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Electric sports cars are shockingly fast and emissions-free. But will loyalists buy them?

Morgan Korn/ABC News

(NEW YORK) — It took years for car enthusiasts to accept that Porsche, maker of the famed 911 sports car, was joining the SUV frenzy.

Now, the 90-year-old Stuttgart automaker has a new challenge to tackle: Getting Porscheophiles on board with its electrification plans. Porsche's future, like its sports car peers, may depend on it.

Sales of the agile and incredibly fast Taycan sedan, Porsche's first electric vehicle, are off to a strong start. Deliveries worldwide totaled 9,072 in the first quarter of 2021, just shy of the 9,133 911s that were sold. In the U.S., Taycan sales hit 4,414 in 2020 and 2,008 in Q1. More than a third of customers are trading in competitor vehicles for a Taycan.

The Taycan lineup has quickly expanded since its December 2019 debut; there's the newly released Taycan Cross Turismo, the brand’s first "Cross Utility Vehicle" (CUV) that closely resembles a station wagon. A less expensive and slightly less powerful Taycan model with rear-wheel-drive has since entered the market along with the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S -- two variants that are mind-blowing quick with 0-60 mph times of 3.0 seconds and 2.6 seconds when launch control is activated.

The Taycan had to be "deep in the core of the brand" to attract buyers, according to Kjell Gruner, president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America.

"It needed to be super sporty and look like a Porsche. Low and wide with fenders higher than the hood," he told ABC News.

Drivers will certainly be impressed with the Taycan's brisk acceleration, smoothness and thrilling ride; Porsche engineers managed to keep the company's racing spirit alive with electric motors.

Aficionados, though, are concerned Porsche brass will transform the venerated 911, the awe-inducing sports car that devotees religiously worship, into a silent conveyance.

"Cars fill different customer demands. We would not try to convince a customer that says 'I want a high-revving, manual transmission, naturally aspirated engine' from something different," Gruner said. "Some people are not ready yet for BEVs [battery electric vehicles]. Our business model is made to be flexible."

Porsche has repeatedly assured buyers that the 911 will keep its potent rear engine -- for now. The two-door road warrior has become more powerful and fuel efficient with each generation, Gruner noted, though a hybrid powertrain could be coming in the near future.

Mike Guy, editor-in-chief of Road & Track, said enthusiasts "talk a big talk" when it comes to internal combustion engines but will eventually surrender to EVs.

"It makes sense for brands to embrace electrification," he told ABC News. "From a performance standpoint I think there will be a fully electric Ferrari and 911. If it was up to enthusiasts, the 911 would always be a manual transmission."

Sports car makers and their mighty V12, V10 and flat-crank V8 engines cannot ignore market forces, he argued.

"Any sports car could be successful as an EV," Guy said. "Having a sports car is about pushing the envelope and having great performance. EVs may be a cultural dividing line among enthusiasts and that's a good thing."

German automaker Audi introduced two stylish grand tourers -- the e-tron GT and RS e-tron GT -- earlier this year, part of the company's larger strategy to offer a 30% electrified lineup by 2025. The e-tron shares the same platform, 800-volt electrical architecture, front and rear electric motors and two-speed automatic transmission as its Taycan "cousin." That's where the similarities end, according to e-tron product manager Matt Mostafaei.

"Our cars are tuned for our customers. They're quite distinct," Mostafaei told ABC News. "[The e-tron GT] is for someone who is more interested in Audi's comfort and design. This is an Audi through and through."

Production of the e-tron GT has started, with U.S. customer deliveries slated for the summer. Mostafaei said there have been "a ton" of pre-orders for the GT, adding that the RS trim produces up to 637 horsepower with overboost and bolts from 0-60 mph in 3.1 seconds -- on par with the V10-powered Audi R8 supercar.

"You're not losing anything by going electric. The e-tron GT is a high-performance car first and foremost," he said.

Even BMW's lauded M division has succumbed to the EV tide. The company's new i4 M50 is the first fully-electric performance model to come from M GmbH and offers 536 hp and a combined torque output of 586 lb-ft.

Eliminating the sensory and sound experience of high-revving sports cars will certainly turn away some customers, according to Tyson Jominy, vice president of data and analytics at J.D. Power.

"Nothing will sound like the gates of hell opening when you light up an Aventador," he told ABC News. "Sports cars have to adapt or die. Some [automakers] will adapt early to get the potential pain over right away. Some brands will hold out until the very last day. I would prefer to still have these cars exist than not at all."

There's also range anxiety, which Gruner acknowledged was critical to wooing customers. The Taycan 4S has an estimated driving range of 227 miles with Performance Battery Plus; the range drops to 199 miles without it. The range on the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S? 212 and 201 miles respectively. The e-tron GT gets an estimated 238 miles of range and 232 miles for the RS trim, Audi says.

"A lot of people are not convinced of battery electric vehicles because they have range anxiety. That certainly needs explanation, some support from our side," Gruner said.

There are other factors that could dissuade enthusiasts. EVs have limited track potential because of the recharging time. Battery performance can suffer in extreme heat or cold. EVs also weigh more than traditional sports cars.

Jominy said the ultra-fast Tesla Model S Plaid, which reportedly sprints from 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds and has a top speed of 200 mph, shows that EVs can offer the same level of excitement for drivers.

"An EV's center of gravity is even lower, handles better and comes off the line faster," he said. "Die-hard fans will appreciate the attributes of a battery electric vehicle if they get seat time. It's not all doom and gloom."

Even Ferrari, the "paragon of purism," according to Guy, has committed to electrification along with arch Italian rival Lamborghini.

The marque's chairman, John Elkann, told investors in April that the company's first EV will arrive in 2025. The Maranello automaker produces one plug-in hybrid sports car -- the 986 hp SF90 Stradale -- built with a turbo V8 engine, three motors and a high-performance lithium-ion battery. In all-electric mode, the SF90 can travel a reported 16 miles.

Hybrid powertrains are not an entirely new concept for Ferrari; the limited production LaFerrari combined an electric motor with the company's classic naturally aspirated V12 engine.

Lamborghini has taken a more conservative approach to electrification. It plans to invest $1.5 billion in a hybrid lineup by 2024, a departure from just a few years ago. Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborgini's chief technical officer, told ABC News in 2019: "Lamborghini will be one of the last ones to join the EV pool. The new generation of [Lamborghinis] will be hybrid. But hybrids are still a big challenge for a super sports car.”

Stephan Winkelmann, president and CEO of Lamborghini, said customers are fully aware of industry regulations and understand the predicament supercar makers face.

"The entire industry is undergoing a period of change, of transformation," Winkelmann told ABC News. "The reduction of our carbon footprint is a responsibility for each individual and each company. There is no hiding behind being a super sports car manufacturer. This challenge concerns everyone."

Lamborghini's first plug-in hybrid arrives in 2023 and will still feature a V12 combustion engine, he said.

"The use of hybrid powertrains will only enhance the performance and efficiency of our vehicles," he added. "An all-electric Lamborghini will be designed more as a daily driver with a different use and, thus, different premises for the overall concept. A super sports car of its segment, yes. Yet not a super sports car in the traditional sense.”

The Artura, the latest supercar from British marque McLaren, pairs its all-new twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine with an electric motor and battery pack, leading to a combined 671 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque. Like Ferrari, McLaren has a history of hybrid powertrain technology. Its acclaimed P1 supercar was a 903 hp hybrid rocket fitted with a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 and electric motor.

The Speedtail -- "the fastest McLaren ever" -- also utilizes ground-breaking battery technology; its 4.0-liter internal combustion engine and an electric drive unit together develop up to 1,055 hp and maximum torque of 848 lb-ft. McLaren aims to have fully electric models on the road by the end of this decade, executive director Ruth Nic Aoidh told Reuters.

Niche players like Italy's Pininfarina and Croatia's Rimac are focusing their EV technologies on enthusiasts who can afford seven-figure hypercars. Pininfarina's $2.2 million Battista produces an insane 1,900 horses and is faster than a Formula One race car. Rimac's $2.4 million hypercar, the Nevera, boasts 1,914 hp and 1,740 lb-ft of torque.

These manufacturers won't have the same difficulties selling EVs as mass market brands do, according to Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars.com.

"Anyone can make a lot of noise about an EV and sell a limited production to collectors," Brauer told ABC News. "Starting to replace your business model with pure EV sports cars -- that's the challenge. Automakers don't want to move faster than the market."

He expects Porsche, Ferrari and even Dodge with its SRT Hellcat muscle cars will have the toughest hurdles to overcome as they try to convert longtime fans and detractors to electrics.

"Dodge will have a problem selling a full EV today," he said. "Porscheophiles will completely dismiss the Taycan. Ferrari will lose a lot of traditional appeal."

He added, "The trick to countering resistance is performance. If [brands] can create EVs that are quicker than traditional sports cars, it will wear down the stalwarts. But it won't be easy."

The full-throated howls of Porsche's sports cars will always draw in buyers. But enthusiasts would be foolish to ignore the Taycan. Like the 911, it's one of the "fastest cars on earth," Gruner declared.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


American Airlines cancels hundreds of flights amid staffing, maintenance issues

Michael Valdez/iStock

(NEW YORK) — Hundreds of American Airlines flights have been canceled this weekend and Monday because of significant staffing and maintenance issues.

As of Sunday afternoon, 123 flights were canceled Saturday, 178 on Sunday and 97 were canceled for Monday – largely the result of a high number of sick calls, combined with maintenance and other staffing issues.

American told ABC News that most of the cancelations are on A320 and 737 aircraft, but that it may continue to cancel at least 50 to 60 flights per day for the rest of June and 50 to 80 flights per day through July.

“We made targeted changes with the goal of impacting the fewest number of customers by adjusting flights in markets where we have multiple options for re-accommodation,” according to an American Airlines statement.

American said it will attempt to notify customers far in advance of their flights and provide an opportunity for customers to rebook on alternative flights through its app.

All U.S. airlines and the Transportation Security Administration have struggled with staffing as air travel has rapidly jumped from historic lows to approaching pre-pandemic levels.

When air travel came to a halt in March 2020, thousands of employees were offered early retirements and buyouts, but now the airlines are desperate to fill these positions again.

American is also dealing with a staffing shortage with their catering contractor and wheelchair operators.

United Airlines is desperate for baggage agents.

And at one point over the Memorial Day weekend, Delta Airlines’ automated service told customers the wait time to talk with a reservation agent was more than 21 hours.

Earlier this month, acting TSA Administrator Darby LaJoye asked office employees to volunteer at airports for up to 45 days. The volunteers would handle non-screening functions such as on-boarding for new hires and management of security lines.

In its attempt to hire 6,000 new officers to handle the summer travel boost, the TSA was offering recruitment incentives, such as $1,000 to officers who accept employment within the agency.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Walmart Deals for Days starts today. Here's what you can shop now

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(NEW YORK) — "Summer Black Friday" is in full swing as Walmart kicks off its sale today running through June 23. During its Deals for Days event, Walmart will take on Amazon Prime Day with four total days of digital sales where online shoppers can find savings on electronics, toys, beauty, fashion and more.

Walmart's sale offers special in-store shopping savings exclusively over the four-day span -- longer than Amazon or Target. Additionally, the Deals for Days event includes online-only deals, along with in-store-only rollbacks on in-store items. Walmart has said it will have exclusive deals on electronics during the event.

Do I need a membership?

In the same vein as Target's mega sale, Walmart's Deals for Days event is open to everyone.

Recently, the company announced that it will be extending its store hours from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. at all locations unless local or state regulations dictate otherwise.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Target Deal Days has arrived. Here's what you need to know

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(NEW YORK) — Target Deal Days is back and better than ever. The sale is set to begin today and run through June 22.

With 36 straight hours of deals, Target's shopping bonanza is 24 hours longer than Amazon Prime Day, the standard-bearer for summer deals.

The retailer is expected to have deep discounts on home décor, clothing, electronics, toys and pantry must-haves. The site will be filled with "pamper yourself magic," according to the company.

Unlike Amazon, a key benefit to shopping with Target is that there is no membership sign-up required. In addition, Target is teasing that there will be deep discounts on food and beverages for the first time this year.

Same-day delivery service is also available so that online shoppers can receive their purchases within just a few hours. Additionally, shoppers can utilize same-day in-store pickup or curbside pickup.

Christina Hennington, Target's executive vice president and chief growth officer, said, "Our industry-leading, safe and easy fulfillment options deliver same-day joy -- with no waiting or membership fee required.”

Similar to Prime Day, shoppers will need to keep an eye on the site for time-sensitive deals that are expected to be added each day of the sale.

If all of this "summer Black Friday" excitement isn't enough, Target will be offering digital gift cards to online shoppers with a 5% discount from June 16 to 19 for added savings.

Target Circle members will receive 1% on all purchases, or 5% with the Target RedCard, to use on a future Target purchase.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Senior citizens lost almost $1 billion in scams last year: FBI

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(WASHINGTON) -- Senior citizens lost almost $1 billion in scams in 2020, according to an FBI report released this week.

A total of 105,301 people over the age of 65 were scammed, with an average loss of $9,175, and almost 2,000 older Americans lost more than $100,000, the report said.

By far, the elderly were being extorted the most, with just over 23,000 victims, the FBI found. The highest number of fraud cases occurred in California, Florida and Texas.

“Each year, millions of elderly Americans fall victim to some type of financial fraud or internet scheme, such as romance scams, tech support fraud, and lottery or sweepstake scams. Criminals gain their targets’ trust or use tactics of intimidation and threats to take advantage of their victims,” said Calvin Shivers, assistant director of the FBI's criminal division. “Once successful, scammers are likely to keep a scheme going because of the prospect of significant financial gain.”

The FBI found that confidence fraud and romance scams netted over $281 million in losses.

"Romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and confidence," the FBI said. "Often, the scammer will utilize religion to garner trust with the victim. The scammer uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and/or steal from the victim. The criminals who carry out Romance scams are experts at what they do and will seem genuine, caring, and believable."

This week, the Justice Department recognized Elder Fraud Awareness Day.

“These matters underscore the importance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the continuing threat posed by all forms of elder abuse, including elder fraud schemes that bilk seniors of their life savings,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Michael D. Granston of the Justice Department's Civil Division.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Black farmers fight to keep their land, cultivate next generation

John Boyd Jr. is the founder of the National Black Farmers Association. - (ABC News)

(NEW YORK) -- John Boyd Jr., a fourth-generation farmer, grew up close to his 1,000-acre farm in southern Virginia where he now grows soybeans, wheat and livestock.

Boyd, of Baskerville, Virginia, is also the founder of the non-profit National Black Farmers Association, which educates and advocates for Black farmers’ civil rights, land retention and access to public and private loans, among other initiatives.

Boyd and his father farmed together for 30 years and his grandparents were sharecroppers after the abolition of slavery in 1865.

“I know there were slaves and sharecroppers that helped build these barns here,” Boyd told ABC News. “You can see the logs were hand-carved by wooden axes. … Just looking at that reminds me of history, where I came from and where we have to go in this country.”

As part of his work with the NBFA, Boyd has worked to attract more Black people who are interested in farming as well as to protect their rights and their land, even riding a mule-drawn wagon and driving a tractor to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress.

“The most powerful tool you can possess, only secondary to Jesus Christ, is land ownership,” he said.

To be a farmer in the U.S. is to be part of an aging but crucial industry. Black farmers, especially, have seen their numbers plummet from nearly 1 million at the turn of the 20th century to only about 50,000 today, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While the reasons are complex, they ultimately come down to economics, migration -- mainly to northern urban areas -- and discrimination and racism, according to the Duke Sanford World Food Policy Center.

Watch “Juneteenth: Together We Triumph — A Soul of a Nation Special Event" on FRIDAY at 9 p.m. ET and next day on Hulu.

In 2017, Black farmers were older than the overall population of U.S. farmers, according to the 2017 agricultural census, which said that their farms were smaller and the value of their agricultural sales were less than 1% of the U.S. total. Due to more complete data collection, the census found that the number of Black producers was 5% higher than in 2012, but the number of Black-operated farms dropped by 3%. In all, 57% of Black-operated farms had sales and government payments of less than $5,000 per year, according to the census, while 7% percent had sales and payments of $50,000 or more when compared with 25% of all farms.

A rich history of farming

Black people have a rich history in farming predating slavery. Leah Penniman, co-director of Soul Fire Farm in Petersburg, New York, said that the Mende and Wolof people of West Africa were expert rice farmers kidnapped from their homes and taken to the Carolinas.

“Our ancestral grandmothers had the courageous audacity to braid seeds into their hair,” Penniman told ABC News, adding that they were transported in slave ships with okra, cowpea, egusi melon, sorghum, millet and eggplant seeds.

Hundreds of years later, when enslaved people were given freedom, they were also promised no more than 40 acres of Confederate land along the Atlantic coast, a plan from the federal government that came to be known widely by the phrase “40 acres and a mule.”

The government’s promise was broken soon after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, when his successor, Andrew Johnson, overturned the order and the land was given back to its original owners.

“If ‘40 acres and a mule’ had been a promise kept, that [land] would be worth almost $7 trillion today,” Penniman said.

Many of the former slaves became sharecroppers, often renting land from their former owners.

“It didn’t just stop when we were freed,” said Boyd. “Where were we free to go? We didn’t have any money. We didn’t have any resources. So, many Blacks stayed on these farms like my forefathers. … That’s how Blacks got land in the first place.”

'It's about fairness'

Boyd said the challenge for Black farmers has been holding onto the land and believes the federal government has failed to adequately support farmers of color.

“The last plantation,” as he calls the USDA, is “the very agency that’s supposed to be lending me a hand up, [and it is] the very agency putting Black farmers out of business.”

Boyd said that even up until the 1980s, he would see the word “negro” on USDA applications and that at his area’s USDA office, the only day they would see Black farmers was on Wednesdays.

“We named it Black Wednesday,” he said.

The USDA said in a statement to ABC News that it did include the word "negro" on the application Boyd referenced until at least 1988 and that it used the terms "Black" or "African American" since then. It also said the "scenario" Boyd recalled with regard to Wednesdays "is a reprehensible one, but we have no information to support the claim."

"It is clear that for much of the history of the USDA, Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American and other minority farmers have faced discrimination -- sometimes overt and sometimes through deeply embedded rules and policies -- that have prevented them from achieving as much as their counterparts who do not face these documented acts of discrimination," the USDA said in its statement. "We are committed to building a different USDA, one that is committed to equality and justice, celebrates diversity and is inclusive of all customers."

Boyd said that since 1995, “a half-trillion dollars -- with a ‘T’ -- have been paid out to large-scale farmers in this country in the form of just subsidies” by the USDA.

"That doesn’t include farm ownership loans, farm equipment loans, any of those things, and little to none has went to Black farmers," he said.

In 1999, the USDA settled the class action lawsuit Pigford v. Glickman, and eventually paid more than $1 billion to Black farmers, who claimed they were unfairly denied loans and other government assistance.

“It’s about fairness,” Boyd said. “It’s about dignity and respect.”

Signs of turning tide

For Black farmers, the tide is showing signs of turning. In March, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act, a nearly $2 trillion law that directed $5 billion to farmers of color. Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, co-sponsored the bill, which is meant to provide additional relief to Americans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic both illuminated and exacerbated long-standing health disparities and economic disparities,” Warnock told ABC News.

Lestor Bonner, a Vietnam War veteran and fifth-generation farm owner, said that in 1893, his great-grandfather bought the farm that he now works on. He said there’s only 136 acres left and that he needs $20,000 to save it from foreclosure. The relief money, he said, could help jumpstart his business after a difficult year living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bonner said he thought he would have the money by now “so I could get a crop in the ground this year,” he told ABC News.

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the USDA had set up a loan forgiveness program that would have helped Bonner pay off his outstanding loans, as well as pay for supplies and equipment to continue farming. But this month, a federal judge in Wisconsin ordered the government agency to stop forgiving loans, saying the program unconstitutionally uses race as a factor in determining who is eligible.

Penniman says her organization’s mission is to help Black farmers hold onto their land, as well as to introduce young Black potential farmers to the occupation (the average age of Black farmers is over 60).

“We have between one and 2,000 folks who come through for these courses every single year at the farm to learn everything from taking care of the soil to planting a seed,” she said.

Penniman said that many important agricultural techniques, including many of the practices in organic farming, like raised beds, composting and cover-cropping “come out of an Afro-indigenous tradition.”

Boyd, for his part, said he’s “proud and excited to see young people” taking an interest in land ownership and farming.

“There’s a new generation of Black farmers. I love that win,” he said. “So, I welcome them to the fight and welcome them as farmers and stewards of the land and contributors to agriculture and the fruit base in this country. That’s what my fight is all about.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Latinas exited workforce at highest rate during pandemic: Report

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(NEW YORK) -- Latinas left the workforce at higher rates than any other demographic during the COVID-19 pandemic, with little sign of recuperating even as the country starts to reopen, according to a new report.

From March 2020 to March 2021, the number of Latinas in the workforce dropped by 2.74%, meaning 336,000 fewer Latinas were in the labor force, according to a report released Wednesday by the UCLA Latino Police and Politics Initiative, a Latino-focused think tank.

That's the biggest drop in size of any demographic group, which could have major ramifications in the economy's recovery amid labor shortages.

Adriana Rodriguez, 36, a widowed mother of six from Chicago, lost factory jobs twice in the pandemic. In April 2020, her factory let all workers go due to the pandemic shutdown. She found work at another location, but lost that job in August due to a high number of COVID-19 cases in the workplace.

Her role as mother and the closure of schools and day care ultimately stopped her from looking for another job.

"I'm a mother and I'm a widow, so I'm the head of the family. ... When they closed the schools, many women felt obligated to stay at home," Rodriguez told ABC News in an interview conducted in Spanish. "There was no day care, there wasn't anyone to take care of the kids. I also felt obligated to stay home, so I stopped looking for work because I have six kids here and it's very difficult."

Rodriguez is just one of many Latinas who lost their jobs and left the workforce in the pandemic.

Structural obstacles that contributed to the stark numbers included hyper-segregation in low-paying jobs vulnerable to pandemic shutdowns, a lack of access to education and training opportunities that would allow them to move away from low-wage labor jobs and lack of child care access, according to the report.

Before the pandemic, Latinas were projected to transform the U.S. labor force and grow in number by nearly 26% from 2019 to 2029 -- a rate higher than any other group, the report said.

Instead, the coronavirus crisis crippled Latinas. The group consistently outpaced the national average in unemployment rate, by 3.16 percentage points over the past year, according to UCLA's report.

At 19.5%, Latinas experienced the highest unemployment rate of any demographic in April 2020, when shutdowns commenced, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The rate for Latinas and Black women nearly doubled compared to white women by December 2020, per the report.

It's not just that Latinas were unemployed, they were exiting the workforce completely, meaning they did not actively look for work in four weeks. The need to take care of families and children played a major role in their decision to stop working.

A total of 337,000 Latinas dropped out of the labor force from August to September 2020, heading into the fall 2020 school semester, as many schools were still closed, according to the report.

Latinas, like Rodriguez, are "disproportionately responsible for family care obligations versus Latino men," making them more likely to stay at home than American mothers of other racial backgrounds, according to the report.

Further, the fact that Latinas were saturated in leisure and hospitality industries -- which bore the brunt of the pandemic closures early on -- contributed to their unemployment numbers. In the two months from March to May 2020, 43.5%, or close to 700,000 Latinas, in leisure and hospitality lost their jobs across the U.S., the report stated.

Today, there are few signs of a quick recovery in the Latina unemployment rate and many of those not working are young. Participation in the labor force for Latinas between the ages of 25 to 54 fell from 71% before the pandemic to just below 67% in May 2021, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Not only were Latinos crippled financially by the pandemic, they were also disproportionately affected by the virus itself. They were more than twice as likely to die from COVID-19 compared to whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sonja Diaz, the founding director of UCLA LPPI, said Latinas will need incentives such as an increased minimum wage, increased child care support, mandatory paid leave and training and education programs to allow Latinas to enter into high-wage employment.

"Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic really created a ripple effect of economic disruption in particular on communities by race, and then again, by gender," Diaz told ABC News. "The real story here is the fact that Latinas have left the labor market, which is akin to dropping out of college. It's really hard to get those individuals back in, and [have] a pathway towards social mobility and economic opportunity. This is harmful, not just for Latino families and communities, but the American economy at large."

She noted that these women are not just typically young, they're often the breadwinners of their house and outperform men in the number who have graduated college and hold business and professional occupations.

After seeing the damage of the COVID-19 pandemic, these women, who likely have households that require care whether it's for the elderly or children, will need benefits to return back to the workforce.

"The lack of benefits, like paid family sick leave, or health insurance that is generous, affordable and provides quality access to care, or paid time off. ... Absent those, it's hard to go back to a job that is not going to allow these women workers to thrive," Diaz said.

Latinas like Rodriguez couldn't agree more.

"It's very important for us as Latinos to be more capable, have better opportunities, have a higher salaries. We are a fundamental part of the economy in the U.S. and we are people who like to be working entrepreneurs," Rodriguez said. "If there was a salary raise and more sick days or days to be with our families, that would help us in very positive ways."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


What to know about Lina Khan, the youngest-ever chair of the Federal Trade Commission

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(WASHINGTON) -- Lina Khan made history earlier this week when she was sworn in as chair of the Federal Trade Commission and became the youngest person ever to hold the top role at the agency tasked with enforcing antitrust laws and protecting consumers.

While the 32-year-old Columbia Law School professor may not be a household name, she has developed a reputation in her field as a fierce critic of Big Tech's dominance. Now that she's transitioning from blasting tech or e-commerce firms in op-eds and in academic papers to overseeing potential regulations on the sector, many are speculating what her new role could mean for an industry largely left undisturbed by legislators as its size and influence exploded.

Khan called it a "tremendous honor" to be selected to lead the FTC in a statement, saying she's looking forward "to working with my colleagues to protect the public from corporate abuse."

She was nominated by President Joe Biden in March and sworn in on Tuesday, just hours after a 69-28 Senate confirmation. Her term lasts until Sept. 25, 2024.

"For the last decade, I have focused on studying and investigating markets across our economy and examining the laws that enable honest and fair competition," Khan said in prepared remarks for her nomination hearing before lawmakers last April.

She said she started her work as a journalist and policy analyst, documenting the state of competition across myriad industries and tasked with uncovering "abusive business practices that excessive market concentration can enable."

"I spent years studying markets ranging from chicken farming and airlines to aluminum and book publishing, and learning from entrepreneurs and small businesses about the obstacles that they face," Khan added. "This work taught me the importance of fair competition, and the critical role that the antitrust laws play in encouraging business dynamism and promoting widespread prosperity."

As a legal scholar, she said her focus has been on the history of America's antimonopoly laws. Her scholarship in this arena, such as her Yale Law Journal publication "Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox," has been widely cited. Her work has also been published in the Harvard Law Review, Columbia Law Review and University of Chicago Law Review.

More recently, Khan worked in government by serving as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. In this role she helped produce a scathing, 450-page report on the state of competition in the digital economy that was the result of a 16-month investigation by the subcommittee and included hearings with tech industry titans such as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

The report, which names Khan as a contributor, claimed that a handful of tech companies "that once were scrappy, underdog startups" have "become the kind of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons."

In her nomination hearing, Khan said that pursuing this investigation "underscored the important work that enforcers and lawmakers must do to ensure that longstanding laws are keeping pace with new technologies and reflecting current business realities."

Khan's ascension to lead the FTC largely was met with silence from the private sector but lauded by lawmakers and advocates.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said in a statement earlier this week that Khan's new position was "tremendous news" and an opportunity for change.

"Lina brings deep knowledge and expertise to this role and will be a fearless champion for consumers," the former Democratic presidential candidate said. "Giant tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon deserve the growing scrutiny they are facing, and consolidation is choking off competition across American industries."

With Khan's appointment, Warren added, "We have a huge opportunity to make big, structural change by reviving antitrust enforcement and fighting monopolies that threaten our economy, our society, and our democracy."

Big Tech's power has drawn ire from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said during Khan's nomination hearing in April that he looks forward to working with her.

"I think there’s a lot more the commission can do in terms of ensuring transparency from Big Tech, which right now is incredibly opaque," Cruz added at the time.

Alex Harman, of the nonprofit consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen, said that the "overwhelming bipartisan vote" for Khan "speaks both to her qualifications that made her the ideal nominee to serve on the FTC and the recognition by both parties that concentrated corporate power is a crisis that needs to be urgently addressed."

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Father's Day gifts nationwide being 'Made in America'

Leatherman co-founder Tim Leatherman. (ABC News)

(NEW YORK) -- Across the country, companies are using locally sourced, U.S.-based materials to make the perfect gift for dad this Father's Day.

Leatherman Tools in Portland, Oregon, makes multi-tools that can cut, slice and saw. Founded in 1983, co-founder Tim Leatherman still works on the factory floor and is determined to keep the jobs in his hometown.

"I became very proud that we were doing our manufacturing here in Portland, Oregon, and the thing I became most proud of was the jobs created," said Leatherman.

The company employs 550 workers and can make up to 10,000 tools a day.

Leah Preble has been on the factory line for 27 years. She said she's proud of her handiwork.

"I can definitely say [that I know] that when a tool leaves this building someone is going to have an amazing, amazing tool," said Preble.

In Kansas City, Missouri, restaurant Q39 is making and selling its famous barbecue sauce.

Owner and chef Rob Magee said his assortment of sauces are championship award-winning.

"My sauces are locally made here in Kansas City," said Magee. "I have zesty, honey, classic and assorted rubs that you put on your barbecue and you become a champion just like me."

In Rockford, Illinois, Estwing Manufacturing has been making hammers for five generations. They employ 280 workers and make up to five million tools a year.

President and COO Mark Youngren said that the company has stuck around because it's based in America.

"We use all American-made steel,'' said Youngren. "We're not going to go anywhere."

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Victoria's Secret rebrands featuring diverse, inclusive message for new generation

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(NEW YORK) -- Victoria's Secret is on the brink of a major revamp.

The retailer, best known for its lingerie offerings, popular catalog and extravagant annual fashion show, is rolling out a brand new transformation with the launch of The VS Collective, which features a diverse and inclusive group of some of the world's biggest names.

As the brand says farewell to its notorious "Angel" models, the new leading lineup of ambassadors features actress and entrepreneur Priyanka Chopra Jonas, transgender Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio, LGBTQIA+ activist and professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe and several others.

With this new platform, the brand plans to work to create new associate programs, evolutionary product collections, compelling and inspiring content, and rally support for causes vital to women.

"With The VS Collective, we are creating a platform that will build new, deeper relationships with all women," said Victoria's Secret Chief Marketing Officer Martha Pease in a statement.

She continued, "Through a series of collaborations, business partnerships and cause-related initiatives, we're bringing new dimensions to our brand experience. In marrying our new partners' energy, creativity and perspectives with our network and scale, we can transform how we connect with and show up for women."

Victoria's Secret has been criticized in the past for its image. Rapinoe, one of the brand's newest faces for The VS Collective, told The New York Times the company's message came off as "really harmful."

She also said it was "patriarchal, sexist, viewing not just what it meant to be sexy but what the clothes were trying to accomplish through a male lens and through what men desired. And it was very much marketed toward younger women."

In a new statement, Rapinoe said she's "humbled to join this group of incredible women to drive change within the Victoria's Secret brand and beyond."

She added, "So often I felt myself on the outside looking in with brands in the beauty and fashion industry, and I'm thrilled to be creating a space that sees the true spectrum of all women. I believe in the power of authenticity and community and am excited to show what can be done through The VS Collective."

Sampaio also shared how "honored and grateful" it is to be a part of The VS Collective.

"Being a trans woman often means facing closed doors to people's hearts," she said. "As a powerful global platform, Victoria's Secret is committed to opening these doors for trans women like me, by celebrating, uplifting and advocating for all women."

In addition to a more diverse collective of ambassadors, Victoria's Secret told ABC News' Good Morning America the company's storefronts will take a new direction and mannequins will be displayed with diverse body types.

This continued change has already worked in the company's favor as elevated growth was noticed at the top of year when the brand began featuring more curvier models such as Devyn Garcia, Candice Huffine and Precious Lee.

Rolling out the same time as The VS Collective, the brand has also created The Victoria's Secret Global Fund for Women's Cancers. This initiative will fund innovative research projects aimed at progressing treatments and cures for women's cancers and investing in the next generation of women scientists who represent the diverse population they serve.

The brand will join forces with leading designer and Breast Cancer Awareness champion Stella McCartney in October as a part of their ongoing commitment to tackling women's cancer.

"Breast cancer awareness has always been a cause very personal to me," McCartney said in a statement. "It is a global issue impacting the lives of millions of women and their families every year. I'm hopeful this initiative will provide easier access to information, support and services to a huge community of women around the world. I'm excited to play a small part during this pivotal moment on this vital issue."

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How to shop summer sales like a pro

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(NEW YORK) -- The countdown to the summer sales extravaganza, also known as "summer Black Friday," is underway.

As we gear up for the big event, there can be much to navigate due to the simultaneous sales from mega retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Target and Kohl's. With more than two million expected deals from Amazon Prime Day alone, it can become a challenge to make the most informed shopping decision without having a plan.

Below are a few tips to help get you started:

1. Make a list filled with items that you are hunting for at each retailer

Kristen Mcgrath, editor at RetailMeNot, told ABC News' Good Morning America that the first step in your shopping planning could be as simple as making a list. Your list should include your "must-haves" to keep you focused and the starting or typical baseline price point of each item.

2. Do your research

Once you have the list of the customary price for each item, do some research and make a conscious decision in terms of whether the listed sale price is a good deal or not. Be sure to utilize the filters on the websites to narrow your search.

3. Cashback extensions

Trying out browser extensions such as Ibotta, Dosh, Honey and other cashback apps is always a smart move when online shopping, as well.

Amazon Prime Day tips

Set up alerts

Amazon Prime Day Lightning Deals can sell out in minutes. Fortunately, if there is an item you have your heart set on, you can set up an alert for when the deal goes live.

In order to do this, you will need to download the Amazon app on your iPhone or Android, tap the menu button at the top left-hand corner and select Today's Deals. Tap the Upcoming tab and then tap "Watch this deal." You'll then be prompted to enable notifications, so you will be alerted when the deal is live.

If you add a coveted item to your cart ahead of Prime Day, you will be notified if there has been a drop in price once the sale adjustment has been applied.

According to Mcgrath, "Be sure to look for summertime items such as grills, pools and barbecue essentials. Items to avoid are gaming consoles which will have bigger price drops during the holidays."

Use coupons and shop small

Always check the product page for extra coupon savings. You must check the box in order for the coupon to be applied. In addition, Amazon is rewarding those who shop with its small business partners with a $10 voucher they can use to shop on Prime Day.

Trial and discounted Prime memberships

Gearing up for Prime Day, Amazon is offering a free 30-day trial prime membership with no commitments in case you are not ready to commit to the membership fee of $12 per month. Amazon also offers prime membership discounts for students, those on government assistance and free 5-8 business day shipping (some restrictions apply) on orders over $50.

Amazon Music will also be offering 3-6 months free followed by a $9.99/month recurring fee.

Amazon credit card

Traditionally, Amazon offers 5% for credit card purchases with its Amazon card. However, during the Prime Day event, you can earn an extra 1% on purchases (total 6%) if you use your store card along with a Prime membership.

Amazon extensions and apps

One helpful shopping assistant is Camel-Camel-Camel, which makes it easy to compare Amazon's prices over time. This allows you to strategize the timeline of your shopping purchases. Keepa, which finds the best deals every day on Amazon, can keep track of the biggest drops in prices as well.

Walmart Deals for Days tips

Walmart's Deals for Days starts a day earlier and ends a day later than the other simultaneous sale events. Its sale will include thousands of items discounted at Walmart.com and in store, including electronics up to 50% off. Get free shipping on orders of $35+.

Walmart Deals for Days starts Sunday, June 20 and runs through Wednesday, June 23.

Target Deal Days tips

Target Deal Days is starting with deals at Target.com. All deals are available for free two-day shipping (orders of $35+) and most are available for same-day drive-up and order pickup.

Target is also presenting a 5% discount on electronic gift cards prior to shopping for an added savings through June 19. If you combine the 5% discount for using the Target Store Red Card with the 5% discount on the digital gift cards, this will add up to an additional 10% savings on the already discounted Deal Days items.

Target Deal Days starts Sunday, June 20 and runs through Tuesday, June 22.

Kohl's Wow Deals tips

During the Wow Deals event, the deals will be different each day so be sure to return each day if you do not see your favorite items on the first day of the sale. You earn $10 Kohl's Cash for every $50 spent to be applied to a future purchase.

In addition to the huge savings for this event, Kohl's offers a 15% discount and Kohl's coupons when you sign up for Kohl's text and email lists. You can also receive a 25% off coupon every time you make an Amazon return at a Kohl's store. You may stack up to four Kohl's coupons per purchase.

The Wow Deals event starts Monday, June 21, and ends Tuesday, June 22.

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Rental car scams on the rise

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(NEW YORK) -- With more Americans planning to hit the road this summer, the number of travelers seeking to rent a car is bound to rise. But given the ongoing car shortage, the inventory available to customers is limited and scammers are now taking advantage of that fact.

The Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau have issued warnings about scammers posing as rental car companies, looking to cash in on the shortage.

ABC News Transportation Correspondent Gio Benitez appeared on Good Morning America Thursday to discuss what consumers need to know:

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Boardroom diversity is on the rise after racial reckoning hits private sector, study finds

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(NEW YORK) — One year after the murder of George Floyd spotlighted issues of systemic racism in the U.S., a new study found corporate America has made great leaps to increase diversity in boardrooms.

Of the 456 new independent directors added to the boardrooms of companies listed on the S&P 500 this past year, nearly three-quarters (72%) were either women or people of color, according to an analysis released Wednesday by Spencer Stuart, an executive recruiting and leadership consulting firm that has been collecting data on board diversity for over 30 years.

Broken down further, a record 47% of new independent directors were Black, Asian or Latinx -- compared to 22% the prior year and 14% a decade ago, the study found.

The data means major companies tripled the number of new directors who are Black (comprising 33% of new directors, compared to 11% last year) and doubled the number who are Latinx (making up 7% of new directors, compared to 3% last year).

"A third of the new independent directors are Black or African American and that's three times what it was last year," Julie Daum, the North American board practice leader for Spencer Stuart, told ABC News. "We've been collecting this data for a long time and we've never seen a jump like that."

New Asian representation in boardrooms fell slightly -- declining from 8% to 7%. The number of new female directors being added to boards dropped to 43% from 47% the previous year.

Despite the modest diversity gains over the past year, however, the data still indicates that corporate boardrooms remain largely white and male.

Daum said most companies tend to start looking for new directors in September, noting that Floyd's murder and last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests likely loomed large over that decision-making process.

"I think that a lot of boards and management teams were very thoughtful about the issue and recognized that perhaps their board wasn't as diverse as it should be, that it didn't represent their consumers, that it didn't represent their employee base, and that this was an issue that was very important to everybody," Daum said.

"When employees looked up in the company, they did not see anyone who looked like them and they were starting to speak out about it," she added.

Another aspect of this year's data that was different from years past is that "companies are disclosing the ethnicity of their directors," Daum said.

"In the past it was really hard for us to do this data collection because people didn't really report it," she said, adding that firms "are coming forward and saying either what percentage of their board is diverse, or going director-by-director and naming who's diverse."

There has been renewed pressure over the past year for companies to disclose their diversity statistics -- especially in boardrooms and at the upper levels of management.

Last December, Nasdaq proposed a requirement that all companies listed on its stock exchange publicly disclose the diversity statistics of board directors. Also late last year, California passed a law that requires publicly traded companies headquartered in the state to have at least one board member from an “underrepresented community.” Dozens of companies separately pledged to add a Black director to their boards through an initiative dubbed the "Board Challenge."

"There have been a lot of studies done about the importance of diversity and how diverse groups make better decisions," Daum said. She thinks this is a "big part of what people are thinking about" when recruiting new board members.

"They want their management team and they want their board to be a group of people who are qualified and really working hard to make good decisions," she said.

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GM to increase electric vehicle investment to $35B through 2025

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(DETROIT) -- General Motors has announced it will increase its investment into electric and autonomous vehicles to $35 billion through 2025.

"We are investing aggressively in a comprehensive and highly-integrated plan to make sure that GM leads in all aspects of the transformation to a more sustainable future," Mary Barra, GM chair and CEO, said in a press release.

Before the pandemic, GM announced an initial $20 billion investment in electric and autonomous vehicles.

GM said the investment will accelerate the company’s Ultium battery production in the United States, with plans to build two new manufacturing plants for the electric batteries by mid-decade.

"There is a strong and growing conviction among our employees, customers, dealers, suppliers, unions and investors, as well as policymakers, that electric vehicles and self-driving technology are the keys to a cleaner, safer world for all," Barra said.

The money will also go toward expanding the rollout of electric vehicles for customers. GM said last year it would deliver 30 new electric cars to the market by 2025.

"GM is targeting annual global EV sales of more than 1 million by 2025, and we are increasing our investment to scale faster because we see momentum building in the United States for electrification, along with customer demand for our product portfolio," Barra said.

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Royal Caribbean postpones sail after eight crew members test positive for COVID-19

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(NEW YORK) -- Royal Caribbean has postponed a sailing in July "out of an abundance of caution" after eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19.

The cruise line said that during routine testing eight workers on the Odyssey of the Seas received a positive test result. The workers had been vaccinated against the virus on June 4 but will not be considered fully vaccinated until June 18, Royal Caribbean said.

"The positive cases were identified after the vaccination was given and before they were fully effective," Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

The ship was set to depart from Florida on July 3, but it will now set sail at the end of the month following the positive cases.

"The eight crew members, six of whom are asymptomatic and two with mild symptoms, were quarantined and are being closely monitored by our medical team," Bayley said. "To protect the remaining crew and prevent any further cases, we will have all crew quarantined for 14 days and continue with our routine testing."

Royal Caribbean did not specify which vaccine the workers received.

The cruise line said guests of the postponed trip will be notified and given "several options to consider."

"This is the right decision for the health and well-being of our crew and guests," Bayley said.

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