Jobless Claims and Other Business News: Live Updates

Here’s what you need to know:

Recognition…Ruth Fremson / The New York Times

The surge in jobless claims last March was one of the first clear warnings of the havoc the pandemic has wreaked in the American economy.

A year later this Klaxon is still booming.

Labor ministry data on Thursday morning is expected to show that more than 700,000 people first filed for state unemployment benefits last week. Hundreds of thousands more have likely applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal emergency program that covers freelancers, the self-employed, and others who are not entitled to benefits during normal times.

Last week was the 52nd straight with increased submissions. In a week last March, the number of applications increased tenfold, from less than 300,000 to around three million. They topped six million a week later when businesses across the country shut down.

The numbers have fallen significantly since then, but thanks to at least some measures they remain higher than in any previous recession. And progress has stalled: the first weekly claims under regular programs and emergency programs combined have been just over a million since last fall.

“It’s going a little bit up, it’s going down, but we really haven’t seen much progress,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist for Indeed careers site. “After a year I ask myself: What does it take to fix the size problem? How is this going to end? “

Most forecasters expect the labor market recovery to accelerate in the coming months as warmer weather and rising vaccination rates allow more businesses to reopen and new state aid encourages Americans to go out and spend. Federal Reserve policymakers said Wednesday they expected the unemployment rate to fall to 4.5 percent by the end of the year, a marked improvement from the 5 percent they forecast three months ago.

Ford, whose main campus is in Dearborn, Michigan, will switch to a model that will allow some employees to work from home at times.Recognition…Rebecca Cook / Reuters

Many Ford Motor employees will have to continue working remotely for at least some time after the pandemic ends.

The company announced on Wednesday that it would move to a “flexible hybrid work model” that would allow workers to stay at home to work focused and come to the office for collaboration-based activities like team building exercises.

In the United States, Ford currently has more than 30,000 employees working remotely due to the pandemic. The new system will go into effect in July when the company, which has its main campus in Dearborn, Michigan, is expected to gradually bring more employees back to the office, it said.

“Any non-location-based employee, starting with our executive team, will participate in the hybrid approach,” wrote Kiersten Robinson, the company’s chief people officer, in a handbook distributed to employees. “While we recognize that this requires different skills and resources, we see it as a great accelerator and competitive advantage for the company. This enables us to be agile and nimble and to realize the full potential of our team. “

Ford is the latest to announce that remote working will continue even after the pandemic ends.

In February, San Francisco-based Salesforce announced that the majority of the global workforce would no longer need to return to the office after the pandemic ended, and adopted a Work From Anywhere plan that would give employees flexibility in how, when, and how How offers where they work. Target has also announced it will switch to a partially removed model and lose some of its office space.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday it had issued subpoenas to several Chinese companies asking them to provide the government with more information about their use and transfer of American data to ensure confidential information is not leaked to China.

The department has not clarified which Chinese companies are affected.

“With the issuance of subpoenas today, we are taking an important step in collecting information that will enable us to take possible measures that will best protect the security of American companies, American workers, and the national security of the United States,” said Gina Raimondo, Trade Secretary. said in a statement.

“The government is determined to take a state-wide approach to ensuring that untrustworthy companies cannot misuse and abuse data and to ensure that US technology does not support the malicious activities of China or other actors,” she said.

The subpoenas are part of a review of company activities related to an information and communications technology and services industry executive order issued by the Trump administration.

The order would give the Department of Commerce extensive powers to conduct police transactions by companies in the industry that are owned by foreign nations and pose a risk to US national security. The measure, which was first adopted in May 2019, has been criticized for its vague wording and the fact that it leaves the Secretary of Commerce with so much discretion.

Wages in establishments that have successfully avoided union formation tended to be significantly higher than typical wages in their areas.  At Amazon's Bessemer, Ala. Facility, workers earn nearly $ 3 less than the median income in the area.Recognition…Bob Miller for the New York Times

The latest figure for the median wage in the greater Birmingham, Alabama area was nearly $ 3 higher than Amazon’s wages in its Bessemer warehouse, although Amazon advertises that most ordinary workers there make about $ 15.50 an hour .

It is common for employers facing a union vote to stress the generosity of their wages and suggest that workers could be worse off if they unionized, reports Noam Scheiber for the New York Times.

The catch is that wages in establishments that have successfully avoided unionisation tend to be significantly higher than typical wages in their areas, which makes workers feel that they have something valuable to lose.

  • Seasoned production workers earned $ 23.50 an hour at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2019 when they were considering union formation.

  • The comparable figure was $ 23 at Boeing’s South Carolina facility when workers were voting on a union.

  • At the Nissan plant in Mississippi, the number at the vote there was also $ 26 in 2017.

The union lost in all three cases.

In contrast, unions have been successful when companies have kept wages low. In the first half of the 2010s, workers at several auto parts suppliers in Alabama and elsewhere in the south were unionized, often citing low wages and benefits as a nuisance.

In 2015, employees of the Commercial Vehicle Group in Piedmont, Ala., Which makes seats for trucks, voted, roughly two-to-one, to join the United Automobile Workers union. Workers at the plant complained about wages that started at $ 9.70 an hour for contract workers and started at $ 15.80 for full-time workers.

“Workers always say this: it’s about respect, appreciation,” said Gary Casteel, the former UAW second-rate officer who oversaw much of the organization in the south. “That’s not the case. It’s about the money. Everyone wants to get paid more.”

  • The Internal Revenue Service will give Americans until May 17 to file their taxes, the agency said on Wednesday. The IRS stressed that the additional time only applies to federal returns and not to state returns. Therefore, taxpayers should check with their state tax authorities about changes to the deadlines. This also does not apply to estimated tax payments that are due on April 15th and are still due on that day.

  • The latest Federal Reserve projections showed that central bank policymakers do not expect interest rates to rise until at least 2023. The Fed is also buying $ 120 billion a month in bonds – $ 80 billion worth of government bonds plus $ 40 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities in debt. Fed chairman Jerome Powell announced on Wednesday that the Fed was unwilling to even talk about when to cut back on that support. “We will look ahead carefully,” he said. “When we see that we are on the right track” then “we will say it, and we will say it so long before any decision to actually rejuvenate” is made. “

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