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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues


Kenan Institute 2022 Annual Theme: Stakeholder Capitalism
Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues



With the school year winding down, we invited Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute Fellow and UNC-Chapel Hill Public Policy Research Professor Iheoma Iruka to join us for a discussion on the business of childcare and early education – as well as the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted families’ expectations and workers’ needs

As venture capital markets have surged in recent years, early access to capital remains highly localized. We examine changes that can help investors connect with underrepresented entrepreneurs outside traditional funding hubs, from innovative organizations to improvements in transportation.

Female involvement in the workforce remains important to the U.S. economy, but COVID-19 has only exacerbated a drop in participation rates. To reverse the trend, businesses are enhancing maternity leave, child care services and access to fertility and family-planning services, according to research by UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School experts.

First, the good news. Given what we know about current economic conditions, it is likely that the consumer inflation rate has peaked in the U.S. for the current cycle. Recent inflation reports on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Implicit Price Deflator, which is the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure, show a jump to new 40-year highs in March but signs of moderation in coming months. For example, consumer goods with very large 12-month cost runups such as used cars and food away from home are starting to see prices moderate. Likewise, prices of important household goods like apparel, furnishings, prescription drugs and recreation commodities (think TVs and Pelotons) are flattening. Furthermore, some important energy prices such as crude oil and gasoline have stabilized in April after jumps in the first quarter. So, while inflation will surely remain elevated for some time, it is unlikely to get much worse.

The latest employment figures show a strong economy and indicate the U.S. is not at risk of recession, Chief Economist Gerald Cohen says in a story by WRAL TechWire’s Jason Parker.

Much has been made about the labor force participation rate, or the percentage of Americans over 16 who are working or actively looking for work — and for good cause, given the number of unfilled vacancies at U.S. firms. If fewer Americans are working, it is going to be harder for firms to staff all of their openings. Currently, 62.2% of adult Americans are working or looking for work. This compares with a historical average of 63.9% in 2019. With 259 million adult Americans, this 1.7 percentage point decrease in the labor force participation rate translates to a missing 4.4 million workers. And the narrative to date has primarily focused on how many Americans made changes following the COVID-19 pandemic (in response to lockdowns, layoffs, health concerns or care responsibilities) and the sizable fraction of these Americans who are still sitting on the sidelines. Given the steady drumbeat of news about how firms are unable to fill all their positions, there is much interest in how and when we expect these workers to return to the labor force. So, when can we expect them to join the labor pool?

The Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise launched its State of the Economy Press Briefing, a quick-response roundup of information and commentary following the U.S. Department of Labor’s monthly employment report, with a virtual presentation May 6. Areas for analysis included how the jobs numbers may affect GDP growth, inflation, and the Fed’s plans, with an eye toward what it all means for business.

In the 9 a.m. ET briefing, Chief Economist Gerald Cohen offered additional insights into the effects of COVID-19 on employment and the labor market’s continuing recovery. He also answered questions on the likelihood of a recession and the EU’s response to economic conditions.


The Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise launched its State of the Economy Press Briefing, a quick-response roundup of information and commentary following the U.S. Department of Labor’s monthly employment report, with a virtual presentation May 6.

Health systems have employed online and phone-based triage tools using automated algorithms to quickly determine which COVID-19 patients may need the most attention. Primary care can also be transformed through the broad application of automated algorithms, writes researchers including Bradley Staats, faculty director of the UNC Center for the Business of Health, but this requires building automated clinical processes that are safe and effective.

The latest report from the Department of Labor showed continued robust job growth. Employers added 431,000 jobs in March. The news of sustained job gains speaks to the strength of the U.S. economy. Moreover, the labor force participation rate inched up slightly to 62.4% in March, from 62.3% in February, indicating more Americans are reentering the workforce. We still have a long way to go to resolve the imbalance between job openings and unemployed people, however, and this means that current issues of worker burnout will also linger.

On Tuesday, March 29th, First Citizens Bank Vice Chairwoman Hope Bryant joined UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Dean Doug Shackelford for a fireside chat. Bryant discussed the history of First Citizens Bank, the impacts of COVID-19 on the workforce and her experiences as a woman in a leadership position.

Concerns about further supply-chain troubles are on the rise. Just a few months ago the “temporary disruptions” stemming from covid were predicted to work themselves out in 2022. However, businesses are now faced with the possibility of disruptions much more severe than those experienced to date. These stem from two sources: interrupted supplies in essential raw materials and agricultural commodities resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the potential for a rapid (and massive) spread of COVIC-19 in China resulting in suspensions to manufacturing operations there.