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Economics in the News - Dec. 14-20 HOW ECONOMICS IMPACTS OUR LIVES ON A DAILY BASIS

Economics impacts our lives every day. Below are some of the top storylines from this past week related to economics.

"There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: make the best quality goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." -- Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company.
The holiday season is typically a time when families travel. While many families will limit travel heeding the warnings from public health experts, an estimated 85 million people will ignore those warnings and travel in the United States from Dec. 23-Jan. 3.

Many experts fear that Christmas and New Year’s will turn into super-spreader events in the United States because optimism generated by the vaccines will result in families letting their guards down. Other countries have imposed restrictions around the holidays. The UK is permitting a maximum of three households to mix between Dec. 23-27. France, Germany and Italy have closed ski slopes and Panama has issued a strict stay-at-home order until Jan. 4, 2021. [Associated Press]

Congressional leaders came to agreement on a new COVID-19 economic relief package Sunday night. The$900 billion package provides assistance to individuals and businesses.

The agreement establishes a $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, half the original stimulus package in the CARES Act. The help is just in time because many of the programs providing help to households and businesses were set to expire at the end of 2020. [Associated Press]

How much have you bought during the COVID-19 pandemic? Consumer spending has been one of the bright spots of the economic recovery. Government assistance fueled continued spending in the second quarter even though many Americans have lost their jobs and the virus has continued to spread. However, recently retail sales slumped falling 1.1 percent in November and 0.1 percent in October.

Consumer spending makes up an estimated 70 percent of the economy. Many economists warn that less consumer spending could stall or reverse the recovery and the economy needs another round of stimulus. [The New York Times]

Two COVID-19 vaccines are now being distributed in the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccination in people ages 18 and older.

Moderna’s vaccine becomes the second COVID-19 vaccine to be approved by the FDA, following the approval of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Moderna is already shipping doses across the country. Hospitals and vaccination sites should receive doses Monday. [The Wall Street Journal]

Living paycheck to paycheck is not limited to lower income households. One third of American adults admit to living paycheck to paycheck and have difficulty covering costs of food, rent or car payments.

Tight budgets leave little room for unexpected bills such as an unexpected home repair or hospital visit. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused even more strain to families that are living paycheck to paycheck. [NPR]

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All photos credited to iStock