Dear Commons Community,
The recession is here as 3.28 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, sending a shock throughout the economy that is unlike anything Americans have experienced in recent history.
The alarming numbers, in a report released by the Labor Department yesterday, provide some of the first hard data on the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down whole swaths of American life faster than government statistics can keep track. As reported in the New York Times:
“Just three weeks ago, barely 200,000 people applied for jobless benefits, a historically low number. In the half-century that the government has tracked applications, the worst week ever, with 695,000 so-called initial claims, had been in 1982. As reported in the New York Times:
Yesterday’s figure of nearly 3.3 million set a grim record. “A large part of the economy just collapsed,” said Ben Herzon, executive director of IHS Markit, a business data and analytics firm.
The numbers provided only the first hint of the economic cataclysm in progress. Even comparatively optimistic forecasters expect millions more lost jobs, and with them foreclosures, evictions and bankruptcies. Thousands of businesses have closed in response to the pandemic, and many will never reopen. Some economists say the decline in gross domestic product this year could rival the worst years of the Great Depression.
And there was fresh evidence on Thursday of the relentless course of the virus itself. Cases in the United States now exceed 80,000, the most of any nation, even China and Italy, according to a New York Times database, and more than 1,000 deaths across the country have been linked to the virus.
At least 160 million people nationwide have been ordered to stay home. Many hospitals are overwhelmed, while essential protective gear is in short supply. “We are the new global epicenter of the disease,” said Dr. Sara Keller, an infectious-disease specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Now all we can do is to slow the transmission as much as possible.”
And pray but only in our homes not in our churches, synagogues, temples or mosques.