U.S. bud­get deficit soars to all-time high in June

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION/WORLD | BUSINESS -

WASHINGTON — The fed­eral government in­curred the big­gest monthly bud­get deficit in his­tory in June as spend­ing on pro­grams to com­bat the pan­demic re­ces­sion ex­ploded while mil­lions of job losses cut into tax rev­enues.

The Trea­sury Depart­ment re­ported Mon­day that the deficit hit $864 bil­lion last month, an amount of red ink that sur­passes most an­nual deficits in the na­tion’s his­tory and is above the pre­vi­ous monthly deficit record of $738 bil­lion in April.

For the first nine months of this bud­get year, which be­gan Oct. 1, the deficit to­tals $2.74 tril­lion, also a record for that pe­riod. The pre­vi­ous an­nual record deficit of $1.4 tril­lion was set in 2009 when the government was spend­ing heav­ily to lift the coun­try out of the re­ces­sion caused by the 2008 fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

2 po­ten­tial vac­cines on fast track

Two vac­cine can­di­dates from Pfizer and BioNTech be­ing de­vel­oped for the virus that causes COVID-19 have re­ceived “fast track” des­ig­na­tion from the U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

South­west at risk of fur­loughs

South­west Air­lines claims never to have fur­loughed em­ploy­ees, even af­ter 9/11, but the CEO says that streak is in jeop­ardy un­less air travel triples. The virus pan­demic caused U.S. air travel to plunge 95% by mid-April.

“Al­though fur­loughs and lay­offs re­main our very last re­sort, we can’t rule them out as a pos­si­bil­ity ob­vi­ously in this very bad en­vi­ron­ment,” South­west CEO Gary Kelly said in a memo to em­ploy­ees Mon­day.

JetBlue Air­ways will con­tinue to block mid­dle seats through Sept. 8. JetBlue, Delta and South­west say they are block­ing some seats, while United and Amer­i­can do not. A pro­fes­sor at MIT es­ti­mates that leav­ing mid­dle seats empty on planes re­duces pas­sen­gers’ chance of coro­n­avirus in­fec­tion by about half, to one in 4,300. The paper has not been peer-re­viewed.

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