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Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Hundreds of meat plant workers across the country have fallen ill with the coronavirus, leading to a slowdown in output and surge in prices.

By the numbers, per Bloomberg: The price of wholesale pork rose by 7.2% to 55.86 cents a pound Thursday — the largest increase in more than two years. Choice-grade beef prices rose to a one-month high of $2.36 a pound, climbing for six straight days through Thursday.

The increase in prices comes as Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, announced three plant closures in recent days. Among those are a pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., At least 644 cases of the virus have been traced back to the plant.

Go deeper: Stores struggle to fill meat demand as coronavirus hits processing plants

Go deeper

Updated 17 mins ago - Economy & Business

The states ending federal pandemic unemployment benefits early

Protesters demand senators support the continuation of unemployment benefits on July 16, 2020 in Miami Springs, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

More than a dozen Republican-led states have announced they are terminating their involvement in federal pandemic-related unemployment programs early.

Driving the news: Many of the states' governors cited worker shortages. But some experts say it's the job climate, including pandemic-era factors, and not unemployment benefits that is determining when and how people return to work.

Companies turn to pay hikes to lure workers

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

More hourly workers are getting a pay bump. Thank the new war for employees.

Why it matters: To meet the demand that's only expected to get more ferocious as reopening continues, companies are having to bid up to attract workers.