By Duncan Smith
After a top expert at the World Health Organization announced Monday that people with coronavirus who are asymptomatic “rarely” spread the disease, outrage over the still-ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns reached fever pitch.
Why, tens of millions of Americans are asking, did we kill our economy then?
Well, as it turns out, a few sectors did pretty well throughout the coronavirus lockdowns. Their ‘businesses’ were deemed…’essential.’
Government workers and financial sector pros.
As Breitbart News’ John Nolte writes:
Toward the end of the longest economic expansion in the history of the United States, workers were finally starting to gain enough of a foothold to see real benefits from economic growth. Unemployment was at a record low, long-stagnant wages were moving up while inflation was low, consumer confidence was sky-high, and more workers felt confident enough about the economy to quit their jobs in pursuit of better work.
The coronavirus pandemic, social distancing, and government-ordered shutdowns brought an end to all of that. The economy entered a recession in March, the National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday. The labor market underwent an unprecedented shock, something akin to a heart attack, suddenly shedding millions of jobs.
Data released by the Department of Labor on Tuesday in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, provide a kind of cardiogram to the sudden collapse in the functioning of the labor market. Nearly all of the economy went into cardiac arrest, with the notable exceptions of the federal government and the financial sector.
But wait, as they say, there’s more. Nolte, citing the Labor Department data, noted further:
Layoffs devastated employment in hotels, restaurants, and bars. In March, 4.2 million workers in the category of 'leisure and accommodation' lost their jobs, 30.4 percent of the sector's workforce. In April, an additional 1.5 million lost their jobs, or 19.8 percent of the remaining workforce. Prior to the shutdown, layoffs in the sector typically ran between 200,000 and 250,000 per month.
Entertainment and recreation were similarly smashed. In March, the sector laid off 545,000 workers, or 22.3 percent of its workforce, up from just 77,000 in February. In April, another 259,000 were laid off, 23 percent of the remaining workforce. The workforce percentages can rise even as the number of layoffs shrink because the base shrinks with each successive month of employment contraction.
The catch-all category of 'other services'—which includes dry-cleaners, barbers, nail salon workers, groundskeepers, and countless other services that do not get counted elsewhere—saw 884,000 layoffs in March, a 15 percent layoff rate. April saw this come in at 822,000, a 17.7 percent rate.
And the news gets worse. There have been estimates this week that as many as 25,000 retailers, up to 60 percent of them in malls, are going to permanently shutter this year, in large part due to coronavirus lockdowns.
One result of the coronavirus pandemic could be as many as 25,000 store closures announced by retailers this year, as the crisis takes a toll on many businesses, and already has pushed some over the brink and into bankruptcy.
U.S. retailers could announce between 20,000 and 25,000 closures in 2020, according to tracking by Coresight Research, with 55% to 60% of those situated in America's malls. That would also mark a record — which was previously the more than 9,300 locations in 2019.
It may just take years for our country to recover from this massive hit as the economy makes tectonic shifts unseen since the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution and the advent of electricity.
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