It will be accompanied by an independent assessment of the fiscal and economic impact of the policies by the Office for Budget Responsibility, a government watchdog.

While markets have cheered the government’s promise to have its policies independently reviewed, questions remain about how the gap in the public finances can be closed. Economists say there is very little room in stretched department budgets to make cuts. That has led to concerns of a return to austerity measures, reminiscent of the spending cuts after the 2008 financial crisis.

There is a danger,” Mr. Chadha said, “that we end up with tighter fiscal policy than actually is appropriate given the shock that many households are suffering.” This could make it harder to support people suffering amid rising food and energy prices. But Mr. Chadha argues that it’s clear what needs to happen next: a complete elimination of unfunded tax cuts and careful planning on how to support vulnerable households.

The chancellor could also end up having a lot more autonomy over fiscal policy than the prime minister, he added.

“The best outcome for markets would be a rapid rallying of the parliamentary Conservative Party around a single candidate” who would validate Mr. Hunt’s approach and the timing of the Oct. 31 report, Trevor Greetham, a portfolio manager at Royal London Asset Management, said in a written comment.

Three days after the fiscal statement, on Nov. 3, Bank of England policymakers will announce their next interest rate decisions.

Bond investors are trying to parse how the central bank will react to the rapidly changing fiscal news. On Thursday, before Ms. Truss’s resignation, Ben Broadbent, a member of the central bank’s rate-setting committee, indicated that policymakers might not need to raise interest rates as much as markets currently expect. Traders are betting that the bank will raise rates above 5 percent next year, from 2.25 percent.

The bank could raise rates less than expected next year partly because the economy is forecast to shrink over the year. The International Monetary Fund predicted that the British economy would go from 3.6 percent growth this year to a 0.3 percent contraction next year.

That’s a mild recession compared with some other forecasts, but it would only compound the longstanding economic problems that Britain faced, including weak investment, low productivity growth and businesses’ inability to find employees with the right skills. These were among the challenges that Ms. Truss said she would resolve by shaking up the status quo and targeting economic growth of 2.5 percent a year.

Most economists didn’t believe that “Trussonomics,” as her policies were called, would deliver this economic growth. Instead, they predicted the policies would prolong the country’s inflation problem.

Despite the change in leadership, analysts don’t expect a big rally in Britain’s financial markets. The nation’s international standing could take a long time to recover.

“It takes years to build a reputation and one day to undo it,” Mr. Bouvet said, adding, “Investors will come progressively back to the U.K.,” but it won’t be quickly.

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EDF says strike hits a third of French nuclear plants, delaying maintenance work

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PARIS, Oct 15 (Reuters) – Strike action over wage demands was hitting a third of EDF’s 18 French nuclear plants as of Friday night, a spokesperson for the utility said, further delaying the maintenance of its reactors.

“Six sites (were) affected by strikes as of last night,” the spokesperson said on Saturday.

This led to the postponement of the restart date of five reactors currently under maintenance by “one to several days”, the spokesperson for EDF (EDF.PA) added.

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Nuclear power represented more than two thirds of France’s total electricity production in 2021, according to data from grid operator RTE.

The country will be short of between 5 and 15 gigawatts (GW) of power at peak demand this winter depending on the temperature and will need to mainly rely on imports, according to forecast models developed by EDF’s works council CSE.

France will have to buy electricity on the market this winter or produce it from gas, and there is no guarantee that neighbouring countries will be in a position to sell their electricity, CSE representative Philippe Page le Merour has said, given the energy crisis in Europe.

A representative for France’s FNME trade union said on Friday that maintenance work at nine nuclear reactors split between five sites had been delayed due to a strike over wages.

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Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Battle Over Wage Rules for Tipped Workers Is Heating Up

Sylvia Gaston, a waitress at a restaurant in Astoria, Queens, said her base wage is $7.50 an hour — even though New York City’s legal subminimum is $10, which must come to at least $15 after tips. Ms. Gaston, 40, who is from Mexico, feels that undocumented workers like her have a harder time fighting back when they are shortchanged.

“It doesn’t really matter if you have documents or not — I think folks are still getting underpaid in general,” she said. “However, when it comes to uplifting your voices and speaking about it, the folks who can get a little bit more harsh repercussions are people who are undocumented.”

Subminimum base pay for some tipped workers in the state, such as car washers, hairdressers and nail salon employees, was abolished in 2019 under an executive order by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, but workers in the food and drinks industry were left out.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mr. Cuomo’s successor, said while lieutenant governor in 2020 that she supported “a solid, full wage for restaurant workers.” And progressive legislators plan a bill in January that would eliminate the two-tier wage system by the end of 2025.

When The New York Times asked if she would support such changes, Ms. Hochul’s office did not answer directly. “We are always exploring the best ways to provide support” to service workers, it said.

Proponents of abandoning subminimum wages say there could be advantages for employers, including less turnover, better service and higher morale.

David Cooper, the director of the economic analysis and research network at the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank, contends that when wage laws are changed to a single-tier system, business owners can have the assurance that “every single person they compete with is making the same exact adjustment,” reducing the specter of a competitive disadvantage.

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Amazon Labor Union, With Renewed Momentum, Faces Next Test

The Amazon Labor Union has built momentum leading up to an election this week at an 800-person warehouse near Albany, N.Y.

A federal labor official recently endorsed the union’s election victory at a Staten Island warehouse in April, which Amazon has challenged, while workers’ frustrations over pay and safety have created an opportunity to add supporters and pressure the company to bargain.

But the union faces questions about whether it can translate such opportunities into lasting gains. For months after its victory at the 8,000-person warehouse on Staten Island, the union appeared to be out of its depths. It nearly buckled under a crush of international media attention and lost a vote at a second Staten Island warehouse in May.

At times, it has neglected organizing inside the original warehouse, known as JFK8, where high turnover means the union must do constant outreach just to maintain support — to say nothing of expanding. Christian Smalls, the union’s president and a former JFK8 employee, seemed distracted as he traveled widely. There was burnout and infighting in the group, and several core members left or were pushed out.

attempt to overturn its victory, which consumed time and resources, as supporters and leaders testified in hearings that dragged across 24 business days beginning in mid-June. The union delayed plans to train more workers as organizers. A national organizing call was put on hold.

a party in Hollywood and decided that the Amazon Labor Union “understood where we were coming from,” she recalled in an interview.

could spend years appealing the election result on Staten Island, and the company still has enormous power over JFK8 workers. After workers protested Amazon’s response to a fire at the site last week, the company suspended more than 60 of them with pay while, it said, it investigated what had occurred. The union filed unfair-labor-practice charges over the suspensions; Amazon said most of the workers had returned to work.

unusually high injury rates, among other safety issues. The facility was evacuated after a cardboard compactor caught fire last week, two days after the JFK8 fire, which was similar.

“The timeline to fix things is before something tragic happens,” Ms. Goodall said.

She accused Amazon of running an aggressive anti-union campaign, including regular meetings with employees in which it questions the union’s credibility and suggests that workers could end up worse off if they unionize.

Mr. Flaningan, the company spokesman, said that while injuries increased as Amazon trained hundreds of thousands of new workers in 2021, the company believed that its safety record surpassed that of other retailers over a broader period.

“Like many other companies, we hold these meetings because it’s important that everyone understands the facts about joining a union and the election process itself,” he said, adding that the decision to unionize is up to employees.

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Less Turnover, Smaller Raises: Hot Job Market May Be Losing Its Sizzle

Last year, Klaussner Home Furnishings was so desperate for workers that it began renting billboards near its headquarters in Asheboro, N.C., to advertise job openings. The steep competition for labor drove wages for employees on the furniture maker’s production floor up 12 to 20 percent. The company began offering $1,000 signing bonuses to sweeten the deal.

“Consumer demand was through the roof,” said David Cybulski, Klaussner’s president and chief executive. “We just couldn’t get enough labor fast enough.”

But in recent months, Mr. Cybulski has noticed that frenzy die down.

Hiring for open positions has gotten easier, he said, and fewer Klaussner workers are leaving for other jobs. The company, which has about 1,100 employees, is testing performance rewards to keep workers happy rather than racing to increase wages. The $1,000 signing bonus ended in the spring.

“No one is really chasing employees to the dollar anymore,” he said.

By many measures, the labor market is still extraordinarily strong even as fears of a recession loom. The unemployment rate, which stood at 3.7 percent in August, remains near a five-decade low. There are twice as many job openings as unemployed workers available to fill them. Layoffs, despite some high-profile announcements in recent weeks, are close to a record low.

Walmart and Amazon have announced slowdowns in hiring; others, such as FedEx, have frozen hiring altogether. Americans in July quit their jobs at the lowest rate in more than a year, a sign that the period of rapid job switching, sometimes called the Great Resignation, may be nearing its end. Wage growth, which soared as companies competed for workers, has also slowed, particularly in industries like dining and travel where the job market was particularly hot last year.

More broadly, many companies around the country say they are finding it less arduous to attract and retain employees — partly because many are paring their hiring plans, and partly because the pool of available workers has grown as more people come off the economy’s sidelines. The labor force grew by more than three-quarters of a million people in August, the biggest gain since the early months of the pandemic. Some executives expect hiring to keep getting easier as the economy slows and layoffs pick up.

“Not that I wish ill on any people out there from a layoff perspective or whatever else, but I think there could be an opportunity for us to ramp some of that hiring over the coming months,” Eric Hart, then the chief financial officer at Expedia, told investors on the company’s earnings call in August.

Taken together, those signals point to an economic environment in which employers may be regaining some of the leverage they ceded to workers during the pandemic months. That is bad news for workers, particularly those at the bottom of the pay ladder who have been able to take advantage of the hot labor market to demand higher pay, more flexible schedules and other benefits. With inflation still high, weaker wage growth will mean that more workers will find their standard of living slipping.

But for employers — and for policymakers at the Federal Reserve — the calculation looks different. A modest cooling would be welcome after months in which employers struggled to find enough staff to meet strong demand, and in which rapid wage growth contributed to the fastest inflation in decades. Too pronounced a slowdown, however, could lead to a sharp rise in unemployment, which would almost certainly lead to a drop in consumer demand and create a new set of problems for employers.

Recent research from economists at the Federal Reserve Banks of Dallas and St. Louis found that there had been a huge increase in poaching — companies hiring workers away from other jobs — during the recent hiring boom. If companies become less willing to recruit workers from competitors, and to pay the premium that doing so requires, or if workers become less likely to hop between jobs, that could lead wage growth to ease even if layoffs don’t pick up.

There are hints that could be happening. A recent survey from another career site, ZipRecruiter, found that workers have become less confident in their ability to find a job and are putting more emphasis on finding a job they consider secure.

“Workers and job seekers are feeling just a little bit less bold, a little bit more concerned about the future availability of jobs, a little bit more concerned about the stability of their own jobs,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.

Some businesses, meanwhile, are becoming a bit less frantic to hire. A survey of small businesses from the National Federation of Independent Business found that while many employers still have open positions, fewer of them expect to fill those jobs in the next three months.

More clues about the strength of the labor market could come in the upcoming months, the time of year when companies, including retailers, traditionally ramp up hiring for the holiday season. Walmart said in September that this year it would hire a fraction of the workers it did during the last holiday season.

The signs of a cool-down extend even to leisure and hospitality, the sector where hiring challenges have been most acute. Openings in the sector have fallen sharply from the record levels of last year, and hourly earnings growth slowed to less than 9 percent in August from a rate of more than 16 percent last year.

Until recently, staffing shortages at Biggby Coffee were so severe that many of the chain’s 300-plus stores had to close early some days, or in some cases not open at all. But while hiring remains a challenge, the pressure has begun to ease, said Mike McFall, the company’s co-founder and co-chief executive. One franchisee recently told him that 22 of his 25 locations were fully staffed and that only one was experiencing a severe shortage.

“We are definitely feeling the burden is lifting in terms of getting people to take the job,” Mr. McFall said. “We’re getting more applications, we’re getting more people through training now.”

The shift is a welcome one for business owners like Mr. McFall. He said franchisees have had to raise wages 50 percent or more to attract and retain workers — a cost increase they have offset by raising prices.

“The expectation by the consumer is that you are raising prices, and so if you don’t take advantage of that moment, you are going to be in a pickle,” he said, referring to the pressure to increase wages. “So you manage it by raising prices.”

So far, Mr. McFall said, higher prices haven’t deterred customers. Still, he said, the period of severe staffing shortages is not without its costs. He has seen a loss in sales, as well as a loss of efficiency and experienced workers. That will take time to rebuild, he said.

“When we were in crisis, it was all we were focused on,” he said. “So now that it feels like the crisis is mitigating, that it’s getting a little better, we can now begin to focus on the culture in the stores and try to build that up again.”

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They Were Entitled to Free Care. Hospitals Hounded Them to Pay.

In 2018, senior executives at one of the country’s largest nonprofit hospital chains, Providence, were frustrated. They were spending hundreds of millions of dollars providing free health care to patients. It was eating into their bottom line.

The executives, led by Providence’s chief financial officer at the time, devised a solution: a program called Rev-Up.

Rev-Up provided Providence’s employees with a detailed playbook for wringing money out of patients — even those who were supposed to receive free care because of their low incomes, a New York Times investigation found.

nonprofits like Providence. They enjoy lucrative tax exemptions; Providence avoids more than $1 billion a year in taxes. In exchange, the Internal Revenue Service requires them to provide services, such as free care for the poor, that benefit the communities in which they operate.

But in recent decades, many of the hospitals have become virtually indistinguishable from for-profit companies, adopting an unrelenting focus on the bottom line and straying from their traditional charitable missions.

focused on investments in rich communities at the expense of poorer ones.

And, as Providence illustrates, some hospital systems have not only reduced their emphasis on providing free care to the poor but also developed elaborate systems to convert needy patients into sources of revenue. The result, in the case of Providence, is that thousands of poor patients were saddled with debts that they never should have owed, The Times found.

provide. That was below the average of 2 percent for nonprofit hospitals nationwide, according to an analysis of hospital financial records by Ge Bai, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Ten states, however, have adopted their own laws that specify which patients, based on their income and family size, qualify for free or discounted care. Among them is Washington, where Providence is based. All hospitals in the state must provide free care for anyone who makes under 300 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that threshold is $83,250 a year.

In February, Bob Ferguson, the state’s attorney general, accused Providence of violating state law, in part by using debt collectors to pursue more than 55,000 patient accounts. The suit alleged that Providence wrongly claimed those patients owed a total of more than $73 million.

Providence, which is fighting the lawsuit, has said it will stop using debt collectors to pursue money from low-income patients who should qualify for free care in Washington.

But The Times found that the problems extend beyond Washington. In interviews, patients in California and Oregon who qualified for free care said they had been charged thousands of dollars and then harassed by collection agents. Many saw their credit scores ruined. Others had to cut back on groceries to pay what Providence claimed they owed. In both states, nonprofit hospitals are required by law to provide low-income patients with free or discounted care.

“I felt a little betrayed,” said Bev Kolpin, 57, who had worked as a sonogram technician at a Providence hospital in Oregon. Then she went on unpaid leave to have surgery to remove a cyst. The hospital billed her $8,000 even though she was eligible for discounted care, she said. “I had worked for them and given them so much, and they didn’t give me anything.” (The hospital forgave her debt only after a lawyer contacted Providence on Ms. Kolpin’s behalf.)

was a single room with four beds. The hospital charged patients $1 a day, not including extras like whiskey.

Patients rarely paid in cash, sometimes offering chickens, ducks and blankets in exchange for care.

At the time, hospitals in the United States were set up to do what Providence did — provide inexpensive care to the poor. Wealthier people usually hired doctors to treat them at home.

wrote to the Senate in 2005.

Some hospital executives have embraced the comparison to for-profit companies. Dr. Rod Hochman, Providence’s chief executive, told an industry publication in 2021 that “‘nonprofit health care’ is a misnomer.”

“It is tax-exempt health care,” he said. “It still makes profits.”

Those profits, he added, support the hospital’s mission. “Every dollar we make is going to go right back into Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Alaska and Montana.”

Since Dr. Hochman took over in 2013, Providence has become a financial powerhouse. Last year, it earned $1.2 billion in profits through investments. (So far this year, Providence has lost money.)

Providence also owes some of its wealth to its nonprofit status. In 2019, the latest year available, Providence received roughly $1.2 billion in federal, state and local tax breaks, according to the Lown Institute, a think tank that studies health care.

a speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures.”

Ms. Tizon, the spokeswoman for Providence, said the intent of Rev-Up was “not to target or pressure those in financial distress.” Instead, she said, “it aimed to provide patients with greater pricing transparency.”

“We recognize the tone of the training materials developed by McKinsey was not consistent with our values,” she said, adding that Providence modified the materials “to ensure we are communicating with each patient with compassion and respect.”

But employees who were responsible for collecting money from patients said the aggressive tactics went beyond the scripts provided by McKinsey. In some Providence collection departments, wall-mounted charts shaped like oversize thermometers tracked employees’ progress toward hitting their monthly collection goals, the current and former Providence employees said.

On Halloween at one of Providence’s hospitals, an employee dressed up as a wrestler named Rev-Up Ricky, according to the Washington lawsuit. Another costume featured a giant cardboard dollar sign with “How” printed on top of it, referring to the way the staff was supposed to ask patients how, not whether, they would pay. Ms. Tizon said such costumes were “not the culture we strive for.”

financial assistance policy, his low income qualified him for free care.

In early 2021, Mr. Aguirre said, he received a bill from Providence for $4,394.45. He told Providence that he could not afford to pay.

Providence sent his account to Harris & Harris, a debt collection company. Mr. Aguirre said that Harris & Harris employees had called him repeatedly for weeks and that the ordeal made him wary of going to Providence again.

“I try my best not to go to their emergency room even though my daughters have gotten sick, and I got sick,” Mr. Aguirre said, noting that one of his daughters needed a biopsy and that he had trouble breathing when he had Covid. “I have this big fear in me.”

That is the outcome that hospitals like Providence may be hoping for, said Dean A. Zerbe, who investigated nonprofit hospitals when he worked for the Senate Finance Committee under Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa.

“They just want to make sure that they never come back to that hospital and they tell all their friends never to go back to that hospital,” Mr. Zerbe said.

The Everett Daily Herald, Providence forgave her bill and refunded the payments she had made.

In June, she got another letter from Providence. This one asked her to donate money to the hospital: “No gift is too small to make a meaningful impact.”

In 2019, Vanessa Weller, a single mother who is a manager at a Wendy’s restaurant in Anchorage, went to Providence Alaska Medical Center, the state’s largest hospital.

She was 24 weeks pregnant and experiencing severe abdominal pains. “Let this just be cramps,” she recalled telling herself.

Ms. Weller was in labor. She gave birth via cesarean section to a boy who weighed barely a pound. She named him Isaiah. As she was lying in bed, pain radiating across her abdomen, she said, a hospital employee asked how she would like to pay. She replied that she had applied for Medicaid, which she hoped would cover the bill.

After five days in the hospital, Isaiah died.

Then Ms. Weller got caught up in Providence’s new, revenue-boosting policies.

The phone calls began about a month after she left the hospital. Ms. Weller remembers panicking when Providence employees told her what she owed: $125,000, or about four times her annual salary.

She said she had repeatedly told Providence that she was already stretched thin as a single mother with a toddler. Providence’s representatives asked if she could pay half the amount. On later calls, she said, she was offered a payment plan.

“It was like they were following some script,” she said. “Like robots.”

Later that year, a Providence executive questioned why Ms. Weller had a balance, given her low income, according to emails disclosed in Washington’s litigation with Providence. A colleague replied that her debts previously would have been forgiven but that Providence’s new policy meant that “balances after Medicaid are being excluded from presumptive charity process.”

Ms. Weller said she had to change her phone number to make the calls stop. Her credit score plummeted from a decent 650 to a lousy 400. She has not paid any of her bill.

Susan C. Beachy and Beena Raghavendran contributed research.

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Federal Reserve Attacks Inflation With Another Big Hike, Expects More

The central bank raised its key short-term rate by a substantial three-quarters of a point for the third consecutive time.

Intensifying its fight against high inflation, the Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate Wednesday by a substantial three-quarters of a point for a third straight time and signaled more large rate hikes to come — an aggressive pace that will heighten the risk of an eventual recession.

The Fed’s move boosted its benchmark short-term rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, to a range of 3% to 3.25%, the highest level since early 2008.

The officials also forecast that they will further raise their benchmark rate to roughly 4.4% by year’s end, a full percentage point higher than they had forecast as recently as June. And they expect to raise the rate further next year, to about 4.6%. That would be the highest level since 2007.

On Wall Street, stock prices fell and bond yields rose in response to the Fed’s projection of further steep rate hikes ahead.

The central bank’s action Wednesday followed a government report last week that showed high costs spreading more broadly through the economy, with price spikes for rents and other services worsening even though some previous drivers of inflation, such as gas prices, have eased. By raising borrowing rates, the Fed makes it costlier to take out a mortgage or an auto or business loan. Consumers and businesses then presumably borrow and spend less, cooling the economy and slowing inflation.

Fed officials have said they’re seeking a “soft landing,” by which they would manage to slow growth enough to tame inflation but not so much as to trigger a recession. Yet economists increasingly say they think the Fed’s steep rate hikes will lead, over time, to job cuts, rising unemployment and a full-blown recession late this year or early next year.

In their updated economic forecasts, the Fed’s policymakers project that economic growth will remain weak for the next few years, with rising unemployment. It expects the jobless rate to reach 4.4% by the end of 2023, up from its current level of 3.7%. Historically, economists say, any time the unemployment rate has risen by a half-point over several months, a recession has always followed.

Fed officials now see the economy expanding just 0.2% this year, sharply lower than its forecast of 1.7% growth just three months ago. And it expects sluggish growth below 2% from 2023 through 2025.

And even with the steep rate hikes the Fed foresees, it still expects core inflation — which excludes the volatile food and gas categories — to be 3.1% at the end of next year, well above its 2% target.

Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged in a speech last month that the Fed’s moves will “bring some pain” to households and businesses. And he added that the central bank’s commitment to bringing inflation back down to its 2% target was “unconditional.”

Falling gas prices have slightly lowered headline inflation, which was a still-painful 8.3% in August compared with a year earlier. Declining gas prices might have contributed to a recent rise in President Joe Biden’s public approval ratings, which Democrats hope will boost their prospects in the November midterm elections.

Short-term rates at a level the Fed is now envisioning would make a recession likelier next year by sharply raising the costs of mortgages, car loans and business loans. The economy hasn’t seen rates as high as the Fed is projecting since before the 2008 financial crisis. Last week, the average fixed mortgage rate topped 6%, its highest point in 14 years. Credit card borrowing costs have reached their highest level since 1996, according to Bankrate.com.

Inflation now appears increasingly fueled by higher wages and by consumers’ steady desire to spend and less by the supply shortages that had bedeviled the economy during the pandemic recession. On Sunday, though, President Biden said on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that he believed a soft landing for the economy was still possible, suggesting that his administration’s recent energy and health care legislation would lower prices for pharmaceuticals and health care.

Some economists are beginning to express concern that the Fed’s rapid rate hikes — the fastest since the early 1980s — will cause more economic damage than necessary to tame inflation. Mike Konczal, an economist at the Roosevelt Institute, noted that the economy is already slowing and that wage increases – a key driver of inflation — are levelling off and by some measures even declining a bit.

Surveys also show that Americans are expecting inflation to ease significantly over the next five years. That is an important trend because inflation expectations can become self-fulfilling: If people expect inflation to ease, some will feel less pressure to accelerate their purchases. Less spending would then help moderate price increases.

Konczal said there is a case to be made for the Fed to slow its rate hikes over the next two meetings.

“Given the cooling that’s coming,” he said, “you don’t want to rush into this.”

The Fed’s rapid rate hikes mirror steps that other major central banks are taking, contributing to concerns about a potential global recession. The European Central Bank last week raised its benchmark rate by three-quarters of a percentage point. The Bank of England, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Bank of Canada have all carried out hefty rate increases in recent weeks.

And in China, the world’s second-largest economy, growth is already suffering from the government’s repeated COVID lockdowns. If recession sweeps through most large economies, that could derail the U.S. economy, too.

Even at the Fed’s accelerated pace of rate hikes, some economists — and some Fed officials — argue that they have yet to raise rates to a level that would actually restrict borrowing and spending and slow growth.

Many economists sound convinced that widespread layoffs will be necessary to slow rising prices. Research published earlier this month under the auspices of the Brookings Institution concluded that unemployment might have to go as high as 7.5% to get inflation back to the Fed’s 2% target.

Only a downturn that harsh would reduce wage growth and consumer spending enough to cool inflation, according to the research, by Johns Hopkins University economist Laurence Ball and two economists at the International Monetary Fund.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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A New California Law Could Raise Minimum Wages

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that will give minimum wage workers more say in their pay and work conditions.

Fast food chain workers in one state could soon be making triple the federal minimum wage. And that shift might have national ripple effects for low-wage workers. 

It comes from a recently passed law in California that gives new power to workers across the fast-food industry to set standards on wages and working conditions.  

It’s a system that could start a new way for workers in other states to fight for a living wage, but restaurant owners, fast food companies and trade associations worry it could raise food prices in an economy suffering from inflation. 

So, where did this come from? And how will it affect the fast-food industry? 

California passed AB 257, also known as the FAST Recovery Act. It’s a law that Governor Gavin Newsom signed on Labor Day. 

“We recognize there are sectors of our economy where we’re falling a bit short and one of those areas is fast food workers. A bill that empowers our workers, particularly in that sector giving them more voice, giving them more choice, creating a new council, and I’m proud on Labor Day, to sign that bill and enshrine it in law,” said Newsom.  

It creates a fast food council system that will consist of workers, industry representatives, franchise owners and state officials. They’d work together to set labor standards for workers, including the minimum wage. 

We should note we don’t know yet what number they would land on for a minimum wage, and an increase may be gradual. But the law says it can be anything up to $22 an hour.

That number on its own could be groundbreaking. It would be a 40% pay hike from the state’s existing minimum wage of $15 per hour for most workers. And it covers more than half a million employees who work at restaurants with 100 or more locations.

California is the third-most expensive state in the U.S. to live in and has half of the top ten most expensive metro areas, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  

Anneisha Williams, a single mother of six, is an employee at Jack In The Box. She’s fighting for $15 an hour.

“That will go to my bills because my rent has gone up. You know, they talk about how minimum wage is going up. We need it because the cost of living went up,” said Williams. 

Fast food workers in California, like Los Angeles have had it especially rough in the past few years. Her challenges have led her to join the Fight for 15 Movement advocating for a higher minimum wage. 

A study earlier this year by the UCLA Labor Center surveyed fast food workers in Los Angeles. It found that in addition to limited protections from COVID-19 infection, many workers faced threats of wage theft, lost hours and a lack of paid sick leave. 

“I did lose out on wages, you know, because I had to take off for school. And they don’t pay you for taking off. I don’t have sick time to take off for work, so I had no choice but to lose out on those wages for the time that I did so. It was two, on two occasions that I had to miss out for a couple of days out on work because of COVID,” said Williams. 

Nearly two-thirds of workers experienced wage theft, including a lack of reimbursements for supplies, late paychecks and limited breaks. And nearly a third of workers, including Anneisha, said they weren’t provided with paid sick time. 

“With this bill, AB 257— that will help us be able to collect our wages that we missed out on in case, you know, things like that happen. Our kids get sick or we get sick or something, you know? That right there would have our back, you know, that would be it for us. You know, who, who wants to miss out on money when they’re sick?” she said. 

Businesses already have some worries about this. Large chains including Chipotle, Chick-Fil-A and In-N-Out are sponsoring efforts to block the bill. 

The National Restaurant Association and the International Franchise Association put out a joint statement condemning the bill for unfairly punishing small businesses and portraying restaurants as bad employers. They worry the law could lead to food prices rising too quickly.  

Jeff Hanscom is the vice president of state and local govt. relations at the International Franchise Association. 

“There’s no doubt that 257 and the wage council will ultimately, ultimately lead to higher labor costs, which will then ultimately lead to higher food costs for the consumer. And for franchisees who are already operating on very thin margins and not just franchisees, it will affect restaurant owners who are already operating on very thin margins. You have to pass the cost along somewhere,” said Hanscom. 

But the numbers seem to indicate the effects on prices may be relatively small. Michael Reich, a UC Berkeley economist and wage expert, told Newsy that a study by researchers at the Boston Federal Reserve and MIT found that a sudden minimum wage bump from $15 to $22 would increase prices, but just a pinch. 

“My calculation is that just looking at this business model, the increase in prices going up to $22 would be about 2 to 3%. So that means for something like a $2 Burger King bacon cheeseburger, is one example, or the Taco Bell burrito, that’s $2. That’s about a nickel increase. That isn’t going to really deter people from buying those items,” said Reich. 

Industry groups have also supported a referendum that could block the law from taking effect. If they get enough signatures by December 1, the law would be put on hold until a statewide referendum in 2024. 

Industry advocates warn this law targets not just large fast-food providers, but the smaller, usually locally-owned franchisee businesses that run individual locations.

“We’re talking about nearly 15,000 franchise businesses that are impacted by 257 or at least 15,000 units in California that are part of chains with 100 or more locations. But 70% of those — 70% of the franchisees in California — only own one store,” said Hanscom.  

Legal challenges could also be on the way, as there are questions about whether this setup that allows bargaining for industry-wide standards could be blocked because it’s not one covered by the existing federal law called the National Labor Relations Act. 

San Francisco-based lawyer Ellen Bronchetti works with employers in labor law cases and says that businesses could use this route in an effort to block AB 257 from taking effect. 

“There’s an argument that the NLRA is the sole and exclusive law that should govern how employees can work together collectively to force their employers to increase, to provide better wages and working conditions,” said Bronchetti. 

If the council system takes effect, this could have consequences for fast food workers in other parts of the country, if other states try a system like this that relies on bargaining agreements that cover entire industries. 

“This type of system has had various degrees of success overseas in places like Europe and South America and Canada, but it’s not recognized as a standard in the United States. This type of council proposal in the statute, in effect, does create what I would view as the first of its kind sectoral bargaining mandate that we’ve seen, and it could have a huge ripple effect if it’s successful not just on the fast food industry, but on other industries,” said Bronchetti. 

And companies are already moving forward, at least on minimum wage increases. That’s in line with data showing that the previous minimum wage increase in California, a gradual rise to $15 an hour, drove wages even higher than that. 

“Wages have been rising since just before the pandemic and through the pandemic, and especially in restaurants. And so now the actual entry wage, the starting wage is well above $15. It’s more like $17, $18 in many parts of California,” said Hanscom. 

Source: newsy.com

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Why Is The Trucking Industry Changing?

During the pandemic the trucking industry struggled due to loss of drivers. Now the industry is picking back up as driver enrollment increases.

Manny Guzman’s life on the road is a far cry from his long days four years ago when the father of one was taking orders for wedding cakes and pastries at a bakery in Chicago. 

“I worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week — there was no day off,” said Guzman. “I got my license and I was lucky enough to get a job with this company that does flatbed haul steel.” 

Manny is part of a new breed of truckers that’s critical to the rapidly-changing backbone of American commerce. 

The American Trucking Association said it was already short about 61,000 drivers before the pandemic decimated the industry. 

Even back in 2017 Leah Shaver, COO of the National Transportation Institute, said “students are not coming in at fast enough rates, and they’re not sticking with the industry the way we need.” 

So when 2020 came around, trucking was nowhere near prepared for what happened. Just as demand for shipping skyrocketed, more drivers decided to hang up the keys. 

“Most of the drivers are aging out, we’re in our 50s, 60s and 70s and we raised our families — its time to come off the road,” said Mary Okeefe, a Pinellas Technical College lead instructor.

Fewer drivers on the roads and more cargo ships sitting on ports made for a supply chain mess. But more than two years later a new breed of truckers could drive what trucking schools hope will be a rebound in late 2022.

“We normally have 55 to 60 students. We have 82 right now. All of the companies are experiencing shortages. They call us constantly and they call constantly for drivers,” said Larry Scott, an instructor at ATDS Driving School.   

And trucking’s rebirth, if you will, is also an opportunity to change how it looks. Right now, the average truck driver is a white 48-year-old man. But the American Trucking Association says the rate of Black and Latino drivers over the last two decades has jumped 45%. 

It’s still just shy of 8% of all drivers today that are women, but that’s an all-time high. 

“I love to travel. I don’t have any kids yet so whats wrong with seeing the world and making some money,” said Tanzania Kellum, an ATDS student. 

And if we didn’t understand the value of truckers before COVID, our increased demand for them has given drivers more leverage to get more out of their work. 

The average driver made more than $69,000 last year. 

That’s 18% higher than the year prior. 

Trucking companies hope higher wages attract younger drivers and tee up long-term careers, to give the industry some stability. 

But federal regulations can make that tricky. While most states let anyone over 18 get a commercial driver’s license, federal law says no one under 21 can drive a big rig across state lines. 

The federal Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program aims to change that by allowing drivers under 21 to cross state lines while accompanied by an experienced trucker. It’s a move that could help fill driver gaps. 

So could autonomous semi-trucks. They’re currently undergoing tests in Arizona, with commercial shipments expected to start next year.  

“We believe autonomous trucking is coming to the industry, we believe its gonna be on our roads in the very near future,” said Lee White, the VP of strategy for TuSimple. 

Until then, industry leaders hope more truckers like Manny Guzman see driving as a life-changing career, to cushion their bank accounts and stabilize the American economy.  

“It is the best decision because I’ve made more money doing this than I ever made in my life doing the bakery thing, owning my own business. Even when I started driving for somebody else, I was making more money than I was making working 16 hours a day seven days a week for myself. It was like a no-brainer,” said Guzman.  

Source: newsy.com

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U.S. Moved Online, Worked From Home More Often As Pandemic Raged

New data offers the first reliable glimpse of life in the U.S. during the COVID-19 era, as the 1-year estimates from a 2020 survey were unusable.

During the first two years of the pandemic, the number of people working from home in the United States tripled, home values grew and the percentage of people who spent more than a third of their income on rent went up, according to survey results released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Providing the most detailed data to date on how life changed in the U.S. under COVID-19, the bureau’s American Community Survey 1-year estimates for 2021 showed that the share of unmarried couples living together rose, Americans became more wired and the percentage of people who identify as multiracial grew significantly. And in changes that seemed to directly reflect how the pandemic upended people’s choices, fewer people moved, preschool enrollment dropped and commuters using public transportation was cut in half.

The data release offers the first reliable glimpse of life in the U.S. during the COVID-19 era, as the 1-year estimates from the 2020 survey were deemed unusable because of problems getting people to answer during the early months of the pandemic. That left a one-year data gap during a time when the pandemic forced major changes in the way people live their lives.

The survey typically relies on responses from 3.5 million households to provide 11 billion estimates each year about commuting times, internet access, family life, income, education levels, disabilities, military service and employment. The estimates help inform how to distribute hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending.

Response rates significantly improved from 2020 to 2021, “so we are confident about the data for this year,” said Mark Asiala, the survey’s chief of statistical design.

While the percentage of married-couple households stayed stable over the two years at around 47%, the percent of households with unwed couples cohabiting rose to 7.2% in 2021 from 6.6% in 2019. Contrary to pop culture images of multigenerational family members moving in together during the pandemic, the average household size actually contracted from 2.6 to 2.5 people.

People also stayed put. More than 87% of those surveyed were living in their same house a year ago in 2021, compared to 86% in 2019. America became more wired as people became more reliant on remote learning and working from home. Households with a computer rose, from 92.9% in 2019 to 95% in 2021, and internet subscription services grew from 86% to 90% of households.

The jump in people who identify as multiracial — from 3.4% in 2019 to 12.6% in 2021 — and a decline in people identifying as white alone — from 72% to 61.2% — coincided with Census Bureau changes in coding race and Hispanic origin responses. Those adjustments were intended to capture more detailed write-in answers from participants. The period between surveys also overlapped with social justice protests following the killing of George Floyd, who was Black, by a white Minneapolis police officer in 2020 as well as attacks against Asian Americans. Experts say this likely lead some multiracial people who previously might have identified as a single race to instead embrace all of their background.

“The pattern is strong evidence of shifting self-identity. This is not new,” said Paul Ong, a professor emeritus of urban planning and Asian American Studies at UCLA. “Other research has shown that racial or ethnic identity can change even over a short time period. For many, it is contextual and situational. This is particularly true for individuals with multiracial background.”

The estimates show the pandemic-related impact of closed theaters, shuttered theme parks and restaurants with limited seating on workers in arts, entertainment and accommodation businesses. Their numbers declined from 9.7% to 8.2% of the workforce, while other industries stayed comparatively stable. Those who were self-employed inched up to 6.1% from 5.8%.

Housing demand grew over the two years, as the percent of vacant homes dropped from 12.1% to 10.3%. The median value of homes rose from $240,500 to $281,400. The percent of people whose gross rent exceeded more than 30% of their income went from 48.5% to 51%. Historically, renters are considered rent-burdened if they pay more than that.

“Lack of housing that folks can afford relative to the wages they are paid is a continually growing crisis,” said Allison Plyer, chief demographer at The Data Center in New Orleans.

Commutes to work dropped from 27.6 minutes to 25.6 minutes, as the percent of people working from home during a period of return-to-office starts and stops went from 5.7% in 2019 to almost 18% in 2021. Almost half of workers in the District of Columbia worked from home, the highest rate in the nation, while Mississippi had the lowest rate at 6.3% Over the two years, the percent of workers nationwide using public transportation to get to work went from 5% to 2.5%, as fears rose of catching the virus on buses and subways.

“Work and commuting are central to American life, so the widespread adoption of working from home is a defining feature of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michael Burrows, a Census Bureau statistician. “With the number of people who primarily work from home tripling over just a two-year period, the pandemic has very strongly impacted the commuting landscape in the United States.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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