Record 10M Americans lose their jobs in just two weeks as coronavirus rips apart US economy
More than 6.6 million people file claims for unemployment checks last week, double the number than the week before
The coronavirus pandemic has not just put the healthcare system in the US under severe pressure, but also the country's economy.
At a time when the Donald Trump administration has passed a massive stimulus to protect the economy from a complete collapse, a record 10 million people in the country lost their jobs in the past two weeks because of the shutdown owing to the coronavirus crisis.
A report released by the Labor Department on April 2 confirmed the news as states struggled to cope with the soaring demand for unemployment benefits with many of their labor department websites crashing. Last week alone, more than 6.6 million people filed claims for unemployment checks, according to the Labor Department, and it was just double of the previous record of 3.3 million that was registered only a week ago.
The unemployment scenario plummeted from a record low of 3.5 percent in February and it is predicted to jump to 15 percent by the end of April.
"States continued to identify increases related to the services industries broadly, again led by accommodation and food services," the Labor Department said. "However, state comments indicated a wider impact across industries."
Trump called the situation “horrible”. The President tried to lift the lockdown by Easter (April 12) so that the economy did not collapse further but had to backtrack under advice from his aides since reopening the economy meant more lives would be put at risk. The US has seen the most number of positive coronavirus cases so far (245,000+) with over 6,000 deaths.
“I know what they’re going through. It’s horrible,” Trump said. “When this is over, it’s going to be a day to celebrate, because everyone’s going to go to work.”
Trump faces trouble in battleground states
America has seen nearly 90 percent of its people under stay-at-home orders with more than half of all households having lost their income since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.
For Trump, the advantage has become his biggest challenge overnight. His campaign banked on the country’s economic well-being in the run-up to the November elections. But now, the game-changing pandemic has made it into a tough question to answer. The worst part is that the states that have been hit the most are battleground ones like Pennsylvania and Michigan that Trump had won narrowly in 2016.
The administration passed a massive package worth $2.2 trillion to ease the hardship. But it also depends on how quickly the economic relief reaches the people. On April 2, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin promised that direct payments of up to $1,200 per person will be issued in the next two weeks calling it “a very large priority”. The package will fund weekly jobless benefits that are $600 higher than the typical unemployment check in a state.
The crisis is unprecedented since the 2008 recession and the predictions are gloomy. Oxford Economics has projected that about 20 million people will lose jobs in the coming weeks, while according to Goldman Sachs, the economy could shrink at a record 34 percent annual rate in the next quarter.