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5 key takeaways from a strong June jobs report – The Denver Post

WASHINGTON — At first glance, the June employment report was a blockbuster.

The U.S. economy produced a record 4.8 million added jobs last month, walloping expectations. And the unemployment rate sank from 13.3% all the way to 11.1%.

“Today’s announcement,” President Donald Trump declared Thursday after the report was released, “proves that our economy is roaring back.”

Maybe. But most economists warn that the risks ahead outweigh the reasons to cheer as the economy and the job market struggle to emerge from a devastating meltdown triggered by the coronavirus.

Further hiring gains are imperiled by a resurgence of COVID-19 cases throughout the South and West. And despite a solid rebound in employment, the job market remains badly damaged — by the pandemic itself, by the lockdowns imposed to contain it and by a loss of confidence among Americans fearful of returning to shops and restaurants until a vaccine or an effective treatment for the virus is available.

Even after superb hiring reports for May and June, the economy has regained only about one-third of the 22 million jobs it lost to the pandemic recession, according to Thursday’s jobs report. And the unemployment rate still exceeds the highest rate during the 2009-2009 Great Recession.

Here are five major takeaways from a jobs report that was surprisingly robust yet may not fully reflect a fast-evolving employment market.

THE GOOD NEWS MAY BE OLD NEWS

Just as the economy seemed to be gathering momentum after springtime lockdowns of businesses, confirmed virus cases began resurging throughout the South and the West. The spike in cases forced state and local governments that had allowed many businesses to reopen to suddenly suspend or reverse those plans.

Many bars and restaurants, newly reopened in late May and early June, shut down again and laid off workers — again. The June report didn’t include those job cuts.

“Remember that the (June jobs) data are capturing the data from the middle of May through the middle of June, given the survey period,” economists at Bank of America Global Research cautioned. “It captures the state of the labor market before the economy was hit by the rise in virus cases in the Sun Belt.”

Researchers who track business activity in real time have detected evidence of a slump. Homebase, a provider of time-tracking software for small businesses, discovered that the number of hours worked at its client companies has leveled off after having risen sharply in May and early June.

Likewise, the data firm Womply found that the proportion of bars that are closed in Texas, Florida, Tennessee and some other states grew last week after having declined steadily since April or early May.

What’s more, the government reported Thursday that the number of laid-off Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week remained at an elevated pace — 1.43 million, down slightly from the previous week but alarmingly high by historical standards.

“With the number of COVID-19 cases accelerating and some states delaying re-opening or imposing new restrictions, we are concerned that a significant number of individuals may become furloughed again, “Jay Bryson, chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities, wrote in a research report. “The outsized gains in payrolls that were registered in May and June likely won’t be repeated in the next few months.’

JOB MARKET FACES A LONG CLIMB BACK

Despite the April-May bounce-back, the employment market remains in dire shape: 137.8 million Americans were working in June — 14.7 million fewer than in February, before the pandemic began to inflict deep economic damage. Even May’s 11.1% unemployment rate was the third-highest, behind April and May, in monthly records that go back to 1948.

And the vast majority of May’s job gains appeared to come from businesses that had recalled employees who were provisionally let go during the virus lockdowns: The number of Americans on temporary layoffs sank by a record 4.8 million last month.

Ominously, by contrast, the number of people labeled “permanent job losers” surged by 588,000 last month. That was the biggest such jump since February 2009, in the depths of the Great Recession. These people will likely find it more difficult to regain employment.

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, denounced Trump for declaring what Biden said was a premature victory over job losses:

“President Trump has spiked the ball and made this about him. He doesn’t seem to realize he’s not even on the 50-yard line.”

RACIAL DISPARITIES PERSIST

White workers continue to fare better than Black workers.

In June, the jobless rate for white Americans fell from 12.4% in May to 10.1%. For African Americans, the rate dropped less, from 16.8% to 15.4% Historically, the unemployment rate for Black workers has been 1.5 to 2 times the rate for white workers.

That gap had narrowed in the early stages of the pandemic because African Americans work disproportionately in many front-line jobs in warehouses, grocery stores and takeout eateries. Such businesses were generally regarded as “essential” and so managed to retain most of their employees.

But in the past couple of months, the racial gap has widened again.

“The pandemic has really shone a spotlight on how lopsided our economic system is, particularly in terms of the labor market,” said Steve Rick, chief economist at the insurer CUNA Mutual Group. “It’s clear that Black communities have been disproportionately affected by this recession.”

WAGES SHRANK

Average hourly earnings at private companies fell 1.2% to $29.39 in June. For rank-and-file workers specifically, hourly earnings dropped 0.9% to $24.74.

The reason wasn’t so much that employers imposed pay cuts. Rather, the workers who were rehired in June, at bars, restaurants and other such establishments, disproportionately work in lower-paying occupations. That trend pulled down average wages for the month.

“The decline reflects the extent to which June’s job gains were skewed toward lower-wage, lower-hour industry groups, such as retail trade and leisure and hospitality services,” said Richard Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial.

A job-quality index produced by Cornell University’s law school found that nearly 87% of June’s growth in private sector hiring came from “low quality’ jobs — non-management positions that offer below-average weekly earnings.

JOB GAINS WERE BROAD-BASED

Employers were hiring all over the economy last month.

Restaurants, bars, hotels and other leisure and hospitality businesses, hard hit by closures in the spring, added 2.1 million jobs in June. Even so, they employ 4.8 million fewer people than they did in February.

Retailers added 740,000 jobs, health care 475,000, manufacturers 356,000 and construction firms 158,000.

“Job gains in June were broad-based across 75% of the private sector,’ noted Kathy Bostjancic of Oxford Economics.

AP Economics Writers Martin Crutsinger and Christopher Rugaber contributed to this report.

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World News

Coronavirus: Travellers from 14 ‘safe’ countries can now enter EU

The European Union has given approval for people travelling for business or leisure from 15 countries beyond its borders to enter the bloc from today.

The 27 member nations gave majority approval on Tuesday to allow non-essential travel from its initial “safe list” of countries, which excludes the United States where there has been a huge rise in COVID-19 cases.

The countries are:

  • Algeria
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Georgia
  • Japan
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • New Zealand
  • Rwanda
  • Serbia
  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia
  • Uruguay

The UK and four other non-EU states – Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Norway – are automatically included as being “safe”.

China has also been provisionally approved, although travel would only open up if authorities also allowed in EU visitors.

Reciprocity is a condition of being on the list which will be updated every 14 days, with new countries being added or dropped off depending on whether they are keeping the pandemic under control.

Russia, Brazil and Turkey, along with the US, are among countries whose containment of the virus is considered worse than the EU average.

The US has the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak, with nearly 2.6 million people confirmed infected and more than 126,000 dead, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

More than 15 million Americans are estimated to travel to Europe annually, and the delay could be a further blow to virus-ravaged economies and tourism sectors on both sides of the Atlantic.

Around 10 million Europeans are thought to cross the Atlantic for holidays and business each year.

The EU’s move is aimed at supporting the travel industry and tourist destinations, particularly countries in southern Europe hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It acts as a recommendation to EU members, meaning they could, potentially, individually set restrictions on those entering from the 14 nations.

The decree does not apply to travel to the UK, which left the EU in January.

The UK now requires all incoming travellers – bar a few exceptions like truck drivers – to go into a self-imposed 14-day quarantine, although the measure is under review and is likely to ease in the coming weeks. It also applies to UK citizens.

Within hours of the EU announcement, Italy, which has one of the highest COVID death tolls in the world, said it would opt out and keep quarantine restrictions in place for all nations that were not part of the free-travel Schengen area.

Canada said it was extending its mandatory quarantine order for travellers until at the least the end of August and a travel ban for most foreigners until the end of July.

Malta reopened its airport on Wednesday to allow visitors from several European countries, but the move will not include Britain, which accounts for 30% of the island’s tourist arrivals.

The reopened connections include cities in France, Germany, Spain and Italy, with hopes to widen to the UK soon.

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US reels from coronavirus as daily cases hit record, deaths surge

Acceleration comes as Anthony Fauci warns of a ‘disturbing’ number of deaths if response to pandemic is not improved.

The United States reported more than 47,000 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday – the biggest one-day spike since the start of the pandemic – as the government’s top infectious disease expert warned that number could soon double and deaths could reach a “disturbing” level.

California, Texas and Arizona have emerged as new epicentres of the pandemic, reporting record increases in COVID-19 cases.

“Clearly, we are not in total control right now,” Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a US Senate committee. “I am very concerned because it could get very bad.”

Fauci said the daily increase in new cases could reach 100,000 unless efforts to tackle the disease were stepped up. He called on Americans to abide by health guidelines, urging people to cover their faces when out in public and avoid crowded places.

“We can’t just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk,” he said.

Fauci’s comments came as the daily death toll reached 1,199, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. It is the first time it has risen above 1,000 since June 10. The US has recorded 127,322 deaths since the pandemic began, the highest in the world.

Fauci declined to predict the expected number of deaths from the pandemic, but said it was going to be “disturbing”.

COVID-19 cases more than doubled in June in at least 10 states, including Texas and Florida, a Reuters tally showed. In parts of Texas and Arizona, hospital intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients are in short supply.

More than 126,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, and millions have lost their jobs as states and major cities ordered residents to stay home and businesses closed. The economy contracted sharply in the first quarter and is expected to crater in the second.

‘Trump failed us’

The European Union has excluded Americans from its “safe list” of countries from which the bloc will allow non-essential travel from Wednesday.

The fresh rise in cases and hospitalisations has dimmed hopes that the worst of the human and economic pain had passed, prompting renewed criticism of President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election on November 3.

His rival, Democrat Joe Biden, on Tuesday, said that Trump’s “historic mismanagement” of the pandemic had cost lives and inflicted more damage than necessary on the US economy.

“It didn’t have to be this way. Donald Trump failed us,” the 77-year-old former vice president said in a speech in Delaware, where he unveiled an updated plan to tackle the pandemic calling for more testing and the hiring of 100,000 contract tracers.

In the past week, California, Texas and Florida have moved to close recently reopened bars, which public health officials believe contributed to the recent spikes.

On Tuesday, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut added travellers from California and seven other states to those who must self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival. Texas and Florida were named last week.

South Carolina also has also emerged as a hot spot, reporting a record single-day increase of 1,755 cases on Tuesday.

In Texas, where the number of new cases jumped to a one-day record of 6,975 on Tuesday, Houston hospitals said beds were quickly filling up with COVID-19 patients.

Dr Marc Boom, chief executive of Houston Methodist Hospital, told CNN on Tuesday that his hospital beds had seen a “very significant” increase in COVID-19 patients, although the death rate had lowered.

Boom said he was worried about Independence Day celebrations this weekend, when Americans traditionally flock to beaches and campgrounds to watch fireworks displays.

“Frankly, it scares me,” he said.

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Another 155 dead from coronavirus across the UK

Another 155 people in the UK have lost their lives after testing positive for coronavirus.

Today’s announcement from the Department for Health and Social Care brings the national death toll to 43,730.

Figures from the Government include fatalities in all settings including care homes and the wider community.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic a total of 312,654 people have tested positive for the virus.

As of 9am today 9,426,631 tests have been carried out, 133,467 of which were carried out yesterday.

Visit our live blog for the latest updates: Coronavirus news live

It comes after it emerged there was an ‘unusually high’ incidence of coronavirus in children in Leicester, the first UK city to go back into lockdown following a surge in cases.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Breakfast that while work was still being done to understand why Leicester had been so badly affected by the outbreak, extra testing had found under-18s testing positive for the virus.

He said that even though children are less likely to get ill from the disease, the decision to shut the city’s schools was made to try to halt further transmissions.

Mr Hancock added: ‘We have sent in a lot of extra testing into Leicester over the last 10 days or so and one of the things we have found is that there are under-18s who have tested positive and therefore, because children can transmit the disease – even though they are highly unlikely to get ill from the disease – we think the safest thing to do is close the schools.

‘The reason I said what I did last night about Leicester is that it is an unusually high incidence in children in Leicester.’

The city council said that 944 Covid-19 cases had been reported in the last two weeks.

Mr Hancock also said that the lockdown had been introduced after ‘targeted action’ at factories and workplaces had failed.

He added: ‘We have been monitoring it incredibly closely, we have put in extra testing units, some of the schools in Leicester were closed already.

‘We also went into some of the factories and workplaces where there was an outbreak and we put in place measures.

‘These sort of much more targeted measures have worked in other outbreaks.

‘So we’ve been taking this highly localised approach, but unfortunately that targeted action wasn’t working in Leicester and that’s why we have taken this much broader measure.’

When asked about possible causes such as poverty, higher ethnic diversity, language difficulties and higher-density housing, Mr Hancock said they were ‘familiar’ to him.

He added: ‘We are still doing the work to understand exactly why the outbreak has been so bad in Leicester.

‘But lots of the reasons that you mentioned just then are familiar to me and people will find them intuitive.’

Mr Hancock said that ‘of course’ the Government was looking at similar places but said the outbreak in Leicester was ‘very significantly worse’ than the next worst-hit place.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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Donald Trump suspended from Twitch as Reddit shuts down supporters’ forum

Donald Trump has been suspended from livestreaming platform Twitch for “hateful conduct” and Reddit has shut down a forum for the president’s supporters.

Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, said it had temporarily banned the president’s channel because it violated its hateful conduct policy.

“Hateful conduct is not allowed on Twitch,” a spokeswoman said.

“In line with our policies, President Trump’s channel has been issued a temporary suspension from Twitch for comments made on stream, and the offending content has been removed.”

She said one of the streams was a rebroadcast of a 2016 Trump rally in which the president said Mexico was sending rapists to the United States.

Discussion website Reddit said it had shut down r/The_Donald and r/ChapoTrapHouse, forums run by the president’s supporters, as it announced an overhaul of its content policies.

Its new content policy said communities and users that promoted hate based on identity or vulnerability would be banned.

Reddit said it was banning about 2,000 subreddits – discussions dedicated to specific topics – most of which are inactive.

“All communities on Reddit must abide by our content policy in good faith,” chief executive Steve Huffman said in a post on the site on Monday.

“We banned r/The_Donald because it has not done so, despite every opportunity.

“Ultimately, it’s our responsibility to support our communities by taking stronger action against those who try to weaponise parts of Reddit against other people.”

Reddit had previously placed r/The_Donald behind an extra page that required users to click through – a restriction it called a “quarantine”.

But, the company said the subreddit moderators still “have refused to meet our most basic expectations”.

The Trump campaign embraced Reddit avidly ahead of the 2016 election when it became a hub for conspiracy theories.

Mr Trump conducted an “Ask Me Anything” session on the subreddit in the run up to the election.

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Denver movie theaters from AMC and Regal to Sie Film Center to reopen

Like other industries shaken by coronavirus closures, the movie business is eager to welcome customers back to theaters. From large chains to art houses, theaters plan to start reopening in July. 

AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas — the two largest movie theater companies in the United States — announced last week that they would start reopening their locations. Regal, which has eight locations in the Denver Metro area, will open theaters on July 10 at 50% capacity to comply with social distancing guidelines. AMC, which has 12 locations in the Denver Metro area, also plans to open 450 of its 600 venues with similar distancing guidelines on July 15, though it has not specified which locations.

However, AMC came under fire for initially not requiring customers to wear masks, arguing that the company didn’t want to “be drawn into political controversy.” CEO Adam Aron reversed the decision on Friday, now requiring masks for all customers. 

Many of Denver’s locally owned theaters have yet to announce reopening plans. At the Sie Film Center, artistic director Keith Garcia said in an interview with The Denver Post on Tuesday that Denver Film is also getting ready to show movies in theaters again, though he’s still working on a clear plan. With Gov. Jared Polis’ most recent guidelines for businesses, movie theaters in Colorado have the green light to open while following strict guidelines for social distancing and public health.

Denver’s Landmark Theatres, with four locations in the Denver metro area, and Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, with three local theaters, did not respond to requests for comment and have not announced plans to reopen. 

Though the Sie Film Center closed in March, Garcia said they’ve continued screening movies virtually. Denver Film will also launch its own streaming site on Friday. Garcia curates the selections himself, and he said he’s continued to provide cutting edge films for audiences to enjoy while socially distanced. 

As things start to reopen, Garcia said he won’t scrap the virtual platform. Though coronavirus has been devastating, it’s also opened new opportunities for different types of accessible events with audiences around Denver and beyond. 

“Even if theaters reopen, my hope is to still utilize virtual cinema in creative and interesting ways,” Garcia said. 

But financially, for a small theater company, coronavirus has been tough. When the Sie Film Center closed, the team had to figure out ways to keep money trickling in, Garcia said, like offering titles online and opening concessions for curbside orders. With virtual films, Denver Film also worked with movie distributors to receive half of ticket prices.

Garcia said Sie Film Center hopes to open in July, though he’s not in a hurry. He emphasized that his team will take its time to plan out safety precautions for keeping customers safe. 

“Part of the reason we’re a film center is to return back to the in-theater, big-screen experience,” he said. “But that’s going to take a little time.”

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