The UK economy shrank 10% last year, and 700,000 Brits have lost their jobs. With the country only expected to see pre-pandemic levels again around mid-2022, the Chancellor’s 2021 Budget had us all on the edge of our seats this week. Across the pond, the Wall Street Journal interviewed Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Thursday about the current job climate, as well as interest rates and whether a rate hike was on the table.
Below, we delve into the key points made by both, and look at COVID-19's impact a year on.
Budget 2021 and the pandemic
Chancellor Sunak shared his Budget in the House of Commons this week, laying out the government's plans for spending in the year ahead. With the pandemic’s impact at the front of everyone's minds, he's committed to an additional injection of £1.65 billion into ensuring the vaccine rollout’s success.
Notable measures include an extension of furlough until the end of September, with the government continuing to pay 80% of wages on hours employees couldn't work. The minimum wage will go up by 2.2% to £8.91 per hour for basic rate workers, starting April. Support for self-employed persons will be extended as well, with 600k more people now becoming eligible for the first time.
Other talking points were Restart Grants – £5 billion will be put towards grants of up to £18,000 a pop to help predominantly the hospitality sector reopen – as well as their Recovery Loan Scheme, to help other businesses get back up and running.
Read the full list of measures here
WSJ Job Summit, Jobless Claims, and the NFP
The first week of the month in the US means only one thing: nonfarm payrolls, the monthly jobs report. While the data hasn't yet been released at time of writing, 182k new jobs are expected, with the Unemployment Rate forecast to hold steady at 6.3%. Initial Jobless Claims also came in slightly under analysts' 750k forecast (at 745k) this week; the figure continuing to stay under the 1 million mark since August, after reaching a record 6.8 million in April.
Fed Chair Powell, in a 30-minute interview with the Wall Street Journal on Thursday also spoke of the labour market, and how interest rates would stay low until their employment and inflation goals were reached.
Watch back the full interview here
Movers & shakers
🔺 Burlington Stores (BURL) gained 15% during Thursday's session after posting earnings. Read more over at MarketWatch
🔻 Zoom (ZM) fell 9% Tuesday, despite posting revenue growth of 369% YoY for 2020 in their latest earnings report. Get more on that on TheStreet