Economy

Flickr Creative Commons/Dubois Drugs

When a business folds, normally the owner doesn't qualify for unemployment, but since the COVID-19 crisis hit, the federal government through the CARES Act has changed that. Now, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) is preparing to roll out a system to help the self-employed, gig workers and contract workers get the aid they need to survive the pandemic.

Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to trigger the sharpest recession in the United States since the Great Depression. An early signal of that came Wednesday, when the Commerce Department said the economy shrank at a 4.8% annual rate in the first three months of the year — the first quarterly contraction since 2014 and the largest since the Great Recession.

Half the country has been personally economically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and overwhelming numbers of Americans do not think schools, restaurants or sporting events with large crowds should reopen until there is further testing, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

President Trump does not fare very well as far as his handling of the pandemic goes. Most Americans, except Republicans, disapprove of the job he's doing, and there are massive divides by gender and educational level.

Public Domain

Recent statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis interpreted by The Wall Street Journal show the downturn in the energy sector is affecting Mountain West states very differently.

wyomingworkforce.org

The Wyoming Department of Workforces Services reports that workers have received more than $42 million in unemployment insurance benefits since the pandemic began in the state.

Flickr Creative Commons/She Paused For Thought

In the last round of stimulus funds from the federal government, 7,618 Wyoming businesses received money from the Paycheck Protection Program, injecting more than $837 million into the state’s economy that business leaders hope will help soften the blow of the pandemic. 

A National Wildlife Federation report published this week says new oil and gas leases on public lands could harm existing hunting economies in the West.


NTEC's Antelope Mine - operated by Cloud Peak Energy at the time of the photo
Cloud Peak Energy

Two coal companies with mines in the Powder River Basin (PRB) announced lay-offs today in Peabody Energy and the Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC).

Tim Dennell via https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

States in the Mountain West have seen protests against stay-at-home orders in recent days. Those protesters generally argue that the so-called cure to COVID-19 is worse than the disease itself. A recent analysis by University of Wyoming economists says otherwise.

Updated at 8:46 a.m. ET

The number of people forced out of work during the coronavirus lockdown continues to soar to historic highs. Another 4.4 million people claimed unemployment benefits last week around the country, the Labor Department said.

That brings the total of jobless claims in just five weeks to more than 26 million people. That's more than all the jobs added in the past 10 years since the Great Recession.

Loading...

The tension in America between the national government and states' rights is as old as the republic itself. That tension is about to play out in a starkly political way and on a grand scale over the next several weeks, as states consider how to reopen in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

State of Wyoming

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon says despite calls to reopen businesses he prefers to take a more conservative approach as Wyoming approaches the COVID-19 peak for the state.

He speaks to Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck about his thoughts on keeping people isolated, dealing with an economic downturn, and what's in store for the state.

Flickr Creative Commons/Jordan Barab

It's unknown exactly how many immigrant workers have been laid off in Wyoming in recent weeks, but it's likely quite high, according to Jackson immigration attorney Reilly Ward with Trefonas Law, especially since Teton County's service industry saw large numbers of layoffs.

There’s been too much oil on the market since well before the coronavirus outbreak. But a recent agreement to cut production won’t be enough to prevent states in the Mountain West from taking a big hit.

 


Wind River Hotel and Casino

 

The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes' casinos have been shut down for weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And they're not alone. Across the country, more than 500 tribal gaming enterprises have closed their doors. That means an abrupt loss of revenue for tribal governments, which, unlike cities and states, don't have a tax base to fall back on.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

The $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program to boost small businesses during the coronavirus economic crisis has run out of money.

About 17 million people have applied for unemployment benefits in the U.S. in recent weeks. It's an astonishing number that's nearly 10 times what the system has ever handled so quickly.

The Treasury Department has begun sending $1,200 relief payments to people affected by the coronavirus. Electronic payments have already started landing in people's bank accounts. But the IRS has launched a pair of websites to speed payments to those who haven't already supplied the government with their bank information.

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to trigger the worst recession since the Great Depression — dwarfing the fallout from the financial crisis a dozen years ago, the International Monetary Fund warned Tuesday.

It predicts the global economy will shrink 3% this year, before rebounding in 2021. The expected contraction in the U.S. will be almost twice as sharp, the IMF said, with the gross domestic product falling by 5.9% in 2020. The IMF predicts a partial recovery in the U.S. next year, with the economy growing by 4.7%.

Liam James Doyle/NPR

Even if Wyoming's two senators aren't here in Washington, they're working overtime these days. After helping pass a $2.2 trillion stimulus package last month, this week they tried to give the administration another $250 billion so it could aide struggling or shuttered small businesses. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso says these massive stimulus bills are essential right now.

facebook.com/wyomingworkforce

Back in mid-March, Governor Mark Gordon shut down all public spaces to stop the spread of coronavirus. At the time, Destiny Irwin was plugging away on a political science degree at the University of Wyoming and working at two Laramie restaurants to pay her bills. Both went to curbside delivery, and Irwin got laid off.

Ivy Engel

On March 19, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon issued an order requiring all food establishments to halt sit-down services and move exclusively to delivery or to-go orders. Just a couple of weeks later, the order was extended through April 30.

https://www.apartmentfinder.com/

Countless businesses across the state have had to shut down temporarily due to COVID-19. That's not good, particularly for renters in Wyoming who live paycheck to paycheck.

New White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is working with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to see how to reduce wage rates for foreign guest workers on American farms, in order to help U.S. farmers struggling during the coronavirus, according to U.S. officials and sources familiar with the plans.

Opponents of the plan argue it will hurt vulnerable workers and depress domestic wages.

Updated at 11:07 a.m. ET

The Federal Reserve announced several new lending programs Thursday, designed to pump an additional $2.3 trillion into a U.S. economy that has been severely battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

"People have been asked to put their lives and livelihoods on hold, at significant economic and personal cost," Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said during a webcast organized by the Brookings Institution. "As a society, we should do everything we can to provide relief to those who are suffering for the public good."

Updated at 10 a.m. ET

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits shot up again last week, as 6.6 million more people filed initial claims, the Labor Department said Thursday. About 16.8 million have filed in the past three weeks, and analysts expect the numbers to keep rising.

In the prior week, ending March 28, a revised 6.9 million people filed first-time claims.

The Internal Revenue Service is under huge pressure to quickly disburse the $1,200 payments promised to most people in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. Experts say it could take months for everyone to get their checks — with some people possibly waiting until after they file their taxes next year.

Updated at 6:44 p.m. ET

Congress is working to get more money to those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic but negotiations over the size and scope of another round of emergency funding could delay quick action this week.

Starting today, small businesses can apply for the nearly $350 billion in loans available through the economic rescue plan from Congress.

The loan program, known as the Paycheck Protection Program, is intended to support businesses so they can ride out the tough economic times and, most importantly, assist with either keeping current workers or rehire those who were laid off.

Updated at 10:09 a.m. ET

For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. suffered a net loss of jobs as the coronavirus began to take hold in the country. But a monthly snapshot from the Labor Department shows only the first pinpricks of what will soon be a gaping wound.

Pages