What a difference a (cresting) wave makes

In less than five minutes of reading time we’ll give you all the data and context you need to get you up to speed on Ipsos’ latest wave of the Coronavirus Consumer Tracker.

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab
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Despite the fact that cases are still way higher than they were during the worst of the delta variant wave, they’re also way better than they were two weeks ago. The number of people reporting that their personal concern over COVID-19 increased in the past month fell again to 29%, a big dip from last wave. But it looks like some of the economic pain is still building. Finally, we took a deep dive into the workplace. 

Here’s what we know today from the Ipsos Coronavirus Consumer Tracker

  • Only 31% say they like their job and aren’t looking. For 18- to 34-year-olds, it’s even worse for employers, with fewer than one in five agreeing. 
  • 42% say they worry about paying their bills each month, a level of economic uncertainty we haven’t seen during the pandemic.  
  • The IPAC flipped again as concern for omicron has waned 
  • Two in three Americans think they will get COVID-19 in the future 
  • Similarly those saying COVID-19 is a high threat for them, which has dropped since the previous omicron-fueled waves of the Tracker. 

Read on for data about: Giving up, economic stress, workplace issues and more. 

Are we admitting defeat? 

Why we asked: In some circles, at least, there’s a sense of resignation that doesn’t seem to have been there before. Headlines started surfacing wondering aloud “Should you just get it and get it over with?” [Editor’s note: No, that’s a bad idea].  

What we found: 38% think they will get the virus at some point in the future, despite trying to stay as safe as possible. Another 25% have taken a more fatalistic (but hopefully not fatal) approach of expecting to get it and therefore just going about life as normal. 37% think they will dodge the virus entirely. 

resigned to catching covid

Feeling the economic pinch 

Why we asked: Inflation is up, the markets are <checks notes> down but not *as* down.  

What we found: More people report that after they pay their bills each month there’s nothing left over, and that they worry about paying the bills themselves than at any point we have asked during the pandemic. That seems… not great. 

economic stress

How has work from home changed? 

Why we asked: Frankly, we were lacking a datapoint on before/after comparison.   

What we found: Just over half (54%) of employed people report that before the pandemic they commuted to their workplace five days a week. 14% commuted more than that. Only 10% say they didn’t commute at all. Now, however is a different story. Just 39% say they are commuting five days a week. The zero-day commuters have doubled to 21%. Only 10% are commuting more than five days.  

Commuting 

Why we asked: Traffic sure seems to be back, despite the fact that fewer seem to be commuting. Do the work-from-home crowd think they will wind up back on the road eventually? 

What we found: About 24% think their commutes will change after the pandemic, which is down from September 2020 but about what it was in December 2020, when the vaccine was just becoming available. How do they expect it to change? 56% say the will drive more often, the highest number we’ve seen. 23% say they will walk or bike more often, also the highest we’ve seen. 17% expect to commute less overall. And only 18% expect to take public transit more often, about the lowest figure we’ve seen.

commuting

What’s the right mix of home and office? 

Why we asked: It’s been almost two years of remote work for many. Clearly, people have solved the issues that can be solved and adapted to the degree they can. So what do people want to see happen when offices are all open? 

What we found: As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, about one in four want to be at home. Slightly more (28%) want to be at the office. 15% want to be evenly split.  

The great resignation? 

Why we asked: You’ve read the same news we have. The workforce is in flux – how and why are a little unclear/complicated.  

What we found: Only 31% say they are satisfied with their current jobs and not looking. That’s a 11 percentage point drop from the last time we asked in May 2021. The number who are actively looking and who are unable or uninterested in looking both ticked up slightly.

great resignation

What are companies getting right and wrong? 

Why we asked: Early in the pandemic, and after the death of George Floyd, we asked about corporate priorities in the face of multiple challenges. We were curious what has changed. 

What we found: We asked two questions, first we asked people if they thought their companies were focused on the right things. If people answered yes, we asked what their companies were getting right. If they said no, we asked what their focus could improve. Of those who think their companies are focused on the right things, 50% think their company is getting the health and safety of customers and employees right. Of the options we asked, that’s the highest but it’s down considerably (was 67%) from when we initially asked in June of 2020. Mostly what we see is that the priorities, whether companies are getting them right or should focus more, are the same. The top three are keeping employees and customers safe, protecting jobs in the company and supporting employees. The companies seen as focusing on the correct things are also working on equality of opportunity across gender and ethnicity, which is slightly behind environmental priorities for those who would like to see more focus. Almost no one thinks their companies should be taking a stance on political issues. 

company focus

Signals 

Here’s what we’re reading this week that has got us thinking about the future. 

  • A Harry Potter themed wedding in the metaverse took place in India. It’s not necessarily the first metaverse wedding, but the format allowed the bride to include an avatar of her late father so he could “attend” her wedding (via CNN
  • Moderna’s other vaccine: Epstein-Barr The pharmaceutical company announced progress on a vaccine that could have major implications in the fight against MS – and long COVID. (via Science
  • Mark Cuban’s new pharmacy The entrepreneur’s latest venture isn’t tech or crypto, it’s about getting affordable generic medications in people’s hands. (via USA Today
  • Remote, AV RVs coming from Airstream Because we can automate more than cars… we can automate their accessories. But this also means that you won’t need a pick-up to tow it, you can tow it with something smaller and more efficient. Road Trip! (via The Verge)

For complete toplines for all waves, please see the full data and methodology. 

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab

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