On Thursday the Bureau of Labor Statistics once again released shocking unemployment numbers. For the week ending April 4, an additional 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment. This brings the total number of newly unemployed Americans to 16.8 million in just three weeks, making the unemployment rate now 10%.
This amount of unemployment increase in less than a month has never been seen before in American history. Prior to this coronavirus pandemic, the record number of Americans who filed for unemployment in one week reached 695,000 in 1982. During the Great Recession of 2008, 15 million Americans were put out of work over an 18-month period. We have already exceeded that number in just 3 weeks.
“In its first month alone, the coronavirus crisis is poised to exceed any comparison to the Great Recession,” said Glassdoor Senior Economist Daniel Zhao according to Politico.
“We are nowhere near the end of this,” tweeted Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute. “The labor market has been upended.”
As the number of Americans who have been laid off due to the economic shutdown continues to skyrocket, a growing number of voices are clamoring for states to begin reopening their economies.
The Heritage Foundation has launched the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission which will examine the steps that need to be taken to restart the U.S. economy. The commission is made of up 18 leading economic experts and will weigh the current economic hardship along with how to spark an economic recovery.
In an op-ed for USA Today, Heritage President Kay Coles James argued that we must take a balanced approach towards combatting the virus, while weighing the economic costs. “A nation decimated by the disease cannot have a functioning economy, and a catastrophic loss of jobs wreaks horrific damage on both mental and physical health. Thus, the disease and the economic damage ravaging America are twin foes, and we must defeat them both,” Coles James wrote.
The outcry for considering the economic impact of the coronavirus response seems to have reached the White House. According to ABC News, the White House is preparing to launch a second coronavirus taskforce that will focus on opening the economy, with the hope of having most of the economy reopened by April 30. An announcement on the taskforce could come as early as today. The first taskforce focuses solely on mitigating the spread of the coronavirus and is led by Vice President Mike Pence.
It’s important to note that President Trump cannot singlehandedly reopen the economy, since state governors are responsible for issuing, and rescinding, stay-at-home orders in their states. President Trump could, however, recommend to state governors that they begin withdrawing their stay-at-home orders and start reopening their economies.
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