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Trumponomic’s Furloughs Turn Into Permanent Job Losses (#GotBitcoin?)

As companies brace for years of Trumponomic’s-related disruption, thousands of furloughed workers are told they won’t be coming back. Trumponomic’s Furloughs Turn Into Permanent Job Losses

A new wave of layoffs is washing over the U.S. as several big companies reassess staffing plans and settle in for a long period of uncertainty.

MGM Resorts International and Stanley Black & Decker Inc. recently told some employees furloughed at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic that they wouldn’t be put back on the payroll. And companies bringing back the majority of furloughed workers, including Yelp Inc. and Cheesecake Factory Inc., are making reductions as they adjust to the new reality that many coronavirus-related closures won’t be resolved this fall.

More fresh layoffs at big employers loom. A day after Salesforce.com Inc. posted record quarterly sales, the business-software company notified its 54,000-person workforce that 1,000 would lose their jobs later this year. Coca-Cola Co. said Friday it plans to lay off some employees and offer voluntary buyouts to about 4,000 employees in the U.S. including Puerto Rico as well as Canada. American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. have said more than 53,000 workers could be affected in about a month if the airlines don’t receive another infusion of funds from the government.

The outlook reflects an acceptance by corporate executives that they will have to contend with the pandemic and its economic fallout for a longer period than they had hoped. Some CEOs and other executives suggest more pain is ahead, said David Rubenstein, co-executive chairman of Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm with around $220 billion in assets under management.

“Privately, some of them may hint that they probably won’t need as many workers as they once thought,” Mr. Rubenstein said. “They’ll have to reinvent their businesses in ways that they hadn’t done before.”

The latest layoffs come as there have been glimmers of an economic recovery. Many employers have rehired some workers after cutting jobs this spring, pushing the U.S. unemployment rate down to in July after it nearly touched 15% in April, according to federal data. Some salaried workers and executives are seeing their pandemic pay cuts restored. That has led some to theorize that the economy is increasingly proceeding on two tracks, as companies modifying operations or shutting down entire divisions determine that they need fewer people, especially lower-income workers.

A survey of human-resources employees released by Randstad RiseSmart found nearly half of U.S. employers that furloughed or laid off staff because of Covid-19 are considering additional workplace cuts in the next 12 months.

New applications for unemployment benefits, a proxy for layoffs, have hovered around one million a week for much of the summer. A drop in jobless claims one week tended to be snuffed out within a few weeks when claims rose again. Summer unemployment has improved since March, when a peak of about seven million people applied for jobless benefits in one week, but the numbers remain stubbornly high.

Economists say the new layoffs reflect a shift in corporate thinking toward a more protracted crisis.

“Companies that thought they could either cut wages temporarily or cut costs temporarily or hold on are now finding out that the weakness of the pandemic is now longer than they hoped,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton.

Following casino shutdowns and furloughs in March, MGM Resorts said it would lay off 18,000 furloughed workers in the U.S. as the global travel slowdown impedes the gambling industry’s recovery. The job cuts, which start Monday, represent about one-fourth of the company’s prepandemic workforce of 68,000 U.S. employees.

American Airlines said that unless it receives more federal aid, it will furlough 17,500 union workers and move forward with 1,500 layoffs in its management ranks this fall. Flight attendants, 8,100 of whom are furloughed, would be the most affected. Airlines agreed not to terminate employees or cut pay rates through the end of September as a condition of taking $25 billion in federal funds.

United Airlines said it would furlough 2,850 pilots, which is 600 more than it had anticipated, as it seeks more federal aid. United has warned that as many as 36,000 of its employees could be eliminated Oct. 1 if the airline doesn’t get more government help. The union that represents United’s pilots called it tragic that the carrier hasn’t provided more options to allow pilots to leave voluntarily. Delta Air Lines Inc. said it would let go of 1,941 pilots.

After furloughing or reducing hours for more than 10,000 workers earlier this year, tool maker Stanley Black & Decker said that in October it will permanently lay off 1,000 of them but bring back 9,300 to a full-time schedule. Chief Executive Officer James Loree told investors on a recent call the cuts are part of a $1 billion cost reduction.

“It paves the way for us to manage successfully through any reasonable economic scenario which may unfold in the coming months,” he said.

Hundreds of furloughed workers at C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., one of the largest freight companies in North America, won’t be put back on the payroll, in part because their positions have been automated, the company told investors on a recent earnings call. The job cuts will become “permanent cost savings from our investments in tech,” said Bob Biesterfeld, chief executive of C.H. Robinson.

Yelp is among a number of companies including Walt Disney Co. and General Motors Co. that are restoring executive and white-collar worker salaries to previous levels, after making some employees take pay cuts in the spring. But even as Yelp brings back most of the 1,000 workers it furloughed earlier this year, the changing business picture required eliminating 63 roles, most of them in recruiting or real estate, according to a letter to staff from CEO Jeremy Stoppelman.

“Sadly, this pandemic will remain part of our lives for some time,” Mr. Stoppelman said in the note.

After furloughing more than 40,000 in March, the restaurant operator Cheesecake Factory is recalling most workers as it gradually reopens dine-in service. But some locations are closing for good, the company said, resulting in 175 layoffs.

For small businesses, 22% of employees furloughed between March and June had been laid off by July, while 28% were still furloughed, according to a recent study by Gusto, a payroll and benefits company for more than 100,000 small-business clients.

Many employees furloughed in the spring who haven’t been brought back to work most likely won’t have a job to return to, said Daniel Sternberg, head of data science for Gusto. That is because many small businesses have only partially reopened or have had to roll back reopening plans and sales are nowhere close to pre-pandemic levels.

“There’s not much evidence to suggest that there is going to be this massive bringing people back on the payrolls,” Mr. Sternberg said. “Businesses are also retooling in a lot of situations, and the way they are retooling requires lower head counts. They are trying to do what they can do to survive long term.”

Lenore Estrada, co-founder of Three Babes Bakeshop in San Francisco, had to furlough 20 of her 26 employees in March. She brought back some of them in April and May when she got a Paycheck Protection Program loan, but revenue at the bakery is still down 40% compared with a year ago. When the PPP money ran out, Ms. Estrada had to permanently lay off many of her workers earlier this month. She has about a dozen left, but says she is losing $15,000 a month and may have to cut more.

“The assumption is if I get no outside assistance, how would I make this work?” she asked, then added, “I’m assuming that help isn’t coming.”

Millions of Americans have been jobless for several months, suggesting it will take a while for the U.S. economy to recover from the damage wrought this spring. The number who were unemployed between 15 and 26 weeks rose to 6.5 million in July, the highest reading for records that go back to 1948, according to the Labor Department. The number of Americans reporting themselves as unemployed because of permanent layoffs was about twice as high in July as in March, when the pandemic struck.

“It’s becoming harder and harder to imagine that these people will be brought back in,” said Josh Wright, chief economist at Wrightside Advisors, an economics consulting firm.

Updated: 9-5-2020

SeaWorld Lays Off Some Furloughed Employees

Theme-park company had furloughed about 95% of employees as Covid-19 forced it to shut its parks earlier this year.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. said it has laid off some of the park and corporate employees it furloughed earlier this year, joining companies that are making their job reductions permanent as they reassess staffing plans and settle in for a long period of uncertainty during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The theme-park company had furloughed about 95% of its employees. SeaWorld employed about 4,300 full-time employees and about 11,000 part-time employees as of the end of last year, according to its annual securities filing.

A spokeswoman for SeaWorld declined to specify how many people were still furloughed and how many were laid off. SeaWorld has reopened eight out of 12 parks, while another two are open for special events only.

“While we were able to bring thousands of furloughed ambassadors back to work and hoped to bring back everyone, the current environment requires us to setup the company for long-term success,” SeaWorld said.

The company said in a filing last month that with the reopening of some of its parks it has begun to bring some employees back from furlough.

SeaWorld, which posted a $131 million loss for the second quarter as attendance fell 96%, on Friday said it needs to cut costs and adjust cash flows, and that temporary furloughs didn’t have a definite end in sight. It expects to record about $2.5 million to $3 million in restructuring and charges related to severance costs for the third quarter.

Amusement parks have reopened with much lower capacity compared with pre-pandemic levels, and their reopening plans have been subject to decisions by lawmakers, employees and consumers.

A recent resurgence of Covid-19 cases in some states has also hindered the restart of operations, such as Walt Disney Co. ’s postponed plan to reopen Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., after the state canceled its plan to allow the park to reopen at limited capacity.

Its Walt Disney World theme park in Orlando, Fla., reopened in July, but finance chief Christine McCarthy said last month that demand hadn’t been as high as the company had expected.

Disney, whose theme-park business took a $3.5 billion hit in the recent quarter, posted a loss of nearly $5 billion in August, its first quarterly loss since 2001.

Updated: 9-20-2020

60% Of Yelp Businesses That Closed During The Recession Will Stay Shut Permanently, Report Finds

Business closure rates have been highest in metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, where rent tends to be high and more stringent health protocols have been put in place compared to suburban and rural regions.

More than 160,000 businesses listed on the online directory Yelp have indicated that they closed since the onset of the pandemic in early March through Aug. 31. Some 60% of those are businesses that are permanently closing, Yelp reported in its September Local Economic Impact Report.

Restaurants account for the greatest number of permanent closures among Yelp-listed businesses, followed by bars and nightlife venues and clothing as well as home decor stores.

“Breakfast and brunch restaurants, burger joints, sandwich shops, dessert places and Mexican restaurants are among the types of restaurants with the highest rate of business closures,” the report said. “Foods that work well for delivery and takeout have been able to keep their closure rates lower than others, including pizza places, delis, food trucks, bakeries and coffee shops.”

Coronavirus has impacted virtually every sector of the economy, some more than others, leading to widespread store closures and pushing the number of corporate bankruptcy filings to a decade high.

Some businesses see a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel and are operating at a loss now. The Paycheck Protection Program, which awarded more than $500 billion in forgivable loans to businesses in return for not laying off workers, may be part of the reason some businesses have managed to stay afloat .

But even with government assistance programs aimed at helping small businesses weather the storm, many are cutting their losses and closing permanently.

Business closure rates vary significantly across the country but have been highest in metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco where rent tends to be high and more stringent health protocols have been put in place compared to suburban and rural regions.

For instance, indoor dining in New York City was banned for the last six months. It wasn’t, however, in other regions of the state. Only recently did Gov. Andrew Cuomo announce that restaurants could reopen for indoor dining beginning Sept. 31 at 25% capacity.

On the flip side, there are many businesses that avoided both temporary and permanent closures.

“This group includes lawyers, real estate agents, architects, and accountants – all with only two to three out of every thousand businesses closed, as of August 31,” the report states. Health and automotive-related businesses have also maintained low rates of closures.

Yelp data shows most small businesses that closed during the pandemic have now shut their doors permanently and 97,966 firms in total have closed for good – with restaurants and bars among the hardest hit:

* New Data From Yelp Shows Rise In Permanent Closures In Pandemic Lockdowns
* Since March, 97,966 Businesses Across The Country Have Permanently Closed
* That Is 60% Of The 163,735 Total U.S. Businesses On Yelp Have Closed Since March
* Restaurants Are The Hardest Hit Category, Followed By Bars And Nightlife
* Professional Services And Tradesmen Have Seen The Lowest Closure Impact
* Closure Rates Are Higher In Large Cities With High Rent And Strict Requirements

New data released by Yelp has suggested that a staggering 60 percent of businesses that were forced to shut down temporarily in the coronavirus pandemic have now closed their doors permanently.

As of August 31, 163,735 total U.S. businesses on Yelp had closed since the pandemic began in March, with 97,966 of those going on to shutter permanently, according to a report from the company.

Despite the lifting of the harshest lockdown measures in most areas, the pandemic continues to take a steep economic toll, with capacity limits and lower demand driving many small companies out of business, the data shows.

Restaurants have been among the hardest hit businesses, with 19,590 closing permanently since the pandemic began.

Faring the worst were restaurants that specialize in dine-in service, such as breakfast and brunch spots, burger joints, dessert places and Mexican restaurants.

On the other hand, restaurants that are well suited to delivery and take-out have fared better, including pizza places, delis, food trucks, bakeries and coffee shops.

Bars and nightlife have also been hard-hit, with permanent closures rising by 10 percent since July.

Retail and shopping have seen a similar rise in permanent closures, with clothing and home decor shuttering at the highest rates.

The beauty industry has seen the sharpest increase in permanent closures since July, rising 43 percent for a total of 7,002 permanent shut-downs.

However, some categories of small businesses have managed to weather the pandemic particularly well, including professional services such as attorneys, architects and accountants.

In those categories, only two to three businesses out of every thousand have been forced to shut down permanently, according to Yelp.

Home and auto services have also survived at a higher rate. Towing companies, plumbers and contractors in particular maintained a low rate of closures, with only six to seven out of every thousand businesses closed.

Geographically, the economic damage has not been spread evenly throughout the country.

Large and densely populated cities and states have seen higher rates of permanent closures, likely due to higher rents and more stringent pandemic regulations on small businesses.

Los Angeles and New York City, the two largest cities in the nation, have seen the highest total number of permanent closures, with more than 7,000 businesses in each city shutting down for good.

Hawaii, California, and Nevada have the highest rate of total closures and permanent closures. They’re also the three states with the highest unemployment rates, and among the biggest states for tourism.

Meanwhile, West Virginia and the Dakotas have the lowest closure rates.

Across the country, there are more than 30 million small businesses, which account for roughly half of all private-sector employment.

‘Since the first fears of the pandemic emerged in the U.S. in early March, businesses across the nation have endured six months of uncertainty,’ Yelp analysts wrote in the report.

‘Even in the wake of increased closures we’re seeing businesses effectively transition to new operating models while keeping their employees and consumers safe.’

 

Updated: 9-29-2020

Disney Is Laying Off 28,000 Employees As Recession Hammers Its Theme Parks

Disney is laying off 28,000 people in the United States as the coronavirus pandemic hammers its parks and resorts business.

The cuts will affect the Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products unit. The company said 67% of the employees laid off will be part-time workers.

Disney’s parks and resorts division has more than 100,000 US employees.

Disney’s theme parks shut down globally this spring as the pandemic hit, dealing a huge blow to the company’s bottom line. The company’s profit dropped a whopping 91% during the first three months of 2020.

Josh D’Amaro, the chairman of Disney (DIS) Parks, said the staffing cuts were necessary because of the “prolonged impact” of coronavirus on business. That included “limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic.”

“As difficult as this decision is today, we believe that the steps we are taking will enable us to emerge a more effective and efficient operation when we return to normal,” D’Amaro said in a statement.

D’Amaro added that Disney’s employees have always “been key to our success, playing a valued and important role in delivering a world-class experience.”

“We look forward to providing opportunities where we can for them to return,” he said.

D’Amaro also placed partial blame on the state of California for its “unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen.” Disneyland and California Adventure, the company’s flagship resorts in California, have been closed since March.

The California governor’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Disney originally planned to reopen the resort located in Anaheim, California, on July 17, but that reopening was delayed indefinitely.

Disney World, the company’s resort in Florida, closed its doors in March as well, but it began a phased reopening for its parks in July. The resort reopened with with safety protocols and health measures that included reduced capacity at its parks and requiring all employees and guests to wear masks.

Disney notified its employees in April that because of coronavirus it would furlough employees “whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time” starting on April 19.

“As you can imagine, a decision of this magnitude is not easy,” D’Amaro wrote in a memo to employees that was obtained by CNN Business. “We’ve cut expenses, suspended capital projects, furloughed our cast members while still paying benefits, and modified our operations to run as efficiently as possible, however, we simply cannot responsibly stay fully staffed while operating at such limited capacity.”

Disney has been hobbled by the coronavirus pandemic in many ways, but its theme parks and resort business has arguably taken the biggest hit of all.

Disney’s parks unit, which brought in more than $26 billion in fiscal 2019, was crushed during the second quarter of this year. The segment’s operating profit fell 58% compared with the previous year, and Disney reported a loss a billion dollars in profit just a few weeks into the global health crisis.

Updated: 10-1-2020

Allstate To Lay Off 3,800 Employees

Layoffs represent about 8% of the insurer’s approximately 46,000 workers.

Allstate Corp., one of the U.S.’s largest home and car insurers, announced Wednesday that it plans to lay off 3,800 employees in claims, sales and support roles.

The layoffs represent about 8% of the insurer’s approximately 46,000 workers.

Of the job cuts, about 1,000 are tied to the company’s pandemic-related refunds to policyholders, Allstate Chief Executive Thomas Wilson said in an interview.

Those refunds were driven by a sharp decline in driving by car owners amid government-order shutdowns and fear of Covid-19, especially in the early months of the pandemic. Many insurers reduced customers’ bills as claims volume fell.

The pandemic resulted in “fewer auto accidents, so you need fewer claims people,” Mr. Wilson said.

Of the layoffs, “somewhere between 25% and 30% are due to the fact that we have fewer claims,” he said.

As of August, Allstate had distributed $1 billion to customers through its Shelter-in-Place Payback plan.

Mr. Wilson said, “Obviously this is not a good time to be reducing staffing with unemployment levels where they are.”

Mr. Wilson also said to ease the pain the insurer will allow employees to stay in the company’s medical plans through the end of the year, and will continue making 401(k) payments. The company’s talent-acquisition staff is also helping people to find jobs.

“We’re not doing much hiring, so we said let’s do the reverse: Let’s find jobs for the people leaving us,” he said.

As part of the restructuring and office closures, Allstate will incur a pretax cost of $290 million, the company said.

The announcement comes two months after Allstate acquired rival National General Holdings Corp. for about $4 billion in cash.

Allstate’s net income increased almost 50% to $1.2 billion in the second quarter.

The insurer announced a transformative growth plan in December that promised to lower customer premium costs and phase out the Esurance brand, moving Esurance marketing spending to technology investment. Allstate said the plan’s goal is to increase its market share in property-liability insurance.

Updated: 10-4-2020

Regal Cinemas Likely Suspending Operations At All U.S. Locations

Second-largest U.S. cinema chain weighs closing doors again as high-profile movies vacate calendar.

The second-largest cinema chain in America is likely to close indefinitely all its U.S. locations, after reopening in August, according to a person familiar with the plans, escalating the pandemic-driven crisis faced by the entertainment industry.

Cineworld Group PLC’s Regal Entertainment Group’s potential decision to suspend operations at its more than 500 locations follows a cascade of postponements for big-budget Hollywood films, most recently the coming James Bond title “No Time to Die.” The studio behind the film, MGM Holdings Inc., on Friday said it was delaying the film for the second time, to next April, from this November. It had originally been scheduled for release in April of this year.

Cineworld is the second-largest movie theater operator on a global basis as well as in the U.S.

The plan to close the locations isn’t definite, the person familiar with the situation said, and a final decision isn’t likely until Monday or Tuesday.

Theaters in the U.S., the world’s largest theatrical market, have endured historic levels of financial strain for months. After the coronavirus pandemic initially caused most U.S. cinemas to close in March, major chains like Regal, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and Cinemark Holdings Inc. reopened in August, ahead of the spy film “Tenet,” distributed by AT&T Inc.’s Warner Bros. The highly anticipated movie, from director Christopher Nolan, had been delayed repeatedly amid ongoing uncertainty about which theaters would be allowed to open.

But with only about two-thirds of domestic theaters able to open, thanks to varying state and local guidelines, and consumers apparently still wary of going to theaters, the $200 million movie grossed just $41.2 million in the U.S. and Canada through last weekend. That tepid performance has led Hollywood studios to recoil from releasing costly films for now.

Regal’s potential decision to close its doors again, less than two months after reopening, is partially because theaters in major U.S. markets like Los Angeles and New York City have yet to reopen, the person said.

After witnessing moviegoers’ subdued interest in “Tenet,” Warner Bros. said it was moving “Wonder Woman 1984” to Christmas Day, from October. Walt Disney Co. quickly followed suit, shifting release dates on 10 titles, including bumping its Marvel spinoff “Black Widow” by six months.

The string of delays casts a shadow over the remainder of 2020’s movie calendar and potentially over the entire theatrical industry. Last week, a cinema owners’ trade group joined leading filmmakers in sending a letter to lawmakers in the hopes of drumming up financial relief for the ailing sector.

“If the status quo continues, 69% of small and midsize movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently,” the National Association of Theatre Owners said in a written statement.

When America’s major theater chains began reopening late this summer, they touted elevated sanitation protocols and capacity limits. Despite assurances they would be safe returning to theaters, U.S. moviegoers have proved reluctant. Without big-budget titles, theaters have largely been forced to screen smaller independent films and older movies.

Movie theaters abroad—many of which were allowed to reopen sooner as foreign nations fared better containing the coronavirus—have performed better than in the U.S. “Tenet” has grossed $243.7 million from international markets, according to Box Office Mojo.

On top of possibly closing the doors again at its more than 500 Regal theaters in the U.S., Cineworld is also considering closing its 127 locations in the U.K., according to the person with knowledge of the plan. Should the company proceed, the closures could affect the employment status of 45,000 workers, the person added. The Sunday Times in Britain earlier reported the potential closures.

For major movie theaters, suspending operations may be less costly than staying open with a limited supply of programming and little consumer demand.

Late last month, Cineworld, which is already shouldering a heavy debt load, released dismal midyear financial results. It reported revenue fell nearly 70%, to $712.4 million, in the six months ending June 30 when compared with the first half of 2019.

In states such as California and New York, theater owners large and small have expressed bewilderment as authorities have allowed some indoor establishments such as restaurants, bowling alleys and churches to open with capacity restrictions while requiring theaters keep their doors closed.

Updated: 10-8-2020

WarnerMedia Plans Thousands of Job Cuts In Restructuring

Changes at owner of HBO, Warner Bros. seek to cut costs by up to 20% as coronavirus pandemic pressures film and TV business.

AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia is restructuring its workforce as it seeks to reduce costs by as much as 20% as the coronavirus pandemic drains income from movie tickets, cable subscriptions and television ads, according to people familiar with the matter.

The overhaul, which is expected to begin in the coming weeks, would result in thousands of layoffs across Warner Bros. studios and TV channels like HBO, TBS and TNT, the people said.

Rivals including Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal have also cut jobs in recent months as the film and TV business struggles.

“Like the rest of the entertainment industry, we have not been immune to the significant impact of the pandemic,” a WarnerMedia spokesman said, adding that the company would reorder its operations to focus on growth opportunities. “We are in the midst of that process and it will involve increased investments in priority areas and, unfortunately, reductions in others.”

The coronavirus pandemic is splitting the U.S. economy. Many white collar workers have been able to work from home, while many service jobs have been lost. Sectors such as entertainment and travel have been hobbled, while grocers and cloud-service providers have had an unexpected boost in demand.

U.S. airlines are preparing to cut thousands of jobs after their federal stimulus funds ran out. The owner of Regal Cinemas, the No. 2 U.S. theater chain, has suspended its operations because studios are delaying new releases. On the flip side, FedEx Corp. posted record quarterly revenue from a surge in ecommerce packages and McDonald’s Corp. said Thursday its U.S. sales have bounced back because of its restaurants’ drive-through windows.

AT&T’s 2018 acquisition of Time Warner exposed it to some of the uncertainty of running an entertainment business. The company’s DirecTV satellite unit has lost millions of customers over the past two years and its cable networks are suffering along with the rest of the industry as cord-cutting pushes viewers toward cheaper online entertainment options.

This is the second wave of significant cuts at the company. In August, WarnerMedia eliminated more than 500 jobs at Warner Bros., the studio famous for “Casablanca” and the “Harry Potter” series.

WarnerMedia employed nearly 30,000 people earlier this year, a person familiar with the matter said. Its parent company employed 243,000 people at the end of June, although the overall head count has declined in recent years through layoffs and attrition.

The move is the latest by WarnerMedia chief Jason Kilar to remake the Hollywood icon since he took control of the division in May. The former Hulu boss ousted many of the unit’s top executives in August and rolled all production operations into a single unit under Warner Bros., suggesting more positions could be at risk.

AT&T has staked much of its media-focused strategy on HBO Max since the streaming video service launched in late May. About 4.1 million subscribers had activated the entertainment app about a month after its launch, lagging behind cheaper rivals from Netflix Inc. and Disney. Overall HBO subscriptions, which include viewers watching the slimmer premium channel through cable TV bundles, still rose to about 36 million.

That early growth hasn’t offset deeper declines at the commercial entertainment cable networks TNT, TBS and TruTV, which used to be known as the Turner networks. The company’s other cable networks include news channels CNN and HLN as well as Cartoon Network.

TBS and TNT dodged disaster this summer once professional baseball and basketball games returned, bringing viewers and ad dollars back after months of reruns. But the TV advertising market has yet to recover, and the networks are expected to report higher sports-rights costs in the third quarter that could further erode their profitability.

The virus has also wreaked havoc on Warner Bros. movie business. It released the expensive science-fiction movie “Tenet” when theaters around the country were just starting to reopen, a gamble that didn’t pay off as box office results were disappointing although it performed better abroad.

The studio recently pushed “Wonder Woman 1984” from an October open to year’s end. “Dune,” which was supposed to open during the holiday season, won’t premiere until next year at the earliest, and “The Batman” has been bumped to 2022.

While much of the cutting is tied to the effect of the virus on WarnerMedia’s core businesses, the company is also pivoting its content strategy and consolidation operations as a result.

Warner Bros. TV, which has historically produced content for all broadcast, cable and streaming platforms, is now being encouraged to focus solely on making content for sister platforms like HBO Max. That has driven the company to cut staff, particularly on the distribution side.

NBCUniversal has undergone a similar streamlining process. It has combined programming operations for its broadcast, cable and streaming platforms under one umbrella, which has led to significant cuts in staff.

AT&T Chief Executive John Stankey said in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal that the company’s media bets will take years to pay off but were the right choices long-term. He also said the company was reviewing all its operations. “There’s nothing that’s sacred anywhere in the business,” he said. “WarnerMedia is no exception to that.”

AT&T agreed to pay about $85 billion for Time Warner in 2016, but the deal was held up for nearly two years by a federal antitrust challenge. AT&T shares have fallen about 28% this year, lagging behind rivals like Comcast and missing out on the stock market’s record run.

10-11-2020

Microsoft Will Let Some Staff Work From Home Routinely Post-Pandemic

The software giant’s move is the latest sign that the coronavirus has led to enduring changes in the workplace.

Microsoft Corp. is going to permit some staff to work from home on a regular basis even after the pandemic fades, in another sign that changes to work routines made in recent months will be enduring.

The software giant this week spelled out to staff what office life would look like once regular office work resumes. Most employees are going to be allowed to work from home routinely, as long as that time adds up to less than half of their workweek, Microsoft Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan said in a blog post Friday summing up the guidance issued to staff. Work schedule flexibility, she added, is now considered standard for most roles.

Some workers will be able to work remotely on a permanent basis if it is approved by managers, Microsoft said. Tech news outlet the Verge earlier reported on the memo.

Microsoft’s move to allow people to work from home permanently capitalizes on the trend that has become common for many businesses and industries because of the pandemic. Social-media company Twitter Inc. in May said that most of its staff would be able to keep working remotely after the Covid-19 outbreak has passed.

“It is our goal to offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual work styles, while balancing business needs and ensuring we live our culture,” Ms. Hogan said. The company, however, won’t shift entirely to remote work. “We believe there is value in employees being together in the workplace,” she said.

“We can’t be dogmatic about where we work, for at least the knowledge workers,” Chief Executive Satya Nadella said this week. Half of the company’s workforce or more could take advantage of flexible work arrangements, he said at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit. Who works remotely may shift, though. “That’s a difficult thing to plan for.”

Microsoft was one of the first big American companies to ask employees to work from home when the pandemic struck. It also has been one of the big corporate winners from the pandemic, as companies adapted to navigate the remote-work environment and embraced the kind of cloud-computing services and workplace collaboration tools the Redmond, Wash.-based company sells.

Many companies have yet to return to the office. Google is keeping most of its staff working remotely until at least July 2021. Facebook Inc. is letting staff work remotely through July 2021 after earlier saying workers could remain away from offices through the end of 2020.

Microsoft employees also are going to be allowed to move domestically in the U.S., pending approval, but benefits and pay may change based on the company’s compensation scale by location, a person briefed on the guidance said.

Microsoft also said more changes may be ahead. “We will continue to evolve our approach to flexibility over time as we learn more,” Ms. Hogan said.

The number of Americans working from home surged during the pandemic, and many corporate leaders expect that to continue. According to a global survey commissioned by Microsoft earlier this year, 82% of managers said they would have more flexible work-from-home policies after the pandemic, and 71% of employees and managers reported a desire to continue working from home at least part-time.

Larry Fink, chief executive of BlackRock Inc., said at a conference last month that he doesn’t think BlackRock will ever be 100% back in office. “I actually believe maybe 60% or 70%, and maybe that’s a rotation of people, but I don’t believe we’ll ever have a full cadre of people in [the] office.”

Not every leader is on board with working from home, though. Netflix Inc. Chief Executive Reed Hastingstold the Journal earlier this year, “I don’t see any positives. Not being able to get together in person, particularly internationally, is a pure negative.”

Updated: 10-20-2020

Many Workers Gave Up Looking For Jobs Across the U.S. In September

Declining unemployment rates in states masked signs of labor-market deterioration, data suggest.

Workers gave up looking for jobs across the U.S. in September, with the size of the labor force shrinking in more than half of the 30 states in which unemployment rates fell last month, Labor Department data released Tuesday showed.

Declining unemployment rates in states across the U.S. masked signs of labor-market deterioration. The unemployment rate fell to 7.9% at the national level in September, from 8.4% in August. The lower rate reflected both people finding jobs as well as those who couldn’t find work and exited from the labor force altogether.

Oren Klachkin, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, said a slowing of the labor-market recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic is fairly broad-based. “Businesses have now likely rehired the workers they need to meet current demand and won’t look to significantly add more to their payrolls until the pandemic threat is addressed,” Mr. Klachkin said. “We see heightened risks that the labor market recovery will slow ahead.”

In New York, some 300,000 workers came off the unemployment rolls in September, pushing the unemployment rate down 2.8 percentage points to 9.7%. But this wasn’t because of a hiring boom. Instead, the hard-hit state saw an even bigger number of workers stop searching for work, suggesting that workers who had been employed in August exited from the workforce, too.

Labor-market trends brightened in around half of the country, as unemployment numbers fell. In Arizona and Utah, unemployment rates rose but the number of people employed or looking for work increased, both positive signs.

The longer people stay out of work, the rustier their skills get and the harder it is for them to find jobs again when the economy improves, economists say. Since growth depends in part on an expanding labor force, the loss of would-be workers could erode the economy’s potential.

Some economists said they were cautious in parsing month-over-month changes in the state data. Even in normal times, the data can prove volatile, said Richard F. Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial Corp. He added that seasonal adjustments—meant to smooth out data for annual changes in hiring patterns—may be distorting trends at the state level because of pandemic-related disruptions.

There isn’t a clear cause driving varying labor-market health across states, said Julia Pollak, labor economist at ZipRecruiter.

School-building closures, for instance, may be taking some working parents, particularly women, out of the workforce to care for their children. Yet, labor-force participation remained essentially flat in California, where many schools are closed, and in Florida, where many are open.

The numbers also didn’t offer evidence that more people started looking for jobs in states that reinstated work-search requirements for unemployment insurance, said Ms. Pollak. She also didn’t see signs that outbreaks of coronavirus were driving labor-force changes.

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