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U.S. economy added 850,000 jobs last month, far more than expected –



In an encouraging burst of hiring, America’s employers added 850,000 jobs in June, well above the average of the previous three months and a sign that companies may be having an easier time finding enough workers to fill open jobs.

Friday’s report from the U.S. Labour Department was the latest sign that the reopening of the economy is propelling a powerful rebound from the pandemic recession. Restaurant traffic across the country is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, and more people are shopping, travelling and attending sports and entertainment events.

The number of people flying each day is also about 80 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels. And Americans’ confidence in the economic outlook has nearly fully recovered.

The result is that many businesses are desperate to hire and have posted a record-high number of jobs. With competition for workers intensifying, especially at restaurants and tourist and entertainment venues, employers are offering higher pay, along with signing and retention bonuses and more flexible hours. The proportion of job advertisements that promise a bonus has more than doubled in the past year, the employment website Indeed has found.

The unemployment rate rose to 5.9 per cent, up slightly from May but still well down from the peak it hit of 14.8 per cent rate in April of last year, just after the coronavirus erupted and triggered tens of millions of layoffs.

Not enough workers

Hiring is picking up, and so is the supply of available jobs.

Total available jobs reached 9.3 million in April, the highest in 20 years of data, according to the Labour Department. Employment website Indeed has said that job postings have increased still further since then.

The supply of potential hires, however, is being held back by a variety of factors. Many Americans still have health concerns about working around large numbers of people. About 1.5 million people, mostly women, are no longer working or looking for work because they had to care for children when schools and daycare centres shut down. And roughly 2.6 million older workers took advantage of enlarged stock portfolios and home values to retire early.

The number of people boarding flights in the U.S. is rising steadily, another sign that the world’s largest economy is getting back to something approaching normal. (Charlie Riedel/The Associated Press)

On Thursday, the government reported that the number of people who applied for jobless aid last week fell to 364,000, the lowest level since the pandemic began.

There are also signs that people are re-evaluating their work and personal lives and aren’t necessarily interested in returning to their old jobs, particularly those that offer modest wages. The proportion of Americans who quit their jobs in April reached its highest level in more than 20 years.

Nearly six per cent of workers who are in an industry category that includes restaurants, hotels, casinos and amusement parks quit their jobs in April — twice the proportion of workers in all sectors who did so.

A rising number of people quitting jobs, often for higher-paying positions, means that even employers that have been hiring may be struggling to maintain sufficient staffing levels.

While the jobs news is positive, economist Sal Guatieri with Bank of Montreal noted that a lot of sectors are still showing very little employment growth.

“Most of the new jobs now being created are in sectors that were slammed by the pandemic, while companies in other industries are struggling to find available workers … this doesn’t bode well for strong organic growth,” he said.

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Creating a transparent digital economy and rebuilding trust | World Economic Forum – World Economic Forum



  • The digital economy in the US is expanding four times faster than the overall economy.
  • Yet consumers remain concerned about the way data is collected and how it’s used to influence behaviour.
  • Companies and regulators must strengthen data privacy and enhance transparency to build trust and protect the benefits of digital innovation.

The benefits of digitization are growing. Even before COVID-19 struck, digital goods and services were expanding four times faster than the overall economy in the US. Then video conferencing, online shopping, telemedicine and the like, enabled tens of millions of people around the world to adapt after the pandemic erupted last year. Today the five largest US technology stocks account for nearly a quarter of the value of the S&P 500 Index while China’s big three account for nearly a third of the value of the MSCI China Index.

Yet consumers worry about the way companies capture their data and influence everything from their news and music feeds to the advertisements suggesting what they should buy and where. The majority of consumers say they prefer to maintain their privacy and avoid sharing information with companies, according to Oliver Wyman Forum’s Global Consumer Sentiment Survey.

Without deep reform of the way companies treat data and governments regulate it, this mistrust threatens to become for the digital economy what carbon dioxide is for the physical world: an unseen pollution that threatens the sustainability of data ecosystems. And like carbon, those apprehensions have externalities that can cause societal harm. Willingness to share health information to contain the coronavirus declined as the pandemic worsened last year.

A tipping point in data mistrust?

According to a survey of US consumer attitudes toward 400 brands by Lippincott, the brand consultancy arm of Oliver Wyman, people rate major global social media brands lower than others in healthcare, finance, media, retail, and consumer products, on questions including whether the brand understands my needs, shares my values, always has my interests at heart, and does more good than bad for society. Consumers also express less willingness to share data with those companies than with firms in the other industries.

That finding may seem paradoxical given that people in practice share large amounts of data, some very personal, with social media companies. Yet each new breach or misinformation campaign erodes public trust and risks a tipping point in consumer willingness to share.

Political pressure is growing for tighter regulation. The European Commission has drafted legislation that would enhance consumer rights and protections and crack down on potential monopolistic behaviour by tech platforms. The CEOs of several big social media firms told a recent congressional hearing that they were open to reforms of the liability shield they enjoy under US law.

The pace and volume of data collection and sharing has accelerated, demonstrating the need for better mechanisms to protect citizens’ rights and inspire trust.

To that end, a new whitepaper explores a potential approach to tackling this issue and forging trust. The whitepaper, Data-driven economies: Foundations for a common future, identifies key enablers that can build multistakeholder data sharing frameworks.

It recommends creating new data governance models that combine data from various origins, including personal, commercial and/or government sources. It highlights use cases from industries and jurisdictions around the world to illustrate the possibilities data sharing unlocks for multiple stakeholders and the public good.

The paper was created in connection with the Data for Common Purpose Initiative, a first-of-its-kind global initiative formed to design a governance framework to responsibly enhance the societal benefit from data. The initiative aims to find ways to exchange data assets for the common good, while protecting individual parties’ rights and the equitable allocation of risks and rewards.

Focus on transparency, consumer choice and competition

Companies should take the lead in rebuilding trust, and that starts with transparency. A seven-country survey by the Oliver Wyman Forum found that providing transparency about how data is shared was one of the two top priorities of consumers, with 51% saying it would make them feel comfortable giving mobility companies access to their data.

Firms should be open about the types of information they collect, the steps they take to keep it secure, how the data will be used, what benefits consumers can expect, and whether data will be shared and for what purposes. Equally, firms should specify wherever possible what data they will not collect. These disclosures should be in everyday language, not dense legalese. And companies should consider working with nonprofits or civil society organizations to reinforce transparency by auditing data practices.

Data-sharing also should be reasonable. One way to ensure that would be to share only anonymous data. Fifty-one percent of respondents to the Oliver Wyman Forum mobility survey said this assurance would make them more comfortable sharing data. And given the ubiquity of information sources available, anonymized data is sufficient for many tasks, such as serving relevant ads to consumers.

Transparency needs to extend beyond data itself to the algorithms companies use to tailor news feeds, sell advertising, and make decisions on things like hiring and lending. Pressure is growing for new rules to enforce accountability and prevent algorithmic bias, but industry doesn’t have to wait for regulators or legislators to act. Reassuring consumers that the choices and information they receive are sound and fair should promote responsible data-sharing and build trust.

Finally, companies should reinforce transparency with empowerment. That means giving consumers the ability to access their data, to decide whether it can be shared with third parties, and to request that data be deleted or made portable so a customer can take it to another service provider. Companies also might work with other organizations to foster the creation of data trusts or cooperatives, which would store data and give consumers greater control over how it is used.

Pressure is growing for new rules to enforce accountability and prevent algorithmic bias, but industry doesn’t have to wait for regulators or legislators to act.

—Lorenzo Miláns del Bosch.

For policymakers, building trust and ensuring a level playing field should be the guiding principles of any new regulatory initiatives. Existing measures like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation and the California Privacy Rights Act have strengthened privacy protections but don’t address issues like misinformation or algorithmic accountability.

Filling that gap won’t be easy considering today’s political polarization and the sensitivity and lack of global standards on issues like free speech. But a few key principles should guide policymakers.

Start by measuring the effectiveness of existing regulations in building trust. Then ensure that new regulations are designed to promote greater choice. Measures that empower consumers or require algorithmic accountability should have enforcement mechanisms proportional to the size of the firm. Imposing the same burdens on start-ups as on tech giants can stymie innovation and competition.

Rebuilding trust won’t be easy, but the risks of inaction are far greater. It’s time for technology companies and policymakers to get to work.

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Biden approval ratings on Covid and economy fall in new CNBC All-America survey – CNBC



President Joe Biden held on to his overall approval rating in the latest CNBC All-America Economic Survey but showed weakness in two key areas as the public’s views on the economy and the outlook for the virus soured.

In the poll of 802 American adults nationwide, 48% approved of the job Biden is doing as president, up a point from the first quarter. But his disapproval numbers grew to 45% from 41%.

The biggest change came in views on his handling of the coronavirus, where approval dropped 9 points to 53%; Biden’s economic approval fell to 42%, a decline of 4 points, or just beyond the poll’s 3.5-point margin of error.

“I think it all comes down to COVID,” said Jay Campbell, a partner at Hart Research Associates and Democratic pollster for the survey. “If the COVID situation had continued to improve the way it was improving in the first quarter, all of these numbers would look very different. And ultimately, someone has to be responsible for that. And right now it’s Joe Biden.”

The president’s ratings declined along with worsening views on the economy and the virus. The poll, conducted at the end of July, shows 51% of the public pessimistic about the economy and the outlook, the highest level since 2015. Just 22% give the economy positive marks and are optimistic.

“Surging Covid and rising inflation are creating a bleaker outlook throughout the next 12 months than we’ve measured since the 2008 recession,” said Micah Roberts, partner with Public Opinion Strategies and the Republican pollster for the survey. “Forty-three percent say the economy will get worse in the next year, tied for the highest we have measured since June 2008.”

Inflation also a concern

A bright spot: 59% said they believe they can find another job in the area where they live at similar or better pay. The confidence was evident across racial, income and age groups but was especially strong among 18-to-34-year-olds, a sign of a tight job market.

Asked about the most pressing two issues, respondents chose the coronavirus as their top concern, followed by a tie between immigration and inflation and then a tie between climate change and crime. Infrastructure, where the president has focused considerable efforts, is the least most important issue, chosen by just 4%.

The top priorities of the public overall mask substantial differences by party. While the virus and climate change are the main issues for Democrats, neither ranks in the top five for Republicans. Instead, Republicans says immigration, crime and inflation are their top issues. Independents said the virus was their top area of concern, followed by immigration, crime and inflation.

When it comes to the virus, Americans say that because of the delta variant they are concerned the nation could implement new restrictions: 73% said they are concerned there could be new lockdowns, 68% worried about a new surge in deaths and hospitalizations, 55% worried about mask mandates and 50% said it could delay the return of workers to their offices.

Inflation looks to be taking a bite out of spending. Eighty-six percent of respondents said they have taken at least one step to combat the rise in prices. The most frequent means has been to reduce spending on discretionary items, like eating out, but respondents also said they were driving less, traveling less and saving less money.

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Economic Growth Looks Good For Now, But Families Need More – Forbes



The economy is in a good spot right now, but Congress needs to act quickly to strengthen the recovery further. Millions of people are still looking for a job and face financial hardship such as evictions without continued strong economic growth. At the same time, the pandemic has changed face again with the Delta variant ripping through the country, creating a lot uncertainty over the future path of the economy. Amid these challenges, Congress can enact additional measures to ensure a continued strong recovery that benefits all households.

The economy grew at a strong pace in the first half of 2021. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth amounted to an annual rate of 6.5% between March and June 2021. This was slightly faster than the already fast annual growth rate of 6.3% in the first three months of 2021. GDP in the second quarter of 2021 had finally caught up to and exceeded, by about one percent, the inflation-adjusted GDP level recorded for the last three months of 2019 before the pandemic started. The accelerated recovery in the first half of 2021 helped to regain the losses of economic activity associated with the pandemic faster than would have otherwise been the case.

Faster economic growth in the first half of 2021 came about in large part because of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan enacted in March 2021. Gross domestic product has exceeded what analysts forecast for 2021 prior to passage of the American Rescue Plan, for instance. In particular, Harvard University’s Jason Furman, former chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, and Wilson Powell III report that the U.S. economy grew as much in the first half of the year as analysts had predicted for the entire year 2021. The massive relief bill enacted in March did exactly what it was supposed to do by putting the economy on a path to a quicker recovery, while helping struggling families deal with the ongoing fallout from the pandemic.

The economy still has room to grow in the short term. Supply chain bottlenecks in particular held back economic activity in the spring of 2021. Businesses, for example, depleted inventories as they often found it difficult procure intermediate and final products to sell. The depletion of inventories reduced economic growth by 1.1 percentage points. GDP growth would have been 7.6% instead of the reported 6.5% between March and June 2021 if businesses had not reduced their inventories. Similarly, new housing activities fell amid lumber and other material shortages, reducing GDP growth by another 0.5 percentage points. As supply bottlenecks gradually ease, the economy will likely overcome some of these headwinds and boost growth.

This short-term momentum will not be enough to address the looming challenges. Congress still needs to invest more in a prolonged strong economic recovery that benefits all American families, even in the context of these recent good news. First, millions of Americans are still out of work. Second, the economy would have likely grown after 2019 absent the pandemic and thus need to go some ways to catch up to where it would have been. The Congressional Budget Office predicted in January 2020 that the economy would be 1.8% larger in the second quarter of 2021 than it actually was. Third, modest productivity growth and massive inequality marked the economic performance prior to the pandemic. Households struggled with paying their bills, even amid low unemployment before the pandemic hit. Building on the current strong performance to ensure a continued robust recovery also means correcting these imbalances that persisted after the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009. Congress’s work in building a strong, inclusive recovery is not yet done.

Passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) currently making its way through Congress and the $3.5 trillion budget resolution are key to achieving robust, equitable growth. Those measures will provide public investments in a wide range of infrastructure that has been neglected for too long and that the private sector will not fully finance. Roads, bridges, and access to affordable internet are just some of the investments that will translate into faster innovation, lower costs and higher productivity and economic growth. Congress will also tackle climate change and thus reduce costs of extreme weather events for people and businesses. Lower costs will again translate into faster economic growth over time. It is good to know that the administration and many members of Congress understand that their work is not done with two quarters of remarkably strong growth. American families have waited too long for a return to strong, inclusive long-term economic growth.

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