Initial U.S unemployment claims totaled 837,000 in the week ending Sept.26, beating economists’ expectations and lowest since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March. The figure is a decrease of 36,000 claims from the prior week’s revised number, the Labor Department reported. Since the pandemic began, nearly 63 million people have asked for jobless benefits. Continuing claims in regular state programs, which lag initial claims by a week, fell to 11.8 million in the week ended Sept. 19. Furthermore, for the week ending September 26, 52 states reported 650,120 workers applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a program for the self-employed and gig workers, the report shows.
The U.S economy added 661,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 7.9% from 8.4% in August, the US Department of Labor reported. The U.S. has clawed back 11.4 million of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April, at the beginning of the pandemic. September marks the fifth straight month of job gains, Labor Dept. says. Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, which added 318,000 jobs back and retail added 142,000 jobs. Meanwhile, hiring gains fell sharply this month as more layoffs become permanent. More companies announced job cuts, including Walt Disney, American Airlines, United Airlines Holdings Inc., and Allstate Corp. A lot of the job cuts now are related to economic conditions, not jobs that were paused due to Covid-19, said Andy Challenger, senior vice president at Challenger.
According to the new research by McKinsey & Company, 85% of companies have accelerated digitization, while 67% of companies accelerated automation and artificial intelligence due to the pandemic’s impact on their businesses. The company published the result based on a survey of 800 executives from a wide variety of industries in eight countries, soliciting their projections for the future of work. Roughly half of those surveyed (50%) reported increasing digitization of customer channels, for example, via mobile apps, e-commerce, or chatbots. Further, 83% of respondents said they plan to increase roles in health and hygiene.
McKinsey’s survey suggests that crisis may accelerate some workforce trends such as the adoption of automation and digitization, increased demand for contractors, gig workers, and more remote work. However, these changes will create greater demand for workers to fill jobs in areas like cybersecurity, data analytics, health and hygiene.
Alphabet Inc’s Google plans to pay news publishers more than $1 billion over the next three years to license content for a new product called Google News Showcase — a step that could help it win over a powerful group amid heightened regulatory scrutiny globally. CEO Sundar Pichai announced that Google News Showcase will launch first in Germany and Brazil. Google is also in talks with publishers in other countries, including the U.S., according to the WSJ. The product is made up of story panels that will appear initially in Google News on Android and eventually on Apple devices. Google News Showcase will allow publishers curate stories on the news, develop deeper relationships with readers, and provides a new revenue stream for essential reporting, said Brad Bender, a Google vice president.
U.S consumer confidence index rose to 101.8 in September from 86.3 in August, the largest gain since April 2003 — beating market forecasts of 89.8 this month and marked the index’s best reading since the COVID-19 pandemic broadsided the U.S. economy in March. The September improvement reflects improving consumer assessment of current business and labor market conditions, which increased to 98.5, up from 85.8. It also shows rising consumer expectations, which strengthened to 104 from 86.6, the Conference Board reported. The share of respondents in the Conference Board’s index reporting jobs was plentiful rising in Sept. to 22.9%, from 21.4% in August — and compared with just 16.5% in May.
According to Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the U.S households median net worth, or wealth, rose 18% to $121,700 — the increase was driven primarily by increases in property values and stock prices. Median household income rose 5% to $58,600, before taxes and adjusted for inflation. Those in lower-income and lower-wealth groups saw large gains, according to the new Federal Reserve’s data. The lowest earners saw their net worth rise to $9,800, an increase of 37%, while the second-lowest group saw a 40% increase to $44,000. The median net worth of the highest and second-highest groups declined 8% and 9%, respectively. However, the concentration of both income and wealth at the top remained high, Fed economists said.
Meanwhile, we have a new Guinness World Record. Meet 103-year-old Alfred Al Blaschke, who becomes the oldest person in the world to do a tandem jump out of a plane in Texas. Blaschke took a 14,000-ft jump at a velocity of 120 miles per hour. His two grandsons, who’d recently graduated from college, joined him in taking the leap. Blaschke went skydiving for the first time in 2017 on his 100th birthday and had promised to do it again if his grandsons graduated college. This 103-year-old man proved that “age is nothing but a number”.