COVID-19

Pay no attention to Friday’s jobs numbers

Mitchell Hartman Apr 2, 2020
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Job listings are down in hospitality and travel during COVID-19. Above, a note of closure on the door of the Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 19. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Pay no attention to Friday’s jobs numbers

Mitchell Hartman Apr 2, 2020
Job listings are down in hospitality and travel during COVID-19. Above, a note of closure on the door of the Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 19. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
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Thursday morning saw another week’s worth of astronomical layoff numbers in the Labor Department’s report on first-time claims for unemployment benefits. The number is 6.6 million. There may have been 3.5 million of those claims last week. 

Friday, we’ll get the monthly jobs report for March. Usually, that’s a pretty good indication of how the economy’s doing. This time, it’s going to be outdated the minute it’s released.

The monthly jobs report is based on a survey of households and employers. But last month’s tsunami of furloughs and layoffs hit after the Bureau of Labor Statistics finished its research. So it won’t be reflected in this month’s report. 

William Rodgers, professor of public policy and chief economist at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, said he expected the unemployment rate to soon surpass the Great Recession high of 10%. 

“What is so chilling is that that took several years to get to,” Rodgers said. “We are potentially going to almost double that in one to two months.”

For a real-time snapshot of the labor market, Nick Bunker at Indeed.com is watching new job postings, which so far are down 15% from last year.

“Folks who lost their jobs aren’t going to be able to find many opportunities as there are just fewer new jobs available,” Bunker said, adding that postings are up in health care and down in fields including hospitality, travel and software development.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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