Unemployment claims jumped to 419,000 last week, a sudden increase reflecting an unsettled labor market

Unemployment claims jumped last week, as the delta variant of the coronavirus sparked rising caseloads around the country and renewed fears about the potential for more restrictions and business closures.

The number of new claims grew to 419,000 from 368,000, the third time in six weeks that they had ticked up, according to data from the Department of Labor.

Economists said the uptick was concerning but cautioned that it was too early to tell whether it was a one week aberration or telegraphed a more concerning turn for the labor market.

“The unexpected bump in claims could be noise in the system, but it’s also not hard to see how the rise of the covid-19 delta variant could add thousands of layoffs to numbers that already are double what they were pre-Covid,” said Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union.

Overall, unemployment numbers have been falling gradually from the peaks at other stages of the pandemic, but they are still well above pre-pandemic averages.

The jobless numbers have provided a jarring catalogue about the economic devastation wrought by the pandemic — spiking to records as the pandemic unfolded in March 2020, and remaining at historic high levels throughout most of 2020.

The coronavirus surge last fall helped precipitate a rise in claims that saw the labor market, as seen in the monthly jobs report, slide backward too.

But until recently, the last few months been marked by strong jobs growth and a sense of optimism as vaccinations picked up, giving economists hope that the country was back on track to recovering the nearly 7 million jobs it is still down from before the pandemic.

Now, the delta variant is driving an alarming increase in covid-19 cases around the country, according to public health officials: the number of new cases increased more than 40 percent in the last week, sending jitters through the stock market, and is raising questions about whether state and local health authorities will reinstitute restrictions to slow the virus’ spread.

A new mandate in Los Angeles county to wear masks indoors has sparked protests and anger from local officials, as other counties where cases are increasing mull similar actions.

Frick said that the report showed the potential for unemployment claims to start trending upward after months of steady declines.

“There’s definitely a correlation, however loose, that the rise in covid does cause a rise in claims,” he said. “My fear is that the rise in the delta variant could cause claims to go back up…Certainly one week doesn’t show that. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see claims rise.”

Texas for example, where cases have grown 54 percent in the last week, lead the way with an increase of 10,000 new claims.

However, there are also lots of signs that the economy continues to rebound despite rising caseloads.

The more than 2.2 million people that the Transportation Security Administration said it screened at airports on Sunday was the most since late February 2020 — and nearly three times the amount it was on the same day last year.

Restaurant dining has largely rebounded in recent months, at times surpassing the levels from before the pandemic — on Saturday the number of diners was 1 percent higher than the same day in 2019, according to data from Open Table.

Last week, some 12.5 million claims were filed for unemployment insurance overall, according to the most recent numbers — down from 32.9 million filed at the same point last year.

Nevada, Rhode Island and California topped the list of states with the highest number of people on unemployment, the Labor Department said.

Economic concerns in recent months have been more focused on the ways that workers are still held back from filling some of the more than 9 million job openings in the country, than unemployment, with high hopes that school re-openings in the fall will help many parents get back into the labor force.

June 2021 Health Sector Economic Indicator Briefs

https://altarum.org/publications/june-2021-health-sector-economic-indicator-briefs

Altarum

Economic Indicators | June 17, 2021

Altarum’s monthly Health Sector Economic Indicators (HSEI) briefs analyze the most recent data available on health sector spending, prices, employment, and utilization. Support for this work is provided by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Below are highlights from the June 2021 briefs

National health spending growth reflects rebound from COVID-19

  • National health spending in April 2021 was 32.4% higher than in April 2020, reflecting the recovery from the lowest month in spending since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Since January 2020, before the pandemic-induced drop began, net growth in national health spending was 1.5% through April 2021.
  • The magnitude of the drop and subsequent recovery has varied by category of spending, with only spending on home health care, prescription drugs, and hospital care reaching levels in April 2021 that exceeded their January 2020 levels.
  • The recovery in spending on dental services continues to lag all other categories, remaining 14.6% below its January 2020 level.

Health care price growth remains stable amid economywide inflation

  • Growth in the overall Health Care Price Index (HCPI) remained mostly steady in May, with prices 2.0% higher than they were a year ago, compared to the 1.9% growth seen in April. The 2.0% rate is below the average since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, indicating a slight moderation in health care prices.
  • Hospital and physician services prices continue to be the two fastest growing major categories, increasing 3.6% and 3.1% year over year respectively, while nursing home facility and home health care price growth has slowed significantly over the past few months, now up only 2.1% and 1.5% respectively in May.
  • Outside of health care, economywide price growth, as measured by both the consumer price index (CPI) and producer price index (PPI), continued to accelerate, with those measures increasing to 5.0% and 6.6% growth in May. This is the fastest growth for economywide CPI since 2008 and the fastest ever in the series for PPI.
  • As expected, the GDP Deflator (GDPD), which lags a month behind other price data, was significantly higher in April at 3.7%, marking the first time it exceeded health care price growth since September 2019.

Health employment up modestly in May, returning to the December 2020 level

  • Health care added a modest 22,500 jobs in May, mostly in ambulatory care settings. Revisions to March and April took health care jobs up slightly but did not significantly change the story.
  • Health care employment has slowly regained the 80,000 jobs dropped in January 2021 and is now at the level it was at the end of 2020 (15.98 million jobs). The sector remains about 500,000 jobs, or 3.1%, below where it was in February 2020, with a big part of the drop in residential care settings. Additionally, neither hospitals nor ambulatory settings (as a whole) are fully back to pre-pandemic employment.
  • After dropping 35,000 jobs in January 2021, hospital employment has been little changed, with job losses and gains of a few thousand jobs per month in February through May 2021. Hospital employment is 28,000 jobs below where it stood at the end of 2020 and 90,000 jobs, or 1.7%, below the pre-pandemic peak.
  • Nursing and residential care employment continued to fall in May, losing 2,400 jobs. Residential care settings are down 340,000 jobs, or 12.7%, since February 2020, losing jobs in all but one month over that period.
  • The economy added 559,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 5.8%. We have added 2.4 million jobs so far in 2021 but remain 7.6 million jobs (5%) below the level of employment in February 2020.

Hospitals lose jobs for 4th straight month

New FBI Data Show Violent Crime Continued Downward Trend in 2014 |  FreedomWorks

Hospitals lost 5,800 jobs in April, marking the fourth month of job loss this year, according to the latest jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The April count compares to 600 hospital jobs lost in March, 2,200 jobs lost in February and 2,100 jobs lost in January. Before January, the last job loss was in September, when hospitals lost 6,400 jobs.

Overall, healthcare lost 4,100 jobs last month — compared to 11,500 jobs added in March — and employment in the industry is down by 542,000 since February 2020.

Within ambulatory healthcare services, dentist offices saw 3,700 added jobs; physician offices saw 11,300 job gains; and home healthcare services lost 6,700 jobs in April. 

Nursing and residential care facilities lost 19,500 jobs last month, compared to 3,200 jobs lost the month prior.

The U.S. gained 266,000 in April after gaining 916,000 jobs in March. The unemployment rate was 6.1 percent last month, compared to 6 percent in March.

To view the full jobs report, click here.

9 hospitals laying off workers

Unprecedented Layoffs among Nonprofits Threaten Deep Community Damage - Non  Profit News | Nonprofit Quarterly

The financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic forced hundreds of hospitals across the nation to furlough, lay off or reduce pay for workers, and others have had to scale back services or close.

Lower patient volume, canceled elective procedures and higher expenses tied to the pandemic have created a cash crunch for hospitals, and hospitals are taking a number of steps to offset financial damage. Executives, clinicians and other staff are taking pay cuts, capital projects are being put on hold, and some employees are losing their jobs. More than 260 hospitals and health systems furloughed workers in the last year, and dozens of others have implemented layoffs.

Below are nine hospitals and health systems that are laying off employees. Some of the layoffs were attributed to financial strain caused by the pandemic. 

1. Boca Raton, Fla.-based Cancer Treatment Centers of America is selling its hospital in Philadelphia and will lay off the facility’s 365 employees, according to a closure notice filed with the state. Cancer Treatment Centers of America said it anticipates the layoffs in Philadelphia will begin after May 30, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal

2. Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, Calif., will lay off 10 employees, The Napa Valley Register reported April 11. The layoffs will affect six emergency department technicians and four cooks. The COVID-19 pandemic had a “profound effect” on the hospital system, including volume and revenue reductions, a Providence spokesperson told The Napa Valley Register. As a result of volume declines in its ED, the health system is reducing staffing. 

3. Olympia Medical Center in Los Angeles closed March 31. The closure resulted in the layoffs of 451 employees.

4. The outgoing owners of Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke, Mass., are laying off the hospital’s 151 employees, effective April 20, according to MassLive. Trinity Health of New England, part of Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health, is selling the hospital to Health Partners New England, which plans to take over the hospital April 20. 

5. Boca Raton, Fla.-based Cancer Treatment Centers of America plans to close its hospital in Tulsa, Okla., June. 1. About 400 employees will be affected by the closure. 

6. Plattsburgh, N.Y.-based Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital plans to cut 60 jobs. The hospital, which is facing a $6.5 million deficit in fiscal year 2021, said the cuts include 10 people who were laid off or had permanent hour reductions, 12 people who are planning retirement, and the rest are open positions that will not be filled, according to a March 9 NBC 5 report. 

7. Buffalo, N.Y.-based Catholic Health announced March 19 that it plans to end inpatient services and close the intensive care unit at its St. Joseph campus in Cheektowaga, N.Y. The changes will result in some positions being eliminated. Catholic Health said it will try to find affected employees comparable positions within the system. 

8. Upper Allegheny Health System, a two-hospital system based in Olean, N.Y., plans to reduce acute care and surgical services at Bradford (Pa.) Regional Medical Center. Under the plan, the acute care and surgical services will be moved to the health system’s other hospital, Olean General Hospital, effective May 1. There will be a minimal number of layoffs resulting from the consolidation of services, a spokesperson told WHYY. 

9. Philadelphia-based Tower Health laid off 15 workers at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, including four physicians, in March, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Tower Health ended the second half of last year with an operating loss of $31 million, according to the report.  

The COVID-19 relief package: Where the money goes

https://www.politifact.com/article/2021/mar/19/covid-19-relief-package-where-money-goes/?fbclid=IwAR0WSCs9C4Rz9x6n-mlIsg7RY4KYM3byEZ3GdoYp3VWB0AIM8s0p_UUzinU

May be an image of text that says 'American Rescue Plan Act Where the money goes (In $billions) Other $129 Transportation $58 COVID/Public health $143 Stimulus Stimuluschecks checks $410 Schools $169_ Unemployment $242 Families $352 State/local aid $360'

IF YOUR TIME IS SHORT

  • The Democratic bill has $410 billion in stimulus checks and $360 billion in aid to state and local governments.
  • Expanded unemployment benefits cost $242 billion.
  • School spending is nearly $170 billion spread out over 10 years.

There are a few big chunks of money in the American Rescue Plan Act that have generated a lot of news coverage and are pretty well known. In response to a reader’s request, we present the whopping $1.86 trillion spending plan in pie chart form. 

There are the $1,400 checks (or more likely deposits) to many citizens or permanent legal residents and their dependents. That comes to about $410 billion.

Aid to state, local, territorial and tribal governments costs about $360 billion.

The bill boosts and extends unemployment benefits. Add another $242 billion.

Over the next 10 years, the law spends nearly $170 billion on education. That includes $129 billion for K-12 schools — both public and private — and about $40 billion for higher education.

The money for vaccines and corralling the coronavirus became a political talking point. Democrats touted the $20-25 billion they included for vaccine supplies and research. Republicans argued that the bill spent less than 10% of its total cost on COVID-19. 

People will parse the numbers in different ways. Some only count money spent directly on vaccine production. Some look more broadly at the economic damage wrought by the virus. We looked for money that went towards health care, whether that meant improving treatment on tribal lands, adding health care workers at clinics, or anything that reduced the health impacts of the pandemic.

We put the bill’s total public health spending at $143 billion.

Within that, the single biggest line item is $47.8 billion for mitigating the disease, a broad description that includes testing and surveillance. There is also $15 billion for COVID-related health care for veterans, $7.6 billion to help community health centers distribute vaccines, and about the same amount to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for roughly the same purpose.

The chart above lays out how the money breaks down.

All of the amounts so far come to $1.3 trillion over 10 years. The bill’s total cost is $1.86 trillion, which leaves about $500 billion dollars to flesh out.

The law has over $40 billion for child care. Money to keep people in their homes and to house the homeless comes to about $44 billion. There is $10 billion to put food on people’s tables. The expected cost of temporarily boosting the child tax credit is $109 billion.

In our chart, we fold all of that, plus subsidies for pensions and health insurance premiums, into the category of support for families. Our total is $352 billion.

Our last distinct category is transportation. Under that umbrella, we put $30 billion for mass transit, $15 billion for the airline industry, $8 billion for airports, and other related activities. That came to $58 billion.

The catch-all bucket of other spending includes items such as $66 billion for businesses, $50 billion for disaster relief at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and $7 billion to expand broadband internet.

The ARP comes to the rescue of the ACA, for now

https://mailchi.mp/b0535f4b12b6/the-weekly-gist-march-12-2021?e=d1e747d2d8

ACA Enrollment is BACK, BIGTIME! Here's *10* important things to remember  to help you #GetCovered! | ACA Signups

On Thursday, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 into law, committing nearly $1.9T of federal spending to boost the nation’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to direct payments to American families, extension of unemployment benefits, several anti-poverty measures, and aid to state and local governments, the plan also contains several key healthcare measures.

Approved by Congress on a near party-line vote using the budget reconciliation process, the law includes the broadest expansion of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) to date. It extends subsidies for upper-middle income individuals to purchase coverage on the Obamacare exchanges, caps premiums for those higher earners at a substantially lower level, and boosts subsidies for those at the lower end of the income scale.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that expanded ACA subsidies in the ARP will result in 2.5M more Americans gaining coverage in the next two years. Fully subsidized COBRA coverage for workers who lost their jobs due to COVID is also extended through the end of September, which the CBO estimates will benefit an additional 2M unemployed Americans.

The ARP also puts in place new support for Medicaid, enhancing coverage for home-based care, maternity services, and COVID testing and vaccination, and providing new incentives for the 12 states which haven’t yet expanded Medicaid eligibility under the ACA to do so. In addition to the ACA’s 90 percent match for those states’ Medicaid expansion populations, the lucky dozen will also receive a 5 percent bump to federal matching for the rest of their Medicaid populations should they choose to expand.
 
Three policy changes of keen interest to providers were left out of the final version of the bill. First, while a special relief fund of $8.5B was created for rural providers, there was no additional allocation of relief funds for hospitals and other providers, similar to the $178B allocated by the CARES Act, despite initial proposals of up to $35B in additional funding. (Around $25B of the initial round of provider relief is still unspent.) Second, the ARP did not extend or alter the repayment schedule for advance payments to providers made last year, in spite of industry pressure to implement more favorable repayment conditions. Finally, the new law does not extend last year’s pause on sequester-related cuts to Medicare reimbursement, although the House is expected to consider a separate measure to address that issue next week.

Notably, the coverage-related provisions of the ARP are only temporary, lasting through September of next year. That sets up the 2022 midterm elections as yet another campaign cycle dominated by promises to uphold and protect the Affordable Care Act—by then a 12-year-old law bolstered by this week’s COVID recovery legislation.

6 hospitals laying off workers

China Employee Layoff Laws

The financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic forced hundreds of hospitals across the nation to furlough, lay off or reduce pay for workers, and others have had to scale back services or close.

Lower patient volume, canceled elective procedures and higher expenses tied to the pandemic have created a cash crunch for hospitals, and hospitals are taking a number of steps to offset financial damage. Executives, clinicians and other staff are taking pay cuts, capital projects are being put on hold, and some employees are losing their jobs. More than 260 hospitals and health systems furloughed workers in the last year, and dozens of others have implemented layoffs.

Below are six hospitals and health systems that are laying off employees in the next 2 months. Some of the layoffs were attributed to financial strain caused by the pandemic. 

1. Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health is laying off hundreds of employees, most of whom work in information technology. In a filing with the state, Sutter said it plans to lay off 277 employees on April 2. The 277 jobs being eliminated include 92 analysts, 43 engineers and 28 project managers, according to the Sacramento Business Journal, citing the system’s filing with California’s Employment Development Department. 

2. Plattsburgh, N.Y.-based Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital plans to cut 60 jobs. The hospital, which is facing a $6.5 million deficit in fiscal year 2021, said the cuts include 10 people who were laid off or had permanent hour reductions, 12 people who are planning retirement, and the rest are open positions that will not be filled. 

3. Hialeah (Fla.) Hospital is closing its maternity ward and laying off 62 employees April 5, according to a notice filed with the state. Most of those affected by the layoffs are registered nurses.

4. The outgoing owners of Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke, Mass., are laying off the hospital’s 151 employees, effective April 20, according to MassLive. Trinity Health of New England, part of Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health,  is selling the hospital to Health Partners New England, which plans to take over the hospital April 20. 

5. Olympia Medical Center in Los Angeles is slated to close March 31. The closure will result in the layoffs of about 450 employees.

6. Minneapolis-based Children’s Minnesota is laying off 150 employees, or about 3 percent of its workforce. Children’s Minnesota cited several reasons for the layoffs, including the financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. Some layoffs occured in December and the rest will occur at the end of March. 

THE BIG DEAL—House passes $1.9T coronavirus relief bill

https://thehill.com/policy/finance/542448-heres-whats-in-the-19t-covid-19-relief-package

Will there be a third stimulus check? Biden's Deputy Press Secretary on American  Rescue Plan: 'The time for bold action is now' - ABC11 Raleigh-Durham

The House on Wednesday passed the mammoth $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which President Biden is expected to sign Friday.

The House approved the relief package in a starkly partisan 220-211 vote, sending the legislation to the White House and clinching Democrats’ first big legislative victory in the Biden era. No Republicans voted for the package and all but one House Democrat—Rep. Jared Golden of Maine—supported it. The Hill’s Cristina Marcos has more here.

The political split: Unlike the previous relief measures enacted last year, Democrats barely bothered to negotiate with Republicans and pushed the relief package through Congress along party lines using the budget reconciliation process. That allowed them to go as big as they wanted to go without running into a Senate GOP filibuster.

  • Republicans argue the use of a process dodging the filibuster shows Biden wasn’t serious about bringing unity, and House GOP lawmakers on Wednesday warned of the bill’s total cost.
  • But Democrats think Republicans will pay for their opposition to the popular bill and argued that they would oppose anything Biden proposed.

What’s in the $1.9T COVID-19 relief packageAlong with $1,400 direct payments to households, an extension of expanded unemployment benefits, and aid for state and local governments, the package is loaded with other provisions intended to speed up the recovery from the recession and help struggling families fight the impact of COVID-19.

  • Tax credits: The bill increases the child tax credit for households below certain income thresholds for 2021 and makes it fully refundable, and also expands the earned income tax credit for the year.
  • Child care: $15 billion for grants to help low-income families afford child care and increases the child and dependent care tax credit for one year.
  • Pensions: $86 billion to bailout struggling union pension funds.
  • Transportation: $30 billion to bolster local subway and bus systems, $8 billion for airports, $1.5 billion for furloughed Amtrak workers, and $3 billion for wages at aerospace companies.
  • Housing: $27.4 billion in emergency rental assistance, another $10 billion to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, $5 billion in vouchers for public housing, $5 billion to tackle homelessness and $5 billion more to help households cover utility bills.
  • Small businesses: The American Rescue Plan broadens eligibility guidelines for the Paycheck Protection Program, allowing more nonprofit entities to be eligible, adds $15 billion in emergency grants and also sets aside more than $28 billion in funding for restaurants.
  • ObamaCare subsidies and Medicaid expansion: The bill increases ObamaCare subsidies through 2022 to make them more generous, a longtime goal for Democrats, and opens up more fully subsidized plans to individuals. It also would provide extra Medicaid funding to states that expand the program and have yet to do so.