Unemployment rates around the country have skyrocketed due to the COVID-19 virus, after the measures adopted by a majority of state governments to help stymie the spread of the virus has created a whole new set of problems for Americans not deemed essential enough to continue working. With the inevitable economic downturn we’ve seen, the need for the new aid bill recently passed by the Senate is high, with some counting down the days until they get their check in the mail.
With food service and retail workers being hit the hardest, a record breaking 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits just over the past two weeks, according to new information from the U.S. Department of Labor. Although some economists may point out the increased demand for workers in sanitation or online delivery fields, these comforting thoughts tend to not acknowledge the difficulties obtaining unemployment benefits presents, and do little to comfort Americans who may have disabilities, or families at home in need of supervision now as well.
Local businesses and part-time workers are seeing unexpected layoffs and shutdowns with few alternatives to support themselves financially, especially with shelter in place orders that are being adopted throughout most states.
With the ever-increasing precautionary measures being taken against the virus, the country is facing economic ruin, according to some headlines. The thought of another recession is a constant stressor, although current unemployment rates are thankfully only about ⅓ of that of the 2008 crisis.
According to CNBC’s coverage of Governor Newsom, California saw 1 million unemployment applications in the span of only 2 weeks following the shelter in place order from the Governor, with no specific ending date. With more filings expected as the pandemic plays out, the uncertainty in the air is hard to escape, especially without any solid timelines from any government body so far.
While some speculate that President Trump’s optimistic goal of having a more stable economy and our normal daily lives back by Easter Sunday is plausible, the majority of economists and even some of his own staff tend to disagree with the statement from his daily updates on the pandemic. The more realistic of goals leans towards a timeline where the vaccine currently being worked on is successfully created and deployed to all areas of the country, as that’s the most likely way for this pandemic to see its end. Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci pointed out to the House Oversight Committee that even with the progress being made on a cure as of now, “that does not mean we have a vaccine that we can use…It’s going to take a year to a year and a half to really know if it works.”
There aren’t many ways to look at the bright side in the situation we find ourselves in, but as we’re faced with the uncertainty of the weeks and days to follow, it’s important to remember that no one should risk their safety violating shelter in place or social distancing regulations just for the Dow to go up marginally. Now with the highest number of Coronavirus cases in the world, the United States is facing a myriad of obstacles in its efforts to get a handle on something none of us were prepared for.
Eian Gil can be reached at [email protected]