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Today’s Numbers: The COVID Economy

Scott Tong Oct 20, 2020
Kira-Yan/Getty Images

As of 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, Oct. 20, 2020 (we’ll update every weekday morning).

“The leading economic indicator is … the virus.” More than one analyst has put it to us this way. As we try to understand and quantify this unprecedented global economic collapse — and now the attempted restart — we’re following key metrics for COVID-19 and the broader economy.

Welcome to Marketplace’s daily, at-a-glance update.

U.S.‌ ‌COVID-19‌ ‌deaths‌ ‌reported‌ ‌—‌ ‌yesterday:‌‌ 456 (rising)

U.S.‌ ‌COVID-19‌ ‌new‌ ‌cases‌ —‌ ‌yesterday: 57,148 (rising)

Daily‌ ‌new‌ ‌tests‌ ‌reported,‌ ‌U.S.:‌ 1.26 million (rising)

COVID-19 ‌patients‌ ‌now‌ ‌in‌ ‌hospital:‌‌ 37,744 (rising)

Housing starts (new home construction), September: +11.1% over last year

Retail same-store sales (Redbook index) last week: +2.5% over last year

Traffic volume, all U.S. roads, streets: -12.3% below last year

Traffic volume, August 2020 v. August 2019

Source: U.S. Dept. of Transportation

Keep in mind: The tally of COVID-19 cases represents only the ones that are documented.

Our main trusty sources: World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins University, Our World in Data (based on WHO data, Covid Tracking (scientist/journalist collaboration), GasBuddy.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

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.

Are people still waiting for unemployment payments?

Yes. There is no way to know exactly how many people have been waiting for months and are still not getting unemployment, because states do not have a good system in place for tracking that kind of data, according to Andrew Stettner of The Century Foundation. But by his own calculations, only about 60% of people who have applied for benefits are currently receiving them. That means there are millions still waiting. Read more here on what they are doing about it.

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

A report out Tuesday 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.

Read More


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