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The latest on the labor market

“First-time filings for unemployment insurance were little changed over the past week despite other indicators that the labor market weakened at the end of the 2020,” CNBC reports. “Weekly claims totaled 787,000 for the week ended Jan. 2,” per the U.S. Department of Labor.

Essential context:  “Unemployment claims have been holding at about four times their pre-pandemic average through the fall and into the winter,” The Wall Street Journal notes.

Speaking of employment ...

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s insurrection at the United States Capitol, we unearthed a couple of rather astounding stats about the United States Capitol Police (USCP): According to its own website, the USCP is “comprised of more than 2,300 officers and civilian employees, and has an annual budget of approximately $460 million.”

Essential context:  In June of last year, Roll Call, the D.C.-based newspaper and website, published a story with the headline “Capitol Police, a department shrouded in secrecy” and the subhead “The police entity charged with protecting and securing Congress is not subject to FOIA requests.” FOIA stands for Freedom of Information Act, aka the Public Information Act of 1966—a government transparency law.

The USCP’s lack of mandated transparency is, of course, troubling given that the department was unable to prevent the storming of the Capitol Building by a pro-Trump mob of insurrectionists. We’ll be hearing more about what went wrong in the days (and weeks and years) to come, but a couple of good places to start:

• Kellie Carter Jackson’s “The Inaction of Capitol Police Was by Design,” published this morning by The Atlantic.

• David Hawkings’ “Capitol Police: A Spending Force,” an earlier Roll Call story—from April 2016—that puts the above staffing and budget figures in context. A key passage:

The United States Capitol Police may be the biggest, fastest growing and most far-reaching law enforcement agency the public knows almost nothing about. The size of the force has almost doubled in the past 25 years, to nearly 2,300, bigger than the municipal police departments in Atlanta, St. Louis, New Orleans or Denver. The budget has grown far, far faster—ballooning almost six times over since the early 1990s. Even adjusted for inflation, it’s nearly quadrupled.  

Keep reading here

Brands [heart] TV

In 2020, the top 25 brands that advertised on TV generated more than 825 billion ad impressions, according to iSpot.tv. The Bellevue, Wash.-based measurement firm tells Ad Age Datacenter Weekly that insurance brands Geico, Liberty Mutual and Progressive were, in that order, the three most-seen brands of the year—repeating their performance from 2019.

In fourth place in 2020: Domino’s—followed in fifth by, yes, yet another insurance company: State Farm.

Remarkably, out of the 25 brands that iSpot tracked in 2020, 18 saw year-over-year increases in total TV ad impressions.

Essential context:  More TV ad impressions doesn’t necessarily translate to higher spending. With the loss of high-priced live sports inventory for a good chunk of 2020, some brands compensated by snatching up additional inventory in lower-priced programming.

Whatsbook

“WhatsApp has told its 2 billion+ users that they must agree to share their data with Facebook in order to keep using the service,” Carly Page of Forbes reports. “Users are being alerted to the controversial change to WhatsApp’s privacy policy via an in-app notification [that] asks them to agree to share personal data, including their phone number, with Facebook.”

The deadline to agree or disagree is Feb. 8. If you disagree, you won’t be able to keep using WhatApp.

Keep reading here.

Essential context:  “WhatsApp Has Shared Your Data With Facebook for Years, Actually,” per Wired.

“When WhatsApp launched a major update to its privacy policy in August 2016,” Wired’s Lily Hay Newman reports, “it started sharing user information and metadata with Facebook. At that time, the messaging service offered its billion existing users 30 days to opt out of at least some of the sharing. If you chose to opt out at the time, WhatsApp will continue to honor that choice. The feature is long gone from the app settings, but you can check whether you’re opted out through the ‘Request account info’ function in Settings.”

Keep reading here.

Disaster recovery

You’re going to want to get your hands on “Marketing in the time of COVID-19,” Ad Age’s (free) white paper offering a deep data dive into what’s happened to marketers, media and brands during the coronavirus pandemic. Ad Age Datacenter produced the report based on data and analysis from Kantar. Get facts and stats on how the pandemic has affected ad spending, social media, consumer behavior, sports marketing, retailing and advertising creative. Download it here.

Just briefly

“U.S. tops 4,000 daily deaths from coronavirus for 1st time,” per the Associated Press.

“Comscore’s new investors will leave once-embattled company ‘essentially debt free,’” Ad Age reports.

“Data Analytics Firm CEO Arrested After Joining Mob Storming U.S. Capitol,” Variety reports. (Spoiler: The CEO is Brad Rukstales and his company is Cogensia.)

“How to review App Privacy data on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac,” per TechRepublic.

The newsletter is brought to you by Ad Age Datacenter, the industry’s most authoritative source of competitive intel and home to the Ad Age Leading National Advertisers, the Ad Age Agency Report: World’s Biggest Agency Companies and other exclusive data-driven reports. Access or subscribe to Ad Age Datacenter at AdAge.com/Datacenter.

Ad Age Datacenter is Kevin Brown, Bradley Johnson and Catherine Wolf.

This week’s newsletter was compiled and written by Simon Dumenco.