Axios Markets

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😎 Rise and shine Markets friends! It's Tuesday and, with some inspiration from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, we're looking forward to walking downstairs to the fridge, and hacking off a small piece of cheese for a snack.

Today's newsletter, edited by Kate Marino, is 1,096 words, 4.5 minutes.

We've got a full lineup — let's go!

1 big thing: Workers with disabilities struggle to find jobs

Data: BLS; Note: Not seasonally adjusted; Chart: Axios Visuals

Even in a remarkably tight labor market, Americans with disabilities are struggling to land jobs, Emily writes.

Why it matters: These are folks who are willing and able to work, and getting them into jobs would help alleviate the labor shortage.

The big picture: Individuals with disabilities have always faced higher rates of unemployment, in no small part because of employer discrimination and biases in the hiring process.

What's new: In tight labor markets, the gap between unemployment rates for people with and without disabilities typically narrows. Yet now the gap is widening, as the chart above shows. There are a few factors that could help explain this...

  • Sectors like retail or hospitality that are most acutely in need of workers are more challenging for people with disabilities — they might be more physically demanding or require longer hours.
  • Plus, COVID risk is still something that many of these folks have to consider.
  • Meanwhile, more Americans have disabilities now. The pandemic drove a surge in the number of disabled people in the U.S, many of whom suffer from long COVID.

A report released Tuesday morning by the Center for American Progress finds that removing obstacles for disabled workers would strengthen the labor market.

  • If disabled workers were employed at the same rate as those without a disability, nearly 14 million more would have been working in 2021, according to the analysis in the report.

What they're saying: Stephanie Corrigan, a 40-year-old woman with a disability, tells Axios that "it's only been ghosting and silence from companies." She's applied to around 200 jobs in graphic design with no luck since 2020. She usually discloses her disability in applications when asked.

  • She's received advice not to disclose because employers could be turned off, Corrigan says. But she worries that disclosing after the fact would also imperil her job prospects.

"There's discrimination at all levels of the pipeline," said Mia Ives-Rublee, the director of the disability justice initiative at the Center for American Progress who co-authored the report.

  • For instance, job requirements could be listed that would discourage those with a disability, but aren't relevant to the job. Say, a note that you'd have to lift 25 pounds for an office job.
  • Employers might not provide accommodations in an interview.
  • Or, there's just flat-out bias: "They see you as a disabled person and decide you can't do the job," she said.

Worth noting: Discrimination isn't the only factor at play. Americans with disabilities often work part time — or not at all — so they don't lose access to Medicaid or Social Security benefits, which have strict and low limits on how much you can earn. Advocates like Ives-Rublee are seeking to change those rules.

Keep reading.

2. Catch up quick

⬇️ Snap's warning on economy spooks investors. (FT)

🛑 Airbnb ends rentals in China. (AP)

📦 Walmart to expand drone deliveries. (Axios)

3. Another borrower squeeze

Data: Bankrate; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Bankrate; Chart: Axios Visuals

It's not just the cost of borrowing to buy a home that's getting more expensive. Pricier credit card debt is also putting a squeeze on consumers who are relying more on plastic amid the worst inflation shock in decades, Axios’ Courtenay Brown writes.

Why it matters: For those carrying a balance, that debt is expected to get even costlier to pay off, as the Federal Reserve continues an aggressive interest rate hike campaign to tamp down red-hot price growth.

  • "The prime rate may end the year at 6%. Add in credit card companies' average margin and that could push the average credit card rate a little over 19% — the highest we have on record," says Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at Bankrate.
  • Credit card rates — unlike mortgage rates — move with a lag in response to Fed policy.

By the numbers: Consumers have opened a record number of new credit card accounts so far this year — 11.5 million, according to Equifax.

The bottom line: Amid the booming job market, delinquency rates remain at rock-bottom levels, though there's been a slight uptick in borrowers with lower credit scores starting to fall behind on payments.

4. Bond market warning signals

Data: S&P Global Market Intelligence; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: S&P Global Market Intelligence; Chart: Axios Visuals

Professional investors think we're headed into one of the most risky environments for corporate credit outside the beginning of the pandemic, Axios’ Kate Marino writes.

Driving the news: The CDX North America High Yield Index, used by institutional investors like hedge funds, has moved down about 10 points since late December. The index represents a basket of default insurance contracts on bonds (known as credit default swaps).

  • That may sound complicated — but the important thing to know is that a lower price on the index means investor views on the future of high yield bond quality are deteriorating.

The bottom line: As the Federal Reserve begins tightening the money supply, CDX prices are signaling more challenging financial conditions ahead for companies — like higher borrowing costs and a potential rise in defaults, George Catrambone, head of Americas trading at DWS Group, tells Axios.

5. Axios Harris Poll 100: Brands poisoned by politics

Illustration of a bottle of poison.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies that once seemed immune from partisan backlash are seeing their reputations plunge in response to political drama, according to new rankings from the annual Axios/Harris Poll 100, Axios' Sara Fischer writes.

Why it matters: The findings suggest that companies that are slow to respond to political crises, or do it inconsistently, suffer the most in terms of consumer reception and trust.

Details: New rankings from the poll — an annual survey to gauge the reputations of the 100 most visible brands in the country — show companies are increasingly caught between their employees, consumers and politics.

  • Disney's ranking dropped significantly — from 37th last year to 65th this year — likely because of its decision to speak out about Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill after initially opting not to address it.
  • "Disney’s about-face shows the reputational hit that comes when the public perceives you as being calculating rather than clear in what you believe in and stand for," said John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll.
  • McDonald's dropped 13 spots from last year. The fast-food chain was slow to respond to the war in Ukraine, given its exposure to the crisis relative to its competitors. The company just said last week that it would pull out of Russia, nearly three months after the war started.

Keep reading this story ... and see the survey's full results and methodology.