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    800,000 New Yorkers Just Lost Federal Unemployment Benefits

    Many pandemic-era federal programs expired on Sunday, leaving jobless New Yorkers with more modest state unemployment benefits, or no aid at all.From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, New York City has been pummeled economically unlike any other large American city, as a sustained recovery has failed to take root and hundreds of thousands of workers have yet to find full-time jobs.On Sunday, the city, like other communities nationwide, was hit with another blow: The package of pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits, which has kept families afloat for 17 months, expired.In short order, roughly $463 million in weekly unemployment assistance for New York City residents is ending, threatening to upend the city’s fledgling economic rebound and slashing the only source of income for some to pay rent and buy groceries in a city rife with inequality. About 10 percent of the city’s population, or about 800,000 people, will have federal aid eliminated, though many will continue receiving state benefits.The benefits were the sole income for the many self-employed workers and contract employees whose jobs are central to the city’s economy and vibrancy — taxi drivers, artists and hairdressers, among many others — and who do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits. “To just cut people off, it’s ridiculous and it’s unethical and it’s evil,” said Travis Curry, 34, a freelance photographer who will lose all his assistance, about $482 a week. “If we can’t buy food or go to local businesses because we don’t have money to live in New York, how will New York come back?”Federal officials say that more Americans are ready to return to work, and Republican lawmakers and small business owners have blamed the benefits for discouraging people from working at a time when there are a record number of job openings.In recent weeks, President Biden has said that states like New York with high unemployment rates could turn to leftover federal pandemic aid to extend benefits after his administration decided not to ask Congress to authorize an extension. In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who last week signed a new moratorium on evictions after the Supreme Court ended federal protections, said the state could not afford to extend the benefits on its own and would need the federal government to provide additional money. A spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio did not respond to requests for comment.Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state could not afford to keep financing unemployment assistance without additional federal aid.Stephanie Keith for The New York TimesThe expiring of unemployment benefits ends a period of extraordinary federal intervention to prop up the economy over the past year and a half as the virus has ravaged the country, claiming the lives of 649,000 people and leaving millions of laid-off workers struggling to secure new jobs. .css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-1kpebx{margin:0 auto;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1kpebx{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1gtxqqv{margin-bottom:0;}.css-19zsuqr{display:block;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}The federal programs supplemented standard and far more modest state unemployment benefits. New York City was the first major city in the United States to be hit hard by the pandemic, decimating industries almost overnight that underpinned the city’s economy, from tourism to hospitality to office buildings. Economists have projected that New York City may not fully regain all its pandemic job losses until 2024.The federal assistance provided new streams of financial aid beyond regular unemployment payments, which are distributed by states. Jobless Americans received a $600 per week supplement, which was later reduced under Mr. Biden to $300 per week. Unemployment benefits were also offered to contract workers and the self-employed, who under normal circumstances do not qualify for assistance. Payments were extended beyond the 26 weeks offered by most states.The end of the $300 federal supplement means those who still qualify for regular benefits through New York State will lose about half of their weekly assistance.Since the jobless programs rolled out in April 2020, New York City residents have collected about $53.5 billion in unemployment aid, primarily among lower-paid workers in the service, hospitality and arts industries, according to a recent report by the economist James Parrott of the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs. The recipients also tended to be people of color, who have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s economic and health toll. That includes Ericka Tircio, who lost her job cleaning a 40-story office building in Manhattan’s Financial District in March 2020 and contracted the disease around the same time. She has collected assistance since then, but it will be reduced by about $300 per week. Ms. Tircio, an immigrant from Ecuador who has a 6-year-old son, said her company told her recently that she might be asked to return to work in the coming months.“I’m praying to God that they call me back,” Ms. Tircio, who speaks Spanish, said through a translator. “There are moments when I’ve waited so long that I feel myself falling into a depression.”Ms. Tircio is a member of 32BJ SEIU, a local chapter of the Service Employees International Union, whose president, Kyle Bragg, said thousands of its members had been laid off during the pandemic.“Workers should not be left behind to fend for themselves during the worst crisis in a century,” Mr. Bragg said.In recent months, about half the states elected to end their pandemic-related benefits long before the expiration this weekend, a deadline set by the federal government when a vigorous recovery appeared to be on the horizon. In states led by Republican governors, elected officials said that the assistance stymied economic growth and resulted in labor shortages; however, the job growth in those states has not been substantially different than in states that kept the programs.In New York, business leaders have advocated for the state to end the pandemic unemployment benefits, arguing that they hurt small businesses struggling to hire workers. Thomas Grech, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said several job fairs he hosted over the summer were poorly attended.“People were disincentivized to go to work,” Mr. Grech said. “They’re making more money sitting at home. It’s a classic case of good intentions gone bad.”Mr. Grech said that raising wages as a way to lure workers, as some labor economists and advocates have recommended, was unrealistic for some restaurants “unless you want to spend $30 or $40 for a burger.”Elected officials in New York have argued that unemployment benefits helped pump money directly into the economy.“People who receive emergency unemployment assistance are going to turn around and spend that money, and that money is helpful to other people who are also struggling to get things back to normal,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, a Democrat who represents Lower Manhattan.The expiration of the benefits was supposed to coincide with a grand reopening of sorts for New York, as many companies announced during an early summer dip in virus cases that workers would be called back to the office in September. But the Delta variant has fueled a resurgence of the virus, postponing any hope that Manhattan’s office buildings would soon refill. Months of moderate job gains stalled over the summer and the city’s unemployment rate, 10.2 percent, increased slightly in July and is nearly double the national average.Bill Wilkins, who oversees economic development for the Local Development Corporation of East New York in Brooklyn, said unemployment and other benefits helped sustain his neighborhood, which has long suffered from high joblessness. But as the pandemic recedes from its peak, he said it was also “incumbent for individuals to be more self-reliant.”The pandemic exposed the significant skills gap in New York City, he said, resulting in large numbers of unemployed workers who do not qualify for job openings that require a college degree, such as high-paying jobs in the tech sector.“If you want a job right now, you have a job,” Mr. Wilkins said, referring to lower-paying openings at many mom-and-pop shops. “The problem is, is that job a sustainable wage? You want the higher-paying jobs, but you have to have the requisite skills that demand that type of salary.”Alex Weisman, an actor, registered for unemployment benefits for the first time after the pandemic shut down Broadway, where he had been in the ensemble for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” The checks, which ranged from about $800 to $1,100 a week, allowed him to keep paying rent for his apartment in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.When the pandemic shut down Broadway, including “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” it left Alex Weisman, an actor in the show’s ensemble, jobless and reliant on supplemental federal unemployment assistance.Erin Schaff/The New York TimesMr. Weisman, 34, submits audition videos every week, hoping for steady work. Earlier this year, he booked a television job for five weeks, which allowed him to briefly go off unemployment benefits.As his benefits run out, he is considering connecting with a temp agency to find work. The last time he had a job outside acting was as a barista in 2013.“I’m going to have to get an entry-level position somewhere,” Mr. Weisman said. “Because I succeeded in the thing that I trained in and wanted to do, I have absolutely nothing to offer any other industry. It’s scary.”Mohammad Kashem, who worked for nearly two decades as a taxi driver, had similar difficulties switching industries. Before the pandemic, a bank had seized his taxi medallion after he struggled to repay his loans amid a sharp drop in yellow cab ridership. Mr. Kashem, an immigrant from Bangladesh who lives in Brooklyn, worked as a postal carrier during the pandemic but quit after one month, saying he was unaccustomed to delivering mail through rain and snow. His family has been relying on $700 a week in unemployment benefits. He and his wife could not maintain jobs during the pandemic because of health issues, he said, noting that they both contracted the coronavirus and have high blood pressure and diabetes.When the unemployment benefits expire, his wife may try finding a job as a babysitter. Mr. Kashem, 50, has been wracked with anxiety about how he will pay for rent and school supplies for his three children.“I was driving taxi many, many years,” Mr. Kashem said. “I’m not used to another job.” More

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    Democrats and Lobbyists to Battle Over Tax Increases for Biden’s Social Policy Bill

    Congressional committees this week begin drafting tax increases on the wealthy and corporations to pay for a $3.5 trillion social policy bill, but the targets are putting up a fight.WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats always knew their battle plan for raising taxes on corporations, large inheritances and the superwealthy would not survive initial contact with the enemy.They just didn’t realize that enemy would be North Dakota-nice Heidi Heitkamp.The Democratic former senator has emerged as the smiling face of a well-financed effort to defeat a proposed tax increase that is crucial to funding the $3.5 trillion social spending bill at the heart of President Biden’s agenda. Her effort is indicative of the difficult slog ahead as the business lobby mobilizes to chip away at Democrats’ tax-raising ambitions, which some lawmakers say will have to be scaled back to maintain party unity, an assessment the White House has disputed.On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee is set to begin formally drafting its voluminous piece of the 10-year measure to combat climate change and reweave the nation’s social safety net, with paid family and medical leave, expanded public education, new Medicare benefits and more. The committee’s purview includes much of that social policy, but also the tax increases needed to pay for it.Democrats had hoped that the tax side would be more than notations on an accounting ledger. They regard it as an opportunity to fundamentally change policies to address growing income inequality, reduce incentives for corporations to move jobs and profits overseas, and slow the amassing of huge fortunes that pass through generations untaxed.But corporate interests, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and Americans for Tax Reform, have mobilized a multifaceted lobbying and advertising blitz to stop the tax increases — or at least mitigate them.“They’re lobbying to try to escape their obligation to pay the taxes they owe, leaving working families to pay a larger share of the burden,” Mr. Biden said at the White House on Friday. “Somebody has got to pay.”The $3.5 trillion social spending bill would help fund expanded public education.Clara Mokri for The New York TimesMembers of the Senate Finance Committee will meet this week to go over more than two dozen tax proposals. Some of them are well on their way toward inclusion in the measure, which under a complex budget process known as reconciliation would be able to pass Congress without a single Republican vote.Lobbyists expect the top individual income tax rate to return to 39.6 percent from the 37 percent rate that President Donald J. Trump’s tax cuts created in 2017. The corporate income tax rate will also rise from the 21 percent in the Trump tax cuts, though not to the 35 percent rate of the Obama years. Lawmakers say a 25 percent rate is more likely.Many Democrats are determined to tax the wealth of America’s fabulously rich, much of which goes untaxed for decades before being passed along to heirs. Currently, for instance, when large estates are passed on at death, heirs are allowed to value the stocks, real estate and other assets at the price they would fetch at the time of the original owner’s death. They pay taxes only on the gain in value from that point once the assets are sold. If the assets are not sold, they are not taxed at all..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-1kpebx{margin:0 auto;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1kpebx{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1kpebx{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1gtxqqv{margin-bottom:0;}.css-19zsuqr{display:block;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}Mr. Biden wants to have heirs to large fortunes pay taxes when the original owner dies. Those taxes would be levied on inherited assets based on the gain in value from when those assets were initially purchased.Ms. Heitkamp, who said she was recruited to the opposition campaign by the Democratic former senator-turned-superlobbyist John Breaux, is adamant that taxation upon death, regardless of wealth, is deadly politics. Ms. Heitkamp said she was finding a receptive audience among potential swing voters in rural areas, especially owners of family farms, even though Democrats say such voters would never be affected by the changes under consideration. Lobbyists already expect this piece of the estate tax changes to wash out in the lobbying deluge.“This is very consistent with my concern about revitalizing the Democratic Party in rural America,” Ms. Heitkamp said. “You may want to do this,” she said she had counseled her former colleagues, “but understand there will be risk, and risk is the entire agenda.”Even more significantly, the Finance Committee is looking at taxing the accumulated wealth of billionaires, regardless of whether it is sold. Extremely wealthy Americans like the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos would have a decade to pay a one-time tax on the value of assets like stocks that have been accruing value for years. They would then pay taxes each year on the annual gain in value of their stocks, bonds and other assets, much like many Americans pay property taxes on the annually assessed value of their homes.Another key component is the international tax code. The Biden administration has called for doubling the tax that companies pay on foreign earnings to 21 percent, so the United States complies with an international tax deal that the administration is brokering, which would usher in a global corporate minimum tax of at least 15 percent.The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development announced in July that more than 130 countries had agreed to the new framework, which aims to eliminate tax havens and end a race to the bottom on corporate tax rates. Officials have been rushing to confirm the details before the Group of 20 leaders meet in Rome in October.Extremely wealthy Americans like the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos would have a decade to pay a one-time tax on the value of assets such as stocks that have been accruing value for years.Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesBut countries such as France are concerned that the United States will not be able to live up to its end of the bargain if Congress cannot raise the minimum tax.The moment of truth is approaching. Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas, a senior Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and 40 other members of his party on Tuesday backed the White House. Yet some Democratic lawmakers have expressed concern that U.S. companies would still be at a competitive disadvantage if other countries enacted minimum tax rates as low as 15 percent and the United States had a higher rate.Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen addressed those concerns in a Twitter post on Friday.“As Congress begins to finalize their legislation, I urge them to remember the historic opportunity that we have to end the race to the bottom and finally have a foreign policy and a tax code that works for the middle class,” she wrote.Republicans are already on the attack. After the disappointing monthly jobs report on Friday, Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, said the slowing economy would “only get worse if the Democrats’ trillions in tax hikes and welfare spending is rammed through Congress in September.”Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the chairman of the Finance Committee, said he understood that business groups and Republicans would howl that the tax increases would kill jobs, stifle the economy and hurt ordinary, struggling Americans.“The big lobbies are going to attack you under any circumstance,” he said, “and half the time they’re just making it up.”But he insisted that the politics had changed. Americans who struggled during the coronavirus pandemic can see how rich others have become. New revelations from a trove of tax records leaked to ProPublica showed that household names like Mr. Bezos and Elon Musk paid virtually no federal taxes.Other lawmakers are not so sure, especially in the House, where midterm campaigns loom and a razor-thin Democratic majority is clearly at risk. Among the most vulnerable members are those from conservative-leaning districts where tax increases are particularly unpopular.“No one wants to throw the House away,” said Representative Donald S. Beyer Jr., Democrat of Virginia, a member of the Ways and Means Committee. “We’re all mindful of our frontline candidates.”Estate and capital gains tax changes proposed by the president and embraced by Mr. Wyden are aimed at the superrich, but the campaign against them frames the issue around family farms and small businesses. Ms. Heitkamp rebuffed Mr. Wyden’s assurance that he could structure the changes to affect only the very wealthy and the gain in value of their assets without taxation.“People don’t believe that, because they believe that rich people always have the lane to get into Congress,” she said. “I get that you’re trying to deal with a huge disparity in wealth in this country, and I get that you are concerned about that for the future of America. I share the concern. Taxing unrealized capital gains is not the path forward.”Some lawmakers and tax lobbyists are already circulating a document handicapping which measures are likely to survive — and which are not. A corporate tax rate increase at home and abroad is likely to pass, though it may not be as high as some Democrats would like. So is a higher top income tax rate on individuals. Capital gains tax rates are expected to rise somewhat, though not to the ordinary income tax rate of 39.6 percent for the very rich, as Mr. Biden has proposed.A measure to increase tax law enforcement, which fell out of a separate bipartisan infrastructure bill, is likely to reappear in the reconciliation bill.But lobbyists expect the proposal to make heirs pay immediate taxes on inheritances based on asset purchase prices to fall out of the plan.They also see a straight, 15 percent minimum tax on overseas income as imperiled. Even some measures that looked like slam dunks may still be rejected because of the back-room lobbying campaign that has just begun.“They’re lobbying to try to escape their obligation to pay the taxes they owe, leaving working families to pay a larger share of the burden,” Mr. Biden said of corporate interests on Friday at the White House.Stefani Reynolds for The New York TimesThat includes closing the so-called carried interest loophole, which allows richly compensated private equity and hedge fund managers to claim the fees they charge clients as investment income, subject to low capital gains tax rates, not income tax rates. Every president since Barack Obama has denounced the provision and demanded its closure, only to lose to influential lobbyists.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday started a campaign to stop the loophole from being closed, saying doing so “would reduce investment, lead to widespread job losses and decrease tax revenues.” Mr. Wyden called the assertions “insulting to the intelligence of every American.”Administration officials insisted that taxing the rich and corporations would help sell the bill.“Should we let millions of children grow up in poverty in order to protect offshore tax loopholes?” Kate Bedingfield, the White House communications director, wrote to House Democrats in a memo on Tuesday. “Should we let middle-class families bear crushing costs for child care and elder care rather than asking the very richest among us to pay their fair share? Those are the questions before us.” More

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    Unemployment Benefits Expire for Millions Without Pushback From Biden

    The president has encouraged some states to continue helping the long-term unemployed, but administration officials said it was time for enhanced federal aid to end.WASHINGTON — Expanded unemployment benefits that have kept millions of Americans afloat during the pandemic expired on Monday, setting up an abrupt cutoff of assistance to 7.5 million people as the Delta variant rattles the pandemic recovery.The end of the aid came without objection from President Biden and his top economic advisers, who have become caught in a political fight over the benefits and are now banking on other federal help and an autumn pickup in hiring to keep vulnerable families from foreclosure and food lines.The $1.9 trillion economic aid package Mr. Biden signed in March included extended and expanded benefits for unemployed workers, like a $300-per-week federal supplement to state jobless payments, additional weeks of assistance for the long-term unemployed and the extension of a special program to provide benefits to so-called gig workers who traditionally do not qualify for unemployment benefits. The expiration date reached on Monday means that 7.5 million people will lose their benefits entirely and another three million will lose the $300 weekly supplement.Republicans and small business owners have assailed efforts to extend the aid, contending that it has held back the economic recovery and fueled a labor shortage by discouraging people from looking for work. Liberal Democrats and progressive groups have pushed for another round of aid, saying millions of Americans remain vulnerable and in need of help.Mr. Biden and his advisers have pointedly refused to call on Congress to extend the benefits further, a decision that reflects the prevailing view of the state of the recovery inside the administration and the president’s desire to focus on winning support for his broader economic agenda.The president’s most senior economic advisers say the economy is in the process of completing a hand off between federal assistance and the labor market. As support from the March stimulus law wanes, they say, more and more Americans are set to return to work, drawing paychecks that will power consumer spending in the place of government aid.And Mr. Biden is pushing Congress this month to pass two measures that constitute a multi-trillion-dollar agenda focused on longer-run economic growth: a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a larger, partisan spending bill with investments in child care, education, carbon reduction and more. That push leaves no political oxygen for an additional short-term aid bill, which White House officials insist the economy does not need.President Biden and his advisers have pointedly refused to call on Congress to extend the benefits further.Oliver Contreras for The New York TimesAdministration officials say money that continues to flow to Americans from the March law, including new monthly payments to parents, will continue to sustain the social safety net even as the expanded federal jobless aid expires. Mr. Biden has called on certain states — those with high unemployment rates and a willingness to continue aid to jobless workers — to use state relief funds from the March law to help the long-term unemployed. So far, no state has said it plans to do so.On Sunday, Mr. Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the March law was also allowing states to help those out of work by offering employment bonuses and job training and counseling..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}“We think the jobs are there,” Mr. Klain said, “and we think the states have the resources they need to move people from unemployment to employment.”Mr. Biden has faced criticism from the left and the right on the issue, and he has responded with a balancing act, supporting the benefits as approved by Congress but declining to push to extend them — or to defend them against attacks by leaders in some states.Throughout the summer, business lobbyists and Republican lawmakers called on the president to cut off the benefits early, blaming them for the difficulties some businesses were facing in hiring workers, particularly in lower-paying industries like hospitality. Soon after the backlash began, Mr. Biden defended the benefits but called on the Labor Department to ensure that unemployed workers who declined job offers would lose their aid.But roughly half of the states, nearly all of them led by Republican governors, moved to cut off benefits early on their own. Mr. Biden and his administration did not fight them, angering progressives. The administration is essentially extending that policy into the fall, by calling on only willing states to fill in for expired assistance.“I don’t think we necessarily need a blanket policy for unemployment benefits at this point around the country,” Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh said in an interview on Friday, “because states are in different places.”Privately, some administration officials have expressed openness to the idea that economic research will eventually show that the benefits had some sort of chilling effect on workers’ decision to take jobs. Critics of the extra unemployment benefits have argued that they are discouraging people from returning to work at a time when there are a record number of job openings and many businesses are struggling to hire.Evidence so far suggests the programs are playing at most a limited role in keeping people out of the work force. States that ended the benefits early, for example, have seen little if any pickup in hiring relative to the rest of the country.Even in the industries that have had the hardest time finding workers, many people don’t expect a sudden surge in job applications once the benefits expire. Other factors — child care challenges, fear of the virus, accumulated savings from previous waves of federal assistance and a broader rethinking of work preferences in the wake of the pandemic — are also playing a role in keeping people out of work.“I think it’s a piece of the puzzle but I don’t think it’s the big piece,” said Ben Fileccia, the director of operations and strategy for the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association. “It’s easy to point to, but I don’t think it’s the true reason.”Progressives in and outside of Congress have grown frustrated with the administration’s approach to the benefits, warning it could backfire economically. Job growth slowed in August as the Delta variant spread across the country.“Millions of jobless workers are going to suffer when benefits expire on Monday, and it didn’t need to be this way,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and the chairman of the Finance Committee, said in a news release last week. “It’s clear from the economic and health conditions on the ground that we shouldn’t be cutting off benefits now.”Elizabeth Ananat, a Barnard College economist who has been studying the impact of the pandemic on low-wage workers, said that cutting off benefits now, when the Delta variant has threatened to set back the recovery, was a threat to both workers and the broader economy.“We’ve got this fragile economic recovery and now we’re going to cut income from people who need it, and we are pulling back dollars out of an economy that is still pretty unsteady,” she said.Even in the industries that have had the hardest time finding workers, many people don’t expect a sudden surge in job applications once the benefits expire.Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesMs. Ananat has been tracking a group of about 1,000 low-income parents in Philadelphia, all of whom were working before the pandemic. More than half lost their jobs early in the pandemic last year. By this summer, 72 percent were working, reflecting the strong rebound in the economy as a whole. But that still left 28 percent of the group who were unemployed, either because they could not find work or because of child care or other responsibilities.“We’re going into a new school year where there’s going to be a lot more uncertainty than there was this spring for parents,” Ms. Ananat said. “Employers are again going to be dealing with a situation where they have people who want to work, but what the heck are they supposed to do when their kid gets sent home to quarantine?”Measures of hunger and other hardship have fallen this year, as the job market has improved and federal aid, including the expanded child tax credit, has reached more low-income families. But the cutoff in benefits could change that, Ms. Ananat said. “In the absence of some kind of solution, this cliff comes and that number is going to go back up,” she said. “This is a significant group of people who are going to be in a lot worse shape.” More

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    Businesses Push Biden to Develop China Trade Policy

    Seven months into a new administration, companies want the White House to drop tariffs on Chinese goods and provide clarity about a critical trade relationship.WASHINGTON — More than seven months into the Biden administration, American businesses say they are growing increasingly frustrated by the White House’s approach to China, with confrontational policies imposed during the Trump era still in place and President Biden offering little clarity about economic engagement with the world’s second-largest economy.The relationship between the two economic superpowers remains deeply fractured. American import duties still exist on roughly $360 billion worth of Chinese goods, and almost all of the exemptions that shielded more than 2,000 products from those tariffs have expired. A thicket of export controls and bans are still in place, leaving U.S. technology giants such as Qualcomm, Intel and Google in the lurch over how to approach the Chinese market and offering little hope that the decoupling of the world’s two largest economies will be reversed anytime soon.To the dismay of some American business leaders, Mr. Biden has amplified some of the Trump administration’s punitive moves. In July, the Biden administration expanded the list of Chinese officials under sanctions by the United States for their role in undermining Hong Kong’s democratic institutions. In June, the president issued an executive order adding more Chinese companies to a prohibition on American investments in Chinese firms that have links to the country’s military or that sell surveillance technology used to repress dissent or religious minorities.Yet Mr. Biden and his top advisers have yet to elucidate how they view economic relations with Beijing, saying they will make the administration’s approach known once a broad review of China trade policy concludes. But the review has stretched on for months with no public timeline for its conclusion.As a result, businesses are lobbying heavily for the tariffs to be removed, which would make it easier for them to rely on factories in China instead of making investments in the United States or elsewhere. And they want assurances that they can do business with a financially important market.“There has been frustration for the business community at the lack of concrete China economic policy,” said Charles Freeman, the senior vice president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It’s not as if this crowd came in without any experience or any preconceived thinking about China.”The future of the U.S. trade relationship with China is one of the biggest global economic questions confronting Mr. Biden and his advisers. China has thrown huge resources behind its economic ambitions and plans to dominate cutting-edge industries like artificial intelligence and robotics by providing government subsidies to Chinese firms and using other tactics, including espionage. While the Trump administration signed an initial trade deal with China that included purchase commitments for agricultural and other goods, the agreement failed to address a number of major concerns, including China’s state-owned enterprises and industrial subsidies.During his White House bid, Mr. Biden assailed President Donald J. Trump over his trade war and promised to enlist allies to counter China over its trade practices. Since taking office, Mr. Biden has resolved a longstanding trade spat with the European Union and persuaded European officials to adopt a more assertive trade policy toward China this year. And he has pitched his infrastructure plan as a way to counter Beijing, saying it would “put us in a position to win the global competition with China in the upcoming years.”But the administration has said little about whether it intends to restart economic talks and address outstanding issues, including tariffs. At times, officials have offered somewhat discordant views.Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen told The New York Times this summer that tariffs had harmed American consumers, but she has also warned that Chinese subsidies for exporters pose a challenge for the United States. The United States trade representative, Katherine Tai, has described the tariffs as providing leverage..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}Asked on Wednesday about the administration’s review of the tariffs, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said, “I don’t have any timeline for you on when that review will be completed.”Business impatience with the administration’s approach is mounting. Corporate leaders say they need clarity about whether American companies will be able to do business with China, which is one of the biggest and fastest-growing markets. Business groups say their members are being put at a competitive disadvantage by the tariffs, which have raised costs for American importers.“We should be doing everything we can to increase China’s use and dependence on American technology products,” Patrick Gelsinger, the chief executive of Intel, said in an interview last week. The administration is “struggling to lay out a framework for how they have a policy-driven engagement with China,” he said.“To me, just saying, ‘Let’s be tough on China,’ that’s not a policy, that’s a campaign slogan,” he added. “It’s time to get to the real work of having a real policy of trade relationships and engagement around business exports and technology with China.”In early August, a group of influential U.S. business groups sent a letter to Ms. Yellen and Ms. Tai urging the administration to restart trade talks with China and cut tariffs on imported Chinese goods.“The main kind of dilemma that companies face right now is just uncertainty,” said Craig Allen, the president of the U.S.-China Business Council, which organized the letter. “Will the tariffs remain in place? Are they in place in perpetuity? What is the exclusion process to request an exemption from the tariffs? Nobody knows.”Mr. Allen said his group had organized the letter because it wanted to make sure that businesses’ views, in addition to those of labor and environmental groups, would be taken into account during the Biden administration’s China review.“Many find it ironic that the Biden administration is following so closely the playbook laid down by the Trump administration on China,” he said.Other organizations that signed the letter included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable as well as groups representing sectors of the economy with close business ties to China, such as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Semiconductor Industry Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation.“We’re now dealing with all these other supply chain disruption issues that are costing companies millions of dollars,” said Jonathan Gold, the vice president for supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation, which also signed the letter and represents a sector that has become heavily dependent on imports from China. “To have the tariffs on top of that is difficult for planning purposes.”On Tuesday, the National Association of Manufacturers sent a letter to the Biden administration urging it to “act as quickly as possible to finalize and publicize” a China strategy.Businesses of all sizes have been waiting for Mr. Biden to change course from Mr. Trump’s trade policies. Arnold Kamler, the chief executive of Kent International, a bicycle wholesaler and manufacturer, said the 25 percent tariffs on bicycle imports from China had been a major drain on the cash flow of his business, forcing him to borrow more from his bank. For the last two years, he has been passing on the cost of the additional import duties to retailers.“Honestly, we were hopeful that the Biden administration would realize that the trade war didn’t work,” Mr. Kamler said.Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, has refrained from offering a preview of what steps the Biden administration may seek to take in the coming months.Pete Marovich for The New York TimesAdding to the impatience is that a vast majority of the exclusions to the China tariffs that were granted under the Trump administration have now expired, and the Biden administration has not created a process to allow companies to seek new exclusions.Lawmakers from both parties have written to the Biden administration urging it to restart the exclusion process, and the Senate included a provision to reinstate expired exclusions and set up a process for granting new ones as part of a legislative package to bolster competitiveness with China that passed in June. The Senate provision has been met with resistance in the House, according to a House Democratic aide, so the two chambers may wind up at odds over whether to address tariff exclusions as part of a final China package.Robert E. Lighthizer, who was Mr. Trump’s trade representative and negotiated the trade deal with China, said in an interview that lobbyists were trying to weaken the executive branch’s power to impose tariffs.“People working for China and Chinese importers want to get rid of the last tool that Biden and subsequent presidents will have to deal with Chinese unfair trade practices,” Mr. Lighthizer said.Business groups are not uniformly in favor of lifting tariffs. The National Council of Textile Organizations, which represents the American textile industry, wants the administration to keep tariffs on finished apparel and home textile products from China.“We have been pretty strong in our message to the administration saying please continue this approach on getting tough on China,” said Kimberly Glas, the textile group’s president and chief executive.Any decision on rolling back tariffs could also have domestic political implications in the United States, where a tough-on-China mentality has permeated both major parties. Any steps by the Biden administration to roll back Trump-era policies toward Beijing could be seized on by political opponents seeking to paint Mr. Biden as insufficiently tough on China at a time when the country is engaged in a rapid military buildup.Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a trade group that represents the United Steelworkers and some domestic manufacturers, noted that concern about China on both economic and national security grounds was “one of the few issues that unites Democrats and Republicans these days.”“A dismantling of the tariffs has no upside for Joe Biden,” he said. “At a time when you’re trying to build up U.S. capacity in key industries, it would invite a flood of Chinese imports to just overwhelm that.”The Biden administration has said little about its tariff plans or how it will address China’s failure to meet its commitments under the Trump trade deal. China has not fulfilled its purchase commitments, according to Chad P. Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics who has tracked China’s purchases of U.S. goods. But Chinese economists contend that Beijing has been sincere in wanting to meet its promises, and that the pandemic has affected demand in China.When asked about the administration’s review of China trade policy, Ms. Tai has responded by saying she was aware that “time is of the essence.” However, she has refrained from offering a preview of what steps the administration may seek to take.“In terms of how we need to approach this trade relationship,” Ms. Tai said at a virtual event last week, “we need to approach it with deliberation.”Keith Bradsher More

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    The Economy Is Booming but Far From Normal, Posing a Challenge for Biden

    High inflation, ghostly downtowns and a resurgent virus have rattled consumers and created new obstacles as the president tries to push his broader economic agenda.The American economy is growing at its fastest clip in a quarter-century, yet it remains far from normal, with some workers and small-business owners facing increasingly tough times while others thrive. That divergence poses a challenge to President Biden, who has promoted the nation’s economic recovery as a selling point in his quest to win support for a multitrillion-dollar spending agenda that could cement his legacy. A summer that many business owners and consumers had hoped would bring a return to prepandemic activity has delivered waves of disappointment in key areas. Restaurants are short on staff and long on wait times. Prices have spiked for food, gasoline and many services. Shoppers are struggling to find used cars. Retailers are struggling to hire. Beach towns are jammed with tourists, but office towers in major cities remain ghost towns on weekdays, with the promised return of workers delayed by a resurgent coronavirus.The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index suffered one of its largest monthly losses in 40 years in August, driven by the rapidly spreading Delta variant and high inflation. The survey’s chief economist, Richard Curtin, said the drop also reflected “an emotional response, from dashed hopes that the pandemic would soon end and lives could return to normal.”Mr. Biden and his advisers are confident that many of those issues will improve in the fall. They expect hiring to continue at a strong pace or even accelerate, fattening worker paychecks and powering consumer spending. They remain hopeful that a reinvigorated labor market will take the place of the fading stimulus from the president’s $1.9 trillion economic aid bill signed in the spring, and that the latest wave of the virus will not dampen growth significantly.On Friday, they released new projections forecasting that growth will hit 7.1 percent this year after adjusting for inflation, its highest rate since 1983.“Our perspective is one of looking at an economy that is growing at historic rates,” Brian Deese, the director of Mr. Biden’s National Economic Council, said in an interview.But there is mounting evidence that the coming months of the recovery could be more halting and chaotic than administration officials predict, potentially imperiling millions of left-behind workers as their federal support runs dry.Private forecasters have pared back growth expectations for the end of the year, citing drags on spending from the spread of the Delta variant and from the nationwide expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits next Monday. Emerging research suggests the end of those benefits might not immediately drive Americans back to the work force to fill the record level of open jobs nationwide.“People will be surprised at how much the economy decelerates over the next year as the stimulus boost fades,” said Jim O’Sullivan, the chief U.S. macrostrategist for TD Securities.Administration officials do acknowledge some potential hurdles. Some big-city downtowns may never return to their prepandemic realities, and the economy will not be fully “normal” until the virus is fully under control. They stress that increasing the nation’s vaccination rate is the most important economic policy the administration can pursue to accelerate growth and lift consumer confidence, which has slumped this summer..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}“I don’t want to put a timeline on this,” said Cecilia Rouse, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. “We won’t feel totally completely normal until we have, whether we want to call it herd immunity or a greater fraction or percentage of the American population is vaccinated.”“As we conquer the virus,” she said, “we will regain normalcy.”The hospitality sector still employs millions fewer people than it did in February 2020.Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York TimesThe construction sector has regained most of the jobs lost early in the pandemic. Alyssa Schukar for The New York TimesThe economy’s rebound this year has been stronger than almost anyone predicted last winter, a result of the initial wave of vaccinations and the boost from Mr. Biden’s stimulus bill. Gross domestic product returned to its prepandemic level last spring, and retail sales have soared far beyond their pre-Covid path. Yet the recovery remains uneven and rattled by a rare set of economic crosswinds. In some sectors, consumer demand remains depressed. In others, spending is high but supply constraints — whether for materials or workers or both — are pushing up prices.For instance, the construction sector has regained most of the jobs lost early in the pandemic, and other industries, such as warehousing, have actually grown. But restaurants and hotels still employ millions fewer people than they did in February 2020. The result: There are more college graduates working in the United States today than when the pandemic began, but five million fewer workers without a college degree.Compounding the problem, employment in the biggest cities fell further than in smaller cities and rural areas, and it has rebounded more slowly. Employment among workers without a college degree living in the biggest cities is down more than 5 percent since February 2020, compared with about 2 percent for workers without a college degree in other parts of the country.Even as millions of people remain out of work, businesses across the country are struggling to fill a record number of job openings. Many businesses have blamed expanded unemployment benefits for the labor shortage. If they are right, a flood of workers should be returning to the job market when the benefits end after Labor Day. But recent research has suggested that the benefits are playing at most a small role in keeping people out of the work force. That suggests that other factors are holding potential workers back, such as health concerns and child care issues, which might not ease quickly.The Michigan sentiment data and the fade-out of stimulus benefits suggest consumers may be set to pull back spending further. But other data shows Americans increased their savings during the pandemic, in part by banking previous rounds of government support, and could draw on those funds to maintain spending for months to come.Administration officials hope to buck up consumers and workers by pushing Congress to pass the two halves of Mr. Biden’s longer-term economic agenda: a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a larger spending bill that could extend expanded tax credits for parents, subsidize child care and reduce prescription drug costs, among other initiatives.“Our hope is that the new normal coming out of this crisis is not simply a return to the status quo and the economy, which was one that was not working for most working families,” Mr. Deese said.The virus remains the biggest wild card for the outlook. There is little evidence in government data that the spread of the Delta variant has suppressed spending in retail stores. But air travel, as measured by the number of people screened at airport security checkpoints, has tailed off in recent days after returning to about 80 percent of where it was during the same week in 2019.Restaurant bookings on OpenTable, which had nearly returned to normal in June and July, are back down to 10 percent below their prepandemic level. Data from Homebase, which provides time-management software to small businesses, shows a sharp decline in the number of hours worked at restaurants and entertainment venues.Restaurant bookings on OpenTable, which had nearly returned to normal in June and July, are back down to 10 percent below their prepandemic level.Karsten Moran for The New York TimesAir travel has tailed off in recent days after returning to about 80 percent of its prepandemic level this summer.Stefani Reynolds for The New York TimesThe variant is already casting a shadow over the new school year, with some schools, including a middle school in Fredericksburg, Va., temporarily returning to virtual learning amid new outbreaks.Urban downtowns, once hopeful for a fall rebound in activity, are bracing for prolonged delays in white-collar workers returning to their offices.“Our No. 1 job is to get office workers back — that’s the driver of the downtown,” said Paul Levy, the president and chief executive of the Center City District, a local business-development group in Philadelphia.Mr. Levy’s group estimates that 30 percent of downtown office workers have returned so far to Philadelphia. It had been expecting that number to hit 75 to 80 percent after Labor Day, and had built an advertising campaign around the idea that the fall would mark a milestone in the return to normalcy. But now major employers such as Comcast have delayed their return dates, worrying business owners.Yehuda Sichel signed a lease for Huda, his gourmet sandwich shop in Philadelphia, on Feb. 29, 2020 — two weeks before the pandemic sent virtually his entire prospective customer base home indefinitely.He made it through the pandemic winter with takeout orders, holiday meal kits and some creativity. A short-rib special on a snow day when many other restaurants were closed helped him make payroll during a particularly grim period. Last spring, business began to improve, and Mr. Sichel invested in new equipment and a new kitchen floor in hopes of a surge in business once office workers returned. Now he doubts he will see one.“September was supposed to be this huge boom,” he said. “Now, September is going to be fine. I’m sure we’ll see a little bump, but not the doubling in business that I was hoping for.” More

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    When Will Unemployment End? Biden Urges Some States to Extend Benefits

    President Biden is encouraging states with stubbornly high jobless rates to use federal aid dollars to extend benefits for unemployed workers after they are set to expire in early September, administration officials said on Thursday, in an effort to cushion a potential shock to some local economies as the Delta variant of the coronavirus rattles the country.Enhanced benefits for unemployed workers will run through Sept. 6 under the $1.9 trillion economic aid bill enacted in March. Those benefits include a $300 weekly supplement for traditional benefits paid by states, additional weeks of benefits for the long-term unemployed and a special pandemic program meant to help so-called gig-economy workers who do not qualify for normal unemployment benefits. Those benefits are administered by states but paid for by the federal government. The bill also included $350 billion in relief funds for state, local and tribal governments.Mr. Biden still believes it is appropriate for the $300 benefit to expire on schedule, as it was “always intended to be temporary,” the secretaries of the Treasury and labor said in a letter to Democratic committee chairmen in the House and Senate on Thursday. But they also reiterated that the stimulus bill allows states to use their relief funds to prolong other parts of the expanded benefits, like the additional weeks for the long-term unemployed, and they called on states to do so if their economies still need the help.That group could include California, New York and Nevada, where unemployment rates remain well above the national average and governors have not moved to pare back benefits in response to concerns that they may be making it more difficult for businesses to hire.“Even as the economy continues to recover and robust job growth continues, there are some states where it may make sense for unemployed workers to continue receiving additional assistance for a longer period of time, allowing residents of those states more time to find a job in areas where unemployment remains high,” wrote Janet L. Yellen, the Treasury secretary, and Martin J. Walsh, the labor secretary. “The Delta variant may also pose short-term challenges to local economies and labor markets.”The additional unemployment benefits have helped boost consumer spending in the recovery from recession, even as the labor market remains millions of jobs short of its prepandemic levels. But business owners and Republican lawmakers have blamed the $300 supplement, in particular, for the difficulties that retailers, restaurants and other employers have faced in filling jobs this spring and summer.Two dozen states, mostly led by Republicans, have moved to end at least some of the benefits before their expiration date.In their letter to Congress, the administration officials said the Labor Department was announcing $47 million in new grants meant to help displaced workers connect with good jobs. They also reiterated Mr. Biden’s call for Congress to include a long-term fix for problems with the unemployment system in a large spending bill that Democrats are trying to move as part of their multipart economic agenda. More

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    Pelosi and Yellen to Discuss Rental Assistance as Eviction Crisis Looms

    WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Tuesday imposed a new, 60-day federal moratorium on evictions in areas of the country ravaged by the Delta variant, a move aimed at protecting hundreds of thousands of renters at risk of being kicked out of their homes during a pandemic.The action was also intended to quell a rebellion among angry Democrats who blamed the White House for allowing a previous eviction ban to expire on Saturday — after the Democratic-controlled House was unable to muster enough votes to extend that moratorium.President Biden told reporters that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would seek to implement a new federal moratorium on evictions in communities across the country hardest hit by the virus.Tom Brenner for The New York TimesPresident Biden has been under intense pressure from activists and allies for the last week to protect people at risk of being driven from their homes for failing to pay their rent during the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic. The previous nationwide moratorium on evictions, which went into effect in September, expired on Saturday after the Supreme Court warned that an extension would require congressional action.The end of the rental protections has prompted a flurry of recriminations in Washington and a furious effort by the White House to find a solution that prevents working-class and impoverished Americans from being evicted from their homes on Mr. Biden’s watch as billions in aid allocated by Congress goes untapped.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Tuesday announced the new order barring people from being driven out of their homes in many parts of the country, saying that “the evictions of tenants for failure to make rent or housing payments could be detrimental to public health control measures” aimed at slowing Covid-19.The order will expire on Oct. 3, the C.D.C. said, and applies to areas of the country “experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission” of the virus. Mr. Biden, in remarks ahead of the official order, said the moratorium was expected to reach 90 percent of Americans who are renters.“This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where Covid-19 spreads,” Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the C.D.C., said in a statement. “Such mass evictions and the attendant public health consequences would be very difficult to reverse.”The decision to impose a new and targeted moratorium, rather than extending the previous national ban, is aimed at sidestepping a Supreme Court ruling from late June that seemed to limit the administration’s ability to enact such policies. While the court upheld the C.D.C.’s moratorium, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh issued a brief concurring opinion explaining that he had cast his vote reluctantly and believed the C.D.C. had “exceeded its existing statutory authority by issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium.”Mr. Biden conceded on Tuesday that the new approach might be struck down by the courts as executive overreach. But he suggested the move could help buy the administration time as it tried to get states to disburse billions of dollars of aid to help renters meet their obligations to landlords.Congress previously allocated $46.5 billion in rental assistance in two coronavirus relief packages, but only about $3 billion had been delivered to eligible households through June, according to Treasury Department data.“Whether that option will pass constitutional measure with this administration, I can’t tell you. I don’t know,” Mr. Biden said of a new moratorium. “There are a few scholars who say it will and others who say it’s not likely to. But at a minimum, by the time it gets litigated, we’ll probably give some additional time while we’re getting that $45 billion out to people who are in fact behind in rent and don’t have the money.”For days, some of Mr. Biden’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, including some of the most progressive Democrats in Congress, have been publicly and privately assailing his lack of action to help renters, accusing the president and his aides of failing to find a replacement for the eviction moratorium until it was too late.Just days before Saturday’s expiration of the ban, Mr. Biden called on Congress to pass legislation to extend it. But with the House about to leave town for a seven-week vacation and Republicans solidly opposed to an extension, progressive Democrats described the White House call as a cynical attempt to shift blame to lawmakers. The administration, for its part, feared that any unilateral move would open the White House to legal challenges that could ultimately erode Mr. Biden’s presidential powers.The expiration presented the president with a thorny choice: Side with the C.D.C. and his own lawyers, who saw an extension as a dangerous step that could limit executive authority during health crises, or heed the demands of his party’s progressive wing to take immediate action to halt what they saw as a preventable housing crisis.Under intense pressure from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, Mr. Biden’s team opted for an approach that would give them a chance to satisfy both camps, creating a new moratorium, based on a recent rise in infections from the Delta variant, that cited the risks associated with the movement of displaced tenants in areas where the virus is raging.But ultimately it came down to a simpler calculation: Mr. Biden could not ignore the call, led by Black Democrats, to reverse course.“Every single day that we wait, thousands of people are receiving eviction notices, and some of them are being put out on the street,” said Representative Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri, who has been sleeping on the steps of the Capitol since the moratorium expired in a bid to pressure her party’s leadership. “People started sending me pictures of dockets, court dockets, that were all evictions. We cannot continue to sit back. We need this done today.”Ms. Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, were briefed on Tuesday on the C.D.C.’s plan by Dr. Walensky, the agency’s director, and Xavier Becerra, the secretary of health and human services, according to a person familiar with the call. Ms. Pelosi hailed the idea of a new eviction moratorium as a victory for many Americans who were struggling because of the pandemic.“Today is a day of extraordinary relief,” she said in a statement. “Thanks to the leadership of President Biden, the imminent fear of eviction and being put out on the street has been lifted for countless families across America. Help is here!”Yet for two days it was unclear how — or whether — any help would arrive as landlords prepared to turn to housing courts to evict tenants who were behind on their rent.At a White House meeting with Mr. Biden on Friday, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer bluntly informed Mr. Biden they did not have the votes to pass an extension — and pressed him to take whatever action he could using his executive power, according to two Democratic congressional aides briefed on the meeting.On Tuesday, House Democrats summoned Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen to explain what the agency was doing to help struggling renters. In a private call between Democrats and Ms. Yellen, the Treasury secretary insisted that her team was using all available tools to get rental assistance money to states and to help governments distribute those funds to landlords and renters.“I thoroughly agree we need to bring every resource to bear,” Ms. Yellen said, according to a person who was on the call.The White House had been scrambling to figure out exactly what its legal options were for continuing the moratorium. On Monday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that Mr. Biden had asked the C.D.C. on Sunday to consider extending the moratorium for 30 days, even just to high-risk states, but that the C.D.C. had “been unable to find legal authority for a new, targeted eviction moratorium.”A day later, however, the administration appeared ready to barrel through legal challenges and embrace a solution that did just that.The extension is likely to intensify a legal fight with landlord groups that have argued that the eviction ban has saddled them with debt.The National Apartment Association, which filed a lawsuit last week seeking to recoup lost rent, said the moratorium was jeopardizing the viability of the housing market. The group estimates that the apartment industry is shouldering $26.6 billion in debt as a result of the eviction ban.“The government has intruded into private property and constitutional freedoms, and we are proudly fighting to make owners whole and ensure residents’ debt is wiped from their record,” said Robert Pinnegar, the chief executive of the association.Legal experts said it was likely that the administration would face a new wave of lawsuits if the justification and structure of a new moratorium was similar to the one that had been in place.“The only logic by which this could be justified is a logic that would enable them to be able to suppress virtually any activity of any kind that they can claim might spread contagious disease,” said Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University. More

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    U.S.-China Trade Talks Should Resume, U.S. Business Groups Say

    A letter from influential industry organizations asked the White House to resume negotiations on tariffs and other measures that stalled during a bruising trade war.A group of the most influential American business groups is urging the Biden administration to restart trade talks with China and cut tariffs on Chinese-made goods that had remained in place after the start of the bruising trade war between the two countries.The groups, which represented interests as diverse as potato farmers, microchip companies and the pharmaceutical industry, said in a letter dated Thursday that the Biden administration should take “swift action” to address “burdensome” tariffs. They also called on the White House to work with the Chinese government to ensure that it carries out commitments made in its trade truce with the Trump administration, sealed in early 2020.The letter, addressed to the Treasury Department and the United States trade representative, comes as the relationship between the world’s two largest economies remains fractious. A high-profile visit to China last month by Wendy R. Sherman, the deputy secretary of state, began with acerbic opening remarks from the Chinese side and ended with little sign of progress. The two have squabbled over human rights, cyberattacks and China’s military operations in the South China Sea.While the Biden administration has mapped out a strategy of confrontation with China on a range of issues, it has said less about the countries’ economic relationship.It is more than seven months into a review of the trade deal that former President Donald J. Trump signed with China in January 2020, along with other national security measures from the previous administration. Officials have not yet announced the results of that review.A visit to China last month by Wendy R. Sherman, the deputy secretary of state, ended with little sign of progress.U.S. Department of State, via ReutersThe January 2020 trade truce essentially froze into place U.S. tariffs on $360 billion in Chinese imports. That deal also did nothing to stop the Chinese government’s subsidies of strategic industries like computer chips and electric cars, which have worried American competitors. While some of the provisions of the trade deal are set to expire at the end of the year, much of the agreement will remain in place.The industry group letter appeared to be an attempt to prod the Biden administration into action.“Due to the tariffs, U.S. industries face increased costs to manufacture products and provide services domestically, making their exports of these products and services less competitive abroad,” read the letter, which was reviewed by The New York Times.The Treasury Department and the United States Trade Representative did not immediately comment. The existence of the letter was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.The letter said that China had met some of its commitments as part of the trade deal, including new measures to open up its market to U.S. financial institutions. It added that further talks would be the only way to ensure that China would carry out remaining commitments in other sectors, like intellectual property protection.Shipping containers at a port in Nantong, China. A letter from U.S. business groups is asking the Biden administration to cut tariffs on Chinese-made goods.CHINATOPIX, via Associated PressThough China has made large-scale purchases of U.S. goods since the trade war, the amount and composition have fallen short of its commitments to buy $200 billion worth of American goods and services in 2020 and 2021. According to analysis by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, China fell short of those purchases by 40 percent last year and is off by 30 percent this year.“We strongly urge the administration to work with the Chinese government to increase purchases of U.S. goods through the remainder of 2021 and implement all structural commitments of the agreement before its two-year anniversary on Feb. 15, 2022,” the letter added.While the Biden administration has questioned whether the trade deal with China was well designed, it has also signaled that it will continue to push China on what it perceives as unfair trade practices.In June, President Biden expanded a Trump administration blacklist that blocked Americans from investing in Chinese companies that aid the country’s military or repression of religious minorities. Mr. Biden included Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications giant, on the list of banned firms. The White House also announced the formation of a trade and technology council with American and European officials, an effort to counter China’s influence by coordinating digital policies between Brussels and Washington.“We will not hesitate to call out China’s coercive and unfair trade practices that harm American workers, undermine the multilateral system or violate basic human rights,” Katherine Tai, the United States trade representative, said in prepared testimony for a Senate hearing in May. “We are working toward a strong, strategic approach to our trade and economic relationship with China.” More