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June 16, 2021

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1 big thing: Burnt-out America

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Many business owners argue that COVID-era enhanced unemployment benefits of $300 a week are keeping would-be workers at home. But a longer-lasting worker awakening is afoot, Axios' Hope King writes.

  • 4 in 10 workers say they're considering leaving their jobs, according to a Microsoft study. Pew found that 66% of unemployed Americans have seriously considered changing their occupation.

The big picture: Workers are burned out not just by their jobs but by the cultural drama around them — fallout from the Trump presidency, continued police shootings, and the consequences of Jan. 6.

Melissa Swift, global leader of workforce transformation at consulting firm Korn Ferry, tells Axios that other factors are adding significant emotional labor to jobs.

  • These include the difficulty of working with a skeleton crew, juggling parenting responsibilities, or being the only person of color in a workplace.
  • "We basically burned out the global workforce over the last year," Swift said. "One of the ways people deal with burnout is switching employers."

Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a report this month that supplemental government benefits "are likely no more of a factor than other impediments to workplace re-entry."

  • Fed research says child care, transportation and health care, in addition to unemployment benefits, are holding back workers.

What to watch: Supplemental benefits are set to end in 24 states in June and July, ending what those states view as perverse incentives.

  • In remaining states, extra benefits roll off in September, coinciding with school reopenings, which will help child care issues.

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2. "Red lines" summit

Courtesy TIME

After a bitter blast from Russia's Vladimir Putin and tough talk from President Biden, both sides agree: Don't count on much from today's summit.

  • "We’re not expecting a big set of deliverables out of this meeting," a senior Biden administration official told reporters on Air Force One from Brussels to Geneva. "No breaking of bread."
  • "I'm not sure that any agreements will be reached," Putin foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov said.

Biden said this week at his NATO press conference that in areas where he and Putin don’t agree, he'll "make it clear what the red lines are."

  • Biden and Putin will greet each other at about 7 a.m. ET in Villa La Grange, a mansion in a 75-acre park overlooking Lake Geneva.
  • A Putin news conference is scheduled for noon EDT, followed by a Biden news conference.
Vladimir Putin lateness to summit
Graphic: MSNBC's "Morning Joe"

Former Russian diplomat Vladimir Frolov told Reuters that Putin wants respectful treatment like members of the Soviet Politburo got in the 1960s-1980s, with "a symbolic recognition of Russia's geopolitical parity with the U.S."

  • In contrast to President Trump's 2018 meeting with Putin in Helsinki, which included a meeting accompanied only by interpreters, Biden and Putin aren't expected to have any solo dealings.

Go deeper: "Making history: The scramble to document presidents' summits."

3. Antitrust war escalates

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden named tech critic Lina Khan, 32, to chair the FTC, making it clear the administration is dead serious about antitrust enforcement, Axios' Ashley Gold and Margaret Harding McGill write.

  • The White House took the industry and D.C. insiders by surprise by naming Khan the chair just hours after the Senate confirmed her as one of five commissioners.

Why it matters: The FTC is the likeliest leading edge of any major regulatory moves against Big Tech.

  • Khan is a Columbia Law professor known for her argument that Amazon's retail business should be separated from its selling platform.

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4. Juneteenth on way to becoming 12th federal holiday

A copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward. Photo: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, via AP

The Senate voted by unanimous consent to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, with quick passage expected in the House, followed by President Biden's signature.

  • Juneteenth (this Saturday) marks the day when the last enslaved African Americans in Texas learned about their freedom, on June 19, 1865 — more than 2.5 years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and months after the Civil War ended, Axios' Ivana Saric writes.

The holiday will be known as Juneteenth National Independence Day.

5. Both coasts celebrate reopening

Photo: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Above, fireworks explode next to One World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty as New York State reaches 70% of adults getting at least a first dose of the COVID vaccine.

San Francisco cable cars will return in August. Disneyland opened to out-of-staters. And Gov. Gavin Newsom visited Universal Studios Hollywood to celebrate the lifting of most COVID restrictions and the "full reopening" of the largest state's economy.

  • "Give people hugs," a maskless Newsom said.

Photos: Life returns to normal.

6. American toll

Data: Johns Hopkins University. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

America's COVID toll of 600,000, passed yesterday, is a higher death toll than the number of U.S. soldiers killed in combat during the Vietnam War, World War I and World War II combined, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez writes.

  • It's greater than the population of Baltimore or Milwaukee, and equal to the number of Americans who died of cancer in 2019.

7. 🚨 World housing markets blare 2008-style warnings

"Real estate prices around the world are flashing the kind of bubble warnings that haven’t been seen since the run up to the 2008 financial crisis," Bloomberg reports.

  • "New Zealand, Canada and Sweden rank as the world’s frothiest housing markets ... The U.K. and the U.S. are also near the top of the risk rankings."

What's happening: "Record low interest rates, unparalleled fiscal stimulus, lockdown savings ready to be used as deposits, limited housing stock, and expectations of a robust recovery in the global economy are all contributing."

8. Weinstein headed to L.A. in shame

Photo: New York Unified Court System via AP

Harvey Weinstein, 69 — attending a hearing from a maximum security prison near Buffalo, N.Y. — learns yesterday that he will "soon be extradited to California to stand trial on charges that he sexually assaulted five women in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills."L.A. Times

9. ⚖️ First charges in Trump cases could come soon

"The Manhattan district attorney’s office appears to have entered the final stages of a criminal tax investigation into Donald J. Trump’s long-serving chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, setting up the possibility [the executive] could face charges this summer," the N.Y. Times reports (subscription).

  • Between the lines: "For months, prosecutors ... have sought to pressure Mr. Weisselberg into cooperating, ... and any deal could turn the trusted executive into a star witness against the former president."
  • "Weisselberg ... continues to work at the Trump Organization."

10. ⚾️ MLB's sticky situation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

MLB's crackdown on foreign substances begins in earnest next week, as the league responds to record strikeouts and a historically low league-wide batting average, Jeff Tracy and Kendall Baker write in Axios Sports.

  • Starting Monday, players will receive a 10-game suspension with pay if they're caught doctoring baseballs, the commissioner's office announced.

How it works: Umpires will check every starting pitcher multiple times each game, and relievers at least once. Catchers and position players will also be searched.

  • Pitchers are responsible for their teammates' wrongdoing, so if the catcher is found to have doctored a pitched ball, both he and the pitcher will be suspended.

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