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Jobless claims top 30 million as coronavirus continues to devastate economy – NBCNews.com

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Around 3.8 million more workers filed for first-time employment benefits last week, bringing the national jobless total to a staggering 30 million — or around 18 percent of the workforce.

Continuing claims, or the number of people receiving ongoing benefits, hit 18 million last week, far surpassing the recessionary peak of 6.6 million, according to data released Thursday from the Department of Labor.

April 30, 202003:53

Nationwide lockdowns led to the abrupt shutdown of the economy in mid-March, leaving millions of people scrambling to file for unemployment insurance. The sheer volume of applicants overwhelmed the system, with many states reporting website outages and hourslong delays on telephone helplines.

That has led to inaccurate accounting of the jobless, with many people reporting waits of six weeks or more.

States have ramped up staff at workforce centers, with New York adding 1,000 more workers and Texas tripling the size of its phone center staff. But that is still not enough.

According to new data from the Labor Department, California — the first state to issue a stay-at-home order — paid only 1 in 8 claims in March. With an estimated labor force of 19.5 million, 3.3 million Californians have filed unemployment applications in the four weeks after March 14.

“We’re paying about $1 billion a day in unemployment insurance claims,” California Labor Secretary Julie Su told NBC News. “In California just in the last six weeks alone, we had over 3.5 million people file for unemployment insurance. To put that in perspective, two weeks ago that was already more than we had in all of 2019.”

Virginia and Rhode Island have only processed half their state’s claims, and the Texas Workforce Commission said more than 2 million people tried to call in on just one day seeking to file for unemployment.

In many cases, chronic underfunding and aging technology have left states vulnerable. In Michigan, where jobless claims have risen by 2,200 percent, the state’s unemployment site was down for several hours.

Several state governments have teamed up with tech giants such as Amazon and Google to boost the number of claims they can process. Other states are asking retired employees to come back and deal with the onslaught of forms.

America’s stunning unemployment surge during coronavirus, visualized

Some government relief programs have so far not produced the intended economic support, with the Paycheck Protection Program running out of funds within days, and many small businesses — and their employees — still desperate for a lifeline.

“Programs like the PPP were expected to keep workers on payrolls. So far, that wasn’t the case,” said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist for Barclays.

As states continue to lift their stay-at-home orders and reopen their economies, the unemployment numbers are expected to abate.

Nearly half of the world’s workforce is at immediate risk of losing their livelihood because of coronavirus, the International Labour Organization warned on Wednesday.

The continued sharp decline in working hours, as well as lockdown measures due to the outbreak, means that 1.6 billion informal economy workers around the world “stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed,” according to the organization’s analysis.

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Trudeau to offer premiers billions to help reopen the economy safely – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to offer premiers billions in federal funding to help them safely reopen provincial and territorial economies without triggering an explosive second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Trudeau is expected to present the offer to premiers during their weekly conference call today — the twelfth such call since the pandemic sent the country into lockdown in mid-March.

Precise details, including how to allocate each province’s share of the cash, are to be negotiated in the coming days, but federal officials hope agreements can be reached quickly to get the money flowing fast.

The offer comes with some strings attached, according to federal officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Trudeau is offering to transfer the money to provincial and territorial governments, provided they agree to spend it on a number of areas the federal government considers necessary to reduce the risk of a second surge of the deadly coronavirus.

They include testing, contact tracing, personal protective equipment, bolstering municipalities, helping the most vulnerable Canadians and strengthening the health care system, possibly including improving conditions in long-term care homes linked to more than 80 per cent of the deaths in Canada so far.

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Trudeau to offer premiers billions to help reopen the economy safely – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to offer premiers billions in federal funding to help them safely reopen provincial and territorial economies without triggering an explosive second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Trudeau is expected to present the offer to premiers during their weekly conference call today — the twelfth such call since the pandemic sent the country into lockdown in mid-March.

Precise details, including how to allocate each province’s share of the cash, are to be negotiated in the coming days, but federal officials hope agreements can be reached quickly to get the money flowing fast.

The offer comes with some strings attached, according to federal officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Trudeau is offering to transfer the money to provincial and territorial governments, provided they agree to spend it on a number of areas the federal government considers necessary to reduce the risk of a second surge of the deadly coronavirus.

They include testing, contact tracing, personal protective equipment, bolstering municipalities, helping the most vulnerable Canadians and strengthening the health care system, possibly including improving conditions in long-term care homes linked to more than 80 per cent of the deaths in Canada so far.

Making a difference in just one of those areas — municipalities — is a pricey proposition. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimates communities across the country, which have been on the front lines of the pandemic, need $10-15 billion to make up for the loss of revenue resulting from reduced transit fares, user fees and deferred property taxes.

At the start of the pandemic, the federal government boosted transfer payments to provinces and territories for health care by $500 million — an amount that seemed large at the time but which has since paled in comparison with the more than $150 billion Ottawa has shovelled into direct financial aid to Canadians and economic stimulus measures.

While Trudeau is now offering provinces and territories substantially more money, there is likely to be some push back from some premiers over his attempt to direct the general areas on which it should be spent rather than letting them spend it as they see fit.

The prime minister is also expected to announce financial support for nearly four million disabled Canadians, who already faced some of the highest costs of living before the pandemic made daily life even more expensive.

Among other things, the pandemic has resulted in many people with disabilities having to rely on in-home care, pay delivery fees for groceries and other items, and fork out higher dispensing fees for prescription drugs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2020.

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BoC eyeing supply, consumer demand for July economic outlook, deputy says – BNNBloomberg.ca

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OTTAWA — A senior official at the Bank of Canada says the central bank will be paying close attention to what the post-pandemic economy can supply and what consumers demand.

Deputy governor Toni Gravelle said Thursday it’s possible that supply could recover faster than demand if businesses reopen quickly while consumers remain cautious.

In a speech by video conference to the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, he said it will be key for the bank’s governing council to understand how the pandemic has affected demand, employment and the economy’s capacity to produce goods and services by its next interest rate decision in mid-July.

At that time, the bank will also release an updated economic outlook.

The Bank of Canada held its key policy rate at 0.25 per cent on Wednesday, but said the economy appears to have avoided a worst-case scenario due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gravelle made clear that’s as low as the bank believes the rate can go before it causes problems in markets, a nod toward talk about negative interest rates to spur spending.

The bank also reduced some of its market operations after it “cranked up the volume to 11” to allow the banking system to tap directly into much-needed funding liquidity, Gravelle said.

“Despite the positive signs, though, many risks and uncertainties remain,” Gravelle said, according to a text of his speech released by the bank.

“A lot will depend on whether we as a country are successful in managing the risk of possible future waves of COVID-19, and the pace at which containment measures are lifted. This applies to the global economy as well as Canada’s.”

He said the bank will pay close attention to how the pandemic is affecting growth and demand in key markets for Canadian exports.

Statistics Canada said the domestic economy shrank by 2.1 per cent in the first three months of the year. The Bank of Canada now expects output to drop a further 10 to 20 per cent in the second quarter, which is below its April expectations of a 15 to 30 per cent drop.

As bad as that sounds, Gravelle said, it would be closer to the best-case scenario the bank envisioned in April.

Gravelle pointed in his speech to silver linings in otherwise gloomy economic data.

Statistics Canada jobs figures showed that three million workers became unemployed over March and April as the pandemic took hold, but 43 per cent said they expected to return to their jobs once the pandemic passes. Gravelle said that figure was 15 per cent during the global financial crisis over a decade ago.

“These are all sort of subtle indications,” he said during a media teleconference following the speech.

“It was just more of a hopeful sign that the attachment rate of these employees will be stronger in this crisis or this environment than it was in 2008-2009.”

Inflation has dropped close to zero, driven mainly by plunging gasoline prices, and Gravelle said inflation will remain below the bank’s two per cent target in the near-term due to temporary factors.

Despite the positive tone of the speech, it’s clear no one at the central bank is breathing a sigh of relief just yet, said TD senior economist Brian DePratto.

“The multiple references to its ability to provide further stimulus, and the reiterated goal of keeping asset purchases running until the bank is certain the economic recovery is well underway make it clear that the foot will be firmly on the accelerator for some time to come,” he wrote in a note.

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