Unemployment and Underemployment
The struggle of the global economy remains a hot topic in business, with unemployment and underemployment often emerging at the forefront of political discussion. In the United States, recent surveys put the unemployment rate at 7.4 percent. This figure is significantly lower than it was at the height of the recession in late 2009, when American unemployment exceeded 10 percent.
However, the vast majority of jobs created since the recession have been part-time positions offering relatively low pay. As such, some economic analysts estimate that the underemployment rate in the United States is more than twice as high as the official unemployment figures. Recently, this has fueled much political discussion regarding the increase of minimum wage, with large corporations such as Wal-Mart and McDonald’s bearing the brunt of political dissatisfaction among consumers.
The city of Detroit, Michigan is perhaps the starkest example of America’s economic woes. Due to the floundering automobile industry, Detroit was hit especially hard by the recession. The city recently made headlines when it filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy on July 18, 2013, making it the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Online Privacy and Security
With Edward Snowden’s recent revelations about the NSA surveillance program, personal privacy is at the forefront of many consumers’ concerns. Forced to comply with the NSA’s surveillance demands, tech giants such as Google and Microsoft have been struggling to maintain consumer trust. At the same time, tech companies who focus on user privacy and data security are experiencing a drastic increase in consumer relevance. This includes private search engines such as DuckDuckGo as well as anonymous e-mail and web browsing applications.
Green Businesses, Clean Energy
Ongoing concerns regarding climate change and dwindling natural resources are at the forefront of current issues in both business and politics. Increased government restrictions have forced many businesses to adopt more environmentally-safe practices in order to minimize resource consumption and reduce carbon footprints.
Some environmentally-minded businesses have used the current ecological climate to their advantage. For example, tech companies such as Google and Apple have been actively developing and advertising their green business practices in order to gain consumer respect while adhering to political demands. Relatedly, the market for solar energy is on the rise, with increasing numbers of both businesses and residencies installing solar panels for personal energy sustainability.
Perhaps the most striking example of an environmentally-minded business is Tesla Motors. Since 2008, the company has worked at revolutionizing the automobile industry by developing fully electric vehicles. Over the years, Tesla has garnered substantial publicity and investments, allowing them to develop the state-of-the-art Tesla Factory in Fremont, California, where the company has begun mass production of their Model S sedan. The Model S is part of Tesla’s business strategy to expand down-market, slowly penetrating the automobile industry with increasingly accessible all-electric vehicles. Virtually every major automobile manufacturer is following suit, developing economical hybrid and electric vehicles to secure their stake in the future market.