U.S. budget deficit soars to all-time high in June
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 The paper has not been peer-reviewed.