January 20, 2021

December Jobs Report: Recovery Goes Into Reverse

Robert Branca, who owns two dozen Dunkin’ locations in Massachusetts, said that business picked up steadily over the summer but that it had tailed off since then. A handful of his stores have closed for good, as have some other restaurants in which he was a partner. Others are on the edge.

“I have a few on the bubble that might not make it, especially as sales have tailed down through the winter,” he said.

The course of the virus in coming months will be critical, Mr. Branca said. But the vaccine rollout is even more important: Once his staff and customers feel safe interacting face to face again, he expects business to pick up. Even then, though, it will take time to rebuild from months of depressed sales.

“If you don’t go out of your house today, you’re not going to buy two cups of coffee tomorrow,” he said. “You’re never making that back up.”

Mr. Branca said he welcomed the latest congressional relief package, which offered direct help to small businesses and put money in customers’ pockets. It also extended unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who faced an imminent loss of income at the end of the year.

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The Second Stimulus

Answers to Your Questions About the Stimulus Bill

Updated Dec 30, 2020

The economic relief package will issue payments of $600 and distribute a federal unemployment benefit of $300 for at least 10 weeks. Find more about the measure and what’s in it for you. For details on how to get assistance, check out our Hub for Help.

    • Will I receive another stimulus payment? Individual adults with adjusted gross income on their 2019 tax returns of up to $75,000 a year will receive a $600 payment, and a couple (or someone whose spouse died in 2020) earning up to $150,000 a year will get twice that amount. There is also a $600 payment for each child for families who meet those income requirements. People who file taxes using the head of household status and make up to $112,500 also get $600, plus the additional amount for children. People with incomes just above these levels will receive a partial payment that declines by $5 for every $100 in income.
    • When might my payment arrive? The Treasury Department said on Dec. 29 that it had started making direct deposit payments, and would begin to mail checks the next day. But it will be a while before all eligible people receive their money.
    • Does the agreement affect unemployment insurance? Lawmakers agreed to extend the amount of time that people can collect unemployment benefits and restart an extra federal benefit that is provided on top of the usual state benefit. But instead of $600 a week, it would be $300. That will last through March 14.
    • I am behind on my rent or expect to be soon. Will I receive any relief? The agreement will provide $25 billion to be distributed through state and local governments to help renters who have fallen behind. To receive assistance, households will have to meet several conditions: Household income (for 2020) cannot exceed more than 80 percent of the area median income; at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability; and individuals must qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship — directly or indirectly — because of the pandemic. The agreement said assistance will be prioritized for families with lower incomes and that have been unemployed for three months or more.

But the help came too late to save thousands of small businesses or to save many families from lasting financial harm.

“Some of the damage has already been done,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton. “We’re going to have to focus on healing, not just rebounding, from this crisis, because the wounds are deep.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/08/business/economy/december-2020-jobs-report.html

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