Welcome to the 79th issue of the California Coronavirus Weekly Recap newsletter.  

​​​​​​In This Issue:

The Economy & Your Finances: State relief grant program extended; CA eviction moratorium continues until Oct. 1; U.S. and CA jobless claims dropCalifornia’s relief grant program for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is once again accepting new applications until September 30. The program provides micro grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 to eligible small businesses (including independent contractors and sole proprietors) impacted by COVID-19 and the related health and safety restrictions. The grant amount is based on the business’s annual revenue as documented in its most recent tax return. Businesses that applied during previous rounds of the program but that did not receive a grant should not reapply, since their applications are automatically moved forward into this current round.

Despite the end of federal eviction moratoria, California’s own statewide moratorium continues until Oct. 1, 2021. This means that until October landlords are only able to evict tenants for certain specific reasons, such as having a buyer in contract to purchase a single family home, or the fact that the tenant is breaking the lease agreement and refusing to fix the problem (i.e., keeping a dog when pets are not allowed), or is using the property for illegal activity, as well as for nonpayment of rent when the tenant has no COVID related reason not to pay.  Renters who can’t pay because of a COVID disability are still protected through September. This allows time for the various state and local rental relief programs to disburse rental assistance  funds. To apply for rental relief funding, go to the state website for CA COVID-19 Rent Relief.

Initial U.S. jobless claims dropped to 310,000, the lowest they have been during the pandemic thanks to increasing rates of vaccination, reopening increasing demand for workers, and possibly to the ending of federal programs that extended unemployment to self-employed and gig workers. Claims might have been lower if not for a substantial number of claims in Louisiana following Hurricane Ida. Economists still expect economic growth to slow during the third quarter as spending spurred by stimulus funds released over the summer moderates. The recent surge in COVID-19 infections due to viral variants may slow the recovery, especially as in-person schooling is under way. California’s initial unemployment claims lowered to 40,823 last week, which was a substantial drop of 18,932 from the prior week. Again, this may be somewhat attributable to the end of the federally funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. 

Although the federally-funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program have ended, the Employment Development Department (EDD) will continue to accept PUA applications through Oct. 6, as long as they relate to eligibility before Sept. 4. C.A.R. encourages all claimants to certify as promptly as possible for each benefit week through Sept. 4. Since the beginning of the pandemic, EDD has paid out more than $169 billion in unemployment benefits to Californians.

​Sources: Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg, St. Louis Fed/FRED, Investing.com, EDD, California Department of Housing, California Relief Grant Program
The Market & Industry: Sales slow but strong; mortgage rates lower; foreclosures rise but still minimal

Fall is a time of cooling trends: the weather loses its harsh blade of heat and the housing market slows from the frenetic activity of summer. This year’s hot market has begun to settle even in California, as last week, REALTORS® reported declines in business activity across the board. Fewer members did listing appointments (33.3 percent), fewer added a new listing to the MLS (28.2 percent), fewer entered escrow (23.7 percent) and fewer closed a transaction (24.4 percent). However, more REALTORS® reported an increase in optimism about sales and listings next week, which is consistent with the broader market data that has held up surprisingly well despite ongoing supply constraints and some buyer fatigue. In another positive sign, the number of REALTORS® reporting a transaction falling out of escrow has fallen for the past 3 weeks. 

Mortgage rates continue drifting downward, with the 30-year fixed-mortgage rate dropping one basis point to 3.02 percent. The 15-year fixed-mortgage rate decreased by two basis points, to 2.31 percent. The 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage also decreased by two basis points, to 3.03 percent. 

Following the July 31 expiration of the federal moratorium on foreclosures, a flurry of activity took place in August, with a total of 15,838 properties facing foreclosure that first month and foreclosure starts (properties just beginning the foreclosure process) at 8,348 properties. Both figures rose 27 percent compared to the prior month but were still low compared to pre-pandemic numbers. In August of 2019, before the moratorium, there were more than three times the number of properties beginning the process of foreclosure.

Sources: CNET, MPAmag, C.A.R. Market Minute

Around the State: Bill passes regarding workplace outbreaks; LAUSD passes vaccination mandate for students; CDC says transmissions in CA are lowering

AB 654 (Reyes) passed out of the legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.  This bill builds on previous COVID-19 related legislation affecting employers and employees when there is an Covid-19 related exposure in the workplace. Among other provisions it will now provides employers who have a Covid-19 outbreak in the workplace with new specific timeframes for reporting to the public health authorities and gives the public health authorities the ability to publish general information by industry on outbreaks to allow greater public information on Covid-19 cases. C.A.R.’s legal department will provide detailed information on this and other new legislation if it is signed by the Governor. 

Last week, the Los Angeles Unified School Board voted unanimously to join Culver City Unified in requiring eligible students age 12 and older to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend school in person. Approximately 225,000 students in grades 6-12 will be affected in LAUSD, but many other school districts around the state take LAUSD’s lead on policies and are likely to follow suit. LAUSD announced that students participating in extracurricular activities such as sports, drama, chorus and music must comply starting next month, and for all other students, the deadline is Nov. 21. Students who turn 12 are required to get the first shot within 30 days of their birthday, and the second dose within 8 weeks. Accordingly, LAUSD is broadcasting free vaccination clinics and is urging all students and their families to receive the vaccines courtesy of the district. Vaccine exemptions can be requested based on medical reasons, but not religious or personal beliefs. Students who are not vaccinated by the deadline have the option of switching to remote learning through independent study, though that program was overwhelmed at the beginning of the year when more than 10,000 students signed up. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the good news that California’s transmission rates are dropping, lowering transmission risk from “high” to “substantial” and the color of the risk map from red to orange. Only two other states have achieved this lower risk category: Connecticut and Vermont. Experts attribute California’s success to high vaccination rates as well as indoor masking practices. As of 2:27 p.m. on Tuesday, there were 4,566,376 reported cases of COVID-19 in the state, for a daily average of 9,281. This is a decrease of 31 percent from two weeks prior. Hospitalizations numbered 6,810, down 11.6 percent from the prior week. Statewide, 19.7 percent of ICU beds are available. California has administered 47,214,746 doses of the vaccine, and 66.5 percent of residents have received at least one dose.

Sources: Mercury News, Los Angeles Times, CDC
Health Check-Up: Biden mandates vaccinations for federal employees

President Biden on Thursday announced the government’s strictest mandates yet for Covid-19 vaccinations, with a combination of orders that will affect tens of millions of U.S. workers. Mr. Biden’s executive order focuses on three main groups: federal employees, federal contractors, and workers at companies with 100 or more employees. Unvaccinated federal employees and contractors must get the shot within 75 days or face escalating consequences that could end up resulting in termination of their employment. Employees of large companies will be covered under a forthcoming Labor Department rule that will order all businesses with more than 100 employees to require their workers to be vaccinated or face weekly testing. The employers will also have to give workers paid time off to get vaccinated or to recover from any side effects of getting vaccinated.

Source: Wall Street Journal