But it could mean the elevation of other executives within WarnerMedia. On Monday, Mr. Zaslav praised Toby Emmerich, the head of the film division, Casey Bloys, who runs HBO, and Jeff Zucker, the leader of CNN. Mr. Zucker and Mr. Zaslav are also longtime golfing buddies.

When asked about his plan for the management team, Mr. Zaslav said he would not favor Discovery executives.

“Philosophically, our view is we don’t know better,” he said. “There’s a reason WarnerMedia is where it is today.”

The companies expect the deal to be finalized in the middle of next year, and they anticipate annual cost savings of $3 billion. That usually means layoffs are coming.

WarnerMedia already went through several rounds of deep staff cuts after AT&T’s purchase of the company in 2018 as Mr. Stankey, who led the unit for a time, slimmed down the operations. Executives and managers were let go as he combined HBO, Warner Bros., CNN and the other cable networks under a single management team.

When Mr. Kilar came aboard last year, he cut further. Over 2,000 employees were laid off in the process.

To realize $3 billion in cost savings will inevitably mean more layoffs — at both WarnerMedia and Discovery. Mr. Zaslav said there was “a treasure trove of talent” at WarnerMedia, and emphasized the fact that Discovery doesn’t make scripted shows.

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Government help blunted the pandemic’s financial fallout, but it still hit some hard.

American households reported sharply different economic experiences in 2020 as pandemic lockdowns threw workers out of jobs and left many less financially secure, a Federal Reserve report on household economic well-being released Monday showed.

“A clear pattern from the survey is that financial challenges in 2020 were uneven, and frequently left those who entered the year with fewer resources further behind,” according to the Fed’s annual Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households report.

The divergences arose even as Congress and the White House rolled out an enormous spending response meant to keep families financially afloat during a trying period. The data provide evidence that those programs helped — but they did not totally ameliorate the damage for vulnerable households.

The Fed’s online survey, which traces the experiences of U.S. adults older than 18, found that nearly a quarter of respondents said they were worse off financially compared with a year earlier — up from 14 percent in 2019. That came as job losses swept the nation, with roughly one in seven adults reporting that they experienced a layoff at some point in 2020.

“People who kept their jobs during the pandemic generally had stable or improving finances in 2020,” the report said. “However, those who suffered a layoff and an extended period of unemployment saw a deterioration of their financial circumstances.”

Less than a quarter of those who lost jobs had returned to their old positions by late in the year, even though more than 80 percent of laid-off workers had said in April 2020 that they expected to get their jobs back, the survey said.

The economic cost inflicted by state and local lockdowns, while widespread, was far from even. The share of households who reported doing “at least OK financially” held steady over all, but the gap between those with a bachelor’s degree reporting financial comfort and those with less than a high school diploma widened sharply last year — increasing 44 percentage points in 2020 from 34 percentage points in 2019. That happened as the pandemic shuttered service providers like restaurants and shopping malls, costing jobs that require less formal education.

Disparities also played out along racial lines. Black and Hispanic families were far less likely than white and Asian households to report coping financially, the survey showed. Under two-thirds of Black and Hispanic adults said they were doing “at least OK,” versus 80 percent of white adults and 84 percent of Asian adults.

A large share of households took advantage of government relief in 2020. As Congress expanded eligibility and enhanced the generosity of benefits for those experiencing job loss, the report found that 14 percent of adults said they had received unemployment income, up from 2 percent in 2019.

The report said that “many aspects of government stimulus measures” appear “to have blunted the negative financial effects of the pandemic for many families.”

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Wanted in France: Thousands of Workers as Hotels and Restaurants Reopen

PARIS — For six months, Christophe Thiriet has been waiting for France’s grinding national lockdowns to be lifted so he can reopen his company’s restaurants and hotels in a picturesque corner of eastern France and recall the 150 employees who were furloughed months ago.

But when he asked them to return for a reopening in mid-May, he faced an unexpected headache: At least 30 said they wouldn’t be coming back, leaving him scrambling to hire new workers just as he needed to swing into action.

“When you close things for so long, people think twice about whether they want to stay,” said Mr. Thiriet, a co-manager of the Heintz Group, which owns 11 hotels and three restaurants around the riverside city of Metz, near the border with Luxembourg.

Restaurants and hotels across the country are facing the same problem. After months on furlough, workers in droves are deciding not to return to jobs in the hospitality industry. It’s a particular concern in France, which typically tops the list of the world’s most visited countries.

lost revenue since last year.

“We know we’re going to have customers again this summer — that’s not the problem,” said Yann France, the owner of La Flambée, a restaurant in the popular northern seaside city of Deauville. “The concern is that we won’t have an adequate work force at a time when we need to make up for a huge loss in sales.”

make ends meet, could eventually fill any shortfall.

NT Hotel Gallery group, which owns five hotels and three restaurants around Toulouse. “Will things stay open, or could there be another shutdown because of a new virus?”

For those already facing signs of a labor squeeze, it’s now clear that a generous state-subsidized furlough scheme intended to help French employers keep staff on standby has also created unexpected downsides. In the half year in which hospitality employees received 85 percent of their salaries to stay home, many have had ample time to re-evaluate their futures.

“Many people are deciding they have other things to do than continue in a profession where nothing has been happening,” said Mr. Thiriet, who is also a representative of France’s biggest hospitality trade organization, UMIH, the Union of Hospitality Trades and Industries. He added that thousands of other employers in the organization have reported the same recruiting difficulties.

Catherine Praturlon is among those who decided to shift gears completely during the pandemic. A manager of a hotel in the Moselle region of eastern France for nearly 30 years, she had thought of doing something different but never made the leap.

When the government shuttered hotels on and off for months, and travelers slowed to a trickle, the job became boring, she said. “You had no perspective on the future,” Mrs. Praturlon said.

Instead of returning from furlough, she recently quit her job and took one in a different industry. (She said a confidentiality agreement prevented her from naming the field.) “The pandemic lit a fire under me to make that change,” she said.

announced this past week by President Emmanuel Macron.

imminent lifting of a yearlong ban on all but the most essential travel from the United States to the European Union, just in time for summer vacation, will draw back free-spending Americans after a long absence.

Breakfast in America, a popular pancake restaurant in Paris, said the furlough schemes, while essential to the restaurant’s survival, had paradoxically put some of his higher-paid workers at a disadvantage.

While waitstaff earning France’s monthly minimum wage of €1,539 get their full pretax salary under the furlough program, cooks and managers, who earn more, took about a 15 percent pay cut to stay home until the pancake house reopens.

For one manager, a single father with two children, the reduced pay means “he’s really struggling,” Mr. Carlson said.

At Mr. Thiriet’s restaurants and hotels in Metz, the 30 unexpected job vacancies are not yet debilitating, since restaurant reopenings will come in stages and tourism and bookings at hotels are not likely to return to prepandemic levels quickly.

Still, he said, it’s a challenge to replace employees with years and even decades of experience who decided during the pandemic that the work was no longer what they wanted.

“At first people said this is nice, one or two months relaxing at home,” Mr. Thiriet said. “Now, there’s a lack of long-term visibility about this industry, and some people are not so sure they want to be in it.”

He is working with other hotel and restaurant owners in the area to create retraining programs, in hopes of luring new candidates.

Mr. France said he and local restaurant and hotel owners were also working with unemployment offices in hopes of securing applicants in need of seasonal work to be ready for the anticipated crowds.

“We’ll try to limit the damage that’s been done to our business,” Mr. France added.

“But if we don’t have workers, it will be really hard.”

Gaëlle Fournier contributed reporting.

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Class and Covid: A Key Link in Layoffs Worldwide

In the United States and many other nations, lower-income and less educated adults have been hit harder economically by the coronavirus pandemic.

But the relationship between class and Covid-19 is not inevitable: It doesn’t exist in some of the most egalitarian societies of Europe and Asia, according to a new global survey from Gallup, conducted from July 2020 to March 2021.

Globally, 41 percent of workers in the poorest 20 percent of their county’s income distribution said they lost their job or business as a result of the pandemic, compared with 23 percent of workers in the richest 20 percent. That gap in job loss is similar between those with a college degree (16 percent who have lost a job or business) and those without (35 percent).

Gini coefficient for household income), workers with lower incomes and less education were protected from mass unemployment, in part through national policies that sought to prevent job loss.

socioeconomic status is closely related to health outcomes and susceptibility to contagious diseases. Evidence from a handful of countries — including the United States, England and France — shows that Covid-19 has caused a higher death toll in lower-income communities and among Black people and some ethnic minorities.

These gaps appear to largely be a result of exposures generated through work, rather than noncompliance with safety guidelines. Black people in the United States are more likely than white people to report social distancing and mask use, but at the onset of the pandemic they were about 30 percent more likely to work in occupations requiring close physical proximity, according to research scheduled for publication in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

The income-based divide is even sharper: Workers in the bottom third of the income distribution were four times more likely than workers in the top 10 percent to be in a job that required close physical proximity. Except for doctors and a few other professions, highly educated workers rarely need to be in direct contact with other people.

The overexposure of low-income workers to in-person and face-to-face work has created double risks for the less affluent: heightened threats of both physical and economic harm. In the United States, for example, the unemployment rate for workers in food preparation and serving jobs increased to 19.6 percent from 5.5 percent from 2019 to 2020, as people stopped dining out.

Oxford University scholars, as well as other factors that vary by country.

trusting populations, research shows, creating conditions that seem to lead to cooperation and effective collective action.

It’s possible that elected officials in more egalitarian countries are likelier to create policies to protect workers from layoffs — as was the case in Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand, which are in the bottom quintile of global inequality measures, as well as Ireland, Australia and Britain, which are in the second-lowest quintile of inequality.

These policies directed income support to businesses affected by the pandemic to maintain their work force. Other more egalitarian countries — like France, Germany and Switzerland — drew upon and expanded existing employer-subsidy programs devised to keep employees attached to employers.

No such policies were enacted in Chile or Israel, whereas the U.S. government created the Paycheck Protection Program. That program shared characteristics with the successful policies of Europe, but came too late to prevent mass layoffs, as Federal Reserve economists have found, with too many administrative and eligibility complications.

Still, even with those limitations, U.S. layoffs would have been drastically worse without it, according to analysis from economists at the U.S. Treasury Department. The federal government vastly expanded spending in other ways to lesson the harm to those laid off, such as subsidized unemployment insurance and direct payments to low- and middle-income households.

But there’s a good reason it’s best not to be laid off in the first place: Evidence from previous recessions shows that millions of laid-off workers will never return to their employer.

Moreover, recent data from Gallup’s Great Job Survey shows that people who were laid off because of the pandemic and rehired experienced a large drop in job satisfaction and continued to struggle to meet monthly expenses. Globally and in the United States, the world poll shows that those laid off as a result of the pandemic were significantly more likely to report a decline in their standard of living relative to the previous year.

A Republic of Equals: A Manifesto for a Just Society.” You can follow him on Twitter at @jtrothwell.

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C.E.O. Pay Remains Stratospheric, Even at Companies Battered by Pandemic

And, according to security filings, a select few are rapidly accumulating new fortunes. Chad Richison, founder and chief executive of an Oklahoma software company, Paycom, is worth more than $3 billion and was awarded $211 million last year, when his company made $144 million in profit. John Legere, the former chief executive of T-Mobile, was awarded $137.2 million last year, a reward for taking over the rival Sprint.

“We’ve created this class of centimillionaires and billionaires who have not been good for this country,” said Nell Minow, vice chair of ValueEdge Advisors, an investment consulting firm. “They may build a wing on a museum. But it’s not infrastructure — it’s not the middle class.”

The gap between executive compensation and average worker pay has been growing for decades. Chief executives of big companies now make, on average, 320 times as much as their typical worker, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In 1989, that ratio was 61 to 1. From 1978 to 2019, compensation grew 14 percent for typical workers. It rose 1,167 percent for C.E.O.s.

The pandemic only compounded these disparities, as hundreds of companies awarded their leaders pay packages worth significantly more than most Americans will make in their entire lives.

“To my mind, they’re the logical consequence of our total embrace of shareholder capitalism, starting with the corporate raiders of the 1980s, to the exclusion and sacrifice of all else, including American workers,” said Robert Reich, a labor secretary under President Bill Clinton. “The pay packages reflect soaring share prices, which in turn reflect, at least in part, the willingness if not eagerness of corporations to cut payrolls at the slightest provocation.”

AT&T, the media conglomerate, lost $5.4 billion and cut thousands of jobs throughout the year. John Stankey, the chief executive, received $21 million for his work in 2020, down from $22.5 million in 2019.

T-Mobile said it would create new jobs through its merger with Sprint, but has already begun layoffs. It made $3.1 billion in 2020. In addition to Mr. Legere’s windfall, the company awarded its current chief executive, Mike Sievert, $54.9 million.

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Jobs Report March 2021: Gain of 916,000 as Recovery Sped Up

But retailers, manufacturers and transportation companies added jobs as well, which Ms. Swonk said showed that the recovery was being driven by more than just the reopening of shuttered businesses. Government aid has given Americans money to spend, and the confidence to spend it.

Businesses, too, appear to be growing more confident. Many of the jobs added in January and February were temporary positions, but in March, temporary staffing levels were essentially flat, indicating companies were filling permanent positions instead.

Amy Glaser, senior vice president at the staffing firm Adecco, said that in recent weeks, a growing share of her clients had been looking for permanent employees, or converting temporary hires into permanent ones.

“Our conversations have really shifted even over the last six weeks,” she said. “We spent the last year doing a lot of worst-case-scenario planning with our clients, and now the conversation is the opposite: How do we capture the rebound to make the most effective use of it?”

When Main Event Entertainment, which runs 44 family entertainment centers in 17 states, began reopening its doors in June, business was initially slow. But in recent weeks, customers have begun to come back in greater numbers.

“It’s been a very slow, gradual improvement, and then during spring break it was a step up,” said Chris Morris, the company’s chief executive officer. “We believe there is pent-up demand. There have been a lot of missed birthday parties.”

In response, Main Event is going on a hiring spree. The company is aiming to increase its staff by about 20 percent, adding roughly 1,000 positions.

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Unemployment Claims Up a Bit; Manufacturing Gains

A year after they first rocketed upward, jobless claims may finally be returning to earth.

More than 714,000 people filed for state unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was up slightly from the week before, but still among the lowest weekly totals since the pandemic began.

In addition, 237,000 people filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program that covers people who don’t qualify for state benefits programs. That number, too, has been falling.

Jobless claims remain high by historical standards, and are far above the norm before the pandemic, when around 200,000 people a week were filing for benefits. Applications have improved only gradually — even after the recent declines, the weekly figure is modestly below where it was last fall. Some 18 million people in total are receiving jobless assistance, many of them through programs that extend benefits beyond the 26 weeks that are offered in most states.

But economists are optimistic that further improvement is ahead as the vaccine rollout accelerates and more states lift restrictions on business activity. Fewer companies are laying off workers, and hiring has picked up, meaning that people who lose their jobs are more likely to find new ones quickly.

manufacturing index, a closely watched measure of the industrial economy, hit its highest level since 1983 in March. The report’s employment index also rose strongly, a sign that manufacturers are likely to step up hiring to meet rising demand.

Economists will get a more complete, albeit less timely, picture of the job market on Friday, when the Labor Department releases data on hiring and unemployment in March. Forecasters surveyed by FactSet expect the report to show that U.S. employers added more than 600,000 jobs last month, the most since October.

Even better numbers probably lie ahead. The March data was collected early in the month, before most states broadened vaccine access and before most Americans began receiving $1,400 checks from the federal government as part of the newly passed relief package. Those forces should lead to even faster job growth in April, said Jay Bryson, chief economist for Wells Fargo.

“If you don’t get a barnburner in March, I think you’re probably going to get one in April,” he said.

Virus cases are rising again in much of the country as states have begun easing restrictions. If that upward trend turns into a full-blown new wave of infections, it could force some states to reverse course, which could act as a brake on the recovery, Mr. Bryson warned.

But few economists expect a repeat of last winter, when a jump in Covid-19 cases pushed the recovery into reverse. More than a quarter of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and more than two million people a day are being inoculated. That should allow economic activity to continue to rebound.

Still, Ms. Pollak cautioned that the job market would not return to normal overnight. Even as many companies resume normal operations, others are discovering that the pandemic has permanently disrupted their business model.

“There are still a lot of business closures and a lot of layoffs that have yet to happen,” she said. “The repercussions of this pandemic are still rippling through this economy.”

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Unemployment Claims Are Lowest Since Pandemic Began

The Fed changed its policy framework last year to focus on “shortfalls” from full employment, rather than “deviations.” In practice, that means it does not plan to raise interest rates just because the labor market heats up — for instance, if unemployment drops below historically normal levels — so long as inflation is under control.

“The more vibrant the labor market is, the more likely it is to be an inclusive, vibrant labor market,” Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said on a call with reporters Thursday. “We’re not going to prematurely cut off a vibrant labor market.”

Frequently Asked Questions About the New Stimulus Package

The stimulus payments would be $1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income would need to be $112,500 or below, and for married couples filing jointly that number would need to be $150,000 or below. To be eligible for a payment, a person must have a Social Security number. Read more.

Buying insurance through the government program known as COBRA would temporarily become a lot cheaper. COBRA, for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets someone who loses a job buy coverage via the former employer. But it’s expensive: Under normal circumstances, a person may have to pay at least 102 percent of the cost of the premium. Under the relief bill, the government would pay the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through Sept. 30. A person who qualified for new, employer-based health insurance someplace else before Sept. 30 would lose eligibility for the no-cost coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would not be eligible, either. Read more

This credit, which helps working families offset the cost of care for children under 13 and other dependents, would be significantly expanded for a single year. More people would be eligible, and many recipients would get a bigger break. The bill would also make the credit fully refundable, which means you could collect the money as a refund even if your tax bill was zero. “That will be helpful to people at the lower end” of the income scale, said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Read more.

There would be a big one for people who already have debt. You wouldn’t have to pay income taxes on forgiven debt if you qualify for loan forgiveness or cancellation — for example, if you’ve been in an income-driven repayment plan for the requisite number of years, if your school defrauded you or if Congress or the president wipes away $10,000 of debt for large numbers of people. This would be the case for debt forgiven between Jan. 1, 2021, and the end of 2025. Read more.

The bill would provide billions of dollars in rental and utility assistance to people who are struggling and in danger of being evicted from their homes. About $27 billion would go toward emergency rental assistance. The vast majority of it would replenish the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund, created by the CARES Act and distributed through state, local and tribal governments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That’s on top of the $25 billion in assistance provided by the relief package passed in December. To receive financial assistance — which could be used for rent, utilities and other housing expenses — households would have to meet several conditions. Household income could not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and individuals would have to qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship (directly or indirectly) because of the pandemic. Assistance could be provided for up to 18 months, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Lower-income families that have been unemployed for three months or more would be given priority for assistance. Read more.

There have been false starts before, namely a burst of growth that faded as the virus worsened in the fall, but last week’s drop in claims was still notable for its size. In February, the economy remained more than nine million jobs short of where it was before the pandemic.

Unemployment claims have been at historically high levels for the past year, partly because some workers have been laid off more than once. Still, the bottom line is that the data recently has been favorable, said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

“Weekly numbers have been choppy but we’ve been on a downward trend since mid-January,” he said. “As more business owners see a reopening will come, they are more willing to hang on to staff.”

Between the state and federal programs, the number of new jobless claims last week was just under 900,000 after being stuck for months above one million a week.

There were 242,000 new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program covering freelancers, part-timers and others who do not routinely qualify for state benefits, a decrease of 43,000.

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Unemployment claims drop to a pandemic low as reopenings offer hope.

While vaccination efforts have gathered speed and restrictions on activities have receded in many states, the job market is showing signs of life.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell last week to 657,000, a decrease of 100,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. It was the lowest weekly level of initial state claims since the pandemic upended the economy a year ago.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, new state claims totaled 684,000.

In addition, there were 242,000 new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program covering freelancers, part-timers and others who do not routinely qualify for state benefits, a decrease of 43,000.

Unemployment claims have been at historically high levels for the past year, partly because some workers have been laid off more than once. Much of the drop last week was accounted for by a decline in new claims in Ohio and Illinois, but economists said the overall trend was encouraging.

$1.9 trillion relief package this month, has lifted economists’ expectations for growth, the labor market has lagged behind other measures of recovery.

Still, the easing of restrictions on indoor dining areas, health clubs, movie theaters and other gathering places offers hope for the millions of workers who were let go in the last 12 months. And the $1,400 checks going to most Americans as part of the relief bill should help spending perk up in the weeks ahead.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton, said she hoped for consistent employment gains but her optimism was tempered by concern about the longer-term displacement of workers by the pandemic.

“The numbers are encouraging, but no one is jumping the gun and hiring up for what looks to be a boom this spring and summer,” she said. “There is a reluctance to get ahead of activity.”

“We’ve passed the point where you can just flip a switch and the lights come back on,” she added. “We need to see a sustained increase in hiring, which I think we will see, but the concern is that it won’t be so robust. It takes longer to ramp up than it does to shut down.”

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