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L.A.'s High Unemployment, RAND's New Research Center, Twitter: RAND Weekly Recap

August 14, 2020

We discuss why Los Angeles has the nation's highest unemployment; a new RAND research center focused on racial equity policy; what might happen if China develops a successful COVID-19 vaccine; how the U.S. military services approach leadership; eating habits among people in the UK; the national security risks of an insider threat at Twitter.

People socially distance as they protest in support of laid-off hotel workers without health care amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Los Angeles, California, July 23, 2020, photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Why L.A. Has the Highest Unemployment

Los Angeles and its neighboring counties are among the areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 recession. In June, the unemployment rate in the Los Angeles–Long Beach–Anaheim metro area was 18.1 percent—the highest in the country. But for the poor and some racial and ethnic groups, the jobs picture is even worse, says RAND's Jason Ward. What accounts for these differences? For starters, the Los Angeles region had among the worst income inequality in the nation even before the pandemic began.

Multi-ethnic arms raised in the air on dark gray background, photo by Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

Image by Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

The RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy

Against the backdrop of a pandemic inflicting disproportionate pain on communities of color, and an overdue reckoning with America's long history of inequity and racism, RAND is launching its Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy. Anita Chandra, vice president of RAND's Social and Economic Well-Being research division, describes the need for this commitment: “We must examine where inequities intersect across systems and groups, represent voices that are too often left out…and integrate the structural contexts in which policies have [sometimes had] unintended consequences.”

A nurse holds China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in Porto Alegre, Brazil, August 8, 2020, photo by Diego Vara/Reuters

A nurse holding China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in Porto Alegre, Brazil, August 8, 2020

Photo by Diego Vara/Reuters

What If China Produces a Successful COVID-19 Vaccine?

China could be among the countries that first produces a successful vaccine for COVID-19. If this happens, there are important issues to consider, says RAND's Jennifer Bouey. First, although China is responsible for about 20 percent of global vaccine production, it mostly targets the domestic market. And for a vaccine to reach the global market, additional regulatory requirements must be met. Second, a “regulatory divide” means that a Chinese vaccine would be unlikely to come to the United States, the EU, or Japan.

Servicemembers from all four military branches salute during the 50th Annual EOD Memorial Service, May 4, 2019, photo by Samuel King Jr./U.S. Air Force

Servicemembers from all four military branches salute during the 50th Annual EOD Memorial Service, May 4, 2019

Photo by Samuel King Jr./U.S. Air Force

How the Military Services Approach Leadership

How might U.S. military leadership change to better serve national security objectives? To help answer this question, a new RAND report analyzes the professional experiences and shared characteristics of general and flag officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The findings revealed some commonalities. For example, promotion boards across all the services tend to select officers whose career experiences are comparable to their own. However, each service's approach to personnel management differs in some key ways.

Woman shopping for organic produce in delicatessen, photo by Monkey Business Images/Adobe Stock

Photo by Monkey Business Images/Adobe Stock

Understanding Food Consumption in the UK

Despite ethical and sustainable eating trends, such as “Veganuary” and “Meat Free Monday,” most people in the UK still don't eat a healthy diet. A new RAND Europe study examines what's behind the food choices people make—and the policies used to help promote healthier habits. According to lead author Camilla d'Angelo, it's important to develop a policy approach that balances “soft” measures, such as awareness campaigns, with stronger policies, such as changes to the cost and content of food.

Twitter logo and binary cyber codes, November 26, 2019, photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

An Insider Threat at Twitter Is a Risk to Everyone

Last month's hijacking of dozens of high-profile Twitter accounts appears to have been achieved through an elaborate combination of social engineering and spear-phishing that targeted specific Twitter employees. According to RAND experts, such vulnerabilities at tech platforms can also threaten national security. But there are steps that social media companies can take to reduce the risk of insider threats, such as reconsidering broad staff access to data and compartmentalizing data access.

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