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First-time claims for state unemployment benefits dropped below 1 million last week for the first time since the pandemic hit the economy in March. Claims under a special pandemic program for gig workers and others who are typically not eligible for unemployment also fell.

The drop may signal an improvement in the job market. Jobless benefits have also become less valuable, since a $600 per week federal supplement expired at the end of July.

Louisiana and other states are struggling to keep unemployment state funds afloat, now the Trump administration wants them to contribute more money to federal benefits.

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Despite opposition from the oil and gas industry it aims to help, the Trump administration later Thursday is expected to roll back an Obama-era rule designed to reduce climate-warming methane emissions.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and other major tech companies met with U.S. government officials on Wednesday to discuss their plans to counter disinformation on social media in the run-up to the November election.

Airbnb is going through a rough patch just as the rental home-sharing company is reportedly on the cusp of filing for an IPO later this month.

The company's latest challenge is dealing with a party-throwing renter whose large shindig ended with a shooting and three people injured.

Now, Airbnb says that for the first time, it will pursue legal measures against a guest for violating its party-house ban.

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Netflix is rolling out a new feature that will let some viewers change the playback speeds of movies and TV shows.

It might seem targeted toward people who want to binge as much TV as quickly as possible. But being able to play shows slower (at half speed or three-quarters speed) or faster (at 1.25 or 1.5 speed) is also a boon for blind and deaf viewers.

For people who are blind or have low vision, the reason why involves a feature called audio description.

Media titan Sumner Redstone, who built the company Viacom into a global empire, died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 97. Through shrewd investing and strategic deal-making, Redstone became one of the world's most powerful and unpredictable corporate leaders.

President Trump wants to give a $100 billion boost to the U.S. economy by hitting the "pause" button on workers' payroll taxes.

That would leave more money in people's paychecks. But the move — which Trump ordered over the weekend — is only temporary. And that could produce headaches down the road for workers, employers and the Social Security system.

The Trump administration's decision to entrust $765 million of taxpayer money to Eastman Kodak raised several questions about the financial vetting of the struggling camera company even before the deal was put on hold amid an investigation into potential insider trading.

President Trump tapped into the emotions and nostalgia of a bygone era, charging that Kodak would lead U.S. efforts to bring pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the United States.

U.S. Sees Housing Boom Amid Economic Crisis

Aug 12, 2020

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So if you look at the state of the economy, you might assume that the housing market is a mess. That, though, is not true. Stacey Vanek Smith and Cardiff Garcia, who host our podcast The Indicator, talked to the CEO of Redfin about a surprising housing boom.

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Pandemic Or Not, Germans Still Prefer Cash

Aug 11, 2020

Just as in other countries, grocery stores in Germany are hushed, angst-ridden places these days, where a controlled number of masked shoppers give each other a wide berth in the aisles. At the checkout, the cashiers — also masked — sit behind a plastic screen. Exchange with customers is kept to a minimum and contactless payment is encouraged.

But in a country where cash is traditionally used for most everyday transactions, some shoppers feel using a debit card is one coronavirus measure too many.

It has been about five months since the U.S. economy ground to a halt, thanks to stay-at-home orders imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. NPR wants to know how the pandemic has affected your job situation, your household finances, your business if you have one and your ability to juggle work and child care.

Millions of people have had to seek unemployment benefits, business loans and other help to deal with the economic turmoil. Some employers have permanently closed their doors. And some schools are telling families to prepare again for distance learning.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt of Planet Money's newsletter. You can sign up here.

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Stuck at home this spring, University of Nebraska student Alexander Kearns spent his empty hours buying and selling stocks online, learning as much as he could about investing.

"He sounded like a kid that was really, really excited to be studying something that he found interesting," says Bill Brewster, his cousin by marriage.

What no one knew was that Kearns had been trading options on a popular app called Robinhood, and at some point appears to have mistakenly concluded he had lost more than $730,000.

Updated at 6:48 p.m. ET

A California judge has ordered Uber and Lyft to reclassify their workers from independent contractors to employees with benefits, a ruling that could be consequential for gig economy workers if it survives the appeals process.

For many businesses, the coronavirus pandemic has created a coin shortage. All the sheltering at home put a crimp in the normal circulation of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters, and now some retailers are asking customers to pay with exact change.

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As drug firms race to position themselves as key players in the coronavirus fight, the industry faces a renewed wave of civil lawsuits stemming from its role in the nation's deadly opioid epidemic.

Thousands of cases that ground to a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic are moving forward again as local, state and federal courts reopen around the United States.

When former McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook was fired for a consensual relationship with a subordinate last year, he left with an exit payout estimated over $40 million. Now, McDonald's is suing him for that money, citing new evidence of additional relationships and accusing him of lies and fraud.

Cruz Santos thought her life was finally turning around in early March when she found a job at a shoe store after months of looking.

Two weeks later, the store shut down, throwing her back onto the unemployment lines, and leaving her and her three school-age kids at risk of losing the one-bedroom Bronx apartment where they live.

"I don't know what's going to happen and if they're going to kick me out of my apartment. And that's something hard, you know. You can hardly even sleep sometimes," Santos says.

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The United States is the first country in the world to surpass 5 million people diagnosed with COVID-19.

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If you told Brian Dzenis three years ago he would be loading postal semis for work, he would have laughed in your face. A former sports reporter at the now-defunct Youngstown Vindicator, affectionately known as the Vindy, Dzenis, 31, has spent the time after his layoff as a second-shift loader for FedEx, and an expediter for the United States Postal Service.

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