Economic News in the USA

2 April 2020 Walmart, the largest private employer in the U.S., stated on March 31 that it will start taking temperatures of its employees turning up at work. Anyone recording body temperatures above 100 Fahrenheit will be sent back home and asked to seek medical help. Even Amazon and Whole Foods are due to incorporate temperature tests from next week.

Additionally, Walmart said that workers displaying symptoms won’t be allowed to return to work until they are fever-free for at least three days. On top of the two-week standard, an employee will be able to take up an additional 26 weeks of paid leave if they are unable to return to work after suffering from COVID-19. Working employees will be given protective masks and gloves. The grocer has also announced limited store hours, installation of sneeze guards and salary bonuses for employees.  Living and Working during COVID-19 Survey

2 April 2020 - According to data released by the US Labor Department, claims for the first week of unemployment have risen by 3000% since early March. Last week, ending on March 28, a record of 6.6 million workers filed for unemployment aid. This brings the last fortnight tally to nearly 10 million filings. This scenario has also erased the employment generated in the last five years, experts say.

Economists say that the unemployment rate is nearly 9.5% and in strong likelihood, will cross the 10% mark by next week. The job losses during the pandemic match with that of the Great Recession, cited labor economist, Aaron Sojourner. Others say that the figures are far from accurate given how many were not able to apply for unemployment amid swamped phone lines and long queues. Tell us how’s work during COVID-19

27 March 2020 - In addition to health workers, Amazon warehouse employees are on the frontlines as home delivery of essentials ramps up. However, the provisions for worker safety, such as hand sanitizers and hand wipes, are running low or are completely absent. Moreover, workers are being forced to choose between shifts and their health as there is no provision of paid leave for warehouse workers. As of March 27, 13 Amazon warehouses have had at least one or more workers who have contracted Covid-19 (novel coronavirus). Fourteen lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ilhan Omar, wrote to CEO Jeff Bezos asking for detailed guidelines in place for worker safety. 1,500 employees globally have also signed a petition asking for improved working conditions. On the other hand, Amazon is planning to hire an additional 100,000 employees to keep up with the demand surge. Working during Covid-19

27 March 2020 In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, the United States’ job market has witnessed a record high of 3.28 million unemployment filings. The Labor Department stated that these figures from last week are four times the previous record in 1967. Just before businesses shut down two weeks ago, the number of unemployed people stood at 211,000, a 50-year low. Matthew Luzzetti, chief economist at Deutsche Bank stated that the US economy is clearly in recession.

All 50 states reported an increase in unemployment claims, out of which nine saw jumps of more than 100,000 filings. Economists predict that the number is most likely to rise as the states order closure of more non-essential businesses. However, a $2 trillion rescue package passed by the Senate and approved by the president has been set in motion to help expand unemployment benefits and insurance. Dismissal Rights

1 March 2020 Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging employers to design non-punitive policies for their workers if they are feeling sick and need to stay at home. However, this is proving to be difficult, given the fact that more than a third of American jobs do not have provisions for sick leave. Part-time and hourly-wage workers in the service sector are especially susceptible.  People working in high-contact spaces like restaurants, retail, and child care are also less likely to have access to health insurance. This could force employees to come in sick, especially since early symptoms of COVID-19 are fairly mild, like cold or the flu. Experts are hoping to see more flexible sick leave policies in the near future to help employees get the required medical attention and control the spread of the disease. Read up on Sick Leave

19 February 2020 According to a survey conducted by the Manpower Group, a placement firm, 7 out of 10 employers faced a shortage of qualified workers in 2019. The figures indicate a 17 percentage points rise in terms of talent shortages. According to the US Labor Department estimates, there are nearly 670,000 more job openings than there are unemployed workers looking for jobs. Experts say that the labor market is getting tighter, especially after a sharp rise in demand for technical skills as well as a slump in the manufacturing sector. On the flip side, employers are making efforts to retain their skilled workers by not only offering high salaries but also through attractive benefits schemes. There is also a growing trend of employees becoming shareholders in their companies.  Job Search Tips!

15 February 2020 In addition to supporting employees of diverse races, gender and sexual orientations, US companies are encouraging faith-based employee groups. According to Associated Press figures, 20% of the Fortune 100 companies have made formal efforts to be inclusive of their employee’s faiths. Major American companies such as Alphabet, Intel, Facebook, Apple, Dell, etc. are among the top 10 companies committed to religious diversity in the workplace. Tyson Foods, an Arkansas-based multinational has come up on top in terms of its faith-in-the-workplace programs because of its chaplaincy program. It has a network of 90 chaplains who counsel and comfort employees across its offices and plants. Alphabet hosts an Interfaith network, whereas Intel has groups for major religions as well as agnostic-atheist groups. Read up on Workplace Discrimination

7 February 2020 Jobs injected into the US economy in January exceeded the economists’ forecasts by a factor of 65,000, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As compared to December’s job growth of 147,000 jobs, the US economy added 225,000 non-farm payrolls in January. The gains mostly came from the construction and health care industries. The labor force participation rate recorded a seven-year high at 63.47%. The figure indicates a rise in the number of active job seekers in addition to those who already have jobs. As a result, the unemployment rose slightly, from 3.5% to 3.6%. Additionally, the employment-to-population ratio from the household survey rose to 61.2%, marking its highest reading after November of 2008. Take the Salary Survey!

24 January 2020 - Walmart, America’s largest private employer, has raised its hourly minimum wage from $11 to $12 for its recently created position of a team associate. This trial measure has been implemented across 500 stores in the country to introduce a more flexible workflow model. The employees in the new position will take up cashier duty, shelf stocking and deli work. In the long term, the new model will replace positions like customer-service manager and assistant manager with roles like a coach, academy trainer and store lead. Walmart is also looking into providing more training for its employees to improve their career trajectories. A senior executive looking after Walmart's US operations said that employees are enjoying picking up new skills and working in small teams. Check your Minimum Wage!

16 January 2020 According to a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), women held the majority of jobs in the US labor market in December. The statistics revealed that 50.04% of American job positions were occupied by women, excluding the self-employed and farmworkers. The figure is the first instance of a female majority recorded in almost a decade. Experts are crediting the surge in female employment to the growth of the service sector, primarily health care and education. Both of these industries, predominantly female, added 36,000 more jobs in December as compared to November. Health services including daycare, home health care and food preparation have made it easier for women to enter the workforce. However, despite some working in a highly paid sector such as medicine, most women still hold low-paying jobs.  Women & Jobs

10 January 2020 According to statistics released by the US Labour Department, wage growth in the country dropped below 3% in December for the first time since July of 2018. This came after the wage growth rate slipped from 3.6% in October to 3.1% by November end. However, the unemployment rate maintained at 3.5%, a 50-year low for the country. While economists estimated injections of at least 160,000 jobs into the economy, the December figures fell short at 145,000 jobs. The figure is significantly lower than November’s robust gain of 256,000 jobs. The report cites that the manufacturing and mining sectors experienced major job losses of 12,000 and 9,000 workers, respectively. Take the salary survey!

6 January 2020 - According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), an advocacy group, minimum wages are set to be revised across 24 US states in 2020. That includes 72 jurisdictions and 48 cities. 20 states out of the 24 have implemented the pay raise from January 1, 2020. The remaining jurisdictions, including New York, are expected to join by the end of the month. Researchers believe that the move will help workers  deal with increasing costs of living, especially for the lowest-paid workers in the country. Just last year, the US House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act which proposed to double the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15/hour. However, the act did not make it past the Senate. Read more about Minimum Wages

18 December 2019 - Navistar, one of America’s largest truck manufacturers, is planning to fire employees owing to drying demand. Navistar is set to dismiss roughly 1,300 of its employees around the globe following Cummins Inc, the truck-engine maker, which dismissed 2,000 of its employees in November. The move will bring down Navistar’s global employment by around 10%. The cost-cutting wave is also affecting employees of backward linkage industries such as those of the suppliers. A large volume of truck orders was placed in 2018 in response to growing freight volumes. The surplus caused the prices to plunge and along with them, the orders for more trucks. Employee dismissal

6 December 2019 - According to a report released by the US Labor Department, US employers hired 2,66,000 workers in November. This figure is inclusive of nearly 50,000 General Motors’ workers who resumed working after a six-week strike. November also saw a slight drop in unemployment to 3.5% with the hiring gains. The steady hiring trends mark the 21st consecutive month when unemployment has been lower than 4%, a level considered to represent full employment. Additionally, wages are also up by 3.1% over the last year. Uniform growth was observed in the US economy with the manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality sectors gaining roughly 50,000 jobs each. Take the salary survey