C19 Open Discussion Week 32b

From MarketWatch:

Americans could owe an estimated $7.2 billion in unpaid rent by December because of COVID-related job losses, Fed study shows

A new study suggests that Americans will owe billions of dollars in unpaid rent by December — but that could mean that the nation’s worst fears about the eviction crisis may not come to fruition. 

Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia used payroll, joblessness and unemployment insurance data to create a more precise estimate of how many households nationwide are behind on their rent. The number they produced is far lower than the figures presented by other studies.

The researchers estimated that by December around 1.34 million renter households will be behind on their rent as a result of pandemic-related job losses, which equates to roughly 4.2% of all renter households. Altogether, these households will owe roughly $7.2 billion in rent by December, averaging to around $5,400. 

These households include 2.8 million adults and 1.1 million children. The study also found they were more likely to be include people of color or have a woman as the head of the household.

Previous studies have estimated that as many as 40 million Americans were facing the threat of eviction because they had not managed to make full, on-time rent payments because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The difference in these estimates comes down to how researchers went about assessing who was behind on their rent. Some early studies made assumptions about which workers were most likely to be impacted by the pandemic based on the field they were employed in. Other studies based their estimates on survey data regarding people’s confidence in their ability to pay rent, essentially assuming that many people who were worried about missing their rent payment would indeed not make it.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 32

8 Months In…

From Inman News:

Foreclosure activity hits historic lows as filings drop 81%

Foreclosure filings, including default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions, dropped 81 percent year over year to 27,016 filings, according to Attom Data Solution’s Q3 2020 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report. The number, which was also down 12 percent from the previous quarter, marks a new historic low in filings since Attom began tracking the data during the first quarter of 2008.

Foreclosure filings in September 2020 alone — which totaled 9,707 filings — were also down 80 percent from the previous year.

“Foreclosure activity has, for all intents and purposes, ground to a halt due to moratoria put in place by the federal, state and local governments and the mortgage forbearance program initiated by the CARES Act,” Rick Sharga, executive vice president of RealtyTrac, said in a statement. “But it’s important to remember that the numbers we’re seeing today are artificially low, even as the number of seriously delinquent loans continues to increase, and that we’ll see a significant — and probably quite sudden — burst of foreclosure activity once these various government programs expire.”

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C19 Open Discussion Week 31b

From CNBC:

NJ governor hopes to use a ‘scalpel’ to deal with coronavirus hot spots not another broad shutdown

New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday on CNBC he hopes to avoid broad economic lockdowns to deal with rising coronavirus cases in the state and the nation.

“I think we’re less likely, and please God that this is the case, we’re less likely to use blunt instruments we used in March and April when we shut the garage doors down on everything, and much more likely to use a scalpel and go into a particular community,” Murphy told “Squawk Box.”

The governor acknowledged that new Covid-19 cases in New Jersey have been moving higher between 700 and under 1,000 per day recently. “We’ve come a long way but our numbers are up, there’s no question about it, over the past several weeks,” he said. “For instance, higher education has been a challenge,” adding he’s putting more resources behind contact tracing and testing at state colleges and universities.

Murphy described the escalation of coronavirus cases in the state as “hot spots” and not everywhere. “But there’s a fair amount of community spread,” he said, explaining people are mostly following virus mitigation measures, such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing, when they are out in public. However, people are letting their guards down at homes and in “frat houses,” he stressed.

Murphy urged people feeling ill to “take yourself off the field” and self-quarantine. He said government officials need to continue to stay on the “bullhorn” to encourage people to stay vigilant.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 31

From the Washington Post:

Home sales rise despite low inventory and pandemic

Despite record unemployment and a sharp decline in the number of homes for sale, both existing and newly built homes reached their highest pace of sales since 2006 in August.

The National Association of Realtors reported that existing-home sales were up 10.5 percent in August 2020 compared to August 2019, rising to an annual rate of 6 million homes sold year-to-date, the highest level since December 2006. Every region saw more existing homes sold in August 2020 compared to July 2020 and to August 2019. Homes typically sold in 22 days in August 2020, down from 31 days in August 2019.

New-home sales also rose sharply in August to their highest level since September 2006. Sales of newly built homes reached an annual rate of 1.01 million in August 2020, 43.2 percent higher than in August 2019, according to the Census Bureau. New-home sales were also up 4.8 percent compared to July 2020.

Realtor.com’s Weekly Housing Report for the week ending Sept. 19 found that nearly 400,000 fewer homes have been listed since the beginning of the pandemic in March compared to that same period in 2019. As a result, homes are selling 12 days faster than in 2019 and prices have accelerated for the 19th week in a row.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 30c

From the Star Ledger:

‘We are anticipating a second wave’ as new coronavirus cases spike to 4-month high, N.J. health officials says

As the state hit its highest single-day total of new COVID-19cases in more than four months, officials warned Thursday that New Jersey is bracing for a potential second wave of the coronavirus that could escalate quickly if residents become complacent about prevention practices.

“We are anticipating a second wave and are preparing based on lessons learned from our prior experiences,” state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said at the state’s latest coronavirus briefing in Trenton. “If individuals do not adhere to social distancing, masking guidelines, washing your hands, staying home if you are sick, this wave has the potential to become a surge.”

New Jersey reported 1,301 new cases — the most the state has announced one day since 1,394 on May 29 — led by a sustained spike in Ocean County and its largest municipality, Lakewood. The Jersey Shore county had 285 positive tests, with 206 in Lakewood alone.

The good news: Persichelli said New Jersey is better prepared now than it was for the first COVID-19 wave in the spring, having been stockpiling personal protective equipment, ventilators, and experimental medications.

But unlike its peak in April, the state would be on its own in a battling a second wave since it’s likely to sweep through the United States more evenly than the initial wave that focused on New Jersey and New York, Persichilli said. As a result, New Jersey can’t rely on health care workers from other states to come in to help if frontline workers start becoming ill in greater numbers.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 30b

From NJ1015:

Home buying surges at the shore amid COVID-19, brokers say

Brokers and real estate agents say home-buying at and near the beach has surged significantly since the start of the coronavirus pandemic — mostly when the weather started warming up in May — and professionals in the field are attempting to keep up with demand as shortage of inventory makes each available property a must-have item for countless wannabe buyers.

“I just put a house on the market two weeks ago, and within a week we had more than 85 people through the house,” Yagoda said.”It’s all been very, very busy — and then somewhat inland as well.”

The health crisis, experts say, appears to be pulling city-dwellers away from packed streets and towards the shore, or coercing folks who have the means to finally pull the trigger and purchase a second home along the coast or nearby — not a bad place to be when your forced to work from home.

Markets along the shore have been “busier than ever lately,” according to 2020 New Jersey Realtors First Vice President Robert White. With flexible schedules, more people have the opportunity to make the move, he said.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 30

From Patch:

Ex-NJ Gov. Chris Christie Hospitalized After COVID-19 Diagnosis

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was hospitalized on Saturday after announcing that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“In consultation with my doctors, I checked myself into Morristown Medical Center this afternoon,” Christie said on Twitter.

Christie said he’s feeling “good and only have mild symptoms,” but he felt this was an “important precautionary measure” because of his history of asthma.

“I am thankful for our hardworking medical professionals and look forward to coming home soon,” he said.

The former governor announced on Twitter that he tested positive for COVID-19, almost a week after attending an event at the White House where a number of attendees – including President Trump – later tested positive for the virus.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 29c

From CNN:

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump test positive for Covid-19

President Donald Trump announced early Friday that he and his wife both tested positive for the coronavirus, an extraordinary development coming months into a global pandemic and in the final stretch of his reelection campaign in which he has flouted experts’ guidance on preventing the disease’s spread.

The diagnosis amounts to the most serious known health threat to a sitting American president in decades. At 74 years old and obese, Trump falls into the highest risk category for serious complications from the disease, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans and more than 1 million people worldwide.

His infection with the disease could prove destabilizing in an already fraught political climate, and stock market futures tumbled on news of Trump’s infection.

“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” Trump tweeted shortly before 1 a.m. Friday.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 29b

From NJ1015:

NJ budget signed, but immigrant funding remains at issue

The 2021 state budget raises spending, taxes and borrowing – but it’s still not enough to satisfy all demands for help.

Members of immigrant advocacy groups protested outside the Trenton War Memorial where Gov. Phil Murphy signed the budget and associated tax increases Tuesday, at one point blocking the road in front of the building, because the state still hasn’t provided direct pandemic economic aid to unauthorized immigrants who aren’t eligible for federal stimulus payments or unemployment benefits.

“We’re here to demand what is rightfully ours,” said Deya Aldana, an organizer for Make the Road New Jersey. “We are here to say that we demand economic relief for everyone.”

“We’ve been called essential workers. Most immigrants also pay taxes. We pay huge amounts of taxes, and yet immigrants are excluded,” said Maneesha Kelkar, interim director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “It is time, after six months of no relief. It is time.”

State Sen. Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, was continuing to press the case for one-time payments to immigrants when the Legislature passed the budget last week.

“It is still months into the pandemic and several thousand New Jerseyans who pay into the state budget in millions of dollars have not received one dollar of relief in this crisis,” Ruiz said.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 29

From NJ.com:

More taxes, more spending, more borrowing! It’s party time in Trenton!

California cut $11 billion from its budget, hitting colleges and affordable housing programs. Georgia cut spending by 10 percent, pulling back spending on preschools and programs for the disabled. Tennessee lawmakers cut $1 billion, including transit programs.

New Jersey is charting a different course, increasing overall spending by 4 percent, and kicking off a new program to send checks to nearly 1 million households next summer, worth up to $500 a pop.

If we are outliers on spending, we are also outliers on borrowing.

So far, just one state has tapped into the Federal Reserve’s loan program for help. That’s Illinois, the only state that’s a worse basket case than New Jersey, with an even lower credit rating. And Illinois borrowed $1.2 billion with an agreement to pay it back in one year, a trifle by our standards.

New Jersey is about to borrow $4.5 billion, with a promise to pay it back over 12 years. That will cost us about $450 million a year, considerably more than the new millionaires’ tax will raise.

The Democrats, folks, are off the leash.

Even the party’s budget chairman, Sen. Paul Sarlo, seemed a bit embarrassed by the lack of discipline. “There is a point in time where we need to stop taxing and to do reforms,” he said, after a decade with the gavel. “We’re at the tipping point.”

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C19 Open Discussion Week 28c

From ROINJ:

N.J. unemployment jumps again after milestone week

After a week when unemployment claims slipped below the 20,000 mark in New Jersey, they jumped back up 25% during the week ended Sept. 19, according to the state Department of Labor & Workforce Development.

Initial unemployment claims for the week came in at 24,663, up from 19,636 the week before, and bringing the total number of workers seeking jobless benefits to more than 1.6 million since the COVID-19-related shutdown of the economy began six months ago.

The DOL has distributed $15.6 billion in federal and state benefits during the pandemic, including $286 million last week.

“New Jersey workers continue to struggle with the weight of unemployment and underemployment, and the accompanying financial worries of not having a job,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said in a prepared statement. “The Labor Department staff knows the difficulties our customers are facing, so they work hard every day to resolve as many cases and answer as many questions as possible.”

The state said 1.4 million people met the requirements for benefits, and 96% have received payment.

Nationally, the figure for seasonally adjusted unemployment claims was 870,000 for the week ending Sept. 19, up 4,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

The unemployment rate for the week ending Sept. 12 was 8.6%, down 0.1 percentage point from the week earlier.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 28b

From the NJ Herald:

NJ contracted $37M for contact tracing. Was there a better way to use taxpayer dollars?

It’s become a dangerous cycle.

Public health funding is slashed. An emergency strikes. Governments pour money into the problem and then cut funding once again after the crisis subsides.

Local health officials in New Jersey fear that this will happen again.

The Garden State agreed to pay close to $37 million in contracts to hire and train contact tracers for six months. This provisional workforce notifies those who spent time around an infected individual and helps them with what to do next, a crucial step to keep COVID-19 from spreading further.

The state plans to pay the Rutgers School of Public Health $13.3 million for developing a six-part course and hiring and training 1,000 students across the state from June 1 through Sept. 15, a memorandum of agreement shows. This nearly doubled the state’s workforce.

After that, Public Consulting Group is to take over administering the program and paying tracers for at least the next three months at a price tag of $23.5 million. About $20.7 million of that will cover wages for 1,200 tracers paid $35 an hour, according to the purchase order.

Federal funds are supposed to fill in the gaps, as the Murphy administration reduced certain state line items in his budget proposal, such as cutting “public health infectious disease control” from $2.5 million to $1.9 million.

But of the more than $650 million in federal stimulus money identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the Garden State is allowed to pass down to local health departments over multiple years, the state has so far only allocated at most $74.3 million, or about 11%. Those funds have restrictions, and only a fraction, $2.3 million, has been passed out.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 28

From Apple, this time looking at NYC:

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C19 Open Discussion Week 27b

From the NY Post:

Nearly half of NYC’s top earners have considered fleeing the city: poll

Nearly half of New York City residents earning six figures or more have considered fleeing the Big Apple during the coronavirus crisis over cost-of-living concerns, according to a new poll.

Researchers with the Siena College Research Institute and Manhattan Institute surveyed 782 city dwellers making $100,000 or more about life in the age of COVID-19.

In results released Wednesday, the survey, conducted between July 13 and Aug. 3, found that 44 percent have thought of leaving the city in the past four months, with 69 percent citing cost of living as the main reason to move.

Quality of life in the city that never sleeps has taken a hit, too, during the pandemic. Just under 4 in 10 respondents said quality of life is now “excellent or good” — a plunge from 79 percent who felt that way pre-coronavirus.

And it could be because many feel like there’s no end in sight — nearly 7 in 10 polled believe it “will take longer than a year” for life to return to normal.

The study also gave insight as to how many top earners are working from home. A majority of respondents, 53 percent, are now calling their abode their new office, while 21 percent aren’t working at all — though the poll notes they could be retired, furloughed, independently wealthy and receiving passive income.

And the bulk of them (65 percent) believe working from home is Gotham’s new normal, with 30 percent of respondents citing the new setup as a driving force behind wanting to get out of Dodge.

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C19 Open Discussion Week 27

From MarketWatch:

‘It’s a five-alarm fire, a 100-year fiscal tsunami’

As fall descends on their virus-weary city, New Yorkers have some fresh reasons for optimism.

More people are out on the sidewalks. Gyms are open again. Though Broadway’s still dark and Manhattan CEOs are grumbling about “widespread anxiety,” many offices aren’t quite as empty as they were before Labor Day. Meanwhile, indoor dining and classroom learning are both set to return by the end of the month—with restrictions.

But there’s still a big missing piece in the complex puzzle of New York’s slow resurgence, and transit officials are struggling mightily to fit it back in. The subway is still a relative ghost town.

“Come back,” Patrick Foye, chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, was saying a couple of hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo instituted new $50 fines on Thursday for anyone caught on a train or in a station without a face mask.

Is the subway safe?

“Absolutely,” Foye said.

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