NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rushed higher Friday after a strong report on the U.S. job market suggested a recession may not be as close as Wall Street had feared.
The S&P 500 leaped 1.5% for the latest surge in a rally that’s vaulted it nearly 20% since mid-October. That put Wall Street’s main measure of health on the edge of entering what’s called a “bull market” despite a long list of challenges.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 701 points, or 2.1%, while the Nasdaq composite gained 1.1%.
The indexes got a boost after a report showed employers unexpectedly accelerated their hiring last month. It’s the latest signal that the job market remains remarkably solid despite much higher interest rates, and it offers a hefty pillar of support for an economy that’s begun to slow.
Areas of the market that do best when the economy is healthy led a widespread rally, including stocks of industrial companies, energy producers and banks. Exxon Mobil rose 2.3% as prices for crude oil climbed on hopes that a resilient economy would burn more fuel.
Perhaps more importantly for markets, the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report also showed a slowdown in increases for workers’ pay even as hiring strengthened.
While that may discourage workers trying to keep up with prices at the register, investors believe slower wage gains will mean less upward pressure on inflation across the economy.
That in turn could allow the Federal Reserve to take it easier on its hikes to interest rates meant to lower inflation. High rates do that by slowing the economy and hurting investment prices, and they’ve already caused pain for the banking and manufacturing industries.
The unemployment rate also rose by more than expected last month, moving up to 3.7% from a five-decade low. That implies a bit more slack in the job market and seems to conflict with the gangbusters hiring numbers, whose data comes from a separate survey.
“The reality is probably somewhere in between,” said Brian Jacobsen, chief economist at Annex Wealth Management.
“One thing that is striking is that if you compare aggregate payrolls today to the pre-COVID trend, we still have more than a four million job hole to fill-in,” he said. “COVID led to strange times, a strange recovery and an even stranger slowdown.”
Following the report, traders were largely expecting the Fed to hold interest rates steady at its next meeting in two weeks. If it does, that would be the first time it hasn’t hiked rates in more than a year.
A pause on rate hikes would offer some breathing room for an economy that’s already seen manufacturing contract sharply for months. Higher rates have also hurt many smaller and mid-sized banks, in part because customers have pulled deposits in search of higher interest at money-market funds.
Several high-profile bank failures since March have shaken the market, leading Wall Street to hunt for other possible weak links. Several under the heaviest scrutiny rallied following the jobs report. PacWest Bancorp leaped 14.1%, for example, to trim its loss for the year to 66.6%.
But Fed officials have also warned recently that a pause on rate hikes in June wouldn’t necessarily mean the end to hikes.
Traders are increasingly expecting the Fed to follow up a June pause with a July hike to interest rates, according to data from CME Group. That helped push Treasury yields higher.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury climbed to 3.69% from 3.60% late Thursday. It helps set rates for mortgages and other important loans.
The two-year Treasury yield, which moves more on expectations for Fed action, jumped to 4.50% from 4.34%.
Also helping to support Wall Street was the Senate giving final approval late Thursday to a deal that will allow the U.S. government to avoid a potentially disastrous default on its debt. The move was widely expected by investors, and the deal moves next to President Joe Biden for his signature.
Lululemon Athletica jumped 11.3% after it reported stronger profit for the latest quarter than expected, crediting accelerating sales trends in China and other factors. It also raised its forecast for results over the full year.
MongoDB soared 28% after the database company reported bigger profit than expected. The company said it’s confident it will benefit from the wave of enthusiasm around artificial intelligence that’s swept the business world.
A frenzy around AI has helped the S&P 500 climb to its highest levels since August. Nvidia, whose chips are helping to power the move into AI, has soared 169% this year, for example.
Outsized gains for Nvidia and a small group of other stocks have been the main reason the S&P 500 has gotten so close to escaping its bear market, which saw a drop of 25.4% in nine months from early January 2022 into October.
Just a couple handfuls of stocks have driven the bulk of the gains for the S&P 500, and critics say that means the index may not be as strong as it appears. Even though the S&P 500 is up 11.5% for the year so far, nearly half the stocks in the index have lost ground amid worries about falling profits, still-high inflation and much higher interest rates.
All told, the S&P 500 rose 61.35 Friday to 4,282.37. The Dow climbed 701.19 to 33,762.76, and the Nasdaq gained 139.78 to 13,240.77.
AP Business Writers Matt Ott and Joe McDonald contributed.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s employers stepped up their hiring in May, adding a robust 339,000 jobs, well above expectations and evidence of enduring strength in an economy that the Federal Reserve is desperately trying to cool.
Friday’s report from the government reflected the job market’s resilience after more than a year of aggressive interest rate increases by the Fed. Many industries, from construction to restaurants to health care, are still adding jobs to keep up with consumer demand and restore their workforces to pre-pandemic levels.
Overall, the report painted a mostly encouraging picture of the job market. Yet there were some mixed messages in the May figures. Notably, the unemployment rate rose to 3.7%, from a five-decade low of 3.4% in April. It’s the highest unemployment rate since October. (The government compiles the unemployment data using a different survey than the one used to calculate job gains, and the two surveys sometimes conflict.)
Is the labor market as strong as the gain of 339,000 jobs suggests?
Probably not. In May, employers added the most jobs since January. So the overall picture is an encouraging one. Yet there are signs that hiring is cooling from the super-heated levels of the past two years.
For one thing, the length of the average work week declined, to 34.3 hours from 34.4 in April. That is a seemingly small drop, but economists said it’s equivalent to cutting several hundred thousand jobs. It means that, on average, weekly paychecks will be slightly smaller. The average work week is down from 34.6 hours a year ago.
Hourly wage growth also dipped in May, evidence that many businesses feel less pressure to dangle higher pay to find and keep workers. Average hourly pay increased 4.3% from a year earlier. That’s down from gangbusters gains of nearly 6% a year ago.
And the rise in the unemployment rate partly reflected higher layoffs. This suggested that not everyone who lost jobs in recent high-profile layoffs by banks, tech firms and media companies has found new work.
Is the economy headed for a recession?
Not likely anytime soon. The strong, steady job growth of the past several months shows that the economy remains in solid shape despite the Fed’s interest rate hikes, which have made borrowing much costlier for businesses and consumers. A recession, if one occurs, is likely further away than many economists had previously thought.
“As long as the economy continues to produce above 200,000 jobs per month, this economy simply is not going to slip into recession,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at consulting firm RSM.
More hiring translates into more Americans earning paychecks, a trend that suggests that consumer spending — the principal driver of U.S. economic growth — will keep growing.
Does that mean the economy is in the clear?
Not necessarily. Some cracks in the economy’s foundations have emerged. Home sales have tumbled. A measure of factory activity showed that manufacturing has contracted for seven straight months.
And consumers are showing signs of straining to keep up with higher prices. The proportion of Americans who are struggling to stay current on their credit card and auto loan debt rose in the first three months of this year, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Sales at several retail companies, including discount chain Dollar General and department store Macy’s, have weakened. That indicates that lower-income consumers, in particular, are feeling squeezed by high inflation.
And the threat of further interest rate hikes by the Fed, in its continuing drive to fight inflation, always looms. The Fed’s rate increases have elevated the costs of mortgages, auto loans, credit card use and business borrowing.
The Fed has projected that its rate hikes will weaken the economy and raise unemployment, as well as lower inflation. Still, Chair Jerome Powell has held out hope that the central bank can significantly slow price growth without causing a deep recession.
“The continued strength in employment pushes back the start of a prospective recession but does not eliminate that likelihood,” said Kathy Bostjancic, chief economist at Nationwide. “If the economy remains too hot to meaningfully slow inflation, the Fed will simply raise rates higher, still a path towards a downturn.”
What does all this mean for the fed’s approach to interest rates?
Top Fed officials signaled earlier this week that they plan to forgo a rate increase at their June 13-14 meeting. This would allow them time to assess how their previous rate hikes have affected the inflation pressures underlying the economy.
The Fed has increased its key rate by a substantial 5 percentage points since March 2022, to about 5.1%, the highest level in 16 years. Higher rates typically take time to affect job growth and inflation.
Some Fed officials might be unnerved by the burst of hiring in May and push for another rate hike this month. But many economists say last month’s rise in unemployment and slight decline in wage growth will likely be sufficient signs of a slowdown for the Fed to leave rates alone.
Why did the unemployment rate rise?
The government’s jobs report is derived from two separate surveys that are conducted each month. One survey covers businesses, the other households. The survey of businesses is used to calculate the job gain (or loss). The household survey, which asks people if they’ve done work for pay in the past month, determines the unemployment rate.
In May, the surveys diverged: Households reported an actual loss of jobs, while the survey of businesses found a sharp gain. Though the two surveys can diverge as they did for May, over time they generally produce similar results. The survey of businesses is larger and is generally regarded as more reliable, though the household survey often does a better job of capturing turning points in the economy.
One key reason for the divergence is that, according to the household survey, the number of self-employed people fell by 369,000 from April to May. Self-employed workers are counted in the survey of households but not in the survey of businesses.
Drew Matus, chief economist at MetLife Investment Management, cautioned that the higher unemployment rate for May could signal weakness ahead. It suggests that companies are becoming more cautious about hiring.
Joblessness rose last month for teenagers, the disabled and people with less education, Matus noted. That was a sign that companies were cutting workers with fewer skills and less experience, a move that often precedes recessions.
“Before it was a rising tide lifts all boats, and now it seems like the boats have gotten smaller and firms are deciding who gets to sit in them,” Matus said.
Who is doing the hiring?
The job gains in May were widespread across the economy. Companies in construction, shipping and warehousing, restaurants and hotels, government, health care and in such professions as engineering and architecture all added workers.
Many of those sectors have been struggling to restore their staffing to pre-pandemic levels. Restaurants, for example, are seeing strong demand yet still have fewer workers overall than they did before the pandemic.
One new worker, Mikala Slotnick, was hired as a barista last week by Red Bay Coffee and by Wednesday was working in their Berkeley, California, location. Slotnick, 21, has previously worked at large coffee chains but preferred Red Bay because it focuses on working directly with coffee growers overseas.
“It seems like they care more about what they’re producing, versus the money,” she said. “I think that’s just way better.”
AP video journalist Haven Daley in San Francisco contributed to this report.
(CNN) — Ford, the parent company of Lincoln, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are warning owners of nearly 143,000 Lincoln MKC compact SUVs to park them outside and away from buildings and other vehicles because they could potentially catch fire, even when not running.
The issue stems from a battery monitoring sensor that, because of where it’s placed in the vehicle, could get damaged when the battery or electric components around it are serviced. The damage could cause a short circuit that, because there’s no fuse in the circuitry, could lead to overheating and a fire.
The vehicles involved are model year 2015 through 2019 Lincoln MKC SUVs. Ford is aware of a total of 19 “potentially related” underhood fires in MKCs, most of them in North America, according to NHTSA reports. The company is unaware of any physical injuries related to the fires, though.
Owners will be advised by mail to park their vehicles outside and away from other vehicles. Owners will also be advised to take their vehicles to a Lincoln dealer to have a fuse installed at no cost to the owner
Concerned owners are also being advised to contact a Lincoln dealer with any questions or to call Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Owners can also visit NHTSA’s SaferCar.gov website and enter their vehicles Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to see if it’s involved in the recall.
(CNN) — Next week, Apple may unveil its most ambitious new hardware product in years, but it’s in a product category that is anything but a proven winner.
Apple is widely expected to introduce a “mixed reality” headset at its annual developer event on Monday that offers both virtual reality and augmented reality, a technology that overlays virtual images on live video of the real world.
The highly-anticipated release of an AR/VR headset would be Apple’s biggest hardware product launch since the debut of the Apple Watch in 2015. It could signal a new era for the company and potentially revolutionize how millions interact with computers and the world around them.
But even for Apple, with its formidable track record, this launch faces challenges on multiple fronts.
The company is reportedly considering a $3,000 price tag for the device, far more than most of its products and testing potential buyers at a time of lingering uncertainty in the global economy. Other tech companies have struggled to find mainstream traction for headsets. And in the years that Apple has been rumored to be working on the product, the tech community has shifted its focus from VR to another buzzy technology: artificial intelligence.
But if any company can prove skeptics wrong, it’s Apple. The company’s entry into the market combined with its vast customer base has the potential to breathe new life into the world of headsets.
“Just like its other devices – Macs, iPads, iPhones, and Watches – this represents a new way to interact digitally with others and with applications,” said Ramon Llamas, a director at market research firm IDC. “And because [the market] is – for all intents and purposes – still in its initial stages, Apple can help shape the narrative of what AR/VR can be like and make money off of it with devices and services.”
Apple’s long bet on augmented reality
Apple CEO Tim Cook has long expressed interest in augmented reality.
In a 2016 interview with the Washington Post, Cook said: “I think AR is extremely interesting and sort of a core technology. So, yes, it’s something we’re doing a lot of things on behind that curtain that we talked about.”
In an interview earlier this year with GQ, Cook talked up the potential for AR to help people communicate and collaborate with each other.
“We might be able to collaborate on something much easier if we were sitting here brainstorming about it and all of a sudden we could pull up something digitally and both see it and begin to collaborate on it and create with it,” he said.
The early potential for AR can be seen in some iPhone apps like Ikea Place and Measure, as well as various Apple Watch apps. For example, iPhone users can point the device’s camera at a table and a virtual tape measure appears to allow them to take its measurements.
On Monday, Apple may show how it plans to take AR to the next level.
Apple’s headset is reported to have two main functions: a virtual reality setting and a mixed-reality component, which lets users see augmented reality objects projected onto the real world. According to Bloomberg, the device, which could be called Reality One or Reality Pro, is expected to have an iOS-like interface, display immersive video and include cameras and sensors to allow users to control it via their hands, eye movements and with Siri.
Apple’s new headset is also expected to pack apps for gaming, fitness and meditation, and offer access to iOS apps such as Messages, FaceTime and Safari, according to Bloomberg. With the FaceTime option, for example, the headset will “render a user’s face and full body in virtual reality,” according to Bloomberg, to create the feeling that both are “in the same room.”
The rumored headset could appeal to more consumers once it comes down in price or introduces enough compelling apps and experiences. But to start, the audience may be limited.
Some experts believe Apple’s rumored headset may resonate most with the enterprise market and enable various applications such as training and education. It could also allow for collaboration in meetings with more immersive videoconferencing capabilities and tools like virtual whiteboards.
“The enterprise market is excited for a new headset competitor, especially one that likely brings strong developer and content support along with it,” said Eric Abbruzzese, research direction at market research firm ABI Research who focuses on AR and VR. “So it is great timing for that market.”
An uncertain market
For now, the overall headset market remains small. There were 8.8 million AR/VR headsets shipped globally last year, according to data from market research firm IDC. That represented a 21% decline from the prior year.
By comparison, Apple is reported to sell hundreds of millions of iPhones a year.
Facebook-parent Meta, which dominates the nascent VR market, faces challenges, too. It has come under pressure from investors for losing billions on its efforts to build VR products and a virtual world called the metaverse. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Meta had just 200,000 active users in Horizon Worlds, its app for socializing in VR.
On Thursday, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to preempt the Apple announcement by teasing the more affordable Meta Quest 3 headset ($499), which promises improved performance, new mixed-reality features and a sleeker, more comfortable design.
Other headsets and smartglasses products have struggled over the years. Google recently stopped selling Glass, a decade after it was first unveiled. And Snapchat’s parent company has made multiple efforts to create smart sunglasses, after taking a nearly $40 million writedown for excess inventory of the product early on.
Abbruzzese said the first wave of consumer demand for Apple’s headset could come from devoted Apple fans who are deep in the company’s product ecosystem and see the value of connecting Apple services to the new headset.
Apple could then push for a more “mass market headset” in 2024 or 2025, Abbruzzese said.
As with Apple’s prior hardware products, consumers don’t always flock to the first-generation version. Developers also need time to build applications that would be a draw for a wider audience.
Unlike almost any other company, however, Apple can create demand for an experimental new product or category. Apple also has a secret weapon that many of its peers do not: hundreds of stores where consumers can walk in and potentially try the headset out.
“Apple does not need to do much other than be Apple,” Abbruzzese said. “There will be interest.”
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Here’s a look at Friday’s business headlines with Jane King.
May jobs report due Friday
Friday’s jobs report will likely show another strong month of hiring in May.
Economists expect to see that the U.S. added 190,000 jobs last month, but the unemployment rate is expected to rise slightly to 3.5%
Visa: International travel driving credit card purchases
VISA says travel — especially international travel — is driving credit card purchases.
However, credit card delinquencies are at the highest since 2008, and student loan payments will resume in August.
Meanwhile, a survey by Kinect found that 3 out of 4 Americans say the process of getting to the airport, checking bags, passing through security, and getting to the gate now takes longer than the flight itself.
Costco: Shopping habits show signs of recession
Costco executives told investors that recent shopper habits are sending telltale signals that a recession is on the way.
Particularly, customers are avoiding pricey beef products and instead are buying cheaper meats that include pork and chicken.
Cost-efficient canned meats and fish — products with longer shelf lives — are also increasing in popularity.
Medicare likely to cover Alzheimer’s drugs
FDA-approved drugs for Alzheimer’s Disease will likely be covered by Medicare.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says it will require physicians to collect data on how well the drugs perform in the real world.
Two new Alzheimer’s drugs are currently available only to patients who are enrolled in clinical trials.
SmartAsset: Childcare costs $21k per year per child
Having kids isn’t cheap.
Research from SmartAsset says it costs about 21 thousand dollars a year for a child — but that varies widely depending on where you live, with California having five of the most expensive cities for childcare.
Childcare alone is half the annual cost of raising a child in the U.S.
(CNN) — The first Friday in June — June 2 this year — is National Donut Day.
Started by the Salvation Army in Chicago in 1938, the day honors the group’s “donut lassies,” who served treats and provided assistance to soldiers on the front lines during World War I. (And this isn’t to be confused with National Doughnut Day, which is in November and honors the actual food; though both days are celebrated by eating doughnuts.)
Doughnuts have been around since long before the First World War, and we have the Dutch to thank for them. The Dutch would make “olykoek,” which translates to oily cake. The first Dutch doughnuts didn’t have a hole, but they were fried in hot oil and the dough was sweet.
It wasn’t until 1847 that the holed-out doughnut we know and love today appeared. Hanson Gregory, 16 at the time, claimed credit. Sick of doughnuts with a raw center, he used a pepper pot to punch out holes to help his doughnuts cook more evenly.
By 1920, Adolph Levitt, a Russian living in New York, had invented a doughnut machine. Thirteen years later, doughnuts were proclaimed the “Hit Food of the Century of Progress” by the World’s Fair in Chicago.
Many doughnut stores, including national chains like Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme, are giving away free or discounted doughnuts to celebrate the occasion.
GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — Twin Peaks restaurant and sports bar will open its 100th lodge near Greenwood Park Mall on Friday.
In celebration, the company will host Colts players and a live DJ to welcome visitors.
The restaurant and bar touts on the building exterior “Eats | Drinks | Scenic Views.” Twin Peaks is perhaps best known for its waitresses wearing black-and-red-plaid shirts, tied at the midriff, and cut-off jean shorts. Twin Peaks lodges also sport numerous TVs. Its food and drink menu includes burgers, sandwiches, flatbreads, tacos, wings, soups, salads and desserts.
The grand opening celebration will be from 4-6 p.m. Friday at the lodge at 600 Greenwood Park North Drive, which is near the intersection of West County Line Road and North Madison Avenue.
The event will feature a meet-and-greet with Colts wide receiver Malik Turner and linebacker Segun Olubi, who will be onsite taking photos and signing autographs.
Greenwood and Johnson County officials, and executives of the Greenwood Area Chamber of Commerce and Twin Peaks will kick off the celebration with a ribbon-cutting at 4 p.m. Friday.
A news release from the operators adds, “The iconic Twin Peaks Girls will be available for photos and facilitate an axe throwing competition with winners awarded Twin Peaks swag and gift cards.”
Indiana’s only other Twin Peaks lodge sits on the north side of Indianapolis just northwest of the I-69 interchange at 82nd Street.
Washington (CNN) — U.S. mortgage rates jumped higher last week as uncertainty about the debt ceiling standoff sent bond yields rising.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.79% in the week ending June 1, up from 6.57% the week before, according to data from Freddie Mac released Thursday. Rates jumped higher last week for the third week in a row. A year ago, the 30-year fixed-rate was 5.09%.
Mortgage rates tend to be pegged to U.S. Treasury yields, which had been heading higher as America grows ever closer to default. A deal to raise the debt ceiling and avoid default is moving forward after a bill to suspend the nation’s debt limit through January 2025 overwhelmingly passed in the House.
A little over a year ago mortgage rates topped 5% for the first time since 2011 and have remained over 5% for all but one week during the past year. Since then they have gone as high as 7.08%, last reached in November. Since mid-March, rates have gone up and down but have stayed under 6.5%. Until a week ago when they tipped over 6.5%.
In addition, data shows the economy is strong, resurfacing concerns about inflation remaining too high and raising the prospect of another rate hike at the Federal Reserve’s June meeting. Although the Fed doesn’t have direct control over mortgage rates, higher interest rates tend to push bond yields higher, which also can nudge mortgage rates up.
“Mortgage rates jumped this week as a buoyant economy has prompted the market to price-in the likelihood of another Federal Reserve rate hike,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Although there has been a steady flow of purchase demand around rates in the low to mid six percent range, that demand is likely to weaken as rates approach seven percent.”
A strong economy and debt ceiling standoff push rates up
The rate for a 30-year mortgage climbed this week as the debt ceiling standoff remained uncertain for much of this week.
“The fear of debt default affects mortgage rates through government-backed bonds,” said Jiayi Xu, and economist at Realtor.com. “If the U.S. defaults on its debt, bond investments become riskier, resulting in increased yields and potentially higher mortgage rates. With a debt deal pending, the likelihood of default remains very low.”
Once the deal is signed by President Joe Biden, the U.S. government is expected to quickly increase issuance of Treasury bills, said Xu. This, “has the potential to cause short-term liquidity challenges at banks, as businesses and households may reallocate their funds towards higher-yielding and relatively safer government debt.”
“In order to keep attracting depositors, banks might be compelled to raise interest rates, thereby squeezing profit margins,” she said. “This could lead to further rate increases across various loan products offered by banks, including both business loans and personal loans.”
However, the debt ceiling standoff isn’t the only thing troubling the markets or the economy.
Economic data this week highlight continued strength in the economy, said George Ratiu, chief economist at Keeping Current Matters.
The number of job openings rose in April to 10.1 million, exceeding market expectations and 3.8 million employees left their jobs during the month, with many finding better opportunities.
“Markets are keeping a close eye on Friday’s payroll employment report, looking for additional cues about the labor landscape,” Ratiu said. “The data are expected to inform the Federal Reserve’s rate decision at the June meeting.”
A cooler spring home selling season this year
Fewer homes to buy and higher interest rates are making for a cooler spring market than typical.
Mortgage applications declined for the third straight week, as higher rates, ongoing economic uncertainty, and declining affordability continue to dampen borrower demand, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
“The lack of homes for sale remains a headwind for the housing market this year, leading to elevated home prices and households deciding to delay buying a home,” said Bob Broeksmit, MBA president and CEO.
But if mortgage rates remain elevated, sellers looking to wrap up a move during the summer months may be motivated to cut prices.
“We may see a potential decrease in asking prices during the upcoming summer season,” said Xu.
While a decline in home prices would be welcome to first time home buyers who lack existing equity to leverage, said Xu, it could potentially erode some of the equity of current homeowners and pose risks to the financial system.
“However, thanks to today’s near-record high home equity levels, even in the event of a substantial 10% decline in home values from their level at the end of the fourth quarter, whether occurring suddenly or over two years with a climbing mortgage debt – this is an incredibly unlikely scenario,” Xu said. “Home equity as a share of total real estate value would still exceed 60%, offering a significant cushion for existing homeowners in aggregate.”
(CNN) — Nearly 60% of Spirit Airlines flights were delayed Thursday, according to FlightAware, after technical issues with the airline’s website, app and airport kiosks, but the airline says the problems have been resolved.
Spirit Airlines announced the technical issues before 9 a.m. A little after 3 p.m., almost 500 Spirit flights were delayed, according to FlightAware. Forty-two flights have been canceled.
“We are currently experiencing technical issues,” the airline said. “Spirit.com, the Spirit Airlines app and our airport kiosks are currently unavailable at this time. We anticipate longer than usual lines at the airport so please plan on arriving early.”
The airline directed customers to the FlightAware site for status information.
One passenger, Brian Holland, told CNN he waited for over two hours for his Spirit Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Nashville to take off before he was told to deboard the plane.
Another passenger, Robert Kraft, also waited an hour for his flight to Orlando to take off from Maryland, before being asked to deplane due to the delays, Kraft told CNN.
“We have resolved a network issue between third party services that affected our website, mobile app and some internal applications,” Spirit Airlines said in a statement. “We apologize for any delays and inconvenience, and we’re now working our way back to normal operations.”
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — Catalent Pharma Solutions, which grew as COVID-19 vaccine was in demand, has told employees that more layoffs are coming this week.
This week’s announcement of 150 layoffs came after 400 workers were released in December. At that time, Catalent was Bloomington’s second largest employer, with 3,100 workers after the December layoffs, according to the city’s mayor.
Employees were emailed this week about the layoffs, which will be completed by Friday. An employee of the company shared the email and asked to remain anonymous. News 8 reached out to the company Thursday afternoon but did not immediately receive a response.
The email says the 150 layoffs are primarily leadership and support jobs. In addition, Catalent is withdrawing 100 vacant jobs and reassigning employees to those roles if possible.
Anibal Carlo, vice president and general manger of the Bloomington facility, sent the email. He joined the leadership team at Bloomington in March.
“As it is well known, Catalent added people and resources at an extraordinary rate during the pandemic to ensure we could meet our customer requirements,” the email says in part. “But unfortunately, we didn’t anticipate the unprecedented complexity involving in exiting the pandemic, both operationally and financially, and the difficulty of pivoting this site to non-COVID programs. Among other problems, we created an infrastructure — people and processes — that is too costly and, therefore, unsustainable.”
The email also announced a company reorganization to begin next week.
Catalent Biologics issued a statement on Thursday afternoon: “Catalent’s Bloomington facility played a critical role in producing the vaccines and therapies that protected public health during the pandemic, and it continues to produce these medicines along with many others that patients rely on every day. As the pandemic has receded, global demand for vaccines has declined sharply, leading to a range of challenges at our facility. As a result, we have needed to make a number of personnel changes in Bloomington. These changes are unfortunate but necessary to help ensure Catalent is able to continue operating in a sustainable manner. The Bloomington facility remains a critical part of Catalent’s growth plans and its global network.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March 2021 approved the Bloomington Catalent facility to make the Johnson & JohnsonJanssen COVID-19 vaccine.
About a month ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it was limiting the emergency use authorization of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to people 18 and older for whom other vaccines aren’t appropriate or accessible and those who opt for J&J because they wouldn’t otherwise get vaccinated. The change was made due to the risk of a rare and dangerous clotting condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome after receiving the vaccine.
The Bloomington city government in early 2022 offered Catalent up to $44 million in tax credits.
Alex Crowley, director of Bloomington government’s Economic & Sustainable Development Department, told News 8 that the tax abatement is only in effect if Catalent meets two goals: $350 million in capital investment, and a net increase of 1,000 new jobs at an average wage of $32 per hour. They were given until the end of 2026 to meet both goals, Crowley says.
“So unless they meet both, they will not be eligible to receive the tax abatement,” Crowley told News 8 by email.
News 8 also reached out to the office of the Democratic mayor to find out if the city is providing any help amid the layoffs. After the layoffs in December, Mayor John Hamilton said in a statement that he’d continue working with the Bloomington Economic Development Corp., the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, and Catalent and their employees to minimize the impact on people who were laid off.
Hamilton’s office had not replied to News 8 by Friday afternoon.
The Catalent facility is at 1300 S. Patterson Drive, which about a mile southwest of the Indiana University campus.