Roundup: New gig worker rules / Mortgage rates / Southern University testing 

    Who counts as an employee? The Trump administration made it easier for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors, a victory for gig-economy companies such as food-delivery and ride-sharing services and a counter to a California law that did the opposite, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Labor Department in a final rule released Wednesday would make it more difficult for a gig worker, such as an Uber or DoorDash driver, to be counted as an employee under federal law. That means those workers wouldn’t be covered by federal minimum-wage and overtime laws, and they could be responsible for paying the employer portion of Social Security taxes. Read the full story. 

    Another record: The 30-year fixed mortgage rate, the most popular loan product, sank to its lowest level on record this week, marking the 17th historic low it has hit in less than a year. But rates may have hit bottom as many experts predict them to rise in the coming year, The Washington Post reports According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average sank to 2.65%. It was 2.67% a week ago and 3.64% a year ago. Read the full story. 

    Virus clearance: With COVID-19 cases on the rise in the state and college students returning to class in the coming weeks, Southern University has a new requirement for students living on campus: They must get tested before returning, WBRZ-TV reports. Students who live on campus have a window of when they can submit their tests. The window begins today and runs through Jan. 12, which is one week from when they can return to their housing.