Business Report: US job losses, tax incentives questioned, PPP program ramps up

The U.S. Labor Department reports first drop in employment since last spring

For the past few months, even in the midst of the pandemic, the U.S. economy was still creating new jobs. That came to an end last month. The U.S. Labor Department says the economy lost 140,000 jobs in December. It’s the first drop in employment since last spring. The hospitality industry was particularly hard hit as new restrictions went into place due to surging coronavirus cases across the country. The unemployment rate held steady at 6.7%.

This week, we heard from Gov. Phil Murphy and lawmakers that a new multibillion dollar tax incentive program will help create jobs and spur New Jersey’s economic recovery. Not everyone agrees. New Jersey Policy Perspective stated that research shows corporate tax breaks of this scale are rarely good for states.

RELATED: Murphy hails new tax break law as investment in state’s economy

A federal loan program that aims to keep workers on company payrolls is about to reopen. The PPP program will begin accepting new applications on Monday, and minority- and women-owned businesses and nonprofits will have initial access to the funds. For the first two days, the Small Business Administration will only accept loans processed by community lenders, and only first-time borrowers can apply. These moves seek to address issues raised in the first round of PPP funding, namely that bigger businesses had easier access to funds over smaller and minority-owned firms.