Initial U.S unemployment totaled a seasonally adjusted 742,000 in the week ending Nov.14 –marks the first increase after four consecutive weeks of declines, the Labor Department reported. The reading came in above the consensus economist forecast of 700,000 and showed an increase of 31,000 from the previous week's revised figure. Continuing claims, which track the aggregate total of Americans applied for unemployment benefits fell to 6.37 million. Furthermore, for the week ending November 14, 52 states reported 320,237 workers applied for PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance), a program for the self-employed and gig workers, the report shows. The advanced initial claims increased in Louisiana (32,679), Massachusetts (9,303) and Texas (4,393). Illinois (-20,632), Florida (-9,865), and New Jersey (-8,689) had the sharpest decline in advanced initial claims, according to Labor Department data.
Deutsche Bank researchers said WFH employees should pay 5% ‘Privilege’ tax of their salary if they choose to work remotely after COVID restrictions lift. Deutsche Bank estimates that the average salary of a person who chooses to WFH in the U.S. is $55,000 –at a tax rate of 5%, the person would pay just over $10 per working day – that’s roughly the amount an office worker might spend on commuting, lunch, laundry, etc. However, this 5% would raise a total of $48 billion per year in the U.S, £6.9 billion in the U.K. and 15.9 billion euros in Germany. This would cover the costs of grants for the lowest-paid workers who usually can’t WFH due to coronavirus crisis. According to the survey, Americans who WFH during the pandemic surged to 56% - 10 times more people, while the U.K. had seen this figure rise seven-fold to 47%. For years we have needed a tax on remote workers – Covid has just made it obvious, strategist Luke Templeman said in the bank's research report.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York plans to eliminate more than 9367 jobs and drastically cut back subway, bus and train services by 40% if the federal government doesn't provide additional relief to the agency. Eliminating 9,367 workers would MTA’s workforce by about 68,000, The Wall Street Journal reported. According to MTA's officials, $12 billion of further federal help is needed to fill the budget gap for this year and 2021, while MTA also expects to borrow $2.9 billion to meet budget deficits. Even with the proposed service cuts, the MTA faces projected deficits in each of the next four years averaging about $2.9 billion. The MTA faces nearly $16 billion in projected deficits through 2024 due to a sharp drop in low ridership on its across subways, buses and trains amid the pandemic, according to WSJ.
The National Association of Realtors said that US existing home sales rose 4.3% to 6.85 million in October, up 4.3% from the prior month and 26.6% from one year ago. The figure marked the fifth consecutive monthly gain and is the highest for that data since February 2006. According to NAR data, the median existing-home price last month was $313,000 – almost 16% more than in October 2019. Meanwhile, housing inventory at the end of October totaled 1.42 million, down 2.7 percent from 1.46 million in September and down 19.8% from 1.77 million in October of 2019. More than 7 in 10 homes sold in October 2020 – 72% – were on the market for less than a month. Sales of existing properties in October soared in the Northeast (4.7%), Midwest (8.6%), and within the South they have been up 3.2% and, in the West, they rose 1.4%, CNBC reported.
The U.S Commerce Department reported that U.S. retail sales increased 0.3% in October – marking the sixth straight month of retail sales growth amid the coronavirus pandemic. The figure short of economists' expectations for a 0.5% raise, and was below a 1.6% increase in September. The report shows that sales at online and catalog shopping jumped 0.9%, auto dealers (0.5%) and gas stations reported a 1.1% increase in sales. At the same time, declines were seen in grocery-store as sales dropped 0.4%, bar and restaurant receipts declined 0.1%, and both sporting goods and clothing sales fell 4.2%, the department said. It looks like consumer spending is increasingly turning into a headwind for this recovery from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.
Industrial production in the United States rose 1.1% in October and has recovered much of the losses suffered from February to April. But output remained 5.6% lower than its pre-pandemic February level, the Federal Reserve announced in a report. Manufacturing output rose 1% after a 0.1% increase in September. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector rose 0.8 percentage point in October to 72.8%. Economists had predicted capacity utilization to reach 72.2% in October. The output of utility production rose 3.9 percent, while the output at mines fell 0.6 percent to a level that was 14.4% below its year-earlier reading, according to data from the Federal Reserve. It is clear that U.S. manufacturing activity has recovered from the pandemic and economists anticipate to see production continue to make up lost ground in the coming months since demand for goods has held up better than demand for service.
Meanwhile, we have a new Guinness World Record. A man in the US named David Rush has tossing 50 pieces of caramel corn into his mouth one at a time for a world record - beating the previous record of 41. He said his recent experiences with mouth-catching records, including one for using his mouth to bounce a table tennis ball off a wall, inspired him to try to set the record for most candy-coated corn caught in the mouth by an individual in one minute (self-thrown). He has broken more than 150 Guinness records for juggling, balancing, and many more with a mission to promote STEM, according to the UPI.