Record High for Rentals in Manhattan

Have you always dreamed of living in the big city? Now may not be the time.

For the sixth month in a row, apartment rental prices in Manhattan have reached a record high. With the median rate last month at $4,150 per month, rentals have climbed 2.5% since June and a whopping 29% from just one year ago. Renters are currently shelling out an average of $5,113 per month.

According to Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants, rent prices are expected to soar even higher this month as August is generally peak season. It is unclear what to expect from September, though. If the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates with the hope to curb inflation, the possibility of a recession will become more of a reality. In this situation, layoffs would be expected and demand for Manhattan rentals may decline, which would likely result in an ease on prices. However, Miller expects that rent prices will continue to climb till the year’s end, perhaps at a slower rate.

While rentals are in high demand, the dream of many to become homeowners is being put on hold. Rising mortgage rates are making the possibility of buying now impossible for many. With the current average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage now at 5.81%, families are opting out. With less buyers, the rental market is seeing extra added pressure, contributing to the increase in rates.

As the economy continues fluctuate in so many areas, the housing market will swing along accordingly. With the end of year gradually approaching, it will be interesting to see what develops. As Miller has asserted, “…it is going to come down to external factors like unemployment and hard landing to see what happens next.”

Largest Four-Day Workweek Trial Underway

Recently, there has been a demand by employees to cut back on days in the office. After two years of the pandemic, people want to work from home, spend more time with loved ones, and just have more flexibility in general. While many companies have adopted the hybrid model to accommodate these sentiments, some have taken a more extreme stance.

For the past 8 weeks, the world’s largest four-day workweek trial has been running in England. About 3,300 employees from 73 different companies have taken on the task of producing 100% while working only 80%, still earning their regular salary. And while this endeavor does come with some inherent challenges, an overwhelming majority of participants are absolutely loving it.

The program is being spearheaded by the nonprofit “4 Day Week Global.” Andrew Barnes, the organization’s founder, has been advocating for a four-day workweek since 2017. In his own organization’s trial, he found that when working four days instead of the traditional five-day model, his employees demonstrated a productivity rate 25% higher than before.

During the initial stages, many companies struggled to set themselves up for the experiment. Samantha Losey, managing director at Unity public relations firm, called the first week “chaotic.” However, she explained, she and her team quickly instituted some systems that enabled continued productivity throughout the four-day workweek. All internal meetings are limited to 5 minutes, while client meetings end after 30 minutes. A “traffic light” system ensures workers are not interrupted unnecessarily – if a colleague’s desk light is set to green, they’re available for a chat; if the light is orange, they’re busy but available if needed; and if the light is red, they cannot be disturbed.

In addition to positive reports from employers, participating employees have given very favorable feedback. Many are appreciative of the extra time they can devote to other important things in their lives besides for work, such as family, mental health, exercise, and extracurricular activities.

It will be interesting to see continued outcomes from the big four-day workweek trial as time goes on. The results may have life-changing outcomes on work-life balance, company culture, employers, and employees.

“What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar?”

After 40 years on the market, the Klondike Choco Taco ice cream bar is being discontinued.

The company, which is owned by Unilever, explained that consumers have shown increased interest in many of its other products. In order to ensure enough supply of those items, Klondike has had to make significant decisions.

While the reasoning behind the decision is a positive one, nostalgic customers are disappointed. In addition to leaving a mix of disgruntled, funny, and emotional comments on Klondike’s Twitter account, fans have rushed to stores before it’s too late. Many shops have been bought out of Choco Taco.

If it is any consolation, Klondike has alluded that there is hope that the beloved ice cream bar will make its way back to ice cream trucks in the future. In the meantime, people can continue to enjoy the summer with the signature Klondike bar, as well as cones and shakes.

PepsiCo Will Open Its Largest US Facility

In a time where unemployment is on the rise, news about companies expanding or opening new facilities is exciting. Last week, PepsiCo Beverages North America (PBNA) announced it will be opening a massive manufacturing facility in the Denver High Point development zone. The 152-acre area will house a 1.2 million-square-foot factory, creating an estimated 250 jobs.

The company has set high standards for the new facility. The plant is slated to reach 100% renewable energy, achieve top quality water efficiency, and minimize use of plastic. It is expected to be the largest and most sustainable PepsiCo plant in the US.

In a statement put out by the president of PBNA’s West Division, Johannes Evenblij expressed his excitement over the plans and appreciation for its location. He stated, “We’re thrilled to call Denver, a city that shares so many of our values, home to PepsiCo’s most sustainable US plant location. With the High Point facility serving (as) a model for the future of PBNA’s supply chain, we’re eager to continue deepening our dedication to Colorado through positive impacts such as new job opportunities and more sustainable business solutions.”

The combination of new employment prospects with efficient and healthy business practices yields positive opportunities for growth. It will be exciting to follow the progress of PepsiCo’s newest endeavor.

Spotify Acquires Online Music Game Heardle

The big-name streaming app Spotify has just acquired musical guessing game Heardle.

In a similar style to the popular Wordle game, players in Heardle try to guess the names of songs based on hearing the first note. After each guess, additional notes are played to help users identify the song, until the allotted six chances are up. Since the buyout, players can listen to the full song on Spotify once they’ve used all their guesses.

But, the deal has left some avid fans displeased. Many complain that their stat records have been wiped out. Others are frustrated they can’t play at all anymore, as the game is now available only in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

While acknowledging the slip-ups that have occurred in the initial days following the acquisition, Spotify also explained the company’s hopes and plans for the new deal. The app will remain free and the interface will not change. Heardle will continue to be further integrated into the Spotify platform, facilitating the opportunity for listeners to connect more with the artists they love and to interact with friends.

As with most new endeavors, there are some small bumps in the road and a whole lot of excitement and potential.