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    Minimum Wage Hike Would Help Poverty but Cost Jobs, Budget Office Says

    AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyMinimum Wage Hike Would Help Poverty but Cost Jobs, Budget Office SaysThe Congressional Budget Office said raising the federal minimum wage to $15 would also increase the deficit, potentially helping the proposal’s prospects of being included in relief legislation.Protesters in Chicago last month called for the minimum wage to be increased to $15 an hour. Congress last passed an increase in 2007. Credit…Scott Olson/Getty ImagesFeb. 8, 2021, 7:43 p.m. ETWASHINGTON — Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour — a proposal included in the package of relief measures being pushed by President Biden — would add $54 billion to the budget deficit over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office concluded on Monday.Normally, a prediction of increased debt might harm the plan’s political chances. But proponents of the wage hike seized on the forecast as evidence that the hotly contested proposal could survive a procedural challenge under the Senate’s arcane rules.Democrats are trying to add the measure to a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that is advancing through a process called budget reconciliation, which requires a simple majority rather than the 60-vote margin to overcome a filibuster. But reconciliation is reserved for matters with a significant budgetary effect.Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, said the forecast of an increased deficit showed that the measure passed the test. Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 “would have a direct and substantial impact on the federal budget,” he said in a statement. “What that means is we can clearly raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour under the rules.”Critics of the plan noted a different element of the report: its forecast that raising the minimum wage to $15 would eliminate 1.4 million jobs by the time the increase takes full effect.“Conservatives have been saying for a while that a recession is absolutely the wrong time to increase the minimum wage, even if it’s slowly phased in,” said Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “The economy’s just too fragile.”He also contested Mr. Sanders’s argument that the study raised the odds that a wage increase could survive Senate rules. The study found the measure would affect private-sector wages much more than it would raise the deficit — $333 billion versus $54 billion — showing its effect on the deficit was incidental, Mr. Riedl said.“I doubt the parliamentarian will determine that this is primarily a budgetary reform rather than an economic reform with a secondary budget effect,” he said.The rules say the budgetary effects cannot be “merely incidental” but do not define the phrase. While Mr. Sanders called $54 billion substantial, Mr. Riedl said it was about half of 1 percent of the projected 10-year deficit.Congress last passed a minimum-wage increase in 2007. The current federal minimum, $7.25 an hour, is about 29 percent below its 1968 peak when adjusted for inflation, according to the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. David Cooper, an economic analyst at the institute, said 29 states and the District of Columbia have higher minimums, and seven states plus the District of Columbia were phasing in the $15-an-hour threshold.Progressives see the wage increase as a central weapon for fighting poverty and inequality, while conservatives often warn it will reduce jobs.The report in essence said both sides were right. It found a $15 minimum wage would offer raises to 27 million people and lift 900,000 people above the poverty line, but it would also cost 1.4 million jobs.Mr. Cooper disputed the jobs forecast, arguing that it was out of line with recent studies that showed increases in the minimum wage had produced little or no effect on employment. “C.B.O. seems to be going in the opposite direction,” he said.Progressives like Mr. Sanders have been arguing that an increased minimum wage would reduce federal spending because fewer people would need safety-net programs like food stamps or Medicaid. But the budget office warned that those savings would be more than offset by the higher costs of delivering services like medical care, as employers raised their workers’ pay — a finding Mr. Sanders continued to reject, citing other studies.On balance, the report said the changes would benefit labor over capital.“They assume that there is income transferred from workers at the top of the income distribution to workers at the bottom,” Mr. Cooper said. “Therefore, they implicitly say that the minimum wage is a tool for fighting inequality. That’s probably the most explicit they’ve ever been on that point.”AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    The Jobs Crisis Is Broader Than It Seemed

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesSee Your Local RiskVaccine InformationWuhan, One Year LaterAdvertisementContinue reading the main storyUpshotSupported byContinue reading the main storyThe Jobs Crisis Is Broader Than It SeemedJanuary employment numbers suggest a stalling of progress toward a full recovery.Feb. 5, 2021Updated 1:09 p.m. ETCustomers at a taco restaurant in Manhattan this week. The past year has been brutal for the hospitality industry, but the most recent job figures suggest it’s far from the only sector suffering.Credit…Carlo Allegri/ReutersTo understand what is important about the new employment numbers released Friday, imagine two different varieties of economic downturn.In one, a handful of industries experience a near-shutdown for reasons beyond anyone’s control, driving millions of people out of their jobs. But most other industries carry on unfazed.In another, a broad contraction in spending causes job losses across the economy. The story is not so much about one or two industries being devastated, but lots of them experiencing moderate pain.Both would involve a lot of human suffering, and both would justify government help to the people affected. But they would have strikingly different implications for specific government action.In the first case, you would want very carefully targeted help to enable the people affected to stay on their feet until their industry can reopen. In the second, you would just want to pump money into the economy, to stimulate overall demand for goods and services.In the early phase of the coronavirus pandemic, we saw both types of downturns. Travel-related industries were most affected and experienced the worst job losses, and the pain was sufficiently widespread that there was a generalized crisis of inadequate demand.But as the year progressed, that changed. The federal government injected trillions of dollars into the economy, and the Federal Reserve’s actions to support the financial system generated a rally in markets. Industries that were less directly affected by the pandemic figured out how to get up and running safely. And there was a veritable boom in people who bought stuff — durable goods, to be precise, like furniture and exercise equipment — spending some of the money they couldn’t spend on services like restaurant meals.By the end of 2020, you could tell a story in which workers at hotels, airlines, restaurants and performance arenas desperately needed a hand, but most of the rest of the economy seemed comfortably on a path back to full health.The January employment numbers, however, undermine that story. They suggest a stalling, and in some areas a reversal, of progress toward a full recovery even in the segments of the economy not directly affected.There’s plenty of pain to be found in the leisure and hospitality sector, of course — it lost 61,000 additional jobs on top of a revised 536,000 lost in December. This is a brutal winter for the workers in restaurants, hotels and live entertainment venues. But if that were the extent of the pain, generous unemployment checks to the people affected might be enough to solve the problem. After all, we know what it will take to get those industries back to health: widespread vaccination and an easing of public health fears.The Coronavirus Outbreak More

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    Toll Worker Job Losses Highlight Long-Term Fallout of Pandemic

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesSee Your Local RiskVaccine InformationWuhan, One Year LaterAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyToll Worker Job Losses Highlight Long-Term Fallout of PandemicThe Pennsylvania Turnpike laid off workers to switch to labor-saving technology, in what might be a broader trend.John Mahalis lost his job when the Pennsylvania Turnpike shifted to machine toll collection during the pandemic. Policymakers worry that many workers may face a similar technology-driven fate.Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York TimesFeb. 4, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ETJohn Mahalis of Philadelphia was two and a half months from his pension’s vesting when he learned that he would be permanently laid off from his job as a toll collector on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The news was a gut punch; Mr. Mahalis said it would leave him less able to financially weather retirement.“It came out of the blue,” said Mr. Mahalis, 65. He had worked for the turnpike for five years after 20 years of unemployment due to an injury he sustained as a dockworker. He had loved the work, especially interacting with customers, and earned good money: By taking as much overtime as he could get, he made about $53,000 a year, along with benefits.“It was the best thing I ever did,” he said. “I felt like a man again.”The job evaporated overnight when the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, decided in June to move up its plan to lay off nearly 500 toll workers and replace them with electronic tolling. Dismissals planned for early 2022 instead went into effect immediately, a move that the commission said would help the system financially accommodate weaker traffic during the economic downturn.The United States may be witnessing the bleeding edge of a labor force shuffle that often occurs during recessions: Employers who have been forced to cut workers turn to existing or new technology to carry on with less labor. But this time the shift could be magnified by a wave of forced layoffs at the start of the pandemic and by the fact that demand in some cases came back before employees safely could.That has created a big incentive for employers to figure out how to produce more with fewer workers, powered by new technologies that allow for more automation.Layoffs have shifted from temporary to permanent as the pandemic has dragged on, and many workers have moved to the sidelines of the labor market as service jobs in particular — everything from conference centers and hotels to tollbooths — are downsized or streamlined. It is unclear how quickly workers facing firings will find new jobs that are good substitutes in terms of skills and salaries.“We’re learning that technology can replace people even more than we thought, and some of that is happening,” Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, said at a news conference last week. “We’re still going to need to keep people in mind whose lives have been disrupted because they’ve lost the work that they did.”Technology adoption can lead to faster productivity growth — or at least a one-time bounce — that might improve the economy’s potential. But it can be difficult for laid-off workers to move into new jobs that pay as well and fit their qualifications.“This story isn’t new,” said Nela Richardson, the chief economist at ADP, the payroll-processing company. “There was always a question about what to do about those left behind by technology and globalization that was never answered.”The Pennsylvania Turnpike offers a stark example. Its workers knew that machines would eventually make them obsolete, but they thought they would have time to prepare.Faye Townsend, 50, was on a trial period at the turnpike’s administrative building, working a job that she hoped would lead to an even more secure one before the switch to cashless tolls. When the coronavirus crisis began, she was sent back to the road system but not allowed into the tollbooth. Instead, she and her colleagues spent worried days clocking in, sanitizing the building and waiting to learn whether and when they could return to collecting.The Coronavirus Outbreak More

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    PPP Aid to Small Businesses: How Much Did $500 Billion Help?

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesSee Your Local RiskVaccine InformationWuhan, One Year LaterAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main story$500 Billion in Aid to Small Businesses: How Much Did It Help?Some economists say the Paycheck Protection Program has not proved as useful as other aid. The debate could sway the new administration’s plans.Small businesses line a street in Westwood, N.J. A $900 billion federal relief package included $325 billion in small business aid, most of it for the Paycheck Protection Program.Credit…Mohamed Sadek for The New York TimesBen Casselman and Feb. 1, 2021, 3:00 a.m. ETAs Democrats and Republicans spent months last fall arguing over how to rescue the economy, one provision drew widespread support from lawmakers: reviving the Paycheck Protection Program, the government’s marquee effort to help small businesses weather the pandemic.The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, called the lending program “a bipartisan slam dunk.” House Democrats included an extension and expansion of the program in aid packages in the summer and the fall. And Treasury economists said in December that the program might have saved nearly 19 million jobs.Yet there is dissent from one notable contingent: Academic economists who have studied the program have concluded that it has saved relatively few jobs and that, at a cost of more than half a trillion dollars, it has been far less efficient than other government efforts to help the economy.“A very large chunk of the benefit went to a very small share of the firms, and those were probably the firms least in need,” said David Autor, an M.I.T. economist who led one study.The divergence in views over the program’s economic payoff stems in part from ambiguity about its goals: saving jobs or saving businesses.Using different methodology than the Treasury economists, Mr. Autor says the Paycheck Protection Program saved 1.4 million to 3.2 million jobs. Other researchers have offered broadly similar estimates.Given the program’s cost, saving jobs on that scale doesn’t necessarily qualify as a success. Unemployment benefits also provide income, at far less expense, and programs like food assistance and aid to state and local governments pack a larger economic punch, according to many assessments.And because the paycheck program was designed to reach as many businesses as possible, much of the money went to companies that were at little risk of laying off workers, or that would have brought them back quickly even without the help.“It’s just a really inefficient use of funds,” said Eric Zwick, an economist at the University of Chicago’s business school who has studied the program.Many policy experts on Wall Street and in Washington — as well as businesses and banks on Main Streets across the country — say the program’s merits should be assessed instead on what it did to save businesses. On that basis, they say, it helped prevent a greater calamity and fostered economic healing.“A major goal was to keep these businesses alive so that when the economy started to recover and then the economy reopened, there would be businesses around to hire unemployed workers,” said Michael R. Strain, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. Preliminary evidence suggests that the program has succeeded by that metric, he said.In the short term, the program’s proponents are winning the argument. When Congress approved a $900 billion relief package in December, most of the $325 billion in small-business assistance was for a slightly modified version of the Paycheck Protection Program. Businesses began applying for the aid last month.But the debate over the program’s merits could shape the next round of aid. President Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan includes billions for small businesses, but no new money for the program. His aides are weighing what to do about funds already allocated.Mr. Biden’s proposal includes direct grants for the hardest-hit small businesses and a request for Congress to find new ways to help restaurants struggling with consumer pullbacks and state and local restrictions.Many Democrats on Capitol Hill, along with some advocates for small-business relief in think tanks and lobbying shops around Washington, say lawmakers should move on to a more focused and efficient method for supporting small businesses until widespread vaccination fully reopens the economy.Congress created the Paycheck Protection Program in March as businesses shut down early in the pandemic. The program sought to stem layoffs by providing forgivable, low-interest loans to help pay employees even if they weren’t working.The Coronavirus Outbreak More

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    Uber, After Buying Postmates, Lays Off More Than 180 Employees

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesVaccine InformationTimelineWuhan, One Year LaterAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyUber, After Buying Postmates, Lays Off More Than 180 EmployeesThe layoffs include most of the executive team at Postmates, the food delivery app that Uber bought last year.Uber bought Postmates last year for $2.65 billion. Food delivery has been crucial to Uber as its ride-hailing business has been hurt in the pandemic.Credit…Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesJan. 23, 2021, 7:42 p.m. ETSAN FRANCISCO — Uber on Thursday laid off roughly 185 people from its Postmates division, or about 15 percent of Postmates’ total work force, said three people with knowledge of the actions, as the ride-hailing giant consolidates its food delivery operations to weather the pandemic.The layoffs affected most of the executive team at Postmates, including Bastian Lehmann, the founder and chief executive of the popular food delivery app, said the people, who spoke on condition they not be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Uber bought Postmates last year for $2.65 billion.Some Postmates vice presidents and other executives will leave with multimillion dollar exit packages, the people said. Some employees may also see reduced compensation packages, the people said, while others will be asked to leave or serve out the end of their contract positions, which could lead to more exits in coming months.The cuts are part of a larger integration of Uber’s food delivery division, Uber Eats, with Postmates. While the Postmates brand and app will remain separate, much of the behind-the-scenes infrastructure will be melded with Uber Eats and supported by Uber Eats employees. Pierre Dimitri Gore-Coty, the global head of Uber Eats, will continue running the combined food delivery business, the people said.An Uber spokesman, Matt Kallman, confirmed the cuts. “We are so grateful for the contributions of every Postmates team member,” Mr. Kallman said. “While we are thrilled to officially welcome many of them to Uber, we are sorry to say goodbye to others. We are so excited to continue to build on top of the incredible work this remarkable team has already accomplished.”Food delivery has been crucial to Uber as its ride-hailing business has been severely weakened by the pandemic’s effects on travel. Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, has pointed to food delivery as a bright spot; last year, Uber Eats’ revenue overtook the revenue from the ride-hailing business for the first time as people ordered more meals delivered to their homes.Uber, which loses money, laid off hundreds of employees in 2019 as it tried to get costs under control. The company currently has more than 21,000 full-time employees; its drivers are independent contractors.While Uber has been strong in food delivery, it has had to fend off deep-pocketed rivals that have sought to gain market share by subsidizing delivery costs with promotions and discounts.DoorDash, which went public in December, has rapidly expanded over the past few years and has acquired the smaller food delivery start-up Caviar. Other significant competitors include Just Eat Takeaway, which beat out Uber to acquire Grubhub last year for more than $7 billion, and Deliveroo, a delivery company that is popular in Europe.Uber has trimmed other businesses in hopes of becoming profitable by the end of this year. In December, it shed its autonomous vehicles division, Uber ATG, and jettisoned its flying car operation, Uber Elevate. Both efforts were costly.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    Continuing Job Losses Put Spotlight on Economic Relief

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Jobs CrisisCurrent Unemployment RateWhen the Checks Run OutThe Economy in 9 ChartsThe First 6 MonthsAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyContinuing Job Losses Put Spotlight on Economic ReliefRelentless unemployment claims show the pandemic’s grip on the labor market. Help from the recent stimulus bill may lapse before an upturn arrives.Waiting for donations this week at a food distribution center in Inglewood, Calif. Hopes for an economic lift from coronavirus vaccinations have been set back by a slow rollout.Credit…Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York TimesJan. 21, 2021Updated 6:49 p.m. ETEven as it tries to right a shipwrecked economy, the Biden administration confronted fresh evidence of weakness Thursday with the report of nearly a million new state unemployment claims, heightening calls for fresh stimulus efforts.The scale of the job losses underscores the fragility of the job market as overall economic momentum slows amid the worsening pandemic. What’s more, key provisions of the $900 billion aid package passed by Congress last month will lapse in mid-March, well before economists expect mass vaccinations to help the economy rebound.“Unfortunately, the labor market started 2021 with very little momentum,” said Greg Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. “There hasn’t been any improvement, and if anything, there has been deterioration.”It is a perilous start for the administration, which is eager to make good on President Biden’s pledge to “build back better” but must first halt the damage as employers continue to let workers go.The Labor Department said Thursday that 961,000 workers filed initial claims for state unemployment benefits last week. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the total was 900,000.The figures were down from the previous week but remain extraordinarily high by historical standards and have recently reached levels not seen since midsummer. In the comparable week a year ago, before the pandemic, there were 282,000 initial claims.“It’s staggering, and it was worse than I thought,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton in Chicago. “This makes stimulus more urgent.”Mr. Biden found a similar predicament when he became vice president in 2009 with a contracting economy and Republican opposition to a big stimulus package. Although there are bright spots that didn’t exist then, like a rally on Wall Street and a strong housing market, White House officials want to avoid the lasting economic damage and slow growth that resulted from that recession.On Thursday, the administration pointed to the latest data to make its case for new spending.“This morning’s report on new unemployment claims is another stark reminder that we must act now,” said Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council. The situation, he said, “will only worsen if bold action isn’t taken.”Mr. Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that would include $1,400 in direct payments to individuals, expanded unemployment benefits and money for hard-pressed states and cities.In written testimony released Thursday as part of her Senate confirmation process, Janet L. Yellen, Mr. Biden’s nominee for Treasury secretary, reiterated the urgency of renewed aid.“Unemployment remains troublingly high, and millions of families are facing hunger or the risk of eviction,” Ms. Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, told a questioner. “Additional relief is needed to strengthen the economy, address our public health challenge and provide relief to communities that have been hardest hit.”Republicans have already registered resistance to another big spending plan.“We’re looking at another spending blowout,” Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania said at Ms. Yellen’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday. “The only organizing principle I can understand, it seems, is to spend as much money as possible, seemingly for the sake of spending it.”Democrats hope to push a coronavirus relief package through Congress in the coming weeks, with House Democrats postponing votes until the beginning of February as committees work to translate Mr. Biden’s coronavirus plan into legislation.“We’ll be doing our committee work all next week so that we are completely ready to go to the floor when we come back,” the House speaker, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, said at her weekly news conference on Thursday.But with Ms. Pelosi yet to send the House’s article of impeachment against former President Donald J. Trump to the Senate, and with Senate leaders at odds over the terms of how to organize an evenly split chamber, it is unclear how quickly legislation can be processed. Democrats are also leaving open the possibility of using a process called budget reconciliation, requiring only a simple majority for approval, to push legislation through the Senate.A bipartisan group of 16 senators — including some who helped jump-start negotiations over the most recent coronavirus relief package — is expected to speak with Mr. Deese in the coming days about additional relief.The job losses have worsened in recent weeks, as new restrictions and lockdowns force service-sector employers like restaurants and leisure and hospitality establishments to close. If the trend continues, it could threaten other industries.“The level of layoffs is very high, and the virus is causing serious disruption,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.“More aid is needed for households and businesses,” she added. “Many businesses will shut down, and a lot of jobs will be lost without it. That poses a downside risk for the economy in the near term.”A movie theater in Culver City, Calif., with no coming attractions. Leisure industries have been particularly hard hit by the resurgent pandemic.Credit…Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York TimesIn another sign of weakness, the Labor Department reported this month that employers cut payrolls by 140,000 in December, the first decline since the mass layoffs of last spring.The beginning of vaccinations provided optimism about a quick turnaround. The slow rollout in many parts of the country has set back those hopes, though the stimulus package last month helped allay fears of a double-dip recession.Among the emergency federal programs extended by the recent legislation was Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which helps freelancers, part-time workers and others normally ineligible for state jobless benefits. A total of 424,000 new claims were filed under the program last week, up from 285,000 the previous week.Mr. Daco of Oxford Economics said uncertainty about the program’s continuation might have held back claims late last year, so the jump last week could be due to belated filings as well as the overall weakness of the labor market.But Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and a $300 weekly supplement to state and federal unemployment benefits will both expire in mid-March without new legislative action.Ms. Farooqi said meaningful improvement in the economy was unlikely by then.“It’s going to be pretty rough over the next few months,” she said. “My expectation was and still is, at this level of infections, you will see layoffs mounting.”Over all, the best economic remedy is more vaccinations, said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust in Chicago.“There is no better economic stimulus than a successful vaccine rollout,” he said. “It will reduce the risk of human interaction and provide a basis on which different types of businesses can open more durably.”Some experts say it will take many months for most of the population to be inoculated. In the meantime, federal aid efforts are pegged to specific durations, rather than any meaningful improvement in economic conditions.That has created a series of cliffhangers in which help has hung in the balance as millions of unemployed Americans watched the news from Washington with anxiety. Although Democratic control of both chambers of Congress gives Mr. Biden an edge, the kind of ambitious stimulus faces challenging legislative dynamics.There are some signs of hope, despite the dismal jobs picture. The stock market has hit record highs in recent days, and the housing market continues to thrive, buoyed by rock-bottom interest rates.Some economists think the economy could boom when vaccinations are commonplace and pent-up demand sends consumers back to restaurants, onto airplanes and cruise ships, and into deserted downtowns. But there will be more pain before relief arrives.Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    Jobless, Selling Nudes Online and Still Struggling

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesA Future With CoronavirusVaccine InformationF.A.Q.TimelineSavannah Benavidez created an OnlyFans account after losing her job as a medical biller. Credit…Adria Malcolm for The New York TimesSkip to contentSkip to site indexJobless, Selling Nudes Online and Still StrugglingOnlyFans, a social media platform that allows people to sell explicit photos of themselves, has boomed during the pandemic. But competition on the site means many won’t earn much.Savannah Benavidez created an OnlyFans account after losing her job as a medical biller. Credit…Adria Malcolm for The New York TimesSupported byContinue reading the main storyJan. 13, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ETSavannah Benavidez stopped working at her job as a medical biller in June to take care of her 2-year-old son after his day care shut down. Needing a way to pay her bills, she created an account on OnlyFans — a social media platform where users sell original content to monthly subscribers — and started posting photos of herself nude or in lingerie.Ms. Benavidez, 23, has made $64,000 since July, enough not just to take care of her own bills, but to help family and friends with rent and car payments.“It’s more money than I have ever made in any job,” she said. “I have more money than I know what to do with.”Lexi Eixenberger was hoping for a similar windfall when she started an OnlyFans account in November. A restaurant worker in Billings, Mont., Ms. Eixenberger, 22, has been laid off three times during the pandemic and was so in need of cash by October that she had to drop out of dental hygiene school. After donating plasma and doing odd jobs, she still didn’t have enough to pay her bills, so at the suggestion of some friends, she turned to OnlyFans. She has made only about $500 so far.Lexi Eixenberger lost her restaurant job three times and had to quit dental hygiene school. She became an OnlyFans creator, but hasn’t earned much so far.Credit…Janie Osborne for The New York TimesOnlyFans, founded in 2016 and based in Britain, has boomed in popularity during the pandemic. As of December, it had more than 90 million users and more than one million content creators, up from 120,000 in 2019. The company declined to comment for this article.With millions of Americans unemployed, some like Ms. Benavidez and Ms. Eixenberger are turning to OnlyFans in an attempt to provide for themselves and their families. The pandemic has taken a particularly devastating toll on women and mothers, wiping out parts of the economy where women dominate: retail businesses, restaurants and health care.“A lot of people are migrating to OnlyFans out of desperation,” said Angela Jones, an associate professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Farmingdale. “These are people who are worried about eating, they’re worried about keeping the lights on, they’re worried about not being evicted.”But for every person like Ms. Benavidez, who is able to use OnlyFans as her primary source of income, there are dozens more, like Ms. Eixenberger, who hope for a windfall and end up with little more than a few hundred dollars and worries that the photos will hinder their ability to get a job in the future.“It is already an incredibly saturated market,” Ms. Jones said of explicit content online. “The idea that people are just going to open up an OnlyFans account and start raking in the dough is really misguided.”The most successful content creators are often models, porn stars and celebrities who already have large social media followings. They can use their other online platforms to drive followers to their OnlyFans accounts, where they offer exclusive content to those willing to pay a monthly fee — even personalized content in exchange for tips. OnlyFans takes a 20 percent cut of any pay. Some creators receive tips through mobile payment apps, which aren’t subject to that cut; Ms. Benavidez earns most of her money this way.But many of the creators who have joined the platform out of dire financial need do not have large social media followings or any way to drum up consistent business.Elle Morocco posted this image to promote herself on her OnlyFans page.Credit…Elle MoroccoMs. Morocco said maintaining the account could feel like a full-time job.Credit…Elizabeth CraigElle Morocco of West Palm Beach, Fla., was laid off from her job as an office manager in July. Her unemployment checks don’t cover her $1,600 monthly rent, utility bills and food costs, so she joined OnlyFans in November.The Coronavirus Outbreak More

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    The December Numbers Were Awful, but the Economy Has a Clear Path to Health

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesVaccination StrategiesVaccine InformationF.A.Q.TimelineAdvertisementContinue reading the main storyUpshotSupported byContinue reading the main storyThe December Numbers Were Awful, but the Economy Has a Clear Path to HealthAmong the reasons for optimism: the prospect of widespread vaccination, and a Congress more open to stimulus spending.Jan. 8, 2021Updated 7:08 p.m. ETA construction site in Newark this week. Construction employment is still below its pre-pandemic levels, but the sector added 51,000 jobs in December.Credit…Bryan Anselm for The New York TimesIt seemed appropriate that the jobs numbers for the final months of 2020 would be as nasty as the year as a whole was.It is fair to say that the loss of 140,000 jobs in December indicates a backsliding of the economic recovery that took place in the summer and fall. Other numbers in Friday’s report confirm that basically gloomy picture, such as the continued depressed share of adults who are in the labor force. In the debate over which letter of the alphabet best describes the pattern of the 2020 economy, the December numbers pretty much rule out “V.”But. But.The details of this report, combined with everything else swirling around in economic policy and the financial markets, make for a more optimistic case. There is an opportunity for 2021 to be the year of a remarkable bounce-back, thanks to monetary and fiscal stimulus; the delayed effects of buoyant markets over the last few months; and above all the prospect of widespread coronavirus vaccination.The December numbers point to a jobs crisis that is contained to sectors dealing with the direct effects of pandemic-related shutdowns. Unlike the data from the spring of 2020, the latest numbers are not consistent with the sort of broad-based absence of demand in the economy that caused the recovery from the last few recessions to be so long and so slow.The steepest December job losses were in leisure and hospitality, a sector that shed 498,000 positions. Consider what that number represents: countless restaurants, hotels, and performance stages and arenas shuttered; and hundreds of thousands of people back on the jobless rolls and unsure when they’ll be able to resume work.The good news is we know how and when those jobs can come back. If enough Americans are vaccinated, they will probably feel comfortable in returning to normal patterns of leisure activity. An outright boom in those sectors is plausible later this year. Americans’ savings are through the roof, and it is easy to imagine pent-up demand for travel, concerts and the like. More