Faltering Thursday – 744,000 People Lost their Jobs last Week

744,000! 

That’s AFTER another round of $1,400 checks went out AFTER passing another $2Tn Stimulus Bill and AFTER another round of Business Loans have been handed out specifically to help companies maintain employees.  Prior to Covid, we averaged 220,000 unemployment claims per week – that is “normal” turnover for our 165M-person labor force.   Labor demand will have to bounce back much more before employment returns to pre-pandemic levels. Labor Department data show that although job openings neared a record high in February, the 7.4 Million openings were still fewer than the number of unemployed Americans, which totaled nearly 10 Million that month.

All these people ooing and ahing over the economy remind me of when your Grandpa is terminally ill and you go to visit him in the hospital and he can’t talk and he can barely not his head and your relatives say “he’s doing so much better today!”  That’s our economy now – any sign of life gets people so excited but we are nowhere near where we are and, without constant life support, we’d probably be dead.

Long-Term Unemployment Has Quadrupled, and That's a Problem for the EconomyMore than 4.2M people had been unemployed for six months or more in March, the most since 2013. Total continuing claims, a proxy for the number of people receiving benefits, hit 18.2 million in the week ended March 13th. The majority of these received aid through two federal pandemic programs that were recently extended, what happens if we cut them off?  

We are still a long way from better and that was what the Fed was indicating in their minutes yesterday.  Knowing the Unemployment number would be bad is probably why the Fed scheduled Powell to speak at noon today – in case the markets get into a panic again – especially into the start of Q1 Earnings Reports next week.    

Ontario, Canada is back on lockdown for 4 weeks as they deal with a resurgence of the virus. “The situation is extremely serious. We need to hunker down right now,” Ford said at a briefing in Toronto.  “What we do until we start achieving mass immunisation will be the difference between life and death for thousands of people,” he…

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