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Continuing Job Losses Put Spotlight on Economic Relief

Mr. Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that would include $1,400 in direct payments to individuals, expanded unemployment benefits and money for hard-pressed states and cities.In written testimony released Thursday as part of her Senate confirmation process, Janet L. Yellen, Mr. Biden’s nominee for Treasury secretary, reiterated the urgency of renewed aid.“Unemployment remains troublingly high, and millions of families are facing hunger or the risk of eviction,” Ms. Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, told a questioner. “Additional relief is needed to strengthen the economy, address our public health challenge and provide relief to communities that have …

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How Our Unemployment Benefits System Failed

The nation’s unemployment insurance program, conceived during the Great Depression, was meant to keep jobless workers and their families from suffering drops in income that could tip them into poverty or force them to liquidate their assets to afford food, rent and other necessities.Its goals included allowing the unemployed to wait for a productive job to materialize, rather than take the first one that appeared, and providing stability to the economy in recessions, mitigating the expected drop in consumption when millions of workers lost their jobs.The tussle in Congress last month over whether to extend emergency unemployment …

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How Full Employment Became Washington’s Creed

As President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. prepares to take office this week, his administration and the Federal Reserve are pointed toward a singular economic goal: Get the job market back to where it was before the pandemic hit.The humming labor backdrop that existed 11 months ago — with 3.5 percent unemployment, stable or rising work force participation and steadily climbing wages — turned out to be a recipe for lifting all boats, creating economic opportunities for long-disenfranchised groups and lowering poverty rates. And price gains remained manageable and even a touch on the low side. That contrasts with efforts to push the labor …

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Unemployment Claims Rise Sharply, Showing New Economic Pain

Ten months after the coronavirus crisis decimated the labor market, the resurgent pandemic keeps sending shock waves through the American economy.Though more than half of the 22 million jobs lost last spring have been regained, a new surge of infections has prompted shutdowns and layoffs that have hit the leisure and hospitality industries especially hard, dealing a setback to the recovery.The latest evidence came on Thursday when the Labor Department reported that initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose sharply last week, exceeding one million for the first time since July.Just days earlier, the government announced that employers …

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What’s in Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan

The incoming Biden administration unveiled a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan on Thursday that offered a wish list of spending measures meant to help both people and the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic, from state and local aid and more generous unemployment benefits to mass vaccinations.Below, we run through a few of the biggest provisions, how they would work and what they might mean for the United States economy as it struggles through a winter of surging coronavirus cases and partial state and local lockdowns.Let’s put that headline number in context.That $1.9 trillion figure is a lot of …

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Jobless, Selling Nudes Online and Still Struggling

Savannah Benavidez stopped working at her job as a medical biller in June to take care of her 2-year-old son after his day care shut down. Needing a way to pay her bills, she created an account on OnlyFans — a social media platform where users sell original content to monthly subscribers — and started posting photos of herself nude or in lingerie.Ms. Benavidez, 23, has made $64,000 since July, enough not just to take care of her own bills, but to help family and friends with rent and car payments.“It’s more money than I have ever made in any job,” …

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December Jobs Report: Recovery Goes Into Reverse

The already sputtering economic rebound went into reverse last month as employers laid off workers amid rising coronavirus cases and delayed government aid.U.S. employers cut 140,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department said Friday. It was the first net decline in payrolls since last spring’s mass layoffs and followed five straight months in which hiring had slowed.The report was a grim capstone to a year in which the economy lost more than nine million jobs, the worst on a percentage basis since World War II. It also means that President Trump will be the first chief executive …

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The December Numbers Were Awful, but the Economy Has a Clear Path to Health

It seemed appropriate that the jobs numbers for the final months of 2020 would be as nasty as the year as a whole was.It is fair to say that the loss of 140,000 jobs in December indicates a backsliding of the economic recovery that took place in the summer and fall. Other numbers in Friday’s report confirm that basically gloomy picture, such as the continued depressed share of adults who are in the labor force. In the debate over which letter of the alphabet best describes the pattern of the 2020 economy, the December numbers pretty much rule out “V.”But. …

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Fed Officials Debated Rate Liftoff in 2015, Offering Lessons for Today

The Federal Reserve lifted interest rates from near-zero in 2015 after years of holding them at rock bottom following the 2008 global financial crisis. Transcripts from their policy discussions, released Friday, show just how fraught that decision was.The debate that played out then is especially relevant at a time when the central bank has again slashed interest rates practically to zero, this time to fight the pandemic-induced economic downturn. The concerns that officials voiced over lifting rates in 2015 — that inflation would not pick up, and that the labor market had further to heal — proved prescient in ways that will inform policy …

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As Some Deficit Hawks Turn Dove, the New Politics of Debt Are on Display

And while running big deficits might have once stoked fears about inflation — as too many dollars chased too few goods — price gains have been too low for comfort for years. Add to that the emergency needs prompted by the pandemic, and even the Fed’s leader, who had long warned about the nation’s debt load, has said this is a reasonable time to spend money.“As a general rule, it is important to be on a sustainable fiscal path,” the Fed chair, Jerome H. Powell, a Republican, said at a news conference last month. “From my way of thinking …

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