Coronavirus Coverage - Business and Economy

Updated at 9:38 a.m. ET

More than 1 in 4 U.S. workers have lost their jobs since the coronavirus crisis shut down much of the economy in March.

Just last week, another 2.1 million people filed for unemployment benefits, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's down 323,000 from the previous week but brings the total for the past 10 weeks to 40.8 million, which represents 26% of the civilian labor force in April.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The state’s top tax official says the coronavirus pandemic could cut state coffers by more than $450 million through the middle of next year.

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State revenue commissioner Lindsey Stepp told lawmakers her department’s latest revenue estimates don’t presume a second wave of the coronavirus. She also stressed the challenges of modeling tax collections under the circumstances.

Dan Tuohy/NHPR

While most of the state's businesses appear to be adhering to emergency orders issued by Gov. Chris Sununu designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus, more entities are openly violating the guidelines as the pandemic drags into warmer weather.

Related: What's open and what's not open in New Hampshire?

DodgertonSkillhause / Morguefile

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted concerns about health—and not just physical health. Financial health is also a major concern for many NHPR listeners.

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People visiting Six Flags theme parks and water parks this summer will be required to wear face masks at all times, the company said, as it prepares to reopen its first park to visitors since the coronavirus forced mass closures. Six Flags said it also will use thermal imaging to screen temperatures of guests and employees before they can enter.

photon_de via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/57BSet

With more time at home, many New Hampshire residents are taking up gardening. But some gardening supplies are in short supply.

Dave Short, owner of the Stratham Circle Nursery, says his business is booming.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and haven’t seen anything like this,” Short says.

He says the demand for plants is up in every category, in particular, edible plants like fruits and vegetables. He thinks people have a survivalist mentality right now.

Retailers across the apparel world are turning to the newest essential garment to further their brand recognition and boost sales: the nonmedical face mask.

Nordstrom announced Tuesday it would begin selling face masks for $4 each in packs of six. The move comes just weeks after the Seattle-based retailer announced it would permanently shutter 16 stores after the coronavirus pandemic forced all of its locations to close.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

All Seacoast beaches could soon be reopened for walking, running, swimming and surfing under a plan delivered Thursday to Gov. Chris Sununu.

A state task force voted in support of the phased-in approach, which could begin June 1 with Sununu's approval.

Macy's losses during the coronavirus pandemic might mount to $1.1 billion in its first quarter. The company's warning Thursday is the latest highlight of a widening gap in retail between big sales of "essential" stores that remained open during the health crisis versus clothing and other "nonessential stores" that had to close.

The preliminary earnings report from Macy's echoed the pain felt at many other department stores and retail chains revealed in the first wave of financial disclosures since the pandemic began.

The United States is still losing jobs at an alarming pace two months after the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Another 2.4 million people filed claims for unemployment last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That's down 249,000 — or 9% — from the previous week, but still painfully high by historical standards.

In the past nine weeks, jobless claims have totaled 38.6 million. That's roughly one out of every four people who were working in February, before the pandemic hit.

Courtesy of Camp Yavneh

The Governor's Economic Re-Opening Taskforce unanimously approved reopening guidance plans Tuesday afternoon for amateur sports, overnight summer camps, day camps, acupuncture, museums and restaurants serving wedding events.

The guidelines will now be sent to the Division of Public Health Services for approval. Then, they must be approved by Gov. Chris Sununu before they are implemented.  

Dan Tuohy | NHPR

New Hampshire's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate ballooned to 16.3 percent in April, the highest level since local reporting on unemployment began in 1976, and a clear indicator of the coronavirus’s staggering impact on the state economy.

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State water regulators say New Hampshire businesses may need to flush their pipes as they reopen for the first time since March.

The Department of Environmental Services says water may have stagnated in pipes that got little or no use in recent weeks.  This can lead to unsafe levels of lead and copper or conditions where bacteria like Legionella can grow.

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Details Remain On How Sununu's Small Business Relief Plan Will Work

May 19, 2020
Dan Tuohy | NHPR

If your business wants any of New Hampshire’s new $400 million Main Street Relief Fund, you have to fill out a pre-application in the next two weeks.

The state Department of Revenue Administration, the agency administering the program, wants to know how much applicants made last year and expect to make this year.

Sea / Sean Hurley/NHPR

After two months of being limited to curbside pickup and delivery only, restaurants and cafes across New Hampshire are again serving customers outdoors.

Monday marked the next phase in the gradual reopening of the state’s food service industry, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and resulting restrictions.

Jim Cleveland / US Navy

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard will help the Army manufacture thousands of COVID-19 diagnostic test swabs.

The facility in Kittery, Maine will 3D print up to 10,000 swabs a day using surgical grade resin.

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The long, bristled swabs are inserted into a person’s nose to get a sample that can determine if they have COVID-19. There have been widespread shortages of these swabs during the pandemic. 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

This past week, some New Hampshire business owners were faced with a big decision: How do I balance the survival of my business with public health concerns?

NHPR’s Lauren Chooljian talked with several business owners this week to see how they made that choice.

In its 118-year history, J.C. Penney has gone from a Wyoming-based dry-goods store to being a key pillar of the American mall.

Jon Greenberg, NHPR

Planet Fitness is facing a potential class action lawsuit filed by a member who alleges the New Hampshire-based gym chain charged membership fees despite the facilities closing their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 9:31 a.m. ET

In a historic collapse, retail spending in the United States nosedived again last month, dropping a record 16.4% as people avoided restaurants, bars, stores and malls during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sean Hurley

The 31st Market Basket in the state is set to open tomorrow in Plymouth. NHPR’s Sean Hurley visited the grocery store today to find out just how grand – or not - the grand opening might be.

Marie Alderink and her husband Elroy peer through the just washed windows of the new grocery store. The Hebron couple thought today was opening day.

Pete Nakos/NHPR

On May 4, members of Anytime Fitness, a West Lebanon gym, received an unexpected email.

“We are so excited to share with you that our doors are now OPEN,” it read. 

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: May 15, 2020

May 14, 2020

As some sectors of the economy begin to reopen, we’ll speak with Taylor Caswell, Commissioner of the NH Department of Business and Economic Affairs. We'll talk about what types of regulations and safety measures are in place for businesses that are reopening, and what the next steps may look like. We’ll also continue to hear from reporters in neighboring states about what reopening looks like there - this week, we talk with a reporter from Massachusetts.

Air date: Friday, May 15, 2020 

 

Chris Spielmann/Wikimedia Commons

Manchester is easing the process for restaurants to set up outdoor seating, including using sidewalk space in front of adjacent properties.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants in the state will be allowed to serve customers outdoors beginning May 18, though tables will need to be spaced at least six feet apart.

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Additional government spending may be necessary to avoid long-lasting fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday.

Powell said the economy should recover once the virus is under control. But he cautioned that without more help, many small businesses may not survive that long. And he warned that a wave of business and household bankruptcies could do lasting damage to the nation's economic output.

If you're still waiting for your pandemic payment from the federal government, and you would like to receive it directly into your bank account, head over to the IRS website by noon on Wednesday.

If the IRS doesn't have your direct deposit information by that deadline, you'll still get your payment — but you'll receive it in the form of a paper check, which might not arrive until June.

David Mulder via Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire dental practices began reopening Monday, seeing patients for non-urgent, elective procedures. 

The state released guidelines on Friday that allow dentist’s offices to reopen so long as they have adequate personal protective equipment to protect staff and safely treat patients. 

Josh Rogers | NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu says he’d prefer out-of-staters to stay home as New Hampshire begins to reopen parts of its economy.

But retail locations, including malls, opened in New Hampshire Monday, including along the Massachusetts border.

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Todd Bookman/NHPR

New Hampshire’s economy took another step towards reopening on Monday, as retail businesses and hair salons welcomed customers back inside their stores.

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While some childcare centers in New Hampshire have stayed open during the pandemic, others have shuttered and are now considering reopening.

We'll discuss what factors centers are weighing as they make this difficult decision and talk about what the reopening process will look like.

Air date: Tuesday, May 12, 2020. 

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