August 23, 2023

Today's Topics

Hello! The sequel nobody was asking for... Fyre Festival 2 tickets have gone on sale, with tickets costing up to $7,999. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice... Today we're exploring:

  • Threading the needle: Meta's latest launch is losing steam.
  • The rare minimum: America's minimum wage is becoming irrelevant.
  • Bedroom boom: 4 or more rooms is becoming the norm in America.
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Raising brows(ers)

Threads users, fire up your desktops: Meta is launching a version of its text-based social media platform that can be used on web browsers. The new functionality will allow users to create, view, and interact with posts on their desktops — features that have been available on X, formerly Twitter, for years.

Threads is threatening X just as the company is going through its own upheaval. In July, Threads surpassed 70 million sign-ups in less than 48 hours, reaching 100 million users faster than any other app, while X owner Elon Musk initiated a company-wide rebrand just months after laying off ~80% of the company's workforce. But — despite stoking up a tech-billionaire rivalry that at one point looked like it would lead to a cage match — the initial hype surrounding Threads is waring thin.

Threadcount

A July report from data analytics company Similarweb showed that the number of daily active Android users on Threads dropped from 49 million to 23.6 million in a single week — equivalent to only 22% of X’s audience. It seems as though, even with Musk’s major changes often looking spontaneous, some good may have come from the chaos: X users have reportedly reached a ‘new high’ at over 540 million per month.

Maintaining the momentum behind a social media platform is hard (see Myspace, Friendster, Vine, Google+ and even BeReal) — behind-the-scenes posts from Mark Zuckerberg might not even be enough to keep Threads relevant.

Pay talks

As America’s job market continues to sizzle, conversations around increased compensation are generally getting louder: from bumper pay rises for UPS drivers and American Airlines pilots, to record-breaking $80k salary expectations for workers starting new jobs.

Rampant inflation typically hits low-income households the hardest, leading to some high-profile calls in recent months to up the $7.25 federal minimum wage, which hasn’t been changed since 2009.

The rare minimum

However, the pool of workers that would actually be impacted by amendments to the $7.25 figure has been steadily shrinking ever since it was first implemented 14 years ago. A variety of factors have played a part in what some see as the increasing irrelevance of the federal rate, including states taking matters into their own hands, raising minimums to match inflation, as well as workers demanding higher pay when they returned to a low-wage labor market upended by Covid.

In 2010, 1.8 million workers were taking home $7.25 an hour exactly, while 2.5 million — typically teenagers, workers with disabilities, and tipped staff — were earning less. Last year, those figures had shrunk significantly, with just 141,000 US workers on the federal minimum wage and a further 882,000 falling below that threshold.

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The bedroom boom

Nearly half of all newly constructed homes in 2022 boasted at least 4 bedrooms, according to the latest data from the US Census Bureau, as homebuilders work to keep up with demand for extra rooms. This surge has dethroned the long-standing foundation of America’s housing stock, the 3 bedroom house, which accounted for only 43% of the ~1 million new single-family homes that were built last year.

Snooze and zoom

The more bedrooms trend has been slowly developing for decades. As recently as the early 1980s, less than 20% of newly built single-family homes in the US had space for 4 bedrooms. As the country’s economy has grown, it seems intuitive that more families would be able to afford larger homes. More recently, the rise of remote work has given the trend newfound momentum — amid the workspace shift, these "bedrooms" might not always sport a bed, but a desk.

Interestingly, more recent data shows that the total floor area for new houses has fallen below pre-pandemic levels, suggesting perhaps a small reversal of the longer-term “bigger homes” trend — if it’s a toss-up between a slightly bigger living space or a spare bedroom or home office, homeowners increasingly seem to opt for the latter.

More Data

Shoe stealers: Foot Locker shares are down 34% at the time of writing after reporting a swing into the red, blaming a rise in shoplifting and theft — a trend also noted by Dick's Sporting Goods, which saw its shares fall 24% yesterday.

87% of US adults are “very” or “somewhat” interested in the possibility of a 4-day working week.

Where is my Rolex: thefts of the Swiss watches were up 63% last year, with some $1.3 billion worth of luxury watches reportedly stolen in 2022.

Spotify created a “bummer summer” playlist specifically for Gen Z, after it revealed the age group’s most searched term on the platform is “sad” — but ranks 13th for millennials.

Hi-Viz

• Great registrations: visual deep dive on America’s 8,291 license plates.

• Charting how the Trump indictments gave MSNBC a prime-time ratings boost.

Off the charts: Which international fast food chain that we were charting in July has announced the closure of 142 stores across Russia, following suit with McDonald’s and Starbucks in leaving the Russian market? [Answer below].

Answer here.

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