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Business News Roundup, January 22, 2021

Biden’s economic and COVID-19 response strategies take shape, higher commodities prices could benefit farmers but put a crunch on consumers, Connecticut seeks more COVID-19 vaccines, higher state jobless numbers, and more bank branch closures are among the key items in business news this morning.


The Associated Press offers an overview of the economic challenges facing President Joe Biden, including a year-over-year drop of 10 million jobs, the loss of as many as 6 million small businesses, and an uneven recovery. Biden is facing pressure to scale back his $1.9 trillion proposal for economic stimulus, but is also planning executive orders that offer short-term relief by increasing food aid, guaranteeing unemployment benefits, and bolstering labor protections for federal workers.

Biden has signed a string of executive orders and directives to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and has also unveiled a federal strategy to respond to the crisis. While Biden is calling for 100 million vaccine doses to be distributed in his first 100 days, health and business leaders say manufacturing capacity is insufficient to increase the current supply before April and that the immediate focus should be on improving the infrastructure to administer vaccines. One analysis finds that about 7 million people, primarily in poorer urban and rural areas, live in “testing deserts” with limited access to COVID-19 testing; the finding raises concerns that these residents may also face greater challenges in acquiring a vaccine.

A boost in commodities prices and strong exports to China are helping to reverse a persistent recession in the agricultural sector. While this trend will benefit farm incomes, it is also likely to drive higher consumer prices at the grocery store.


Connecticut has administered nearly a quarter-million first doses of COVID-19 vaccine and more than 31,000 second doses as of Thursday. Governor Ned Lamont says he will call on the Biden administration to ramp up production, saying Connecticut and other states have the capacity to vaccinate more people if they receive more doses.

Connecticut initial unemployment claims ticked up slightly to just over 11,000. The state began the year with approximately 197,000 state residents on some form of assistance.

People’s United Bank is shuttering all of its Stop & Shop branches in Connecticut and New York. The bank says the move reflects a shift in consumer banking preferences, with both retail and business customers gravitating more to online platforms.

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