economy

Oil is facing an existential crisis.

There has never been so much uncertainty about the future of a commodity that keeps the global economic engine running.

And it's not just environmental activists calling for the end of oil: New reports out this week show the battle lines are shaping up within the industry.

On one side of the argument are those who call for a swift transition away from oil and for charting a path to a zero-emissions future within a few decades.

With about 40,000 workers furloughed in recent days, airlines and their employee unions are pleading with Congress and the White House to pass an extension of federal payroll support for the industry.

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

Stocks finished sharply higher after President Trump said he's open to stand-alone bills to aid airlines and small businesses, a reversal from statements he made earlier.

Updated at 4:08 p.m. ET

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell urged Congress to provide another round of pandemic relief Tuesday, saying it's better to do too much than too little.

However, hours later, President Trump dashed hopes for any quick deal with lawmakers, saying he'd called a halt to negotiations until after the November election.

More than 7,000 movie screens will be dark in the U.S. this weekend as the Regal theater chain said it will shut down all 536 locations on Thursday. The closure reflects "an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape" due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is temporary, the chain said.

Regal is shutting down theaters again less than two months after it started to reopen U.S. locations in late August. The decision was announced after the James Bond franchise's No Time to Die was shelved until 2021, further pushing back a release that had already been delayed.

Updated at 10:05 a.m. ET

Job growth slowed sharply in September, as U.S. employers added just 661,000 new workers.

The report from the Labor Department is the last snapshot of the job market before the November election, and it comes hours after President Trump and the first lady tested positive for the coronavirus.

Among the many things that have been radically changed by the coronavirus pandemic is the airline industry. Air travel demand is down a whopping 70% from last year, according to the industry group Airlines for America, and now the clock is ticking for tens of thousands of pilots, flight attendants, reservation agents and other airline employees, who will likely lose their jobs on Oct. 1, if Congress doesn't extend federal aid for the airlines.

Updated at 4:14 p.m. ET

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 509 points Monday following a report that large global banks were involved in transactions flagged as possible money laundering.

And hopes for another relief measure from Congress flagged as lawmakers focused on the fight over a Supreme Court nomination following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve left interest rates near zero as expected Wednesday and pledged to keep supporting an economic recovery that appears to be losing steam.

Most members of the Fed's rate-setting committee said they expect interest rates to remain near zero through at least 2023 as the economy slowly digs its way out of the coronavirus recession.

2020 is shaping up to be an extraordinarily bad year for oil.

In the spring, pandemic lockdowns sent oil demand plummeting and markets into a tailspin. At one point, U.S. oil prices even turned negative for the first time in history.

But summer brought new optimism to the industry, with hopes rising for a controlled pandemic, a recovering economy and resurgent oil demand.

Household income in the United States rose sharply last year while poverty declined — fruits of a record-long period of economic growth that ended abruptly when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

An annual report from the Census Bureau shows median household income jumped 6.8% in 2019, to $68,700. That's the highest since the government started keeping track in 1967.

The poverty rate declined to 10.5% — the lowest since records began in 1959.

Another 881,000 people applied for state unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department says. That's 130,000 fewer than the previous week. But the report comes with an asterisk.

The department just changed the way it adjusts claims data to account for seasonal variation. That should make the reports more accurate in the weeks to come. But it also means the reported change from the previous week is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Without the seasonal adjustment, state unemployment claims rose by more than 7,500.

United Airlines will be putting 16,370 workers on involuntary, indefinite furlough at the start of October unless more aid materializes from the federal government, the company announced Wednesday.

Together with some 7,400 voluntary departures, the airline is cutting its workforce by more than 25%. It's hardly alone. American Airlines recently announced 19,000 furloughs and layoffs, while Delta cut its workforce by 20% through buyouts.

Walmart is officially launching a new rival to Amazon Prime: an annual membership service giving shoppers free delivery of groceries and other perks.

Walmart+ will cost $98 a year or $12.95 a month. Its offer centers on free delivery of food and other items from nearby stores "as fast as same-day." Other perks, which the company expects to expand, include a discount on gas at the company's stations and the ability to pay by mobile phone to skip checkout lines at stores.

The punch bowl can stay.

The Federal Reserve is adjusting its long-term policy on inflation and employment, and says it will no longer tap the brakes preemptively to prevent the economy from overheating — a job famously likened to taking away the punch bowl just as the party gets going.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is the classic blue-chip stock index. Exxon Mobil is an iconic blue-chip stock.

But starting next week, the oil giant — currently the Dow's longest-tenured member — will be dropped from the influential index, which for many people is shorthand for the stock market.

Almost 30 million people are now collecting unemployment benefits. Yet President Trump still gets relatively high marks for his handling of the economy.

As Republicans focus on "opportunity" at their convention Tuesday, the economy remains one of the president's strongest selling points.

"You see the kind of numbers that we're putting up. They're unbelievable," Trump told supporters in Minnesota last week. "More jobs in the last three months than ever before."

Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET

President Trump's plan to boost unemployment benefits temporarily by $300 a week is getting a fairly cool reception around the country.

Since Trump made the offer earlier this month, fewer than half the states have taken him up on it.

The U.S. stock market has come a long way in a short time.

The S&P 500 index closed at a record high Tuesday, nearly six months after coronavirus lockdowns that shut down much of the economy sent the markets plunging.

Updated at 8:45 a.m. ET

U.S. employers added 1.8 million jobs last month, as the unemployment rate dipped to 10.2%.

The pace of hiring slowed from June, when employers added a record 4.8 million jobs. That suggests a long road back to full employment for the tens of millions of people who have been laid off during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Updated at 9 a.m ET

Ordinarily when people lose their job, they spend less money. But something unusual happened this spring when tens of millions of people were suddenly thrown out of work by the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 8:44 a.m. ET

From airlines to paper mills, the job news is grim, and there are growing signs it won't be getting better anytime soon. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported nearly 2.4 million new applications for state and federal unemployment benefits last week.

Here's one way of understanding just how far off the map the U.S. economy is right now: The U.S. has now had two straight months where it has added more jobs than it did in all of 2019.

Jerome Powell has thrown himself, all guns blazing, into saving the nation's economy from the grips of the coronavirus recession.

And yet the White House heaps ridicule on him.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Cropland in the Midwest is losing its value as the downturn in the agriculture economy continues, according to a number of surveys by agricultural economists. Record-high crop prices contributed to record-high land values in 2012 and 2013, but now, that party is over.

Business leaders in Colorado are banding together to advocate for immigration reform.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Coloradans for Immigration Reform, which consists of 13 pro-business organizations, including chambers of commerce and trade groups, recently formed to support policies favorable to immigrants.

Oklahoma Women Earn 78 Percent of What Men Take In

Jan 6, 2016
Penn State/pennstatenews / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma women working full time in 2014 earned about 78 percent of their male counterparts, reports NewsOK. The data comes from estimates by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There was no improvement from last year’s ratio, which was also 78 percent. Oklahoma has a worse percentage than the nation overall. In the U.S., women's median weekly pay was about 82 percent of the pay for men.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

The High Plains and Southwest regions are no longer on top when it comes to the nation’s fastest-growing economies. According to The Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog, the downturn in the oil industry has pushed economic momentum toward the coasts.

Financial Predictions for the Coming Year

Dec 30, 2015
Flickr/Ars Electronica / Flickr Creative Commons

The economic website wallethub.com has published a list of economic predictions for 2016.

Positive Economic Report for High Plains States

Dec 16, 2015
Creative Commons

New economic data shows a strong report for High Plains states since the beginning of the great Recession in 2007. According to The Topeka Capital-Journal, all of the states in the Southern High Plains region fell below the national average in unemployment rate. Nebraska has by far the lowest rate, with 2.9 percent. Colorado is next, with 3.8 percent, followed by Kansas at 4.1 and Oklahoma at 4.3.

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