US Unemployment Now Nearly As Bad As GOP Said It Was Under Obama
Gonna bounce right back for sure.

The April unemployment report from the US Department of Labor is out, and it's just about as dismal as expected. We had to put economic activity in a deep freeze to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and that resulted in a loss of 20.5 million jobs during the month, which wiped out all the job growth of the last decade in a single month. For perspective, that's more than double the 8.7 million jobs lost during the 2007-2009 Great Recession. The official unemployment rate shot from 3.5 percent in February to 14.7 percent, the worst unemployment rate since the government started tracking monthly unemployment (in 1948). The only higher estimated unemployment rate, says the New York Times, "came when the rate reached about 25 percent in 1933, before the government began publishing official statistics."

For comparison, here's a chart from the Washington Post of historic US recessions since 1939 and employment rates. That cliff at the right side should be labeled "You Are Here."

You may be reassured that Donald Trump insisted on Fox News this morning that "Those jobs will all be back and they'll be back very soon, [...] and next year we're going to have a phenomenal year." Or at least you may be reassured if you are Donald Trump.

Also, as the Times explains, the real numbers are probably worse, and close to the 20 percent unemployment economists had projected:

Nearly 9 million workers in April reported that they were employed but absent from work for "other" reasons — meaning not because they were sick, on vacation or other typical reasons for absence. That's about 7.5 million more people than in a typical April.

The Labor Department on Friday said that many of these people probably should have been recorded as "unemployed" instead. And if they had been, "the overall unemployment rate would have been almost 5 percentage points higher than reported" — or close to 20 percent.

Keep that in mind if you start hearing Trump saying it's not as bad as "they" said it would be.

The Post has this overview of the wreckage in various parts of the economy:

Job losses began in the hospitality sector, which shed 7.7 million jobs in April, but other industries were also heavily impacted. Retail lost 2.1 million jobs and manufacturing lost 1.3 million jobs. White-collar and government jobs that typically prove resilient during downturns were also slashed, with firms shedding 2.1 million jobs. and state and local governments losing nearly a million. More state and local government jobs could be slashed in the coming weeks as officials deal with severe budget shortfalls.

And as you'd expect, black and Latino Americans, whose economic gains have been most tenuous in the post-Reagan economy, are suffering the most. That's because they didn't have the foresight to hire pricey lobbyists to make the economy work for their benefit for 40 years.

Black unemployment is at 16.7 percent, the highest since just after the Great Recession. That's nearly triple the rate where it had been in February. Latino unemployment is even higher, at 18.9 percent, compared to six percent in March. Both rates are far worse than the overall rate of 14.7 percent, and 14.2 percent unemployment for whites. As all the economists are pointing out, minorities are more likely to have low-wage service sector jobs that can't be done from home, too.

And yes, even that news gets worse, as the Times points out:

A measure of the employment to population ratio reflected that some minorities left the work force entirely, and therefore weren't counted as part of the officially "unemployed." The employment to population rate for black Americans dipped to 48.8 percent in April, matching a 1982 low. Just 51.3 percent of Latino adults were employed in April, the lowest on record.

You know what that means, don't you? Donald Trump is going to have to lie a lot more about how great he's been for people of color, who also have suffered higher infection and death rates from COVID-19. Thank goodness Republicans want the next stimulus package to include a great big liability shield for the workplaces that are killing lots of minority workers, or the economy could be in real trouble!

Hey, speaking of unemployment, maybe Congress could actually do something beyond confirming rightwing judges and fucking over workers? Like for instance a real package of protections for working Americans, in the form of temporary emergency pay, on a monthly basis, and/or a payroll subsidy that could get people rehired and ready to work as the economy recovers. Hell, we'll even let you give it a GOP-friendly name if that would help pass the thing and help workers. Christ, we could make DC a state and call it Greenland, even.

In conclusion: this is going to take years to get over. Wouldn't it be a neat idea if we actually followed up the "shutting it down" part with some actual goddamn disease control and protections for workers? A competent president could have gotten America through this crisis with fewer dead and less damage to the economy, and maybe even won reelection on the strength of it. But that would require hard work and attention to details.

Yelling at China and Democrats is way more fun.

[NYT / WaPo / US Bureau of Labor Statistics / CNN]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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