3 million more US layoffs intensify fears of lasting damage

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Nearly 3 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week as the viral outbreak forced more companies to slash jobs even though most states have begun to let some businesses reopen.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell this week stressed his belief that Congress should consider providing additional rescue money to avoid prolonging an economic catastrophe.

The Trump administration insists that as states reopen, more Americans will shop, dine out and resume other activities, thereby stimulating the economy. But early data suggests it is fear of contracting the virus, even more than shutdown orders, that may be impairing the economy. Without stronger public health measures, such as widespread testing or a vaccine, economists say such fear will depress growth even as more states reopen their economies.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits actually rose last week in Georgia, as well as in Florida, which has also started to reopen. In Florida, that increase likely reflects a troubled system that caused a belated processing of claims that had been filed earlier.A few other states that have lifted some restrictions, like South Carolina and Texas, reported declines in jobless claims.

Ozimek pointed to signs that business failures are rising. A study from the Becker-Friedman Institute found that 43% of small businesses have closed, at least temporarily. Other research has found that half of small businesses lack enough cash to survive longer than a month without revenue. About two-thirds of the states have reported data for April, with most showing worrisome declines. California’s tax revenue fell 65% compared with a year earlier. New Jersey’s dropped 59%, Pennsylvania’s 51%. Sales tax revenue has shrunk as consumer spending has tumbled. And income taxes have been diminished by the widespread job losses.

Kelly Kelso, a stage crew member in Nashville, filed for unemployment aid after her company, Live Nation, canceled all summer tours. She has no idea when touring will resume. She applied in late March but hasn’t received a single check. And she can’t get answers.Kelso’s partner is a self-employed musician who finally began receiving unemployment benefits after five weeks. But for the couple, who have a 5-year-old son, money is scarce. Their landlord is demanding rent.

Source: News Formal (newsformal.com)


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