Unemployment Claims Show More Jobs Are Vanishing: Live Updates

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.

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.

Stocks ended a turbulent 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.

The early drop was fueled partly by the Labor Department’s latest report on unemployment claims, which showed that millions of workers are still losing their jobs.

But stocks rose out of that slump as oil prices jumped, prompting gains in shares of energy companies like oil services giant Halliburton and Occidental Petroleum. 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.

Financial stocks also rallied on Thursday, with shares of Wells Fargo up more than 6 percent. and Capital One Financial up more than 9 percent.

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, the 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.

J. Crew, which owns Madewell, and Neiman Marcus, which owns Bergdorf Goodman, have vowed to stay in business, but bankruptcies inevitably raise questions about what the future holds for employees, stores and vendors.

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.”

Microsoft may emerge from the pandemic even stronger than before, thanks to its products that help people work remotely (including its own employees). But the company’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, said that he was “on the lookout for what is lost” in remote work.

“Maybe we are burning some of the social capital we built up in this phase where we are all working remote,” he said. “What’s the measure for that?”

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.

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.

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

Reporting was contributed by Vanessa Friedman, Gregory Schmidt, Jason Karaian, David Yaffe-Bellany, 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.

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