More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — a record — as political and public health leaders put the economy in a deep freeze, keeping people at home and trying to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The past two weeks have seen more people file for unemployed claims than during the first six months of the Great Recession, a sign of how rapid, deep and painful the economic shutdown has been on many American families who are struggling to pay rent and health insurance costs in the midst of a pandemic.
Job losses have skyrocketed as restaurants, hotels, gyms, and travel have shut down across the nation, but layoffs are also rising in manufacturing, warehousing and transportation, a sign of how widespread the pain of the coronavirus recession is.
In March, 10.4 million Americans lost their jobs and applied for government aid, according to the latest Labor Department data, which includes claims filed through March 28. Many economists say the real number of people out work is likely even higher, since a lot of newly unemployed Americans haven’t been able to fill out a claim yet.
The U.S. government has not released an official unemployment rate yet, but economists say it has likely jumped to about 10 percent and could easily hit the highest level since the Great Depression in the coming months.
It will only get worse in the weeks ahead. The $1200 check Americans are going to get plus unemployment benefits is it. There's no more help coming. Republicans are tired of it and refuse.
One week after the Senate unanimously passed a $2 trillion emergency relief bill aimed at limiting the financial trauma from the coronavirus pandemic, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would move slowly on considering any follow-up legislation and would ignore the latest efforts by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to jump-start talks.
McConnell’s sweeping dismissal of Pelosi’s urgent call for action underscored the uncertainty and fierce political warfare in Congress as the coronavirus outbreak shuts down much of the nation and throttles the economy, with little consensus on what should follow the biggest rescue package in U.S. history and lingering tensions from those negotiations between McConnell and Pelosi.
“She needs to stand down on the notion that we’re going to go along with taking advantage of the crisis to do things that are unrelated to the crisis,” McConnell said in an interview with The Washington Post, calling the speaker’s recent comments about a fourth round of virus-related legislation “premature.”
In response, Pelosi said she would carry on.
"We can't pay for it." We could pay for $1.5 trillion in giveaways to corporations and the 1% though. Imagine that. Now we're in the opening stages of a global depression that will last years.
The small business loan program created by the CARES act? It's going to be a disaster, because it was never meant to work.
Banks are warning that a $350 billion lending program for struggling small businesses won't be ready when it launches Friday because the Trump administration has failed to provide them with the necessary guidelines and set requirements for the loans that are unworkable.
The lenders complain that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin boxed them in with an unrealistic deadline and that the ground rules they've been given for the program, which is intended to deliver rapid aid to a huge number of ailing businesses, could delay the assistance for weeks or longer.
The banks, which will be responsible for processing loan applications and doling out money, are expecting millions of applications from businesses. Some fear a disaster that could dwarf the failed kickoff of the Obamacare enrollment web site in 2013.
“Banks are ready and willing to lend, but they need clear rules of the road and a streamlined process to be able to get funding into the hands of small business owners in the coming days,” said Greg Baer, president and CEO of the Bank Policy Institute, which represents the nation's biggest lenders.
Ten million out of work. Millions more coming. All will lose their health insurance. And Trump won't open up the ACA so that millions can sign up for Obamacare, because Republican states are still in the middle of trying to have the Supreme Court throw the entire law out.
The Great Recession lasted as long as it did because Republicans dragged their feet on the stimulus bill to make sure sufficient time was available to transfer wealth to the top. They did it again with the Trump Trillion Dollar Tax Scam in January 2018.
Americans have nothing to fall back on now. The month ahead will be the most miserable in American history, and the Republicans responsible are going to find out that yes, the American people have their limits.