Chamber Members:

Today’s update will cover the usual Thursday job report and what has become an almost daily federal aid update. In addition, we’ll talk about holiday spending and home sales. Finally, you will find attached to this message two pdf’s.  One is a frequently asked question form that was recently updated for the BIG program and the other goes into specific detail for those seeking to get funds a second time through the BIG program.

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Latest on Relief Discussions
A chess match has emerged over a new round of COVID-19 relief, with multiple players arguing over timing as larger political implications shadow the talks.

President Trump, worried about sinking poll numbers, is urging Congress to move an enormous stimulus bill before next month’s election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, wary of complicating efforts to seat Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court, is resisting a vote on another multitrillion-dollar package before Nov. 3. And Speaker Nancy Pelosi, holding out for a bill in excess of $2 trillion, is straddling the divide by engineering long-drawn talks that have pulled the White House closer to her number — and simultaneously aggravated the rift between Republican leaders less than two weeks before voters go to the polls.

The eleventh-hour chess match being orchestrated by Washington’s most powerful figures — each of them facing unique pressures and driven by competing motivations — carries the highest stakes. At the center of the dance are Pelosi and McConnell, both master tacticians with uncanny faculties for interpreting the political winds and utilizing leverage, however slight, to advance their parties’ respective agendas.

With Trump on the ropes and eager for a deal, Pelosi has led negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in search of a compromise between the parties’ $1.9 trillion and $2.2 trillion proposals. Both figures are opposed by McConnell and most GOP lawmakers, citing skyrocketing deficits. And Pelosi has leaned heavily on Trump’s appeals for Congress to “go big” before the election as well as his claim that he’ll convince reluctant Republicans to back an eventual agreement.

Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke again for almost an hour on Wednesday afternoon, with the sides “closer to being able to put pen to paper to write legislation,” according to Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was bullish over the possibility of striking an accord with Mnuchin and the White House to provide a new round of stimulus funding to keep the economy afloat. The Speaker declared that “help is on the way,” with the goal of passing a bill before November to help individuals make rent payments.

While talks continue between the principal negotiators, Senate Democrats blocked a targeted $500 billion package of coronavirus relief on Wednesday, which would have provided a new round of funding for a small business loan program and gives Senate Republicans a talking point in the final 12 days ahead of the November election.

The bill included a federal unemployment benefit, another round of Paycheck Protection Program funding, more than $100 billion for schools and new funding for coronavirus testing and vaccine research and distribution.

Thursday Employment Report
New filings for jobless claims in the U.S. totaled 787,000 last week, nearly the lowest total since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting 875,000 for the week ended Oct. 17. It was their lowest total since Oct. 3 and their second-lowest mark since March 14.

The total reflected a decline of 55,000 from the downwardly revised 842,000 in the previous week. One reason for the decline in jobless claims has been the migration of workers who have exhausted their regular benefits and have moved to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance emergency compensation program.

That total increased by 509,828 for the week ended Oct. 3 to 3.3 million. Recipients under that part of the program get an extra 13 weeks of compensation after having exhausted the initial 26 weeks of eligibility.

In addition to the substantial drop in the headline number, continuing claims also showed another hefty decline. The level of those getting benefits for at least two weeks dripped by 1.02 million to 8.37 million. Continuing claims operate on a one-week lag from the headline number.

Which PPP Forgiveness Application is Right for Me?
Paycheck Protection Program borrowers applying for forgiveness have the option to use the original forgiveness application, the EZ form, or the new simplified application for loans of $50,000 or less. Join this free webinar as the SBA walks through each of the applications, discuss their differences, and answer your questions. Be sure to register even if you can’t join live to receive a link to the recording via email.

Friday, Oct. 23, 1:30 p.m. – Register here:

Holiday Spending 
People say the holidays come around too fast for all the preparations, but this year Chicagoans are saying their budgets might not be ready either. Chicago shoppers said in a survey commissioned by the consulting and auditing firm Deloitte that they plan to spend an average $1,053 per household on the holiday this year, counting gifts, travel, and entertainment. That result is down 32% from what Deloitte found in its 2019 survey of local consumers.

Blame it on the coronavirus and its damage to the economy. Asked the reason for spending less, about half of respondents cited economic instability or a decline in family income as the reason, Deloitte said. Others said they were simply saving more.

Overall, Chicagoans were portraying themselves as more frugal than the nation as a whole, which reported an average household spending plan of $1,387. That number was down 7% from a year ago, said Matt Adams, principal for Deloitte Consulting. Around a third of the national respondents cited the economy as a reason for cutting back.

Adams said a main reason for the spending decline is that people are curbing travel. “While we haven’t seen a similar decline in recent years, it’s reflective of a few factors: concern about the economy and personal financial situations and people staying closer to home.”

“Shoppers are going to be very selective in what they buy,” said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics, a retail research firm. “Retailers, particularly department stores and specialty clothing chains, need to get it right in terms of inventory and customer traffic. They’re fighting for their lives.”

Despite the belt-tightening, Deloitte’s respondents said they plan to step up charitable giving for the holidays. It found that 77% surveyed in Chicago plan charitable contributions, typically as cash or donations of used items, for the holidays, a proportion that’s about a third higher than in 2019.

Nearly half of the Chicago shoppers said they expect the economy to improve next year, compared with 56% nationally.

Home Sales Soar
The Chicago-area home market boomed in September, with the both the number of sales and median prices jumping, according to data released today.

Home sales shot up almost 39 percent last month in the nine-county Chicago area, according to trade group Illinois Realtors, the largest monthly increase in almost eight years. Home sales and prices are rising in much of the U.S., thanks to low interest rates and COVID-era lifestyle changes prompting households to shop for new space that suits them now.

On price increases, the Chicago area was in line with the nation. Nationwide, the median sale price was up 14.8 percent in September. Year-to-date, home sales in the Chicago area are running slightly ahead of 2019, despite the challenges 2020 has presented. At the end of September, 86,735 homes had sold in 2020, according to Illinois Realtors data. That’s 0.9% ahead of 85,906 sales in the same period last year.

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at JJC is offering assistance for existing businesses during these times.

21 Topics in 21 Minutes for 2021 Growth
In less than 30 minutes, the SBDC will help you prioritize key 2021 business plans whether it is for your people, your product, your marketing, your sales, your money, or the impact of this crisis. In this short, one-on-one exercise, we will help you determine up to three of the biggest opportunities for growth in the year ahead. We will offer no-cost tools to develop your strategy for success in those areas. Email us at and we will send you a link for registration.

Will County Small Business Assistance Round 2
Will County has reopened an expanded version of the Small Business Assistance Grant (CARES) Program.  Beginning today, small businesses, if located within Will County; with less than fifty (50) full time employees, and less than $50 million in annual gross revenues are eligible to receive up to $15,000.  Applications in English and Spanish are now available on the county website:
*The application deadline to apply for these funds is November 16, 2020.

Region 7 Additional Mitigation Measures

Finally, the election is just 12 days away! Mark your calendar and get ready to make your voice heard through mail-in voting, early voting or in the voting booth on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Again, talk with your employees and co-workers about exercising their right to vote and please be flexible to allow time during the day for them to vote if need be.

Stay well,

Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors

Mike Paone
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry
815.727.5371 main
815.727.5373 direct