Americans’ personal debt higher than pre-pandemic levels – Poynter

Covering COVID-19 is a daily Poynter Briefing of story ideas on coronavirus and other hot topics for journalists, written by Senior Professor Al Tompkins. Register here to get it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.

During the pandemic, Americans have increased their savings and reduced their credit card balances. It ends as people pay record high prices for cars and homes. Credit card and student loan balances are rising, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. But credit card balances are still lower than they were in 2019.

“As pandemic relief efforts wind down, we are beginning to see the reversal of some of the trends in credit card balances seen during the pandemic, namely reduced consumption and paid off balances,” says Donghoon Lee, senior researcher for the Fed, “At the same time, as pandemic restrictions are lifted and consumption normalizes, credit card usage and balances return to pre-pandemic trends. , albeit from lower levels.”

(Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

Even with all this new debt, the New York Fed survey indicates that foreclosures remain low and will likely remain so through 2022. “The share of mortgage balances over 90 days past due remained at 0.5 %,” the Fed report said. In fact, all of the categories the report tracks show fewer people in arrears compared to a year ago.

The deadline for federal workers to get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs is this week and thousands of federal workers are asking for an exemption based on their religious beliefs. the The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Just Released New Guidelines to find out how the exemption will be considered. Counseling falls under Title VII, the federal Employment Discrimination Act. Title VII “requires employers to consider employees’ sincere religious beliefs, practices, and observances absent undue hardship.”

The new EEOC guidelines attempt to separate religious beliefs from secular beliefs. The EEOC states that “objections to COVID-19 vaccination that are based on social, political, or personal preferences, or on non-religious concerns about the possible effects of the vaccine are not considered ‘religious beliefs’.” under Title VII”.

What is a religious belief? The San Diego Union-Tribune undermined Supreme Court rulings to access the main qualifications of a religion:

In a 2002 decision, the California Court of Appeals identified three attributes that religions tend to have. First, a religion “addresses fundamental and ultimate questions” dealing with “profound and imponderable matters”. Second, a religion is an overarching belief system rather than an “isolated teaching”. Third, a religion often has “formal and outward signs” like services or holidays. The appeals court found that an employee’s veganism was not comprehensive enough to be characterized as anything other than a personal philosophy.

In 2017, the United States Court of Appeals, based in Philadelphia, ruled that a hospital employee’s objection to a flu shot warrant was medical in nature, not religious. The employee stated in writing that he believed the vaccine would do more harm to his body than good. The employee believed that “if he yielded to coercion and consented to mandatory hospital policy, he would violate his conscience as to what is right and what is wrong.”

The court said: “It does not appear that these beliefs deal with fundamental and ultimate questions related to deep and imponderable questions, nor are they exhaustive in nature. Generally, (the employee) is simply worried about the health effects of the flu vaccine, does not believe in the scientifically accepted opinion that it is harmless for most people and wishes to avoid this vaccine. His refusal to get vaccinated because he thinks it might harm him “is a medical belief, not a religious belief.”

New EEOC guidelines warn employers to take requests for religious exemptions seriously and not to ‘assume an employee is insincere simply because some of the employee’s practices deviate from the principles commonly followed by the employee’s religion, or because the employee adheres to certain common practices but not others.The EEOC guidelines say:

The sincerity of an employee’s stated religious beliefs is also generally not disputed. The employee’s sincerity in his or her religious belief is “largely a matter of individual credibility”.

Factors which, alone or in combination, could undermine an employee’s credibility include: whether the employee acted in a manner inconsistent with the held belief (although employees need not be scrupulous in their observance ); whether the accommodation sought is a particularly desirable benefit likely to be sought for non-religious reasons; if the timing of the request makes it suspicious (for example, it follows an earlier request by the employee for the same benefit for secular reasons); and whether the employer otherwise has reason to believe that the accommodation is not being sought for religious reasons.

Employers do not have to suffer “undue hardship” to accommodate a person’s religious beliefs. For example, an employer wouldn’t have to give paid time off for the duration of the pandemic to people who don’t want to get vaccinated.

Most recent Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index shows that Americans have had it with COVID-19 and are returning to pre-pandemic habits.

The majority of Americans say they now view gatherings with family and friends, dining out and shopping at a mall as low-risk or even risk-free activities.

If you just read social media or watch the local news, you would think the public is about to set fire to state capitols, school board offices and town halls because of local COVID-19 policies. . But the latest poll shows people are pretty happy with how governors, local governments, schools and especially local businesses have handled the pandemic.


Six out of 10 Americans represented in the Ipsos survey support employers making vaccines mandatory, but the survey found that we disagree on what to do with people who refuse vaccinations:

  • Support for firing non-compliant employees remains low (14%).
  • Americans are torn about whether anything should happen (25%),
  • Employers should put them on unpaid leave (23%) or
  • Require them to work from home or another location (20%).

Daily Science Points us to a new study that identifies 8 million tons of pandemic-era plastic gloves, face masks and other plastic waste and the projects they’re heading to. Most of it comes from Asia.

From December 8, people in Singapore who choose not to take the COVID-19 vaccine and become ill will pay their own hospital bills. Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said, “We need to send this important signal to urge everyone to get vaccinated if you are eligible.”

Over the past week, Vermont has set new state records for COVID-19 cases and a Halloween party in St. Michael’s College helped fuel it, state officials say. 77 students tested positive after the party. The school’s website shows the sudden spike in regular test cases on campus:

(St. Michael’s College)

New cases in Vermont are up 51% in two weeks, and hospitalizations are also rising. Experts fear what happens there could happen across the country as the weather gets colder and people move indoors for the winter.

(The New York Times)

The Dallas Morning News reports that researchers looked at counties with schools that did and did not participate in March Madness. When participating teams and spectators returned from the basketball tournament, COVID-19 cases increased in their counties in a way that did not occur in counties in the same states that had no counties. schools attended. There’s no way to tell if the tournament has anything to do with the spread of the virus, or if it’s travel or parties. As cases rose among spectators who attended out-of-town games, levels returned to similar rates to surrounding counties within weeks.

Just look at this chart from an industry index of used car prices:

(Cox Automotive/Manheim)

Used car prices have risen more than 9% in just one month and prices have risen a staggering 38% over the past year. The Manheim Index, which is used by financial and economic analysts, indicates that “cars and mid-size vans had the best year-over-year performance, while the van and passenger car segments luxury were lagging behind the overall market. Month-over-month, no segment saw a decline, with compact cars outpacing the market and the remaining segments.

Look at this chart and see how many used vehicles in each category have gone up in price.

(Cox Automotive/Manheim)

The Manheim Index found that used car sales fell 10% over the past year, while new car sales fell 23% over the past year.

The Marshall Project has produced a significant survey that I wanted to make sure you saw to follow up on yourselves. The report said:

A review of data from six major police departments across the country reveals that nearly 4,000 young people aged 17 and under experienced police violence from 2015 to 2020. Nearly 800 of children and adolescents – about a fifth of the total — were black girls. White girls were implicated in approximately 120 cases, representing only 3% of use of force incidents involving minors.

Marshall’s investigation examined racial disparities in use-of-force cases in Chicago, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Columbus and Portland, Oregon. Marshall said, “Several of these departments declined to comment.” So maybe you should press them for an answer.

The story added a few more points of clarity:

As black communities are painfully aware, and the researchers detailed, Black boys bear the brunt of police violence against minors. This was also true in our data. More than 2,200 black boys were involved in use-of-force incidents in the six cities we examined.

But black girls also accounted for a significant share of cases. In New Orleans, every girl in the use of force data was black; two-thirds of the girls who live in the city are black. A the police spokesman pointed out that all but one of the incidents “involved lower levels of force (hands, takedown, gun pointing, etc.)”.

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