Welcome to the Small Business Weekly Rundown. Each week, we bring you stories and trends that impact small business owners and their workforce.
Small Business News Highlights:
- President Biden announces $1.8 trillion paid leave plan for families
- Fed continues to hold interest rates at low levels
- Consumer confidence hits 14-month high
- Rebounding manufacturing sector has more work than workers
- Business owners face hurdles securing seasonal summer workers
- First-time and continuing jobless claims continue to fall
President Biden announces $1.8 trillion paid leave plan for families
“Too many people have been forced to make an impossible choice between the income they need and the families they love because they have no paid leave.”
President Joe Biden has announced another piece of domestic policy this week that aims to support American working families. The details of the American Families Plan will be unveiled the evening of April 28 in the president’s address to Congress, but White House officials indicate that the $1.8 trillion plan includes:
- Paid family leave
- Universal pre-K programs
- Free community college, and
- Paid bereavement leave
Under Biden’s proposal, American workers would receive at least 12 weeks of paid leave to bond with a new child, care for sick relatives, deal with deployment, heal from serious illness, or recover from the death of a loved one. Workers would earn 2/3rds of their pay, while lower wage earners could receive up to 80% of their pay.
Fed continues to hold interest rates at low levels
“Financial conditions remain accommodative, in part reflecting policy measures to support the economy and the flow of credit to U.S. households and businesses.”
The Federal Reserve declined to raise interest rates this week, despite signs that the economy’s recovery is accelerating.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said that the recovery is “uneven and far from complete” and brushed aside concerns of rising inflation to keep short-term interest rates near 0%.
Consumer confidence hits 14-month high
“Consumers are seeing the light at the end of the COVID tunnel.”
A new survey from The Conference Board found that United States consumer confidence hit a 14-month high in April, as increasing rates of vaccination and money from fiscal stimulus programs supported the reopening of businesses and drove up demand.
Rebounding manufacturing sector has more work than workers
“I’ve turned down a million dollars’ worth of work in the last two weeks.”
A shortage of workers, parts, or both has hampered the recovery of many manufacturing companies despite booming demand for goods. Experts expect manufacturing to return to pre-pandemic levels by the third quarter of this year.
Like many other sectors, manufacturers struggle to fill open vacancies with qualified workers, which poses a problem as President Biden unveils policies that focus on increasing factory jobs.
Additionally, many manufacturers are facing shortages of critical parts, such as semiconductors, due to ongoing disruptions to the supply chain caused by the global pandemic.
Business owners face hurdles securing seasonal summer workers
“It’s the ‘Hunger Games’ for these employers, fighting for getting these guest workers into the country while also trying everything they can to recruit domestically.”
While state and local governments are lifting restrictions on business operating capacity, many small business owners in hospitality and retail worry that they still won’t be able to operate at full capacity this summer due to shortages of seasonal workers often recruited from foreign countries.
President Biden let a ban on foreign workers expire earlier this year, removing official barriers to allowing foreign workers in the country. However, many embassies and consulates remain short staffed and lag far behind in their ability to process visa applications.
First-time and continuing jobless claims continue to fall
“This dip in jobless claims looks good in isolation but what really matters is that it confirms that last week’s unexpected plunge was no fluke.”
Last week, first-time jobless claims totaled 547,000, a number well below economists’ expectations. The decrease in new unemployment benefits confirmed the ongoing downward trend in unemployment, despite the fact that there are still 8 million people out of work related to the pandemic.
Continuing claims also fell, totaling 3.6 million and 17.4 million Americans are still receiving unemployment benefits of some sort from the federal government.
The Latest from Workest
Want to take advantage of the new federal small business tax credit for providing employees with paid time off to get vaccinated…but don’t know where to start? Check out Riia O’Donnell’s guide for information on the new policy.
PPP, EIDL, SVOG, RRV. These letters aren’t bad Scrabble draws. They are the different SBA-sponsored COVID-19 relief programs and this week, Kelsey Banerjee does a deep dive on the ins and outs of each program.
Finally, before we say goodbye for the week, here are 3 things you should know:
- After surviving the pandemic, many US workers are saying “YOLO” and trading in jobs for adventure.
- What should you do if an employee claims to be vaccinated but says they lost their card?
For the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic started, more than 50% of Americans think the economy is in good shape.
Check out our People Ops Podcast episode “Be Well, For Yourself and Your Business”