“The racial inequities that exist for many Black Americans and people of color are real and deeply rooted,” said Doug McMillon, president and chief executive of Walmart and chairman of the Business Roundtable.
Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

The Business Roundtable, a group of chief executives of major U.S. companies, announced on Thursday initiatives meant to advance racial equity and justice and to reduce the “economic opportunity gap in communities of color.”

The group said it hoped to:

  • Give $1 billion to community lending institutions, which provide funds for Black households and small businesses, by 2025.

  • Give $600 million in financial contributions to provide Black- and Latino-led Minority Depository Institutions with capital and deposits, by 2025.

  • Set up a system to mentor and support Black and Latino small-business owners, with a goal of reaching 50,000 businesses over the next five years.

“The racial inequities that exist for many Black Americans and people of color are real and deeply rooted,” Doug McMillon, president and chief executive of Walmart and chairman of the Business Roundtable, said in a statement. “These longstanding systemic challenges have too often prevented access to the benefits of economic growth and mobility.”

PepsiCo, a member of the Business Roundtable, said on Wednesday that it was committing more than $170 million over five years to support initiatives to “empower Hispanic Americans.” The company said it would expand Hispanic managerial representation to 10 percent of the company’s work force by 2025 by hiring 120 Hispanic managers, including 50 executives.

Spending during the pandemic has been bifurcated, with Americans spending more on essentials like groceries and less on items like clothing.
Credit…Andrew Spear for The New York Times

Retail sales figures for September are expected to show a fifth straight monthly increase in consumer spending when the Commerce Department releases its latest report on Friday, though the growth rate is likely to remain slow because of the failure of Congress and the Trump administration to extend additional stimulus to millions of jobless Americans.

Economists at Morgan Stanley forecast a 1.7 percent increase for September, buoyed by auto sales, according to a note last week. Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist at S&P Global, forecasts a much slimmer increase of 0.5 percent. Sales rose 0.6 percent in August and 0.9 percent gain in July.

Ms. Bovino expects that much of the spending last month was driven by white-collar workers whose economic fortunes have remained relatively stable during the pandemic.

“It is a two-tiered world,” Ms. Bovino said. “People who are working remotely are benefiting from strong equity markets and steady jobs and are spending money on home improvements and new stuff for the home. On the flip side, people tied to the service industry are feeling squeezed.”

Even though stimulus money has dried up, consumers have benefited from a $13.6 trillion savings buffer that accumulated from April through August, the Morgan Stanley economists wrote.

But spending could take a hit based on how the labor market recovers and as uncertainty lingers around the upcoming presidential election and the timeline of a vaccine.

Spending in the United States has been bifurcated during the pandemic, as people continue to spend more at places like grocery stores while cutting back on categories like clothing. Many retail chains started offering holiday deals early and are bracing for a record amount of online orders.

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