Trending News for May 12

Job Openings at 8.1M Record High; Tom Cruise Returns 3 Golden Globes; Michael Jordan’s Last Text with Kobe Bryant; Chicago Fire Depts. Making Vaccine House Calls; 17-year Cicada Swarm Arriving in South of Chicago and the Midwest


Job Openings at 8.1M Record High, but Companies are Struggling to Hire Employees

There is a growing demand for workers as more Americans are vaccinated, and states reopen their economies.  According to the data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) of the Labor Department, the number of job vacancies increased to 8.12 million starting March, the highest in data that dates back to 2000. The figure rose from February with upwardly revised 7.53 million jobs that opened. 

“The increase puts job openings 16% over pre-crisis levels and points to surging labor demand as the economy reopens,” said Daniel Zhao, a senior economist at Glassdoor.

However, many companies are encountering difficulties in hiring new employees, and the report showed that job vacancies exceeded hires by a staggering 2 million. This large gap is the highest ever recorded in the US economy. The National Federation of Independent Business reported that about 44% of small businesses have said they could not fill open jobs in April. Labor shortages are felt in several industries, including hotels, bars and restaurants, manufacturing, construction, and retail businesses. 

Experts analyzed that there could be several reasons for the labor shortage. One is the lack of available child care. Second is the lingering fear of contracting COVID-19. Another reason is the $300-a-week federal unemployment benefits. 

Following the release of the Labor Department’s April payroll report, the debate over the sweetened jobless aid intensified last week. The data showed that employers added 266,000 jobs last month, missing the 1 million forecast by Refinitiv economists. 

On Monday, President Joe Biden rejected a call by Republicans to stop, or significantly curtail, the $300 per week unemployment benefits extension included in the Administration’s American Rescue Plan. 

“We’ll insist that the law is followed with respect to benefits, but we’re not going to turn our backs on our fellow Americans,” Biden said. “Twenty-two million people lost their jobs in this pandemic, through no fault of their own. For many of those folks, unemployment benefits are a lifeline.”


Tom Cruise Returns 3 Golden Globe Award Trophies

The backlash thrown against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) continues to escalate. A source close to Tom Cruise told CNN on Monday that the actor has returned all three of his Golden Globe Awards trophies to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The move came amid the diversity issues hurled at the HFPA, the organization behind the Golden Globes. 

Cruise, 58, had previously won three awards for Best Actor in the movies – Born on the Fourth of July awarded in 1990, Jerry Maguire in 1997, and Best Supporting Actor in the movie Magnolia in 2000. 

HFPA is an elite group of 87 international journalists that determine the nominees and winners of the Golden Globe Awards. The negative feedback against the organization started in February after a report by the Los Angeles Times highlighted the organization’s lack of diversity in its membership, the absence of black members to be specific, and ethical questions related to financial benefits to some of its 87 members.

Adding to the heat of the protest, NBC announced on Monday that it would not broadcast the show in 2022. Before NBC’s announcement, several actors, like Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson, also called for Hollywood to refrain from participating in events sponsored by the HFPA.

“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right. As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes,” said NBC in a statement to CNN Business.

On its website, the HFPA released a statement pledging to implement a change:

“Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly — and as thoughtfully — as possible remains the top priority for our organization. We invite our partners in the industry to the table to work with us on the systemic reform that is long overdue, both in our organization as well as within the industry at large.”


Michael Jordan Shares Last Text Message Exchange with Kobe Bryant

On May 15, the legendary basketball star, the late Kobe Bryant, will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and Michael Jordan has accepted the honor to be the presenter.

Chosen by Bryant’s family, Jordan is expected to deliver a speech, just like he did in February of 2020, at the Los Angeles Lakers legend’s memorial service at the Staples Center. As Saturday’s induction event approaches, Jordan shared with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan his final text messages exchange with Bryant before the Lakers’ guard’s deadly helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020. The tragic incident killed Bryant, Gianna, his 13-year-old daughter, and six other passengers.

The exchanges below are what they said to each other on Dec. 8, 2019, in what turned out to be their final conversation:

“This tequila is awesome,” Kobe texted, referring to Jordan’s Cincoro Tequila which was gifted to Bryant at the product launch.

“Thank you, my brother,” Jordan replied.

“Yes, sir. Family good?” Kobe responded.

“All good. Yours?”

“All good.”

Then Jordan initiated the topic about Bryant coaching his daughter’s basketball team.

“He was really into coaching Gigi. So I hit him up about that,” Jordan shared with MacMullan.

“Happy holidays,” Jordan texted back, “and hope to catch up soon. Coach Kobe??!”

“I added that little crying/laughing emoji,” Jordan laughs.

“Ah, back at you, man,” Kobe texted. “Hey, coach, I’m sitting on the bench right now, and we’re blowing this team out. 45-8.”…

“I just love that text,” Jordan says, “because it shows Kobe’s competitive nature.”

Jordan, 58, is a six-time NBA champion. He knows that he’ll get teary-eyed come Saturday. It is known that he was like an older brother to Bryant, and the two have maintained a close relationship since they shared the court.

“I was thinking, at first, I might be a little somewhat nervous about it, but then I realized I’m not going to be nervous about showing emotions for someone I absolutely loved,” said Jordan to ESPN. “That’s the humanistic side of me—people tend to forget I do have one.”


Suburban Chicago Fire Departments Making Vaccine House Calls to Housebound Residents

The Naperville Fire Department has teamed up with the DuPage County Health Department to vaccinate residents who are not able to leave their houses to go to designated vaccine sites due to illness or disability. The move to vaccinate homebound residents significantly increases the chance to achieve the state of herd immunity.

More and more suburban Chicago health and fire departments have partnered up to take on the challenge of doing house calls to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I think the fire department in every community is uniquely positioned to be able to deliver these [vaccinations],” said Division Chief John Sergeant of the Naperville Fire Department. “One: We have the personnel. Two: We have familiarity with the people in the community. We know the situations that they’re facing.”

One resident of Naperville, David Good, said his mother, Shirley, a senior, has moved into his home.

“My mom gets around with a walker, and getting her out of the house would be quite a process,” said Good.

Good scheduled his mother online at his local county website for a homebound vaccination, and on Tuesday afternoon, two Naperville firefighters visited his home to provide the shot to his mother. The fire department is using the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for homebound vaccinations.

“I have to go out shopping and some stuff for work, so it’s nice to know that when I come back home that she’s protected,” Good said.

Meanwhile, the Will County health department workers are currently doing homebound vaccinations with local fire departments serving as backup.

“It’s time we got to the homebound people that were unable to get out initially. So this service is catching on to a lot of places,” said Lonnie Polhemus of the Will County Health Department.

To register for homebound vaccinations, visit these county health department websites:
Will County: https://willcountyhealth.org/vaccine-locations/
DuPage County: https://dupagecountyhealth.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_aWvLTI8cITCzttA

Back in March, Mayor Lori Lightfoot tasked the Chicago Fire Department to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to homebound seniors.

“Since the start of the pandemic, seniors have been the most vulnerable to serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, which is why they have been prioritized for vaccines. We know that vaccinating older residents has the biggest impact on preventing COVID-19 deaths.” Said Allison Arwady, a Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.


17-year Cicada Swarm Arriving in South of Chicago and the Midwest in 2 Weeks

The 17-year periodical cicadas are returning to the Midwest, including some Illinois counties south of Chicago, in a swarm of 1.5 million cicadas per acre. This event is one of the most amazing and bizarre natural phenomena.

“You’re going to see them everywhere. They’re going to be screaming at you,” said Allen Lawrance, an Associate Curator of Entomology at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.

Trillions of Brood X periodical cicadas will start crawling out of the ground in about two weeks throughout the Midwest. The cloud of bugs will fill the air with ear-splitting noise. Unlike the greenish and more common annual cicadas, periodical cicadas that emerge every 17 years can be identified for their transparent wings, black bodies, short and bristly antennae, and bold red eyes. Its respiratory system has ten pairs of spiracles; two are found on the thorax and eight on the abdomen. Both the annual and periodical cicada species are edible.

The brood will emerge in a handful of downstate Illinois counties on the Indiana border about 60 miles from Chicago but will be most intense in Indiana and Ohio.

“Brood X is slated to emerge this year. It’s the largest brood in the country,” said Lawrance. “Trillions of cicadas will be emerging, (in) upwards of 15 states.”

“It can seem biblically like a plague,” said Lawrance. “However, they’re not really causing damage. They are providing food sources for birds and other wildlife, recycling nutrients into the soil. So it’s actually a grand natural phenomenon we get to experience.”

The periodical cicadas live above ground for only a month, flying and mating. They will leave their eggs on the ground that will hatch into the next brood that will emerge in 2038. In case you miss this summer’s cicadas show, another brood of 17-year cicadas is set to emerge throughout the Chicago area in 2024. Brood X is actually smaller and quieter than the annual cicadas that will appear throughout Chicago later this summer.

“Chicago should be overloaded with cicadas in 2024,” said Lawrance.