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Business News Roundup, February 11, 2021

Criticism of a proposed economic stimulus package, renewed concerns over United States unemployment, and a major oil producers retreat from petroleum are among the top business items this morning.


Republican lawmakers are intensifying their criticism of President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion economic stimulus proposal, saying it is too expensive and could harm businesses and workers, and pursuing amendments to reign in spending. Democrats have disputed the accusations and continue to pursue a larger relief package, which they say is necessary due to the sluggish pace of the economic recovery.

Jobless claims fell to 793,000 last week, with continuing claims down to 4.54 million. Overall unemployment claims climbed to 20.44 million due to an increase in filings for benefits under two federal emergency unemployment programs. A recent analysis warns that nearly 11 million people could lose their benefits when these programs expire this spring.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says that while the official U.S. unemployment rate is 6.3 percent, the actual rate is likely closer to 10 percent due to misclassifications and counting errors. Powell is urging lawmakers to focus on restoring full employment as inflation remains low.

Business trends

Royal Dutch Shell has announced that its oil production peaked in 2019 and will likely decline by about 1 to 2 percent each year. The company has been ramping up its investments in renewable energy and has set a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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