. Experts estimate that between 10-30% of Covid survivors experience this after-effect. The most recent survey by the Census Bureau indicates that more than 250,000 people in Georgia are either out sick themselves or are caring for someone who is. Kathryn Bach of the Brookings Institution estimates conservatively that 45,000 Georgians are out of work due to long Covid.
COVID-19: The Georgia Department of Public Health reports COVID-19 cases, deaths and vaccination rates on its website here.
Have a great weekend.
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