Afternoon Coffee: New unemployment claims taper, but still high; AppZen to host finance web summit; Starbucks to help Washington in vaccine distribution

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The US Labor Department reported Thursday that first-time unemployment claims fell slightly last week to 900,000, a still historically high number that points to economic problems in a raging COVID-19 pandemic world, according to the Associated Press. Last week's figure was 965,000 claims.

Meanwhile, the government said 5.1 million Americans are still receiving state jobless benefits. The numbers suggest that while some of the unemployed are finding jobs, others are likely using up their state benefits to transition to extended-benefits programs. The article said that the economy has faltered this winter as virus cases spike, cold weather restricts going outside and federal rescue aid expired.

“Unemployment claims continue to show a job market unable to progress further as long as COVID-19 remains in the driver’s seat,” Daniel Zhao, a senior economist, told the Associated Press. “While the vaccine offers a light at the end of the tunnel, we’re still far away from a complete reopening of the economy that could drive rehiring and stem further layoffs.”

AppZen set to host virtual finance summit focusing on digital transformation

AppZen, an AI-based pre-payment spend auditing platform, is set to host its Mastermind 2021 event for finance professionals seeking information about digital transformation especially with new technologies like AI and how organizations are successfully using them.

The two-day virtual summit will attempt to answer questions about how digital transformation can provide modern finance teams with increased agility, insights and capabilities for both good and uncertain times. Keynote speakers — like John Thompson, Microsoft's Chairman of the Board; Marie Myers, Chief Transformation Officer at HP; and Ozan Varol, a rocket scientist — will share stories about innovators leveraging AI.

Other events will include breakout sessions, workshops, customer panels, fireside chats and networking lounges for attendees to hear firsthand from their peers about the trials and tribulations of digitally transforming finance. Anyone with roles in finance, especially those in areas like Chief Finance Officer, controller, audit and compliance, or finance operations are welcome to attend.

The virtual summit will be held Feb. 9-11, depending on your location. Those interested can visit this link to learn more or register.

Starbucks partners with Washington state to distribute vaccines

Washington state will soon have helpful supply chain insight into its vaccine distribution from an unlikely resource: Starbucks, according to Restaurant Dive.

The effort, called Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center, aims to have the state get 45,000 Washingtonians vaccinated a day. Various private companies have joined the effort to help fund and provide insight into vaccine distribution.

The public-private partnership will ask Starbucks to provide expertise on operational efficiency, scalable modeling and human-centered design expertise and support, the article said. Starbucks has focused on creating a better supply chain for over a decade, and it might be the first restaurant chain to participate in a public-private partnership related to vaccines.

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