(BEIJING) — China’s economic growth accelerated to 4.9% over a year earlier in the latest quarter as a shaky recovery from the coronavirus pandemic gathered strength.
Figures announced Monday for the three months ending in September were in line with expectations after the ruling Communist Party declared the outbreak under control in March and began reopening factories, shops and offices.
Factory output rose, boosted by foreign demand for Chinese-made masks and other medical supplies. Retail sales, which had lagged behind the manufacturing rebound, finally returned to pre-virus levels.
The economy “continued the steady recovery,” the National Bureau of Statistics said in a report. However, it warned, “the international environment is still complicated and severe.” It said China still faces “great pressure” to prevent a resurgence of the virus.
China, where the pandemic began in December, became the first major economy to return to growth with a 3.2% expansion in the quarter ending in June. Output contracted 6.8% in the first quarter after Beijing shut down the world’s second-largest economy.
Authorities have lifted curbs on travel and business but visitors to government and other public buildings still are checked for the virus’s telltale fever. Travelers arriving from abroad must be quarantined for two weeks.
Last week, more than 10 million people were tested for the virus in the eastern port of Qingdao after 12 cases were found there. That broke a streak of almost two months with no virus transmissions reported within China.
Industrial production rose 5.8% over the same quarter last year, the National Bureau of Statistics reported, a marked improvement over the first half’s 1.3% contraction.
Chinese exporters have benefited from the economy’s relatively early reopening and global demand for masks and other medical supplies. They are taking market share from foreign competitors that still are hampered by anti-virus controls.
Retail sales returned to positive territory in the …read more
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The U.S. oil and gas industry faces a daunting recovery from the pandemic, said Paul Takahashi at the Houston Chronicle. “About 107,000 oil, gas, and petrochemical workers have been laid off between March and August,” a staggering total even for an industry that is accustomed to soaring heights and crushing lows. But analysts say this oil bust is different even from those in the past. “Growing concerns about climate change” are expected to keep reducing demand for fossil fuels, meaning those jobs lost now might not return after this downturn. Even if crude prices “claw their way back to $45 per barrel” by the end of 2021 — up from around the $40 price mark where they have remained for months — an estimated 70 percent of the jobs lost may disappear permanently. A drop to $35 per barrel, and the industry is looking at 100,000 jobs gone for good.
The collapse in oil prices hasn’t just hurt the drilling states, said Alexander Osipovitch and Ryan Dezember at The Wall Street Journal. “Wisconsin doesn’t produce a drop of oil or gas, but there has been a bust there too,” because of its supportive ecosystem for fracking. Wisconsin, along with northern states like Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois, employs thousands of workers in open-pit salt mines that ship “pebbly grains ideal for hydraulic fracking” by the trainload to drilling fields in Texas, Appalachia, and North Dakota. Now the “local governments that envisioned the mines bringing long-term prosperity are looking at budget crunches.”
All the places that rely on fracking face another threat, said the Journal in an editorial: Democrats who want to shut down the industry. “Hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling has unleashed …read more
Twitter has reversed its decision to block users from sharing an unsubstantiated article from the New York Post about former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, The New York Times reports.
The company had previously stopped users from being able to post the story about alleged emails between a Ukrainian energy executive and Hunter Biden, citing its policy against sharing private information and against distributing “content obtained without authorization.” But after facing backlash especially among Republicans including President Trump, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said Friday that blocking links to the story “was wrong,” and the company altered its policies so that it “will no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them,” per BuzzFeed News.
When Twitter announced changes to its policy on hacked materials on Thursday, the Hunter Biden article was still being blocked because Twitter said it violated its policies against sharing personal information, as The Washington Post reported. But as of Friday, users can now share the article again, with the Times reporting the company made this decision “because the information had spread across the internet and could no longer be considered private.”
When Twitter previously changed its hacked materials policy in response to the criticism, The Washington Post had already dubbed this a “stunning policy reversal.”
The Utah Department of Workforce Services in Salt Lake City is pictured on Thursday, July 16, 2020. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The number of Utahns who are unemployed rose by an estimated 16,700 people from August to September, according to the Department of Workforce Services.
Utah’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate increased in September to an estimated 5%, according to the numbers released Friday, leaving approximately 82,800 Utahns unemployed.
Both figures are up from August, during which the unemployment rate was at 4.1% and an estimated 66,100 Utahns were unemployed.
“The unemployment rate rise, in part, reflects both people expiring their unemployment benefits and becoming aggressive in searching for a job,” Mark Knold, chief economist at the Department of Workforce Services, said in a news release. “This increased job-search activity is reflected in the labor force participation rate, as it increased by more than a full percentage point over last month. More people are finding work and more people are looking for work.”
The increase in September’s unemployment numbers also coincided with high numbers of COVID-19 cases as many Utah schools reopened campuses to students this fall and struggled to contain the virus.
Andrew Keinsley, an assistant professor of economics at Weber State University, said the state needs to find a balance between allowing kids to return to schools — thus freeing parents to work — while also managing COVID-19 cases.
“If they have to start closing down schools again, you have parents who aren’t going to be able to find child care,” he said. “They’re going to have to stop working. The virus is the core problem with the economy right now. So it is about finding ways that we can mitigate the risk that allow us to get back out there. But again, I feel like a …read more
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and her Democratic challenger, Theresa Greenfield, held their third and final debate Thursday evening, both women appearing remotely. After about 20 minutes of technical problems, they fielded a series of questions on racism, protests, and agriculture. And Ernst appeared to be caught a little flatfooted on the farm front.
Ernst and Greenfield both grew up on Iowa farms, and when asked, they explained why they left agriculture — Greenfield, now a businesswoman, cited the farm bankruptcies of the 1980s and the havoc that wreaked on family farms; Ernst said her sister still runs the family farm but she went to college in part to escape abusive relationships. Moderator Ron Steele asked the candidates for the break-even price of key Iowa crops. Greenfield, who went first, correctly put the price for corn at about $3.68 a bushel.
Theresa Greenfield not about to be caught out on an ag business question pic.twitter.com/hZqxbmVkjH
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) October 16, 2020
Steele asked Ernst about soybeans, and when she responded by talking about the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal, he asked her again. Ernst suggested the break-even price for corn is about $5.50, and when given the chance later to answer again about soybeans, she said she doesn’t think the break-even price for corn is $10.50.
help i can’t stop watching this pic.twitter.com/NM6KJI0S7M
— marisa kabas (@MarisaKabas) October 16, 2020
Both candidates agreed that the anti-racism protests were good but that looting and vandalism are bad. Ersnt said she doesn’t think “systemic racism” is real, because “I don’t believe that entire systems of people — of people — are racist. There are racists out there.” Greenfield said “systemic racism does not mean that any one individual is a racist but rather that we have to …read more
The Utah Department of Workforce Services’ main administration building in Salt Lake City. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Seven months into the pandemic and thousands of people are still out of work and in need of assistance, new data in Utah indicates.
The Utah Department of Workforce Services reported Thursday the number of total new claims filed for unemployment benefits in Utah rose to 4,658 for the week of Oct. 4 through Oct. 10, with a total of $14 million distributed in benefits. There were 37,571 continued claims filed during that same week.
“In spite of a persistent high volume of new claims, we have seen an overall decrease in continued claims for 23 consecutive weeks in the state of Utah,” said Unemployment Insurance Division director Kevin Burt. “While the unemployment program has provided much needed support, we continue to encourage active participation in the labor force as opportunities prevail in Utah’s economy and the unemployment benefit remains time-limited.”
The number of individuals who have not requested benefits for two straight weeks as of Oct. 3 was 3,614. In comparison, a total of 19,793 people met the same criteria the previous week.
The number of Americans filing new jobless claims has unexpectedly risen to the highest level since August.
The Labor Department on Thursday said that 898,000 Americans filed first-time jobless claims last week, up more than 50,000 claims from the week before. This was not only more than the 830,000 claims economists had been anticipating but was also the highest number of weekly claims since Aug. 22, CNBC reports.
Additionally, Bloomberg reports that “on an unadjusted basis, the figure posted the largest one-week increase since July.” Continuing claims declined by 1.165 million, the Labor Department said.
“Given that we’re seven months into the pandemic now, these are still incredibly high numbers for initial claims,” Indeed economist AnnElizabeth Konkel told The Wall Street Journal.
These numbers come after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin cast doubt on the possibility of there being a coronavirus relief deal before Election Day. It also comes as The New York Times reports new research has found that “poverty has returned to levels higher than before the coronavirus crisis” and that “the number of poor people has grown by eight million since May.”
Bill Clark—CQ/Roll Call, Inc/Getty ImagesThe Las Vegas Strip on Aug. 23, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has devastated tourism in the city, leaving laid-off workers like Jorge Padilla struggling to get by and hoping their former employers give them their jobs back.
The hospitality industry says it wants to bring back trained employees but that the need for them is not yet there.
Some employees who had seniority might not be trained in the work that hotels need them to do when they’re recalled, says Amy Rohrer, president of the Maryland Hotel Lodging Association, which opposes the Baltimore ordinance. “We need flexibility to bring back the employees who will ensure smooth operations for the hotel and make our guests feel comfortable when they’re traveling,” she says. “Who is to say that an employee with four years of experience, who is very eager to return back to work, is not the right employee over a five-year employee who may not be as eager to return to work?”
A California veto, but success in San Francisco
The hospitality industry scored a victory in California in September when Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a statewide right to recall bill, saying it placed “too onerous a burden on employers navigating these tough challenges.”
But efforts are succeeding on a local level. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors in June passed an emergency ordinance requiring businesses to offer jobs to former employees ahead of new applicants, in order of seniority. Emily Haddad, a laid-off barista, was among those who spearheaded the effort.
Haddad worked for the San Francisco bakery Tartine and helped organize a union drive that culminated in a vote on March 12 on whether employees wanted to be represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) (Some of the ballots have been challenged, and the National Labor Relations Board is still investigating the election results.)
When the city issued astay at home order a few days later to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Tartine let go of workers from its four San Francisco locations. They included Haddad. A few weeks later, more people lost their jobs when Tartine’s Berkeley bakery was closed after the hotel housing it terminated its contract.
When Tartine started bringing people back as it opened for takeout, Haddad says it recalled workers who had been vocally anti-union and passed over others. “I will probably never get hired back to Tartine because I was one of the main vocal union organizers,” she says.
Frustrated by their experience, Haddad and her co-workers, alongside the ILWU, helped persuade the Board of Supervisors to pass the right to recall ordinance, which applies to employers with 100 or more employees who laid off at least 10 people due to the pandemic. It is not retroactive.
A spokeswoman for Tartine says the bakery does not hire based on an employee’s view about unions. The company says it began rehiring on May 15, that “all employees were recalled based on classification seniority,” and that it has strictly adhered to the San Francisco ordinance since its passage.
Workers in jurisdictions without right to recall legislation have no remedy. Some are finding that government programs meant to protect them, such as the Payroll Support Program under the CARES Act, which compensated the aviation industry to preserve jobs, are not effective.
“Who is to say that an employee with four years of experience, who is very eager to return back to work, is not the right employee over a five-year employee?”Jilma Guevara, 58, worked as a security agent for Eulen America, a contractor at Miami International Airport, for six years, inspecting cargo put on passenger planes. She was laid offMarch 23 and told that she’d have to reapply for her job; despite doing so twice, she says she’s heard nothing. She thinks it’s because she was trying to help organize a union.
Guevara says she always got positive feedback from her supervisors at work. “They had no reason to lay me off, but they found an opportunity with the pandemic,” she says. Other Eulen workers say that because they were laid off and not temporarily furloughed, they must undergo new background checks and fingerprinting, at their own expense, if they want to reapply for jobs.
An Oct. 9report from the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis found that Eulen was one of more than a dozen companies thatlaid offworkers despite receiving money from the Payroll Support Program. Eulen received $26 million from the Program, which was part of the CARES Act and which provided aviation companies with financial assistance to cover paychecks of workers to protect their jobs. The report found that the Treasury Department allowed some companies to receive funding and still lay off workers.
Eulen said in a statement provided to TIME that it had to reduce its workforce early in the pandemic before it received any government support. Its goal is to hire as many former employees as possible, the company said, and it does so by contacting those in good standing and inviting them to apply.
Economic data suggests that when people lose their jobs, they usually cycle through short-term and lower-paid jobs, sometimes even switching fields, before finding something stable. They often end up in jobs that pay less, says Robert E. Hall, a Stanford economics professor who recently co-authoreda paper looking at the impact of job losses on individuals. One study showed that men who were laid off when the unemployment rate was above 8% lost out on about 2.8 years of earnings. By contrast, many furloughed workers, who eventually get called back to their jobs, preserve their pay rate.
The disruption that comes from a layoff is one reason that some
Like millions of Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic, Jorge Padilla had hoped to work for many more years before the economic meltdown interrupted his plans. But in March, Padilla was laid off from his job as a banquet server in the Las Vegas area when tourism all but disappeared, and even though his old company has ramped up hiring again, it hasn’t contacted him.
Padilla says that’s because Station Casinos, which owns the Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa and Casino where he worked for nine years, is making anyone who wants a job reapply and is hiring mostly lower-paid workers rather than longtime employees like him. “We worked hard for this company, and we were loyal for many years,” says Padilla, 57, who used to pull in about $13.40 an hour plus tips, which amounted to up to $40 an hour in the busy season. “Now it’s time for them to give us a chance to come back.”
Labor unions agree, and as the bleak U.S. job situation shows no sign of a major revival, they are pushing for legislation to ensure that people who lost jobs in the pandemic get first dibs when those positions reopen. Such ordinances, known as Right to Recall or Right of Recall bills, have passed in both the city and county of Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, and Long Beach. Drafts of similar bills are circulating in Honolulu, Providence, R.I., and in Tacoma, Wash. A Baltimore city council committee approved one such bill in September, but it has not yet been signed by the mayor.
The hospitality industry says such bills hamper efforts by companies struggling to survive and slow economic recovery. …read more