The U.S. economy shed 701,000 jobs in March, with the unemployment rate rising to 4.4 percent. Since these figures are from a reference week in the beginning of the month, they provide an indication of where we stood before pandemic began to severely affect the economy. Unfortunately, these job losses are just the tip of the iceberg.
Data on unemployment insurance claims over the last two weeks indicate that nearly 10 million workers have lost their jobs or been furloughed by employers. Most expect that shocking trend to continue. We won’t see how Covid-19 has affected the employment situation more broadly until we get data for April early next month.
These figures are spooky but not surprising. Unlike other nations that have subsidized payrolls, the U.S. is relying on the unemployment insurance program to keep workers afloat through this public health crisis and the subsequent shuttering of businesses. Job losses will undoubtedly continue. The open question is how quickly we can bring business back online once restrictions on economic activity have been lifted.
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