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The biggest financial trends & stories to watch in 2022

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6 mins

Will the pandemic continue or run its course so we can unmask ourselves? Will we be using cryptocurrency to pay for everyday items? Will the stock market continue to reach new record highs? Will the Great Resignation become the Great Retention?”

Unless you believe you know the answers to these questions and others concerning life in 2022, you’ll be watching along with the rest of us as life unfolds in this new year.

With so much happening so fast that impacts our financial well-being, be on the lookout for emerging trends and new developments in the world of work and finance in the coming year. Based on the breakneck speed of change in the past year, it doesn’t look like anyone will be hitting the brakes in 2022.

So, what should you be looking for? Great question, and it’s one we’re going to address below. Here are the biggest financial trends, topics, and stories to watch in 2022, lightly salted with some predictions.

Greater crypto acceptance

It’s inevitable: banks will become “cryptofied.” According to a Cornerstone Advisors survey of U.S. consumers, 60% of people that own crypto would use their bank to invest in cryptocurrencies, with only 4% saying they wouldn’t use their bank for crypto investing because of their allegiance to the exchange they’re currently using.

And, bank boards are listening and watching carefully. They’ve seen payment networks coming on board with crypto, evidenced by Visa’s announcement of the launch of a crypto advisory service for its personal and commercial customers. FOMO is going to provide the big push for banks to integrate crypto services into both their digital and core platforms.

Rising inflation continues

Prices for just about everything seem to be going up. Supply chain disruptions have left consumers with fewer items on the shelves, boosting the demand for their favorite snacks, toys, cars — you name it. And, you might remember from your economics class that a decreasing supply of goods with an increased demand for them will cause prices to rise.

To stay current on this issue which is near the top of Americans’ financial list of concerns, watch the Consumer Price Index and other metrics as indicators of whether or not household finances are feeling less strain and if inflation begins to stabilize or fade away.

Consequential midterm elections

Would any discussion about your finances be complete without a side of politics? Midterm elections loom on the horizon in 2022, and every seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is on the line, as well as about one-third of Senate seats.

Those wearing red are citing the rise in inflation due to fiscal stimulus (the checks you received from Uncle Sam the past few years) as the reason for their opposition to new legislation. On the other hand, people who prefer blue are chomping at the bit to address social programs through “Build Back Better” legislation, which appeared to be losing momentum at the end of 2021.

There’s a lot a stake here. Stay tuned on this one.

[ Related: How President Biden could impact your personal finances ]

A rebounding job market

Optimism abounds concerning the job market in 2022. After the official unemployment rate peaked at 14.8% in April of 2020, a rebound began, and there was a swift recovery to a rate of 4.2 percent in November 2021. Moreover, job openings have hit record levels. At last count, there were over 11 million positions available.

Part of the reason for the disparity between the number of job openings and the number of people willing or able to assume those positions is that more people are needed to return to the workforce, resulting in higher labor force participation. In November of 2021, only 60% of people who could work chose to work.

Wage growth is improving, and more companies are stepping up with enhanced employee benefits. The big question: will the job market improve and nudge the unemployment rate below the 3.5% pre-pandemic level? If inflation doesn’t devour all of the wage gains, more people will likely re-engage and take advantage of the many opportunities that await them.

[ Related: Essential things to consider when changing jobs ]

Work-life flexibility

“Hybrid” appears to be the buzzword in 2022 when it comes to people being able to work in their PJs or not.

At the pandemic’s onset, employers scrambled to roll out flexible work initiatives, unsure of how employee productivity and job satisfaction would be impacted. To their delight, productivity rose, and the majority of workers loved working from home or the location of their favorite coffee klatch.

This has created somewhat of a dilemma for employers. The Great Resignation of 2021 exhibited American workers flexing their muscles and saying, “We’re not gonna take it anymore.” Desks, restaurants, retail sales counters, call centers, and many more places where people toil have been left empty, much to the chagrin of consumers who now find themselves bagging their own groceries and waiting on hold for hours to speak to a customer service representative.

Microsoft, Google, and Ford Motor Company are just a few of the large employers who have made the shift to the hybrid workplace. Small businesses are finding the transition more challenging due to scheduling and technology issues, but there’s no reason to think they won’t be coming on board with more flexible work models in the coming year.

[ Survey: To remain remote, employee are ready to give up benefits, PTO & salary ]

The ongoing pandemic

A new speedbump for the economy is the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The summer of 2021 saw the Delta variant slow the economic recovery, and Omicron’s infection rate has fast become a concern of many institutions — private and public.

If you want to dine in at a restaurant in New York City, you’ll need to show proof of vaccination; the same thing applies to many concert-goers across the country. Teachers in some cities are staging walkouts and demanding that school be taught virtually once again for safety’s sake, and this could be just the tip of the iceberg.

The good news is that more testing and treatment options are becoming available. Hopefully, this will lessen the pandemic’s effect on lives, livelihoods, the economy, and personal finances.

There’s a lot to look out for in 2022. Some of the news will be good, and some not so good, pretty much like every year. What’s reported is one thing; how we react is another.

The information and content provided herein is for educational purposes only, and should not be considered legal, tax, investment, or financial advice, recommendation, or endorsement. Breeze does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, reliability or usefulness of any testimonials, opinions, advice, product or service offers, or other information provided here by third parties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

— Published January 4, 2022
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