USA finance and payments live updates: news summary 6 May
US Financial News: Live Updates
Headlines: 6 May 2022
- April jobs report shows more strong gains with 428,000 new jobs added
- President Biden: "There’s no question that inflation and high prices are a challenge"
- Federal Reserve plans to raise interest rates by 0.5 points to cool the red-hot US economy amid inflationary concerns
- Dollar nears 20-year highs amid global markets rout
- Initial unemployment claims hit 200,000 last week, an increase of more than 19,000
- Moves by the federal government to lower gas prices have helped, while some states consider 'gas stimulus checks'
- Federal Reserve Chairmen Jerome Powell thinks the country has "a good chance to restore price stability without a recession"
- Crude oil prices are on the rise again as economic sanctions against Russian place a strain on the global energy supply
- President Biden still plans to make announcement on expanding student debt cancellation to more borrowers in the coming weeks
Helpful Links & Information:
- Social Security: 2022 Average Monthly Payment
- Programs available to those on Social Security disability
- Accessing EBT Cards: Guidance for New York and California
Jobs report shows significant growth over April
On Friday the Department of Labor released the April jobs report, outlining the latest stage of the United States' post-covid recovery. The headline figure was the 428,000 new jobs that were added in April as businesses continue the move towards pre-pandemic conditions. The flurry of new job opportunities could also be driven in part by the time of year with holiday jobs in leisure and travel industries getting ready for the summer months.
Stimulus checks and how the US government has helped Americans
The federal government has provided a number of different financial relief programs over the course of the pandemic to assist Americans struggling with the consequences of covid-19. As of March 2022, more than $1.5 trillion had been sent out to people across America through Economic Impact Payments (better known as stimulus checks), tax refunds, and advance Child Tax Credit payments.
The stimulus checks were the most far-reaching of the programs, and have made a huge difference to the household finances of recipients...
What is in the April Jobs Report?
Earlier today the Labor Department released the monthly Jobs Report for April, giving a snapshot at the state of the economic recovery. The headline news (more than 420,000 new jobs added) was positive for President Biden but there are some reasons for concern in the figures. The rate of inflation continues to be an issue, forcing companies to pay higher wages to ensure that their employees do not lose out in real terms. However this effort sees prices raised for consumers, and the cycle of inflation continues.
Americans suffer as inflation outpaces wage increases
The rapid pace of the United States' economic recovery from the pandemic has exceded the predictions of some experts, with significant growth in economic activity over the past 12 months. On the surface this is good news but the rapid expansion has fuelled sky-high inflation rates, which are outpacing the rate at which wages are going up.
This means that in real terms many workers will actually be getting paid less, hurting consumers' buying power.
$2,000 Child Tax Credit 2022: who is eligible for payment?
The Child Tax Credit expansion introduced in summer 2021 was one of the most important financial relief programs offered to struggling families during the pandemic. One study found that the six months of direct payments had cut childhood poverty by more than 40% amongst recipients, but Congress was unable to agree to an extension when the payments came to an end in December.
The credit looks set to revert to its original form for 2022, but what does this actually mean and who would be eligible for the support?
“We’re not giving up on [the expanded Child Tax Credit]”
“I have not done anything that got the response at home and around the country that that did."
Can I collect Social Security and disability at the same time?
Around 17 million Americans received payments from either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at the end of 2021.
Eligibility requirements for SSI benefits are fairly strict as the programme is designed to support specific groups of low-income Americans. Recipients of SSI payments must be aged 65 or older, blind or disabled. The eligibility for SSDI payments are more difficult as claimants must have a disability, from this list, that prevents them from working.
Social Security enrollment period is extended due to delays
The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides a variety of vital financial relief programs that serve close to 70 million Americans every month. However throughout the pandemic the SSA were forced to work remotely, closing their in-person offices and requiring most their assistance work to be offered over the phone. Of course this led to a backlog and many people were unable to get the attention that they required. If this happened to you, you have until the end of 2022 to enroll or unenroll from Medicare.
"Today, we learned that the economy created 428,000 jobs in April – bringing the total number of jobs created since I took office to 8.3 million: record setting job creation in my first 15 months in office. Our plans and policies have produced the strongest job creation economy in modern times."
"There’s no question that inflation and high prices are a challenge for families across the country, and fighting inflation is a top priority for me. The continued strength of our job market and the savings that families have built up over the last year means that our economy faces the challenges of COVID-19, Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and global inflation from a position of strength."
What are the negatives of student loan forgiveness?
President Biden is thought to be considering writing off a proportion of student loan debts for borrowers, but would the huge outlay be worth it?
Taxpayer Advocate Service provides tax advice to Americans
Americans can get advice on tax matters by visiting the website of the Taxpayer Advocate Service, which describes itself as “an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service” whose job is “to strive to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly and knows and understands their rights”.
For example, those waiting for their tax refund will find tips on how to track its status and what they can do if it is delayed.
Taxpayers who missed filing deadline may be able to avoid penalties
The IRS is reminding taxpayers who missed the deadline to file their 2021 federal tax return - and did not get an extension - that they may be able to avoid having to pay a fine. The agency's First Time Penalty Abatement offers relief to taxpayers who fulfil certain criteria, which are detailed on the official IRS website.
See also: What happens if I file my taxes late?
How BLS calculates unemployment rate in US
If you're wondering how the Bureau of Labor Statistics comes up with the monthly unemployment rate in the United States, take a look at this video explainer put together by the agency:
What conditions are considered a disability for Social Security?
The Social Security Administration has a list of conditions on their website to determine the criteria for which people are eligible for payments.
April jobs report: 428,000 jobs added, unemployment rate unchanged
The US' Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the country's latest monthly jobs report, which shows that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 428,000 in April. Unemployment in the US remained unchanged at 3.6%.
How much were the first, second and third stimulus checks and when were they sent out?
There have been three federal stimulus checks in the US since the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic in early 2020. In all, eligible Americans have been able to claim $3,200 plus additional credits for qualifying dependents.
AS USA looks back over each stimulus check: who much was it for? Who qualified?
US rate outlook hits stocks, propels dollar to 20-year highs
Reuters - US stock futures were indicating a lower open on Friday following a slide in the previous session on US rate hike expectations, though the rate outlook briefly drove the dollar to its highest in 20 years.
Asian stocks fell on worries about the hit to growth from China's zero-COVID policy.
The US currency was finding favour after the Federal Reserve raised rates by 50 basis points this week. The market is pricing in a more than 90% chance of a 75 bps hike in June, according to Refinitiv data.
US payrolls data due later on Friday will help traders gauge the strength of the US economy. Economists polled by Reuters predicted the data would show the United States created 391,000 new jobs in April, versus 431,000 a month earlier.
"The trend is still for a strong and very tight labour market, which is feeding into wage increases and is an issue for inflation longer term," said Gergely Majoros, a member of the investment committee at asset manager Carmignac. This made it hard for the Fed to keep prices stable, he added.
What is the average monthly Social Security disability benefit?
Just over 12 percent of 70 million beneficiaries of Social Security Administration (SSA) receive payments due to a disability. This equates to over 8 million Americans needing support.
While Supplemental Security Income is set by the federal government with variations at the state level, Social Security disability payments (SSDI) vary for each individual and are calculated in a similar fashion to retirement benefits. The SSA looks at your earnings during the years from the time you turn 22 up to the year before you become disabled. In order to get disability benefits, you must meet the strict definition that is established by law.
Democrats point out that job growth under Biden has been strong
The Democrats have pointed out that job growth under Biden has been strong, a point the president is likely to underline in his remarks in Ohio.
The White House said he would talk about "building on the 473,000 manufacturing jobs created since he took office - more jobs on average per month than under any other president in the last 50 years."
Biden in recent days has made more overt political remarks as he girds for the next five months of campaigning for the mid-terms. On Wednesday he sharply criticized Trump's devoted followers, referring to them by the MAGA acronym for Trump's Make America Great Again slogan.
"This MAGA crowd is really the most extreme political organization that's existed in recent American history," Biden said at the White House in promoting cuts to deficit spending that he has achieved.
Economic measures from US & EU have hobbled Russia's economy
Economic measures from Washington and European allies have hobbled Russia's $1.8 trillion economy while billions of dollars worth of military aid has helped Ukraine frustrate the invasion.
In an apparent crack in Western unity, however, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday his country could not support the European Union's proposed new sanctions package, which includes an oil embargo, in its present form.
On the state budget, Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said: "We are now practically not balancing the budget for the reason that our income at the moment, unfortunately, covers only 54% of our expenses excluding military spending."
Ukraine finance minister calls for total embargo on Russian oil and gas
Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko called on Friday for a complete international embargo on Russian oil and gas over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
Marchenko told an online briefing that Ukraine was struggling to balance its budget after 10 weeks of war and said that, as finance minister, he could not be satisfied with the speed at which financial assistance was arriving from abroad.
Referring to what he called the "insufficiency of the sanctions that have been introduced", he said the high price of oil and natural gas meant Moscow had a budget surplus and "they feel quite comfortable".
"The main issue is a complete embargo on the purchase of gas and oil from the Russian Federation. This is something that needs to be worked on and that the Ukrainian authorities are actively working on," he said. "This will make it possible to remove the possibility of financing the war."
US House to set minimum annual pay for staff at $45,000, Pelosi says
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will set a minimum annual pay for its staff at $45,000, months after a non-profit report found that over 12% of congressional staffers did not have a living wage.
"I am pleased to announce that ..... the House will for the first time ever set the minimum annual pay for staff at $45,000," Pelosi said in a letter to lawmakers dated Friday.
The step would go into effect from September, she added. A report from a non-profit earlier this year found that one in eight congressional staffers in Washington, DC, are not paid a living wage.
The report had compared staff salaries in Congress to the living wage in Washington, D.C., which is $42,610 for an adult without children, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In her letter on Friday, Pelosi also acknowledged that young staffers "often earn the lowest salaries."
Oil prices climbed for a third straight session
Oil prices climbed for a third straight session, shrugging off concerns about global economic growth as impending European Union sanctions on Russian oil raised the prospect of tighter supply.
Brent futures jumped 2.16% to $113.25 a barrel. U.S. crude climbed 2% to $110.41 a barrel.
Biden to call on Congress to pass the Bipartisan Innovation Act
The White House said Biden would also use the visit to call on Congress to pass the Bipartisan Innovation Act, which aims to boost manufacturing in the United States, particularly the production of semiconductor chips.
Biden is facing headwinds as he tries to help his fellow Democrats stave off a Republican takeover of the U.S. Congress in the November midterm elections.
Inflation is at a 40-year high and gasoline prices are soaring, weighing down Biden's job approval ratings, and Republicans frequently attack Biden's handling of the economy.
Former President Donald Trump took Ohio in 2016 and 2020 in part because of his appeal to Rust Belt voters tired of seeing jobs disappear.
In visit to Ohio, Biden will focus on job growth
President Joe Biden on Friday will visit Ohio, where the midterm elections could play a crucial role in determining control of Congress, to promote manufacturing job growth and try to change a Republican narrative that the economy is in turmoil under his watch.
In his fifth trip to the state since taking office in January 2021, Biden will visit United Performance Metals, a metal manufacturer near Cincinnati, to announce an initiative to encourage large companies to adopt an emerging technology known as additive manufacturing, a senior administration official said.
Is U.S. inflation peaking after the fastest surge in over 40 years? March CPI came in at 8.5% on an annualised basis, as gasoline costs hit record highs. On a monthly basis, CPI jumped 1.2%, the biggest gain since September 2005.
Early forecasts are for a 0.2% monthly rise. The March inflation surge probably sealed the Fed's 50 basis-point rate rise on May 4. The upcoming inflation print could sway expectations for how monetary policy will be adjusted going forward.
IRS encourages online use
The Internal Revenue Service is experience a heavy volume of telephone queries and as a result encourages users to initially seek out online assistance to the query in question.
International Monetary Fund bleak outlook
The International Monetary Fund is predicting the euro zone will grow by just 2.8% this year compared to 5.3 % in 2021, with growth further expected to moderate to 2.3% in 2023.
The EU on Wednesday proposed its toughest sanctions yet against Russia, including a phased oil embargo that may spell fresh troubles both for borrowers and banks.
The bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said this week that EU countries are "almost there" in agreeing a proposed new package of sanctions against Russia.
Consultancy EY this week forecast 3.4% of European loans would go unpaid this year, rising again in 2023. That is far higher than the 2.4% recorded last year, albeit below the levels of default seen in the aftermath of the eurozone debt crisis.
EY also predicted that lending growth would slow in general. Restructuring firm Begbies Traynor also forecasts bleak times ahead, after reporting a 19% year-on-year increase in British firms in critical financial distress in the first quarter, as COVID relief measures tail off and costs spiral.
Ken Orchard, a fund manager at T. Rowe Price said that while rising rates would ordinarily provide an opportunity to lend, now was "not a good time to add credit" against a backdrop of conflict in Ukraine and a poor outlook for Chinese growth.
World's biggest economy is more worried about inflation than stalling growth
The Federal Reserve's historic 50 basis point (bp) rate hike on Wednesday signalled that the world's biggest economy is more worried about inflation than stalling growth.
And in Europe, borrowing costs are moving in a similar direction. The European Central Bank could raise interest rates as soon as July, sources told Reuters, while the Bank of England hiked rates by 25 bps to 1% on Thursday and warned that Britain risked a double-whammy of recession and inflation above 10%.
Rising rates may help some lenders cash in on hedges taken to offset bond market falls but they are also forcing banks to tighten their affordability checks, with many customers set to struggle with repayments on loans, credit cards and mortgages.
Last month, JP Morgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon warned of the economic fallout from war and soaring inflation, after first-quarter profits at the largest U.S. bank slumped.
JPMorgan is seen as a bellwether for the U.S. economy and its results bode ill for banks worldwide.
Banks face reversal of fortune from war and runaway inflation
Global banks are taking steps to weather the wider impact of war and runaway inflation as the stream of central bank money that kept them afloat for more than a decade is switched off.
But if policymakers are hoping banks will help avert recession by turning on their own lending taps, they could be disappointed, bankers, analysts and investors told Reuters.
Banks are having to quickly get to grips with a sharp rise in the risk of doing business as corporate and retail borrowers juggle higher loan costs with soaring costs.
Meanwhile, Russia's invasion of Ukraine has pushed Europe to the brink of recession and triggered losses for banks including France's Societe Generale and Austria's Raiffeisen.
Average workweek expected to have risen
The average workweek is expected to have risen to 34.7 hours from 34.6 hours in March. The steady flow of workers back into the labor force also likely continued last month. A total of 722,000 people entered the labor force in February and March.
With annual inflation increasing at its fastest pace in more than 40 years, the rising cost of living is pulling some people who had retired back into the workforce.
US unemployment rate expected to fall to 3.5% in April
The U.S. unemployment rate likely dropped to its pre-pandemic low of 3.5% in April, while job growth moderated to a still brisk pace amid widespread worker shortages, underscoring the challenge the Federal Reserve faces to curb high inflation.
The Labor Department's closely watched employment report on Friday is also expected to show wages rose solidly last month and highlight the economy's strong fundamentals despite a drop in gross domestic product in the first quarter.
"Consumers have money to burn and businesses are trying to hire people, but labor shortages are, if anything, getting worse," said Sung Won Sohn, a finance and economics professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. "I think we are seeing the beginning of a wage price spiral, and it is going to be a tough nut to crack, even for the central bank."
Nonfarm payrolls likely increased by 391,000 jobs last month after rising 431,000 in March, according to a Reuters survey of economists. That would mark a slowdown from the first-quarter average gain of 562,000 jobs per month and snap an 11-month streak of payroll gains in excess of 400,000. Estimates ranged from as low as 188,000 jobs added to as high as 517,000.
Dollar near 20-year highs amid global markets rout
The dollar index hovered near 20-year highs against major peers on Friday, as market sell-offs in the face of global recession fears propped up the safe haven currency.
European stocks opened lower and were heading for their worst week in two months, following a rout on Wall Street. The U.S. currency has stood tall on expectations the Federal Reserve will tighten monetary policy faster than peers to stem runaway inflation.
A closely-watched U.S. jobs report due later on Friday could strengthen the case for aggressive tightening, analysts said.
Economists predict a solid 391,000 U.S. jobs were added last month, according to a Reuters poll.
Hello and welcome to our live feed for Friday 6 May with all the latest leading finance news from the US and across the world.