March 30, 2021
The Gateway For Payroll Data
'What Are We Going To Do?': Towns Reel As Banks Close Branches At Record Pace

Banks closed a record number of branches last year as the pandemic pushed more customers to online and mobile banking.

The pandemic drove record numbers of bank branches to close. It's part of a years-long trend toward online banking. But people who need a local physical branch may find nothing. Just as some places are food deserts, neighborhoods with no groceries, NPR's Scott Horsley reports on the risk of bank deserts.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Moorhead, Miss., is a town of under 2,000 people in the heart of the Delta. It was once an important commercial crossroads where the Southern Railroad met the Yazoo Delta line, a junction memorialized in W.C. Handy's "Yellow Dog Blues."

Paving the Payments Future
CFPB sees 54% jump in consumer complaints in 2020

  • Complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) jumped nearly 54% in 2020 — to roughly 542,300 from 352,400 in 2019, the agency said Wednesday in an annual report to Congress.
  • More than 58% of the complaints pertained to credit and consumer reporting. Debt collection accounted for 15% of complaints submitted on the CFPB's portal in 2020. Credit card complaints, checking or savings issues, and mortgage complaints comprise 7%, 6% and 5%, respectively, the bureau said.
  • The CFPB typically passes a sizable portion of consumer complaints — 81% in 2019 — to the companies to which they pertain. Companies generally must respond within 15 days. The complaints also help the bureau determine where — and on which companies — to focus supervision and enforcement actions.

Tax Day for individuals extended to May 17:
Treasury, IRS extend filing and payment deadline

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced today that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. The IRS will be providing formal guidance in the coming days.

More Economic Impact Payments set for disbursement in coming days; taxpayers should watch mail for paper checks, debit cards

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced today that the next batch of Economic Impact Payments will be issued to taxpayers this week, with many of these coming by paper check or prepaid debit card.
NEVADA lawmakers aim to regulate apps offering early access to wages

Popular services could require licensing

The car breaks down. The dog gets sick. Such are the unexpected life events that crash budgets and send checking account balances plunging into the red.

Earned wage access platforms, a phenomenon of the gig economy, give people who live paycheck to paycheck access to the money they’ve earned without hitting up the boss for an advance on the paycheck.

“So many people are still struggling right now as a result of the pandemic,” Nevada Sen. Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro testified Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Labor and Commerce. But even before COVID-19, three-quarters of Americans lived paycheck to paycheck, Cannizzaro noted, including her own family.

In Some States, Unemployment Stays Stubbornly High

The economic recovery is leaving millions of people behind, especially those with jobs depending on conventions, tourists and live performances.

“It is a very sad situation. I can see why many lose hope and give up,” said Zuleika Lee, a former trade show model and mixologist in Nevada who’s been without work since last March, when the pandemic shut down the convention centers and bars where she made her living.

The state’s tourism-based economy was still reeling in January, the latest federal figures show. Nevada’s unemployment rate was 8.1%, more than twice the level it was a year earlier. Lee is looking for work in more pandemic-proof fields such as sales and graphic design.

How many jobs is the US likely to add this year?

Most economic forecasters expect very strong GDP growth in 2021 as the $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan works its way through the economy and more people are vaccinated. The consensus is that real GDP will increase about 6% between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the fourth quarter of 2021. If this growth materializes, output by the end of 2021 will be about back to the level it would have been had the pandemic not occurred (using the Congressional Budget Office’s pre-pandemic 2020 economic projection to gauge that level).

This will not be another jobless recovery. If the GDP forecasts prove accurate, we estimate that monthly payroll employment gains over the next 10 months will average between 700,000 and 1 million per month, a lot faster than many forecasters anticipate.

Short-Term Budgeting Can Create Long-Term Problems

Multiyear spending plans for states help ensure that current decisions won’t lead to future deficits

Faced with limited options, especially during difficult economic times, state legislative and executive leaders often respond to immediate fiscal challenges by balancing current budgets at the expense of future ones. But if they draw down savings, delay spending, move up revenue collection, engage in short-term borrowing, or use money from dedicated accounts, they can create difficulties in the future because they only postpone the problem.

A multiyear perspective can help leaders use these strategies responsibly. Rather than scrambling to balance each budget one year at a time, policymakers can think ahead about the appropriate mix of permanent solutions and temporary measures—and when and how to reduce reliance on various stopgaps.

Federal Reserve forms 2nd climate change risk panel

The Federal Reserve is stepping up efforts to evaluate the risk climate change poses to the financial system through the formation of a second climate change risk committee, Fed Gov. Lael Brainard said Tuesday.

Brainard announced the creation of the Financial Stability Climate Committee (FSCC), meant to identify and address climate-related risks on a macroprudential level, in a speech at the Ceres 2021 Conference.

The committee joins another recently formed panel, the Supervision Climate Committee (SCC), which the central bank announced in January, that explores how climate change affects the individual banks it supervises.

‘Very Hard to Get By': How The Pandemic Has Affected ‘Unbanked' New Yorkers

The pandemic has forced New Yorkers to adapt many aspects of their lives, from how and where they work, to how they travel and socialize.

One major change though is how people spend money. Early in the pandemic, when levels of anxiety about potential avenues of infection were high, people ditched cash for fear of it being a vector of transmission. The CDC initially advised those in retail to discourage customers from using paper cash and encouraged the use of touchless payments.

Contactless deliveries and online retail surged over the course of 2020 as people were stuck indoors, unable to go outside to shop. Even when people did venture outside to pay for something in a store, they were using their cards or phones to pay.

Coronavirus was supposed to drive bankruptcies higher. The opposite happened.

Stimulus checks and other government measures kept many borrowers from bankruptcy last year despite high unemployment, but economists worry it won’t last

The number of people seeking bankruptcy during the pandemic fell sharply last year as government aid propped up income and staved off housing and student-loan obligations.

Bankruptcy filings by consumers under chapter 7 were down 22% last year compared with 2019, while individual filings under chapter 13 fell 46%, according to Epiq data. After holding above 50,000 filings a month in 2019 and in the first quarter of 2020, bankruptcy filings have remained below 40,000 a month since last March when the pandemic hit.

By contrast, commercial bankruptcy filings rose 29%, with more than 7,100 businesses seeking chapter 11 protection last year, according to Epiq.

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