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Nearly 12 million unemployed Americans to lose aid in December: study

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Unemployment Office (AFP)

Millions of Americans who lost their jobs to the mass layoffs caused by the coronavirus pandemic will be cut off from government aid at the end of December unless Congress acts, a study said on Wednesday.

Lawmakers in March passed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that expanded the unemployment safety net as Covid-19 wrecked the economy, offering benefits to workers not normally eligible and extending the length of time laid-off Americans could receive benefits.

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But funding for those programs expires on December 26, and a study from The Century Foundation estimates that nearly 12 million workers will be receiving benefits from the two main expanded unemployment programs when funding expires.

“This cutoff threatens to pull the rug out from under an economy that has already seen millions of workers lose their state unemployment benefits this fall,” the New York-based progressive think tank said in its report.

Washington lawmakers have negotiated for months over whether to pass a follow-up measures to the CARES Act. But Democrats and Republicans have been unable to agree on how much to spend or what to spend it on, and there’s little reason to believe progress will be achieved before the new Congress is seated in January.

The United States is home to the world’s largest coronavirus outbreak, with nearly 249,000 deaths as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Business shutdowns to stop the virus’s spread caused the unemployment rate to spike to 14.7 percent in April as millions of people filed new claims for jobless benefits each week.

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However, states’ moves to reopen as well as aid to small businesses and payments to individuals provided under the CARES Act helped the economy tentatively recover, bringing the unemployment rate down to 6.9 percent in October.

Nonetheless, the Labor Department said 10.1 million jobs lost during the pandemic still have not been recovered, and new filings for jobless benefit applications hover around 700,000, still above the worst single week of the 2008-2010 global financial crisis.

The Century Foundation report said 7.3 million people receiving benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for gig workers and others not normally eligible will lose their aid on December 26, while an additional 945,000 will see their benefits expire in the coming weeks.

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Another 4.6 million workers benefiting from Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which provides long-term aid to workers without a job, will lose benefits on the same date. But some of them will be able to continue to receive benefits in 2021 depending on which state they live in.

© 2020 AFP


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United Airlines flying coronavirus vaccines on charter flights to allow quick distribution — if approved: report

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Companies are implementing their own plans to rapidly distribute coronavirus vaccines.

"United Airlines Holdings Inc. on Friday began operating charter flights to position doses of Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine for quick distribution if the shots are approved by regulators," The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing "people familiar with the matter."

"The initial flights are one link in a vast global supply chain being assembled to tackle the logistical challenge of distributing Covid-19 vaccines. Pfizer has been laying the groundwork to move quickly if it gets approval from the Food and Drug Administration and other regulators around the world," the newspaper reported.

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‘Black Friday’ sales could be strong despite the coronavirus pandemic: analysts

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The coronavirus is clouding "Black Friday" much as it has overshadowed 2020 in general, but some leading experts still expect strong overall sales even as shopping patterns are altered.

The more bullish case for the holiday shopping season cites robust demand for bigger-ticket items such as home improvement projects, new computers and home fitness machines as more people work from home and e-commerce grabs an ever-increasing share of the overall market.

Malls were open for business as usual on Friday, but there were early indications that the day-after-Thanksgiving crowds were more sparse this year as more consumers opt for e-commerce or for curbside pickup options because of the virus.

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Gun-toting Idaho Lt. Gov. wants to spend millions on a Trump supporter’s dangerous and useless ‘disinfectant cube’

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This Tuesday, Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin proposed spending millions of dollars of the state’s CARES Act funds for technology that included “walk-through disinfectant cubes” to be installed at the state Capitol to fight against coronavirus, the Idaho State Journal reports.

During a virtual press conference with pastors and business owners, McGeachin praised the “very high-tech equipment” manufactured by Xtreme Manufacturing in Las Vegas.

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