Policymakers at the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that they expected the unemployment rate to fall to 4.5 percent by the end of the year, a significant improvement from the 5 percent they forecast three months ago.
Many of Ford Motor’s employees to continue to work remotely at least some of the time after the pandemic is over.
The company said on Wednesday that it would transition to a “flexible hybrid work model” that will allow workers to stay home for focused work and come into the office for collaboration-based activities, such as team-building exercises.
In the United States, Ford currently has more than 30,000 employees working remotely because of the pandemic. The new system will go into effect in July, when the company, which has its main campus in Dearborn, Mich., expects to gradually start bringing more employees back to the office, it said.
“Every non-place-dependent employee, from our leadership team on down, will participate in the hybrid approach,” Kiersten Robinson, the company’s chief people officer, wrote in a handbook distributed to employees. “While we recognize this will take different skill sets and resources, we see it as a great accelerator and competitive advantage for the company. It will enable us to be agile and nimble, and to unleash the full potential of our team.”
Ford is the latest company to announce that remote work will continue even after the pandemic ends.
In February, San Francisco-based Salesforce said it would not require the majority of its global work force to return to the office after the pandemic is over, adopting a “Work From Anywhere” plan that would give its employees flexibility in how, when and where they work. Target also has said it would transition to a partial-remote model and would shed some of its office space.
The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that it had served subpoenas to multiple Chinese companies asking them to provide the government with more information on their use and transfers of American data, to ensure that sensitive information was not being shared with China.
The department did not clarify which Chinese companies were affected.
“In issuing subpoenas today, we are taking an important step in collecting information that will allow us to make a determination for possible action that best protects the security of American companies, American workers and U.S. national security,” Gina Raimondo, the commerce secretary, said in a statement.
“The administration is firmly committed to taking a whole-of-government approach to ensure that untrusted companies cannot misappropriate and misuse data and ensuring that U.S. technology does not support China’s or other actors’ malign activities,” she said.
The subpoenas are part of a review of company activities connected to an executive order issued by the Trump administration on the information and communications technology and services industry.
The order would give the Commerce Department sweeping powers to police transactions by companies in the industry that are owned by foreign nations and pose a risk to American national security. The measure, which was first issued in May 2019, has been criticized for its vague wording and for leaving so much discretion to the commerce secretary.
The most recent figure for the median wage in the greater Birmingham, Ala., was nearly $3 above Amazon’s pay at its warehouse in Bessemer, despite Amazon promoting that most rank-and-file workers there make around $15.50 an hour.
It is common for employers facing a union vote to emphasize the generosity of their wages and to suggest that workers could be worse off if they unionize, Noam Scheiber reports for The New York Times.
The catch is that wages at plants that have successfully avoided unionization have tended to be substantially higher than the typical wage in their areas, reinforcing workers’ sense that they had something valuable to lose.
Veteran production workers made $23.50 an hour at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 2019 when unionization was considered there.
The comparable figure was $23 at Boeing’s South Carolina facility when workers voted on a union.
At Nissan’s Mississippi plant during the vote there, also in 2017, the number was $26.
The union lost in all three cases.
By contrast, unions have been successful when companies have held down wages. During the first half the 2010s, workers unionized at several auto parts suppliers in Alabama and elsewhere in the South, often citing low pay and benefits as the impetus.
In 2015, employees at Commercial Vehicle Group in Piedmont, Ala., which made seats for trucks, voted to join the United Automobile Workers union by a roughly two-to-one ratio. Workers at the plant complained of wages that started as low as $9.70 an hour for temporary workers and topped out at $15.80 for full-time employees.
“Workers always say this: It’s about respect, recognition,” said Gary Casteel, the U.A.W.’s former second-ranking official, who helped oversee much of its organizing in the South. “That’s not the case. It is about the money. Everybody wants to get paid more.”
The Internal Revenue Service will give Americans until May 17 to file their taxes, the agency said Wednesday. The I.R.S. emphasized that the extra time is only for federal returns, not state returns, so taxpayers should check with their state tax agencies about any deadline changes. It also does not apply to estimated tax payments that are due on April 15, which are still due on that day.
The Federal Reserve’s latest projections showed that the central bank’s policymakers don’t anticipate an increase in interest rates at least until 2023. The Fed is also buying $120 billion in bonds per month — $80 billion in Treasury securities, plus $40 billion in mortgage-backed debt. Jerome Powell, the Fed chair, indicated on Wednesday that the Fed was not ready to even start talking about when it might reduce that support. “We’ll be carefully looking ahead,” he said. “When we see that we’re on track” then “we’ll say so, and we’ll say so well in advance of any decision to actually taper.”