COVID Breaks More Records

COVID Breaks More Records

( – On Monday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the March jobs report and the numbers are frighteningly bad. Just a month ago, America had record employment, a large number of jobs that couldn’t be filled, and solid wage growth rates. It was one of the strongest economies in history. Now, we’re talking about the slaughter of the American workforce.

For 113 straight months, the economy has been adding jobs. Now, 701,000 jobs were lost in just a few weeks of March and the unemployment rate ticked up from 3.5% to 4.4%. This is also the largest monthly unemployment rate increase since January 1975.

That’s far and above the 100,000 job decline that many economists were predicting. Friday’s numbers are also the second-largest loss in jobs since 2009. At the height of the Great Recession, 800,000 jobs were lost.

The BLS said the biggest declines came in food services and drinking places, health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction.

What Do the Numbers Mean?

Over the last few weeks, 10 million people have filed unemployment claims. This indicates that today’s job report is going to be a drop in the bucket compared to what is coming in the April report. The Labor Department said in its Economic News Release that:

“It is important to keep in mind that the March survey reference periods for both surveys predated many coronavirus-related business and school closures in the second half of the month.”

This report represents just a fraction of the joblessness across America, and this might be the best it’s going to get for a while. But, as entire industries are shut down, people stay home, and businesses with thin profit margins close for good, it can’t get much better. Some Wall Street analysts are predicting a 30% decline in the gross domestic product (GDP) and unemployment numbers as high as 35%.

Will It Get Worse Before It Gets Better?

Recently, several respected entities have suggested things are going to get worse and could stay that way for a significant period of time. Goldman Sachs Group recently said the jobless rate could reach 15% by the middle of this year. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said it could reach as high as 30% this quarter.

The stock market was over 29,000 points just a month ago. As of 11:00 a.m. on Friday, it was just over 21,000 points. Oil was hovering around $50 per barrel six weeks ago, while today it’s up to nearly $27 a barrel from $20 lows just a few days ago.

President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have both said they expect the economy to pick back up to pre-COVID-19 levels when the crisis is over. Until then, only time will tell how much damage the US economy will experience. How well, or quickly, it recovers is an open question for everyone.

This crisis will change us all and things will never be the same afterward, but we can still work together to build a better, brighter, and more hopeful tomorrow.

By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor

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