Welcome to the Weekly Scan. Here’s what we’re following for the week of April 5, 2021.
Global impact. As the $21 trillion U.S. economy continues to recover, it may also be driving a wider economic recovery across the globe. While many Americans have stayed home and hoarded cash during 2020, they have been more eager to spend in recent months, reportedly doling out a record $220 billion on imported goods. U.S. Consumers have gotten assistance from the federal government, including low interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as well as aggressive spending from the Biden administration, whose most recent $1.9 trillion recovery act is thought to be contributing to economic growth. Recent stimulus payments of $1,400 in March have allowed consumers to spend more on goods, some of which are being imported from other countries. Global economic output is predicted to be $3 trillion higher by 2022 because of U.S. spending.
- The takeaway: Some experts, however, are concerned about the long-term effects of this boom. The current influx of cash, coupled with low interest rates, could create a higher inflation. And the surge in investment in the U.S. economy has led to an exit of more than $5 billion from developing countries. Additionally, while unemployment has decreased to 6%, 4 million Americans have left the labor force, and 8 million who were employed at the beginning of 2020 are now unemployed.
Companies make their voices heard. Executives at American Airlines and Dell Technologies are speaking out against legislation designed to restrict voting access in Texas. Last week, American Airlines issued a statement condemning Texas’ Senate Bill 7 and Dell’s CEO Michael Dell criticized the state’s House Bill 6 on Twitter. The pieces of legislation aim to limit voting rights, by preventing election officials from sending out mail-in ballot applications to potential voters, decreasing early voting hours, and banning drive-thru voting. Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola also came out against bills to curb voting rights, after a group of Black executives called on companies to speak up against the bills.
- The takeaway: The group of Black executives, which includes former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault and current Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, urged companies to use their power, money, and lobbying capabilities to oppose laws that make it more difficult for people, particularly Black Americans, to vote. The group cited proposals in 43 states that would affect voter access. Delta and Coca Cola, both based in Atlanta, were threatened by boycotts for their lack of response to similar voting rights restrictions legislation, passed in Georgia in March, 2021.
Amazon’s hot water. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled this week that Amazon violated federal regulations when it fired two employees who publicly criticized alleged unfair workplace practices at the digital e-commerce giant’s warehouses. The workers,who were fired in April, 2020, also reportedly criticized Amazon’s lack of action in reducing its environmental impact and contribution to global warming. The NLRB is a federal agency that oversees fair labor practices and labor laws in U.S. workplaces. It has given Amazon a chance to address the firings.
- The takeaway. Amazon’s Labor Relations Board problem comes amid a growing movement to unionize the company. In Alabama, 6,000 workers have filed ballots to begin unionizing the company’s Birmingham warehouse, in what is reportedly seen as the largest labor threat to the company in its history. Senators Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Vice President Kamala Harris have all publicly questioned whether Amazon retaliates against employees who speak out against the company. Amazon has reportedly said it supports employee rights to criticize working conditions and its sustainability efforts, but not violations of its internal communications policies.
Find out what we covered in last week’s Scan.