Business week: a paid family leave plan

Hello and happy May. Does anyone else fancy a vacation, or just a chance to go… somewhere else? Good news: If you’re vaccinated, you could escape to Europe (and help boost its struggling tourism industry) as early as this summer. Here’s what you need to know for the coming week in business and tech news. – Charlotte cowles

In his first address to Congress, President Biden detailed his plan for American families, the third huge spending proposal he made during his 100 days in office. (The first was the $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package, signed in March, and the second was the U.S. Jobs Plan, which focuses on infrastructure and has yet to be passed in Congress.) The latest proposal includes funding for universal preschool, federal paid family leave. , an expanded permanent child tax credit, subsidized child care for low- and middle-income families, and a free community college, among other initiatives. To pay it off, Mr. Biden wants to raise taxes on the rich. But most Republicans are opposed to the tax hikes and say the plan is too expensive.

No more signs of life in the economy. The country’s gross domestic product in the first quarter grew 6.4%, at an annualized rate, according to the Commerce Department. It’s almost back to its pre-pandemic peak. Consumer spending is also on the rise, and some analysts estimate it could increase by more than 9% this year – a record – as health and working conditions continue to improve and travel and restaurants are resuming.

The pandemic has been great for the tech giants. Amazon’s latest quarterly report showed those successful sales – up 44% from the previous year – exceeded even the most optimistic forecasts. Meanwhile, Apple’s profits rose 54%, mainly thanks to soaring iPhone sales. And Facebook nearly doubled its revenue over the same period, while Twitter jumped 28%. (The two companies have banned former President Donald J. Trump and some extremist figures from posting on their platforms since January, but that clearly hasn’t hurt their results.)

The fight between Apple and Epic Games, which makes the popular video game Fortnite, heads to federal court in California this week. The dispute began last year when Epic began selling Fortnite directly to its customers, violating its contract with Apple, which makes a 30% commission on App Store sales. Apple retaliated by kicking Fortnight out of its store, and Epic retaliated with a lawsuit. The case will be closely watched by other companies and lawmakers who have raised concerns about the App Store’s anti-competitive practices. These include European regulators, who accused Apple on Friday of violating antitrust laws by imposing unfair rules and fees on competing music streaming services.

For the sake of your fellow human beings, don’t stock up on toilet paper. But keep in mind that it is about to get more expensive. Companies like Procter & Gamble, General Mills and Kimberly-Clark are all raising the prices of basic necessities like tampons, toilet paper, diapers and cereals this year to offset increased production and shipping costs. . These costs increased during the pandemic, especially when supply chains were pinched, but companies were reluctant to pass them on to struggling consumers. Now that the economy is starting to stabilize, expect some price adjustments to offset last year.

The travel industry is ready to take off – if you’re vaccinated, it’s true. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed the rules allowing cruise lines to resume operations, allowing some ships to set sail as early as mid-July if they attest that 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated. And the European Union said American tourists with vaccination certificates would be allowed to visit the block this summer, more than a year since it banned non-essential travel from most countries.

The Food and Drug Administration announced a long-awaited ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes as well as all flavored cigars. (Possession will remain legal, however.) Amazon will raise wages from 50 cents to $ 3 an hour for half a million of its workers. And the Federal Reserve has left interest rates close to zero, downplaying the rise in inflation and promising to continue supporting the economic recovery.

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