Business Briefs – April 22, 2020

Many Small Businesses Say Loans Won’t Get Them to Rehire

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some small businesses that obtained a highly-coveted government loan say they won’t be able to use it to bring all their laid-off workers back, even though that is exactly what the program was designed to do. The Paycheck Protection Program promises an owner loan forgiveness if they retain or rehire all the workers they had in late February. But owners say the equation isn’t so simple, in part because of current economic conditions and partly due to the terms of the loans. As a result, the lending may not reduce unemployment as much as the Trump administration and Congress hope.

Think Things Are Bad for Airlines? It’s About to Get Worse

DALLAS (AP) — Airline traffic is down 95% from what it was a year ago. Airlines are paying out more in refunds than they are taking in from new ticket sales. No one knows how long it will be before most people feel safe about flying again, but expectations are fading for a quick rebound in travel. Here are some signs to look for and questions to ponder about how the airline industry navigates a recovery from the deepest crisis it has ever seen.

Social Security and Medicare Funds at Risk Even Before Virus

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government says the financial condition of the government’s two biggest benefit programs remains shaky. It indicates that Medicare is expected to become insolvent in just six years while Social Security will be unable to pay full benefits starting in 2035. And that’s before factoring what officials acknowledge will be a substantial hit to both programs from the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down large parts of the U.S. economy and put millions of people out of work. The depletion dates, which remained unchanged from last year’s estimates, were revealed Wednesday with release of the annual trustees reports of both programs.

News Outlets, Long Resistant to Government Help, Take Loans

NEW YORK (AP) — News organizations have long guarded their independence and resisted taking government money. But times have changed. Some news organizations have gone public about accepting small business loans as part of the coronavirus stimulus package. The pandemic has accelerated the death spiral of news organizations across the country, forcing layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts. Participating in a government program is a matter of survival for many of them. Ethics leaders say that it’s important for companies to come clean with consumers that they’re getting this money so readers aren’t left with the impression that the journalists will go easy on the government.

CSX 1Q Profit Drops 8%, Railroad Withdraws Outlook for Year

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — CSX Corp. says its first-quarter profit slipped 8% and the railroad withdrew its outlook for the year because of the ongoing economic uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus outbreak. The Jacksonville, Florida-based company said it earned $770 million, or $1 per share, during the quarter. That’s down from $834 million, or $1.02 per share, a year ago. The results topped Wall Street expectations. The seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expected earnings of 92 cents per share on average.

Tyson Foods Idles Largest Meat Plant as Virus Slams Industry

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Tyson Foods is suspending operations indefinitely at a large Iowa processing plant that was blamed for fueling a coronavirus outbreak in the community. The company warned Wednesday that its closing of the plant in Waterloo would be a blow to farmers and potentially disrupt the nation’s meat supply. Tyson kept the plant open in recent days over the objections of the mayor and other local officials. The plant employs 2,800 workers. Several other meatpacking plants have temporarily closed due to coronavirus outbreaks.

Delta Loses $534m in 1Q; Much Bigger Losses Looming

(AP) – Delta Air Lines, the biggest and most profitable U.S. airline, lost $534 million in the first quarter, a setback that will appear trivial when the full force of the pandemic is revealed in the current quarter.

Delta warned Wednesday that revenue during the April-through-June quarter, typically a period of harried travel, will plummet by 90% compared with last year, when there were no government travel restrictions and flights were full.

“These are truly unprecedented times for all of us,” CEO Ed Bastian said.

Delta is the first U.S. carrier to detail the damage that began to emerge in at the tail end of the first quarter, although United Airlines said Monday that it would record a pretax loss of $2.1 billion, confirming what most had suspected.

Seafood Industry Visa Fix in Question After Virus Outbreak

WASHINGTON (AP) — With the aid of lawmakers, seafood businesses in Maryland, Virginia, Alaska and North Carolina last month won federal approval of an additional 35,000 visas for non-immigrant workers, but the timing couldn’t have been worse.

Within days, the coronavirus pandemic began shutting down businesses, including restaurants and retail outlets the seafood industry supplies.

Some seafood operations let employees go, while others have hired fewer people than they would in a more typical season.

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