David Wood is one of the few upstate New York churchgoers still praying for snow.
"I told my wife, if the people in this church knew what we were praying for, they probably wouldn't let us in," he says.
But Wood loves the sound of snowplows, because falling snow means rising profits for him. He's president of Sears Ecological Applications, in Rome, N.Y., and this long and tough winter in the northeast has been good for him. He makes de-icing liquid spread by snowplows. He started back in 1997, with a liquid made from the leftovers of folks who made rum.
Wood bought a patent for the liquid from a Hungarian distillery. Those distillers dumped their waste in a stream and accidentally discovered that the rum remnants prevented freezing.
"These people standing there looking put together the idea that when you were discharging this material in very cold weather you didn't have freezing of the stream," he says
But spreading rum byproduct on roads? It was a hard sell at first. Wood made a strong case, though. He told cities and towns: my de-icer will stretch your road salt, make it stickier, an it'll work even in super-cold weather. Wood's company grew. He started licensing his patent, to people like Denver Preston of K-Tech Specialty Coatings, who's another big fan of winter.
"The thing that really is exciting for us – believe it or not – are the extremely cold temperatures," Preston says.
Preston expects sales to be up 100 percent this year. He makes his de-icing liquid from beet juice. Other entrepreneurs are trying to figure out how to make a buck from Jack Frost.
Jon Down, who teaches entrepreneurship at the University of Portland, had his students brainstorming the other day. One student suggested a snowman kit, or as Down describe is, "A multipurpose tote container that could double as making the balls that would be just perfect for a snowman."
Down says all the snow we're getting is an opportunity for the right entrepreneurs.
Five years ago today, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – better known as "the stimulus" – into law.
It was about $750 billion worth of spending that was supposed to kick start an economic recovery and, as its supporters said, "save or create" 3.5 million jobs.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus created somewhere between 500,000 and 3.3 million jobs.
"If you want a precise answer that no one can quibble with, you're not going to get that," says Jim Feyrer, an economics professor at Dartmouth College who has studied the stimulus.
He says he believes unemployment is lower than it would have been, but it is impossible to say how much lower, because there is not enough data. The world, Feyrer notes, is "too messy."
In 2009, "the economy was in much worse shape at that point than we thought it was at that point," says Gabriel Chodorow-Reich, a research associate at Harvard University who was an economist at the White House in 2009. And the economy continued to go downhill after the stimulus was passed.
Chodorow-Reich says many studies, including one he co-authored, have shown the stimulus had "a large impact on employment."
But Feyrer says the biggest challenge of assessing how well the legislation worked is that we "don't have what we call a counterfactual. We don't know what the world would have looked like in the absence of passing a stimulus package."
And that is something its critics continue to seize upon as President Obama asks congress to approve more money to improve infrastructure.
More than 3 million people have enrolled in the Affordable Care Act, but there’s one population the initiative is struggling to reach: Latinos. In California fewer than 20 percent of Obamacare enrollees are Latino. Arizona and Texas have also had trouble getting Latinos to enroll.
"It’s absolutely critical, because this is a numbers game," says Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere Health. Mendelson says Obamacare needs more people to sign up to keep costs down. For that to happen, he says, states need to offer informational materials specially targeted to Latinos.
"That will require a combination of communication and clarification of both the health care eligibility rules and our immigration rules," says Len Nichols, health economist with George Mason University.
Getting Latinos to sign up in greater numbers will require more outreach says Avalere’s Dan Mendelson.
"With diligence, culturally sensitive materials and a lot of work, this is a problem that can be solved."
Latinos are the largest minority group in the U.S. Mendelson says for Obamacare to succeed, the administration will have to work to win over minority groups.
Fashion Week is done in New York. But Social Media Week is just starting today; it involves 2,500 events in 25 cities. It's sort of like a conference, with big sponsors like Google, Microsoft, and American Expres, and a lot of networking, panel discussions and performances. As events get underway we wanted to talk a little bit about the state of social media, with Harvard Law Proffesor Jonathan Zittrain. He says we've become accustomed to using social data generated by companies like Twitter.
Click play above to hear the whole interview.
I shower (nearly) everyday. I take long, hot showers. I think about the day ahead, what I'm going to wear. Sometimes I hum.
I do not think about water.
"We wake up, we turn on the tap, and out comes as much water as we want for less than we pay for cell phone service or television," says Robert Glennon, author of "Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It," and a professor at the University of Arizona. "Unfortunately, when most of us think about water we think about it like the air: infinite and inexhaustible. When for all practical purposes, it's very finite and very exhaustible."
As we know from our economics classes, treating supply as if it's unlimited, when it's not, likely means one thing: we're not paying enough for it.
Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, says the way we allocate and value water here in California isn't rational.
A more sensible system would be more efficient. We'd hand out water differently. Price differently. And, Gleick says, we'd think differently about water.
"The value of water is more than just the amount of money we can get out of it to do something," he says.
The value of water extends beyond the value to farmers and businesses to our ecosystems and environment. That's a part of the picture Gleick says has been ignored for a long time.
"Because of that," he says, "our wetlands have disappeared, our fisheries our dying, our salmon are going extinct."
But, pushing back against current water policy isn't for the faint of heart.
"The reality is, if you want a short life as a public official, what you want to do is advocate raising the price of water," says Glennon.
Sometimes a drought can force the issue.
So far, 2014 has not been a good year for Bitcoin. The crypto-currency's price has been extremely volatile, one of its most important exchanges has had major software issues, and just the other day $2.5 million worth of the virtual cash was hacked from a new online black market for drugs called Silk Road 2.0.
All of the bad news has had many people asking whether this is the end for the new form of online cash. Advocates say this is just growing pains, but critics say it reveals deeper problems.
Today, a Japanese e-commerce giant called Rakuten bought a messaging app called Viber for $900 million. It's one of several apps for smartphones that provide free texting and even voice calls, including WhatsApp and Line.
In the U.S. it might not seem clear why any of them could be worth $900 million. But they're huge in countries like China, where one called WeChat dominates.
Julie Ask, principal analyst at Forrester Research, explains why: They’re awesome.
"I would say to anyone who wants to understand what the craze is all about: Go download something like WeChat," she says. "Get four or five of your friends to do it, and play with it for a week. You’ll be totally hooked. The feature set is so much richer than messaging on a mobile phone. There’s so much more you can do with it."
Sending videos, pictures, cute little stickers—anything you can imagine, to anyone you want, most of it for free. It basically replaces your voice plan, your texting plan, and half of Facebook.
The apps have e-commerce sites, too. With apps built on top of WeChat, in China you can use it to order dinner. Or a taxi.
"These apps aren’t apps," Ask says. "They’re platforms."
It makes sense for a retailer like Rakuten to want in on that business, says Adib Ghubril, research director at the tech consulting firm Gartner.
"Retailers want to understand their customers better," he says, "and part of understanding them better is to get them talking."
In other words: What if Amazon knew you as well as Facebook does?
Viber has 300 million users, so that’s a big head start. Altimeter Group founder Charlene Li thinks Rakuten just picked up a major asset.
"They instantly bought access to 300 million people," she says.
That’s not as many as Facebook, but it’s growing fast. And Facebook couldn’t be purchased for $900 million.
Under Armour shares were off almost two and a half percent today after the Wall Street Journal reported that "people familiar with the U.S. Speedskating team were blaming Under Armour suits for American skater's poor performance."
Not what you might call an ideal product placement.
The new world of Internet TV is really geeky.
I spent some time in the Netflix War Room last night, as the company debuted the new season of its smash hit TV series, House of Cards. The war room is a conference room with big table in the middle. And as we approached midnight, a bunch of engineers were couched over their laptops.
Jeremy Edberg, Netflix’s Reliability Architect, was one of them.
"So when the clock hits 12, the first thing I’m going to be doing is looking at our dashboards to see if anybody is playing the show," Edberg said.
If nobody is playing House of Cards, that means there’s a problem. Unlike traditional TV, we use hundreds of different devices to go online. And last night, the engineers were there to make sure that House of Cards would play on every one of them.
"We’ve probably got sitting around the room an X-Box, a Play Station, Nintendo, Apple devices, Android devices and a couple of different TVs from our partner manufacturers," Edberg said.
The engineers can tell, in real time, how many people are streaming the show on these devices, where they are, and who’s binging. Edberg said the last time House of Cards launched, the engineers figured out that the entire season was about 13 hours.
"And we looked to [see] if anybody was finishing in that amount of time," Edberg said. "And there was one person who finished with just three minutes longer than there is content. So basically, three total minutes of break in roughly 13 hours."
"We monitor what you watch, how often you watch things," Evers said. "Does a movie have a happy ending, what’s the level of romance, what's the level of violence, is it a cerebral kind of movie or is it light and funny?"
Evers said Netflix uses this data when it decides on which original program to buy.
"House of Cards was obviously a big bet for Netflix," Joris said. "But it was a calculated bet because we knew Netflix members like political dramas, that they like serialized dramas. That they are fans of Kevin Spacey, that they like David Fincher."
Netflix’s move into original programming is all about taking viewers from other media companies, especially HBO, said Brad Adgate, an analyst at Horizon Media.
He says Netflix has more subscribers than HBO, but when it comes to making money, Netflix is David to HBO’s Goliath. But Adgate says, Netflix does have its slingshot.
"I think right now Netflix does have a competitive advantage over HBO because of the analytics," Adgate said.
Networks like HBO still rely, on large part, on Nielsen data. But the information Netflix gets is much more textured, granular... and valuable.
"And I think that’s where television and streaming video is headed - but I think right now streaming video is in the lead," Adgate said. That said, he added, it’s just a matter of time before HBO and other premium channels catch up.
President Obama met with farmers today in Fresno, California. He's promised to help them deal with the drought that plagues the region. Short of making it rain, though, there's not a whole lot the federal government can do to help farmers who don't have enough water.
What Obama is promising is money. Some is for disaster relief, but the big-ticket proposal is a $1 billion Climate Resilience Fund, which he has included in his 2015 budget.
So what is "climate resilience"?
When floods devastated much of Northern Colorado this past fall, several waste water treatment plants were closed. Just how quickly they were able to get back online is a perfect example of climate resilience. It's a community's ability to recover from a natural disaster.
"Drought in California, hurricanes on the eastern seaboard, wildfires in the Rocky Mountain region," all of these disasters, says Elizabeth Albright, an assistant professor of environmental policy at Duke, will intensify in the future. The president's proposed climate resilience fund would provide money to help regions bounce back quicker from these disasters.
The fund would also support research.
"One of the most important things we can do is try to get a better understanding of the magnitude of floods, hurricanes and droughts that we might face," says Glen MacDonald, director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA.
One of the keys to creating resilience is being able to accurately predict just how bad a disaster will be. For example, scientists are coming up with new ways to study aquifers -- natural underground reservoirs -- to better predict the severity of future droughts.
"We can actually measure the loss of ground water through satellites," says Dr. Juliet Christian Smith, with the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Using satellites, scientists looked at the Ogallala aquifer in the Midwest. They found that depletion of the aquifer is changing the gravitational pull of the earth, "because we are extracting ground water at such a great rate," says Christian-Smith.
In addition to research and disaster preparedness, the proposed $1 billion would also fund new technologies to build more climate resilient infrastructure.
Here’s an extended look at what’s coming up next week:
- On Monday, we start the week off right with a holiday. Light some birthday candles for the nation’s first president, George Washington. Did you know he built and operated a whiskey distillery at Mount Vernon? Inspiring. Well, you do have a three-day weekend ahead of you… What else are you going to do? U.S. markets are closed.
- On Tuesday, we celebrate Pluto. It was discovered on February 18, 1930. Once thought to be the farthest planet from the sun, it’s been reclassified as a dwarf planet.
- On Wednesday, we get data on newly-constructed homes from the Commerce Department. Also, the Labor Department releases the Producer Price Index. Both look at January.
- President Washington signed legislation on February 20, 1792 creating the U.S. Post Office. And people started mailing love letters to each other all over the country.
- On Friday the National Association of Realtors reports on sales of existing homes last month.
- And finally, pile on the mascara. It’s International Flirting Week. A whole week to bat your eyes.
Congress passed a budget and reached a debt ceiling agreement, surprising host Kai Ryssdal. Who had at least one beer riding on the question.
In today's end-of-the-week conversation with Nela Richardson of Bloomberg Government and Cardiff Garcia of Financial Times, the three reflected on:
The debt-ceiling deal:
"Amazingly enough, the politically smart thing to do also happened to be the right thing to do...I always breathe a sigh of relief when this happens." -- Cardiff Garcia
Janet Yellen's first days:
"I thought stylisitcally, she was great. More confident than Bernanke was when he started his term." -- Cardiff Garcia
What's ahead for Yellen + more bets:
"I think she has a few surprises in store for us" -- Nela Richardson
"Wanna bet?" -- Kai Ryssdal
"We've had winters for as long as I can remember." -- Nela Richardson
In the past, Pandora used two factors to infer how a listener would vote: the listener's zip code, and the voting habits of people in that zip code.
Now, according to Pandora spokesperson Heidi Browning, they will add data on listener music tastes. It may sound like shaky science, but researchers have seen a correlation between the types of artists a person listens to and how he or she votes.
Artists whose fans are most likely Republicans:
- Kenny Chesney
- George Strait
- Reba McEntire
- Tim McGraw
- Jason Aldean
- Blake Shelton
- Shania Twain
- Kelly Clarkson
- Pink Floyd
- Elvis Presley
Artists whose fans are most likely Democrats:
- Lady Gaga
- Katy Perry
- Snoop Dogg
- Chris Brown
- Bob Marley
And then, there are artists that aren't really predictors. They attract both Republicans and Democrats. Six of the ten, says Whitman, are metal bands:
- The Beatles
- Marilyn Manson
- The Rolling Stones
- Johnny Cash
- Alice in Chains
- Paradise Lost
- Fleetwood Mac
Research from The Echo Nest
A new report shows over the past five years, 350 hospitals have saved more than $11 billion and nearly 150,000 lives by following best practices like how to treat pneumonia and hospital acquired infections.
Five years ago, the firm Premier launched a national quality improvement project for hospitals. The firm’s Blair Childs says through sharing data and adhering to best practices health systems have seen dramatic changes.
Take for example, when bacteria in the hospital leads to the potentially lethal illness, sepsis. “It was the number one driver of mortality in hospitals when we started this project,” says Childs.
Now it’s the 14th leading cause of mortality in the participating hospitals. Hospitals also reported improvements in patient safety and satisfaction.
Leapfrog’s Leah Binder says in the last decade the healthcare industry has made real strides in figuring out the best ways to treat certain conditions. The trouble, she says, is that it can be hard to get hospitals and staff to implement the new protocols.
"To get everybody to follow the rules actually takes a lot of effort and energy. And unfortunately, sometimes organizations don’t invest in that kind of attention and that’s the problem,” she says.
Binder says the Affordable Care Act puts in place what she considers modest incentives to improve quality. She says bigger carrots and sticks are needed to get hospitals attention.
It’s Valentine’s Day. For a lot of people, that means a day of big spending (and total paranoia).
But is your Valentine's Day dollar going to stretch as far this year as it did last year? Turns out, it depends.
Take roses. They've actually gotten less expensive. Jan Ooms has owned Roses and Blooms in Midtown Manhattan for more than 20 years. He shows off stacks of boxes that contain roses that have just been flown in from Ecuador.
"We’re looking at about 12,000 roses," says Ooms, who expects to sell about 25,000 roses out of his small shop this Valentine's Day.
Ooms says there is a Valentine’s mark-up. That's because, to get all those flowers, shops like his have to contract out entire farms in Central and South America. Growers charge a premium for the risk of dedicating entire fields to roses that must be ready exactly on time for the critical week. In the end, a dozen roses at Roses and Blooms will set you back between $28 and $70 this Valentine’s Day (vase not included) and that's not bad compared to five years ago.
"Overall, during the year, the price has been going down a little bit," says Ooms. "The bad economy has been hitting the flower business pretty hard."
Meanwhile, pricing competition has gotten fiercer.
"Flower prices overall have been declining over the past decade and that’s really with the emergence of online retailers," explains Hester Jeon, research analyst with IBISworld. "Price-based competition is more severe because consumers can compare prices."
Flowers aren’t the only Valentine’s Day essential that’s gotten cheaper: This year, bubbly is also a bargain (comparatively, anyway).
"Champagne sales globally have been in decline since 2007," says Ross Colbert, global beverage strategist with Rabobank. Colbert says demand for champagne has suffered as cheaper bubbly wines like prosecco and spumante have gained popularity. "Pricing today on champagne is probably as low as it’s going to go. There’s a lot of good value out there."
You’ll need those champagne savings to help pay for chocolates this year. Chocolate prices have plumped up a lot lately and that's mostly because of a price hike for chocolate's main raw material.
"The price of cocoa has risen significantly," says Jacques Torres, New York-based chocolatier. He says cocoa prices are up more than 25 percent from last year. That’s partly because of skyrocketing demand from new markets like India and China, and partly because of fancier tastes here at home.
"Dark chocolate sells more and more and a higher percentage of dark," says Torres. "We used to see a lot more milk and we’ve switched. Now we sell over 60 percent dark chocolates."
Dark chocolate uses more cocoa. Cocoa is more expensive. So, those fancy chocolates cost a lot more.
Now, if only diamonds will do for your Valentine, be prepared to pay, says IBISWorld’s Jeon.
"10 percent of proposals take place on Valentine’s Day, which is interesting," Jeon says.
Yes. Interesting. Jeon says more people are getting married this year, thanks to an increase in gay marriage and the improving economy.
"So we’re going to see a growth in demand for jewelry this year and also higher prices."
All told, The National Retail Federation expects the average person will spend $133 this Valentine’s day, up from $130 last year.
Unjustly enough, single people will spend more—roughly $30 more than their married counterparts. There’s also a gender divide in Valentine’s spending according to chocolatier, Jacques Torres.
"Woman are usually organized," says Torres. "They will go on the website, look at the flavors and come a couple days before and shop. Men come the last 2 hours of the day. They rush, because they double park and they have a price in mind, but they don’t know what they buy... They come in saying, 'I want $20, $50 worth of chocolate.' When they pass $100, I know they are in trouble."
That’s the thing… You could opt not to spend any money at all on Valentine’s Day, but that could end up costing a lot more.
This winter has been one of the coldest, snowiest, and most expensive in recent history. Last month the airlines cancelled 39,000 flights, the most since Hurricane Sandy. The weather likely factored into the reasons the January jobs report was so weak. States are turning to beet juice and cheese brine to combat dwindling supplies of rock salt. Perhaps most tellingly, snowed-in Northeasterners demanded that Netflix release 'House of Cards' a day early so they could stay inside and binge watch.
But as snow plows navigate the roads of weather-weary Northeast, it's important to remember that winter wasn't always this easy. That's right, before the introduction of modern snow plows, people had to use horse drawn plows, train snow blowers, and shovels to move the snow away from where they wanted to go.
Before the mid-1800s, there wasn't really any effort to get snow off roads. Just imagine no snow removal during the "The Great Snow of 1717," when New England was left with four feet of snow, and drifts of up to 25 feet high. Or "The Washington and Jefferson Snowstorm" of 1772 that trapped both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in their homes, with snow up to three feet thick.
No, before 1862, people didn't use snow plows, they used snow rollers. The way people travelled through snow was by attaching skis to their horse-drawn carts and carriages. Snow rollers were huge, horse-drawn wheels that would flatten out the snow, making it easier for the carts with skis to move through the winter roads.
But by the mid-19th century, as cities were rapidly growing in population, city streets needed to be entirely clear of snow for the business of the city to continue. And with this, came snow plows. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, they were first used by the city of Milwaukee in 1862. Early snow plows were horse-drawn, and would deposit the compacted snow in huge piles on the city's streets and sidewalks. Not all cities used plows though. Some just used shovels. In New York, clearing the snow was the responsibility of the Police Department, so on winter days, you might have seen policeman excavating thoroughfares.
At least until 1881, when it was made the charge of the Department of Street Cleaning.
Finally, during the Blizzard of 1888, cities got serious about snow removal. The blizzard covered the Northeast in four feet of snow. Carts were abandoned in the middle of the street, people were trapped in their homes for up to a week, and over 400 people died. However, this massive blizzard did force cities to change their tactics regarding snow removal. Cities increased the numbers of plows they had, and divided the cities into sections so they could more easily be tackled. And where before cities had waited until the storm was over to clear the roads, they now removed snow throughout the storm.
As horses gave way to cars and trains, so too did snow removal start to get mechanized. In Chicago, trams were affixed with plows, though most snow removal still had to be done with shovels and horse-drawn cart. (Being Chicago, this did lead to a 1907 scandal where workers, who were paid by the cart-full of snow they dumped into the lake, would only dump part of their load, thereby having to make more trips and get paid more money.) And a Canadian dentist named J.W. Elliot invented the snow blower to toss snow away from train tracks.
But the main development was in the motorized snow plow and the motorized salt spreader. As more and more cars came on the road in the early 20th Century, drivers demanded that roads be entirely free of snow. People had objected to the use of salt before (it damaged shoes and clothing), but now cities used it by the ton.
And car mounted snow plows, invented in the 1920s, started to become widely used, leading to snow removal we would recognize today. True, a huge snow plow might be less romantic than a snow roller clearing the way for horse-drawn carriages, but it (usually) enables most people to get to work on time.
It's income tax season. As taxpayers prepare for filing, we've got some practical advice on how you should prepare your taxes and what you should do with your refund (if you get one). We also took a closer look at the psychology behind filing tax returns.
Most taxpayers fill out their forms early to get their money back quicker. However, if you're writing a check and not collecting one, you'll probably want to wait as long as possible before filing your taxes. But how does a person decide how to set up their tax withholdings? It's nice to get a big refund once a year, but wouldn't you rather get more money from each paycheck?Do you like your tax refund to be...
Kelly Phillips Erb is a contributor at Forbes and runs the blog Taxgirl.com. She said it really all depends on where a person is at financially. Erb said that conventional wisdom tells us that we shouldn't get a big refund, because you don't get interest with it. Erb says that historically, if someone received a big refund they were looked at as doing something wrong. She said now, more taxpayers are under the gun financially and are looking at a refund as a forced savings account.
"A lot of taxpayers are now holding onto this big hope that they're going to get a big check and they're going to use it to pay off credit cards or they're going to use it to pay rent," said Erb.
Erb said she has always advised against getting a big refund, but she says that given the current economic climate it makes to sense to bank on that big chunk of money.
But once you get your refund, what should you actually do with it? CNBC personal finance correspondent Sharon Epperson said it should go towards retirement first.
"That might seem really kind of crazy. Especially if you're in your twenties and you've got this money and you really just want to go to Cabo and you really just want to have a great vacation and get out of this weather," said Epperson.
Epperson said the best advice she can give is to put it in a Roth IRA, since contributions you put into it can be taken out free of penalty.
Epperson said that paying off long term and high interest debt is also a priority.
"I'm just hoping that people are not getting this huge refund and getting a ton of credit card debt," said Epperson.
We asked folks on Twitter how they're going to spend their tax returns. Here's what we got:[&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="//storify.com/Ketchcast/how-will-you-spend-your-income-tax-refund" target="_blank"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;View the story "How will you spend your income tax refund?" on Storify&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;]
Follow Sharon Epperson on Twitter @sharon_epperson. Kelly Phillip Erb is on Twitter as @taxgirl.
Menswear seller Jos. A. Bank is buying Eddie Bauer. If you're keeping score at home, last year, Jos. A. Bank tried to buy Men's Wearhouse. Then Men's Wearhouse said no, we wanna buy you. Now Jos. A. Bank is buying Eddie Bauer, in part to make it harder for Men's Wearhouse to buy Joseph A Bank.
Harvard Law and Business professor Guhan Subramanian joins Marketplace's Mark Garrison to explain.
Valentine's Day is usually seen as a day for the couples, the romantics, and the folks who are in love. But it seems more like Valentine's Day 2014 is for the lovelorn and the currently single. Popular dating app Tinder even took home the "Best New Startup" award at this week’s Crunchies, an awards show honoring the best in the tech industry. Once thought to be an app just for the young, Tinder has seen their user base expand from being 90 percent in the 18-24 year-old demographic when they started, to only half of Tinderers being of the young-twenty-something persuasion now.
From quizzes, to twitter trends, Google’s doodle, and corporate promotions, Valentine's Day this year seems to be as much a day about being in love as it is the timeless question... What is Love?
Buzzfeed, the online chronicler of human desires, isn't just celebrating singleness, it's downright advocating the down-with-love sentiment:
Brands were all over it – the branding, that is. Yet, they don't seem to be encouraging much outside of playing with food…
— McDonald's (@McDonalds) February 14, 2014
Pancake love means never having to say you're hungry.
— IHOP (@IHOP) February 13, 2014
— HERSHEY'S KISSES (@HersheysKisses) February 12, 2014
Harvard Business Review took a dire look at how finding love is like a marketplace (as if singles needed to be reminded?).
"Creative" e-cards that don’t seem to inspire affection are popping up everywhere.
Vanity Fair even put together this list of valentines from TV villains.
Dating apps tell you to just get yourself out there…
Don't let Valentines Day's proximity discourage you, put yourself out there and make it your goal to find that special someone in time!
— OkCupid (@okcupid) February 10, 2014
…even though just 5 percent of Americans in a committed relationship say they met their significant other online (Pew Research).
The trending Valentine’s Day related hashtags on Twitter are quite unromantic:
I just met you and this is crazy. Here's a restraining order, sign it maybe? #HarsherLoveSongs
— James M-Theory (@JamesMinock) February 14, 2014
— Harlan Kadish (@MathMusicMole) February 14, 2014
— Nintendo Glass (@amanicdroid) February 12, 2014
And then Pope Francis urged young people to get married:
Dear young people, don’t be afraid to marry. A faithful and fruitful marriage will bring you happiness.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) February 14, 2014
Policy wonks are writing pieces on “how to save marriage,” which should encourage concern in any person looking to get married for the first time (or again).
Finally, no one really knows if St. Valentine himself was married. There is little written about him in his lifetime, outside of reports of his acts to marry others.
So whether you're looking for love, or doing just fine all by yourself, Valentine’s Day 2014 seems to be for the unattached. Here's to you, single people: reclaiming Valentine’s Day one hashtag at a time.
Recent reports show that one-third of the workforce are freelancers. By 2020, that number is expected to jump to half of the workforce. And freelancers rarely get health insurance or retirement benefits. What should you do if you don't work the traditional 9-to-5? We'll be tackling it on next week's episode of Marketplace Money, so send us those questions!
On Valentine's Day week, we dip into the archives to bring back a few stories of when love and money intersect:Learning financial intimacy: What's your money type? Budgeting for love: Money and multicultural weddings When your heart wants what's bad for your wallet
And the big news around the Twittersphere this week was how winter storms is shutting down the southeast U.S. We asked what people were doing to prepare:
— Princess Small (@Prinny_Small) February 13, 2014
— frisbeemcjingle (@frisbeemcjingle) February 13, 2014
Never understood people in the South who clear grocery shelves & act like world is ending. It usually warms up in a few days. @LiveMoney
— Sara G (@SaraOnTheGo) February 13, 2014
— akashagrrl (@akashagrrl) February 13, 2014
Who knew you needed to be snowed in to drink wine and binge-watch Netflix?Ask us your money questions on Twitter, Facebook or record a voicemail!