Biden extends PPP loans through May
President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed legislation extending the period small businesses have to apply for forgivable loans to help offset costs of the coronavirus pandemic, hailing it as a “bipartisan accomplishment.”
Biden, in a brief Oval Office ceremony, said he was proud to sign the legislation, saying without it people would lose jobs.
The legislation will extend the deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program to May 31 from March 31, giving businesses two additional months to apply. The legislation also provides the Small Business Administration an additional 30 days to process loans, in a bid to address longer wait times after the government began more strictly screening applications to prevent fraud.
The program — first established during the Trump administration — provides small businesses with fee-free federally backed loans. Expenses related to payroll, rent and operations expenditures can be forgiven, meaning many of the loans will convert into grants from the federal government. The SBA says it has approved more than 8.7 million loans valued at over $734 billion.
Some $194.5 billion has already been forgiven by the government, according to the agency’s data.
Consumer confidence highest in 12 months
U.S. consumer confidence surged in March to the highest reading in a year, helped by increased vaccinations and more government economic support.
The Conference Board said Tuesday its consumer confidence index rose to 109.7 in March, the best showing since it stood at 118.8 in March of last year as the pandemic was beginning to hit the United States. The index stood at 90.4 in February.
The present situations index, based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, rose to 110.0, up from 89.6 in February. The expectations’ index, based on consumers outlook for income, business and labor market conditions six months into the future, also improved, rising to 109.6 in March, up from a reading of 90.9 in February.
Conference Board senior indicators director Lynn Franco said the significant improvement in the index and its two major components was a good sign for future economic growth.
“Consumers’ renewed optimism boosted their purchasing intentions for homes, autos and several big-ticket items,” Franco said. But he noted that concerns about inflation had also risen, likely because of rising gasoline prices, and this could temper spending in the months ahead.
German union contract gives “corona” bonus
Germany’s biggest industrial union and employers have reached a deal that will give workers a one-time “corona bonus” and envisions an extra annual payment starting next year.
Tuesday’s deal between employers and the IG Metall union was reached in North Rhine-Westphalia state, Germany’s most populous. But it’s typical for such agreements to be applied across the whole country and to several million workers in the auto and machinery industries, among others.
The agreement features a 500-euro ($589) “corona bonus” for each employee to be paid out in June.
Feit Electric adds 120 Atlanta jobs
The company that makes and sells electrical components will invest more than $25 million to create a distribution center in suburban Atlanta, hiring 120.
Los Angeles-based Feit Electric said Tuesday that it has purchased a 270,000 square-foot warehouse in McDonough. President Alan Feit said the company chose the location because it plans to import more than 5,000 shipping containers of electrical components through the Port of Savannah each year.
The move is driven by expansion in the company’s automated home control and LED lighting businesses, Feit said, plus a need for flexible customer delivery options.
Privately-held Feit Electric sells its products through retailers including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco and Ace Hardware.