USVI: Unplug from the American political TV drama…

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Today Stitch Fix (Nasdaq: SFIX), an online firm that provides personal style recommendations using data analytics, announced 330 layoffs as online usage fell off in the face of what the company terms as waning demand for certain customer items, decreasing customer growth in light of declining expectations, and decreasing revenues.

I first saw the layoff notice in my news feed on LinkedIn and took note as to how laid off workers are synthesizing the news of their layoffs with shoutouts to their networks and asking people to keep them in mind for any opportunities that arise.

Heading back into the workforce is foreboding and even with unemployment at a low 3.6%, the search for work can be physically excruciating and emotionally taxing.  It was touching to see people on LinkedIn not only ask for help for themselves but for fellow workers who now must hit the pavement to look for work.

The job hunt takes on greater pain as these workers also face higher prices in grocery stores and at gas stations.  Consumer prices were up 8.3% year-over-year last April.  I am not a forecaster so I won’t hazard a guess at what the May 2022 number may be.  That is due out tomorrow June 10th at 8:30 am.

Meanwhile, Americans, at least those Americans not in a grocery store or gas line, have been distracted by the televised portion of the House hearings on the January 6th attack on Capitol Hill. We all expected an investigation and live televising of the hearing (this is the era of C-SPAN), but what gets me is the intensity of audience interest in the proceedings.

For example, my friends back home in the Virgin Islands are over-indexed on the January 6th House hearings.  Virgin Islanders confuse being an unincorporated territory of the Unted States with being a part of the United States.  The drama of these hearings should not distract the territory from annoying electricity blackouts, increased food and gas prices, and threats of unemployment. 

Granted, Virgin Islanders are a resilient people.  Five years ago, the territory was pummeled by hurricanes Irma and Maria and the territory survived.  And the territory has survived its share of recessions.  Again, another walk-in-the park   

However, residents of the territory should not expend any emotional energy on the political drama of a country that forgets you exist and does not allow you to vote for president seems to take higher priority.

The USVI should remain mindful that the economic pain that flows through the United States eventually hits the unincorporated territory.  I still remember vividly the 1974 recession where my father was laid off and had to hit the pavement looking for work.  Networks are tight. Opportunities tighter. 

The USVI should spend less time focusing on American political drama and more time using politics to carve out more economic opportunities.

Alton Drew

9 June 2022           

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