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Record 3.3 Million Americans File for Unemployment as the US Tries to Contain Covid-19

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Record 3.3 million Americans file for unemployment as the US tries to contain Covid-19

A record 3.3 million people filed claims for unemployment in the US last week as the Covid-19 pandemic shut down large parts of America’s economy.

According to the labor department, the number of new jobless claims filed by individuals seeking unemployment benefits rose by more than three million to 3.28m from 281,000 the previous week. The figure is the highest ever reported, beating the previous record of 695,000 claims filed the week ending 2 October 1982.

The release offers the first official glimpse of the severe economic downturn that the US faces as companies shutter businesses and states across the country move to prevent people from gathering in crowds in an attempt to contain the virus.

“This morning’s jobless claims confirm that the United States is in the thralls of a catastrophic unemployment crisis, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Great Depression,” said Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation thinktank. “This represents the single worst one-day piece of labor market news in America’s history.”

Across the US, laid off workers have overwhelmed state labor departments with claims for unemployment benefits. In New York City, which now accounts for roughly 5% of global Covid-19 cases, there has been a 1,000% increase in claims.

Ahead of the labor department release, the Trump administration pushed to block states from releasing daily figures on the soaring unemployment crisis.

Ohio and South Carolina stopped releasing daily figures after receiving a memo from the department of labor that read: “The data from these reports is monitored closely by policy makers and financial markets to determine appropriate actions in light of fast-changing economic conditions. As such, the data must remain embargoed until the national claims report is released the following Thursday at 8.30am.”

According to Johns Hopkins University there are now 55,233 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US and 802 reported deaths, up from 302 last weekend. Despite the rising casualties, president Donald Trump said this week that he would like the country “opened up and just raring to go by Easter”.

Trump is concerned the quarantine measures could prove more harmful than the virus, an opinion that is disputed by economists and health experts. On Wednesday he tweeted: “The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!”

The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success. The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 25, 2020

Last week’s sharp rise in unemployment marks the end of an historic period of US jobs growth. US employers have added jobs every month for 101 consecutive months and in March the unemployment rate was 3.5%, a 50-year low.

Economists said it was still too early to gauge the depth and length of the pandemic’s impact on the jobs market. Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis president James Bullard has said he expects unemployment to hit 30% in the second quarter, while Morgan Stanley has estimated that unemployment would average 12.8% over that time period.

“There is going to be a lot of hardship for a lot of people,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist of The PNC Financial Services Group. But he expects to see a “solid rebound” by the summer if the virus is contained by then.

Copyright © 2020 theguardian.com. All rights reserved.

Business

Dems Can Only Blame Pelosi For Failure To Secure More Stimulus Money

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Dems Can Only Blame Pelosi For Failure To Secure More Stimulus Money

The next round of stimulus money will unlikely include any major concessions for Democrats. With this, the party has nobody to blame but Nancy Pelosi.

Astonishingly, that opinion comes from David Dayen, the executive editor of The American Prospect. The said magazine stays “dedicated to liberalism and progressivism.”

In a recent article titled “A Leader Without Leading,” Dayen says during the passage of the last stimulus bill in late April, Pelosi – along with Sen. Chuck Shumer – chose to forego adding their wishlist to the bill, believing they would have another shot. That shot, thus far, has never materialized.

“Republicans wanted more money for forgivable loans for small businesses. Democrats had a host of liberal priorities left out of prior legislation that could have been paired with the extension. But Pelosi and her Senate colleague Chuck Schumer chose to go along with the Republican framework, leaving everything else for later.”

“Immediately afterward, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hit the pause button on future legislation. It felt like the Democrats were played.” said Dayen.

Credits for the Republicans

He also credits the Republicans for knowing exactly what they wanted out of each stimulus bill. The Republicans did so all while Pelosi fumbled away every opportunity.

“When the coronavirus spread and lockdowns buckled the economy, Republicans knew exactly what they wanted—protect large corporations and investors—and pursued it unerringly. Pelosi had no coherent agenda to fall back on. She’d spent the past year advancing complex, multifaceted bills and watching them wither in Mitch McConnell’s legislative graveyard.”

Dayen adds, “H.R. 1, the House’s signature legislation during this Congress, which attempted to nationalize voter registration, establish nonpartisan redistricting commissions, add ethics standards to the Supreme Court, add a voluntary public-financing option for campaigns, require presidents to release tax returns, disclose donors for super PACs, make Election Day a holiday, and about 20 other things in a single bill, is a perfect example of this syndrome. There’s no single narrative to grab onto, just a mélange of advocacy group–approved planks. This left House leadership unprepared as the pandemic began its march.”

Pelosi worked on the earlier stimulus bills. While doing so, she allowed the Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, to craft the CARES Act. Dayen says this meant that Democrats “just got to tweak McConnell’s work, without altering its tilt toward the powerful.”

Pelosi and the HEROES Act

Dayen’s takedown on Pelosi ends with her “pie-in-the-sky” HEROES Act. Somehow, she even managed to make a mess of her own bill.

“Incredibly in the midst of a crisis, was a Pelosi tendency that had grown over the years: obsessive concern with deficits. Pelosi rolled back student debt relief in the HEROES Act after learning that it would cost $100 billion more than expected. This was a $3.2 trillion messaging bill not designed to become law, yet an additional 3 percent cost was considered unacceptable. Pelosi also declined to add “automatic stabilizers” that would maintain expanded benefits until economic stress dissipated, blaming a Congressional Budget Office scoring quirk that made the cost appear artificially larger.”

“So with over 30 million out of work, the important thing to Pelosi was that her pie-in-the-sky, going-nowhere bill was ‘reasonable,’ based on some ineffable standard of reason…”

“Devotion to deficit hawkery in normal times is unwise policy. It’s downright fatal during an economic crisis, where relief could be yanked away from needy families prematurely simply because of an unwillingness to challenge CBO’s scoring model.”

Many expect lawmakers to vote on the next stimulus bill sometime after July 20. If you hear Democrats complaining about how “unfair” the bill is, just remember who is negotiating for their side.

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Why You Should Consider Filing For Social Security At Age 62

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Why You Should Consider Filing For Social Security At Age 62

Earlier this week we discussed four common regrets that retirees have when they look back at their golden years. One of the most common regrets was filing for Social Security benefits at 62, the earliest possible age. According to the Social Security Administration, about 1 out of 3 people apply for benefits at that age.

The regret is that if they had waited longer to file for their benefits, their monthly check would be much larger. For example, by delaying filing for Social Security until age 70, your monthly benefits can be as much as 75% larger than someone who filed at age 62. That’s because benefits grow by a guaranteed 5% to 8% each year that you delay your claim.

But there are always two sides to a coin. Today we wanted to discuss the benefits of filing for Social Security as soon as possible. With this, you can decide which approach you believe will benefit you the most.

The Case For Filing Social Security Early

The earliest you can file for Social Security benefits is age 62, but each month you file before reaching your full retirement age (FRA) cuts your monthly benefit amount. As an example, if your full retirement age is 67 and you start your claim at age 62, your monthly check will be reduced by approximately 30%.

Despite the reduced monthly benefit that comes with filing early, tens of millions of Americans make that decision every year. And it boils down to one line:

We have no idea what the future holds.

The financial benefits of waiting until age 70 to claim Social Security make complete sense. But we don’t know how long we will live, so we don’t know if the trade-off is worth it. If we knew we would live a long, healthy life until age 100, we would all delay filing until age 70 and reap the maximum reward.

But if you decided to wait until age 70 to claim, and unfortunately passed away before that, you would have foregone all the retirement income from age 62 on.

Waiting to file is a gamble, but so is giving up guaranteed monthly income starting at age 62.

Deciding when to claim your benefits requires serious thought and shouldn’t be a hastily made decision. And we aren’t saying that filing Social Security immediately at 62 or waiting until age 70 is the right choice. Every situation is different. If you are still healthy and working, waiting a few years passed 62 to claim but not all the way to 70 might be a good compromise. You’ll get a larger check than had you claimed right away, and your regular working income can make up for some of the reduced benefit amount since you didn’t wait until age 70.

The most important thing, whether you file at 62 or 70, is to find enjoyment in your golden years.

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Mnuchin: Next Stimulus Coming By End of Month, No More Extra Unemployment Money

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Mnuchin: Next Stimulus Coming By End of Month, No More Extra Unemployment Money

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the next stimulus bill will be much more targeted than previous bills. He also said the goal is to get the next bill approved between July 20 and the end of this month. That time is when Congress will return from their holiday break and before they leave for August recess.

On Broad Stimulus Measures

It appears the White House will not support the type of broad stimulus measures of the previous bills. Instead, it will focus on direct payments to Americans. In an interview with CNBC yesterday, Mnuchin said “we do support another round” of stimulus checks to individuals. This mirrors the $1,200 payments that the government sent out as part of the $2 trillion rescue legislation passed in March.

Mnuchin didn’t mention whether he supported the idea of a $40,000 income cap to receive a check that has been floated by GOP lawmakers. The income cap for the first stimulus check was $75,000. He did say that he spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He also mentioned the “level and criteria” for checks would be discussed when lawmakers return to Washington.

Any new stimulus bill would likely not include proposals from the Democrats that include hazard pay for essential workers. It likely won’t include a longer extension of strengthened unemployment benefits, mortgage and rent relief, and support for state and local governments, too.

Mnuchin reiterated that the White House isn’t in favor of more relief money for states and municipalities to make up for lost revenue. Some state and local governments are considering trimming essential services as costs balloon and revenues drop. He said the administration does not want to “bail out” states that were “mismanaged” before the virus hit.

On Unemployment Benefits

Another critical topic the lawmakers will tackle the end of the enhanced unemployment benefits on July 30. They will do so when they return to Washington D.C.

Mnuchin said the White House has no interest in extending the enhanced benefits any further. Instead, he said it wants to change how they pay benefits. He did not give details. However, he did hint that unemployed workers shouldn’t be able to earn more money compared to full-time employees

“You can assume that it will be no more than 100%” of a worker’s usual pay, Mnuchin said. This echoes many Republicans who argue the additional benefits are preventing some from returning to work. These workers do this so that they make more at home than they would at their jobs.

While Mnuchin says the White House isn’t in favor of extending unemployment benefits, it is extending the Paycheck Protection Program that provides loans for small businesses. Earlier this week the Trump administration released a list of companies that received loans from the government. With that, backlash ensued as numerous businesses tied to wealthy individuals were found to have requested funds. Of the $130 billion remaining in the program, Mnuchin said he wants new relief to be “much, much more targeted” than past rounds of funding.

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