Categories
Genel

Report warns of Uighur forced labour in solar panel supply chain | Business and Economy News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



Beijing’s Uighur labour programmes are ‘tantamount to forcible transfer of populations and enslavement’, report says.A new report warns against the use of Uighur forced labour by China in the global supply chain of solar panel manufacturing.
The study by the United Kingdom’s Sheffield Hallam University said Chinese “labour transfers” in the northwest Xinjian region, where rights groups say the Muslim-minority Uighurs have been subjected to persecution and internment, is deployed in “an environment of unprecedented coercion, undergirded by the constant threat of re-education and internment”.
The report added 45 percent of the world’s polysilicon manufacturers – a primary material used in 95 percent of solar modules – are based in Xinjian where most Uighurs live.

The investigation “determined that many of the major Chinese producers of raw materials, solar-grade polysilicon, ingots and wafers integral to solar module manufacturing are operating facilities in the region that have employed forced labour transfers of the indigenous people of the region, and that many of these manufacturers have beneficial relationships with the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps”.
“These manufacturers’ adoption of compulsory labour has a significant impact on downstream producers of solar modules and for the governments, developers, and consumers who buy them,” the report said.
‘Risk of exposure’
The demand for solar panels has grown as countries increasingly commit to lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
The researchers identified 90 Chinese and international companies whose supply chains are in some way connected to forced labour.
They called on solar panel manufacturers to assess their supply chains and to source material elsewhere, saying the examples outlined in the report “are meant to provide stakeholders with the evidence based upon which to judge risk of exposure to forced labour in the solar supply chain”.

International pressure has grown for Beijing to allow access to Xinjiang, with Germany, the UK and the US holding a virtual UN meeting on Thursday condemning the documented rights abuses. China has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnes Callamard told the event there were an estimated one million Uighurs and predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities being arbitrarily detained in the region.
The US has said President Joe Biden will urge allies to increase pressure on Beijing over the alleged forced labour during his first leaders meeting in June.







Read All

Categories
Genel

US stocks rise a second straight day, overriding inflation fears | Business and Economy News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



Wall Street appeared to be regaining its equilibrium at the end of the biggest retreat in 11 weeks.By Vildana Hajric and Claire BallentineBloombergU.S. stocks rose and Treasury yields declined for a second consecutive day as more-tempered commodity prices helped allay concerns about inflation risks.
Energy and technology shares led the S&P 500, which tumbled Wednesday by the most since February. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 outperformed the broader index, suggesting a market recovery is gaining momentum, after a bruising week that saw gathering price pressures hit equities. Both indexes still finished the week in the red. An advance in European stocks was led by cyclical industries. MSCI Inc.’s Asia-Pacific share gauge advanced more than 1%.
“People are very optimistic economically,” said Simon Maughan, head of trading alpha at Liquidnet. “Between now and the end of the year, the market is still on the upward trajectory. Clearly sentiment is extremely optimistic about pent-up demand.”
Markets appear to be regaining their equilibrium at the end of their biggest retreat in 11 weeks, with the focus of the benefits of an economic rebound overriding worry about the negative side-effect of inflation, for now.
The Federal Reserve’s policy is in a good place right now, said Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, while playing down signals from data that she warns will be volatile as the economy reopens.

That may help to reinvigorate the reflation narrative of picking value shares tied to economic growth over pandemic stay-at-home favorites. Walt Disney Co. fell after results that showed a faltering in growth at streaming service Disney+.
Treasuries gained after a report showed U.S. retail sales stalled in April following a sharp advance in the prior month. The dollar remained weaker against all of its Group of 10 peers.
“The disappointing retail sales numbers shouldn’t really come as a huge surprise given that last month encompassed stimulus money hitting bank accounts,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*Trade Financial. “It probably supports the point of view that the dip we experienced this week is a buying opportunity as all sectors march toward full recovery.”
Iron ore continued its fall from a record amid efforts by China to clamp down on surging prices, with the metal set for the biggest two-day plunge since 2019. Oil erased an earlier decline, paring its weekly loss.
Bitcoin traded above $50,000, reversing some of its slump on Tesla Inc.’s decision to suspend purchases using the digital currency.
These are some of the main moves in markets:
Stocks

The S&P 500 rose 1.5%, more than any closing gain since March 26 as of 4 p.m. New York time
The Nasdaq 100 rose 2.2%, more than any closing gain since March 11
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.1%
The MSCI World index rose 1.6%, more than any closing gain since March 1

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.3%, more than any closing loss since May 7
The euro rose 0.5% to $1.2143
The British pound rose 0.3% to $1.4098
The Japanese yen rose 0.1% to 109.35 per dollar

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined three basis points to 1.63%
Germany’s 10-year yield declined one basis point, more than any closing loss since May 4
Britain’s 10-year yield declined four basis points, more than any closing loss since May 4

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude rose 2.4%, the most since May 4
Gold futures rose 1% to $1,843 an ounce







Read All

Categories
Genel

Calls to tackle caste-based discrimination in US gather steam | Business and Economy News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



San Francisco, California, the United States — Civil rights organisations and Dalit rights groups are adding urgency to their calls to end caste-based discrimination in the US after incidents in California and New Jersey have thrust the issue into the spotlight.
Dalits, who were formally referred to as “untouchables”, occupy the lowest position in the complex Hindu caste system and have historically faced discrimination and violence at the hands of members of other castes in India and other parts of South Asia.
Advocates say this discrimination has unfortunately migrated to the US along with workers from the region and is now running rampant in several US industries.
In New Jersey, a complaint was filed on behalf of more than 200 Indian workers in federal court on Tuesday, alleging Dalit workers were forced to work long hours for one-tenth of the state’s minimum wage after being recruited to build a Hindu temple for Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, also known as BAPS.
A lawsuit filed in federal court in New Jersey accuses the leaders of the Hindu organisation known as Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, or BAPS, of human trafficking and wage law violations [File: Seth Wenig/AP Photo]In California, a first-of-its-kind lawsuit is making its way through the courts after a Dalit employee accused his employer, technology giant Cisco, and two of its former engineering managers of allowing caste-based discrimination in the workplace.
The issue is being discussed at the federal level, too. On Monday, the International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR), six scholars and a dozen other rights groups submitted a memo to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission asking that caste-based discrimination be added to US federal nondiscriminatory guidelines.
The memo is the latest push from activists for US academic, business and government institutions to take caste-based discrimination seriously.
Understanding casteism
Among the ICDR and other memo signatories’ demands is to include caste as a protected class and enshrine zero tolerance for caste-based discrimination and prejudice in US workplace codes of conduct — something activists say hasn’t happened yet in part because of Americans’ unfamiliarity with the caste system.
“Because casteism takes place in a social context not all Americans are familiar with, it can be very coded and subtle,” Anil Wagde, an attorney with the US branch of Dalit rights organisation the Ambedkar International Center, told Al Jazeera. “It’s important for companies to educate their employees about caste-based discrimination, and to explicitly protect against it.”
Advocacy groups are now working to thrust caste-based discrimination into the spotlight, particularly in industries where it has already allegedly reared its ugly head, such as the technology sector.

The Cisco case was a big deal because it really took away the plausible deniability around the presence of caste-based discrimination in the tech sector.
Raksha Muthukumar, Alphabet Workers Union

“Caste is a brutal form of supremacy,” Wagde said. “If steps aren’t taken now, we run the risk of this system spreading and calcifying in the United States.”
Several technology companies have faced allegations of caste-based discrimination in the workplace in recent years, and in October, 30 Dalit women engineers at Google, Apple, Microsoft and Cisco issued a statement shared with The Washington Post detailing their experiences with anti-Dalit bigotry in the tech sector.
“We also have had to weather demeaning insults to our background and that we have achieved our jobs solely due to affirmative action. It is exhausting,” the women, who asked for anonymity out of fear of retaliation, wrote in the statement.
“We are good at our jobs and we are good engineers. We are role models for our community and we want to continue to work in our jobs. But it is unfair for us to continue in hostile workplaces, without protections from caste discrimination.”
Cisco lawsuit
The women spoke out months after the high-profile lawsuit against Cisco was filed by a Dalit engineer in June 2020.
In the suit (PDF), the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) alleges the engineer, referred to as John Doe to protect his identity, was subjected to a hostile work environment and was “expected to accept a caste hierarchy within the workplace”, which translated into “the lowest status within the team” and less pay, fewer opportunities and other inferior conditions.
But Cisco denies those claims and said its own internal investigation “found no evidence that [the plaintiff] was discriminated or retaliated against on the basis of caste”, the company’s general counsel, Mark Chandler, wrote in a blog post.
While Chandler acknowledged the company “had never encountered a claim of casteism” before this one, he noted that “Nevertheless, Employee Relations management instructed that it be investigated as would be any complaint of discrimination, even though there is no law, federal or state, defining caste as a protected classification.”

Caste is a brutal form of supremacy. If steps aren’t taken now, we run the risk of this system spreading and calcifying in the United States.
Anil Wagde, Ambedkar International Center

While Cisco said that it treats casteism as an unacceptable form of discrimination, it did not respond to Al Jazeera’s question about whether the company plans to explicitly add caste to the list of protected identities in its employee code of conduct.
Chandler added that the company would fully support legislation “adding caste to the list of categories having protection against discrimination”, but “will continue to treat caste as an unacceptable form of discrimination for purposes of our internal reviews – as we did in [this plaintiff’s] case”.
John Rushing, an attorney assisting the Ambedkar International Center, which filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit, said that while caste is not expressly protected, it falls into categories that are, such as ancestry.
“If your parents are ‘untouchables’, you inherit that status from them,” Rushing told Al Jazeera. “There’s no doubt that caste-based discrimination falls under discrimination based on ancestry.”

Many Dalits come to the United States in the hope of escaping the bigotry and violence that they live with back home, only to watch with horror as these systems reorient themselves in the United States.
Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Equality Labs

Workers at other Silicon Valley tech companies are also speaking out. In mid-April, the Alphabet Workers Union released a statement in favour of the lawsuit against Cisco and stated that “caste should be recognized as a protected class by the federal government and be included in anti-harassment policies within our industry”, including Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc.
“The Cisco case was a big deal, because it really took away the plausible deniability around the presence of caste-based discrimination in the tech sector,” Raksha Muthukumar, a spokesperson for the Alphabet Workers Union, told Al Jazeera.
“I think a lot of companies are paying attention now, and it’s time for them to recognise caste as a protected identity,” Muthukumar added.
Google did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment about the company’s intention to take steps to protect against casteism.
The Cisco case is set to resume in September following attempts by Cisco to move the dispute to arbitration and an appeal by California’s DFEH to allow the plaintiff to retain anonymity.
Speaking out
As Dalit activists await an outcome in the Cisco case, calls have been growing for government, academic and business organisations to be more proactive in combatting and educating employees about casteism.
“Many Dalits come to the United States in the hope of escaping the bigotry and violence that they live with back home, only to watch with horror as these systems reorient themselves in the United States,” Thenmozhi Soundararajan, founder of the Dalit rights group Equality Labs, told Al Jazeera.
A 2016 Equality Labs survey of Dalit workers living in the US found that two out of three reported experiencing harassment due to their lower-caste status in the workplace. But while Soundararajan says that such discrimination is common, hearing from Dalits about it is less so.
“Many Dalits try to keep their caste identity hidden,” she said.
Dalit rights groups say the problem is also prevalent in the education system. In the Equality Labs survey, one in three Dalit students reported being discriminated against during their education.

A victory in this (Cisco) case would be a victory for the promise that America offers an opportunity for a new life with equal rights. If this case goes through, Dalits will start speaking out, and there will be many more. If we don’t address this now, it will continue to get worse.
Suraj Yengde, Harvard Kennedy School

The plaintiff in the Cisco lawsuit claims he tried to keep his identity as a Dalit hidden but was outed by upper-caste coworkers who knew him at university back in India.
The Cal State Student Association (CSSA), an organisation representing more than half a million students in California’s state university system, unanimously passed a resolution in April supporting the addition of caste as a protected category, another example of how the issue has become front and centre since the Cisco suit was filed.
But as more Dalits speak up about and use the courts to address caste-based discrimination, Soundararajan said more Dalits are willing to share their own experiences.
“Dalits have been coming forward and sharing their stories of harassment and discrimination with us in a way we haven’t seen before,” said Soundararajan. “One individual told us that they made a mistake on a project and a supervisor from an upper caste told them ‘We know how brainless your people are’.”
Dalits are also viewing the outcome of the lawsuit as a bellwether for their fight for rights and recognition.
“A victory in this [Cisco] case would be a victory for the promise that America offers an opportunity for a new life with equal rights,” Suraj Yengde, a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School who studies caste, told Al Jazeera.
“If this case goes through, Dalits will start speaking out, and there will be many more. If we don’t address this now, it will continue to get worse.”







Read All

Categories
Genel

Turkey’s Karpowership shuts down power to Lebanon | Business and Economy News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



Turkey’s Karpowership, which provides electricity to Lebanon from two barges, said it was shutting down supplies over payment arrears and a legal threat to its vessels amid the country’s economic crisis.
The company, which supplies 370 megawatts (MW), or about one-quarter of Lebanon’s supply, told the government this week it would have to shut down in the absence of moves towards a settlement.
The shutdown threatens longer daily power cuts across the heavily indebted nation, which did not have enough capacity to meet demand even before Karpowership’s move which it announced on Friday.
Many people rely on private generators or struggle for several hours a day without power.

‘Very hard times’
In a statement, the company said it was shutting down supplies.
“For 18 months we have been exceedingly flexible with the state, continually supplying power without payment or a payment plan, because the country was already facing very hard times. However, no company can operate in an environment with such direct and undue risk,” Karpowership, a unit of Karadeniz, said.
A source familiar with the situation said the step was taken at about 8am (05:00 GMT) as the vessels’ fuel had been running down.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said arrears exceeded $100m and added the government had not reached out for talks or to try and resolve a legal case, despite the firm’s repeated appeals meant to avert a shutdown.
‘Total darkness’
Lebanon’s finance ministry said it had been notified by the Turkish firm and cited a legislator saying the country could face “total darkness” in case of a shut-off. It has made no public statement about any talks.
A Lebanese prosecutor threatened this month to seize the barges and fine the firm after Lebanese TV channel al-Jadeed reported corruption accusations over the power contract. The company denies the charges.
It said it had not been paid for 18 months, a period coinciding with the financial crunch, and added it sought a “reasonable solution” to maintain generation.
Each of its barges has a capacity of 202 MW against a contract to supply a total of 370 MW.
An industry source said Lebanon’s total capacity was about 2,200 MW, including the barges, but was only generating a total of 1,300 MW, including the Turkish supplies of 370 MW. Lebanon’s peak demand in 2020 was 3,500 MW, the source said.







Read All

Categories
Genel

Workers turn to ‘gig economy’ jobs amid coronavirus crisis From “International: Top News And Analysis”



Tech workers in India.Frédéric Soltan | Corbis News | Getty ImagesIndia’s work culture is at an inflection point.The coronavirus pandemic is shaking up the country’s labor force, shifting the focus sharply to gig economy jobs — or on-demand, part-time work given to contract workers.The global embrace of remote work or working from home has reset expectations, employment choices and work cultures, according to industry experts who spoke to CNBC.”We believe that there will be structural shifts as part of a hybrid workforce that blends in-person employees with virtual,” said Sandip Patel, managing director of IBM India and South Asia, in an email.  “It’s a fight for skills and talent that will drive the business and talent models… and gig workers will certainly assume a strong place in the future workforce.”The workforce changes come as India battles a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 cases in the South Asian nation have spiked to daily record highs in the past month. India had 362,727 new infections over the last 24 hours with 4,120 deaths reported on Thursday.India is the world’s second worst-hit country, behind only the U.S. Health ministry data shows there are officially more than 23.7 million cumulative cases since the start of the pandemic. The death toll stands at  258,317 so far — a figure health experts have thrown doubt on as they say the true numbers are not reflected.The recent surge in cases has pushed the health-care system to the brink as hospitals run out of beds and oxygen, and morgues and crematoriums overflow. Many organizations will not go back to the same process of hiring people or even working with full-time employees, as having a pool of gig workers is more cost-effective for businesses.Navkendar Singhresearch director, IDC IndiaWhile Covid cases continue to take a human toll on India, it has also disrupted the country’s workplace.The South Asian nation has always been known for having a large pool of informal gig workers, such as contract workers on construction sites — but Covid-19 is speeding up this trend even more.”The pandemic really is accelerating the conversations around it. More companies are now open to people working remotely than before Covid,” Navkendar Singh, research director at information technology consultancy IDC India, said in a phone interview.”Many organizations will not go back to the same process of hiring people or even working with full-time employees, as having a pool of gig workers is more cost-effective for businesses,” he said, adding that such shifts in India’s workforce culture “will become permanent” with time.India’s ‘gig economy’The potential growth of the gig economy in a country like India is enormous. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) has projected India’s gig economy would grow at a compounded annual rate of 17% to reach $455 billion by 2023, according to the Economic Times.A recent report jointly published by global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and non-profit organization Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, further underlined the growing trend.It predicted India’s gig economy could triple over the next 3-4 years to 24 million jobs in the non-farm sector — from the current 8 million jobs. The number of gig jobs could soar to 90 million in 8-10 years, with total transactions valued at more than $250 billion, the report said.The gig economy is also expected to contribute 1.25% to India’s gross domestic product (GDP) over the long term, according to the report.The pandemic has on the one hand led to large scale loss of traditional jobs across both service and manufacturing sectors. On the other hand, it has facilitated the development of a gig economy.Tulsi Jayakumarprofessor of economics, S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research”The gig economy presents an opportunity for India to drive job creation and economic growth. Technology platforms operating at scale within an ecosystem of information and services can help unlock efficiency, bring in demand-supply transparency, and drive greater formalization and financial inclusion,” said Rajah Augustinraj, principal at BCG and one of the lead authors, in the report.The increasing role of the gig economy was evident through the significant growth of online platform businesses during the pandemic-induced lockdown, said Tulsi Jayakumar, professor of economics at the S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai.”The pandemic has on the one hand led to large scale loss of traditional jobs across both service and manufacturing sectors. On the other hand, it has facilitated the development of a gig economy,” she told CNBC in an email. She said the national lockdown and the associated needs of Indian customers have “resulted in the flourishing of platform businesses and the associated technology-enabled gig workforce.”Domestic challengesDespite its massive potential, India’s gig economy is still at a very nascent stage and faces many challenges.The main issue for gig workers is lack of social security benefits — how to pay for medical expenses and maintaining their livelihoods. Critics argue that there is no guaranteed minimum wage and that such workers have little legal rights to bargain collectively.Nearly 90% of Indian gig workers have lost income during the Covid-19 pandemic and are concerned about their financial future, according to a survey last year by Flourish Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm.Given the problems gig workers face India needs to rethink its current labor laws to better protect them, Jayakumar from S.P. Jain pointed out.”The government would need to identify and assess existing laws and regulations that could cover the gig economy to promote its growth environment while ensuring worker protections,” she said.Let’s start making policies for them (gig workers), which make them feel that they’re part of the overall job ecosystem.Navkendar Singhresearch director, IDC IndiaDuring this year’s budget announcement, India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a key measure to extend social security benefits for the country’s gig economy workers.”For the first time globally, social security benefits will extend to gig and platform workers. Minimum wages will apply to all categories of workers, and they will all be covered by the Employees State Insurance Corporation,” Sitharaman said in her budget speech.While the move is a step in the right direction, the Indian government has to do more and create policies that allow the gig sector to flourish, said the IDC’s Singh.”Let’s start making policies for them (gig workers), which make them feel that they’re part of the overall job ecosystem. That could fuel India’s gig economy very rapidly,” he said.”I think the government will do something about it.”







Read All

Categories
Genel

Alibaba reports first quarterly loss since going public | Business and Economy News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



Despite the loss, China’s top e-commerce platform forecast 2022 revenue above market targets, betting that the pandemic-driven shift to online shopping will remain resilient.China’s top e-commerce platform Alibaba Group Holding Ltd on Thursday posted its first quarterly operating loss since going public in 2014 due to a record anti-monopoly fine by the country’s market regulator.
Its United States-listed shares fell nearly 3 percent in choppy trading, even as the company forecast strong 2022 revenue, betting that the coronavirus pandemic-driven shift to online shopping will remain resilient.
The outlook, however, was overshadowed by a regulatory crackdown in China that led to the suspension of a $37bn initial public offering of its affiliate Ant Group and a $2.8bn fine in April for anti-competitive business practices.
The fine led to a 7.66 billion yuan ($1.19bn) operating loss in the fourth quarter ended March 31.
“The Penalty Decision motivated us to reflect on the relationship between a platform economy and society, as well as our social responsibilities and commitments,” Chief Executive Daniel Zhang said in an earnings call.
Alibaba forecast annual revenue of 930 billion yuan ($144.12bn) for the year ending March 2022, above the expectation of 928.25 billion yuan.
Core commerce revenue rose 72 percent to 161.37 billion yuan ($25bn) in the fourth quarter. But growth at its cloud computing unit slowed to 37 percent to 16.8 billion yuan ($2.60bn) from 58 percent a year earlier, its weakest since at least 2016.
Alibaba said it was due to a top customer with a “sizeable presence outside of China” ending its business for “non-product related reasons.”
Overall revenue rose to 187.4 billion yuan ($29.03bn) in the fourth quarter, topping a Refinitiv forecast of 180.41 billion yuan ($27.95bn).
Alibaba’s US-listed shares have fallen more than 30 percent since hitting a record high in late October when its founder Jack Ma delivered a speech in Shanghai criticising China’s financial regulators.
The sinking share price reflects investor anxiety over regulation, said Brock Silvers, chief investment officer at Hong Kong-based Adamas Asset Management.
“The company has faced rogue waves of regulatory risk, which now threaten the entire tech sector.”







Read All

Categories
Genel

US jobless claims fall to another pandemic low | Business and Economy News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits with states kept trending downward last week to a new pandemic low, in a sign that layoffs continue to ebb.The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 473,000, a new coronavirus pandemic low and the latest evidence that fewer employers are cutting jobs as consumers ramp up spending and more businesses reopen.
Thursday’s report from the United States Department of Labor showed that applications declined 34,000 from a revised 507,000 a week earlier. The number of weekly jobless claims — a rough measure of the pace of layoffs — has fallen significantly from a peak of 900,000 in January. Instead of cutting jobs, many employers are struggling to attract enough applicants for open positions.
With hiring up, vaccinations increasing and the economy accelerating, consumers have grown more confident and, on average, are flush with cash after limiting their spending during the pandemic. Stimulus cheques have also bolstered many bank accounts.
Now, more Americans are venturing out to shop, travel, dine out and congregate at entertainment venues. The reopening has proceeded so fast that many businesses aren’t yet able to staff up as quickly as they would like.
Economists monitor weekly jobless claims for early signs of where the job market is headed. Since the pandemic started, though, these numbers have become a less reliable barometer than they normally are. States have struggled to clear backlogs of unemployment applications. And suspected fraud has clouded the actual volume of job cuts.
In April, employers added 266,000 jobs, far fewer than expected and a sign that some businesses struggled to find enough workers. The surprisingly low gain raised concerns that businesses may find it hard to hire quickly as the economy keeps improving and that regaining pre-pandemic employment levels could take longer than hoped.
In Thursday’s report, the government said nearly 16.9 million people were receiving unemployment aid during the week of April 24, the latest period for which data is available. That is up from 16.2 million in the previous week. The increase occurred mostly in California and Michigan. More than 600,000 people in those two states were added to the federal jobless benefit programme that was set up for gig workers and contractors.
A number of reasons explain why many people who are out of work might be reluctant to take jobs. Some worry that working in restaurants, hotels, or other service industries will expose them to the virus, according to government surveys. In addition, many women, especially working mothers, have had to leave the workforce to care for children who are still in online school for at least part of the week.
And a $300-a-week federal unemployment benefit is likely discouraging some of the unemployed from looking for work. For jobless people who earned less than $32,000 a year at their former jobs, their combined federal unemployment aid plus state benefits means they are receiving at least as much from jobless benefits as they did when they worked, according to an estimate by economists at Bank of America.
President Joe Biden, who included the supplemental payment in his $1.9 trillion rescue package approved in March, earlier this week disputed that the $300 payment is to blame for the drop-off in hiring last month. But he also urged the Labor Department to work with states on renewing requirements that recipients of unemployment aid must search for jobs and take a position if offered. The job search rule was suspended during the pandemic, when many businesses were closed and employment opportunities were few.
“Anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits,” Biden said.







Read All

Categories
Genel

Tunisia to reopen economy despite hospital strain From “World”




Tunisian authorities plan to reopen the economy next week amid public pushback against virus restrictions







Read All

Categories
Genel

US budget surges to record $1.9 trillion so far this year | Business and Economy News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



The US shortfall this year is 30.3 percent higher than the $1.48 trillion deficit run up over the same period a year, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday.The United States budget deficit surged to a record of $1.9 trillion for the first seven months of this budget year, bloated by the billions of dollars being spent on coronavirus relief packages.
The shortfall so far this year is 30.3 percent higher than the $1.48 trillion deficit run up over the same period a year ago, the US Department of the Treasury said Wednesday in its monthly budget report.
The oceans of red ink in both years are largely due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which led the government to approve trillions of dollars in relief to cover three rounds of individual payments, extra unemployment benefits and support for small businesses.
The deficit for the budget year that ended Sept. 30 totalled a record $3.1 trillion and many private economists believe this year’s total will surpass that amount. Some are forecasting a deficit of $3.3 trillion.
For April, the deficit totalled $225.6bn, down from a deficit in April 2020 of $738bn. That improvement reflected the fact that fewer relief payments were made this year and individuals making quarterly tax payments had to meet the normal April deadline. Last year, all tax payments were delayed at the onset of the pandemic.
For the October-April period, revenues totalled $2.14 trillion, up 16.1 percent over the same period a year ago, a gain that was boosted by individuals’ quarterly tax payments in April. The April payment was delayed last year after 22 million people lost their jobs because of pandemic shutdowns.
Outlays for the first seven months of this budget year totalled $4.07 trillion, up 25.8 percent from the same period a year ago, as the government in both periods was passing massive pandemic relief bills.
The $1.93 trillion deficit for the first seven months of this budget year was $459.4bn higher than the $1.48 trillion deficit run up in the same period a year ago.







Read All

Categories
Genel

UK economy contracted by 1.5% in the first quarter From “International: Top News And Analysis”



Commuters walk along the Thames Path in view of Tower Bridge in London, U.K., on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020.Hollie Adams | Bloomberg via Getty ImagesLONDON — The U.K. economy contracted by 1.5% in the first quarter of 2021 as nationwide lockdown measures continued to weigh on activity, preliminary estimates revealed on Wednesday.Economists polled by Reuters had expected GDP to shrink by 1.7%, with stringent restrictions having been in place throughout the first three months of the year as the country tried to contain spiraling Covid-19 cases.However, with lockdown measures now being phased out and the economy reopening, the country is expected to see a sharp rebound for the remainder of the year.The International Monetary Fund expects U.K. GDP to grow 5.3% in 2021, partially recovering from last year when the economy saw its largest annual contraction since the Great Frost of 1709.Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday that the next stage of lockdown easing will go ahead as planned on May 17, with international travel permitted in most circumstances and hospitality venues allowed to welcome customers indoors, a lifeline for the country’s dominant services industry.The economy grew 2.1% month-on-month in March, slightly exceeding expectations, and the level of GDP now sits 8.7% below its pre-pandemic level at the end of 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics. On a year-on-year basis, GDP shrank by 6.1% in the first quarter.Both services and production output contracted over the first quarter, but construction output grew.







Read All