COVID-19

More and more people are being laid off. How far might unemployment go?

Marielle Segarra Mar 18, 2020
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Scott Barbour/Getty Images
COVID-19

More and more people are being laid off. How far might unemployment go?

Marielle Segarra Mar 18, 2020
Scott Barbour/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

We’re starting to hear about people getting laid off from jobs at movie theaters, restaurants, bars, stores and other businesses as people stay home because of the threat of COVID-19.

We’ll get a glimpse of where things may be headed Thursday when the weekly unemployment claims data is next reported.

Up until three days ago, Dennis Mendoza worked in sales at a small family-owned store in Florida, Tampa Bay Ponds and Rocks. Business was good until people stopped coming because of COVID-19. 

“Business had gotten so slow and I was the last one hired, so the first one let go,” Mendoza said.

He just filed for unemployment but doesn’t currently get any government assistance and he and his fiancée don’t have a financial cushion.

“I mean, I have, like, $100 in my bank account, and that’s about it,” Mendoza said. “I’ve been trying to apply for new jobs, but nobody’s hiring right now with everything going on.” 

We don’t know exactly how high unemployment might go in this situation. During the Great Recession, it hit 10%.

Erica Groshen, a labor economist at Cornell, explained what that means: “At 10% unemployment, everybody knows somebody who has lost a job or who has finished school recently and is not able to find a job,” Groshen said.

At that level of unemployment, it takes longer for the economy to bounce back. 

“Because there are going to be people out of work, they’re going to have depressed incomes and they’re going to be much more frugal with whatever spending they’re able to do,” said Seth Carpenter, chief U.S. economist at UBS.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the latest on the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

As of now, those $600-a-week payments will stop at the end of July. For many, unemployment payments have been a lifeline, but one that is about to end, if nothing changes. The debate over whether or not to extend these benefits continues among lawmakers.

With a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, are restaurants and bars shutting back down?

The latest jobs report shows that 4.8 million Americans went back to work in June. More than 30% of those job gains were from bars and restaurants. But those industries are in trouble again. For example, because of the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, increased restrictions on restaurant capacities and closed bars. It’s created a logistical nightmare.

Which businesses got Paycheck Protection Program loans?

The numbers are in — well, at least in part. The federal government has released the names of companies that received loans of $150,000 or more through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Some of the companies people are surprised got loans include Kanye West’s fashion line, Yeezy, TGI Fridays and P.F. Chang’s. The companies you might not recognize, particularly some smaller businesses, were able to hire back staff or partially reopen thanks to the loans.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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