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| 4 minutes read

ICYMI: Covid, rail strikes, rents, real estate, and recessions

Here we are headed into the home stretch of 2022. This time last year, Omicron took over the headlines. Today, wars, Covid, inflation and recession dominate the concerns and conversations. For a good dose of "the sky is falling" syndrome, I saw today that 41% of Americans believe the housing market will crash in the next 12 months and 74% of them believe it will be worse than in 2008.  Yikes!

Let's take a look around the world and see what might be impacting your global mobility program:

  1. China: China is experiencing numerous protests after recording its highest-ever daily COVID-19 case count, with frustrations over the country's strict zero-Covid policies and city lockdowns boiling over into the streets. The National Health Commission recorded 32,695 locally transmitted cases last Thursday. The region of Xinjiang has now been locked down for more than 100 days, but infections have surged despite the countermeasures. Additionally, China reported that three people died from COVID-19 over the weekend in Beijing, the country’s first deaths from the virus since May, according to CNN. Beijing moved all teaching online in response to these deaths, the South China Morning Post reports. The city of Guangzhou also locked down its largest district as it combats a major outbreak. 
  2. U.S.: Rail strikes are back in the conversation. Per CNN, the nation's largest rail union rejected a tentative labor deal with railroad companies. If even one of the dozen railroad unions were to go on strike, the other 11 would honor the picket lines, shutting down rail traffic nationwide. Many are fearful of the potential supply chain impact and are calling for congressional action if a deal cannot be reached. The strike could begin as early as December 9, and would cause product shortages, spiking prices, and factory production issues. When this came up last time, it was estimated that it would cost the U.S. economy as much as $2 billion per day, but CNN shared that it would be more like 1 billion in the first week alone according to a new analysis from the Anderson Economic Group. The New York Times speculates that this will continue to raise inflation and dramatically impact people's investments and cost of living. 
  3. Canada: According to Crisis24, waves of moisture from the Pacific Ocean and a low pressure system are forecast to bring snowfall, rain, and strong winds to parts of southwestern Canada and northwestern and western parts of the US through at least Dec. 2. Cold Arctic air and strong winds are expected across parts of western and southwestern British Columbia over the coming days as well. As of early Nov. 29, the National Weather Service (NWS) has issued winter storm watches for much of Washington state and parts of eastern and far western Oregon, northern and eastern California, northern and central Idaho, and western and southwestern Montana. 
  4. Ireland: Per our friends at Corporate Care, the rental market in Ireland has hit a new all-time high, just like it has for the previous ten quarters. Between June and September, rents rose 4.3% across the country. Stock is exceptionally low, and room costs are up almost 14%. Specific to Dublin, rents increased 4% in the last 3 months. Rents are higher in all 54 Irish markets covered by Report. The increase in market rents around the country is driven by a chronic shortage in the availability of rental accommodation. From this report, average rents and year-over-year changes for Q3 of 2022 show:
    • Dublin at €2,258, up 14.3 per cent year-on-year
    • Cork city at €1,708, up 12.1 per cent
    • Galway city at 41,713, up 16.4 per cent
    • Limerick city at €1,604, up 17.1 per cent
    • Waterford city at €1,357, up 17.4 per cent
    • Ireland overall at €1,318, up 13.8 per cent
  5. Spain: Spain is also experiencing high rents across the country. Eres notes that Europe in general has been experiencing high volumes of relocating employees, many in particular from Russia to Spain. The continuing increase in demand and lower supply have helped Barcelona, Madrid and Málaga to reach historically high rents in October 2022. A housing shortage is being experienced in many major cities, especially for smaller 1-2 bedroom properties. This is where Eres sees the greatest competition and where rents have risen most. Many landlords want the renter to have their NIE (residence card). That takes approximately 8 weeks for Europeans and approximately 3 months for non-Europeans. Bottom-line: Demand for apartments to rent is growing, especially in Spain’s big cities, but it is also becoming increasingly difficult to find one due to strict rules and prerequisites.
  6.  Portugal: Looks like we're seeing a trend in Europe. Portugal has been experiencing large increase in rental demand and since March has seen rental values rise almost 18%. Porto and Lisbon have become the most expensive towns to live in, and while the market is full of houses to rent or buy, prices are high. Relocating employees need to be aware that it remains a landlord's market and there is little room to negotiate. Landlords can request up to 6 to 12 months of rent in advance! For more on Portuguese rental markets go here.
  7. Taiwan: Taiwan is planning to ease COVID-19 facemask rules from Dec. 1 onward and lift international arrival limits from Dec. 10. Quarantines are no longer required, and individuals in private vehicles also do not need to wear facemasks if traveling alone or with household members. Facemasks will continue to be compulsory in indoor settings, with approved exceptions. Residents are advised to carry a mask when leaving home.  
  8. Switzerland: Some good news for those moving people to Switzerland - the Federal Council of Switzerland announced quotas will remain the same for new work permit applications submitted during the 2023 calendar year for non-European Union/European Free Trade Agreement (non-EU/EFTA) nationals. Also, the Services Mobility Agreement (SMA) in place between Switzerland and the United Kingdom has been extended until 31 December 2025.
  9. India: Per Reuters, thick smog engulfed India's capital New Delhi as air pollution worsened with the setting in of winter, pushing concentrations of fine particles in the air three times above acceptable limits. New Delhi is now considered the world's most polluted city.
  10. Honduras: A national state of emergency was enacted on Nov. 25th by president Xiomara Castroas. The order is in response to the activities of criminal organizations, per this announcement from Crisis24. Authorities claim that gangs have carried out extensive programs of extortion, particularly against businesses, transport drivers, and NGOs. Notable gangs include MS-13 and Barrio 18, both of whom have an extensive presence throughout Central America. 

If you missed last weeks ICYMI update, you can have a look here

It’s China’s longest pandemic lockdown, and probably its least well-known. But residents in the country’s dry and mountainous far west have just marked 100 days of living under some of the toughest, and most strictly enforced, Covid Zero measures in the world.


icymi, global mobility, update, impacts, recession, covid-19, china, united states, spain, portugal, honduras, ireland