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Business News Roundup, January 15, 2021

A call for more stimulus, growth expectations for 2021, the Fed weighs in on jobs and interest rates, the importance of networking in PPP lending, tepid holiday sales, support for green energy, are among the key items in national business news this morning. In Connecticut, a new phase in vaccine distribution is opening and the state’s governor is pushing for expanded broadband access.


President-elect Joe Biden has called for $1.9 trillion to support the immediate economic and vaccine distribution needs of the United States, with billions allocated for small business grants and loans. Read the full story here.

With the U.S. shedding positions in the latest jobs report, economists are saying the outlook in the labor market will depend on many factors but likely won’t improve until the spring. A Wall Street Journal survey found rosier expectations for the end of the year, with economists anticipating that the U.S. economy will grow by 4.3 percent as COVID-19 is brought under control and businesses benefit from pent-up demand.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says he doesn’t see a rapid return to a strong labor market in the near term. Accordingly, the Fed is pursuing its strategy of keeping interest rates low as part of an effort to support full employment.

Retail sales shrank slightly in December amid increasing COVID-19 cases and elevated unemployment levels, a disappointing sign for stores banking on a strong fourth quarter after serious revenue declines in 2020. In-person shopping was down substantially, and consumers continued to flock to home goods, fitness gear, and other products that have seen strong demand during the pandemic.

Business trends

A survey issued by Yale University and George Mason University finds that two-thirds of voters support actions that will foster renewable energy development and other efforts to combat climate change. These initiatives were more popular among Democrats than Republicans, although 43 percent of GOP respondents said they believe developing clean energy should be a priority for the incoming Biden administration and Congress.

A study has found that peer-to-peer and resource networks have helped increase borrower access to the Paycheck Protection Program, as they helped prepare businesses for what would be necessary in an application. The study also found that strong relationships with business professionals, including banking and accounting professionals, also proved crucial.


The state is proceeding to Phase 1b of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, with residents ages 75 and older, those in congregate housing settings, and frontline essential workers invited to apply to receive their first dose. The phase will expand in coming weeks to include residents ages 65 and older as well as younger residents with high-risk health conditions.

Governor Ned Lamont is looking to improve Connecticut’s broadband access to help grow the state’s economy as well as improve remote learning and telemedicine. Lamont said adequate internet access is particularly important after the trend of workers leaving major cities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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