Capitalismo y Economía es Number of workers receiving unemployment aid stays high <p>San José, CA - The number of people receiving unemployment aid from federal and state governments remained very high in February. Most newspapers and media hailed the decline in the number of new applications for the regular state unemployment insurance and the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, for self-employed and gig workers for last week. However, the latest week reporting the number of people receiving aid for all programs - including UI, PUA, the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC, and the state Extended Benefits - showed an increase of 700,000. The national total is nine times what it was before the start of the recession a year ago.</p> <p>The big jump came with almost a million more people collecting the federal PEUC, which is for the jobless who run out of their regular unemployment benefits that only last six months. So even though the number of layoffs seems to be falling, there are more and more long-term unemployed who cannot find new jobs after more than half a year out of work.</p> <p>California is especially hard hit by the crisis in unemployment, with more than 4.25 million people collecting aid, making up about 22% of the total of almost 19 million receiving unemployment aid in the U.S. In contrast, California has only 12% of the country’s total population. </p> <p>Recent job gains with the slacking pandemic may reverse in the near future. The sharp decline in COVID-19 cases since early January has flattened out in the most recent week. While new infections are about 75% lower than the peak in January, they are still as high as the summer peak in infections. There are a number of new variants, some identified first in other countries, but others first found right here in the United States. They are much more contagious and are threatening to cause a fourth surge in infections. The danger of this is growing as state and local governments, under pressure from businesses, are rapidly reopening indoor activities that have a higher risk of infections.</p> <p>Optimism about the future of the U.S. economy has also been seen in the rising stock market which hit new record highs earlier this month. But over the last two days, the market has sunk the most since November.</p> Capitalismo y Economía Antiwar Movement Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Sun, 28 Feb 2021 18:58:18 +0000 Fight Back 8834 at Eyewitness interview to the corporate-made disaster in Texas <p>A Texas weather emergency spiraled out of control on February 14. This emergency has resulted in over 60 deaths, power outages affecting millions, and more than 13 million currently without access to water. What led to the emergency can be blamed mostly on natural gas and coal companies like Comstock Resources Inc, who sought only to make profits during the crisis. These companies never properly maintained these plants and, when the temperatures in Texas dipped, the plants froze and became inoperable.</p> <p>In one of the richest countries in the world, mostly African American and Chicano residents of Texas found themselves without access to power, water or heating. Some resorted to melting and boiling large pots of snow to wash dishes and cook. A boil water advisory in effect, but many still do not have any power to even do that much.</p> <p>The largely unregulated ‘nonprofit’ corporation Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) began doing rolling blackouts, blaming the Public Utility Commission for disconnecting power to millions of people. This was done for profit – avoiding the market price of natural gas from spiking, and thus making huge profits versus helping people. In one case a Texas resident has seen their electric bill rise to an unbelievable $17,000-plus.</p> <p><em>Fight Back!</em> interviewed Jennifer Miller, a resident of Dallas. Miller has a toddler son and organizes for African American liberation in Dallas. No stranger to the Texas government and authorities being racist and negligent, Miller has survived and took the time to answer some questions.</p> <p><strong><em>Fight Back!: </em></strong>You live in Dallas. When did you notice things were not improving?</p> <p><strong>Jennifer Miller: </strong>When the pileup of over 100 cars occurred in Fort Worth and subsequent pileups of multiple vehicles dotted the entire state, a few days prior to the winter storm. I knew it would be a really rough winter for us all. But when our power went out and our food started spoiling, I knew we were in serious trouble and I needed to figure something out, quickly.</p> <p><em><strong>Fight Back!: </strong></em>How prepared were people and the government in Texas for this kind of weather?</p> <p><strong>Miller: </strong>Not prepared at all. Many people in Texas don’t even own true winter clothing. One thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that Texas homes are not insulated for cold. They’re designed to make losing heat easier, as the summers are sweltering and can easily go above 100 degrees on a normal day. Our pipes are also buried in shallower depths because there’s no reason to bury them deeply for freezes.</p> <p><em><strong>Fight Back!: </strong></em>The power has been spotty and access to water nonexistent in countless places. How has this affected you and your son?</p> <p><strong>Miller: </strong>Our power went out really early Monday morning [February 15], around 2 a.m. It didn’t come back on at all and the temperature inside my home was at 45 degrees, and continued to drop. I had my son and I both bundled up but he continued to shiver and I could see our breath suspended in the air inside of the house. Luckily, I was able to stay with two friends who live closer to essential services, so their power was consistently on. However, they both had issues with their water. Their water took on a chlorinated, chemical smell and they were seeing videos posted online of other Dallasites whose towels were bleached by it.</p> <p>As of now, Thursday [February 18], I have power, but my water is still unsafe to drink. The main water line broke and has leached bacteria into the water supply. We are unable to drink, cook, or wash dishes and clothing without boiling the water first. It’s really difficult to feed my son now because cooking things takes twice as long due to the need to boil the water I use first, and we’re having to conserve our bottled water for drinking so I can’t use it to cook as often as I would like to. Even if I wanted to go to a restaurant, we’re all under the same boil advisory, so restaurants are closed. It’s really difficult to listen to him whine about hunger and thirst knowing that by the time I finish cooking something he’ll be inconsolably hungry and I’m powerless to do anything about it.</p> <p><em><strong>Fight Back!: </strong></em>What have you seen the majority of residents in Dallas doing to survive the freeze?</p> <p><strong>Miller: </strong>The majority of people have taken to really dangerous methods to keep warm, like using their ovens as heaters, burning unsafe materials in their fireplaces, and warming up in vehicles. There have been multiple reports of fires and carbon monoxide poisonings due to people using last-ditch efforts to try to keep warm. The city of Dallas did implement warming stations, but they’re turning away homeless Dallasites.</p> <p><em><strong>Fight Back!: </strong></em>Senator Ted Cruz recently fell under public scrutiny for taking a trip to Cancún during this time. What do you have to say about that?</p> <p><strong>Miller: </strong>Frankly, I’m not surprised by his cowardly behavior. It’s still such a huge insult because his constituents are literally dying due to his and ERCOT’s lack of responsibility to winterize the equipment, knowing that this storm was coming. He had it in him to criticize California during the wildfires when there were major power outages, and look at his own state, millions of people in the dark because of his and the Texas GOP’s failed policies.</p> <p><em><strong>Fight Back!: </strong></em>Hurricane Harvey in 2017 showed the world that the U.S. government and local Texas government are not actually interested in helping victims of natural disasters. What are politicians doing this time in Dallas to help the people?</p> <p><strong>Miller: </strong>There are few if no politicians who are doing much to help Dallasites, at least none that I’ve heard of, besides career grifters who have always leeched off the work of local activists to help their campaigns. There are some local activists who I’ve known for a while that are stepping up to the plate to provide access to hotels, warm meals and clean potable water.</p> <p><em><strong>Fight Back!: </strong></em>What can the general public do to help the people of Texas right now?</p> <p><strong>Miller: </strong>So for the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex there are many organizations that are stepping up to provide help for vulnerable people who are still braving this storm. I do recommend either donating to these groups or posting on social media about them to drum up donations if you’re not able to do that yourself. We’re watching politicians go on vacation, post callous remarks about state and local government “owing us nothing” and turning a blind eye to our plight, this is an important time to show how community really is all we have. Two great organizations that come to mind are Black Royal Family ($BlackRoyalFamily20) and Not My Son ($NotMySonDallas). They’re putting people in hotels and distributing water, clothing, food, firewood and other resources to those in need.</p> <p>If you can’t signal boost or donate yourself, please do keep us in mind and have compassion for Texans. I’ve seen a lot of callousness surrounding our situation and this true natural disaster we’re dealing with. Call out your friends. It’s not funny that your fellow man is cold, scared and hungry. Regardless of where they live.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía Texas weather emergency Mon, 22 Feb 2021 02:00:43 +0000 Fight Back 8814 at Layoffs rise as pandemic subsides <p>San José, CA - Even as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to subside during mid-February, layoffs were on the rise, showing that we are nowhere near the end of the tunnel for workers in this country. For the week ending February 13, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that there were 861,000 new applications for regular state unemployment insurance, an increase of 13,000 over the previous week. Applications for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for gig workers and the self-employed rose by a much larger 174,427 the same week, to 516,299 new claims. Together, this meant that almost 190,000 working people had to file for government aid because of layoffs and business closures.</p> <p>Even worse, the previous week’s claim number for regular state UI was revised upward by 68,000. These weekly new claims numbers were four times higher than the number a year ago, before the economic crisis started. The total number for all programs - including the state UI, the federal PUA, as well as the new programs for those who have been out of work for more than six months, the state Extended Benefits, and the Federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC - is nine times the pre-recession totals of a year ago.</p> <p>While the stock market has been hitting new highs and corporate profits are near record levels, the job market is still down almost 10 million jobs from a year ago. Most economists think that the total production of goods and services, measured by the Gross Domestic Product or GDP, will recover their pre-recession levels this year. But the recovery in the job market won’t be until at least 2022, given that the number of new jobs has basically stalled in December and January, which, when averaged together had a monthly job loss of about 90,000.</p> <p>Even worse, projections are that millions of jobs are not coming back. The recession and pandemic have speeded up the use of new technologies that can eliminate jobs. 20% or more of office jobs may continue to be work at home, which will cause losses in downtown food service and retail jobs. At least 20% of business travel is projected to be lost as videoconferencing continues, again leading to permanent hotel, restaurant and travel related jobs gone. Many retail jobs are not coming back even when COVID-19 loses its pandemic status, as a lot of online shopping is here to stay.</p> <p>One might think that this will just shift jobs from stores to warehouses and fulfillment centers. But warehousing jobs, which grew dramatically during the pandemic with the explosion of online shopping, is also under threat with growing automation. Chewy, a pet supply online retailer, just opened a new fulfillment center that uses only one-third the workers of a traditional warehouse. Amazon has also been stepping up the use of robots in their warehouses. These robots are bound to spread across the whole warehousing and shipping industry, reducing the number of jobs.</p> <p>This is one of the features of recessions in a capitalist economy - that it speeds up technological and job changes that were already underway. And unless there are strong labor unions and a fighting workers’ movement, the average worker will get the short end of the stick while corporations and their owners win.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía COVID-19 Layoffs Fri, 19 Feb 2021 17:54:10 +0000 Fight Back 8805 at California protest demands ‘Don’t tax unemployment benefits!’ <p>San José, CA - On February 13, the Northern California Unemployed Committee (NCUC) held its first protest in San José. The protest was called for the day after the IRS began accepting 2020 tax returns, to demand that the federal government stop taxing benefits for the unemployed. The protest also called for the restoration of the $600 weekly unemployment supplement.</p> <p>The protest began at a branch of Bank of America in downtown San Jose. Mike Paradela, of the Unemployed Committee, introduced the protest, saying that Bank of America profits from running the debit card program through which California unemployment benefits are paid. Masao Suzuki, a member of the Unemployed Committee and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, was the protest’s first speaker. Suzuki said many economists are talking about the so-called ‘K-shaped’ economy with more and more economic inequality, which reflects the reality that we live in society dominated by monopoly capitalists.</p> <p>The protesters then marched to the federal building, carry signs saying, “Tax the rich, not the poor” and “Stop the tax on unemployment benefits.” There were spirited chants like “$600 per week! Don’t be cheap!” with a back-and-forth between the emcee and protesters. At the downtown federal building, Nina Vishwakarma of the Unemployed Committee spoke of the special oppression that women were going through in this recession. She spoke of her close friend, a grocery store worker, who contracted COVID-19 at work, while the store was allowing maskless customers in the store. This was just another example of how “The pandemic has put many working women in the difficult position of choosing between their financial security and they own safety, as well as the safety of their loved ones.”</p> <p>A former restaurant worker spoke about their experience as the restaurant industry closed down. They were initially denied unemployment insurance and lost a whole month of benefits. Things went from bad to worse when the $600 per week supplement stopped at the end of July. Their co-workers couldn’t afford the Bay Area anymore and about 40% of their co-workers had left the Bay Area, while many others have left the restaurant industry.</p> <p>The protesters finished the event with a spirited march back to the Bank of America building.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía Northern California Unemployed Committee Tue, 16 Feb 2021 21:58:43 +0000 Fight Back 8798 at Layoffs continue at high rate <p>San José, CA - During the week ending February 6, almost 800,000 (793,000) people filed for new claims for regular state unemployment insurance. More than 330,000 others applied for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA that covers the self-employed and gig workers. This comes to a total of more than 1.1 million people who have lost their jobs in the past week.</p> <p>Beginning the week ending March 21, 2020, more than a million Americans each and every week have had to file for unemployment insurance benefits. As of the latest data for the week ending January 23, there were still more than 20 million people collecting benefits under either state or federal programs. More and more have been out of work for more than six months. This can be seen in the rising number of people collecting benefits under the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC. This number rose by more than a million people to a total of almost 4.8 million in the same week ending January 23.</p> <p>The latest jobs report from the Department of Labor, based on a survey done during the week ending January 16, showed that job losses are spreading across the economy. In December the job losses were almost entirely from hotels, restaurants, and other travel and leisure related employment, while most industries made smaller gains. While the pandemic began to ease in January, the job losses actually spread so that more industries were losing jobs than gaining.</p> <p>The federal government began accepting tax returns for 2020 on Friday, February 12. Many of the 60 million people who had to rely on unemployment benefits will be reminded that these payments are taxable income. In contrast, Paycheck Protection Program loans to businesses that were forgiven by the government (and therefore are a grant) are not taxable. In addition, these businesses can use the expenses that qualified them for loan forgiveness as deductions from their other revenue.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía Unemployment Sun, 14 Feb 2021 00:33:08 +0000 Fight Back 8793 at Job losses spread across the economy in January <p>San José, CA - On Friday, February 5 the U.S. Department of Labor released their monthly jobs report showing a very small gain of 49,000 net new jobs. This was only half of what economists had predicted, and the job loss in December was revised up by 87,000, so there were still 178,000 fewer jobs in January than in November.</p> <p>In December, more than 82% of the job losses were concentrated in one industry, leisure and hospitality, which includes hotels, restaurants and other live entertainment. These losses were almost entirely caused by the surge in the COVID-19 pandemic during the winter and especially over the holidays. In fact, 62% of industries gained jobs, although this was swamped by the losses in hospitality and leisure.</p> <p>But in January, the job losses spread to health care and social assistance, transportation and warehousing, retail trade, and manufacturing of durable goods (cars, appliances, etc.). In fact almost 52% of industries lost jobs in January, not just ones directly impacted by the pandemic. This shows that even the most welcomed retreat of the pandemic will not guarantee a strong job recovery.</p> <p>In the same report, the official unemployment rate fell from 6.7% in December to 6.3% in January. But because of the annual revision to the previous year’s data, it is difficult to compare the two months. The percentage of the unemployed who have been out of work for a long period of time, which is not affected by the adjustment, continued to rise to a record high. In January, almost 40% (39.5%) of the unemployed had been out of work for six months or more. This means that even with the extension of the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC for those out of work more than six months, more and more people will be running out of unemployment assistance.</p> <p>Overall, the economy is continuing to show more and more inequality. The stock market, which is mostly owned by top 1%, continues to set new record highs, making the billionaires richer and richer. Housing prices continue to rise, boosting the wealth of home owners, while more and more tenants are falling behind on their rents, putting themselves at risk of eviction, even with the current government moratorium. Well-paid professionals who can work from home have far lower rates of unemployment, estimated at under 5%, while the lowest paid workers have unemployment rates at or above 25%.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía economy Sun, 07 Feb 2021 23:57:01 +0000 Fight Back 8783 at Ranks of workers receiving unemployment insurance grows in January <p>San José, CA - The broadest measure of unemployment insurance, which includes the regular state unemployment insurance or UI, the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA, the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC, as well as the state Extended Benefits or EB rose in the first week of January by 2.3 million people to a total of 18.3 million people. While down from its peak in April, it is still nine times as high as it was a year ago before the recession began, according to the weekly report by the U.S. Department of Labor released on Thursday, January 28.</p> <p>Part of the bounce in unemployment insurance benefits was because of the temporary end to the federal PUA and PEUC at the end of 2020 as Republicans in the Senate dragged their feet on passing more badly needed aid. The other is the renewed weakness in the economy, as seen in the 140,000 jobs lost in December, the first job loss since April.</p> <p>This weakness in the economy at the end of the year could also be seen in the first report on the Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, for the fourth quarter, or last three months of the year, which was also released January 28 by the Bureau of Economic Analysis or BEA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. In the October to December period of 2020, the U.S. economy grew by 1%, which was less than what economists expected.</p> <p>This meant that the U.S. economy shrank by 3.5% in 2020, the worst showing since 1946 when the economy fell with the end of World War II. While most sectors of the economy grew, although at a much slower pace than in the third quarter or July to September period, state and local government spending fell for the third quarter in the row, the only sector not have a rebound in the second half of the year.</p> <p>The economic damage of the recession and the pandemic was actually worse in almost all other major capitalist economies, with the United Kingdom the worst with an estimated 8.5% drop in their GDP in 2020. The only exception was South Korea, whose better control of the COVID-19 pandemic and large economic ties with China reduced their economy’s fall to only 1%.</p> <p>In contrast, the Chinese economy actually grew 2.3%, despite being the first country with a major COVID-19 outbreak. China’s socialist system and its “zero tolerance” policy toward the virus allowed it to suppress the pandemic and have an economy rebound. Socialist Vietnam, which was able to prevent the virus from getting a foothold, did even better, with a 2.9% rate of growth in 2020.</p> Capitalismo y Economía Capitalism Economic Report economy Sat, 30 Jan 2021 14:30:29 +0000 Fight Back 8767 at GameStop, Reddit, and what we all should know about the stock market <p>Chicago, IL - The past few days have seen GameStop and Reddit become the meme-of-the-week and take significant headlines. Some media outlets are saying the recent turn of events “isn’t funny; it’s stupid” while celebrity billionaires like Elon Musk crack jokes on Twitter. Redditors are claiming that they are crashing Wall Street, and yet the market is bullish as ever. What should we be taking from all of this? In short, we must seize this moment to educate about how the stock market works, who it works for, and how we can institute true changes that benefit everyday people.</p> <p>To understand what has happened, it is important to start at the beginning for a short lesson in what stocks are. Stocks are slices of a business. Stocks like those of GameStock (a video game and electronics retailer) have been sold on a public market. There are many avenues to buy and sell stocks, and the one that’s most important to understand for this tale is Robinhood. Robinhood is a free app marketed toward regular people who don’t have the funds, the interest, or the time to invest through investment firms, hedge funds, and the like. Like its name implies, RobinHood would have us believe that its mission is to steal from the rich and give to the poor, but, as with all free services, if you’re not paying for a product, you are the product.</p> <p>Robinhood’s business model includes making interest by lending out funds that users have in their accounts and, more insidiously, routing transactions through Citadel Securities. Citadel Securities makes money off of Robinhood transactions and kicks a portion back to Robinhood. Citadel’s agreement essentially means that Citadel is paying for two advantages.</p> <p>First, Citadel Securities has the option to be the first entity on the opposite side of any Robinhood transaction. If you want to buy a stock, and it’s currently at a $1, when you hit the button to buy, in the milliseconds it takes to buy that stock, Citadel can buy that stock at $1 and sell it to you at $1.01. In fact, this is its whole reason for making the deal with Robinhood in the first place and is called “payment for order flow.” This means that no matter what you may be making off of stocks through Robinhood, Citadel is making money off of you. </p> <p>Secondly, Citadel Securities has access to all of the Robinhood data; so, not only can they make money off of selling and buying to Robinhood traders, but they also have competitive advantage by getting Robinhood data first and trading off of it. When Reddit decided to buy GameStop, even if it had been planned completely privately, Citadel’s computers would have seen this sudden uptick in buys and traded based on that info before anyone else. Citadel Securities also makes money on selling information about what trades it has made to external buyers, essentially selling the Robinhood information to additional third parties.</p> <p>There is another entity that’s important to understand before we put all the pieces together: Melvin Capital. Melvin was one of the primary targets of this Reddit/GameStop scheme because Melvin Capital bet the house on GameStop’s stocks going down. Simply, Melvin borrowed GameStop stock, sold that stock at X price, and promised their lender to give them back the same number of stocks at a future date. They are betting that the price at a later date, Y, will be lower than the price they sold them at earlier, X, meaning that they pocket the difference of Y-X. The issue is that if the price of GameStop stock is higher at the later date, then the profit disappears and actually turns into a debt. Melvin would be forced to buy GameStop stock at a price higher than they sold them at. Being forced to buy a stock at rising prices also has the effect of contributing to the further increase in its price, creating even higher prices. And that’s exactly what happened.</p> <p>GameStop’s brick-and-mortar business model has been going out of fashion, and betting on it to fail seemed to be a pretty safe bet. Many people and organizations, not just Melvin, were shorting GameStop. Redditor day-traders (as opposed to professional traders) noticed this happening and decided to try and pull one over on the big firms by buying up GameStop stock and forcing the firms to lose their bets on the stock falling.</p> <p>It’s important to note here that even with the price of GameStop stock skyrocketing, there was no change to its assets or business model. Even since this fiasco, there is no reason to suspect GameStop is substantially more valuable in any tangible sense than it was a week ago. Day-traders investing in GameStop on a lark and increasing the share price doesn’t change the fact that the share price will have to fall to reconcile with GameStop’s weakening business position. The point of this scheme is to keep the price artificially high just long enough to mess with those who were profiting off of GameStop’s demise.</p> <p>Melvin Capital lost an undisclosed, but likely ten-figure, sum on GameStop. Redditors celebrated a victory over Wall Street, but their celebrations are premature. While they did accomplish a laudable act of uncovering the farce that is the stock market, Wall Street doesn’t lose easily. Robinhood froze trading on GameStop as well as other stocks mentioned on Reddit as potential targets for GameStop Scheme 2.0. Melvin Capital was bailed out with an almost $3 billion dollar cash infusion. Interestingly, $2 billion of that came from Citadel. Citadel is not the same organization as Citadel Securities, but they are both owned by the same person and, functionally, it’s not illogical to view what happened as one company that made money off of the GameStop scheme bailing out another company that lost money off the GameStop scheme - leaving those of us in the audience with the odd feeling that nothing has changed.</p> <p>That’s the key - that’s what’s important. For all of the discourse about bankrupting Wall Street firms, what is being left out is the fact that these businesses are not like us. When we go bankrupt, we lose everything. When they go bankrupt, nothing changes except maybe the name on the building. Even then, the leaders of bankrupted Wall Street firms glide to safety with their golden parachutes, continue to be employed by the firms that buy out their failed endeavors, or simply use their remaining wealth (or that of their friends) to build a new firm. The same can’t be said for any Robinhood trader who got caught up in the moment and invested more than they should have and now is a bit short on rent. The industry remains consolidated, and the system marches forward in growth-for-growth’s sake until the next bubble bursts and we are left to pick up the pieces.</p> <p>This moment is a lesson. Everyday people are who suffer when the financial industry leaders do wrong.</p> <p>Capitalists would have you believe that the stock market ‘is’ our economy, that it’s too complicated for us to understand, but that we should trust it because it works for us. These past few days should show us, clearer than ever, that normal people can - and do - understand the stock market and that it doesn’t have our interests in mind.</p> <p>Tech bros using financial instruments, even the ones with the best of intentions, will not be what brings Wall Street to its knees - at least not for very long. It will take an organized mass movement of real-life Robin Hoods who aim to take power, while taking down Wall Street and capitalism, forever.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Capitalismo y Economía GameStop Reddit stock market Fri, 29 Jan 2021 13:42:30 +0000 Fight Back 8765 at Unemployment insurance claims make biggest jump since March <p>San José, CA - The U.S. economy showed more signs of weakness as the COVID-19 pandemic rages and Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” vaccine rollout crashes and burns amid finger-pointing, lies and incompetence. New claims for regular state unemployment rose by more than 20% in the week ending January 9, the biggest gain since the dark days of March when the economy hit a brick wall.</p> <p>The number of people actually collecting benefits also rose by 200,000 for the week ending January 2, despite more and more people being timed out of the regular state unemployment insurance programs which only pay out for six months. This was the first increase since November.</p> <p>The number of new claims for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, for self-employed and gig workers jumped by 75%, also for the week ending January 9. However much of this increase was because the PUA, along with the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC, for workers who have been timed out of regular state unemployment benefits, was allowed to lapse at the end of the year because of opposition to aid in the Republican Senate. Jobless workers who would have applied during the previous week had to wait until the programs restarted.</p> <p>The increase in unemployment insurance claims was broad based, with 36 states reporting increases. This weakness in the economy follows earlier reports that 140,000 net jobs were lost in December, and that online job postings fell towards the end of December. The report on retail sales for December fell again, for the third monthly drop in a row. In addition, the data on retail sales for November was revised down to a larger fall.</p> <p>While unemployment insurance claims have fallen, the rate of absenteeism because of illness or family illness or lack of childcare has not. About 1.9 million workers were reported absent in December, almost the same as the 2.0 million in April during the first surge in the pandemic.</p> <p>No wonder as the COVID-19 pandemic continues at record levels, with hundreds of thousands of new infections each day and daily deaths spiking to over 4000. The much hoped for rapid rollout of the vaccine has been a mess, with the latest news that the Trump administration held up plans for vaccine distribution for two months in September and October, paving the way for the chaos seen today. The lies continue from the Trump administration up to the very end, as the so-called “second dose vaccine reserves” that were to be distributed turned out to be non-existent - they had already been given out.</p> Capitalismo y Economía Capitalism economy Unemployment Sun, 17 Jan 2021 01:51:20 +0000 Fight Back 8745 at Dismal employment report to start the new year <p>San José, CA - on Friday, January 8 the U.S. Department of Labor released its monthly report on the state of the job market. While mainstream economists expected economic growth to continue to slow with only 50,000 new jobs, down from a gain of 330,000 jobs in November, the reality was much worse. In December, 140,000 jobs were lost, the first month of losses since the dark days of April. The year ended with 9.8 million fewer jobs than before the recession began, a record high going back to 1939, and almost twice as bad as the previous recession year of 2009. President Trump became the first president since Republican Herbert Hoover set to leave office with a net job loss. </p> <p>Hardest hit in December were restaurants and bars, which shed over 370,000 jobs as fear of the rising COVID-19 pandemic, government restrictions and colder weather slammed the sector. State and local government budget cuts also put another 51,000 workers out of their jobs. Local and state governments combined have laid off almost 1.4 million workers this past year, hit hard by the recession and the lack of federal government aid.</p> <p>While the official unemployment rate stayed the same as in November at 6.7%, this number doesn’t count the millions of workers, mainly women, who have been forced to give up on looking for work and thus are not counted as unemployed. The percentage of jobless workers who are long-term unemployed continued to rise, to almost 40% of the total.</p> <p>The job situation is likely to worsen in the January report. The survey for the report will be carried out next week, January 11 to 16. Just this past week two new records were made in the United States. On Wednesday, January 6 more than 4000 people died of the COVID-19, and then today there were more than 300,000 new cases in just one day. With the pandemic even worse than when the December survey was taken in mid-December, the job situation is also likely to get work.</p> <p>But while this latest surge in the wake of the holidays was expected to peak by the end of the month, two recent developments threaten make this bad situation even worse. The vaccine rollout has transformed the Trump administration’s “operation warp-speed” into a vaccination snail’s pace. This is not simply a case of the Trump administration’s incompetence - which it is - but a problem with the decentralized, profit-guided U.S. health care system that has gutted public health starting with the Reagan administration in the 1980s. One deep-blue, well-to-do California County estimated that it would finish the first phase of vaccinating health care workers and institutionalized seniors by the end of February. Given that this is about 7% of the population, it would take 20 months, or until August 2022, to protect 70% of the population that could be enough to crush the virus.</p> <p>Another problem is the potential spread of a new variant of the virus. Despite more stringent restrictions in Britain than in much of the United States, cases are rising even faster there as the new variant is estimated to be 60-70% more infectious. After a first round of “don’t worry, mutations happen all the time,” it is now coming out that the U.S. is behind most other countries in being able to even test for the new variant, which is spreading in the country from coast to coast.</p> Capitalismo y Economía Covid19 Economic Report economy pandemic Unemployment Sat, 09 Jan 2021 23:34:26 +0000 Fight Back 8730 at