Job losses have hit poor Americans the hardest, the Fed says.
The economic challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic are especially acute for the poorest Americans, according to a new Federal Reserve survey released Thursday.
Many Americans came into the nationwide lockdown with limited savings, despite gains made over the course of a record-long economic expansion. At the end of 2019, three in 10 adults said they could not cover three months’ worth of expenses with savings or borrowing in the case of a job loss, “indicating that they were not prepared for the current financial challenges,” the central bank said.
One in five people who were working in February reported that they lost a job or were furloughed in March or the beginning of April 2020, the data showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.
The United States economy began slowing in March, as state and local governments instituted stay-at-home orders to tame the coronavirus’s rapid spread. That has caused the steepest growth decline in the United States’s postwar history. Consumer spending has plummeted as stores and restaurants closed, and mass layoffs have become a feature of everyday life. Nearly three million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, pushing the two-month tally over 36 million.
Stocks ended a volatile day of trading on Thursday with a solid gain, after a rebound fueled in part by a surge in oil prices.
The S&P 500 rose more than 1 percent, after recovering from an early drop of nearly 2 percent. Shares in Europe and Asia fell sharply.
The early drop was offset, in part, by a rally in shares of energy companies. Oil services giant Halliburton rose 4 percent, and Occidental Petroleum rose more than 2 percent. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, rose about 9 percent. At more than $27 a barrel, oil is now far above the lows that it plumbed in April.
The gains in oil prices came as the chief of the International Energy Agency, said on Thursday that he saw “signs of a gradual rebalancing” in the oil market. Global demand for oil fell in April to about 25 percent below its normal level, the agency said, but it is expected to slowly recover as more countries ease lockdown measures.
It’s been a tumultuous week for stocks, as investors heard a drumbeat of warnings about the pandemic and its long-term impact.
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci spoke about the serious risk of a new outbreak if the economy was reopened too quickly. On Wednesday, Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, warned of permanent damage to the economy if Congress and the White House did not provide sufficient financial support to prevent a wave of bankruptcies and prolonged joblessness.
On Thursday, the government’s latest report on unemployment claims showed that millions of workers are still losing their jobs.
And even as stocks rebounded on Thursday, the market for government bonds signaled lingering concerns among investors, with 10-year Treasury yields sinking.
The fast food chain will require restaurants to clean digital kiosks every time a customer uses one and sanitize restrooms and other high-touch areas every half-hour, according to a copy of the guide reviewed by The New York Times. The guide also requires the franchisees to place “closed” decals on certain tables to promote social distancing. And it recommends putting signage on the floor to prevent customers from brushing past each other as they move around the restaurant.
All employees will have their temperatures taken before work, and they will be required to wash their hands regularly.
“For dine-in orders, the bag will be placed on a clean sanitized tray and delivered to the customer while maintaining social distance requirements,” the guide states. “Do not forget napkins and straws!”
The guide does not outline a strict timeline for reopening. Once a local government says that restaurants can admit dine-in guests, a McDonald’s official in that region will decide whether to begin reopening, the guide states. Then individual franchise owners will make a decision about whether to go through with reopening.
The guide also includes a Q. and A. section on how to manage guests who refuse to comply with social distancing guidelines.
“Always approach a situation calmly and treat everyone with respect,” the guide says. “Inform the guest: I apologize for any inconvenience, but to help keep everyone safe, we would like all our guests to maintain a safe distance of 6 feet from each other and our staff.”
As the coronavirus forces meat plants to shut down, hundreds of thousands of pigs have grown too large to be slaughtered commercially, forcing farmers to kill them and dispose of their carcasses without processing them into food.
In Iowa, the nation’s largest pork-producing state, agricultural officials expect the backlog to reach 600,000 hogs over the next six weeks. In Minnesota, an estimated 90,000 pigs have been killed on farms since the meat plants began closing last month.
One Minnesota hog farmer sealed the cracks in his barn and piped carbon dioxide through the ventilation system. Another farmer has considered gassing his animals after loading them into a truck. And a third shot his pigs in the head with a gun. It took him all day.
“There are farmers who cannot finish their sentences when they talk about what they have to do,” said Greg Boerboom, a second-generation pig farmer in Marshall, Minn., who is trying to find ways to avoid killing a backlog of more than 1,000 pigs.
“This will drive people out of farming. There will be suicides in rural America.”
Delta Air Lines plans to retire all its Boeing 777 jets, a fleet that helped it become a global airline, as it prepares to shrink its network for up to three years to ride out what is expected to be a long and choppy recovery, especially for international travel.
“Retiring a fleet as iconic as the 777 is not an easy decision,” Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian, told employees in a note. “The 777 played an important role with Delta since 1999, allowing us to open new long-haul markets and grow our international network as we transformed into a global airline.”
Delta said it would retire its 18 wide-body 777s by the end of the year. Once demand for international travel recovers, the airline plans to use newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft on long flights.
Delta is losing about $50 million a day, a figure that it hopes to bring to zero by the end of the year. It has already moved up plans to retire two other fleets, the MD-88 and MD-90, and has idled more than 650 jets in all.
The airline also told its pilots on Thursday that it expected to have 7,000 more pilots than needed this fall, when government funding for airline workers expires. But Delta, which employs about 14,000 pilots, said it was focusing on longer-term staffing needs and was working to limit future furloughs.
Delta has paid out $1.2 billion in ticket refunds since the crisis began, and more than 41,000 employees have agreed to take some form of unpaid leave of absence.
Quartz, a business news site with offices around the world, is cutting nearly half of its staff in a substantial restructuring after the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic drastically reduced its advertising revenue.
Quartz’s owner, the Japanese financial intelligence firm Uzabase, announced the layoffs in a public filing on Thursday. The company said that approximately 40 percent of Quartz staff members would lose their jobs, and the cuts would be focused on its advertising team. Quartz had 188 employees at the end of last year, Uzabase said.
Zach Seward, the chief executive, said in a note to the staff that approximately 80 roles would be eliminated. A spokesman for the NewsGuild, which represents 43 journalists working at Quartz, said about half its members would lose their jobs.
Mr. Seward said the cuts were part of a long-term strategy to make Quartz sustainable by retrenching to a business model that places a premium on revenue from subscriptions rather than advertising.
Uzabase bought Quartz from Atlantic Media in 2018.
New jobless claims reflect the pandemic’s economic misery.
The weekly count of new unemployment claims has been declining since late March, but job losses from the coronavirus pandemic continue to mount. The two month tally of workers who joined the U.S. unemployment rolls is now more than 36 million.
Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America, said that even with businesses reopening in some states, she doubted that callbacks to work outnumbered additional layoffs from other sectors. The slowdown has been rippling beyond the early shutdowns in retail and hospitality to professional business services, manufacturing and health care.
“In a sense, it’s a rolling shock,” she said.
Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, said Wednesday that Fed research being released Thursday would show that in households making less than $40,000 a year, about 40 percent of those working in February lost their jobs in March.
State unemployment insurance and emergency federal relief were supposed to tide households over during the shutdown. But several states have a backlog of claims, and applicants continue to complain of being unable to reach overloaded state agencies.
According to a poll for The New York Times in early May by the online research firm SurveyMonkey, more than half of those applying for unemployment benefits in recent weeks were unsuccessful.
Housing officials clear up question on mortgage forbearance payments.
Homeowners who have temporarily paused their federally backed mortgages because of virus-related hardships have been wondering if they could push those missed payments to the end of their loan. On Wednesday, federal regulators provided an answer: Yes.
Borrowers who reach their final payoff date and still owe the unpaid amount will have to pay it in a lump sum at that time, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If they sell or refinance their homes, they’ll have to pay what they owe then.
Under the CARES Act, homeowners whose mortgages are backed by the federal government are permitted to skip their payments for up to a year.
Homeowners owe the skipped amount in full, and the agency is encouraging borrowers to pay it as soon as they’re able. But even if they have to push the payment to the end of their loan, homeowners will not be charged extra fees or interest on the balance.
There is one caveat: Housing officials said borrowers who were not current on their loans, or were more than 31 days delinquent before March 1, would not be eligible.
A government official in France said on Thursday that it would be unacceptable for the French drug giant Sanofi to give the United States early access to any Covid-19 vaccine it develops, after comments by the company’s chief executive suggested that the United States would be first in line because it helped finance the research.
“For us, it would be unacceptable if another country had privileged access under a financial pretext,” Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the junior economy minister, told Sud Radio.
Paul Hudson, Sanofi’s chief executive, told Bloomberg News on Wednesday that “the U.S. government has the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk.”
Sanofi has received $30 million from an office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mr. Hudson said, adding that Europe needed to step up its vaccine investments.
Sanofi later said in a statement that it was “committed in these unprecedented circumstances to make our vaccine accessible to everyone.” It noted that it had manufacturing plants around the world, and that production of a potential vaccine in the United States would mainly go to the U.S. market, “the rest of the manufacturing capacity will cover Europe and the rest of the world.”
Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.
Nissan said the head of its North American operation, José Luis Valls, had resigned for “personal reasons” and would leave the company on June 15. Nissan has struggled with anemic sales in the United States, its most important market after China. Jérémie Papin, the senior vice president for finance at Nissan North America, will replace Mr. Luis Valls, the company said.
Leslie H. Wexner, the longtime chief executive officer and chairman of L Brands, stepped down from both roles on Thursday as expected, though he will retain a board seat. Mr. Wexner, 82, the longest serving chief executive of a company in the S&P 500, recently faced serious questions about his leadership because of issues with the company’s culture and his relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender.
J.C. Penney might file for bankruptcy as soon as Friday after skipping two interest payments on its debt in the past month, according to two people familiar with the matter. The company is in talks to secure about $450 million in debtor-in-possession financing, which would allow it to keep operating the business, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because discussions were confidential.
Sony reported a 57 percent drop in operating profit in the three months ending in March. The coronavirus has hit Sony’s electronics business hard, while giving a boost to some of its entertainment offerings, as people stuck at home seek to keep themselves busy.
Reporting was contributed by Patricia Cohen, Tiffany Hsu, Stanley Reed, Niraj Chokshi, Li Yuan, Ben Dooley, Carlos Tejada, Jeanna Smialek, Tara Siegel Bernard Jim Tankersely, Matt Phillips, Sapna Maheshwari, Michael J. de la Merced and Kevin Granville.