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Unemployed Americans have a new full-time job: Filing for jobless benefits – CNN

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Nearly three weeks later, the audio engineer, who saw his business dry up last month amid the coronavirus pandemic, has yet to be approved.

With his claim still listed as pending, Warren received a notice a week ago to upload additional data that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis had suspended but the system was still requesting. He spent up to eight hours a day on multiple web browsers attempting to comply but kept getting sent back to the initial pages. He dialed the state Department of Economic Opportunity many times, only to hear a recording asking him to call again later.

Warren has no choice but to keep trying. The father of a teenage son needs the weekly payment so he doesn’t drain his savings.

“It’s very demoralizing to sit there and constantly get on and get kicked out,” said Warren, who doesn’t expect to see business pick up again until the end of August at the earliest. “After a while, it’s nuts.”

More than a month into the nation’s coronavirus-spurred economic crisis, state unemployment agencies remained overwhelmed by the record number of newly jobless Americans filing for benefits. Around 22 million people, or roughly 13.5% of the labor force, have submitted initial jobless claims since March 14.

The jobless still having trouble filing for benefits

CNN reached out to readers it profiled in recent weeks, asking whether they’ve started receiving benefits. No luck so far, they said.

Florida’s agency, which did not return a request for comment, has come under fire from residents who’ve tried to get through.

The state opted to add paper applications earlier this month after its website and call center were deluged. Also, the agency said on April 7 that it would add more than 1,000 staffers, in part by contracting with customer call centers. And it unveiled a mobile-friendly application for those filing new claims. But it also now takes down its online site overnight for maintenance, much to the consternation of Warren and others who found it easiest to gain access late at night.

Florida is far from the only state having issues. Agencies around the country have added online capacity, beefed up their workforce and extended their hours to handle the crush of filers and process millions of new claims in recent weeks.

Yet, jobless Americans continue to take to social media and write to CNN to complain that they are still having problems filing applications.

Camilla Christiansen Poole is no closer to receiving her unemployment benefits, though she thought she filed all the necessary documents in late March after waiting on hold for nearly nine hours with North Carolina’s Division of Employment Security.

It’s the only time she’s been able to get through to a representative despite spending hours a day calling for weeks, sending several emails and filling out a contact form a few times.

Camilla Christiansen Poole of North Carolina is still awaiting unemployment benefits.

The Asheville resident remains listed as ineligible, though she receives emails asking her to certify her status each week. She and her husband, who is still working, have cut their spending — buying less costly food at the supermarket, such as soup, rice and beans.

Fortunately for Poole, she returned to work as a medical courier this past week, but only on a part-time basis. She believes she still qualifies for some unemployment assistance, but can’t reach anyone at the agency to find out.

5 reasons you may not have gotten your stimulus money yet

Discouraged, she now spends only 30 minutes a day trying to call. However, she tried a new avenue on Wednesday, emailing a local NCWorks Career Center. It told her it would submit her name to the state agency and that some of its clients were being contacted.

The division, which did not return a request for comment, said Friday that it has added 400 people to its staff of 500 to process claims and issue payments, and will hire another 700 workers within a week.

Poole, however, doesn’t understand why she and others aren’t getting calls back.

“What kind of system do they have in place to actually respond to people?” she said. “My frustration hasn’t subsided.”

Many self-employed Americans still waiting to apply for benefits

Meanwhile, Kashirah Jackson is still waiting for North Carolina’s agency to start accepting applications from the self-employed, who are temporarily eligible for benefits under a provision included in Congress’ $2 trillion relief package last month.

A hair stylist, she had to stop working in late March when Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper closed non-essential businesses.

Kashirah Jackson, a hair stylist, is still waiting for North Carolina to accept applications from the self-employed.

The division reiterated in a statement Friday that it estimates it will be ready to do so around April 25. Only a handful of states are processing claims under the new pandemic unemployment assistance program.

Jackson, who is expecting her first baby in June, has not had much luck accessing any of the assistance included the Congressional package. The Charlotte resident and her partner, who owns a restaurant, applied for Small Business Administration loans but never heard back, and they received an error message when they tried to provide the Internal Revenue Service with their bank information to get their stimulus checks faster.

“At this point, I don’t know what to believe,” said Jackson, who does not want to drain her savings ahead of her daughter’s arrival. “Everything they said they were doing for us is not coming to fruition.”

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Economy

The US will need to spend trillions more as economy takes until 2022 to fully recover: CNBC survey – CNBC

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The economy could take one to two years to rebound to full strength and the Federal Reserve and Congress, having already committed historic sums to fight the coronavirus pandemic, will have to commit trillions more, according to respondents to the CNBC Fed Survey.

With the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet already at an unprecedented $6.45 trillion, the 36 respondents see it rising on average to $9.8 trillion. The additional trillions will be added by the end of the current quarter, the respondents expect. Congress, having already committed about $2.5 trillion, is seen putting in an additional $2 trillion.

“My guess is that the virus itself will largely disappear within a year, but that the structural social and economic impacts will be with us much longer,” John Kattar, chief investment officer at Ardent Asset Management, wrote in response to the survey.

Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation, said, “The policy response has been appropriate, but policy takes time to work its way into the economy and targeted sectors. … Many small businesses stand at risk.”

Despite the massive relief, respondents still see the unemployment rate rising to 19%, hitting that level in August. It’s expected to decline only gradually, to 11% by December and to 7% by the end of 2021. That would leave it at about double the rate before the crisis.

Second quarter of 2022

“With spiking unemployment and rising business closures … the prospects of a sharp rebound (is) far outweighed by the more realistic prospect of a longer-term structural disruption,” said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel.

A 33% plurality believes the economy won’t be fully restored until the second quarter of 2022. But 19% believe it will be back by year-end and another 19% believe it can happen even earlier, highlighting a wide range of views about the speed and strength of a recovery.

“During the pandemic, production and consumption have been largely deferred and not lost,” wrote Rob Morgan, director of market strategy at US Energy Advisors. “This leads me to believe the economy will experience a V-shaped recovery beginning in the third quarter 2020.”

On average, respondents see gross domestic product falling by 24% this quarter, followed by a rebound of 4.7% in the third quarter and another strong quarter in the fourth. It won’t be enough to make back the losses in the first half. For the full year, GDP is forecast to decline by 5%.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said a vaccine is essential for the economy to gain traction. “Until then, any recovery will remain something of a slog, characterized by halting growth and high single-digit unemployment. And even then, the economy won’t be in full swing and fully recovered until mid-decade.”

The Fed funds rate is seen remaining at zero for the rest of the year and rise to 1.9% in 2021. The Federal Reserve concludes its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday. Answers for CNBC’s Fed Survey from investors and economists were collected Thursday to Saturday. 

The S&P is forecast to finish lower on the year at 2,844 than Monday’s close, and rise to 3,141 next year for a 9% gain by the end of 2021.

 “I think the risk markets are anticipating a faster return to normalized economic conditions than we are likely to see,” says John Ryding, chief economic advisor at Brean Capital LLC.

Among the risks: Respondents place a 61% probability on a second round of contagion in the fall and winter.

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White House reportedly considering another round of stimulus checks – Atlanta Journal Constitution

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As the U.S. economy slowly reopens, Americans across the country are still grappling with job loss, furloughs and economic uncertainty. To combat the continued financial struggles some are facing, a White House official says the administration is “studying carefully” another $1,200 payment to citizens.

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told the media the administration is determining whether to provide those who qualify another round of stimulus checks, according to NBC News reporter Geoff Bennett. The additional financial support could be included in a phase 4 deal.

 

No word on when the package would be presented the House, but, with the virus still looming, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told the media Tuesday that the House will no longer come back next week after speaking to House physician, according to a tweet by Politico congressional reporter Sarah Ferris

 “We made a judgment that we will not come back next week,” Hoyer told reporters.

While the new stimulus checks are being considered, some Americans have not yet received the first round of checks. The IRS began cutting stimulus checks in mid-April. As of this week, about 90 million people have seen the economic bump in their accounts, according to economic news site Market Watch

 The hope is that the checks, which average about $1,200 a piece, will encourage spending and quell the financial pressure to pay essential bills as the COVID-19’s impact has shuttered manufacturing plants, retail stores and limited business hours for dozens of companies.

»MORE: The US is reopening but ‘normal’ is still a ways off

The IRS had distributed about 88.1 million stimulus checks as of April 17 and paid out $157.96 billion, according to statistics released April 24. That’s more than half of the $290 billion put aside for direct payments to individuals in the $2.2 trillion bill called the CARES Act.

Consumer confidence is still low

The Conference Board Tuesday reported that its consumer confidence index tumbled in the month of April, as millions lost their jobs and others feared for the current and future work conditions. 

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its confidence index plunged to a reading of 86.9, down from 118.8 in March. The index is composed of consumers’ assessment of present conditions and expectations about the future. 

 The present conditions index dropped from 166.7, to 76.4, a 90-point drop that was the largest on record. The expectations index, based on the future outlook, improved slightly from 86.8 in March to 93.8 in April.

The numbers in the present conditions index “reflects the sharp contraction in economic activity and surge in unemployment claims,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics, said the confidence declines were worrisome because “consumers’ downbeat views about future income prospects can restrain consumer spending and the overall economy.”

Consumers drive about 70% of all economic activity in the U.S.

Many economists believe the country has already entered a recession that will be the largest economic disruption since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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Goldman Sachs explains why stocks can keep rising even as a record-sized recession beckons – Business Insider

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  • Markets may continue to look past negative coronavirus news, especially if projections continue to show that the economy is expected to rebound after the pandemic, a Monday note from Goldman Sachs said.
  • An analysis of GDP forecasts from the bank found that investors tended to discount the next two years of macroeconomic performance.
  • Thus, metrics that focus only on growth over the next year “will overstate current valuations, given the large rebound expected beyond this year,” Zach Pandl, a cohead of global FX and EM strategy, wrote in the note.
  • Read more on Business Insider.

Markets may continue to look past negative coronavirus news, especially if projections continue to show that the economy is expected to rebound after the pandemic, according to Goldman Sachs.

An analysis by the bank using changes to gross-domestic-product forecasts found that investors typically discounted at least the next two years of macroeconomic performance, a Monday note said.

That means that metrics that focus only on growth over the next year — such as multiples based on 12-month earnings expectations — “will overstate current valuations, given the large rebound expected beyond this year,” Zach Pandl, a cohead of global foreign-exchange and emerging-markets strategy, wrote in the note.

While the coronavirus-induced recession is set to be the deepest contraction in modern history, it’s also likely to be the shortest, Pandl said. Many economists expect that, after a dip in 2020, GDP will rebound in 2021 and 2022. By early April, consensus GDP forecasts incorporated a virus hit, down 4% this year. But forecasts are for 4% growth in 2021 and 3% in 2022 — an unusual pattern, Pandl said.

Read more: Goldman Sachs recommends investors buy ‘quality at a reasonable price.’ Here’s are the firm’s top 10 stock picks that fit the bill.

That means that more disappointing data in the near term may not weigh heavily on markets, as activity is expected to snap back “relatively quickly,” Pandl wrote. “The depth of the downturn matters much less than the duration of the recovery,” he said.

Goldman’s analysis came amid a stock-market recovery from March 23 lows. As US states weigh relaxing strict lockdown measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19, stocks have slowly gained on optimism that the economy will soon reopen. From March 23 to Monday’s close, the S&P 500 gained about 29%, but it was down about 15% from all-time highs in February.

Still, many economists disagree that any rebound after the coronavirus pandemic will be a quick one. Instead of the sharp V-shaped recovery that Goldman is suggesting, many expect a rebound to take a softer U shape.

Read more: The manager of the best small-cap fund of the past 20 years explains why he’s betting big on a consumer recovery — and shares his top 4 stock picks in the struggling sector

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