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Inflation Relief Checks: summary news 30 November

Update:
Congress has voted to avert a rail strike, as we bring you the latest on what the state and federal governments are doing to combat inflation.

Inflation Relief in the US: Latest Updates

Headlines: Wednesday, 30 November 2022

- Inflation is changing consumer behavior this holiday season: we took a look at how you can save

- From Washington: Congress votes to make striking illegal for rail workers and will take up a proposal to provide seven days of paid sick leave to workers after carriers refused such a measure during negotiations. ​​​​​​​

California residents continue to receive Middle-Class Tax Refunds, so far payments have benefited over 19 million people in the Golden State. 

- Some residents in South Carolina and Virginia may be eligible for tax relief

​​​​​​​- Social Security beneficiaries will soon see an 8.7% boost to their benefits payments

- Inflation could change Christmas spending habits - what is driving price increases?

- Trucking companies struggle to attract and retain workers as wages fall

- Can you receive two Social Security checks in the same month?

Related news

Social Security recipients who will receive two checks in December

SOCIAL SECURITY

Social Security recipients who will receive two checks in December

Month after month, the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends checks to retired workers, eligible Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients and others such as recipients of survivor benefits.

During 2022, average pay for retired workers was $1,657 per month, while married couples received around $2,753. On the other hand, the average SSI benefit was $624 and the maximum check was $841.

Although SSA sends out one check per month, some beneficiaries will receive two in December. We share the details with you. Read our full coverage for more details. 

The majority of states have seen their unemployment rate fall in 2022

The BLS has released new data showing that of all US states and the District of Colombia, thirty-nine saw decreases in their unemployment rate, with California (-2.1%) leading the pack. 

The next greatest decreases were seen in New Jersey (2%), New Mexico (1.8%), Pennsylvania (1.6%), and Rhode Island (1.6). 

Oklahoma was the only state to see a substantive increase, with their rate rising 0.5 percent since October 2021. 

How will inflation impact holiday shopping this year?

Latest News

How will inflation impact holiday shopping this year?

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, many shoppers are still looking for the best deals to complete their gift list this year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that prices are up on average 7.7 percent compared to last year, meaning consumers are likely to spend more but buy fewer gifts this holiday season.

Back in September, the financial news site, Bankrate, reported that two in five consumers they surveyed said that inflation would change their holiday shopping decisions.

For more on how inflation impacts consumer behavior and how you can save this gifting season, check out our full coverage

Congress is now voting on a measure that would provide seven days of paid sick leave for rail workers after voting to make their right to strike on December 9th illegal. 

Social Security: When and who collects their retirement and disability payment in November and December

SOCIAL SECURITY

Social Security: When and who collects their retirement and disability payment in November and December

Earlier this year, the Social Security Adminstration announced that the 2023 Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) would top 8.7 percent --one of the largest increases in the last four decades. These larger payments could not come at a more important time for the country's seniors and disabled community. 

Some may even see an 8.7 percent bump in their benefit amount next month. Who and when can be found in our full coverage

The SMART Transportation Division does not support the notion of Congress intervening in our collective bargaining negotiations to prevent a strike. We firmly believe in the workers’ right to fight for their own best interests, as well as the best interests of their families. Unfortunately, threats to the economy have caused this Congress to believe that a strike aversion is the best course for this nation.

SMART , US Rail Union

Biden takes steps to reduce chip shortages

This year we have seen the danger posed when the United States is forced to rely on overseas imports for key resources. This lack of control has caused inflation to rise and hurt consumers. The US opted to boycott Russia-produced oil and gas after the invasion of Ukraine, and has faced a similar conundrum with China-made computer chips. 

In a bid to reduce dependency, Biden's CHIPS and Science Act will help boost American manufacturing. 

"I am calling on Congress to pass legislation immediately to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators – without any modifications or delay – to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown."

Joe Biden, POTUS

"The deal provides a historic 24% pay raise for rail workers. It provides improved health care benefits. And it provides the ability of operating craft workers to take unscheduled leave for medical needs."

Joe Biden, POTUS

Will inflation spark change in Florida?

Unemployment benefits programs are largely decided by state authorities, with the amount of support on offer varying greatly in different parts of the country. Florida has one of the lowest unemployment benefits in the country, both in terms of the amount of money on offer and the duration that the support lasts. 

Currently Floridians only get 12 weeks of jobless support, but with inflation hurting families' household finances there is a real push for change. However lawmakers in Florida have not approved a major change in more than two decades, leaving residents to suffer if they lose their job. 

What next for Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness plan?

Widespread student loan relief was a key campaign pledge made during Joe Biden's successful run for the presidency in 2020. It took him 18 months to finally issue his proposal for the program after taking office, but he is facing major hurdles to enact the relief. 

A number of Republican-led states launched legal challenges to the Student Loan Forgiveness program, arguing that Biden does not have the authority to unilaterally write off the debts. Here's what the White House had to say when asked for an update on student loan payments...

Will Congress intervene in railroad dispute?

Throughout 2022 inflation has caused major headaches for Americans, with rapid price rises devaluing workers' wages. There have been a number of industries to have pushed for improved conditions and pay this year, but an ongoing dispute between railroad unions and service providers threatens to end in strike before Christmas. 

Railroad companies have offered an inflation-busting 24% pay rise and a $5,000 worth of direct annual payments, but the unions are demanding sick leave for workers. It remains to be seen how Congress will act to resolve the dispute and avoid a damaging strike. 

California inflation relief payments schedule: When will the remaining recipients get their checks?

INFLATION RELIEF

California inflation relief payments schedule: When will the remaining recipients get their checks?

While those receiving the direct payment to help with the rising cost of living should have already seen the money deposited in their account, the last payments were scheduled to be issued 14 November, the mailing of debit cards follows a separate schedule. The agency responsible for disbursing state tax refunds has finally posted the complete payment schedule.

Around 95 percent of payments to the roughly 23 million eligible Californians are expected to issued by the end of the year.

When are the next California inflation payments going out?

The state of California has sanctioned a round of one-off relief payments to help residents afford the rapid price rises felt during 2022. The Middle Class Tax Refund was approved back in August and around 17 million people have now received the support. 

However the program is so vast that there are millions more who are still waisting for a payment. Here's what you need to know about the California inflation payment distribution process...

Gas prices falls to pre-invasion level

The price of gasoline in the United States has been one of the most visible factors contributing to inflation during 2022. Sanctions imposed on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine placed a squeeze on the global supply of fuel and the price rose sharply. Back in June the price of gas hit an all-time high in the US, but nearly six months on the price has fallen to pre-invasion levels. 

Home prices decline for third straight month

Higher mortgage rates on top of home prices that had been climbing until June have pushed many would be homebuyers out of the market until things cool down. This trend continued in September, becoming the third straight month to see a decline in home prices registering 0.8 percent. The year-on-year increase dropped to 10.6 percent down from 12.9 percent in August. 

Tax relief checks in South Carolina and Virginia: Who will get them and when?

US NEWS

Tax relief checks in South Carolina and Virginia: Who will get them and when?

Both South Carolina and Virginia are paying back some of the taxes paid by residents in their 2021 filing.

AS USA's Oli Povey has a look at what the states are offering residents.

How many payments for the Middle Class Tax Refund have been paid?

As the Golden State experienced a second historic budget surplus, some of the revenue will be returned to taxpayers in an effort to help them combat inflation. 

How many Middle-Class Tax Refunds have been sent? 

The California Franchise Tax Board is making payments through direct deposit as well as sending debit cards to those whose banking information has not been obtained by the state. 

So far, 6,955,276 direct deposit payments have been made, with an additional 3,592,026 debit cards mailed. Over $5.7 billion have been received by households across the state, benefiting an estimated 19.1 million people. 

How many more payments need to be made? 

The state does not plan to make any additional direct deposits but will continue to send pre-paid cards through the mail until at least mid-January.

The next batch of refunds will be sent to residents who received a Golden State Stimulus Check last year and whose last name begins with the letters W-Z. Those payments will be sent on 4 December and could take up to a week to land in the correct mailbox. 

Inflation will continue to affect healthcare costs

Inflation, broadly, is falling in the United States as the economy cools after a rampant year. Prices have soared during 2022 and left typical wages far behind, making the average American poorer in real terms. One of the factors still affected by inflation, however, is healthcare which could well continue to rise in the coming months. 

This report from USA Today explains all...

What are the railroad industry’s reasons for going on strike?

US NEWS

What are the railroad industry’s reasons for going on strike?

President Biden has asked Congress to intervene and prevent a potential railroad strike before the 9 December deadline. For months business leaders and union heads have been in negotiations to improve pay and scheduling procedures for railroad workers.

However those talks stalled and both sides agreed to a cooling-off period, which ends next week. If a deal cannot be found before Friday, 9 December a hugely damaging freight train strike could begin.

“Let me be clear: a rail shutdown would devastate our economy,” Biden said in a statement. “Without freight rail, many US industries would shut down.”

But what are the strikers hoping to achieve from the action? 

Welcome to AS USA!

Good morning campers and welcome to the AS USA inflation live feed.

Congress is expected to force through contract changes for rail workers to prevent a strike in December. We'll be following that as it develops through the day.