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State begins paying extra jobless benefits

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development worked through the weekend with its system vendor to implement the federal unemployment program extensions approved last month by Congress.

Chris Cannon, assistant administrator for the state labor agency, said Tennessee claimants who exhausted their federal pandemic unemployment benefits prior to December 26, 2020, should have new benefit balances added to their pandemic relief claims.

If the claimant exhausted benefits on, or prior to December 26, they can attempt to complete a certification. If the claimant is unable to certify and the system prompts them to file a claim, they should proceed and complete the refiling process, Cannon said.

Claimants can go back and certify for missed weeks. But they are required to provide work searches for each of the weeks they certify to receive unemployment benefits.

 

Ford takes 2 of 3 top vehicle awards

Ford Motor Co.'s new electric Mustang Mach E is the North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, and the company's F-150 pickup won truck honors from a group of auto journalists.

Hyundai's Elantra compact car took Car of the Year as all three awards were announced during a Monday webcast.

About 50 automotive journalists serve as judges, for the three awards, which are announced every January. They're chosen from dozens of candidates and must be new or substantially changed. Automakers often use the awards in advertising.

The judges evaluate finalists on value, innovation, design, performance, safety, technology and driver satisfaction. The selection process started last summer.

Utility of the Year finalists included the Mach E as well as the Genesis GV80 and the Land Rover Defender. Pickup finalists included the F-150 as well as the Jeep Gladiator Mojave and Ram 1500 TRX.

In addition to the Elantra, car finalists included the Genesis G80 and the Nissan Sentra.

 

Food service loses another 379,000 jobs

Food service and drinking places lost 372,000 jobs during December, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics newest jobless report.

Restaurants and bars lost jobs in December while most other industries increased positions.

"The decline in payroll employment reflects the recent increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and efforts to contain the pandemic," the BLS said in its December jobs report.

In December, leisure and hospitality jobs declined by 498,000, with three-quarters of the decrease, or 372,000 positions, in food services and drinking places, the bureau said. Employment also fell in the amusements, gambling and the recreation industry (down 92,000) and in the accommodation industry (down 24,000).

Since February 2020, before the pandemic was declared in March, employment in leisure and hospitality has fallen by 3.9 million jobs, or 23.2%.

"Restaurants were hit harder than any other industry during the pandemic and still have the longest climb back to pre-coronavirus employment levels," said Bruce Grindy, chief economist with the National Restaurant Association.

 

Dr. Martens boots plans stock offering

The maker of Dr. Martens boots, the chunky-soled footwear once championed by rebellious young people but now favored by celebrities like Rihanna, plans to sell shares to the public as the existing owners seek to profit from growth of the iconic brand.

Dr. Martens Ltd. said Monday that current investors plan to sell at least 25% of their stake in an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange.

Permira Funds, a London-based private equity investor, bought Dr. Martens for 300 million pounds (currently worth $400 million) in 2014. Private equity firms seek to buy undervalued companies then restructure their operations and cut costs before selling at a profit.

Dr. Martens Chief Executive Kenny Wilson said the IPO underscored the brand's "global growth potential" after revenue increased by 39% over the past two financial years to an annual 672.2 million pounds ($900 million). The company is expanding online sales to complement revenue from 130 shops in 60 countries.

"Our iconic brand appeals to a diverse range of consumers around the world who wear our footwear to express their individual style," Wilson said in a statement to the stock exchange. "We have invested massively to ensure that we deliver the best digital and store experiences to connect with our wearers."

 

Carnival cruises rising for 2022

Carnival Corp. said Monday its 2022 cruise bookings are running ahead of 2019 numbers, a good sign that guests will return once the pandemic has eased.

The coronavirus has been devastating for the cruise industry, which had expected to welcome 30 million passengers worldwide in 2020. Instead, Carnival and others halted sailings in March 2020 after numerous ships reported outbreaks on board.

Carnival resumed a limited amount of cruising in Italy in September and Germany in October, with lower passenger capacity and other safety restrictions. But operations were suspended in late October as coronavirus cases spiked across Europe.

Carnival's Costa brand, which operates in Italy, is scheduled to restart operations on Jan. 31. Aida Cruises, the company's German brand, has extended its pause through the end of February.

Miami-based Carnival said it is working on resuming cruises in Asia, Australia and the U.S. over the course of this year. Carnival Cruise Line, the company's biggest brand, has cancelled all U.S. sailings through March 31.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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