Initial U.S unemployment claims totaled a seasonally adjusted 1.006 million for the week ended Aug. 22 — down from 1.104 million in the previous week, suggesting that the labor market recovery was stalling as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on. Since the pandemic began the total number of jobless claims have jumped by more than 58 million — 36.5%, or more than one-third of the U.S. labor force, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Furthermore, 51 states reported that initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance rose about 83,000 from the prior week to 607,806 in the week ended Aug. 22. The number of Americans collecting traditional jobless benefits is more than 14.5 million — up from 1.7 million a year ago — a sign that some people who lost their jobs in this crisis are returning to work.
American Airlines Group Inc. announced plans to slash 19,000 jobs by Oct. 1 as federal payroll aid expires — capping a 30% workforce reduction as the COVID-19 pandemic continuing impact on the travel industry. American Airlines received $25 billion in U.S. government stimulus funds in March, which allowed airlines to not to furlough or cut pay for workers through Sept. 30 in exchange for the aid. But that funds from that program expire Sept. 30 and travel demand has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, leaving airlines with harsh economic scenarios. The move will affect about 17,500 front-line employees, including 1,500 management and support workers. About 1,600 pilots, 8,100 flight attendants, and 2,225 fleet service specialists are also included in the front-line furloughs, the airline officials said.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced an “outdoor learning plan” — allowing principals to set up classrooms outdoors in their schoolyards, or even in city parks, playgrounds, or on sidewalks. Mayor said he hoped the scheme would help to open up a whole new world of learning, with more than 750k students set to return to school on Sept. 10. The plan will apply to the city’s public schools, charter schools, as well as private and religious schools, he added. However, we know that virus spreads less easily outdoors, but we know our students need time to run and play, explore and create — this only happens outdoors, so I’m really excited about outdoor learning, said Carranza.
The U.S economy plunged an annualized 31.7% in the second quarter of 2020 — an upward revision of 1.2 percentage points from the previous estimate issued last month, according to the second estimate released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). It was the steepest quarterly decline in history. The Commerce Department said the GDP estimate for the second quarter is lower than a 32.9 percent plunge in the advance estimate and compared to market forecasts a decline of 32.5%. The report shows that second-quarter losses were partly offset by an increase in federal government spending, mostly from the CARES Act. However, economists say full recovery will depend on the capacity of the country to control the pandemic and avoid more waves of infections.
The U.S. Census Bureau announced that overall durable goods surged 11.2% in July 2020 — the third consecutive monthly gain, followed a 7.7% increase in June and easily beating the consensus expected gain of 4.8% in July. The jump signaled a continued recovery in the nation’s manufacturing industry, though the figures remain below pre-pandemic highs. Demand for transport equipment jumped 35.6 percent, compared to 19.7% in June — the increases followed by motor vehicles and parts. Orders were also higher for electrical equipment appliances, 2% for fabricated-metal parts, 2% for machinery, and 2% for computers and electronics. Meanwhile, a key measure of business investment, known as core capital goods orders, edged up 1.9 percent in July, compared to 4.3 percent in June, according to the Commerce Department.
The U.S consumer confidence fell for the second consecutive month in August — sinking to the lowest levels reading in more than 6 years, said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. He reported that the consumer confidence index fell to 84.8 in August. The drop, which followed a July decline to 91.7, put the index 36% below its high point for this year. While consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions and the short-term outlook fell. The survey’s present situation measure –based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions –decreased to 84.2. The percentage of consumers claiming business conditions are “good” declined to 16.4%, while those who believe business conditions are “bad” increased to 43.6%.
According to a report published in CNN, a company called Satellite Internet is willing to pay $1000 to a person who is willing to go on a digital detox in nature for 48 hours. The company said one randomly selected applicant for the “Digital Detox Challenge” will receive $1,000 for spending two-days by living out of an RV at a US national park without any electronic devices such as phone and internet services or any other devices. The contest is open to those over age 25 with a valid driver’s license and is eligible to work in the US, CNN reported. After completion of 48 hours, the company will provide a mobile hotspot for the winner to share the experience of digital detox online.
The U.S. government agreed to purchase 150 million COVID-19 antigen tests from Abbott — a roughly $750 million deal. According to Abbott, the portable antigen tests can deliver results within 15 minutes or less and will sell for only $5. They require no additional equipment to operate and can be conducted using a less invasive nasal swab than traditional lab tests. The government plans to distribute 150 million of antigen tests to states where they’re needed most. This way can easily track the virus like never before and protect millions of Americans at risk in especially vulnerable situations, said Alex Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services.