Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images

General Electric said it will freeze pension plans covering about 20,000 U.S. employees and make other moves to help cut its debt and reduce its retirement fund deficit by $5 billion to $8 billion.

What it means: A pension freeze means employees no longer build up retirement benefits to reflect higher pay and additional years of employment. Employees stop earning some or all of their benefits from the point of the freeze onward.

  • However, a company "cannot take away any benefit that employees have already earned up to the point of the freeze," according to the Pension Rights Center.
  • U.S. employees facing the pension freeze will be moved to a defined-contribution retirement plan, such as a 401(k) plan, in 2021, the company said.

The big picture: The move is expected to help offset increases in GE’s pension obligations — among its biggest liabilities and underfunded by about $27 billion as of the end of 2018, according to Reuters. It's the latest step by CEO Larry Culp to raise cash and reduce the company's $106 billion debt.

  • Culp, the first outsider to helm GE in its 127-year history, also cut GE’s quarterly dividend to a penny and has sold off major assets to focus on a core of power plants, jet engines and windmills.

Go deeper

Biden releases 2019 tax returns ahead of debate

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign released his 2019 tax returns on Tuesday, showing that he and his wife, Jill, paid nearly $300,000 in federal taxes last year.

Why it matters: The release, timed just hours before the first presidential debate, comes days after a bombshell New York Times report said that President Trump paid only $750 in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017. Biden's team is hoping to make the tax contrast a sticking point during their showdown.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2:15 p.m. ET: 33,454,037 — Total deaths: 1,003,571 — Total recoveries: 23,204,219Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:15 p.m. ET: 7,165,067 — Total deaths: 205,476 — Total recoveries: 2,794,608 — Total tests: 102,342,416Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. States: NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June.
  5. Sports: Tennessee Titans close facility amid NFL's first coronavirus outbreak.
  6. World: U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases.

NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

New York City's coronavirus positivity rate has ticked up to 3.25%, its highest since June, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The jump — from 1.93% on Monday — came on the first day that public elementary classrooms reopened in the city after months of closures, but guidelines state that all public schools will have to shut if the citywide seven-day positivity rate stays above 3%.

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