Business briefing

The daily business briefing: May 4, 2022

Hawaii lawmakers pass $18 minimum wage, Trump's hotel and inaugural committee settle D.C. lawsuit, and more

1

Hawaii legislature passes $18 minimum wage

Hawaii lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill to raise the state minimum wage to $18 an hour by 2028, up from the current rate of $10.10. Proponents say families struggling to pay rising food and housing costs badly need the raise. Some businesses have said they can't pay that much and would have to cut staff or close. The minimum wage would be the highest out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, although some states have automatic cost-of-living increases, so inflation could push their rates higher by 2028. The state Senate also has passed the measure, so it goes next to Gov. David Ige (D), who is expected to sign it.

2

Trump's company, inaugural committee settle D.C. suit over payments to his hotel

Former President Donald Trump's company and his 2017 inaugural committee will pay the District of Columbia $750,000 to settle allegations they misspent money raised by the nonprofit inaugural committee, and used it to enrich Trump's family, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said Tuesday. "No one is above the law — not even a president," Racine said. Neither the Trump Organization nor the committee admitted any wrongdoing. The case involved more than $1 million in alleged improper payments to the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Trump said in a statement that the case was "yet another example of weaponizing Law Enforcement against the Republican Party and, in particular, the former President of the United States. So bad for our Country!"

3

Job openings, quits hit record highs

Job openings and the number of people quitting jobs hit record highs in March, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. There were a seasonally adjusted 11.5 million job openings, up from 11.3 million the previous month. Quits hit 4.5 million, an increase of 152,000 from February. Job openings exceeded the number of available workers by 5.6 million. The new data showed that the hiring market remains tight as employers continue to face a shortage of available workers. Food services, arts and entertainment, and other consumer-facing industries had the highest rate of openings, with health-care openings also near record levels. ZipRecruiter said openings at businesses with more than 5,000 workers had more than doubled since February 2020.

4

Amazon offers employees abortion travel benefit

Amazon has told employees that it will pay up to $4,000 in travel expenses for some medical care, including abortions, if the procedures aren't available within 100 miles of their home and no virtual-care alternative is available. The announcement came as Politico published a leaked first draft of a Supreme Court decision that could overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established the constitutional right to abortion. If the conservative majority's draft is finalized, some Republican-controlled states plan abortion bans, and other strict state restrictions would go into force. Amazon said the benefit, which would cover all corporate and warehouse employees or their covered dependents, would take effect in January 2023. Other procedures covered would include cardiology, cellular gene therapies, and substance-abuse disorder services.

5

Stock futures edge higher ahead of Fed decision

U.S. stock futures gained early Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve's decision on raising interest rates at the end of its two-day policy meeting. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up just over 0.4 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were up 0.3 percent. The Dow and the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose by 0.2 percent on Tuesday. The S&P 500 gained 0.3 percent. Economists expect the Fed, which announces its policy decision at 2 p.m., to raise interest rates by a half-percentage point as part of its intensifying effort to fight high inflation, after hiking rates a quarter point in March. The central bank is also expected to cement plans to start reducing its $9 trillion asset portfolio.

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