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Uber and Lyft Avoided Paying Into Unemployment While the Federal Government Provided Drivers With Millions in Loans

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  • Newly released data from the Small Business Administration shows that many Uber and Lyft drivers heavily relied on federal aid programs during the pandemic while the multi-billion dollar tech firms provided little to no unemployment assistance.
  • The data, accessed by the Washington Post, reportedly shows that tens of thousands of gig drivers took in $80 million under the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program for small businesses, in addition to other aid for out-of-work contractors.
  • Policy experts said it is unusual for such a vast number of workers operating under huge corporations to receive government aid of this nature.
  • Experts also claim that workers’ access to federal assistance helped the two companies financially and alleviated pressure to make drivers employees amid tense political battles over the issue.

New Data on Gig Workers and Federal Aid

Tens of thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers took in $80 million from a federal loan program during the pandemic while the multi-billion dollar companies refused to pay out unemployment, according to a new report from The Washington Post.

The report analyzed data from the Small Business Administration that was released after The Post and 10 other news organizations filed a federal lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. 

The Post’s analysis of the data showed that many gig drivers “were left without employer support” during a time when ride-share companies themselves reported that trips had dropped as much as 80% in big cities.

As a result, those drivers were forced to rely on a mishmash of different government aid programs. Specifically, the $80 million figure comes from a loan program for small businesses, similar to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), called the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program (EIDL).

According to The Post, both Uber and Lyft “were the two most common business names” in the EIDL. Nearly 20,000 grants and loans going to people with apparent ties to Uber and Uber Eats and more than 8,000 with ties to Lyft in their searches of the data.

Additionally, many drivers also received federal aid under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provided unemployment benefits for independent contractors who otherwise would not qualify, a well as loans from the PPP.

The Independent Contractor Debate Continues

Uber and Lyft, for their part, responded to The Post report by emphasizing what they did do for drivers.

Uber spokesperson Matthew Wing said that the company provided $29 million total in assistance to almost 100,000 drivers and couriers who tested positive for COVID-19 or who were told to isolate because of preexisting conditions.

Wing also noted that the company gave out free PPE, helped connect workers with other ways to earn money, and provided information on government assistance programs.

Lyft, by contrast, just provided information about what money its workers could get from the government without providing any financial support themselves. The company’s spokesperson, Julie Wood, even argued that drivers preferred to be independent contractors because it meant they could qualify for the government assistance.

But policy experts told The Post that it is highly unusual for such a big group of workers under the purview of such large corporations to receive that money. Beyond that, not only did the tech companies benefit financially from their workers tapping into programs they did not have to pay into, the aid also lifted the pressure for them to make drivers employees at a time when there was a political battle raging over the topic.

While these companies’ workers were relying on help from the government, rather than simply giving them benefits, the same gig economy employers were pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into efforts to ensure those workers stayed as contractors and did not have access to standard benefits under California’s Prop 22.

The measure, passed in November, provided the companies with a model they are now pushing in other states.

“More broadly, it reflects how a new economic class of workers was left to rely on the social safety net at the same time Big Tech added billions in value and fought regulation that would require gig firms to contribute more to social programs,” The Post wrote.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Business Insider Australia) (The Verge)

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Initial Unemployment Claims See First Rise Since April as Fed Estimates Faster Inflation Growth Than Previously Predicted

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The Fed also announced that it expects to raise interest rates in 2023, a year earlier than its previous prediction.


Unemployment Claims Rise

The Labor Department reported Thursday that, for the first time in nearly two months, weekly initial unemployment claims increased.

For the week ending on June 12, 412,000 people filed first-time claims. That’s an increase of 37,000 from the previous week’s estimate of 375,000. It’s also the highest that new claims have been in a month. 

Still, there are positive signs that the labor market is improving. For example, while last week’s continuing claims were largely unchanged from the previous week, the four-week moving average for continuing claims fell to its lowest level since March 2020. 

The Federal Reserve is also optimistic about the labor market eventually returning to form despite the country still being short 7 million jobs. Following a two-day meeting, the central bank predicted that the unemployment rate could fall back to pre-pandemic levels by 2023. 

It also expects economic growth to hit 7% this year, up from the 6.5% it predicted in March. 

Inflation Will Grow Faster Than Expected

At its meeting, the Fed said it now believes inflation will climb higher than it had previously estimated just three months ago. In March, it predicted inflation would rise about 2.4% this year. As of Wednesday, it’s expecting a 3.4% jump. 

That comes on the heels of a report from the Labor Department last week that indicated consumer prices climbed at their fastest rate since 2008 year-over-year in May. Like economists explained then, the Fed said it expects this rise in consumer prices to be temporary.

While the Fed expects the prices for some goods and services to continue to increase over the next few months because of issues such as supply bottlenecks, it also said it believes the labor market will continue to grow since the economy is finally coming out of its massive, pandemic-induced downturn in spending.

Still, as Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned Wednesday, “Shifts in demand can be large and rapid. Inflation could turn out to be higher and more persistent than we expect.”

Powell added that the central bank will keep a close eye on inflation and that it would respond quickly if inflation becomes broader or more persistent than current estimates. 

Interest Rates Stay at Historic Lows… For Now

Among other key points from the Fed’s meeting was its decision to move up a projection for an initial interest rate hike from 2024 to 2023. Notably, it also said there could be two rate hikes in 2023. 

That then caused some major stock indices like the Dow Jones to initially stumble, though the markets were more mixed Thursday. That’s likely at least partially because the Fed kept internet rates near a historically low zero for the time being, as expected.

Some Republican lawmakers, such as Sen. Rick Scott (Fl.), have argued that the 2023 projection is too slow, saying interest rates need to go up sooner to prevent inflation from rising too much. 

In testimony before a Senate committee on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the inflation situation is being monitored “very, very carefully” and that while prices are rising, they’re also moving back toward “normal” levels. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CNBC) (ABC News)

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Coca-Cola Lost $4 Billion in Market Value After Cristiano Ronaldo Hid Two Bottles During a Press Conference

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After the snub by Ronaldo, another soccer player hid a bottle of Heineken during a separate press conference Wednesday


Ronaldo Pushes Away Coke Bottles

Coca-Cola’s market value fell by $4 billion after famed soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo moved two bottles of the soda off-camera during a press conference Monday.

The incident happened just before his team’s match against Hungary at the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship. After hiding the Coke bottles, Ronaldo held up an unlabeled water bottle and said “Agua,” which is Portuguese for water. 

The whole moment was likely very awkward for Coke as a company considering that it’s sponsoring the tournament; however, the situation was made tangibly worse for Coke when investors reacted by selling-off stock. That move caused its market value to fall from $242 billion to $238 billion.

Alongside that $4 billion loss, its individual share value fell 1.6%, which isn’t huge but is somewhat more notable given the fact that it was seemingly caused by one person in one moment. Ronaldo doesn’t exactly have the same level of stock market influence as that of Elon Musk on the cryptocurrency markets, and on top of that, minus several blips over the last 40 years, Coke’s stock has continued to climb overall. 

Still, it’s not a great look to have one of the world’s top athletes at a major sports tournament criticizing your sugary drink. That’s likely why a Coke spokesperson later said, “Everyone is entitled to their drink preferences” and everyone has different “tastes and needs.”

“Players are offered water, alongside Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, on arrival at our press conferences,” the spokesperson added. 

In the long run, this isn’t the end of Coke by any means. As Yahoo Finance noted, “It’s unlikely Coke’s stock will stay in the penalty box for too long as the business begins to partake in the global economic recovery.”

Ronaldo’s Healthy Diet

Ronaldo is known for basically being a machine in human form. He reportedly eats up to six very-calculated and clean meals a day and will also nap up to five times a day.

In the past, Ronaldo has indicated that he avoids alcohol and carbonated drinks in order to stay in shape. Earlier this year, he even directly spoke out against Coca-Cola when talking about his 10-year-old son.

“I’m hard with him sometimes because he drinks Coca-Cola and Fanta sometimes and no… And no, I’m pissed with him. And [I fight] with him when he eats chips and fries and everything. You know, I don’t like it.”

Besides his fame on the field, Ronaldo is also the most-followed individual on Instagram, with 299 million followers.

Pogba Seemingly Takes a Note from Ronaldo

It’s possible Ronaldo could have started a trend among athletes of speaking out more against unhealthy drinks, even if they are sponsors of games or tournaments.

In fact, on Wednesday, French player Paul Pogba removed a bottle of Heineken from the camera’s view at the start of a separate press conference.

While it was later learned that the specific Heineken was non-alcoholic, many believe Pogba, who is a devout Muslim, didn’t know that at the time or still didn’t want to promote the brand.

See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (Yahoo Finance) (The Athletic)

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Woman From Viral Gorilla Glue Incident Launches Hair Care Line

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While some applauded the woman for making use of her newfound attention, others said they would not trust hair products from someone who put superglue in their own hair.


Tessica Brown Launches “Forever Hair”

Tessica Brown, the woman who got Gorilla Glue spray stuck in her hair for more than a month earlier this year, has now launched her own hair care line called “Forever Hair.”

Brown was inspired to create the line after the viral incident, which came to an end when a plastic surgeon removed the adhesive during a four-hour procedure at no cost.

@im_d_ollady

Stiff where????? Ma hair 🤬🤬

♬ original sound – Tessica Brown

The line includes an $18 growth stimulating oil formulated to help with the hair loss and scalp damage she was left with, as well as a $14 hair spray and a soon-to-be-released $13 product for sleek edge control.

In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Brown raved about how the hair growth oil, in particular, helped her over the last two months.

“I needed this oil to one, heal my scalp. I needed it to grow my hair back. I needed it to stimulated my hair follicles, and on top of that, I needed everything to be all-natural. And in this oil, it has just that,’ she claimed.

Mixed Reactions Online

The move might not come as too much of a surprise given that Brown has likely spent the last few months focusing on her hair’s health.

Still, the reactions on social media have been mixed.

Some have applauded Brown for making use of her viral attention and turning lemons into lemonade.

Meanwhile, others have noted that they are not about to trust a hair product line from someone who put superglue in their own hair. Plus, there is a chuck of people pointing to a typo on her packaging.

See what others are saying: (TMZ) (Florida News Times) (Insider)

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