November 3, 2020

Today is election day, and major companies across the country are taking measures to ensure that their employees can go out and vote. While Bank of America workers will receive three hours of paid time off to go to the polls, Best Buy stores will remain closed until noon so staffers can vote in the morning. Paypal offered paid half days for employees who volunteer at polling places. “Companies can’t do everything, but we can function in civil society in Continue reading

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October 22, 2020

Last week, another 787,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits. This represents a drop from the stretch of months where more than 1 million people filed for unemployment week after week, but it nevertheless reflects a deeply strained economy. “The ranks of people applying for extended unemployment are starting to make it look like a traditional recession,” said economist Diane Swonk. “This leaves scars in the labor force, is demoralizing, and increases health risks for workers…We’re not calling people back Continue reading

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October 13, 2020

As brick-and-mortar retailers struggle to make ends meet during the pandemic, e-commerce outlets like Amazon are thriving as consumers purchase more products from home than ever before. Experts expect that this trend will continue into the holiday shopping season, which can drive as much as 30 percent of retailers’ overall sales. So while companies would normally be hiring extra cashiers to prepare for Christmas, this year they’re bringing in warehouse workers to handle the high volume of online orders.  Continue reading

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August 27, 2020

For nearly every week since March, millions of Americans have filed for unemployment benefits as the economy continues to struggle with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. And last week was no exception: once again more than 1 million people filed for unemployment for the first time. All together, more than 27 million people applied for benefits as the jobless rate hovers around the 10 percent mark. 

“It’s massively concerning that five months into this crisis we are still Continue reading

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August 24, 2020

In 2018, California’s Supreme Court ruled against a delivery company that classified its employees as independent contractors. This landmark decision was followed two years later by official legislation that required businesses throughout the state to turn contracted staff into full-time workers or else face legal action. The most prominent targets of this new law were Uber and Lyft, the rideshare giants that employ tens of thousands of people as independent contractors. 

According to consumer advocates, drivers for Uber and Continue reading

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August 20, 2020

As companies across all industries look for ways to reduce contact between employees during the pandemic, many are turning to automated labor as a way both to stay safe and trim costs. This video looks at how advanced robotic technology could change workplaces in the long term while also examining the potential limitations of automation. 

Questions:

  1. Why are many companies investing in automated labor during the pandemic?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of automation?
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August 7, 2020

Airline passenger volume has plummeted by 95 percent during the coronavirus pandemic, wiping out tens of billions of dollars in revenue in the process. This video looks at how airlines are fighting to survive these unprecedented times by furloughing employees, limiting flight capacity, and retiring old aircraft like the Boeing 747. 

Questions: 

  1. What measures are airlines taking to cut costs during the pandemic? 
  2. What are the potential long term consequences of furloughing employees like pilots?
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July 28, 2020

Last Friday, a federal moratorium on evictions for tenants in government-assisted housing expired. With eviction moratoriums in many states also at an end, experts fear that millions of Americans could be kicked out of their homes in the coming months. According to one estimate, as many as 40 million people could be evicted during the pandemic. “It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen,” said John Pollock of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel.

Mass unemployment as a result Continue reading

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July 16, 2020

Nearly four months into the pandemic, millions of Americans are struggling to remain employed. Last week more than 1.5 million people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time, an increase of almost 109,000 from the previous week. The total number of unemployment claims stood at 17.3 million for the week ending in July 4th, with many people also collecting expanded benefits that could soon expire. 

“What we’re seeing is continued, historic elevated rates of job loss in the Continue reading

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During the first six months of 2020, U.S. stock markets went through their biggest quarter-to-quarter swing in more than 80 years. March saw share prices plummet as businesses across the country closed or altered their hours. Then an unprecedented round of economic stimulus from the federal government both halted the sell-off and sent stocks soaring to their best quarterly performance in nearly two decades. 

With much of that relief now set to expire, however, where the markets go next Continue reading

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