Labor and Employment

AP News | |

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined to 779,000 last week, a still-historically high total that shows that a sizable number of people keep losing jobs to the viral pandemic.

Last week’s total dropped from 812,000 the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday, and is the lowest in two months. Still, before the virus erupted in the United States in March, weekly applications for jobless aid had never topped 700,000, even during the Great Recession.

AP News | |

As the U.S. economy undergoes an uneven recovery from the virus pandemic, many small business owners face a tough decision on whether and when to take on employees.

The pandemic forced Meghan Gardner to let go of 16 staffers at Guardian Adventures, which ran educational summer camps, part of an industry decimated by the virus outbreak. While Gardner got a Paycheck Protection Program loan and ran online camps during the summer, by October she couldn’t afford to pay her employees.

Kimberly Redmond | |

Following an investigation into salary and hiring practices, Alphabet Inc's (Nasdaq: GOOGL) Google LLC will pay $2.6 million to more than 5,500 employees and past job applicants to resolve allegations that the tech giant discriminated against females and Asians.

The settlement, announced Monday, closes a 4-year-old case that the U.S. Department of Labor filed as part of its periodic reviews of pay practices of federal government contractors like Google.

Reuters | |

American Airlines workers should brace for another round of furlough warnings as the airline expects to remain overstaffed on April 1, when U.S. aid for industry workers expires, Chief Executive Doug Parker said.

American is among U.S. airlines that received money from a $15 billion payroll support package in December to protect workers’ jobs and salaries through March, when the industry had hoped that pandemic-hit demand would have recovered with vaccine rollouts.

Kimberly Redmond | |

Lowe’s Companies plans to boost its staffing, as the home improvement chain announced it will be hiring more than 50,000 new store employees this spring.

It will also pay out $80 million in discretionary bonuses to current workers as a way to recognize “their continued dedication,” the North Carolina-based company announced Thursday.

AP News | |

Stuck in the grip of a viral pandemic, the U.S. economy grew at a 4% annual rate in the final three months of 2020 and shrank last year by the largest amount in 74 years.

For 2020 as a whole, a year when the coronavirus inflicted the worst economic freeze since the end of World War II, the economy contracted 3.5% and clouded the outlook for the coming year. The economic damage followed the eruption of the pandemic 10 months ago and the deep recession it triggered, with tens of millions of Americans left jobless.

AP News | |

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell but remained at a historically high 847,000 last week, a sign that layoffs keep coming as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage.

Last week’s claims dropped by 67,000, from 914,000 the week before, the Labor Department said Thursday. Before the virus hit the United States hard last March, weekly applications for jobless aid had never topped 700,000.

Tempering last week’s bigger-than-expected drop in claims: The four-week moving average — which smooths out week to week gyrations — rose by more than 16,000 last week to 868,000, highest since September.

Reuters | |

President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed a new raft of executive actions to combat climate change, including pausing new oil and gas leases on federal land and cutting fossil fuel subsidies, as he pursues green policies he billed as a boon for job creation.

The orders map out the direction for the Democratic president’s climate change and environmental agenda and reverse the policies of his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, who sought to maximize U.S. oil, gas and coal output by removing regulations and easing environmental reviews.

Reuters | |

Google employees from across the globe are forming a union alliance, weeks after more than 200 workers at the search engine giant and other units of parent company Alphabet Inc formed a labor union for U.S. and Canadian offices.

Alpha Global was formed in coordination with UNI Global Union, a union federation that represents about 20 million workers globally, and includes unions from countries such as the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, and the UK, UNI Global Union said.

Kimberly Redmond | |

Supermarket chain Aldi has unveiled plans to make sure all of its employees have easy access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Tuesday, the discount grocer, which has more than 2,000 stores across the U.S., announced it will provide stipends to motivate employees to get inoculated.

Besides covering vaccination costs, Aldi will give up to four hours of paid time off – two hours per dose of the vaccine – to all hourly workers, while salaried employees will be offered “scheduling flexibility” in order to get vaccinated.