Business

EPA to rescind methane regulations for oil and gas

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to adopt new rules that would rescind regulations for methane-gas emissions, including ending requirements that oil-and-gas producers have systems and procedures to detect methane leaks in their systems, senior administration officials said. The rule changes will apply to wells drilled since 2016 and going forward, and remove the largest pipelines, storage sites and other parts of the transmission system from EPA oversight of smog and greenhouse-gas emissions. The changes also ease reporting requirements for the industry and, for some facilities, how often a plant must check for leaks of other pollutants, the officials said. The new rules, expected to be signed and issued this week, adopt most of the core elements of two proposals from 2018 and 2019. Agency officials are fulfilling a directive by President Trump to ease regulations on U.S. energy producers, and have said the rules being eliminated are duplicative of other federal and state rules. They were adopted in 2016 under former President Obama amid concerns about methane-gas leaks contributing to climate change. Methane accounts for about 10% of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions and it is about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping the earth’s heat, according to estimates used by the EPA. Agency figures show the oil-and-gas industry has long been the nation’s largest emitter of methane, even before the shale boom. As the drilling boom sent natural-gas production surging, the EPA responded in 2016 with requirements for companies to make plans for reducing emissions at new wells and the pipelines they feed. That included regular checks to close leaky valves, pipelines and tanks in the sprawling network covering millions of miles that supplies home furnaces, power plants, industrial sites and other consumers. Rescinding these requirements was a priority for small-and midsize oil-and-gas producers, which say the requirements were so costly to meet that it would be unprofitable to drill in some places. But larger producers, including international giants Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC and BP PLC, favored retaining the rules, saying a lack of climate regulation undermines their promise that the U.S. natural gas they sell is a cleaner source of energy. In recent days, the EPA and White House officials have agreed, tentatively, on a final rule package after sometimes-contentious negotiations, according to senior administration officials. It is pending a final signoff from the White House Office of Management and Budget, where the EPA sent a final draft of the rule on Friday, one of those officials said. As part of those discussions, the White House agreed to drop plans that would have eased the rules further, reducing inspections to once a year from the current twice a year. The EPA said the environmental benefits of twice-annual inspections are so large that it would be difficult legally to justify fewer inspections, the officials said. White House officials relented after EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told them that crafting a rationale for fewer inspections could delay the rest of the methane rollback past the Nov. 3 election and maybe beyond Mr. Trump’s term in office, the senior administration officials said. Their compromise requires twice-annual inspections across nearly all the oil-and-gas industry, the officials said. That maintains the status quo for most operations; it eases what had been a quarterly-inspection mandate at compressor stations, which push natural gas from the wells through the pipelines. Administration officials have largely sided with the smaller producers and pushed to roll back the methane rules as much as possible. The central tenet of their new policy is that the Obama administration erred to begin with when it claimed that the EPA had the authority to regulate methane from oil-and-gas operations. The Obama administration didn’t go through the proper scientific and legal process required to justify the 2016 rules by first determining that the oil and natural-gas industry’s greenhouse-gas emissions, primarily methane, cause or contribute to dangerous air pollution, the EPA says in the new rules, according to the senior administration officials. That determination would make it harder for a new administration to reclaim that authority without a congressional mandate. And, most important, industry and legal experts say, the new policy stops the EPA from requiring companies to add leak-prevention systems to wells drilled years ago, something that isn’t currently required, but which the EPA would eventually have been obligated to do had the Obama-era policy been allowed to stand. Leak monitoring would still be required, just not for methane directly. While the methane mandate is gone, the 2018 proposal being adopted in this package did keep well-monitoring requirements for volatile organic compounds, pollutants that cause smog. Agency leaders have said a benefit of that monitoring is that it will trap most methane emissions, too. The agreement on the frequency of those inspections now sets the stage for the EPA to officially finish the rules this week, the officials said. And agency leaders have been exploring the possibility of an event to mark the moment, with Mr. Wheeler signing them Thursday in the Pittsburgh area, heart of the country’s biggest natural-gas field, the Marcellus Shale, the officials added. Several of the country’s biggest oil-and-gas companies have major offices and operations near Pittsburgh, and the region is a key source of Mr. Trump’s political support. Pennsylvania is one of the country’s biggest swing states and Mr. Trump rode it to victory in 2016. He has boasted a pro-fossil-fuel platform and seized on enthusiasm for Republicans in western Pennsylvania that has grown alongside the oil-and-gas industry.

This is great news for American energy, and more importantly, for struggling Americans trying to pay utility bills.  Excellent!!      🙂

Dish TV bleeds subscribers while rivals benefit from COVID-19 lockdowns

Dish Network Corp. revenue slipped in the three months through June, with subscribers continuing to drop the service even as rivals benefited from COVID-19 lockdowns that prompted Americans to spend more time with at-home entertainment. The Englewood, Colorado-based satellite TV provider’s second-quarter revenue fell 0.6 percent from a year ago to $3.19 billion as profit rose to $452 million, or 78 cents per share, from $317 million the year prior. Wall Street analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting revenue of $3.1 billion on adjusted earnings of 58 cents per share. The number of paid Dish TV net subscribers fell by 40,000 in the three months through June while the amount of Sling TV net subscribers decreased by 56,000. A year ago, Dish TV subscribers fell by 79,000 while Sling TV subscribers rose by 48,000. Dish TV saw 45,000 of the approximately 250,000 commercial accounts, including companies in the airlines and hospitality industries that paused their subscriptions during the early days of the pandemic, resume their service. Dish Network shares fell 3.3 percent year-to-date through Thursday, trailing the S&P 500’s 3.66 percent gain.

U.S. Economy Adds 1.8 Million Jobs in July, Unemployment Rate Fall to 10.2%

The U.S. economy added 1.8 million jobs in July and the unemployment rate fell to 10.2 percent, providing reassurance that the labor market has kept up some of its post-lockdown momentum. The numbers were better than anticipated. Economists had forecast an addition of around 1.5 million jobs and a decline in the unemployment rate to 10.6 percent from 11.1 percent last week. The economy has added around 9.1 million jobs in the past three months. The increase in the ranks of employed workers shows that companies ramped up hiring as the economy reopened and consumers came back to stores, restaurants, and other businesses that had been shuttered in March and April. Despite the gains, employment in July was lower than its February level by 12.9 million, or 8.4 percent The largest employment increases in July occurred in leisure and hospitality, government, retail trade, professional and business services, other services, and health care, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its monthly report on the employment situation in the U.S. The leisure and hospitality sector added 592,000 jobs in July, accounting for about one-third of the gain in total nonfarm employment in July. Restaurants and bars added 502,000 employees, following gains of 2.9 million in May and June combined. This was the hardest hit area during the pandemic lockdowns when many businesses were forced to shut their doors or saw demand plummet. Manufacturing had a strong month, in large part because of the auto sector. Employment increased by 26,000. A gain of 39,000 in motor vehicles and parts was partially offset by losses in fabricated metal products, machinery, and computer and electronic products. Although manufacturing has added 623,000 jobs over the past 3 months, employment is 740,000 lower than in February, highlighting that the recovery has brought us less than halfway back to the pandemic starting point. In a surprise, government employment rose by 301,000 in July. Typically, public-sector employment falls in July. Nonetheless, government jobs are still 1.1 million lower than the February level. It appears that some of the typical July declines happened earlier than usual this year due to the lockdowns. In one negative note in the July report, the black unemployment rate remained basically unchanged at 14.6 percent for the month, although unemployment for most other population groups improved. Prior to the pandemic, black unemployment had fallen to record lows. Yet even with the retreat, the black unemployment remains below the 16.6 percent rate hit in the second year of the Obama administration. As well, the gap between black and white unemployment is narrower than was typical before Trump’s election, when black unemployment usually ran at twice the white rate. In fact, the black-white unemployment gap is at the narrowest it has ever been in data going back to the 1970s. And black gains in employment for the month were greater than those for whites and Hispanics. A report on private payrolls from ADP and Moody’s Analytics on Wednesday estimated that businesses increased their workforces by 167,000 million in July. The ADP reports have been wildly off in recent months, apparently unable to correctly anticipate the impact of the reopening of the economy. The initial estimate for estimate June was 2.4 million jobs, which was revised up to 4.3 million. Similarly, the estimate for May initially showed a loss of 2.76 million jobs, and had to be revised up to show a gain of 3 million. The Trump administration’s aid programs appear to have worked to stave off economic disaster in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Direct relief payments to taxpayers and enhanced unemployment have kept incomes up despite the huge rise in unemployment, which in turn has boosted demand for consumer products. The Paycheck Protection Progam, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses that avoid layoffs, also seems to have supported employment and rehiring. Those programs, however, have largely run their course. The $600 a week enhancement to unemployment benefits expired a week ago. The Paycheck Protection Program was meant to support employment for just a few months and most of the funds are now exhausted. Negotiations to re-up the programs have stalled on Capitol Hill, although President Donald Trump has said he will use executive orders to maintain federal support for the economy if Congress cannot agree on a plan.

More good economic news that we’re happy to report.  For more, click on the text above.   🙂

Stocks surge as Nasdaq nears 11K amid coronavirus vaccine progress

U.S. equity markets closed near the highs of the session after drugmakers reported progress in developing a COVID-19 vaccine and as Congress continued to work toward another economic relief package. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 370 points, or 1.4 percent, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.64 percent and 0.52 percent, respectively. The Nasdaq netted its 31st record-high close of the year and ended just shy of its first close above 11,000. Investors shrugged off dour data on jobs. The ADP report for July showed private employers added 167,000 jobs in July, well short of the 1.5 million that analysts surveyed by Reifintiiv were anticipating. The ADP reading sets the stage for the July jobs report, which is due out on Friday morning. Looking at stocks, Johnson & Johnson reached a more than $1 billion deal with the U.S. government to supply 100 million doses of its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies’ experimental COVID-19 vaccine for use in the U.S. once regulators approve. A Phase 1 clinical trial of drug maker Novavax, Inc.’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine was generally well-tolerated and induced antibodies in 100 percent of participants. And Moderna noted it has already received multiple orders for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine which will be priced between $32 to $37 for small doses. On the deal front, telehealth marketer Teladoc Inc. has agreed to an $18.5 billion purchase of Livongo Health Inc.; it plans to pay $11.33 cash and 0.592 Teladoc shares for each Livongo share. Looking at earnings, Dow component Walt Disney Co. reported revenue plunged 42 percent in the three months through June as COVID-19 shuttered its theme parks and postponed movie releases. While sales fell short of Wall Street estimates, profit outpaced expectations. CVS Health Corp. reported quarterly profit spiked 54 percent from a year ago as COVID-19 caused people to put off elective medical procedures, helping reduce the company’s medical benefit ratio, or the amount of premium revenue spent on medical care and services. Beyond Meat revenue surged 69 percent as surging retail growth helped offset a shock to the company’s foodservice sales. Still, shares were under pressure as climbing costs led to a deeper loss. Wynn Resorts reported a 95 percent drop in revenue as COVID-19 kept gamblers away from its Las Vegas and Macau casinos. Looking at commodities, gold spiked $29.90 to a record $2,031 an ounce, another new record, while West Texas Intermediate crude oil jumped $0.49 to $42.19 a barrel and settled at the highest level since March. U.S. Treasurys were under modest selling pressure, causing the yield on the 10-year note to climb to 0.541 percent. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE was leading the advance, up 1.14 percent, after U.K. factory output grew at its fastest pace since November 2017. Meanwhile, France’s CAC and Germany’s DAX were higher by 0.9 percent and 0.47 percent, respectively. Asian markets finished mixed, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng adding 0.62 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite gaining 0.17 percent while Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.26 percent.

Apple soars to record, lifting Dow, S&P, Nasdaq to 4th straight monthly gains

Tech stocks led the charge on Friday, pushing all three of the major averages higher after stellar earnings from Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite, snapped a two-week losing streak, rising 1.5 percent, while the S&P 500 climbed 0.77 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 115 points, or 0.44 percent. All three indexes notched their fourth straight month of gains. Looking at stocks, Apple Inc. announced a 4-for-1 stock split after reporting record revenue and earnings growth for the three months through June. The tech giant’s revenue rose 11 percent during the quarter while earnings grew by 18 percent. CEO Tim Cook also told FOX Business he is confident in a “strong bounce back” for the U.S. economy. Apple shares settled at an all-time as the company approaches a $2 trillion value. Amazon Inc. reported quarterly revenue surged 40 percent year-over-year as the COVID-19 pandemic boosted its online shopping and cloud services businesses. The e-commerce behemoth’s profit doubled to a record $5.2 billion. Google-parent Alphabet Inc. beat Wall Street expectations on both the top and bottom lines, but advertising revenue fell 8 percent from a year ago, driven by weakness in its search business. Facebook Inc. revenue grew 11 percent from a year ago as user-engagement increased while Americans hunkered down at home to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the better-than-expected results, some analysts made note of the slowdown in revenue growth, which had averaged gains of almost 25 percent over the previous four quarters. Elsewhere on the earnings front, Dow component Caterpillar Inc. reported its quarterly profit plunged 70 percent from a year ago, but managed to exceed Wall Street estimates. Oil giant Chevron Corp. booked a $2.6 billion writedown of its Venezuela operations and another $1.8 billion charge due to its forecast for lower commodities prices. Overall, the company lost $8.3 billion during the quarter as the COVID-19 pandemic zapped oil demand. Rival Exxon Mobil Corp., meanwhile, lost money for the second quarter in a row, recording a $1.1 billion loss. Ford Motor Co. saw its quarterly profit increase 11-fold versus last year to $1.1 billion, but warned it expects a loss for 2020. The automaker paid down $7.7 billion of $15.4 billion borrowed through revolving credit facilities and said it has plenty of cash on hand should COVID-19 cause more production to go offline. Athletic apparel maker Under Armour Inc. sales fell 41 percent as stay-at-home orders shuttered retailers across the country, but results topped expectations as online sales experienced “significant” growth. Looking at commodities, gold gained more than $169 for the month, wrapping its biggest monthly gain since January 2012. The precious metal ended July at $1,962.80 an ounce after earlier on Friday crossing $2,000 for the first time. Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose $1 for the month to close at $40.27 per barrel. U.S. Treasurys were little changed with the yield on the 10-year note holding near 0.536 percent. In Europe, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC fell 0.54 percent and 1.43 percent, respectively, after data showed European Union gross domestic product slumped by a record 11.9 percent from the prior quarter. Meanwhile, Britain’s FTSE was weaker by 1.54 percent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei fell 2.82 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.47 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.71 percent.

Why are coins hard to find during the pandemic?

Why are coins hard to find during the pandemic? The Federal Reserve has seen a significant decline of coins in circulation because people are not spending them as regularly at businesses, many of which are either temporarily closed or not accepting cash. Coins are still plentiful. In April, the U.S. Treasury estimated more than $47.8 billion were in the market, up by more than a billion dollars compared to last year. But in recent months, people have not been spending those coins at places like laundromats, banks, restaurants, or shops because the businesses are closed, or people are not visiting them as often as they were before the pandemic. “The typical places where coin enters our society have slowed or even stopped the normal circulation of coin,” said the Federal Reserve, which manages coin inventory, in a June statement. Sales at restaurants, bars and gas stations dropped more than 40% in April compared with a year ago. Sales have since picked up, but some businesses — like bars — remain shuttered in certain states, while others can only operate at a limited capacity. The Federal Reserve has encouraged banks to order only the coins they need and to make depositing coins easy for customers. One Wisconsin bank system offered its customers a $5 bonus for every $100 in coins they brought into exchange at a branch. The program was so successful, the bank suspended it after only a week.

Trump administration announces 25 percent tariff on $1.3B in French handbags, cosmetics, other goods

The White House on Saturday announced a 25 percent tariff on $1.3 billion worth of French merchandise, including cosmetics and handbags, after a digital service tax was levied against U.S. tech giants. The Trump administration reportedly saw the tax as an unfair assault on American companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon. Senate Finance Chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa., and ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., supported the president’s decision in a joint statement, according to Politico. “Retaliatory tariffs aren’t ideal but the French government’s refusal to back down from its unilateral imposition of unfair and punitive taxes on U.S. companies leaves our government with no choice,” the statement read. The White House opened an investigation into the tax last year, before it was signed into law, to determine whether or not it “unfairly targets American companies.” The Office of the United States Trade Representative found the tax to be “unreasonable or discriminatory” and said it “burdens or restricts U.S. commerce.” It also said it expects France to collect approximately $450 million in taxes from U.S. companies for activities during 2020, and over $500 million for activities in 2021. Trump tweeted about the tax soon after the announcement of the probe in 2019 and accused France of stepping out of line. “France just put a digital tax on our great American technology companies,” he wrote in July 2019. “If anybody taxes them, it should be their home Country, the USA. We will announce a substantial reciprocal action on Macron’s foolishness shortly. I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine!” Trade officials will continue to monitor the situation with their counterparts in France and could suggest modifications to the trade action if necessary.

The Fastest-Disappearing Job in Each State

The job market is constantly changing. Jobs in a certain field and geographic area may be abundant one decade only to experience a sharp decline the next. This can be because of many factors, including migration patterns and technological advances, that eliminate positions and industries from parts of the country. That can make it more difficult for workers to earn and save money. With those shifts in mind, SmartAsset decided to find the fastest-disappearing job in each state. Share Twitter Facebook Google LinkedIn reddit Knowing the fastest-disappearing job in your state could provide insight in how to move forward with your own job search. The job market is constantly changing. Jobs in a certain field and geographic area may be abundant one decade only to experience a sharp decline the next. This can be because of many factors, including migration patterns and technological advances, that eliminate positions and industries from parts of the country. That can make it more difficult for workers to earn and save money. With those shifts in mind, SmartAsset decided to find the fastest-disappearing job in each state. To do so, we analyzed data for 2015 and 2019 (the latest year available) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for each of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our findings, click here:

Very interesting…  Thanks to the folks at SmarAsset for putting this together.

Brooks Brothers, hurt by casual Fridays and coronavirus, files for bankruptcy

Brooks Brothers, which dressed the American business class in pinstripes for more than 200 years, survived two world wars and the shift to casual dressing. But it was no match for the coronavirus pandemic. The closely-held company, which is owned by Italian businessman Claudio Del Vecchio, filed for bankruptcy protection in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday. One of the few brands to make clothes domestically, it warned in June that it could close its three U.S. factories. It operates roughly 250 North America stores. Brooks Brothers joins a parade of U.S. retailers seeking relief in bankruptcy court since March, including Neiman Marcus Group Inc., J.Crew Group Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. Economic fallout from Covid-19 has also pushed high-profile companies in other industries into bankruptcy, including Hertz Global Holdings Inc. and Chesapeake Energy Corp. Brooks Brothers was facing challenges before the health crisis forced nonessential retailers to temporarily close their stores. U.S. corporations had turned increasingly casual, and fewer men were buying suits. Once people started sheltering at home, they turned to even more casual attire such as sweatpants. As people begin to head back to the office, it isn’t known whether they will return to a more formal way of dressing. “I’ve seen a growing trend toward more casual dress partly because that’s how our clients are dressing,” said Quyen Ta, a partner in law firm King & Spalding LLP’s San Francisco office. “I’ve met with general counsels of public companies who are in hoodies.” Brooks Brothers hired the investment bank PJ Solomon last year to explore strategic options, including a possible sale, according to people familiar with the situation. It also received a $20 million loan from liquidation firm Gordon Brothers, these people said. The loan was from the firm’s financing arm, which is separate from the division that handles liquidations, one of the people said. Brooks Brothers is expected to attract buyers, other people familiar with the situation said. Authentic Brands Group LLC, a licensing company that owns the Barneys New York and Sports Illustrated names, is a potential suitor, they said. Other sellers of men’s work attire have also struggled since the pandemic. Tailored Brands Inc., parent of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, said in June that it has taken several steps to conserve cash, such as taking longer to pay landlords and suppliers. The company reported a 60% decline in sales in the quarter ended May 2. Last week, Tailored Brands skipped a bond interest payment. Founded in 1818, Brooks Brothers, which pioneered ready-made suits, came of age along with the nation. It started selling its clothes before the Erie Canal opened and the California Gold Rush began. Its clothes have been worn by dozens of U.S. presidents, including Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, as well as tycoons ranging from the Astors to the Vanderbilts. It introduced the first button-down-collar shirt in 1896, an idea a grandson of the founder got from watching a polo match in England. He noticed that the players’ collars didn’t flap in the wind, because they were buttoned down. It popularized other looks such as the reverse-stripe “repp” tie, a take on Britain’s regimental neckwear, as well as Harris Tweed and the Shetland sweater. Robert Herbst, a 62-year-old lawyer, remembers his father taking him to buy a Brooks Brothers shirt, tie and blue blazer when he was about 7 years old. Later, when he joined the law firm White & Case LLP, he bought his first Brooks Brothers suit. “It was the uniform,” said Mr. Herbst, who lives in Larchmont, N.Y., and is now the general counsel of several small companies. “Brooks Brothers was a way of life,” he said. “It represented a traditional, old-line way of dressing.” Mr. Herbst said that although he has a closet full of Brooks Brothers suits he has been dressing more casually in recent years. “I used to wear suits five days a week, and that’s very rare now,” he said. Even as other retailers moved production overseas, Brooks Brothers continued to manufacture a small portion of its suits, ties and shirts in three U.S. factories — in Haverhill, Mass., Garland, N.C., and Long Island City, N.Y. In June, it notified workers that the factories might close, though it said the decision was subject to change should alternative solutions be found. As the move to dress more informally gained steam through the 1990s and 2000s, Brooks Brothers tried to adapt. In 2016, it introduced Golden Fleece, a line of casual clothes that included sweaters, jackets, sport shirts and slacks. But it faced competition from many upstarts. Today, tailored clothes account for about a fifth of its sales, with casual sportswear making up the rest, according to a spokeswoman. Brian Ouellette of Clyde Hill, Wash., bought his first Brooks Brothers suit when he entered the PaineWebber & Co. training program in 1995. “My attire today is much more casual,” said the 48-year-old, who started his own company in 2010 that coaches financial advisers. “I’ll wear French cuff shirts with shorts and loafers in the summer.” Brooks Brothers was acquired by the British retail chain Marks and Spencer Group PLC in 1988. It was sold in 2001 to Retail Brand Alliance Inc., which was controlled by Mr. Del Vecchio, whose father founded Luxottica Group SpA, the Italian eyeglass maker. It changed its name to Brooks Brothers Group Inc. in 2011. Restoring Brooks Brothers has been a passion of Mr. Del Vecchio, who became enamored of the brand while growing up in Italy, according to a 2015 interview on the company’s website. Brooks Brothers was the first store he visited when he came to the U.S. at the age of 25. “As a frequent customer, I thought there were ways I could improve on quality, ” Mr. Del Vecchio said in the interview. He upgraded the fabrics, overhauled the supply chain and introduced new lines, including Black Fleece, a collection created by avant-garde designer Thom Browne that was discontinued in 2015. He also pushed the company to expand internationally. In 2001, Brooks Brothers’ only international market was Japan. Today, it has a presence in more than 70 countries.

We’re sorry to hear this. They’re a great American company.  Hopefully BB will figure a way to keep going, and keep those American factories, and their employees, in business.  If you’re looking to get a new suit, etc., give BB a look.

 

Weekly Jobless Claims Fall to 1.314 Million, Slightly Better Than Expected

New claims for unemployment benefits fell to 1.314 million for the week ended July 6, 99 thousand fewer than a week earlier, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Econoday had been expecting 1.375 million claims. This was the 15th consecutive week with initial claims above one million. Expectations for claims to fall have come down. A week ago, economists forecast that claims would fall to 1.38 million but they were reported at 1.427 million. Those claims were revised down by 14,000. The estimate for ongoing unemployment claims, those made after the initial filing, during the week ending June 27 was 18,062,000, a decrease of 698,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 530,000 from 19,290,000 to 18,760,000. The 4-week moving average was 19,085,500, a decrease of 636,000 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised down by 132,500 from 19,854,000 to 19,721,500. The federal government has been chipping in an extra $600 a week to state unemployment benefits, making the program much more generous. Many workers can now earn more on unemployment than they did when they had a job. An analysis done by Isabel Soto of the American Action Forum found that the maximum unemployment benefit amount is greater than median wage in all states except the District of Columbia. That may be discouraging some workers from seeking work and leaving the unemployment rolls. “Using 2019 wage and unemployment data, an upper–bound estimate of 92.8 million workers (or 63 percent of the workforce) typically make below the maximum weekly unemployment benefits under the CARES Act,” Soto wrote. These super-sized benefits, however, are set to run out in July. In addition to claims for regular unemployment benefits, the government now offers two new forms of unemployment benefits to business owners, self-employed, gig-workers, and independent contractors who would not ordinarily qualify for unemployment benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending June 6 were in Puerto Rico, Nevada, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, New York, California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Connecticut. The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending June 27 were in Michigan (+18,668), Indiana (+15,496), Texas (+7,046), Virginia (+6,662), and Kentucky (+5,794), while the largest decreases were in Oklahoma (-40,208), Florida (-11,313), Maryland (-9,926), Georgia (-8,240), and California (-7,132).

For more, click on the text above.