Jobless Claims and Other Business News: Live Updates

Here’s what you need to know: A restaurant in Seattle this month. The economy, while still struggling amid the pandemic, is showin...


A restaurant in Seattle this month. The economy, while still struggling amid the pandemic, is showing signs of growth as more people are vaccinated.
Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

The surge in unemployment filings last March provided one of the first clear warnings of the havoc the pandemic was wreaking on the American economy.

One year later, that klaxon is still blaring.

Data from the Labor Department on Thursday morning is expected to show that more than 700,000 people filed first-time applications for state unemployment benefits last week. Hundreds of thousands more probably filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an emergency federal program that covers freelancers, self-employed workers and others who don’t qualify for benefits in normal times.

Last week was the 52nd straight with elevated filings. In one week last March, applications jumped tenfold, from fewer than 300,000 to about three million. A week later, they topped six million, as businesses across the country shut down.

The figures have fallen significantly since then but remain higher than in any previous recession, at least by some measures. And progress has stalled: Initial weekly claims under regular and emergency programs, combined, have been stuck at just above one million since last fall.

“It goes up a little bit, it goes down, but really we haven’t seen much progress,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist for the career site Indeed. “A year into this, I’m starting to wonder: What is it going to take to fix the magnitude problem? How is this going to actually end?”

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

Ford, which has its main campus in Dearborn, Mich., will transition to a model in which some employees work from home part of the time.
Credit…Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Many of Ford Motor’s employees to continue to work remotely at least some of the time after the pandemic is over.

The company said on Wednesday that it would transition to a “flexible hybrid work model” that will allow workers to stay home for focused work and come into the office for collaboration-based activities, such as team-building exercises.

In the United States, Ford currently has more than 30,000 employees working remotely because of the pandemic. The new system will go into effect in July, when the company, which has its main campus in Dearborn, Mich., expects to gradually start bringing more employees back to the office, it said.

“Every non-place-dependent employee, from our leadership team on down, will participate in the hybrid approach,” Kiersten Robinson, the company’s chief people officer, wrote in a handbook distributed to employees. “While we recognize this will take different skill sets and resources, we see it as a great accelerator and competitive advantage for the company. It will enable us to be agile and nimble, and to unleash the full potential of our team.”

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

In February, San Francisco-based Salesforce said it would not require the majority of its global work force to return to the office after the pandemic is over, adopting a “Work From Anywhere” plan that would give its employees flexibility in how, when and where they work. Target also has said it would transition to a partial-remote model and would shed some of its office space.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that it had served subpoenas to multiple Chinese companies asking them to provide the government with more information on their use and transfers of American data, to ensure that sensitive information was not being shared with China.

The department did not clarify which Chinese companies were affected.

“In issuing subpoenas today, we are taking an important step in collecting information that will allow us to make a determination for possible action that best protects the security of American companies, American workers and U.S. national security,” Gina Raimondo, the commerce secretary, said in a statement.

“The administration is firmly committed to taking a whole-of-government approach to ensure that untrusted companies cannot misappropriate and misuse data and ensuring that U.S. technology does not support China’s or other actors’ malign activities,” she said.

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

The order would give the Commerce Department sweeping powers to police transactions by companies in the industry that are owned by foreign nations and pose a risk to American national security. The measure, which was first issued in May 2019, has been criticized for its vague wording and for leaving so much discretion to the commerce secretary.

  • The Internal Revenue Service will give Americans until May 17 to file their taxes, the agency said Wednesday. The I.R.S. emphasized that the extra time is only for federal returns, not state returns, so taxpayers should check with their state tax agencies about any deadline changes. It also does not apply to estimated tax payments that are due on April 15, which are still due on that day.

  • The Federal Reserve’s latest projections showed that the central bank’s policymakers don’t anticipate an increase in interest rates at least until 2023. The Fed is also buying $120 billion in bonds per month — $80 billion in Treasury securities, plus $40 billion in mortgage-backed debt. Jerome Powell, the Fed chair, indicated on Wednesday that the Fed was not ready to even start talking about when it might reduce that support. “We’ll be carefully looking ahead,” he said. “When we see that we’re on track” then “we’ll say so, and we’ll say so well in advance of any decision to actually taper.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Jobless Claims and Other Business News: Live Updates
Jobless Claims and Other Business News: Live Updates
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