By Tank Murdoch @TheNatSent
(TNS) If you want to know why President Donald Trump is already looking for a way to ease social restrictions and get the country back to work after much of it has been shut down due to coronavirus, this is why.
According to The Wall Street Journal, that tsunami of unemployment we were all expecting thanks to massive, mandatory shuttering of jobs has arrived.
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And though we haven’t really seen anything yet, it’s already unprecedented:
Americans are waiting anxiously for unemployment benefits as state unemployment systems adjust to record-high levels of claims in the wake of the new coronavirus.
States say they are waiving waiting periods for accruing benefits and bulking up with staff to field calls and quickly process claims. But the unemployment-insurance system wasn’t designed to move as quickly as the coronavirus is knocking the U.S. labor market off course.
“States are at a historically low level of administrative funding, but processing a historically high level of claims,” said Michele Evermore, a policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project. “There are mechanisms to staff up quickly, but it’s never smooth, easy or perfect.”
Economists surveyed by the WSJ said they estimate that around 1.5 million new jobless claims were filed last week alone; the U.S. Department of Labor is expected to release updated figures on Thursday.
The highest number of new claims on record dates back to Oct. 2, 1982, when 695,000 were filed.
Georgia’s Labor Department website tells applicants to expect to wait, the paper reported. “Due to an extremely high volume of unemployment claims filed as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, individuals may experience a delay in requesting weekly benefit payments,” the website said on Monday afternoon.
Other states are also struggling to keep up.
“This system was not built for a crisis,” said Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted at a press conference. “It was built to take care of what we could expect on a regular or even robust basis. But what we’re experiencing now is frankly unprecedented.”
Some people report that websites designed to allow them to apply for unemployment benefits are so heavily trafficked right now that they are crashing.
So in other words, this is a government-created crisis from government-mandated work stoppages and shutdowns that governments now cannot handle: The perfect storm of incompetence meeting frustration, that will lead to unrest. Bank on it.
Unless, of course, some sanity is reintroduced, and soon, by more level-headed people who don’t see coronavirus as a planet killer, but rather, a livelihood killer.
Say and think what you will about COVID-19, but it will become increasingly harder to justify the destruction of livelihoods over an infection-to-death ratio that is proving to be no higher than the common flu, and is affecting exactly the same demographic of older, immunocompromised Americans.
As USA Features Media reported this week:
As the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) begins to ease around the world, a new report notes that more than 100,000 people, or greater than one-quarter, of all patients have recovered.
In addition, notes an in-depth report from The Hill, in the vast majority of cases patients only experience mild symptoms.
As we have asked time and again, what has to happen regarding this outbreak for governors to lift orders shutting down their states and their economies? Fewer infections? Zero infections? A return to the Medieval Period?
Americans are not being told and we deserve to be told.
Update: The Associated Press is reporting that jobless claims have skyrockted to an astounding 3.3 million, more than quadruple the 1982 record.
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