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Business News Roundup, February 26, 2021

Economic data is presenting mixed signals, as growth in household incomes paves the way for increased spending at the same time that business bankruptcies have picked up. In Congress, the House has passed a strengthened anti-discrimination measure while the Senate parliamentarian is ruling that a minimum wage increase can’t be included in a proposed stimulus bill.

China is picking up the pace on offshore wind installations, while an agency overseeing a port overhaul to support such operations has come under investigation. Connecticut’s jobless claims are up slightly, and the state’s governor is defending his break from federal guidance on COVID-19 vaccine distribution.


The Senate parliamentarian has ruled that a proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour cannot be included in a proposed $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package if the measure passes through the reconciliation process. Democratic leaders have expressed disappointment in the ruling, but also hope that removing the minimum wage provision may make it easier for the bill to clear the Senate.

The House of Representatives has passed the Equality Act, which would update the 1964 Civil Rights Act to ban discrimination in employment and other areas based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The measure won unanimous support among Democrats, with three Republicans also lending their support.

Business trends

Figures from the Commerce Department show that household incomes in the United States grew 10 percent in January while spending was up 2.4 percent. The trend is driven in part by stimulus checks delivered in the previous month, but economists still regard the data as an indicator that the economy is poised for strong growth.

At the same time, other data shows a surge in business failures due to COVID-19 economic conditions. Chapter 11 filings were up 20 percent in 2020, with sectors such as retail, food service, entertainment, real estate, and oil and gas accounting for many of the bankruptcies.

Offshore wind installations are picking up in China, with the nation installing just over three gigawatts of new capacity in 2020 and trailing close behind the United Kingdom in overall installations. The United States continues to lag in offshore wind development, increasing its capacity by just 12 megawatts last year.


Governor Ned Lamont is defending his decision to distribute vaccines in Connecticut by age groups instead of prioritizing frontline workers and residents with serious underlying health concerns. Lamont said the approach avoids complications with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, which he criticized as omitting groups such as those with physical or intellectual disabilities from its list of comorbidities.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong is investigating the Connecticut Port Authority for a $523,000 “success fee” it paid to a consultant for finding an operator for State Pier in New London. The quasi-public agency is overseeing a transformation of the pier into a heavy-lift capable facility that can support offshore wind operations, but has come under heavy scrutiny for its financial operations.

Connecticut jobless claims increased slightly in mid-February, with 6,900 workers filing initial claims. More than 210,000 state residents were receiving aid under federal unemployment programs at the beginning of the month.

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