An early termination of unemployment benefits in several states, the rollout of SBA grants, White House COVID-19 vaccine incentives, falling jobless claims, and increased productivity are among the top business news items this morning.
Although federal unemployment programs set up to provide additional assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic are not set to expire until Sept. 6, every state led by a Republican governor except for Massachusetts and Vermont is planning to withdraw from the programs early. An estimated 3.9 million people are set to lose the supplemental benefits, which the GOP has broadly criticized as providing a disincentive to return to work and contributing to a broad labor shortage.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved its first grants through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, which assists an array of live venues and cultural institutions. The agency has not yet released data on the distribution of awards, although the funds requested by approximately 13,000 applicants came in under the $16 billion approved for the program.
The White House has announced a “National Month of Action” to encourage people to get a COVID-19 vaccine and meet the Biden administration’s goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the U.S. adult population by July 4. Several businesses and organizations are partnering in the effort, offering incentives ranging from extended pharmacy hours to
Jobless claims continue to fall, with initial claims falling to 385,000 last week. A total of 15.4 million people were receiving some sort of unemployment benefit in the week ending May 15.
Labor Department data shows that productivity growth as a measure of output per hours work increased 5.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021. Economists believe efficiencies established by employers during the COVID-19 may lead to continuing productivity gains.