It’s Thursday, so today we share the latest on the employment front. Also, we’ll check in on what is happening on federal aid and another deadline extension.
*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital
Weekly Jobless Claims
The number of first-time filers for unemployment benefits were slightly higher than expected last week. The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims for the week ending Sept. 19 came in at 870,000, adjusted for seasonal fluctuations. Economists expected first-time claims at 850,000, down slightly from the previous week’s 860,000.
Without the adjustment, about 825,000 people filed last week, up from the previous week’s 796,000. New York and Georgia saw the biggest week-over-week increases in initial claims, the department said. Claims in New York jumped by more than 9,000 last week and first-time filers in Georgia rose by more than 6,000.
Continuing claims, which include those receiving unemployment benefits for at least two straight weeks, decreased by 167,000 to 12.58 million during the week ending Sept. 12. Continuing claims data is delayed by one week.
Update on Negotiations and Pressure to Vote on Federal Aid
House Democrats, increasingly anxious about leaving Washington without acting on coronavirus relief, are ramping up the pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring emergency aid to the floor before Congress heads home next week.
Pelosi has held firm that she will not lower her demand for a $2.2 trillion package, but a growing number of uneasy centrists are clamoring to vote on some new stimulus legislation — even without a deal — before Oct. 2, when the House is scheduled to recess for the final leg of campaigning ahead of the Nov. 3 elections.
The pressure is emerging in different forms. Moderate Democrats have taken the remarkable step of threatening to endorse a Republican effort to force a floor vote on a single provision of the relief blueprint — help for small businesses — even against the wishes of their own leadership.
The Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of centrist lawmakers, continued this week to press leaders in both parties to act immediately on a package topping $1.5 trillion. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer aired a rare public split with Pelosi on Wednesday, saying in no uncertain terms that Democrats should vote on a partisan relief package before the chamber leaves Washington next week even if there’s no deal with the White House — a strategy the Speaker has long resisted.
Complicating the debate for the Democrats, rank-and-file lawmakers have been all over the board when it comes to specific strategies for pressuring Republicans to return to the negotiating table — and providing themselves political cover as they return home to voters crushed by the health and economic devastation caused by the deadly pandemic.
Some lawmakers want a vote on a massive package topping $3 trillion, akin to the Heroes Act, which the House passed in May. Others are hoping for consideration of trimmed down legislation — something in the range of Pelosi’s last offer of $2.2 trillion. Still others are backing Pelosi’s decision to hold the line and wait for a bipartisan agreement that can win President Trump’s signature.
More on the Group of Uneasy Democrats
Several moderate House Democrats are on the cusp of endorsing a GOP resolution to force a vote on emergency aid for small businesses, according to sources familiar with the plan.
The centrist Democrats — currently numbering about a dozen — are “strongly considering” the act of signing on to a procedural measure, known as a discharge petition, designed to force floor action on legislation extending the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), said a senior Democratic aide associated with the Democrats’ moderate wing.
That figure falls a handful short of the number of Democrats the Republicans need to reach 218 signatures on their discharge petition — the tally required to force legislation to the floor. But the number is growing, said the aide, as party moderates — including front-line members facing tough reelections in November — become increasingly frustrated with the inability of party leaders to reach a deal with the White House on another round of coronavirus stimulus.
If those centrist Democrats do peel away to join the GOP’s gambit, it could also have the political effect of undermining the hard line negotiating strategy of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
With the negotiations stalled over another round of emergency coronavirus relief, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) is poised to submit a discharge petition on Friday to force a vote on legislation to extend the PPP window so that more than $130 billion in unspent funds can go out the door.
Sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot, senior Republican on the House Small Business Committee, the proposal targets the smallest small businesses — $25 billion is earmarked for those with 10 employees or fewer — while allowing certain other businesses to get a second PPP loan.
Discharge petitions rarely work, since it’s almost always the minority party that sponsors them, in the long-shot hope of attracting disgruntled members of the majority to buck their own party. There are currently 198 Republicans in the House, plus one member of the Libertarian Party. If all of them endorsed Herrera Beutler’s petition, they would need 19 Democrats to join their cause for bringing the Chabot bill to the floor.
Small Business Plans to Vote Its Wallet in November
A new poll of 1,000 U.S. small-business owners indicates that many could vote for a surprising trait: political compromise. Across the country, small-business owners are continuing to struggle against a tough economy. And with only 40 days until Election Day, it’s changing the way many could vote in November, according to a new poll of small-business owners.
More than half of respondents ranked the U.S. economy as one of their top voting issues, which is hardly a surprise. But even more have become increasingly disgruntled with the state of the economy as the year has progressed: 78 percent of those surveyed categorized the economy as average or below-average, up from 70 percent in July and 38 percent in January. These stats are courtesy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and insurance provider MetLife–which on September 22 published a new survey of 1,000 small-business owners, who were polled between August 21 and August 27.
“The pandemic has had an uneven economic impact on industries and workers, many of whom are small-business owners,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. “It’s no wonder their driving issue for the upcoming election is the economy.”
According to the poll, 62 percent of small-business owners are paying more attention to this year’s elections than they did in 2016. A similar number, 68 percent, said it’s more important for political leaders to compromise in the name of economic recovery, rather than dogmatically sticking to their beliefs. It’s an indication that many could vote for the candidates they deem most effective at reaching across the political aisle, even if it means switching parties.
Deadline Extended in Illinois for Drivers’ License and ID Card Renewals
Secretary of State Jesse White’s office said Wednesday that it is extending the renewal deadline until Feb. 1. The deadline had been Nov. 1. It is the third time White has extended the renewal deadline because of disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
White spokesman Henry Haupt said the latest extension is the result of “the backlog of customers that we continue to serve and the need for social distancing during the pandemic. We’ve had heavy volume at many of our facilities.”
Because of the pandemic, Secretary of State’s facilities were closed from mid-March until June 1. During that time, people who needed to visit a facility to renew a license or ID or obtain one for the first time were out of luck. The new deadline applies to people whose licenses or ID cards have already expired. It also applies to those whose licenses or cards will expire in October, November, December, and January. Also, drivers age 75 and older still have a full year from the expiration of their driver’s license to renew. The expiration date for those drivers remains their birthday in 2021.
The extension does not apply to license plate stickers. Those must be up to date by Nov. 1. Renewing license plates by obtaining new stickers does not require a visit to a Secretary or State’s facility. White’s office continues to urge people to use the office’s online services when possible. Not all license renewals require a visit to a facility. The Secretary of State’s website is at www.cyberdriveillinois.com.
A lot of people are apparently heeding that message. White’s office said there’s been an 84% increase in sticker renewals online compared with the same period a year ago. From June 1 to Sept. 30 last year, about 654,600 people obtained new license plate stickers online. For the same period this year, it was over 1.2 million.
Reminder Again of Existing Grants
Business Interruption Grant Program
Applications for a second round of funding are now being accepted and can be found here: https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/SmallBizAssistance/Pages/C19DisadvantagedBusGrants.aspx
A total of $220 million will be made available for small businesses of all types in Illinois. Grants will be awarded and funded on a rolling basis until funding is depleted. The grant size will be equivalent to two months of expenses.
Will County Small Business Assistance
Will County has earmarked more than $24 million for a Small Business Assistance Grant Program to provide financial assistance to small businesses impacted by COVID-19 so they can maintain operations. Selected businesses may receive up to $15,000 in grant assistance.
Applications are open up until September 28 and along with more info can be found here: https://willcountyillinois.com/CARES-Act/Local-Business-Assistance
Joliet City Center Special Service Area Emergency Retailer/Restaurant Grant Guidelines PHASE II
The Emergency Retailer/Restaurant Grant is intended to provide financial relief from the COVID-19 pandemic for City Center businesses. This grant provides funding directly to retailers or restaurants who are renting or leasing space within the Special Service Area. This grant is not intended for property owners. The use of funds is flexible in nature and is intended to assist businesses to pay employees or other operating expenses. The grant applicant shall identify specific uses for the money. Phase II grants are open to businesses that received a Phase I grant.
More information and a downloadable application can be found here: https://www.jolietdowntown.com/
Next Virtual Conference: Community Disaster Preparedness: Red Cross Ready Rating
Please join the Joliet Chamber and the American Red Cross for a free, interactive virtual conference about the importance of Ready Rating and why it is important for businesses, schools and organizations to be prepared for disasters and other emergencies. This will take place TOMORROW – Friday, September 25 at 11 AM.
The presentation will cover:
- Why Disaster Preparedness is Important
- What the Red Cross Ready Rating Is
- How Ready Rating Works
- Call to Action – How the Chamber of Commerce and the Red Cross can Partner to Serve the Community
Finally, a reminder that entries are now being accepted for the 2020 BBB Torch Awards for Business Marketplace Trust. Three new categories have been added for this year. You can enter your business to win of the most powerful brand and reputation building awards that a company can receive. Entries are now being accepted for the Torch Awards from the Better Business Bureau.
The Torch Awards are the highest honor the BBB can award to a business owner. Open to all businesses of excellence in the Chicagoland region. These prestigious awards are presented annually to businesses demonstrating excellence in the marketplace and high ethical standards with their customers, employees, and community.
Three new categories have been added to honor women and minority owned businesses as well as business associations. The 2020 deadline to enter is October 9th. Full details are available at BBBTorch.org.
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry