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20 Ways America Shifted While You Weren’t Looking

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From the rise of the gig economy and medical advancements to the drop in teenage pregnancy and climate change, we have seen it all in the last ten years. Read on as we revisit the changes that have shaped the US over the past decade.

Rise of the Gig Economy

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The rise of companies like Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, Etsy, and Fiverr in the past decade has fueled an increase in temp jobs, freelancing, and single-contract gigs. The gig economy’s share of the workplace jumped from 15.8% in 2015 to 36% in 2019, with US workers increasingly engaging in gig work. This trend continues to grow among millennials, with 47% reportedly freelancing.

Work From Home Option

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The last decade has seen a boom in remote work positions, with 83% of US workplaces now offering flexible options or planning to do so, as per a study by the International Workplace Group.

Tech advancements have turned us all into digital nomads. Collaborating across different industries and time zones has become much easier with tools like videoconferencing.

Climate Change

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America has experienced its hottest decade, with increased extreme weather events, floods, droughts, and invasive species. Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels have grown by 10%, and the global average temperature rose from 0.88°C above pre-industrial levels in 2010 to about 1.1°C in 2019. These statistics show that we must improve our policies to combat climate change.

Cheaper Mobile Networks

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Mobile networks in the US have taken a giant leap forward. We’ve seen a shift from 3G to 4G and now 5G, bringing faster speeds, better connectivity, and a smoother user experience. These improvements have also brought down the costs. The cost per megabyte transmitted has dropped significantly, making mobile networks better and more cost-effective.

Gay Marriage is Legalized

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America saw significant improvements in LGBTQ+ rights in the US. In a landmark decision, the US Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2015, in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, that same-sex marriage is a legal right across the United States. This ruling meant the 14 states with bans on same-sex marriage could no longer enforce them.

Artificial Intelligence Is Real Now

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AI has become a game-changer. Ten years ago, AI was just a concept, but today, it is a part of our everyday lives. From GitHub’s Copilot to OpenAI’s GPT-3, AI has advanced astonishingly. With digital assistants like Siri and Alexa, AI has entered our homes and pockets.

Cigarette Smoking Is Down

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Once considered glamorous, smoking isn’t cool anymore. According to the CDC, the percentage of adults in the US who smoke cigarettes has declined from 20.9% in 2005 to 11.5% in 2021.

Vaping Is on The Rise

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Vaping is on the rise in the US, especially among young people. E-cigarettes heat nicotine, flavorings, and some other chemicals to create an aerosol that you inhale. While vaping may be less harmful than smoking, it is still unsafe.

People Spend More on Eating Out Than Groceries

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Cooking at home is a fading trend. Americans now spend more on dining out and ordering in than groceries. According to the US Census Bureau, Americans spent 20% more at restaurants or ordering food than on groceries in 2022. The rising prices of groceries may have a role to play here.

Drop in Teen Pregnancy

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The US has seen a drop in teenage pregnancies over the last decade. According to the CDC, the Overall pregnancy rates and unintended pregnancy rates for teens aged between 15 and 19 declined by more than half (52%) from 2010.

Weed is Legal in More States

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Since 1973, when Oregon first decriminalized marijuana, many states have followed suit. By 2010, Arizona and DC had legalized it for medical use. In 2012, Colorado and Washington voted to allow it for recreational use. By 2019, 11 states and DC had legalized recreational marijuana. However, it’s still federally illegal.

Internet has Replaced Travel Agents

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With the rise of online platforms, individuals are now planning and booking their own travels. They can research, compare prices, and book flights, hotels, and tours. This gives them control and personalization, though it requires time and effort.

Medical Advancements

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Medical advancements over the past decade include 3D-printed organs, gene therapy, understanding of gut microbes, breakthroughs in HIV and Aids treatment, and immunotherapy for cancers. These developments can potentially revolutionize healthcare, offering hope for many grave conditions.

The Way We Shop Has Changed

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Shopping has undergone significant changes, especially with the advent of digital technology. The popularity of online platforms like Amazon has shifted consumer behavior towards convenience and speed. Even the malls and physical shops have adapted to this change by integrating online services.

Cell Phones Have Replaced Cameras

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Cell phones have changed the way we take photos. They have replaced the point-and-shoot cameras we used to own. With the advancement in technology, smartphones can now produce high-quality images. Even movies are shot on cellphone cameras these days.

School Shootings Are on the Rise

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School shootings in the US have seen a sharp rise over the past decade, affecting all types of communities and leading to increased student activism. While urban schools and people of color are disproportionately affected, mass shootings are more common in white, suburban schools. This surge in violence has sparked a wave of protests, including the March for Our Lives.

Depression Rates Have Increased

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Depression rates have significantly increased in the US over the past decade, particularly among young people. In 2020, an estimated 14.8 million US adults had at least one major depressive episode. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated symptoms of depression among a large portion of the US population.

Tattoos Are No Longer a Symbol of Rebellion

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Tattoos have transitioned from a symbol of rebellion to a mainstream form of self-expression. They’re no longer just for sailors, bikers, or outcasts. Today, people from all walks of life, including doctors, lawyers, and even teachers, are getting inked. TV shows like “Miami Ink” and “Inked” have helped shatter tattoo taboos.

Self Driving Cars

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Self-driving cars have become a reality in the last decade. Thanks to advanced sensors and technologies like LIDAR, sonar, GPS, and radar, they can navigate without human input. Companies like Tesla and Uber are leading the way in this field.

Music Listening Habits Changed

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Spotify revolutionized the music industry. The service debuted in America in July 2011, marking a significant musical milestone. Following this, numerous other music streaming platforms, such as Apple Music and TIDAL, emerged.

The advent of streaming transformed our music listening habits, and in turn, music evolved to adapt to these new patterns. Songs became shorter, genres merged, and language barriers were broken down.