May 21, 2020

2.4 Million Claimed U.S. Unemployment Last Week

[New York Times]

Here’s what you need to know:

Even as restrictions on businesses began lifting across the United States, another 2.4 million workers filed for jobless benefits last week, the government reported Thursday, bringing the total of new claims to more than 38 million in nine weeks.

“The hemorrhaging has continued,” Torsten Slok, chief economist for Deutsche Bank Securities, said of the mounting job losses. He expects the official jobless rate for May to approach 20 percent, up from the 14.7 percent reported by the Labor Department for April.

A recent household survey from the Census Bureau suggests that the pain is widespread: 47 percent of adults said they or a member of their household had lost employment income since mid-March. Nearly 40 percent expected the loss to continue over the next four weeks.

And there is increasing concern that many jobs are not coming back, even for those who consider themselves laid off temporarily.

Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University economist who is a co-author of an analysis of the pandemic’s effects on the labor market, estimates that 42 percent of recent layoffs will result in permanent job losses. “I hate to say it, but this is going to take longer and look grimmer than we thought,” he said of the path to recovery.WAVE OF LAYOFFSWorkers looking to be rehired face “a very long haul.

A group waits in line to receive food at a donation site in Brooklyn last week.Credit…Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

John C. Williams, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said that the economy’s future is uncertain as the pandemic puts “a large question mark” over how industries will fare.

“The cause of this recession — a global pandemic — means that our economic future will be determined in large part by the path of the virus,” Mr. Williams said at an event held by several upstate New York business groups. “It’s impossible to know exactly how and when workers and businesses will be fully back to work and when consumers will return to the businesses that are open.”

Speaking shortly after a government report showed that more than 2.4 million people newly filed for unemployment insurance benefits last week, Mr. Williams said the unemployment rate was likely to head higher than its double-digit reading in April.

“The unemployment rate now stands at a staggering 14.7 percent — a figure I hoped that I would never see in my lifetime, and one that is sure to get worse before it gets better,” Mr. Williams said. “It’s likely that the latest numbers do not reveal the full extent of the financial devastation faced by millions of American families.”

Mr. Williams outlined the far-reaching measures the Fed has taken to try to blunt the economic fallout, from cutting interest rates to near-zero to buying massive quantities of bonds to keep markets calm.

“These are extraordinary times, and the Fed is taking extraordinary actions to ease the economic pain,” he said.

The Atlantic will lay off 68 workers across “events, sales, and editorial,” said David G. Bradley, the chairman of Atlantic Media, in a staff email on Thursday, as the publication struggles with the same forces — mostly a drop in digital advertising — that have affected tens of thousands of jobs in news media during the coronavirus crisis even as it has experienced a sharp rise in subscribers.

Those laid off represent 17 percent of the total staff, The Atlantic said in a statement. Executives will have their pay cut, and there will be general pay freezes.

A long-term strategic pivot to a business model that relies predominantly on reader revenue, Mr. Bradley said, “is accelerated — and made necessary — by the overnight and near-complete undoing of in-personevents and, for now, a bracing decline in advertising.”

The Atlantic instituted an online paywall last year, and has since added 160,000 new subscribers, Mr. Bradley said. More than 90,000 of those have been added since March. The magazine, which is 163 years old and was once edited by Ralph Waldo Emerson, has drawn widespread praise for its coverage of the pandemic.

Three years ago, Mr. Bradley sold a majority stake in Atlantic Media to Emerson Collective, the organization founded by the billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs.

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