Coronavirus Coverage - Business and Economy | New Hampshire Public Radio

Coronavirus Coverage - Business and Economy

Updated at 8:43 a.m. ET

Another 3.2 million people filed for unemployment for the first time last week, bringing the total number of jobs lost during the coronavirus crisis in the last seven weeks to at least 33.5 million.

Last week's number was down from the nearly 3.9 million initial claims filed the week ending April 25, and filings have fallen for five weeks in a row.

The claims numbers come one day before the release of the April jobs report, which is expected to show a staggering jump in unemployment to around 16%.

Dennis Schroeder / National Renewable Energy Laboratory

New Hampshire’s energy efficiency sector is shedding jobs due to COVID-19, but advocates also say that industry could help the state dig out of the recession.

The state lost more than 750 energy-related jobs in March, according to the research firm BW. New England lost nearly 15,000 energy jobs overall that month, mostly in Massachusetts.  

When is it safe for people to go back to work?

That's the question both employers and workers are asking, as businesses around the country start to open doors shuttered by the coronavirus.

Workers want assurances they aren't putting themselves at risk. And employers want to know they won't be sued if workers get sick.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says liability protection for employers must be included in the next round of pandemic relief legislation.

NH State Parks

New restrictions for New Hampshire campgrounds are easing some -  but not all - fears in North Country towns about the spread of coronavirus.

Under new state orders, campgrounds must run at half capacity and can only open to New Hampshire residents or private members.

Courtesy Karena Czzowitz

Karena Czzowitz, a junior at Manchester School of Technology, is studying to be a Licensed Nursing Assistant. LNA’s are in high demand across New Hampshire, especially in nursing homes.

But with school closures during the coronavirus pandemic, Karena is missing a big part of her education. 

ISO-New England screenshot

New England saw a big drop in energy prices and demand in March, as the coronavirus pandemic coincided with mild late-winter weather.

The region's grid operator, ISO-New England, says March had the lowest electricity prices since 2003, when the current market structure began.

The regional grid runs mostly on natural gas, and gas prices were 60 percent lower in March of this year than last.

Courtesy photo

The phone hasn’t stopped ringing since Friday afternoon for Kae Mason, who owns Salon K in Concord.

She says since Governor Sununu announced that some businesses can re-open this month with  restrictions, her salon has booked over 175 appointments.

Related: What's changed in N.H.'s stay-at-home order?

Dan Tuohy; NHPR

Governor Sununu announced plans for a slow reopening of the New Hampshire economy after more than a month of stay-at-home orders, yet many businesses remained closed and people rethink their summers. We talk about the summer economy in New Hampshire and what to expect this year, from tourism to real estate. 

Air date: Monday, May 4, 2020. 

Wikimedia Commons

State child care advocates say New Hampshire’s essential industries will not be able to operate at full capacity without first expanding access to and affordability of child care.

Health and Human Services Associate Commissioner Chris Tappan says that in the grocery industry, for example, over a quarter of employees are in need of some type of child care.

Josh Rogers / NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu rolled out a limited reopening plan for some areas of New Hampshire’s economy Friday, citing what he called a “downward trend” in the overall rate of coronavirus cases and the readiness of the state’s hospitals to handle any surge in infections.

As more businesses start to reopen and people go back to work, some companies are looking for advice on how to keep employees safe from the coronavirus.

So far, the federal government hasn't been much help.

"It's the Wild West out there," said Geoff Freeman, president of the Consumer Brands Association, which represents grocery manufacturers. "The federal government, particularly CDC and OSHA, is failing to provide the clear and specific guidance necessary to encourage relatively consistent adoption across the country."

More than 30 million people have applied for unemployment as of April 30, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Many are falling behind on their rent and are being evicted, despite new rules designed to stop evictions. Experts say the moratoriums by state and local officials don't go far enough and are leaving tenants vulnerable.

"My main concern is that I'll be evicted," says David Perez. The self-employed father of one sells artisanal wares, like wallets and sandals, at a flea market in Elkridge, Md. "What's going to happen to my family?"

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: May 1, 2020

Apr 30, 2020

We'll hear from Laconia Mayor Andrew Hosmer, after city officials decided to postpone Bike Week, and the Lakes Region faces economic uncertainty heading into the critical summer tourism season. We'll also check in on the decision over how and when to reopen New Hampshire's economy. Gov. Chris Sununu has said he will make an announcement Friday. And we'll check in on what's happening in Vermont, as officials there discuss a gradual reopening of the state.

 

Updated at 8:38 a.m. ET

The telephone lines are still jammed at the nation's unemployment offices.

Another 3.8 million people filed claims for jobless benefits last week, according to the Labor Department. While that's down from the previous week's 4.4 million, a staggering 30.3 million have applied for unemployment in the six weeks since the coronavirus began taking a wrecking ball to the U.S. job market.

That's roughly one out of five people who had a job in February.

NHPR Staff

The state's community college system is seeking millions in federal COVID-19 aid.

Most of the money would be for tuition assistance. The community college system wants more than $29 million to help students pay for classes.

Chuck Ansell is the system’s chief financial officer. On Wednesday, he told members of the legislative committee advising Governor Sununu on COVID-19 aid that the state's community colleges are ready to help create a workforce relevant to local economic needs.

Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons

Local banks say technical glitches are delaying the submission of applications for the second round of an emergency funding program for small businesses and nonprofits.

On Monday, the second phase of the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, got off to a rocky start. Local banks reported technical glitches as they attempted to submit loan applications for approval through the Small Business Administration.

The CEO of Airbnb has made a lot of chocolate-chip cookies since the coronavirus pandemic began.

"People call it stress-baking," Brian Chesky said. "If that's the case, I'm going to be a Michelin chef pretty soon, because I got enough stress to do a lot of baking."

That's no surprise given that the lure of Airbnb — to have a unique experience by staying in a stranger's home — has lost considerable appeal as the pandemic courses its way through the world, paralyzing travel.

Andre Belanger

 

 

 

New Hampshire artists and arts organizations have been struggling during the pandemic, despite coming up with creative ways to stay afloat, including drive-by art shows.

Speaking on The Exchange, Russ Grazier, CEO of the Portsmouth Music and Arts Center, says shifting to online classes has been successful at the Center, even attracting new students – but that hasn't made up for severe losses in other sources of income, such as concerts, theater productions, and gallery showings.  

Aaron Yoo via Flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/G2BaUF

Some New Hampshire hair stylists are petitioning Gov. Chris Sununu to allow them to reopen and see one client at a time.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced closed businesses not deemed “essential” in New Hampshire, including hair salons, barber shops and other cosmetology shops.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/68751915@N05/6757875045/">401(k) 2012</a> / Flickr

The Governor's Office for Emergency and Recovery (or GOFERR) is charged with the investment and oversight of federal funding in response to COVID-19.

NHPR's Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Jerry Little, who's taking a leave as New Hampshire's Banking Commissioner to lead the office.

Little spoke about how the body is getting input and will decide how to spend the funds.

(Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The Star Island resort on the Isles of Shoals will not open this summer, for the first time in decades.

The seasonal facility off the coast near Portsmouth is only accessible by boat. It typically hosts thousands of people each summer for conferences, retreats and more.

This year, that will change due to fears about the spread of coronavirus.

The Telegraph's online header

The Nashua Telegraph will scale back its print editions to Sundays only as the coronavirus continues to reshape the local news industry in New Hampshire.

Many local print outlets have laid off staff and cut production due to a loss of advertising revenue. Now, The Telegraph says it will turn its focus to its online edition and begin printing only on Sundays.

Click here to sign up for NHPR's coronavirus newsletter to get the latest updates.

Mediaweek via Flickr CC

Updated on April 27, 2020 at 10:24 a.m.  

Following an executive order from Governor Sununu and the passage of the federal CARES Act, many more people are now able to apply for unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19, including those who need to quarantine, and those who are self-employed.

The Exchange spoke with Deputy Commissioner Richard Lavers of N.H. Employment Security in March and April. You can find those full conversations here and here.

Read all of NHPR's coronavirus coverage here. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

President Donald Trump signed a bill Friday that provides $484 billion in relief to employers and states facing hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill received broad support in both the House and Senate. NHPR's Peter Biello spoke earlier today with U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, who explained why she decided to support this new legislation.

The New Hampshire State House
NHPR

The leader of the New Hampshire Senate said it’s too soon to make a decision on Gov. Chris Sununu’s proposal to retain business tax cuts scheduled to take effect in January, regardless of whether the state meets the revenue benchmarks required by law.

bytemarks / Flickr Creative Commons

Here’s how Sarah Piedmont, 27, would describe the state’s online system for filing for unemployment benefits.

“It looks like they mashed together, like, five different websites from 2001,” she said.

Piedmont, who works as a restaurant server and is finishing up a degree in mathemathics at Southern New Hampshire University, is temporarily unemployed right now. 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by top Democratic lawmakers over federal COVID-19 funding. The suit challenged Gov. Chris Sununu's power to spend more than $1.25 billion without legislative review or approval.

(Scroll down for earlier coverage.)

In his 16-page opinion, Superior Court Judge David A. Anderson granted Sununu's motion to dismiss, writing that stopping or delaying the governor from distributing funds in the midst of a global pandemic would be contrary to the public interest.

Dan Tuohy | NHPR

A task force created to safely re-open the state’s economy met for the first time on Thursday.

The group consists of lawmakers, as well as leaders from a variety of industries including restaurants, retail and hospitals.

D.J. Bettencourt, policy director for Gov. Chris Sununu, said the committee’s mandate is “to ensure that New Hampshire’s economy is able to reopen efficiently, and in a manner that protects public health, while limiting the risks of any resurgence.”

Special Broadcast: Checking In On N.H. Unemployment

Apr 22, 2020
AMTEC PHOTOS VIA FLICKR / CC BY-SA 2.0

The coronavirus pandemic has left thousands of Granite Staters suddenly out of work, furloughed, or with reduced hours. The state is seeing a record number of unemployment claims. The Exchange will air a special extended hour Thursday at 1 p.m., as we answer your questions about unemployment. What's been your experience navigating the system?

Air date: 1 p.m., Thursday, April 23, 2020 

Dan Tuohy; NHPR

As coronavirus leads to record unemployment, many people are struggling to pay rent. We talk about the rights of tenants and landlords during the pandemic, and how COVID-19 is impacting access to safe, reliable, and affordable housing. 

Air date: Thursday, April 23, 2020.

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