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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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10 Challenges Biden Faces in Righting the Economy

All presidents come into office vowing to rapidly put into effect an ambitious agenda. But for Joseph R. Biden Jr., the raging coronavirus pandemic and the economic pain it is causing mean many things must get done quickly if he wants to get the economy going. In a speech Thursday on his $1.9 trillion spending proposal, Mr. Biden repeatedly stressed the need to act “now.”But piecing together a majority in Congress could take time: Compromises and concessions will be needed to get the votes he will need to advance legislation.The new president is expected to reverse many of Donald …

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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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Is Inflation About to Take Off? That’s the Wrong Question

The warnings that higher inflation lurks around the corner are starting to show up everywhere.They are appearing in some business surveys, with companies looking to raise prices as they prepare for a post-pandemic economy. They are showing up in the bond market, where price moves in the last few months imply that big-money investors expect consumer prices will start to rise faster. And they are apparent in the news media, from magazine covers to financial news segments.But inflation itself is not showing up: The Consumer Price Index in December showed only a 1.4 percent rise in what Americans paid …

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A Second Economic Crisis for Biden, but a Different First Response

Mr. Biden has stressed that such aid will support increased consumer spending, but he and his team cast the goal of distributing the money in more human terms: to ensure as many Americans as possible avoid the scarring damage of homelessness, hunger and the virus itself.The Biden team and its allies are confident that, if they succeed, the economy will be poised for a roaring rebound. Other policymakers and forecasters, including Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, have predicted a swift rebound once the virus is under control.“The recovery from the Great Recession was delayed by years …

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Retail Sales Drop in December for Third-Straight Month

Consumer spending fell for the third-consecutive month in December, confirming what many economists had predicted would be a disappointing holiday season for many retailers and restaurants.Retail sales fell 0.7 percent last month, the Commerce Department said on Friday, as the economic recovery showed signs of stalling and virus cases surged across the country, prompting shoppers to avoid stores amid a new wave of restrictions.For the second-straight month, the drop was worse than what most economists had predicted, showing that the deterioration of the broader economy in the final quarter of 2020 was deeper than expected.“In one line: grim,” is …

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With Vaccines and Stimulus on the Way, Banks Brighten Their Outlook

The results showed that JPMorgan’s retail customers have been buying houses and cars. The number of mortgages and auto loans rose 20 percent compared with a year earlier. The bank’s profit from stock trading jumped 32 percent, while earnings from trading in bonds, currencies, commodities and other products rose 15 percent from the same period a year earlier.Citigroup said on Friday that it had released nearly $1.5 billion from its reserves, but it was not enough to raise its quarterly earnings above what it earned in the same period in 2019. The bank reported a profit of $4.6 billion on revenue of $16.5 billion. …

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Biden Outlines $1.9 Trillion Spending Package to Combat Virus and Downturn

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday proposed a $1.9 trillion rescue package to combat the economic downturn and the Covid-19 crisis, outlining the type of sweeping aid that Democrats have demanded for months and signaling the shift in the federal government’s pandemic response as Mr. Biden prepares to take office.The package includes more than $400 billion to combat the pandemic directly, including money to accelerate vaccine deployment and to safely reopen most schools within 100 days. Another $350 billion would help state and local governments bridge budget shortfalls, while the plan would also include $1,400 direct payments to individuals, more generous …

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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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