Walmart bonus checks give $10.1 million in state

For the third time in less than three months, Walmart paid out $300 bonus checks for full-time hourly workers and $150 checks for part-time workers on the job through the coronavirus pandemic.

The world's biggest retailer said the additional payments given to hourly workers in Tennessee on Thursday totaled $10.1 million. Across its global footprint, Walmart has paid its associates nearly $1 billion in special cash bonuses, an early quarterly bonus payout and other initiatives.

"We've seen firsthand our associates' unwavering focus to take care of customers and members while providing a vital service to communities during this time," said Donna Morris, Walmart's chief people officer. "Recognizing the hard work ahead of our associates as COVID-19 spreads and to help provide more cash in hand for them sooner, we shared plans to accelerate the payout for our quarterly incentive, which store, club and supply chain associates received today."

Walmart is the largest private employer in the world with 2.2 million workers and operates 30 superstores, Neighborhood Market grocery stores and other retail outlets in the Chattanooga area.


Mortgage loans stay at record low rates

Long-term U.S. mortgage were unchanged this week as the benchmark 30-year home loan remains at its lowest rate in nearly 50 years.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the key 30-year loan stood at 3.13%, the same as last week. It is the lowest level since Freddie began tracking average rates in 1971. A year ago, the rate stood at 3.73%.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose slightly to 2.59% from 2.58% last week, but it is down from 3.16% a year ago.


Macy's to lay off 3,900 employees

Macy's said Thursday it's laying off 3,900 people corporate staffers, roughly 3% of its overall workforce, as the pandemic takes a financial toll on the iconic department store chain's sales and profits.

The company said the headcount reduction will save the company $630 million per year. In February, before the virus became a pandemic, Macy's said it would cut 2,000 jobs in its corporate office and close 125 stores.

Since early May, Macy's has been gradually reopening its stores, which had been closed since March 18. Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette has said that customers are coming back better than expected, but the recovery will be slow, and it needs to readjust its business to a new climate.

"While the re-opening of our stores is going well, we do anticipate a gradual recovery of business, and we are taking action to align our cost base with our anticipated lower sales," Gennette said in a statement.


Walmart reviews use of prison labor

Walmart Inc. says it will continue to review its policy on working with suppliers that deploy prison labor, as part of its review of overall practices in the wake of civil unrest over racial inequality.

The nation's largest retailer said a "small number" of its U.S. suppliers use voluntary labor as part of prison rehabilitation programs as permitted by law, according to an emailed statement from spokesperson Tricia Moriarty. The company's policies "strictly prohibit involuntary prison labor" and these programs pay inmates "prevailing wages," company said. It said that voluntary programs provide "positive, private sector job training and marketable skills" to help them get back into society.

Despite making up close to 5% of the global population, the U.S. has nearly 25% of the world's prison population, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Since 1970, the nation's incarcerated population has increased by seven-fold — 2.3 million people in jail and prison currently far outpacing population growth and crime. It says that one out of every three Black boys born now can expect to go to prison in his lifetime as can one out of every six Latino boys, compared to one of every 17 white boys.


First quarter GDP drops by 5 percent

The U.S. economy shrank at a 5% rate in the first quarter with a much worse decline expected in the current three-month economic period, which will show what happened when the pandemic began spread across the U.S.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the decline in the gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, in the January-March quarter was unchanged from the estimate made a month ago.

The 5% drop was the sharpest quarterly decline since an 8.4% fall in the fourth quarter of 2008 during the depths of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Economists believe that GDP plunged around 30% from April through the end of this month, which would be three times worse than the previous record drop in any quarter set in 1958.