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Mnuchin says leftover PPP funds should go to hardest-hit industries

Mnuchin prepares to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday. Photo: Asos Katopodis/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at a congressional hearing on Tuesday that the $134 billion in leftover funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) should be repurposed and extended to businesses that have suffered the most during the coronavirus pandemic, including "restaurants and hotels."

Why it matters: Today is the last day small businesses can apply for loans via the PPP, as coronavirus cases spike and some states are pausing or rolling back reopening plans. The prospects for small businesses, many of which have already seen significant revenue drops, are devastating.

Almost half of the U.S. population does not have a job

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The percentage of Americans who are employed sits at just over 50%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment-population ratio. The figure plunged to 51.3% in April (the lowest level on record) and edged up to 52.8% in May.

The backdrop: The ratio was as high as 61.2% in January, but has fallen precipitously since coronavirus-induced lockdowns shuttered businesses across the United States.

Updated Jun 25, 2020 - Economy & Business

Another 1.5 million Americans filed for unemployment last week

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

Another 1.5 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The number of newly filed jobless claims has steadily dropped since peaking in March, but the pandemic is still forcing more than a million workers to the ranks of unemployment each week — over twice the all-time record seen before the coronavirus hit.

A $5 million prize for putting people back to work

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

XPRIZE, a nonprofit organization that holds grand competitions to inspire innovation, announced this week that it would launch a $5 million contest to help retrain workers who lost employment to automation.

Why it matters: The pandemic has only accelerated the job-destroying effects of automation. As the U.S. looks to put tens of millions of people back to work, truly big solutions will be needed.

Second-tier cities vie for telecommuters

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Lingering post-pandemic remote work could redistribute some New York City and Silicon Valley jobs to the American heartland, and smaller cities are already competing to attract talent — but it won't be so easy.

The big picture: Although U.S. workers will have the option to scatter and get out of the crowded and expensive metros, the pull of those places may be too strong for the second-tier cities to win out.

How the pandemic will reshape the job market

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A shock to the job market as massive and as sustained as the coronavirus will leave lasting change — and damage — in its wake.

The big picture: We jumped from the best labor market in 60 years, before the coronavirus, to the worst, in April. As the country comes back, millions of jobs lost during the pandemic will never come back, and there will be massive reallocations of jobs from some parts of the economy to others.

Why discrimination persists in the workplace

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Despite laws protecting people from workplace discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, religion and sexual orientation — including last week's Supreme Court victory for LGBTQ workers — when it comes to actually holding firms accountable, the odds are stacked against workers.

Why it matters: The U.S. workplace is still rampant with discrimination, but the bulk of it is going unchecked as companies have figured out how to keep themselves out of court.

The coronavirus recovery may be W-shaped

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

U.S. economic data has shown improvement in recent reports, starting with May's nonfarm payrolls report and including new home sales, various Fed manufacturing indexes and retail sales, all showing better-than-expected rebounds.

Why it matters: The momentum could reverse quickly if the coronavirus pandemic picks back up and policymakers drag their feet on renewing stimulus measures, experts say.

Unemployment claims are declining very slowly

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Americans lost their jobs at a frenetic pace beginning in March, as unemployment figures rocketed to never-before-seen totals, but they are not coming back nearly as quickly, data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows.

Why it matters: While the number of claims has fallen, nearly 35 million Americans were receiving or had applied for some kind of unemployment insurance as of June 13.

75% of Americans don’t want expanded unemployment benefits to be cut

People waiting in line to receive a food bank donation on May 15 in New York City. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

3 in 4 voters support keeping or expanding the $600 per week of supplemental unemployment benefits that the federal government is providing for those who lost their job during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Morning Consult poll of 1,987 registered voters.

Why it matters: More than 20 million American workers remain unemployed as the Trump administration pushes for unemployment benefits created through the CARES Act to end in late July, Politico reports.