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Relief Checks: Summary News 25 December

Inflation relief: live updates

Inflation relief: live updates

This bill is good for our economy our competitiveness, and our communities – and I will sign it into law as soon as it reaches my desk. This bill will advance cutting-edge research on cancer and other diseases through my ARPA-H initiative. It will put more cops on the beat, invest in community policing, and provide the highest funding level for the Violence Against Women Act in history. It will help us meet our sacred obligation to America’s veterans and deliver on the promise of the PACT Act, my bipartisan legislation to expand health care benefits to veterans. It will provide additional assistance to Ukraine, another demonstration of our bipartisan support for Ukraine after President Zelenskyy’s visit. It will help communities recovering from devastating natural disasters get back on their feet. And, it’ll strengthen worker protections for pregnant women.

Joseph Biden, US President

Union workers take home higher wages compared to their non-union counterparts

This year unionization efforts exploded in the United States and new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that those fights may end up with workers earning higher wages. 

The new report shows that in Septemeber 2022, unionized workers across all sectors examined were making more money than their non-union counterparts. For private industry union workers, their average compensation and benefits totaled $53.20 a hour, while the rate for those not represented by a union was $38.37. 

What are some of the best after Christmas sales? Walmart, Target, Best Buy...


What are some of the best after Christmas sales? Walmart, Target, Best Buy...

To quote the lyrics of the late Andy Williams, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” For some, however, it’s absolutely the opposite with mass amounts of shoppers going back and forth, endless queues and deals that aren’t as good as they seem when advertised. Don’t worry, we kept you in mind this year and that’s why we’re giving you our guide to the best deals you can find this Christmas.

Downward trend on gas price halted before breaching $3 per gallon level

The price of gasoline had been making a progressive push to drop below $3 per gallon on average in the US. However, the downward trend froze just as much of the nation did. 

According to AAA the national average price per gallon on Christmas Day is $3.10 per gallon, with the cheapest to be found in Texas, $2.65, and the most expensive in Hawaii, $5.04.

Can the Veterans Affairs take away 100% permanent and total disability?

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Can the Veterans Affairs take away 100% permanent and total disability?

VA provides benefits for disability ratings that have been in force for a specified amount of time. Furthermore, your VA disability rating may become permanent in select instances. The VA may terminate or modify a veteran’s disability rating based on particular findings unless these regulatory safeguards kick in or your ratings become permanent.

Therefore, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will need you to undergo an assessment to establish if your service-connected condition still requires a specific disability rating.

VA may lower a veteran’s disability rating if it determines that their health has improved.

Before you head out for Boxing Day shopping some advice from the FTC

It might sound like a great deal, easy credit with little to no interest so that you don't have to use a credit or debit card to make your purchase this holiday season. However, the Federal Trade Commission warns that you should lean more about thes lines of credit that might have hidden costs, lack consumer protections or harm your credit score if you can't pay them back in time.

Which US states will raise the minimum wage in 2023?


Which US states will raise the minimum wage in 2023?

Come January, workers in two dozen states that get paid the minimum wage will see a raise. Three others and the District of Columbia will follow suit later in 2023.

Three states will raise their minimum wage to $15 or more joining California and the District of Columbia as well as a handful of municipalities that have already mandated the sought for level. That amount is more than twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour which has been in place since the summer of 2009.

Unemployment claims increase as Christmas approaches

With layoffs picking up in the tech sector and rippling across other industries, initial unemployment claims increased by 2,000 for the week ending on 17 December. 

The states that saw the largest bump in claims for the previous week were Connecticut (+471), District of Columbia (+237), Nevada (+157), Kentucky (+153), and Illinois (+138). On the flip side, New York (-7,134), California (-4,830), Georgia (-4,273), Texas (-3,954), and Pennsylvania (-2,669), were the states with the largest drop in claims over the same period. 

US stock markets go into holiday weekend higher

All three major indexes managed to close up on Friday ahead of the Christmas holiday weekend. However, only the Dow Jones finished the week in the black. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq booked week-on-week losses for a third straight.

Although consumer spending held up through the holiday shopping spree there are signs that it is cooling as inflation does too. Go news, but expectations that the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates and keep them high for longer. 

Housing market beginning to warm as prices and mortgage rates cool

The red-hot housing market over the past couple years pushed up prices creating an affordability problem for would-be buyers. Coupled with rising mortgage rates as the Federal Reserve jacked borrowing costs drove many out of the market. However, the lower demand has reversed the upward trend in prices on average nationally.

The average cost of a home in the US has dropped by roughly 10% since the peak of $391,000 in June. Additionally, 30-year fixed mortgage rates have fallen for six straight weeks and is now 6.27%, cutting almost $300 from the typical homebuyers’ monthly housing payment.

The combination has drawn some buyers back into the market who are able to take their time to negotiate a home purchase. While mortgage-purchase applications and the Homebuyer Demand Index produced by Redfin are both up, sales still haven’t returned. The uptick is expected to begin after the holidays in mid-January and new listings aren’t expected to recover until spring.

Will 2023 be a good time to buy a house according to the experts?


Will 2023 be a good time to buy a house according to the experts?

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.

$1.7tr US spending bill makes changes to retirement savings. Here's a look...

The $1.7 trillion spending bill passed by Congress included changes to make it easier for Americans to save for retirement. Among the changes was legislation that will make it simpler for small employers to set up 401(k) plans and expands tax incentives. Automatic enrollment would begin from 2025 and workers would contribute up to ten percent of their earnings.

Workers earning less than $71,000 per a year would receive a 50 percent top up to $2,000 from the federal government.

Measures will be introduced to help Americans who need money taken out from the savings pot at short notice and also those with no savings. Provided one withdrawal a year of $1,000 was repaid there would be no penalty charges. In terms of emergency savings employers will be able to offer low-paid employees a savings account thast uses 3% of their salary, capped at $2,500.

What are the big changes coming to 401k in 2023?


What are the big changes coming to 401k in 2023?

The most well known change to the 401k retirement plan at this stage is the increase of the contribtution limits.

The IRS will increase the contribution limit by $2,000 to $22,500 for 2023. Workers who are saving for retirement with 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the Thrift Savings Plan can contribute up to $22,500 to those plans in 2023.

However, it isn’t just the contributions limits that are increasing. Plans inside the latest yearly spending bill for 2023 set to make a few key changes to the retirement plan that look set to make it easier for workers to save money for their future life.

What is a 401K retirement plan, how does it work and how to open one?


What is a 401K retirement plan, how does it work and how to open one?

Americans have several options they can take advantage of when saving for retirement. One such is 401(k) plan through their employer which depending on the type could come with upfront tax benefits or tax-free distributions when you retire.

The bipartisan omnibus bill has passed – great news for our economy, capping off a year of historic bipartisan progress for the American people. This bill is proof that Republicans and Democrats can come together to deliver for families. I'm ready to sign it into law.

Joe Biden, POTUS

Government shutdown averted

Congress has passed a bill to fund the government through 30 September, averting a government shutdown. 

The major spending bill is over 4,000 pages long and includes financial funding for dozens of government programs, as well as a renewed aid package for Ukraine. 

While the bill does not include any funding for direct relief for the country's residents to combat inflation, it does change the Electoral Count Act. These alterations will make overturning federal election results more difficult by making the role of the Vice President in the certification process ceremonial. 

Hello, Merry Christmas, and welcome to the AS USA blog on financial news and measures being taken to alleviate the sting of inflation.

Congress averted a government shutdown passing a new spending bill that will fund the US government through September 2023. The $1.7tr package, which will head to President Biden's desk next week, will provide more funding to programs for childcare, healthcare and emergency disaster assistance.

Catch up with the latest updates on this and more to deal with inflation and what it means for you.


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