The Coronavirus pandemic shaking the world economy has resulted in roughly 10 million newly unemployed Americans.
AP reports that, “Combined with last week’s report that 3.3 million people sought unemployment aid two weeks ago, the U.S. economy has now suffered nearly 10 million layoffs in just the past few weeks — far exceeding the figure for any corresponding period on record.”
If that wasn’t bad enough news, “Further signs of a surging wave of layoffs are likely in the coming weeks…. The magnitude of the layoffs has led many economists to envision as many as 20 million lost jobs by the end of April.”
Compared to previous downturns, this “would be more than double the 8.7 million jobs lost during the Great Recession. The unemployment rate could spike to as high as 15% this month, above the previous record of 10.8% set during a deep recession in 1982.”
Goldman Sachs estimates that GDP could contract by 34% in the second quarter, resulting in a total “6.2% decline in GDP, which also would be worse than anything the nation has seen going back to the Great Depression.”
The pain is not felt all across the board, however. Small local businesses, such as local coffee shops and bars, are hard-hit, but grocery stores and bulk supply stores are experiencing record sales. Hospitality, travel, and retail have been decimated, and most of the unemployed workers work in restaurants, shopping malls, bars and clubs, which form a huge segment of the workforce.
White collar and government workers, on the other hand, may have seen their 401(k) balances decline, but their jobs are not as much at risk, thanks to the broad availability of remote work tools, such as Internet conferencing and mobile smartphones. Big companies and the government are more immune to crises such as the Coronavirus.
Now, more than ever, it is important for those losing their jobs to make sure they have skills that are essential through a prolonged economic recession. Restaurants and bars are fun and can yield great tips when times are good, but as soon as the tide turns, they are the first places to shed jobs. One option for recently unemployed restaurant workers is delivery driving. Amazon, InstantCart, and Uber Eats are more in demand than ever—but their jobs are also riskier than ever.
Likewise, people will always need plumbers and electricians. They will need police officers and fire fighters. They will need healthcare workers, truckers, and grocery store stockers. Not all of these jobs pay well, but with overtime they can give you enough money to survive through this recession.
Unfortunately, one big downside to a blue collar job during these times is that you will put yourself and your family at risk of catching the Coronavirus, even though that risk remains very low overall. On the bright side, with the roads emptier than usual, you are less likely to get in a car accident.