Omicron Job Loss? Unemployment Claims Unexpectedly Spike One Week After Steep Drop In Jobless Benefits Numbers

The number of new unemployment claims unexpectedly jumped for the second week in a row this month, despite a steep drop in the overall number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits just one week earlier—a concerning sign for the labor market recovery after experts warned a record surge in coronavirus cases—spurred by the rapidly spreading omicron variant—could slow the economic recovery.

About 230,000 people filed initial jobless claims in the week ending January 8, an increase of 23,000 from the previous week, according to the weekly data released Thursday. Economists were only expecting about 200,000 new claims last week, according to Bloomberg data.

“This may well be the first report suggesting Omicron is leading to new job loss,” Bankrate senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick wrote in a Thursday note, pointing out the largest increases were reported in California and New York, where new claims totaled more than 20,000 combined.

The new report also showed the number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits fell to less than 1.6 million in the week ending January 1, a decrease of 194,000 from the previous week and the lowest level since June 1973.

“The future path of the pandemic remains highly uncertain, but the underlying job market narrative overall continues be one of scarcity of available applicants and workers,” Hamrick said. “The latest wrinkle, the high level of individuals testing positive, becoming ill or staying away from work, has added to supply chain disruptions with inflation already running red-hot.”The new unemployment data comes after a disappointing labor report on Friday showed the U.S. added a lower-than-expected 199,000 jobs in December.

After the report, Hamrick said it was still “difficult to measure” the economic impact of the omicron variant at that point and cautioned against dismissing its potential, pointing out widespread worker shortages, stoked in part by lingering concerns over the pandemic, remain a big uncertainty.

Economists surveyed by Bankrate said the variant could weigh on job growth in the first three months of the year, but estimated the unemployment rate will fall from 3.9% to 3.8% in a year. Moody’s Analytics’ Mark Zandi shared a similar word of caution, saying, “Risks are rising,” and forecasting that the economic recovery “is set to turn soft” as omicron stunts business. Amid the latest surge, credit card spending and restaurant bookings have already dropped substantially, while widespread flight cancellations have been another economic concern, Zandi notes.

According to the Labor Department, the U.S. has thus far recovered about 80% of the 20.5 million jobs U.S. employers cut between March and April of last year.

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Source: Omicron Job Loss? Unemployment Claims Unexpectedly Spike One Week After Steep Drop In Jobless Benefits Numbers

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Eye Popping Character Animations Tool With 3D ToonFlix

3Dtoonflix is an advanced custom 3D animation studio that is designed to create emotion invoking and compelling animated videos for businesses in every niche. With this easy-to-use studio, you can create eye-catching videos that compel viewers to watch till the end and convert into buyers.

3D Toonflix Review – FEATURES AND BENEFITS

  • The most advanced and futuristic 3d animation studio that is super easy to use.
  • Limitless possibilities to create interactive and dynamic videos.
  • All “done for you” 3d animation sets.
  • All-in-one solution: no need to buy separate modules and extensions software.
  • No complicated abilities needed!!! Even newbies can easily create sophisticated high-quality professional 3d videos.
  • Take your storytelling to the next level by evoking emotions, and get more customers than ever before.
  • With personalized videos, you can build credibility and earn potential client’s trust
  • With an attractive design, you can attract customers and generate more leads there by increasing your conversion rate
  • No need to waste money on expensive animators as you can create videos yourself!
  • Select design from hundreds of 3d animation sets & template to create videos that match your niche.
  • Learn easily with a step-by-step guide in a few minutes.

3D Toonflix Review – HOW DOES IT WORK?

Using 3Dtoonflix is as EASY As 1-2-3

  • Step 1: Select your template – Choose a template that resonates with your brand voice
  • Step 2: Edit and create – edit it to suit your needs and create a compelling story around it
  • Step 3: Publish – your video is ready to be used and posted on your socials or websites for promotions

A shocking 78% of consumers have this habit of checking for the brand’s video before they click that BUY NOW option. This has changed the marketing game for everyone. Now 81% of marketers are using video to generate sales. And, coming up with your design ideas especially when you are not a design expert takes a lot of time and effort. It just leaves you with a haunting thought that is if it will generate leads or not.….

You can literally do anything with the videos you choose. Not only can you decide their content, but you can also decide how to display them. Perfect pixel positioning lets you put objects exactly where you want them on screen.As a special bonus, on the launching day, the author is going to give you a live training on how to use the software the most effective way. This way, you will discover how to make huge money in the nick of time just by using videos.

Just starting out? Drag and drop your way to brilliantly created videos using our prebuilt resources, characters, audio and music tracks. More experienced video marketer? Customize your videos, upload your own assets and make them come to life.

Source: http://3dtoonflix.com

Amid Chaos, IRS Attempts A Return To Normal

E-filing of individual tax returns for the 2022 filing season opens on January 24. The start of e-filing and the April tax filing deadline return to an almost normal schedule while ongoing issues make filing season realities hard to predict.

In 2021 individual e-filing didn’t open until February 12. In 2020 it opened on January 27. This year’s opening appears to be moving the needle back toward the more normal mid-January opening. The April 18th filing deadline is also a return to normal after the July 17, 2020 and May 17, 2021 extended deadlines. Friday, April 15, 2022 is the Emancipation Day holiday in Washington, D.C. which is why the deadline has been moved forward to Monday April 18. It almost seems normal. Almost.

While the start and finish lines to filing season 2022 have a whiff of normalcy about them, everything in between stinks. It stinks of expectations bordering on the delusional and it stinks of IRS rot. When it comes to considering “known unknowns” such as the effects of reconciling economic impact payments (stimulus money) and advance payments of the Child Tax Credit (CTC), the IRS doesn’t seem delusional.

The Commissioner is taking every chance he is offered to urge taxpayers and tax practitioners to file accurately and electronically. The IRS is using every channel it has to remind taxpayers to watch for Letters 6419 and 6475 (which provide the amounts of the advance CTC payments and EIPs, respectively). It’s the Commissioner’s apparent failure to consider the “unknown unknowns” that reeks of delusion.

While the IRS Commissioner (in a recent statement) and the National Taxpayer Advocate (in her most recent report) have been open about anticipating another difficult filing season, they have not seemed to consider the potential for natural disasters to create yet another patchwork of filing deadlines. In 2021 the May 17th deadline wasn’t the deadline for Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana due to winter storms.

Louisiana’s deadline was re-adjusted after Hurricane Ida. In late April 2021 the May 17, 2021 deadline was extended for some Kentucky counties due to storm effects and the list of affected counties continued to be adjusted until June 28, 2021 (two days before the extended June 30 filing deadline). At the end of April 2021 Alabama taxpayers got an extension until August 2. In September New York and New Jersey got their deadline extended because of Hurricane Ida. That’s just a sample; the list goes on.

The other unknown unknown the Commissioner has failed to consider is the ongoing effects of the pandemic. His statement was issued January 10, 2022 amid the omicron variant surge. At this time it is unclear if that surge has peaked and it is even more unclear what effects the current surge will have on IRS staffing levels during filing season. Whatever the effects are, it is unlikely they will improve return processing or response times.

It’s early January 2022. It’s unlikely that the pace of natural disasters will abate and predicting pandemic surges has proved elusive, so why not plan for the worst and issue a pre-emptive extension of the filing deadline until July? Early filers will still file early. Procrastinators will still procrastinate. Extending the deadline until mid-year would simply mitigate some of the confusion resulting from yet another reactive patchwork of federal deadlines due to yet another bad weather year or more Covid-related staffing issues.

And then there’s the rot. Yes, the IRS has been underfunded for years. Yes, experienced people retired and because of funding cuts, they were never replaced. Yes Congress continues to ask the IRS to do more with less. But at some point the IRS needs to acknowledge certain systemic failures in its procedures and possibly its culture.

One such systemic failure was the continuation of automated notice processing despite the mail and phone backlog. Taxpayers and tax practitioners continue to receive second and third notices, each more aggressive than the last, about issues that were addressed by a mailed response to the first notice that has remained either unopened or unprocessed by the IRS. That’s a procedural failure.

The cultural failure is the idea that temporarily stopping automated notices or providing some sort of blanket penalty relief or temporarily giving more experienced customer service reps (or their supervisors) more autonomy to abate penalties until the IRS clears its mail backlog is some sort of abject moral failing that will result in massive taxpayer noncompliance. It’s the idea that cutting taxpayers some slack in the middle of yet another chaotic filing season will turn otherwise law abiding taxpayers into tax protesting scofflaws.

It’s the idea that their kindness will be considered weakness. Perhaps that is the case, but the fact of the matter is that our tax system is based on voluntary compliance and the complete inability to get assistance when trying to comply voluntarily with one’s tax obligations or exercise one’s rights under the tax laws could be as much (or more) of a disincentive to compliance as lack of enforcement. Unfortunately, heading into the third filing season under pandemic rules it seems we have yet to find rock bottom and a path out of this abyss.

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I own Tax Therapy, LLC, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am an Enrolled Agent and non-attorney practitioner admitted to the bar of the U.S. Tax Court. I work as a tax general practitioner preparing returns for individuals and (really) small businesses as well as representing individuals before the IRS and, occasionally, the U.S. Tax Court. My passion is translating “taxspeak” into English for taxpayers and tax practitioners. I write to dispel myths with facts and to explain “the fine print” behind seemingly simple tax concepts. I cover individual tax issues and IRS developments with a focus on items of interest to taxpayers and retail tax practitioners. Follow me on Twitter @taxtherapist505

Source: Amid Chaos, IRS Attempts A Return To Normal

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Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Publication 15, which includes withholding tables for income tax. State requirements vary by state; for an example, see the New York state portal for withholding tax.

Canada Revenue Agency Publication T4001. Canada Revenue Agency also provides significant online guidance accessible through a web index, including an online payroll tax calculator.

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Get Bigger, Go Faster: How Venture Capital Markets Won By Tossing Out Their Rulebooks In 2021

Mark Goldberg knows how much the venture capital market has changed in recent years. A partner at Index Ventures, Goldberg remembers the days when investors would meet up on Monday mornings to sip cappuccinos, pore over pitch decks and dig into due diligence. But in today’s record-breaking market, things look a little different.

At his firm, lengthy investor meetings have been replaced with blocked calendar slots in case a partner has to sign a last-minute term sheet quickly. “The whole way that we have organized has changed to adapt to the market, ” Goldberg says. “Now capital is on demand. You can get a round done in 24 hours from a traditional VC fund and a host of new entrants.”

The due diligence process for a potential startup investment is extensive and entails gathering market data, rifling through documents of financial data and getting to know a company’s founders and customers through interviews.

This exercise used to take months on average, but in today’s market, venture capitalists have a week or two for the process — if they are lucky. Most are left to cram months of diligence into a weekend or in some cases, a single day. VCs have adapted streamlined strategies built on efficiency — all while attempting to avoid sacrificing quality. 

For many that has meant making the process more fluid than formal. VCs aren’t waiting for companies to come pitch to them, instead they are constantly tracking and gathering insight on startups that could be potential portfolio companies in the future.

Multi-stage firm Felicis Ventures even hired a head of research in 2021 to assist with this. Frontloading the work gives VCs a “prepared mind” — as multiple investors put it — allowing them to move quickly when presented with a term sheet. “We’ve done months and months of work that is invisible to the founder,” Goldberg says. “The diligence is more intensive now. It’s just you have to pick and choose your battles and be ready on a minute’s notice to say yes. You need to make a decision three months ahead.”

Seed-focused micro fund Bowery Capital says its small team has managed to fit the process into two to three weeks but can push really hard to get things done faster if needed. Bowery general partner Mike Brown tells Forbes that operating on an expedited timeline has pushed the firm to give more weight to new areas of due diligence.

“We really over-index on the team and clear their prior execution ability,” Bowery says, noting that as a seed investor these decisions surround a potential 10-year plus relationship. “If there is one thing we can’t get wrong with this stuff, it’s picking the wrong founders.”

As a solo general partner, Nisha Desai, the founder and managing partner at Andav Capital, says last year forced her to be incredibly disciplined with her time to make sure she gives herself enough time to properly research and prepare. Thankfully though, she thinks founders have also leaned into the dynamic.

“I will say founders have gotten smarter about due diligence. I rarely get deep or even do a first call, until I have enough information,” she says. “That’s something founders should recognize for solo GPs, our biggest asset and most valued asset is our time. We are only going to spend time with you if we think something is there.”

The compression of due diligence comes in lockstep with a huge new influx of capital into the venture world. On the seed level, the number of firms has grown from about 120 in 2013, when Pejman Nozad started his firm Pear, to “thousands” today, he says. Solo shops like Desai’s Andav Capital are also picking up steam. In some cases, angel investors have “morphed into more of an institutionalized firm,” says Defy Partners founder Neil Sequeria.

The abundance of capital has, in turn, allowed companies to raise money at an unprecedented rate, says IVP general partner Jules Maltz. Hopin, a virtual events startup in which Maltz’s firm invested, has raised four funding rounds since June 2020, in the process growing its valuation to $7.8 billion from $245 million. “Historically, 18 months was a good time period between one round and the next round,” Maltz says.

Although the most active investors in 2020 were blue chip venture firms, the first half of 2021 saw crossover funds Tiger Global and Insight Partners take pole position, according to data from Crunchbase. “The hedge funds and public investors who’ve come into the private markets have pushed the existing private investors like us to start upping our game on how we do diligence,” Maltz says.quintex-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-2-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-768x114-1-1-2-1-1-4-1-2-2-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1

But while venture shops have been forced to adjust to the hedge fund playbook in some ways, they are also changing the industry on their own terms. “One thing I think Andreessen Horowitz started, which isn’t often attributed to them, is this investing strategy where you put massive amounts of money into a seed deal which has nothing substantial yet to validate the valuation.

Yanev Suissa, managing partner of SineWave Ventures, a firm which specializes in public sector guidance for startups. The logic for these heavyweights, with whom SineWave often co-invests, is that one huge success in the portfolio is enough to validate all the high-risk bets.

“I think the other traditional bigger venture funds are going to be forced to follow that trend,” Suissa says. “They’re already starting to, and they’re going to keep doing it even if there isn’t a ton of financial discipline associated with it. That will be a problem going forward that every venture fund is going to have to navigate.”

Forbes reported in December that data connector startup Airbyte raised funds at a $1.5 billion valuation despite its annual recurring revenue not yet reaching $1 million. Another example in Andreessen Horowitz’s own portfolio is the data infrastructure startup Anyscale, which raised at a $1 billion valuation in December despite reports that its annual recurring revenue was below $5 million.

Cofounder Ion Stoica contends the company’s open source origins justified its valuation markup because it created a market even before sales commenced. He points to successful open source companies like Databricks and Confluent as precedent; even still, both firms were valued at half the price of Anyscale at the same funding stage.

In the case of Databricks, the company had $12 million in revenue ahead of its raise. To Ben Horowitz, who has invested in both Databricks and Anyscale, the influx of unicorns is simply a sign that VC is finally starting to reflect the market reality.

“I do think people get confused by the numbers when you look at them versus historical valuations,” Horowitz says. “In some ways, everything was undervalued in venture capital by a lot in that we were doing deals for very cheap for things that could be worth $100 billion. Pricing is catching up to what’s actually going on in the world.”

I’m a reporter covering venture capital, startups and investors out of New York. I was previously a reporter at the Venture Capital Journal and Private Debt Investor. I graduated from Emerson College in 2017 with a degree in journalism. Follow me on twitter at @rebecca_szkutak or send me an email at rszkutak@forbes.com. 

I am a senior reporter for technology, covering venture capital and startups with a focus on Silicon Valley and the greater West Coast. I am based out of Forbes’ San Francisco bureau, where I previously covered tech billionaires as a wealth reporter, and wrote about artificial intelligence as an assistant editor for technology. I graduated from Duke University, where I spent time as news editor for The Chronicle, the university’s independent news organization. Follow me on Twitter at @kenrickcai and email me at kcai [at] forbes.com.

Source: Get Bigger, Go Faster: How VCs Won By Tossing Out Their Rulebooks In 2021

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