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Business News Roundup, April 15, 2021

A continued vaccination pause, a bipartisan effort on the federal minimum wage, Michigan’s strategy to avoid business shutdowns, higher retail spending, lower jobless claims, and an effort to prevent age discrimination in Connecticut are among the morning’s top business news items.


A Centers for Disease Control advisory committee has postponed a decision on Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine while investigating six cases where women developed severe blood clots after receiving the dose. The action retains a recommendation from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration to maintain a pause on J&J vaccine distribution out of an abundance of caution, and the committee will reconvene in one week.

Senators Mitt Romney and Kyrsten Sinema are teaming up to lead a bipartisan proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $11 an hour. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and a Democratic-led effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 as part of the American Rescue Plan failed earlier this year.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is hoping to rely on solutions other than business restrictions as the state leads the nation in COVID-19 infections and the Centers for Disease Control urges renewed shutdowns. Whitmer says she does not plan to reintroduce mandatory business restrictions as vaccination efforts proceed, but urged residents to continue to wear masks, observe social distancing, and voluntarily avoid indoor dining.

Business trends

Retail spending surged 9.8 percent in March as Americans took advantage of stimulus checks and relaxed business restrictions. Economists also expect that the increase in shopping is driven in part by greater optimism and consumer confidence as COVID-19 vaccination efforts proceed.

Jobless claims fell to a pandemic low last week, with 576,000 initial claims. Although this figure is still well above the pre-pandemic average, it is a significant drop from recent peaks and corresponds with jobs reports showing robust hiring as businesses continue to recover jobs lost due to COVID-19.


A bill aimed at preventing age discrimination in job applications has cleared the Connecticut Senate and will now go to the House. The chamber unanimously passed the measure, which would bar employers from asking for information such as date of birth or graduation dates that could indicate an applicant’s age.

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