Inflation Relief Checks: summary news 9 December
Inflation relief checks live: latest news
Headlines: Friday, 9 December 2022
- Wall Street breaks 5-day losing streak
- 9 million students loan borrowers sent erroneous debt forgiveness "approved" email
- Price of gasoline drops below last year's level now averaging $3.315 nationally
- California could become the first state to enact a windfall profits taxon gas companies
- Supplemental Security Income recipients will be thefirst to see the COLA applied to their checks
- Medicare Open Enrollment ended, 7 December: What you need to know about Part B.
- California continues distributing Middle-Class Tax Refund, with payments already benefiting 19 million residents
- Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell suggests that elevated interest rates will remain
- Experts predicting a significant market adjustment in house prices
- Some groups will receive two Social Security checks this month
As you may have heard, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema hasn’t been seeing eye-to-eye with her fellow party members as of late. She received blowback for not supporting the Democrats’ push to pass President Biden’s social spending package that would have secured expansion of the Child Tax Credit and provided families with other financial support measures for elderly care and education.
In an interview with Jake Tapper at her office on Thursday she told him that she had registered as an political independent.
“I know some people might be a little bit surprised by this, but actually, I think it makes a lot of sense,” said Sinema. “I’ve never fit neatly into any party box. I’ve never really tried. I don’t want to.”
Greg Heilman reports on how this could affect the Senate.
Job security adds to inflation concerns
As Mathew Boyle reports, the pay negotiation season is looking increasingly fraught this year as workers fret about 8% inflation — and their job security.
While the labor market remains tight, evidenced by last month’s better-than-expected increases in both jobs and wages, employers are gaining back some leverage just in time for the tough conversations between bosses and employees to begin.
This week Goldman Sachs Inc. said smaller bonuses and job cuts are coming while the running tally of tech layoffs hit 52,771 in November, the highest monthly total for the sector since Challenger, Gray & Christmas began keeping detailed industry data in 2000.
November nonfarm employment surpasses levels prior to pandemic
While not all industries have fully recovered from the economic crisis wrought by the covid-19 pandemic, the economy as a whole has surpassed the level of employment in February 2020. Arts, entertainment, and recreation as well as accommodation and food services, which were two of the hardest hit industries during the recession, have yet to return to prepandemic levels. Jobs in transportation and warehousing have exceeded their levels prior to the economic crisis of 2020 reaching 112% of their levels prior.
Inflation report on wholesale price showed higher than expected increase
While inflation is cooling, it has been persistent throughout the past year. The latest report on wholesale prices, what sellers get for their products, surpassed forecasts. While the pace was the slowest for a 12-month period since May 2021 at 7.4% from a year ago, the increase of 0.3% for the month was a tenth of a percent higher than forecast.
Lower enery costs were offset by a surge in food prices, rising 38% but this is thought to be an anomaly and not a trend. Economist and markets will now turn their attention to the Consumer Price Index due out next week on Tuesday when the Federal Reserve will begin a two-day meeting to decide on the course of future interest rate hikes.
It is expect that policymakers could announce a 0.5% rise in rates, which would be part of a much anticipated pivot in the central bank's strategy to bring rising prices under control. The chair Jerome Powell has cautioned that interest rates will have to stay elevated until inflation is brought to heel.
Social Security Administration under strain as staff and budget shrink but workload soars
The Social Security Administration issues monthly payments to millions of Americans for disability, retirement and survivor benefits as well as financial support for certain low-income recipients. Since 2010 the number of beneficiaries has jumped by over a fifth while Congress has cut the agency's budget by roughly 17% putting strain on its ability to provide necessary customer service.
While the agency has expanded its online prescence offering more services through "my Social Security" in order to claim certain benefits it may be necessary to speak with a person to avoid mistakes. Staff numbers have fallen though by 13%, the pandemic saw staffing at the field offices drop by 7%, which is resulting in longer wait times.
The average wait time to speak with a customer service representative, if the call doesn't get disconneted, can typically be 30 minutes. Those who apply for disability benefits are seeing a wait of over six months for an initial decision.
Mortgage rates continue to go lower
Mortgage rates have decreased for four straight weeks dropping three quarters of a point from their recent peak. The trend has been driven by worries that the US economy will enter a period of lackluster growth.
According to Freddie Mac the current rate US weekly average as of 8 December is 6.33% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Despite the largest decrease since 2008 there hasn't been a major rise in demand among homebuyers.
Two main factors have put the brakes on the US housing market over the past few months. The Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes to fight inflation have helped to drive up mortgage interest rates on top of home prices increasing at a breakneck speed over the previous two years.
This could create a situation in 2023 where homebuyers will be better positioned when negotiating the purchase price when hunting for a home. Here’s a look at what the experts are saying to expect in the coming year.
Starting in 2023, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will send more money in refunds to certain taxpayers: Who will they be? Here the details.
Price of gasoline dropping faster than predicted
The average price of gasoline nationally could break the $3 per gallon mark before Christmas if it keeps the current pace. According to Gas Buddy data the current price is just under $3.29 per gallon, while AAA has the national average at less than $3.32. The price of gasoline has now dropped below the level it was at a year ago.
The California Franchise Tax Board continues to send Middle Class Tax Refund payments to residents across the state. So far, over $6.7 billion has gone to roughly 22.8 million taxpayers and their dependents in the Golden State.
The direct payments are being sent in one of two ways,direct deposit or debit card. First to be issued were the direct deposit payments, nearly 7 million were sent as of 2 December according to the tax agency. The debit cards are being mailed according to a schedule laid out by the CFTB with almost 5.5 million sent to date.
Debt relief "approved" email mistakenly sent to millions of student loan borrowers
There has been much confusion surrounding President Biden's student debt forgiveness program announced in August. Shortly after the online portal for borrowers to apply went live, a federal judge put a pause on the Department of Education processing any new applications.
Then later another judge determined the debt relief plan illegal preventing any debt forgiveness that has been approved from being discharged. The Supreme Court will hear arguements on an expedited manner in February.
To add to the kerfuffle, a third party contractor with the Department of Education erroneously sent 9 million borrowers an email with the subject "Your Student Loan Debt Relief Plan Has Been Approved." However, the content was accurate informing that the recipient's debt forgiveness eligiblity was pending the ongoing legal battles.
The Supreme Court announced that it will hear arguments on the legality of President Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program on an expedited basis. However, the high court left in place the hold on the Department of Education discharging any student loan debt put in place by a lower court.
In October, the average monthly benefit for Social Security recipients was $1,676.53. Next year, when the Social Security Administration applies the 2023 Cost-of-living adjustment, that amount could grow by around $146 to $1,822 a month.
This increase is short of the $200 some retirees had hoped to see their benefits rise by, as many seniors on a fixed income struggle to keep up with inflation.
Many seniors are breathing a sigh of relief after the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMM) announced that the premium for Medicare Part B would be lowered from $170.10 paid by beneficiaries in 2022 to $164.90 in 2023.
Open enrollment for Medicare ended Wednesday, 7 December, meaning the window has closed to decide on coverage for 2023.
Maite Knorr-Evans leads you through the details.