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Relief checks news summary | 19 January 2023

With inflation trending down, fewer states are directing aid to residents. Follow along for live updates on the economy from Washington to Wall Street.

Inflation Relief: Latest Updates

Inflation continues to fall but Fed may raise rates again

The Federal Reserve is seeking to tread to narrow line between inflation and recession. The central bank has instituted a number of interest rate hikes in the past 12 months as it tries to cool the US economy and ease price rises. However, interest rates are a pretty blunt tool and there is a risk that their efforts may curb growth to such an extent that the country slips into recession. 

Inflation has now fallen for six consecutive months, and some are wondering whether the Fed will consider lowering interest rates in the near future.

"Refunds may be smaller in 2023. Taxpayers will not receive an additional stimulus payment with a 2023 tax refund because there were no Economic Impact Payments for 2022. In addition, taxpayers who don’t itemize and take the standard deduction, won’t be able to deduct their charitable contributions."

IRS , Press release
Can I get a loan using my tax refund in 2023?


Can I get a loan using my tax refund in 2023?

Many of the major tax preparation providers, like Jackson Hewitt, H&R Block and TurboTax, offer tax refund loans with 0% interest to customers.

The exact terms vary between different providers but they essentially lend you the value of your refund and are then repaid once the actual refund arrives. The upper limit for the service can be as much as $4,000 and may be dispersed within 24 hours. 

However you will find yourself losing out on money in the long term if you choose to pay for their services...

Minimum Wage in the USA: in which state is it highest and amounts


Minimum Wage in the USA: in which state is it highest and amounts

Americans have faced relentless high inflation for much of the last 12 months as the overheating economy has pushes up prices. Typically it is low-income households who suffer the most during periods of high inflation because they spend the greatest proportion of their income on essential spending. 

During 2022 there were significant increases to the cost of groceries, motor fuel and utilities; things that are basic essentials. In response, 23 states introduced rises to their minimum wages at the start of 2023, with some reaching $15 per hour for the very first time. 

Here's what you need to know...

US hits the debt ceiling; what now?

The United States has officially reached its statutory debt limit and stands at increased risk of defaulting on its debt obligations, a potential catastrophe for the national economy. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has advised Congress that the extraordinary measures at her disposal will likely only last until early June, meaning that the country has just a matter of months to find a solution.
How much do you get back on taxes for a mortgage?


How much do you get back on taxes for a mortgage?

One of the most popular tax deductions in the United States is the mortgage interest deduction (HMID). It is highly regarded among real estate agents, homeowners, would-be homeowners, and even accountants.

Unfortunately, the myth is frequently more appealing than the fact.

Tax season 2023: what has changed from the previous year?


Tax season 2023: what has changed from the previous year?

While there are no sweeping changes to the tax system this year, it is worth keeping abreast of what changes have been put into place so that there are no shocks for you when you get your tax return.

Is it true that living in Florida is too expensive?

The following are the minimum annual incomes required to purchase an affordable house in Florida’s major metropolitan areas:

Miami: Median home price: $530,000 Salary needed: $103,744

Orlando: Median home price: $399,900 Salary needed: $79,573

Tampa: Median home price: $379,900 Salary needed: $75,416

Jacksonville: Median home price: $365,900 Salary needed: $73,465
How much does a house cost in Miami and what salary do you need to buy it?


How much does a house cost in Miami and what salary do you need to buy it?

Housing in Florida had a massive boom in demand during the pandemic, with Tampa seeing some of the highest price increases in the nation. Miami and Orlando’s home markets also saw a big increase in housing costs. However, increasing mortgage rates are beginning to dampen the sectors’ enthusiasm.

What is the debt ceiling and how can it affect your day-to-day?

Financial News

What is the debt ceiling and how can it affect your day-to-day?

The US has officially reached its debt limit. Without Congressional action, the country risks defaulting on its loan payments as soon as June. 

To extend the period under which Congress can act, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is pausing payments to federal pension plans. Once the debt ceiling has been increased or suspended, these skipped payments will be made. 

Read our full coverage for information on how or if the political standoff over the debt ceiling will impact you.  

Union membership fell in 2022

Although unionization efforts were a major part of the US' news digest in 2022, the rate of workers who form part of a union dropped from 10.3 to 10.1. 

This is the lowest rate of union membership since the BLS began reporting on this indicator. However, when looking at unionization rates between public and private sector workers, there are stark differences. A third of all public sector workers were unionized in 2022, while only six percent of private sector workers could say the same.  

The data continues to show that workers who form part of a union tend to make more than those who don't. Average weekly earnings for organized workers stood at $1,216 and $1,029 for those who did not form part of a union last year.
How do I check my credit score myself?

Financial News

How do I check my credit score myself?

Having a higher credit score provides many benefits. For one, a lower interest rate may be offered, and more generally, a borrower may be able to access a greater number of loans.

In the United States, around eighty-three percent of adults have at least one credit card, and the average credit score in the US is 716 as of April 2022. This was the highest score recorded in history and comes after pandemic relief helped many households pay down their debts, which could have contributed to a higher average.

Read our full coverage for guidance on how to check your credit score. 

Why are eggs so expensive in California? When will the prices go down?


Why are eggs so expensive in California? When will the prices go down?

California supermarkets’ empty shelves aren’t only due to the deadly avian flu epidemic. Inflation, legacy supply chain issues, holiday demand, and a longer lead time to restart egg-laying flocks have raised prices and decreased availability.

Layer chickens take longer to mature and produce eggs again than younger broilers when they’re processed and sold. “There are still more farms attempting to catch up with the quantities of eggs they want to produce,” said California Poultry Federation president Bill Mattos.

On Jan. 13, USDA’s weekly Egg Market Overview report showed that California’s average wholesale egg price was above $7. 

Read our full coverage on the massive price increase and when experts expect them to fall. 

PPP loans forgiven but not student debt

An NPR analysis of data released on 8 January by the Small Business Administration found that 92% of the PPP loans issued have been granted full or partial forgiveness, including many linked to Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Greene who are refusing the same for students.

The plan to forgive $10,000 of student loans has stalled after a lawsuit was filed by students who were covered by private loans and would not be forgiven any money. In a twist of fate, the two plaintiffs had tens of thousands of dollars forgiven in PPP loans.

How will inflation look at the end of the year?

The Federal Reserve has this big question to answer this year. They have been trying to knock inflation down by manipulating interest rates. The jury is still out whether this has been effective.

According to Forbes, traders on Wall Street are prepared for another rate increase in February that could bring the FFR range up to 4.5 and 4.75 percent if the Fed opts for a .25 percent bump like they did in December. Additionally, the board projects unemployment increasing by 1.1 percent to around 4.6 percent in 2023.

Having a few million more unemployed might bring down inflation at the cost of people's livelihoods, but that seems to be a price the Fed is willing to pay.

Will be tax refund be smaller this year?

With tax season 2023 now just days away, the IRS has warned that your tax refund could be a little smaller this year. In recent years there have been numerous pandemic-era financial support programs, many of which were administrated by the IRS, which bumped up filers' refunds. But now the likes of stimulus checks and the expanded Child Tax Credit have finished, and we're largely back to pre-covid conditions.

Why are GOP members holding out on debt ceiling increase?

Congressional Republicans are unified in their opposition to calls from the Treasury to increase the debt ceiling to avoid a catastrophic default. Increases to the nation debt limit are usually agreed upon fairly swiftly, but GOP members of Congress have voiced their opposition to a number of spending initiatives from President Biden that they argue have pushed up the national debt to unsustainable levels. 

However the Democrats did work with Republicans during the Trump administration to raise the debt ceiling on three occassions. These were largely the results of former President Trump's tax cuts.

Welcome to AS USA's live blog on inflation relief and financial news. 

The standoff over the debt ceiling continues in Washington. Leaders have until June to figure out a deal to prevent a US default. 

In December, unemployment and inflation fell, an indication that prices are stabilizing and the labor market remains strong on the side of workers. 

The Federal Reserve is expected to announce further rate increases in early February, which could have further impacts on both inflation and the labor market. 

Follow along for updates, and for a deep dive into the BLS's release on unionization in the US in 2022.

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