Benchmark Blog

Which jobs and industries are most affected by COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create an unprecedented effect on the economy, increasing unemployment to levels not seen since the Great Depression. Many jobs have been lost, and claims for unemployment insurance have surpassed by far the all-time high. In fact, as figure 1 shows, over the last seven weeks, more than 30 million Americans […]

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The Apple Google API is a supplement to manual tracing, not a substitute

This week Apple and Google rolled out a new application programming interface (API), which is meant to help in the fight against COVID. The “Exposure Notification API” gives public health officials and other selected developers the ability to create new mobile applications that would alert users if they came into contact with someone positively tagged as […]

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The value of sanctuary

Even before he was elected, President Trump campaigned on anti-immigration issues. And since he took office, Trump has fought immigration more than any other recent President. He has made out immigrants to be “bad hombres” — criminals who are disrupting the American way of life. His efforts to reduce immigration include building a border wall with Mexico, increasing immigration […]

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We’re finally doing telehealth the right way

Renewed discussions this week surrounding the next wave of relief efforts for COVID-19 have also reignited discussions surrounding telehealth. Telehealth is the use of technology, including interactive telecommunication, to deliver medical and other health services via virtual platforms. The CARES Act appropriated $200 million to help expand telehealth, but some say more is needed. The […]

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Scrap DACA In Favor of Long-term Reform

The Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling on the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) any day now. Whatever the ruling, it will affect a little under a million migrants. DACA protects immigrants who were brought to the United States as children without authorization. It provides employment authorization and peace […]

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Unemployment vs. direct cash payments

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released new estimates for the number of Americans who are now jobless. The news isn’t good. Unemployment in America has now reached rates not seen since the Great Depression, with 14.5 percent of workers unemployed. These high levels of unemployment have largely been driven by the response to COVID-19. States across the […]

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How the education system can adapt to COVID-19

In an attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing, schools have closed for nearly all K-12 students in the U.S., and at least 46 states have ordered or recommended closing schools for the rest of the academic year. These school closures have impacted over 55 million students from over 124,000 schools. Although the […]

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The US is deporting coronavirus

In at least two countries, Guatemala and Honduras, US deportees have tested positive for COVID-19. Deportations pose health risks to the receiving countries and the deportation staff. Despite early efforts by these countries, such as closing their borders, continued deportations undermine those policies. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is not taking sufficient […]

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Cash for COVID?

Since the World Health Organization first declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic on March 11, the virus has spread quickly through the U.S. According to the CDC, there have now been over one million confirmed cases in the United States and over 60,000 deaths, with both numbers increasing every day. To slow the spread of the virus, virtually […]

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Licensing in the age of COVID-19

Senate Majority President Mitch McConnell hinted that the next COVID-19 aid package may come with strings attached. As he told reporters, “We’re not writing a check to send down to states to allow them to, in effect, finance mistakes they’ve made unrelated to the coronavirus.” The specific area that McConnell pointed to was limiting legal liabilities surrounding […]

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Improving the Magna Carta of environmental law

The National Environmental Policy Act is sometimes called the Magna Carta of environmental law. The law is popular with NIMBYs and environmental activists because it gives them an effective veto over any project that the federal government touches. A NEPA lawsuit can bring an infrastructure project to a standstill; not a shovelful of dirt can […]

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Innovation’s green thumb

Earth Day turns 50 years old today. First celebrated in 1970, it is the closest thing the modern environmental movement has to a birthday. And while social distancing and closed parks are preventing many of us from celebrating the way we’d like, the pandemic has given us an interesting insight into the impacts of our […]

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Three Cheers for Density

Density has gotten a bad rep because of COVID-19. Some of the places that are most vulnerable to the pandemic are large, dense cities like Madrid, Seattle, and New York City. All three of these cities have had some of the highest infection rates and death rates. The spread of COVID-19 in these cities was, in part, driven by […]

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Immigrants are essential

On Monday night, President Trump announced that he would sign an executive order halting immigration into the U.S. The 38-word tweet was short on details. Most immigration is stopped already, leaving rumor mills to spin as more information emerged from other sources. Trump’s motivation for further suspending immigration was clear–COVID-19 necessitates more restrictions to protect U.S. jobs. There […]

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Antitrust can’t fix social media bias

It doesn’t take much to find accusations of bias by today’s big tech companies. On one side, tech companies are accused of bias against conservatives for removing too much political speech. At the same time, these companies are accused of favoring conservatives for not taking down enough harmful speech. Even though there is little agreement on the problem, the […]

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Remote work is here to stay

Coauthored by CGO student research fellow Ellie McDonald. Today marks my 24th day of working from home due to COVID-19. Whether they like it or not, more and more employees like me are being pushed into remote work due to the public health crisis currently sweeping the globe. In early February, Time Magazine dubbed the current […]

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Did an 8-year-old merger cause today’s ventilator shortage?

Last week, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to order General Motors to produce badly needed ventilators in the fight against COVID-19. How bad has this shortage become? New York State, for example, alone needs 30,000 additional ventilators to respond to the crisis adequately. According to a recent The New York Times report, a merger within […]

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Regulatory uncertainty made COVID responses difficult

The introduction of COVID-19 has moved markets and sparked incredible changes in civil society and at federal agencies. But there is disagreement about whether or not official institutional responses have been effective and well-timed. Mark Lutter, founder and executive director of the Charter Cities Institute, chided the response, saying, “A functioning government could have prevented the crisis, […]

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Should state lines stop doctors?

As I write this piece in my makeshift home-office, I am entering week three of self-imposed quarantine due to COVID-19. Like my coworkers and countless others around the world still fortunate enough to remain employed, I am learning to adapt to this new normal. No one is sure how long it will last, or how […]

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ICE should release detainees

As of March 21, 2020, ICE holds 38,058 immigrants in detention centers across the country. Today, those immigrants are at substantial risk of contracting COVID-19, or the coronavirus. To prevent a mass outbreak at detention centers, ICE needs to release half of those people as soon as possible. We get how this proposal sounds. Detained individuals are generally considered […]

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NYC lifted its ban on e-bikes

To control the spread of coronavirus, New York City announced last week that all restaurants and bars would close for dine-in customers, leaving restaurants and hungry residents to rely on delivery and take out. To ease the burden on overworked delivery workers, de Blasio allowed previously illegal e-bikes to operate in the city after months […]

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Cooperation over isolation

On March 18, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it is delaying most of its removal operations because of COVID-19. Immigration activists and public policy researchers celebrated the move. Early the next morning, however, Acting Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli set out to correct misunderstandings of the policy change. Referring to the original reporting as mistaken, he tweeted that the current policy […]

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Why are we so slow today?

We used to do things fast, and Patrick Collison has proof. The Stripe CEO maintains a list on his personal web page of feats of rapid, decisive action.
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Targeted help or universal income?

Last week Senator Bernie Sanders announced his plan to roll out a federally-funded universal program for childcare and early education if he is elected president. Sanders stated, “Childcare must be guaranteed for every child regardless of their parents’ income, just like K-12 education.” The plan would come with a price tag of $1.5 trillion that […]

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Welcome to the kill zone?

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued special orders to Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft to provide information on transactions the companies completed between 2010 and 2019. Under a law known as the Hart–Scott–Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (HSR), companies are only required to notify the FTC and the Department of Justice (DoJ) […]

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Waste storage or waste of money?

Earlier this month, when President Trump released his proposed budget, there was a noticeable line-item missing. In each of his previous three budget proposals, Trump included appropriations of around $120 million to re-start the licensing process for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. Each year those appropriations have been rejected by Congress. This year, the President […]

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Immigrants give more than they get

On January 27th, the Supreme Court allowed the implementation across most of the country of stricter standards for immigrants seeking to come to the United States. Known as the public charge rule, the recent change allows the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to deny green cards or permanent residency to any immigrant who has […]

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We should be tackling disinformation

Last week, presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren released a new plan meant to tackle voter disinformation campaigns online. The proposal includes laudable goals, like convening a summit of countries to enhance information sharing. It also makes critical missteps and misdiagnoses the problem of political disinformation. Platforms have been active in fighting disinformation, as both anecdotal and empirical […]

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Is 2020 the year of micromobility?

Last week the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced the extension of its electric moped pilot program in Washington DC. This extension will allow electric mopeds to remain in the city’s dockless vehicle program. The program is part of the city’s efforts to foster shared mobility transportation and reduce single-occupancy vehicles. The pilot program also includes other forms of shared […]

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