It is that time of the week to deliver the news about jobs and we do that below. In addition, some good news about the GDP in the third quarter. To wrap things up, we announce at the end of this message our next virtual conference.
*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital
Latest on Relief Discussions
Speaker Nancy Pelosi pressed the White House for a response today to the Democrats’ latest offer on emergency coronavirus relief, warning that Washington’s failure to act quickly on another round of disaster aid will only heighten the health and economic fallout as the pandemic surges around the country.
“Your responses are critical for our negotiations to continue,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this week. “The President’s words that ‘after the election, we will get the best stimulus package you have ever seen’ only have meaning if he can get Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take his hand off the pause button and get Senate Republican Chairmen moving toward agreement with their House counterparts.”
Congress is already facing a Dec. 11 deadline to fund the government and prevent a shutdown, legislation that will consume much of the post-election oxygen on Capitol Hill. And given the uncertainty of the election results, many lawmakers are dubious that the feuding parties will be able to put aside differences and unite behind another massive stimulus bill before 2021.
Both Senate Republicans and White House officials have accused Pelosi of not agreeing to their demands in an attempt to prevent handing President Trump a political victory before the election. Pelosi’s latest offer sought concessions from the administration on a number of outstanding issues, including the development of a national coronavirus testing strategy, health coverage for jobless workers under ObamaCare, a tax credit for low-income families and funding for schools, child care and unemployment benefits.
There are also remaining divisions over the Republicans’ demand for employer liability protections, with Pelosi insisting that any such provision be accompanied by stronger worker protections under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. None of those issues, Pelosi wrote to Mnuchin, have been resolved.
Today’s Job Report
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 751,000, the lowest since March, but it’s still historically high and indicates the viral pandemic is still forcing many employers to cut jobs.
Thursday’s report from the Labor Department said the number of people who are continuing to receive unemployment benefits fell more than 700,000 to 7.76 million. The decline shows that some of the unemployed are being recalled to their old jobs or are finding new ones. But it also indicates that many jobless Americans have used up their state unemployment aid — which typically expires after six months — and have transitioned to a federal extended benefits program that lasts an additional 13 weeks.
The still-elevated number of jobless claims underscores that a full recovery from the pandemic recession remains far off. Job growth has slowed for three straight months, leaving the economy still 10.7 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level. The unemployment rate remains high at 7.9%.
Rise in the GDP
Coming off the worst quarter in history, the U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace ever in the third quarter as a nation battered by an unprecedented pandemic started to put itself back together, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
Third-quarter gross domestic product, a measure of the total goods and services produced in the July-to-September period, expanded at a 33.1% annualized pace, according to the department’s initial estimate for the period.
The gain came after a 31.4% plunge in the second quarter and was better than the 32% estimate from economists surveyed by Dow Jones. The previous post-World War II record was the 16.7% burst in the first quarter of 1950.
Increased consumption along with sold gains in business and residential investment as well as exports fueled the third-quarter rebound. Decreases in government spending following the expiration of the CARES Act rescue funding subtracted from GDP.
Q3 growth came amid a resurgence in consumer activity, which accounts for 68% of GDP. Though most of the country remained in a cautious reopening, shoppers began returning to stores and the bar and restaurant industry entered the first tepid phase of resuming business despite restrictions on capacity. Personal consumption increased 40.7%, while gross private domestic investment surged 83% amid a 59.3% increase on the residential side.
Funds Released for Business Interruption Grant
Governor Pritzker today joined the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to announce the release of $94 million in emergency relief funds for communities and small businesses statewide. More than $46 million in small business grants through the historic Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program will provide relief to offset COVID-19 related costs for over 1,200 businesses in all corners of the state. Additionally, over $48 million in Local CURE funding has been issued to 163 local governments submitting eligible emergency costs for reimbursement.
“Already, we’ve been able to help 1,200 businesses in this second round of Business Interruption Grants, totaling $46 million in funding for more than 340 communities in 79 counties statewide – including $19.5 million for restaurants and bars alone. That builds on our first round of Business Interruption Grants – $49 million to more than 2,800 businesses in over 400 cities and towns across 78 of our 102 counties,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This support is but one portion of the $1 billion in economic relief for business owners and communities that my Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has deployed in response to this pandemic – while simultaneously calling on the federal government to deliver more for Americans in every state, because this is not a crisis we can weather alone.”
Guided by an equity framework, these programs seek to address the hardest hit communities with emergency relief dollars. These latest funds reflect the geographic diversity of Illinois – with funds provided to over 79 counties, and over $68 million for downstate communities alone. In addition, over $35 million has been directed to regions currently under mitigations to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, or where mitigations will soon take effect.
“While we know the needs facing our Illinois communities and businesses are great – these latest funds released will provide a much-needed boost to cover losses and withstand the ongoing nature of the crisis,” said DCEO Director Erin B. Guthrie. “Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, Illinois is taking necessary steps to overcome the virus quickly so we can begin the long-term work of rebuilding our businesses and our local economy. Economic support programs like BIG and Local CURE are an essential component of protecting our communities, and we encourage more small businesses and local governments to apply for remaining funds to address their COVID-19 costs.”
More than $46 million has been deployed this week as part of the second round of BIG awards – with funding for 1,238 businesses in over 340 communities. This includes over 1,000 grants totaling $36 million for regions currently or that will soon be under mitigation, and $19.5 million (35 percent) dedicated to restaurants and bars.
The $220 million current round makes emergency relief available to small businesses across the state, with priority for hard hit industries, including hospitality, performing arts centers, and other heavily impacted sectors – as well as for disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs) based on areas with high total case counts and that have experienced high rates of poverty and underlying economic distress. In this round, $9.8 million has been provided for heavily impacted sectors and $19.6 million for businesses located in DIAs.
BIG Round 2 grants span a diverse geography, as well as business type – with nearly 50 percent of grant recipients reporting they are minority-owned. To ensure businesses owned by underrepresented populations and businesses in DIAs can access grants in Round 2, DCEO invested in partnerships with community navigators – community-based organizations dedicated to outreach and technical assistance for businesses applying in hard to reach communities. These efforts have resulted in engagement with over 8,000 minority business owners, and nearly 1,700 applicants.
With these latest awards, the BIG program has paid out more than $250 million to nearly 9,000 small businesses and childcare providers – including $95 million for non-childcare businesses located statewide. The latest allocation builds on more than $49 million released in the first round, which reached 2,800 small businesses across 400 communities in Illinois. Over half of Round 1 awards went to minority owned businesses, and half also went to businesses located in DIAs. A full list of Round 1 and current Round 2 recipients can be found here: https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/SmallBizAssistance/Pages/C19DisadvantagedBusGrants.aspx
More than $48 million has been released as part of the Local CURE program, covering 163 local units of government and 67 counties. More than $18 million of the funding covers regions currently under mitigation. An estimated $21.5 million is in the pipeline and is anticipated for release in the coming days.
Local CURE helps local governments cover the costs of the emergency response, with eligible costs including PPE, staff time and other public health expenses. The Local CURE program was created to distribute $250 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) for those communities beyond Cook County and the collar counties that did not receive a direct allocation. More than 1,300 units of local government are eligible – including municipalities, counties, fire departments and public safety agencies.
DCEO has taken an active role in working with municipalities and counties to help them recoup the maximum amount of reimbursement since the program launched in August. To assist local governments with applying and qualifying for these funds, DCEO has held dozens of webinars, fielded thousands of calls and engaged in direct outreach to hundreds of municipalities, recently launching weekly office hours to help answer questions on submissions for payment in real-time. Local governments can find more information on how to prepare and submit eligible costs on DCEO’s website.
With a significant amount of funding still on the table, DCEO is urging more businesses and local communities to apply for a combined $350 million in remaining BIG and Local CURE funds. DCEO continues to be available as a resource to both businesses and local governments seeking assistance. For more on how to submit for these programs, visit the DCEO website.
Ready to Grow Your Business?
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 SBDC@JJC.edu and we will send you a link for registration.
Will County Small Business Assistance Grant
Business Interruption Grant
Finally, we are announcing today that our next virtual conference will be on Thursday, November 12th. The topic is an extremely important one as all should know by now that by the end of this year it is mandatory for ALL offices to go through anti-sexual harassment training. We have partnered with Marji Swanson from the offices of Mahoney, Silverman, & Cross, LLC to deliver this session that fulfills your requirement. Unfortunately, it does not apply to bars and restaurants as that training is an industry specific one.
We will present more information soon, but wanted to get this on your calendar for 11 am on November 12.
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry