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Weekly Jobless Claims In The US Much Higher Than Anticipated

The Department of Labor reported that last-week showed first-time claims for unemployment rose at levels much higher than initially anticipated, especially due to the fact that the economy has been showing signs of recovering after the last year.

According to reports from the Labor Department “first-time claims for the week ended April 3 totaled 744,000, well above the expectation for 694,000 from economists surveyed by Dow Jones. The total represented an increase of 16,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised 728,000. The four-week moving average edged higher to 723,750.”

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The labor market within the last week, however, has shown signs of recovery after the past year of the pandemic. Nonfarm payrolls in march increased by nearly 916,000 while the unemployment rate fell down to 6%.

This increase in jobs marks the biggest increase in employment in the US since August 2020. Before the pandemic the unemployment rate was at 3.5%, however, so there’s still plenty of work to be done, especially after last week’s unexpected reports.

“Continuing claims provided some good news on the labor front, with the total dropping 16,000 to 3.73 million. That’s the lowest level for continuing claims since March 21, 2020, just after the Covid-19 pandemic hit and companies instituted wholesale layoffs in conjunction with the economic shutdown. Continuing claims run a week behind the headline weekly number,” according to NBC.

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California and New York account for a majority of the increase in employment; California saw a rise of 38,963 last week while New York saw a 15,714 increase. However, those increases were cancelled out by a 13,944 decline in Alabama as well as a 10,502 decline in Ohio.

Economists have reported that filing backlogs could be one of the larger factors that drive claims up throughout the nation, while spikes in Covid-19 cases are also keeping the filings elevated due to a lack of individuals able to work.

Federal Reserve officials claim that despite the recent progress America has experienced, “much more progress is needed on the jobs front before we can consider changing economic policy.” The most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting cited a better outlook for the US economy in the coming year based on a continued need for an easy policy.

Federal Governor Lael Brainard told the media this week that “the economic outlook has brightened considerably but there are still about 9 million fewer workers than there were before the pandemic. Central bank officials have said they want to see not only full employment but also inclusive gains across income, racial and gender lines. In that sense, we’ve got some distance to go before the outcomes are achieved.”

Doctor Giving Coronavirus Vaccine

Half Of US Adults Could Be Vaccinated By This Weekend 

According to an adviser from the White House, the United States is currently on track to have half of all adults vaccinated with at least one Covid-19 shot by this weekend, however, the adviser also emphasized that this doesn’t mean America is done with the pandemic. 

“We do have to remember that there are 100 million-plus adults that still haven’t been vaccinated. They’re not there yet, and you don’t win the war until you bring everybody over with you.”

President Joe Biden recently announced the goal of getting vaccinations open for all adults in all 50 states by April 19th, a task that is becoming more and more likely to occur as vaccine supplies increase, according to Andy Slavitt, the White House senior adviser who recently spoke to the press regarding the pandemic. 

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Dr. Anthony Fauci has claimed that around 70-85% of the population needs to be vaccinated to reach a proper herd immunity, and many states have a large population of people who don’t want to be vaccinated. Current data projects that certain states will likely be done vaccinating all willing adults by mid-June, while others could take until the end of 2021. 

Some states have been criticized for prematurely lifting mask mandates and other procedures meant to curb the spread of the virus due to the fact that they feel the vaccine’s release is enough to re-open the world. Fauci claims this couldn’t be more false: 

“It’s too premature to declare victory, we’ve got to continue to hang in there a bit longer by continuing with the public health measures.”

Slavitt claims that the US is more than equipped to stay on course with vaccination efforts, which is a great sign for the future of the nation in regards to this pandemic’s end. This is great news considering more and more health experts are growing concerned with the number of variants of the virus appearing throughout all 50 states. 

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Dr. Rochelle Walensky is the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who recently discussed how “the daily rate of new cases has been on the rise over the last four weeks due to highly transmissible variants like B117 spreading.” According to Walensky within the past week alone five states have accounted for 44% of new Covid-19 cases. 

Within the past week there have been around 453,000 new cases in the US; New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey accounting for 198,000 of those cases. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, “Michigan had the highest rate per capita and is leading the country in terms of new cases. Along with Michigan, Minnesota is also reporting some of the highest new cases in the country, however both states have high levels of vaccination.”

Many health experts are also discussing how to monitor which US citizens have been vaccinated and which haven’t in a post-pandemic world. Many believe that vaccine passports, or some form of official written proof of vaccination, should be required to enter into certain highly populated spaces. New York, for example, is currently testing out “Excelsior passes” to grant vaccinated citizens access to sports events and concerts at limited capacity. 

Director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota Michael Osterholm, recently claimed that “in addition to vaccination documentation debates, the US will also have to contend with ‘long Covid,’ a condition in which even patients with relatively mild illnesses could suffer symptoms long after their infection.”

One in three people who have been infected with Covid-19 have reported longer mental health and neurological symptoms, according to a recent study, so the US will have to continue to fund research that can help those individuals in their continued Covid journey after the pandemic comes to its eventual end.

US Covid-19 Update: All 50 States To Make Vaccine’s Eligible For All By May 1st

All 50 states have announced plans to open up Covid-19 vaccinations for all adults by May 1st.

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Global Business Leaders Working To End The Death Penalty 

Global business leaders have launched a campaign declaring their opposition to the death penalty, and urged government leaders all around the world to end the practice and consider asking their international peers to join them in this effort. 

Sir Richard Branson, one of the campaign’s leaders, recently spoke at the virtual South by Southwest festival in which he claimed that the “death penalty is broken beyond repair and plainly fails to deliver justice by every reasonable measure. It is marred by cruelty, waste, ineffectiveness, discrimination, and an unacceptable risk of error.” 

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“By speaking out at this crucial moment, business leaders have an opportunity to help end this inhumane and flawed practice.” 

The campaign is formally titled Business Against Death Penalty, and it includes a slew of notable members including billionare fashion mogul François-Henri Pinault, telecoms tycoon Mo Ibrahim, Ben & Jerry founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, tech entrepreneur and Twitter board member Martha Lane Fox, and co-founder of the Huffington Post Arianna Huffington.

The campaign is also being coordinated by the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice, which is a nonprofit human rights group led by former death row lawyer Celia Ouelette, who recently spoke to the press about the importance of these major figureheads joining this effort. 

“This campaign is an opportunity for business leaders to embrace their responsibility to speak out authentically on issues of racial and social justice in a way that delivers real impact.”

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Ouellette went on to explain that “in light of the business communities support for the Black Lives Matter and racial justice movement, there was a growing awareness of the long history of race and the death penalty among business leaders, and now many are prepared to stand against it.” 

Ben & Jerry founders Cohen and Greenfield also released a statement regarding their joining of the campaign: “Business leaders need to do more than just say Black Lives Matter. They need to walk the talk and be instrumental in tearing down all the symbols of structural racism in our society. The death penalty has a long history with oppression, and it needs to end. Now.”

Joe Biden is also the first US president to openly oppose executions and is facing growing pressure from Democrats to end the federal death penalty. Ouelette claims that she is hopeful that all the notable business leaders within the campaign can help make that a reality as well. “Bringing powerful voices to the table will be highly impactful,” she said. 

The group is going to be working for the next few months to build a greater public presence so that they can increase the pressure placed on the US government to make these changes by World Day Against the Death Penalty; which is scheduled for October 10th. More than 170 United Nations member states have abolished the death penalty. 

Biden Working On $3 Trillion Package To Improve Infrastructure In America 

President Joe Biden is working on assembling a new package of investments that would divide $3 trillion among the nation’s infrastructure and domestic needs throughout the next few years. Biden met with Senate Democrats privately this week to begin laying out the groundwork for improving the country’s roads, hospitals, and green energy systems. The investments will be part of Biden’s “Build Back Better” campaign promise. 

According to sources, this package will resemble the recent $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill that the president just passed in that it will include family-friendly policies; for this package though the policies will focus on education and paid family leave. 

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A White House source claimed that the plans are still preliminary, but the overall goal is to use the money to help improve the nation’s economy and overall quality of life for every American. Senator Richard Blumenthal is just one of many Democrats who are prepared to move forward with the package should they be blocked by Republicans. “We need to get it done,” Blumenthal proclaimed. 

This package is also likely a response to the Biden Administration’s handling of the US-Mexico border and immigration in general; a topic that the administration is already under fire for due to a slew of migrant crossings and other failed promises brought on by Biden and his team. 

According to Yahoo News, “an infrastructure package would include roughly $1 trillion for roads, bridges, rail lines, electrical vehicle charging stations and the cellular network, among other items. 

“The goal would be to facilitate the shift to cleaner energy while improving economic competitiveness.”

“A second component would include investments in workers with free community college, universal pre-kindergarten and paid family leave. No part of the proposal has been finalized and the eventual details of any spending could change,” sources said. 

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Democratic committee chairmen earlier this month to “start working with their Republican counterparts to begin to craft a big, bold and transformational infrastructure package. The goal is to build swiftly on the coronavirus rescue plan to help people in every zip code by creating good-paying jobs for the future.” 

The Federal Reserve estimates that the spending with the Covid-19 relief bill and this infrastructure package could help the economy grow by up to 6.5%. Biden’s campaign also previously promised an increase on corporate taxes and for individuals making about $400,000 annually, which would also help the economy. 

The House Energy and Commerce Committee debated a $300 billion measure to invest in clean drinking water and broadband internet access this week while Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is set to speak to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee later this week. The Senate Finance Committee is also scheduled to meet and discuss tax spending as a means for paying for this package; all of these committee meetings have to do with the overall relief package the Biden Administration has been working on since last month. 

Biden is expected to release his budget in the coming weeks while Congress continues to discuss and meet regarding the details of this infrastructure package, which lawmakers claim could be ready by this summer.

The CDC Still Wants You To Be Diligent If You’ve Been Vaccinated 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new guidelines for individuals who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. However, now, they’re urging the general public not to let these new guidelines deter them from treating this pandemic any less seriously, as only about 10% of the US population is fully vaccinated at this point.

Dr. Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security recently spoke to the media about these new guidelines and how the CDC needs to be more direct with the public on what they can and can’t do. “If people believe the vaccine is not going to improve their life why would they get it?”

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“The CDC is waiting for more ironclad data about the vaccination before issuing a more detailed guidance, and while the initial data from Israel, which has the highest coronavirus vaccination rates in the world, is highly encouraging, it’s apparently not encouraging enough for the CDC to give an all-clear to Americans who’ve had their shots,” Adalja explained.

The new guidance says that vaccinated individuals can gather in small groups without masks or socially distancing. Vaccinated grandparents will be able to see their unvaccinated grandchildren as long as they are indeed children, and the new guidelines still advise against any travel. Thomas Skinner is a spokesman for the CDC who recently spoke with the press to defend the new guidelines. 

“It’s a good first step until we have more people vaccinated and data around vaccine effectiveness when it comes to real world circumstances. Until then it’s important to minimize cohorting of people.”

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The CDC was also greatly silenced throughout the beginning and middle of the pandemic due to former president Donald Trump and his administration’s constant interference with new guidance on things like wearing masks, reopening schools, and business protocols. The Biden administration has luckily allowed the CDC to have the platform they need to keep the public informed and educated on where the US is with this pandemic. 

Currently more than 2 million people are being vaccinated daily, and with Biden recently purchasing an additional 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it’s likely that the rate will increase in the coming month. This is good news considering around 90% of the population is still unvaccinated. 

“While some guidance is better than no guidance, the guidelines are too timid and too limited, and they fail to tie reopening guidance with vaccination status, as a result the CDC missed a critical opportunity to incentivize Americans to be vaccinated,” said emergency physician and former Baltimore health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. 

“The perfectly understandable desire to return to normal as quickly as possible can obscure the fact that the first doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered in December. A more liberalized guidance should come this spring or summer,” said Dr. Peter J. Hotez, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor College of Medicine.

For now, everyone should continue to treat the pandemic as they have within the past year and stay home, social distance, and wear a mask in public.

Alaska Becomes First State To Allow Everyone Over 16 To Be Vaccinated 

Alaska has become the first state in the US to allow Covid-19 vaccines to any adult who wants one, as well as individuals over the age of 16, according to Governor Mike Dunleavy, who took to Twitter this week to make the announcement. 

“Effective immediately, Alaska will become the first state in the nation to allow anyone over the age of 16 to get the Covid-19 vaccine. This marks a significant step forward in our efforts to put this virus behind us.” 

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In order to be eligible you must be living or working in Alaska. 16 is also  the lowest age authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for use of the Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine are currently approved for individuals 18 and older. With any vaccine further research always needs to be done in order for it to be approved for teenagers and children because their bodies are constantly developing and changing, so scientists need to ensure that the doses will be just as effective. 

Most states are still only vaccinating specific higher risk groups first, such as senior citizens, essential workers, and individuals with underlying medical conditions that put them at a greater risk of contracting the virus. 

“Nearly one year ago the first positive Covid-19 case arrived in Alaska. Today, our state – because of the undaunted efforts of Alaskans – is leading the nation in vaccination efforts.” 

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Governor Dunleavy initially opened up vaccines to anyone 55 and older in the beginning of March. That policy also included essential workers, such as teachers, agriculture workers, first responders, other healthcare workers, and the media. Individuals with underlying medical conditions have always been a priority as with the rest of the nation. 

Alaska was initially allocated with 288,000 vaccine doses and now about 170,993 people have received at least one of their two shots, and about 119,631 people are fully vaccinated, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the state has given the most total doses per 100,000 people in the country. With 41,376 doles out, it is one of just two states over 40,000 doses given per 100,000 people – along with New Mexico.” The state of Louisiana has also approved of the vaccine to be given to individuals 16 and older, however, the state is only allowing individuals that young to be vaccinated if they have underlying health conditions that put them at a greater risk. 

Alaska has been one of the luckiest states in the US throughout this pandemic with a total of around 60,000 confirmed cases and 291 deaths; the state is ranked number 46 in terms of states with the most cases. Vermont is the only other state that’s recorded fewer deaths as well. The increase in distribution of these vaccines is a great sign for Americans who are ready and hopeful that the world will start to return to a sense of normalcy within the next few months.

Experts Are Warning The US Could Face Another Surge Of Covid-19

With multiple governors easing up on health and safety procedures before a proper herd immunity is met, many healthcare experts are worried the US might face another severe outbreak of the virus.

Coronavirus Vaccine in Bottles

What The CDC Will Likely Say In Their New Guidelines For Vaccinated Individuals 

Dr. William Schaffner is a Professor of Preventive Medicine in the Department of Health Policy as well as a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Schaffner has been answering questions non-stop regarding the Covid-19 vaccines and what vaccinated individuals can and can’t do now that more Americans are receiving their doses. 

“I try to answer as many of those questions as I possibly can, because these are very thoughtful people. These are the people who are trying to do the best in these circumstances,” Schaffner said regarding vaccinated individuals who are two weeks past their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. 

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So far more than 82 million vaccine doses have been given out in the US, which is prompting many Americans to question what they’re able to safely do as the nation waits in this middle grey area of getting people vaccinated and waiting to achieve herd immunity. “I think people need practical advice about how to go about their everyday lives. I think without guidance, people may make decisions that are not informed,” said Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard. 

The Biden Administration claims that they’ve been working on these guidelines for weeks now and are expecting them to be released this upcoming Thursday. An official working within the administration claimed that a draft of the new guidelines have “likely been sent to the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services so that staff there could be aware ahead of time what has been discussed.”

“I don’t envy the writers of those guidelines. You can paint some pictures with a fairly broad brush, but people want to apply general guidelines to specific life, and that gets very, very nitty gritty. There’s no way to capture everything,” Schaffner said. 

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“Vaccines offer really good protection and help prevent the spread of Covid-19, but the vaccines are not total armor. People still need to make informed decisions about risk.”

Guidelines need to encourage vaccinated individuals to remain vigilant and continue to follow health and safety procedures for the most part while we wait to achieve herd immunity. “We don’t want people who are not fully vaccinated to think that everything has been lifted and already we can put things behind us, and the pandemic is over, because it’s not. There were more than 64,000 newly diagnosed cases of Covid-19 in the US just on Thursday,” the White House official explained. 

Vaccinated individuals will likely be able to gather in very small groups together where social distancing will still be recommended. Everyone will still have to wear masks in public and act as if the pandemic is still as severe as it’s been within the past year, because it still is in some parts of the world and nation. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci also reinforced that vaccinations are not a “free pass to travel” and only essential travel should occur for vaccinated individuals. The Biden official explained that “It’s impossible to get to a high level of detail right now. We can’t predict every situation that human beings will be in. What we can do is give principles for people to think through. It will give people the means to think through it and then they can choose what level of risk they wish to take.” The CDC will likely be officially releasing these guidelines next week.

One Year Since The Covid-19 Pandemic Began And America Is Still Down 10 Million Jobs 

Nearly one year after the Covid-19 pandemic initially shut down America the nation is still finding itself down by 10 million jobs compared to where we were at this time last year. 745,000 additional Americans have filed for first-time unemployment benefits on a seasonally adjusted basis last week, according to the US Labor Department. 

The number of new claims is up from the previous week, however, it’s slightly less than what economists were expecting for the month of March. 436,696 workers also applied for Pandemic Unemployment benefits which are mainly available for gig workers or self-employed individuals. 

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First-time jobless claims in total equated to about 1.2 million without seasonal adjustments for last week. Continued benefit claims, which specifically count applicants that submitted their forms for at least two weeks in a row or more, reached 4.2 million in the last week of February, which is slightly smaller when compared to the week prior. 

At this point last year the labor crisis was just beginning with about 6.9 million Americans applying for first-time unemployment, and millions of jobs disappearing in general. While millions of new jobs have been created within the past year and many Americans were able to get back to work, the nation is still struggling to rebuild the economy.

The American Department of Labor employment report cited “fewer jobs added in February than expected: 117,000 versus the 177,000 forecast. Even though the private sector report and the government’s official figures, which are due Friday at 8:30 am ET, aren’t correlated, it’s not a great sign.”

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Economists estimate that about 182,000 new jobs were added to the US market in February, which is up 49,000 from the previous month. When compared to February 2020, however, the nation is still down about 9.7 million jobs; at that point in time the unemployment rate for America was actually at a 50-year low of 3.5%.

“The expectations are widely different, ranging from a 100,000 jobs lost to 500,000 jobs gained. We expect the US jobs recovery to show some encouraging progress in February,” said Lydia Boussour, lead US economist at Oxford Economics.

The rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and the reopening of the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses will hopefully help assist the nation in creating new jobs. The winter storms that have been impacting the country, however, are also influencing how many new jobs are created. The unemployment rate is currently projected to remain at 6.3% for now as well, however, the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell claimed last week that the actual unemployment rate is likely closer to 10%.