Entries by Thomas O'Rourke

Massachusetts PPP Benefits Big Businesses, Data Called Into Question

On July 6, the Small Business Association (SBA) resumed accepting applications for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). While the program has been heralded by many as a lifeline for small businesses, more recently, many have questioned both the true beneficiaries of the policy and the accuracy of the data. That is, the SBA released a database of businesses receiving PPP loans–separating businesses that received less than $150,000 from those that received more than $150,000–which details company names, loan amounts (in the form of a range), and the number of jobs retained as a result of the loan. Since the release of this data, Pioneer has released a PPP Loan Tracker, […]

Data, Attitudes, and Ecommerce: Noteworthy trends in retail for the present and future

Following the July 16th release of the June Retail Sales Report that detailed a more than 17% jump in total retail sales in the U.S. from April to May and an additional 6.4% jump in June, many Americans may assume that brighter economic days are ahead. While it may be indicative of some degree of economic resilience during the pandemic, this surge holds a bit more complexity and highlights retail trends of note for both the near future and the months ahead. Figure 1. Estimated Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services, by Kind of Business, Percentage +/-, June 2020 v June 2019, May 2020 v May 2019, April 2020 v April 2019 (millions) Source: U.S. Census Bureau Advance Monthly […]

How Should Massachusetts Reopen Its K–12 Schools in the Fall? Lessons from Abroad and Other States

This report asserts that, with the fall semester fast approaching, Massachusetts should provide more specific COVID-19-related guidance for school districts about ramping up remote learning infrastructure; rotating in-person cohort schedules; diversifying methods of communication between students, parents, and teachers; and investigating physical distancing capabilities.  Districts must determine whether to adopt in-person, remote, or hybrid schooling options, and they will not be ready for the fall unless the state provides clear direction.

Economic Impact of Beach Policies Felt by Towns and Businesses

As town officials and public health experts determine if, when and how local beaches will reopen, business owners, town managers, and beachgoers alike question what lies ahead. The economies of Cape Cod and the Islands are highly dependent on tourism, with beach-going a driving factor in travel to the area. The North and South shores also include beaches that provide municipalities revenue. As certain municipalities consider closure of their towns’ beaches to non-residents, as is the case with Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, the beaches of surrounding towns are stretched to capacity, to the dismay of residents. This phenomenon was noted last week, when town officials in Salisbury and Beverly were “inundated” with “beachgoers [that] were not from the area.” […]