May 11, 2021
The Gateway For Payroll Data
Some states plan big spending with Biden’s aid, others wait

Though still awaiting money from the latest federal coronavirus relief act, some governors and state lawmakers already are making plans to add the multibillion-dollar boon to their budgets.

Among their priorities: bailing out depleted unemployment accounts, expanding high-speed internet and providing additional aid to schools and businesses.

The $1.9 trillion pandemic relief law signed by President Joe Biden earlier this year contains $350 billion of flexible aid for state and local governments, plus billions of dollars more for specific programs such as housing assistance. Unlike earlier coronavirus aid, states have broad leeway to use the money to plug budget holes, invest in certain infrastructure or address the “negative economic impacts” of the pandemic.

Paving the Payments Future
1 in 4 Americans with debt are in collections, survey reveals

Rachel Cruze, Personal Finance Expert with Ramsey Solutions, joins the Yahoo Finance Live panel to discuss a new survey shedding light on the state of personal finance for Americans during COVID-19.

ZACK GUZMAN: As much as we talk about the unemployment rate coming back down here in America and more and more stories of Americans recovering financially in the post-pandemic recovery, a new survey is out, revealing just how many Americans think that they will never recover from the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. And a surprising number in that survey from personal finance education company Ramsey Solutions saying about 34% say they'll never recover. 23% say they're worse off following COVID.

Have you heard that the Child Tax Credit has changed for 2021? It’s true! Among other things the credit is now fully refundable, meaning you may benefit even if you don't have earned income or don't owe any income taxes.

#IRS will make advance payments of the 2021 Child Tax Credit regularly from July through Dec. to eligible taxpayers. 
Making Ends Meet series: Consumer use of payday, auto title, and pawn loans

Payday, auto title, and pawn loans in the Making Ends Meet Survey
We use questions about payday, auto title, and pawn loans in the first two waves of the Bureau’s Making Ends Meet survey, conducted in June 2019 and June 2020, to examine how consumers use these services. The survey’s sample is drawn from traditional credit bureau data, so the survey does not provide insight into users of these services who do not have traditional credit records. But it does allow us to examine other credit characteristics such as whether these consumers appear to have readily available credit on credit cards. The Making Ends Meet survey thus gives us a rare opportunity to combine a survey of the same consumers over two years with traditional credit record data to understand consumers’ decisions about debt.

In June 2019, 4.4 percent of consumers had taken out a payday loan in the previous six months, 2.0 percent had taken out an auto title loan, and 2.5 percent had taken out a pawn loan. Users of these services are more concentrated among the age group between 40-61, consumers with at most a high school degree, Black and Hispanic consumers, low-income consumers, and women. Because the number of consumers using these loans in the survey is small, there is some survey uncertainty in these estimates.

Russia’s Payday Loans Hit Record High in March

Russians took out an all-time high of 2.35 million payday loans in March, according to data compiled by the consumer credit ratings agency Equifax Russia and reported by state media Friday.

In a sign of Russians’ increasing reliance on small lending, Equifax said high-interest microloans increased by 17% since February and by 30% since March 2020. 

Microfinance companies gave out a total of 31 billion rubles ($418.5 million), while the average loan size totaled 13,100 rubles ($180) for a third consecutive month this March. 

“The growth in payday loans is primarily due to the activity of microfinance companies, including in cross-sales,” Oleg Lagutkin, CEO of Equifax Russia, was quoted as saying by the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

The surge was also accompanied by a record-setting 5.4 million overdue payday loans. 

Attention Small Businesses: There's a Generation-Sized Untapped Customer Base

This potential market is roughly the same size as Generation X.

If COVID-19 has taught us anything about America's small businesses, it's that we've been underestimating their ability to embrace risk. Since March 2020, necessity has inspired America's small businesses to adapt quickly by shifting their business online, changing their product lineups, introducing new services and customer experiences and searching out new markets.

These risks appear to be paying off. According to the U.S. Census' Retail Sales Survey, fourth-quarter retail sales in 2020 were 6.9% higher than Q4 in 2019. That growth was led by online sales, which rose 32 percent over the prior year.

If necessity is the mother of invention, opportunity may be its father. Fear of risk, as well as a host of factors constricting how businesses accept payments, has kept many retailers from embracing a market opportunity that may prove just as big as online sales: reaching unbanked and underbanked consumers. 

Government won’t get us herd immunity. Businesses can.

Employers can and should require vaccination.

As COVID vaccine becomes widely available – “thank you” to both administrations – we now face the fact that COVID is still spreading and many people don’t want to get vaccinated. Government won’t force them, but their bosses could.

Vaccine skeptics have lots of reasons – “developed too fast,” “side effects,” “don’t trust politicians and government ‘scientists’ pushing it,” etc. There are lots of well-intentioned “messaging studies” on how to overcome those reasons and lots of surveys saying “things are going in the right direction” – a recent one found only 24% are still saying “No way, ever”

But there’s also lots of quiet resistance. Folks who don’t want to get vaccinated don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to be preached at. And they may even not admit it to pollsters.

Fed strikes balance between openness, caution toward nonbanks

The central bank issues guidance for fintechs seeking a charter, while its chair advocates for expanding the CRA to encompass all lenders.

The Federal Reserve has shown twice this week that it is open to applying its regulatory framework beyond the tidy little box where banks reside.

First, in comments to a fair-lending advocacy group Monday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) should cover all companies providing consumer credit.

About 80% of all government-backed mortgages in December originated from nonbank mortgage companies, to which the CRA doesn’t apply, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing research from the Urban Institute. That figure is up from about 50% in 2014.

PPP runs out of funds for most lenders

  • The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has run out of funds and its portal has stopped accepting applications for loans from most lenders, the American Bankers Association (ABA) posted Tuesday on its website, citing a Small Business Administration (SBA) update.
  • Some of the money is still available through minority depository institutions (MDIs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs), though the estimated amount varies slightly, according to trade groups. The ABA pegged the figure at about $8 billion, while the Independent Community Bankers Association (ICBA) said $9.9 billion remained.
  • The SBA has also set aside money to fund previously submitted loan applications subject to hold codes. The ABA said that amounts to $6 billion; the ICBA said $7 billion. Banks whose applicants have not yet been approved may consider referring clients to MDIs and CDFIs, the ABA said.

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