National unemployment numbers break records, North Carolina's continue to soar

  • In Business
  • 2020-03-26 15:28:14Z
  • By Charlotte Observer
National unemployment numbers break records, North Carolina\
National unemployment numbers break records, North Carolina\'s continue to soar  

The number of nationwide job losses announced Thursday - far eclipsing even the worst period of the Great Recession - shows the widespread economic impact coronavirus is having on the country.

More than 3 million people lost their jobs in the week between March 14-21. Even during the height of the Great Recession in 2009, job losses rarely exceeded 500,000 in a single week. They never once approached 1 million in a week, let alone the 3.3 million reported Thursday.

And the historic numbers are likely to continue rising, particularly as business closures and "stay at home" orders continue to be announced, as officials try to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In North Carolina, the number of new jobless claims only started ramping up toward the end of the period reported Thursday. The higher losses over the past few days have not yet been reflected in the federal data.

Between Monday March 16 and today, North Carolina has had 200,000 new unemployment claims - a year's worth of job losses, condensed into the span of a week and a half. Between Wednesday and Thursday alone, about 34,000 new claims were filed.

The reaction to the historic unemployment levels varied across the political spectrum.

Steve Mnuchin, who is Republican President Donald Trump's Treasury Secretary, went on CNBC Thursday morning and called the millions of lost jobs "not relevant."

Congress is working on a stimulus package, and Mnuchin said he thinks it will help businesses eventually re-open and re-hire their former workers. The stimulus plan also contains provisions that, if passed, would increase unemployment benefits and also give $1,200 in cash to many Americans, regardless of their employment status. He said Trump supports the plan and hopes it passes soon. The Senate has approved the package; a House vote is expected Friday.

"We're determined to get money in people's pockets immediately," Mnuchin said.

But Heidi Shierholz, the former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor under Democratic President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter that the 3.3 million lost jobs announced Thursday "is just the tip of the iceberg."

She said she expects job losses to rise to 14 million by this summer.

"I have been a labor economist for a very long time and have never seen anything like this," Shierhold wrote.

Of the 200,000 new claims in North Carolina, close to half have come just in the past few days.

The initial rise in claims began after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper ordered bars and restaurants to close, except for takeout and delivery, last week. The newer bump in claims came after Cooper ordered additional businesses like gyms, movie theaters and salons to shut down, which has also coincided with "stay-at-home" orders issued in many of the state's biggest metro areas.

North Carolina's real-time unemployment numbers were given to The News & Observer by state officials.

They haven't been reported by the federal government yet, and the Trump administration recently asked states to keep their unemployment numbers secret as long as possible. But experts questioned the wisdom of that, and North Carolina officials have continued making the information public.

"In my opinion, the numbers are important to follow because they give us one of the clearest measures of the economic impact of the virus," N.C. State University economist Michael Walden told the N&O last week. "They are also important for policymakers as they have ongoing deliberations about the level and type of federal help needed in the economy."


More Related News

'Narrow' DOL guidance on coronavirus benefits for gig workers prompts protest

The DOL guidance implements the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which was created in last month's blizzard of emergency coronavirus legislation.

Coronavirus muddies U.S. economic data as business closures push down response rates
Coronavirus muddies U.S. economic data as business closures push down response rates
  • US
  • 2020-04-06 19:49:47Z

A near total closure of U.S. businesses as authorities try to control the spread of the novel coronavirus could make U.S. economic data unreliable in the coming months and harder to get a clearer picture of the severity of the recession caused by the virus. Government agencies such as the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Commerce Department's Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) compile data, including the closely watched employment report, by collecting information from businesses and households through in-person and telephone interviews. Investors, policymakers and businesses rely on economic data to make critical decisions.

Coronavirus reveals, exacerbates US inequality
Coronavirus reveals, exacerbates US inequality

Just three weeks ago, Miguel Rodriguez was enjoying a pleasant life, working as a waiter in a Maryland restaurant in a job he held for 20 years. The American economy was going strong and he had a comfortable living situation. Everything changed overnight when La Ferme, a French restaurant in the upscale Chevy Chase suburb of Washington, was forced to close amid statewide shutdowns to try to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

10 Things You Must Know About Filing for Unemployment Benefits
10 Things You Must Know About Filing for Unemployment Benefits

A record 6.6 million workers filed for their first week of unemployment benefits in the week ending March 28, and millions more are expected to follow by this summer as COVID-19 pandemic devastates the economy.For many laid-off workers, this may be their first time dealing with the unemployment-benefits system, a joint state and federal program that provides those out of work with temporary yet steady cash payments to help them financially while finding a new job.The good news: Legislation passed by Congress significantly increases payments and the length of time that they're available, and extends eligibility to the self-employed - so many gig workers and contractors will now be able to...

How the coronavirus job cuts played out by sector and demographics
How the coronavirus job cuts played out by sector and demographics

In all, 701,000 jobs were reported lost last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, but even that massive number - the largest since the financial crisis 11 years ago - did not capture the true depth of the losses because the monthly survey was conducted too early in March. By contrast, unemployment for those in the 25-to-34-year-old age bracket rose by just 0.4 percentage point to 4.1%.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Business