Mass Evictions Didn’t Result After U.S. Ban Ended, Despite Fears

Mass Evictions Didn’t Result After U.S. Ban Ended, Despite Fears

October 14, 2021

ABI Bankruptcy Brief

Mass Evictions Didn’t Result After U.S. Ban Ended, Despite Fears​​​​​​

When the federal moratorium on evictions ended in August, many feared that hundreds of thousands of tenants would soon be out on the streets. More than six weeks later, that hasn’t happened, the Wall Street Journal reported. Instead, a more modest uptick in evictions reflects how renter protections at the city and state levels still remain in parts of the country, housing attorneys and advocates said. Landlords, meanwhile, say the risk of an eviction epidemic was always overstated and that most building owners have been willing to work with cash-strapped tenants. Both groups also think that federal rental assistance, slow to get off the ground earlier this year, is now helping prevent many new eviction filings. Eviction filings in court — which are how landlords begin the process of removing tenants from their homes — were up 8.7% in September from August, according to the Eviction Lab, a research initiative at Princeton University that tracks filings in more than 30 cities. But the rate is still low on a historic basis, and, at 36,796 filings, it is roughly half the average September rate pre-pandemic. While subdued eviction rates offer only an early and incomplete look at the issue, “what is out so far is certainly better than anyone’s previous best case scenario for the month after the moratorium,” said Gene Sperling, a senior adviser to President Biden. Eviction rates could still accelerate. Courts are now hearing a backlog of cases filed earlier in the pandemic. Rental assistance is still moving too slowly and is inadequate in some places, said David Dworkin, a former U.S. Treasury official and president and chief executive of the National Housing Conference, a Washington affordable housing-advocacy group. “We’ve got a long way to go,” Mr. Dworkin said. (Subscription required.) ​​

Almost 20% of U.S. Households Lost Entire Savings During Covid​​​​​​

For many Americans, Covid lockdowns — with nowhere to go and nothing to do — were a time to save. But for almost 20% of U.S. households, the pandemic wiped out their entire financial cushion, a poll released Tuesday found, Bloomberg News reported. The share of respondents who said they lost all their savings jumped to 30% for those making less than $50,000 a year, the poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health finds. Black and Latino households were also harder hit. The researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of 3,616 U.S. adults ages 18 or older. Avenel Joseph, a vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said many people dipped into their savings to cover child or health care expenses. “When [a] crisis hits, or anything goes out of the norm — your child is sick, for example — you are sacrificing wages,” she said. Almost two thirds of households earning less than $50,000 a year said they had trouble affording rent, medical care and food. About two-thirds of people surveyed said they received financial assistance from the government in the past few months. But 44% said those programs only “helped a little.” ​​

U.S. Weekly Unemployment Claims Fall to Lowest Level Since Pandemic​​​​​​

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to its lowest level since the pandemic began, a sign the job market is still improving even as hiring has slowed in the past two months, the Associated Press reported. Unemployment claims dropped 36,000 to 293,000 last week, the second straight drop, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the smallest number of people to apply for benefits since the week of March 14, 2020, when the pandemic intensified, and the first time claims have dipped below 300,000. Applications for jobless aid, which generally track the pace of layoffs, have fallen steadily since last spring as many businesses, struggling to fill jobs, have held on to their workers.​​

The Labor Shortage Is Here to Stay. Businesses Are Adjusting​​​​​​

Scarce labor is becoming a fixture of the U.S. economy, reshaping the workforce and prodding firms to adapt by raising wages, reinventing services and investing in automation, the Wall Street Journal reported. More than a year and a half into the pandemic, the U.S. is still missing around 4.3 million workers. That’s how much bigger the labor force would be if the participation rate — the share of the population 16 or older either working or looking for work — returned to its February 2020 level of 63.3%. In September, it stood at 61.6%. The absence comes as U.S. employers are struggling to fill more than 10 million job openings and meet soaring consumer demand. In another sign of just how tight the labor market is, jobless claims — a proxy for layoffs across the U.S. — fell to 293,000 last week, the first time since the pandemic began that they fell below 300,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Workers are quitting at or near the highest rates on record in sectors such as manufacturing, retail, trade, transportation and utilities, as well as professional and business services. Participation has fallen broadly across demographic groups and career fields, but has dropped particularly fast among women, workers without a college degree and those in low-paying service industries such as hotels, restaurants and child care. The participation rate experienced its biggest drop since at least World War II in the early months of the pandemic. It partly rebounded last summer and since then has hovered near the lowest level since the 1970s, despite sturdy economic growth and the strongest wage gains in years. (Subscription required.)​​

Federal Reserve Officials Concerned Inflation Could Last Longer 'Than They Currently Assumed'​​​​​​

The Federal Reserve expressed concerns about inflation during a September meeting, with participants warning it may be having "larger or more persistent effects" than what is "currently believed," The Hill reported. "Most participants saw inflation risks as weighted to the upside because of concerns that supply disruptions and labor shortages might last longer and might have larger or more persistent effects on prices and wages than they currently assumed," read minutes of the meeting released yesterday. Meeting participants noted continued "downside risks" from the future of the COVID-19 pandemic, also noting the "possibility of more severe and persistent supply issues." According to data released by the Labor Department on Wednesday, consumer prices rose by 0.4 percent in September and 5.4 percent in the past year. Core inflation — which does not factor in food or energy costs — rose by 0.2 percent, keeping within expectations. Federal Reserve officials and the Biden administration have said they believe inflation will cool off as the economy adjusts to the next phase of its recovery. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in an interview this week that she saw the current inflation rate as "transitory." ​​

Latest Episode of ABI Industry Viewpoints Examines the Future of the Health Care Industry​​​​​​

Both co-chairs of ABI’s Health Care Program, Suzanne A. Koenig of SAK Management Services, LLC (Riverwoods, Ill.) and Nancy A. Peterman of Greenberg Traurig LLP (Chicago) recently talked with ABI Editor-at-Large Bill Rochelle to provide key insights on the health care industry and a taste of the discussions to come at ABI's Health Care Program, being held Oct. 25-26 in Nashville, Tenn. To watch the latest episode of ABI's #IndustryViewpoints, please click here.

To register for the Health Care Program either in person or virtually, please click here.

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New on ABI’s Bankruptcy Blog Exchange: Banks Should Revamp Overdraft Policies Before Congress Does It for Them

Overdraft practices are having a moment, according to a recent blog post. It’s more than Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) pressing bank executives on Capitol Hill; complaints about them are now regularly featured in popular TikTok videos. Overdraft practices are in the spotlight because the problems associated with them go beyond consumers’ disdain for hidden fees.

To read more on this blog and all others on the ABI Blog Exchange, please click here.

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