The numbers are staggering: 6.6 million Americans were unemployed for the week ending March 28. This is twice as much as the 3.3 million recorded the previous week, and twice as much as expected, according to figures released Thursday April 2 by the labor department. In the midst of a health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the American economy fell like a stone. And the degradation is widespread. "Ten million more unemployed in two weeks is 20 times the normal rate, and that figure is understated. In comparison, 9 million jobs were lost during the Great Recession ”comments Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner in economics, on Twitter.
New York State, which had held up well with 80,000 registrations the previous week, is this time in turmoil, with 366,000 new registrations. The situation is catastrophic in California, where requests have quadrupled in one week (879,000 against 186,000). Pennsylvania, a deindustrialized state, remains on an appalling slope, with 406,000 job seekers.
Very dark climate
Many companies hoped to "hold on" during the epidemic by keeping their employees or paying for their health insurance during the month of April. These short crisis predictions are clearly being revised. Added to this is the creation of a federal unemployment compensation of $ 600 a week, also open to the self-employed or "uberized". This innovation may have increased the number of job seekers.
Still, the climate is very dark. According to Wall Street Journal, Boeing, which had previously refused to make a layoff plan, is preparing to offer early retirement packages. The job losses are expected to continue, as states announce, one after the other, increasingly tight containment measures.
Companies will be able to apply for loans from the administration through the economy support plan for a total of $ 350 billion on Friday. These loans will be non-repayable if businesses use the funds to maintain employment and pay for basic subscriptions (rent, telephone, etc.). Bureaucratic procedures worry business owners and banks responsible for administering loans.
New set of measures
The United States has completely abandoned the idea, raised by President Donald Trump, of a country free from the virus for Easter in mid-April. Congress is considering a new package of support for the economy, after the $ 2 trillion (about one-fifth of annual wealth) voted in late March. The idea of major infrastructure works resurfaces, but the subject is complicated: the time is no longer in the 1930s and 1950s when bridges, dams and highways were built with labor camps. And this prospect is further complicated by the epidemic that has prevented safe gatherings of workers on construction sites.
The stock market, which was preparing to open higher on Thursday, has turned around. The Dow Jones Index opened lower, but was directionless in the early morning, down 0.2%.
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