Business Highlights: Jobless aid, Biden’s budget
More jobless getting aid than in past even as cutoffs loom
WASHINGTON (AP) — Far more Americans are receiving unemployment benefits than the last time the jobless rate was at the current 6.1%, thanks to a major expansion of the federal safety net that has provided aid to millions of people out of work. Yet many businesses and Republican officials say all that jobless aid has contributed to worker shortages in some industries, which is why most GOP-led states are moving to cut off the federal support. About 15.8 million people received unemployment aid through one of several benefit programs during the week of May 8, the latest period for which data is available.
Biden budget to run $1.8T deficit to finance spending plans
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s $6 trillion budget proposal for next year would run a $1.8 trillion federal government deficit despite a raft of new tax increases on corporations and high-income people designed to pay for his ambitious spending plans. The whopping deficit projections are being driven by Biden’s costly plans for infrastructure and social spending, along with major new investments in domestic Cabinet agencies. The budget incorporates the administration’s eight-year, $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan and its $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. It also adds details on his $1.5 trillion request for annual operating appropriations for the Pentagon and domestic agencies.
Can employers make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory?
NEW YORK (AP) — Experts say employers can make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory, with some exceptions. Employers generally have wide scope to make rules for the workplace, including safety measures. That doesn’t necessarily mean you would get fired if you refuse, but you might need to sign a waiver or agree to work under specific conditions to limit any risk you might pose to yourself or others. Still, many employers might not want to require vaccination because of the administrative burden of tracking compliance and managing exemption requests. As a result, experts say many employers will likely strongly encourage vaccination without making it mandatory.
Shoppers go back to stores, but retailers face challenges
NEW YORK (AP) — Americans are going back to one of their favorite pastimes: store shopping. With vaccinations rolling out and shoppers freer to go out maskless, retailers from Walmart to Macy’s are seeing an eager return to their stores after months of watching their customers focus on online buying during the pandemic. The return offers a big relief to retailers for a variety of reasons. Making purchases at the store can be more profitable than online buying because of shipping costs. Shoppers return less than when buying online. And store customers tend to do more impulse buying than online. Still, retailers, particularly mall-based stores and other specialty stores, face plenty of challenges to keep shoppers coming back.
Yellen says economic recovery likely to be ‘bumpy’
WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says that the economic recovery is going to be “bumpy” with high inflation readings likely to last through the end of this year. But Yellen insists that the inflation pressures will be temporary and if they do threaten to become embedded in the economy, the government has the tools to address that threat. In testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee Thursday, Yellen was asked about the big jump in consumer prices reported last week. She said that the April price increase was the result of a number of special factors related to the economy opening back up.
Online scrubs seller Figs soars 36% in stock market debut
NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of online scrubs seller Figs are soaring in their stock market debut, valuing the 8-year old company at $4.8 billion. Founded in 2013, Figs set out to remake what medical scrubs looked like: from boxy, V-necked and baggy to a more fitted silhouette. At first, the company’s founders sold the scrubs from their cars outside hospitals, trying to catch health care workers as they left their shifts at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Today, Figs sells its goods online, and offers scrubs in all different styles, including bottoms that look like joggers and sleeveless tops. Last year, the company’s revenue more than doubled to $263 million from the year before.
US pipelines ordered to increase cyber defenses after hack
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. pipeline operators will be required for the first time to conduct a cybersecurity assessment under a Biden administration directive. It’s in response to the ransomware hack that disrupted gas supplies in several states. The Transportation Security Administration directive released Thursday mandates that the owners and operators of the nation’s pipelines report any cyber incidents to the federal government. They’ll also be required to have a cybersecurity coordinator available at all times to work with authorities in the event of an attack like the one that shut down Colonial Pipeline. Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline says it paid a ransom of $4.4 million to retrieve access to its data from hackers.
Boeing to pay $17 million to settle plane production issues
CHICAGO (AP) — Boeing is paying $17 million and promising to take steps to fix production problems with its popular 737 jets. The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that the settlement covers the installation of unapproved sensors and other parts on some Boeing 737 models including NGs and the Max. The problems were discovered on planes built between 2015 and 2019. Boeing could pay up to $10.1 million more if it doesn’t fix quality-control problems. The settlement isn’t large in dollar terms, but it’s another setback for Boeing’s reputation. The company is still struggling to recover from two deadly crashes that led to a long grounding of Max jets worldwide.
The S&P 500 rose 4.89 points, or 0.1%, to 4,200.88. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 141.59 points, or 0.4%, to 34,464.64. The Nasdaq fell 1.72 points, or less than 0.1%, to 13,736.28. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies added 23.80 points, or 1.1%, to 2,273.07