Coronavirus Live Updates: Job Losses in the U.S. Soar
More than 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. Federal stockpiles of medical supplies are running low as the death toll rises and global infections approach one million.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she was creating a bipartisan House select committee on coronavirus to oversee both the implementation of the $2 trillion economic stabilization package and the overall pandemic response.
In just two weeks, 10 million jobs have vanished, shaking the foundations of the global economy.
When the first cases of the coronavirus were reported in the United States just over a month ago, President Trump mostly dismissed the looming threat, Wall Street chugged ever upward and people set about their business with scant recognition of the calamity that lay ahead.
On Thursday, the stunning scope of the economic disaster became clearer as the Labor Department reported the loss of 10 million jobs in just two weeks. Wall Street has seemingly imploded and the global economy has shuddered as the fallout of the pandemic reaches into every country on earth.
Hopes for a violent but brief downturn followed by a quick recovery have faded, and in their place are fears that the world may be on the cusp of an economic shock unseen since the Great Depression.
The speed and scale of the job losses is without precedent. Until last month, the worst week for unemployment filings was 695,000 in 1982.
The surge in jobless claims undercut a stock market rally on Thursday. Stocks in Europe and futures on the S&P 500 had been higher before the U.S. government announced that 6.6 million people had filed for unemployment benefits last week. By the time regular trading began in the U.S., those gains had faded and the S&P 500 was slightly lower.
By shuttering businesses and forcing vast layoffs, the virus outbreak has in two weeks wiped out more jobs than the worst months of the 2008 financial crisis.
And the impact has been global.
Coronavirus pandemic could destroy 10 million US jobs, economists fear
Almost one million Britons have applied for welfare payments in the space of two weeks. Austria has its highest unemployment rate since the end of World War II. Millions of French workers have applied for some form of subsidy even as the government embarks on an ambitious plan to keep businesses from going under.
The unemployment rate in Norway jumped to 10.4 percent from 2.3 percent at the beginning of March, and unemployment claims in Spain and Italy have mounted as the death tolls have increased.
More than 800,000 Spanish workers lost their jobs in March, the highest monthly drop in modern history.
Most nations in the European Union are deploying far-reaching government efforts to contain the fallout in the event that the epidemic takes months, rather than weeks, to contain.
While the $2 trillion rescue package signed by Mr. Trump will be sending extensive relief to American workers and businesses, deep economic pain was already being felt from coast to coast.
Economists have warned that when people have to make choices in spending limited money, like skipping restaurant outings to pay for groceries, the knock-on effects could turn an acute economic crisis into a long recession.
If laid-off workers can’t pay their bills, there could be a cascade of further layoffs and business failures. The greater the damage, the less chance of a quick economic rebound once the health crisis eases.
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Infections surge and deaths rise, even as countries step up restrictions on movement.
As global virus numbers approached one million detected infections and 50,000 deaths, the measures taken have yet to slow the pace of the pathogen’s spread in most countries.
But the economic and social consequences of closing down global business grew by the day.
And the threat to public health is also growing more acute.
From Florida, which joined other states telling people to stay at home, to Panama, where men and women were told to go out in public on alternating days, governments increased restrictions on the movement of people.
The United States leads the world in total cases, and an increasingly somber sounding Mr. Trump said that he was considering steps once thought unimaginable, like banning some domestic flights.
“I am looking where flights are going into hot spots,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday evening. “Closing up every single flight on every single airline, that’s a very, very, very rough decision. But we are thinking about hot spots where you go from spot to spot, both hot. And we’ll let you know fairly soon.”
Nearly 2,400 people have died in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — half the national total. More than 1,300 of those deaths were in New York City.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that 12,000 Covid-19 patients hospitalized across New York State and more than 3,000 in intensive care, but that the health care system, while stretched, had not yet reached capacity.
He added, however, that he expected the state to reach that moment in seven to 21 days, though exactly when was, “the $64,000 question.”
With supplies dwindling, there might not be enough ventilators or other critical equipment, leaving doctors in New York to wrestle with the kind of agonizing choices confronting health care workers daily in Italy and Spain.
The U.S. government has nearly emptied its emergency stockpile of protective medical supplies like masks, gowns and gloves, a senior official said. Some states receiving desperately needed ventilators discovered that the machines did not work.
Venturing outside in Spain, but only to join the unemployment line.
For weeks, people in Spain have been ordered to remain in their homes unless they had an urgent reason for going outside. But outside a social security office in the Raval neighborhood of Barcelona on Thursday, hundreds of people said they had no choice but to join the line.
“I have one week left of savings to buy food for my family,” said Mafus Rohman, 33, who said he had opened a bar a week before Spain went into lockdown on March 14.
Mr. Rohman said if the owner of his apartment had not frozen the rent, he would have been on the streets with his wife and their 5-year-old twins. “I don’t have anything else but a huge loan to reimburse,” he said.
Similar scenes played out across the country, where more than 10,000 deaths have been reported. On Thursday, the country recorded its highest daily toll: 950 dead.
The unemployment numbers released on Thursday suggest that the impact on Spain’s work force could be greater than that of the 2008 financial crisis. Over 800,000 workers withdrew from the Spanish social security system in March, the highest monthly drop in modern history.
“The conscious decision not to take measures to protect production is leading us to a crisis without precedent,” said Daniel Lacalle, an economist who is forecasting that Spanish unemployment could reach 35 percent, up from 14 percent before the outbreak.
Myrna Mosca, a 42-year-old housekeeper, waited in line with two friends for food credits. Ms. Mosca said her two employers had asked her to stop coming. “We’ve all been thrown into the unknown,” she said. “All of us.”
Trump lashes out at New York political leaders.
Mr. Trump, under fire for his administration’s failure to respond quickly to the pandemic, lashed out at New York again on Thursday, saying the state’s doctors and hospitals are “never satisfied” with the medical supplies provided by the federal government because of politics.
Even as a new report showed that millions of Americans have been forced from their jobs by the pandemic, Mr. Trump spent the morning attacking Senator Chuck Schumer and other New York politicians, accusing them of failing to adequately prepare the state’s medical system for a serious outbreak.
In fact, officials in New York, which has become the center of the crisis with almost 84,000 cases and nearly 2,000 deaths, have repeatedly said that the federal government needed to do more to provide ventilators, masks and other protective gear to overwhelmed hospitals.
Governors around the country have criticized Mr. Trump for not doing more to centralize the provision of medical equipment. And public health officials have said that the administration’s failure to provide adequate testing in late January and February allowed the virus to spread silently throughout the country.
Critics have also said Mr. Trump should have done more to encourage governors to issue stay-at-home orders in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida ordered restrictions on Wednesday, having resisted doing so for days.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, the president defended his administration’s efforts to send ventilators and protective equipment to New York, saying that “other states are thrilled with the job we have done” and insisting that “the complainers should have been stocked up and ready long before this crisis hit.”
Mr. Trump took particular aim at Mr. Schumer, the Senate’s Democratic leader, who had criticized the federal response during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program earlier in the morning.
Mr. Schumer called on the president to appoint a czar to oversee the provision of supplies and said that Mr. Trump had failed to confront the crisis aggressively enough.
“Look, the president was way behind the eight ball in so much of this,” Mr. Schumer said. “He didn’t see the need. We were way behind in testing.”
In his tweet, Mr. Trump shot back: “somebody please explain to Cryin’ Chuck Schumer that we do have a military man in charge of distributing goods, a very talented Admiral.”
The president also suggested again — without evidence — that needed supplies were somehow going missing or being hoarded at New York hospitals, adding: “stop complaining & find out where all of these supplies are going.”
The president’s complaints about New York are an escalation of a weekslong clash with officials from the state where he grew up, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But even as he attacked New York’s response, Mr. Trump finished one of his tweets with praise for the governor: “Cuomo working hard.”
The president’s broadside came as New Yorkers have watched in helpless fear as the virus, with dizzying speed and ferocity, truly took hold of the city in recent days.