Actions Have Consequences, Like It Or Not

And just like that, summer is upon us, school is out – or about to be – and it’s time to start plotting our vacation itineraries.

The past two years have been marked by Covid restrictions, social distancing, and mandatory mask policies. But no more!

We can now gear up for the greatest summer ever. One where we get to pack three years’ worth of celebration into one! Right?

Well, maybe…

Because, as we all know, our economic infrastructure is still reeling from regulation, stimulation, and inflation. And that’s caused some major issues with the labor force.

In fact, you might notice that some of your favorite summer activities are suffering from a shortage of seasonal help.

Here’s today’s Wall Street Journal quote:

“In Phoenix, less than half of the public pools are opening because the city can’t hire enough lifeguards, despite offering a $2,500 incentive payment. Trolley lines in coastal Maine that service beaches are shutting down for the summer due to a dearth of drivers. Across the country, restaurants in tourist destinations are operating on limited hours because they don’t have enough staff to stay open longer.”

That obviously leaves businesses – especially small businesses – in the lurch. But it’s also causing increased costs as these desperate companies compete to offer larger salaries.

Therefore, on top of less summer options, you might notice a price hike on what is still available – everything from airfare to menu prices.

With around 30 million workers (technically) available, U.S. seasonal summer economy usually accounts for about 10% of GDP. This sector is heavily dependent on restaurants, hospitality, and summer camps.

Yet, again, those are the kinds of businesses struggling the most to wrangle enough employees to keep the doors open.

This labor scarcity is sure to cause frustrations both economically and societally as consumers face limited service, long waitlists, and higher prices.

To remedy this, the Biden administration is issuing over 35,000 additional H-2B visas. This will allow industries like landscapers, fisheries, and resorts more prospects for the summer hiring season.

Though that does makes me wonder where our teen population is during such a time of occupational opportunity…

Is our lifeguard class negotiating higher wages against the earnings of ice cream parlor offers? Are our camp counselors ditching their summer careers to trade cryptocurrency full-time? Or have we simply hit such a high-water mark of inflation that even $20 per hour is too little incentive for low-skilled labor?

Something is going on. It’s just not entirely clear what.

More Non-REIT News to Know About 

Yesterday afternoon, President Biden sat down with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

I don’t know about her, but this was the third meeting between the two men. As well it should be considering how inflation has hit an all-time high thanks to:

  • The Covid stimulus
  • Rising oil prices
  • The aforementioned labor scarcities
  • Additional spending on environmental and social programs

“I’m not going to interfere with their critically important work,” he told reporters at the start of the meeting. “They have a laser focus on addressing inflation, just like I am.”

Right now, the Fed is focused on raising interest to curb demand for mortgages, cars, and other high-cost items. Many believe that’s the best course of action. Others would like to see tariffs ease on Chinese imports.

Considering what unprecedented times we’re living in, we might just have to go with the “trial and error” method to see what works. 

The World According to REITs  

 Let’s talk about PotlatchDeltic Corporation (PCH) today, an American diversified forest products company. That and CatchMark Timber Trust (CTT), an investor in prime timberlands.

The two real estate investment trusts (REITs) announced yesterday that they’re merging into an integrated timber trust. They believe this will bolster shareholder value for both companies.

The new entity will own approximately 2.2 million acres of diversified top-quality timberlands.

From the release:

“Eric J. Cremers, president and chief executive officer of PotlatchDeltic, said, ‘We are excited about growing shareholder value by combining PotlatchDeltic and CatchMark. With CatchMark, we gain significant scale in three states and diversify our timberland holdings into some of the strongest markets in the U.S. South. In addition, the location of CatchMark’s land near large population centers provides attractive rural real estate sales opportunities. PotlatchDeltic will retain a strong balance sheet and liquidity after the merger is completed, providing a platform for continued growth.”

They expect to close the deal by year’s end, but I already have it on my REIT radar now.

Brad Thomas is the Editor of the Forbes Real Estate Investor.

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