February 4, 2021
The Gateway For Payroll Data
Economy shrank 3.5 percent in 2020

The U.S. economy shrank 3.5 percent in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses, schools and events, marking the first annual contraction since the Great Recession, according to data released by the Commerce Department on Thursday.

U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) suffered its largest annual decline since 1946 due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Commerce Department release. The outbreak of COVID-19 caused the steepest economic collapse since the Great Depression, wiping out more than 20 million jobs and years of economic growth within two months.

U.S. GDP increased by an annualized rate of 4 percent in the final three months of 2020, according to the data released Thursday, following an annualized gain of 33.4 percent in the third quarter and a 31.4 percent annualized decline in the second quarter. But the economic rebound staged in the second half of 2020 has been dampened by the continued rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the country.

Paving the Payments Future
7 essential cyber security tips for small businesses

Every year, cybersecurity becomes a bigger issue for businesses large and small. While computer experts and regular people are getting better at protecting their data, hackers and digital criminals are keeping up every step of the way.

A well-informed and bad-intentioned hacker could cause your business serious harm, engaging in such nefarious behavior as freezing your accounts, demanding a ransom, and stealing your customers’ sensitive personal data. In order to avoid these catastrophes, you need to do everything you can to beef up your cybersecurity operations. These days, failing to take these threats seriously is simply asking for trouble. Here are seven essential cybersecurity tips that can benefit any small business owner.

IRS updates FAQs on paid sick leave credit and family leave credit

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today posted updated FAQs about recent legislation that extended and amended tax relief to certain small- and mid-sized employers under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FAQs are available at COVID-19-Related Tax Credits for Required Paid Leave Provided by Small and Midsize Businesses FAQs.

The updates to the FAQs cover how the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020, enacted December 27, 2020, extends the availability of the tax credits created by the FFCRA to eligible employers for paid sick and family leave provided through March 31, 2021, as well as other amendments to the credits. 

Struggling during the pandemic? COVID-19 financial relief and protections extended

The federal government is extending relief and protections for many student loan borrowers, renters, and homeowners who are having trouble making payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keep reading to learn more about these important updates that may help you. But, remember the COVID-19 pandemic and relief efforts continue to change and develop. Check our COVID-19 webpage for more information.

Payments suspended for federally owned student loans
Principal and interest payments on federally held student loans are automatically suspended through September 30, 2021.

If you have federally owned student loans, you don’t need to contact your student loan servicer or take any action. However, make sure your servicer has your up-to-date contact information and continue to check your mail or email for updates or information about your loans.

16 Types of Loans to Help You Make Necessary Purchases

It’s always a good idea to save up money before making a large purchase. But in reality, that’s not always possible. That’s especially true for expenses like a college education, a car or a home, or even unexpected emergencies, like medical bills.

When you can’t save money in advance, you can take out a loan. However, you’ll need to understand what type of loan to shop for because there are specific loans for certain purchases.

Here are 16 types of loans that can help you make necessary purchases in your life:

1. Personal Loans
Personal loans are the broadest type of loan category and typically have repayment terms between 24 and 84 months. They can be used for just about anything except for a college education or illegal activities. People commonly use personal loans for things like:

Facing a double-whammy, millennials rack up credit card debt during the pandemic

The pandemic’s economic hit is making an outsize impact on one generation’s debt: A greater share of millennials report they have added to their credit card debt since March compared with older generations.

About 56% of millennials say their credit card debt has grown since the start of the pandemic, compared with 53% of Generation Xers and 46% of baby boomers, according to a new survey from About 55% of millennials blamed the crisis for their snowballing balances, while fewer than half of Gen Xers and baby boomers pointed to the pandemic as the cause of their growing debt, according to the survey of 2,475 adults in mid-December.

Navy Federal Credit Union continues branch expansion as banks scale back

"While the self-service capabilities ... work well to meet a lot of [military members'] fundamental needs, there's still ... a need for them to be able to walk into a branch," an executive said.

Navy Federal Credit Union plans to continue expanding its branch network in 2021, bucking a trend that saw a record number of bank branches close last year, as the nation's largest credit union pursues its "multi-pronged approach" to serving the military community.

"A lot of our active-duty members are portable. They move around," said Richard Allen, vice president of branch operations at Navy Federal, which opened its newest branch in Douglasville, Georgia, last month and has eight more branch openings scheduled this year. "While the self-service capabilities, the online, mobile and ATMs work well to meet a lot of their fundamental needs, there's still a requirement, a need for them to be able to walk into a branch and get some financial guidance."

An Omni-Channel Payment Experience

No matter the size of your business, we strive to keep payment processing is easy. That starts with streamlining your payment process, integrating with your preferred software, offering same-day ACH options and providing a variety of payment methods including web, mobile app, SMS, and over the phone. We even offer a later processing window for the days that don't go as planned.

Online Tools for Customers and Agents
We’ve built our platforms to not only simplify payments for your customers, but to be an invaluable tool for your agents, too. Integrated to your system, agents can stop toggling between multiple systems. We customize the portal to your business’ payment rules to give them easy access to accurate realtime customer information, including account status, messaging preferences and more! Visit our Web Portal page to learn more.

Last week, President Biden signed a Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships, reaffirming the policies announced in Executive Order 13175 and directing every federal agency to outline plans for how they can better consult with federally recognized Tribes.

Executive Order 13175 was initially signed by President Bill Clinton on November 6, 2000, and has been reaffirmed by subsequent presidents over the past two decades. It “charges all executive departments and agencies with engaging in regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal officials in the development of Federal policies that have Tribal implications,” according to the Biden memo.

“Tribal consultation under this order strengthens the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the United States and Tribal Nations,” the memo continues.

State Lawmakers Begin Once-a-Decade Redistricting Fight

Redistricting debates will heat up in many states as Democrats try to stop Republicans, who control most statehouses, from drawing district lines that would solidify their political power for another decade.

Every 10 years, after a new census count, states adjust the boundaries of state legislative and U.S. House of Representatives districts to account for population shifts. The 2020 census was shortened by the pandemic and the results have been delayed, putting some states in a bind: The numbers needed to draw new districts might not arrive until late summer or fall, when candidates typically launch their campaigns.

In states such as Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas that have conservative legislatures and liberal cities, Republicans will try to preserve their majorities by drawing congressional and state legislative districts that favor GOP incumbents and dilute Democratic voting strength.

Home price growth surges to highest level seen since 2014

U.S. home price growth surged in the penultimate month of 2020 to a level not seen in nearly seven years.

Standard & Poor’s said Tuesday that its S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index posted a 9.5% annual gain in November, up from 8.4% in October. The last time the index reached this level was in February 2014. The 20-City Composite posted a 9.1% annual gain, up from 8% the previous month. The national and 20-City beat estimates of 8.85% and 8.7%, respectively, according to consensus compiled by Bloomberg.

“The trend of accelerating home prices that began in June 2020 has now reached its sixth month with November’s emphatic report,” said Craig J. Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a press statement. “As COVID-related restrictions began to grip the economy last spring, their effect on housing prices was unclear. Price growth decelerated in May and June before beginning a steady climb upward. November’s report continues that acceleration in a particularly impressive manner.”

Identity thieves raked in billions with your data, even as breaches fell in 2020

Based on what we know so far, hackers didn't steal as much personal data in 2020 as they did in previous years, but that doesn't mean they weren't able to make plenty of money. According to a report released Thursday by the Identity Theft Resource Center, hackers and identity thieves used stolen passwords and personal information to profit in new ways from your information.

The report, issued to coincide with Data Privacy Day, is a good reminder that stolen personal data has a long afterlife. After you file away a data breach notification, you'll remain at risk of becoming the victim of identity theft or a ransomware attack for a long time to come. Now is as good a time as ever to check your credit reports, health insurance records and bank accounts for anything suspicious. If you think you might be the victim of identity theft, you can contact the US Federal Trade Commission and the Identity Theft Resource Center for help.

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