WASHINGTON, D.C. – Another week of coronavirus shutdowns means another week of job losses. The flood of unemployment claims continues, with another 5.25 million jobless claims registered last week. That brings the total to nearly 22 million, or about 10 percent of the U.S. workforce.
From Fox Business:
“[…] That brings total claims over the four weeks ended April 11 to nearly 22 million workers, erasing the entirety of labor market gains since the 2008 financial crisis, a stunning sign of the colossal economic damage inflicted by the virus outbreak. Before the pandemic, the largest number of Americans to seek jobless aid in a four-week stretch was 2.7 million in the fall of 1982.
With a labor force that totals about 162 million people, that brings the unemployment rate close to 13 percent. […]”
All net new jobs generated over the last 12 years; gone. Well, this record setting plunge in the labor market should be temporary, but exactly how long will the economy-killing policies linger is the million dollar question. With elected officials hesitant to jump the gun, shutdown policies or major restrictions could remain in place for quite some time. The Commonwealth of Virginia has already shutdown their state through June 10; it’s April 16 and we’ve already 22 million people losing their jobs.
The duration of the policies will be critical, as so many enterprises and entrepreneurs simply cannot hang on through a protracted shutdown. After all, this isn’t just a softening in demand. This is a complete, or near complete stop to revenues for many business owners, large and small. Opening back up too late means many of those businesses will not be around to hire back those employees, compounding the crisis further.
An owner of several North Carolina bars, Zack Medford, spoke to Fox Business about how damaging the shutdown truly is, and how even the efforts to ease the pain create their own uncertainties about the future.
North Carolina has already shelled out $100 million for jobless claims, and that number will rise significantly as they work through the backlog of claims applications. In light of protests and increasing calls to reopen the state, Governor Roy Cooper has, at least, entertained the notion, suggesting an incremental approach. That sounds reasonable enough, provided the first increments are initiated NOW, so as to give foundering business owners and jobless workers a fighting chance.