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About 9.9 million American workers lost their jobs during the last two weeks of March, the fastest, broadest collapse of the U.S. jobs market in history.
The week ending 27 March recorded 6.6 million new claims for jobless benefits, far outstripping Morgan Stanley’s estimate of 4.45 million, Moody Analytics’ guess of 4.5 million, and Goldman Sachs’ of 5.5 million.
State unemployment offices have been overwhelmed by the demand. Michigan’s office website crashed; one woman reported having to phone California’s office hundreds of times before being able to speak with anyone.
“States have not received the funding they needed to modernize their systems” since the Great Recession, said Martha Gimbel, Manager of Economic Research at Schmidt Futures. “People are experiencing the impacts of that right now as they’re desperately trying to file.”
Half of U.S. businesses are considering new or additional layoffs, according to a 30 March survey by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas.
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis estimates the virus-inspired economic shutdown could cost 47 million jobs before it abates.
About half of all Americans report some kind of income loss to themselves or a family member, according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Those without college degrees and the working poor – hotel housekeepers, fast-food shift workers, construction laborers, and others – have been hardest hit, data shows.
Across the Atlantic, roughly one million Britons are without work because of the virus-related economic shutdown, with another million Europeans estimated to be jobless. That number is likely to be low, however; Spain alone has put 300,000 new people on the dole.
TREND FORECAST: We estimate Depression-era jobless rates of at least 25 percent, or more, depending on how long the economic lockdown persists.
Contrary to media language that the coronavirus threw people out of work, politicians’ hysteria did. While politicians call it and the Presstitutes sell it as the COVID-19 War, just as they both take us wars with no exit strategies, there is no exit strategy for the COVID-19 War.
TRENDPOST: Only now are politicians beginning to talk about a strategy to exit the economic shutdown and restart the economy. (Germany is mulling a plan to reopen schools and the economy after 19 April… with strict limits on crowd sizes, people still wearing masks, and rapid tracing of infection chains.)
Ideas in the U.S. have included a “rolling reopening,” allowing parts of the country to go back to work once the virus is ebbing in those areas; and a “virus passport” that would be given to people who have had the virus and are no longer capable of spreading it. They could be permitted to go back to their jobs among other workers who also test “clean.”
A House committee is being established to access the national response to the virus pandemic.
An independent commission, free of politicians, needs to analyze the decision to crash the economy and make recommendations that can be used in the next pandemic to protect people’s health without destroying their careers, families, businesses, and future.
Trump Calls for $2 Trillion Infrastructure Program
In a 31 March tweet, Donald Trump called for a $2-trillion initiative to rebuild U.S. infrastructure, claiming the money to fund the plan could be borrowed at near-zero interest.
The money could be channeled through government loans to private companies or public-private partnerships, as Trump and others have proposed in the past.
Companies coming out of the economic collapse, however, are likely to be leery of taking on debt.
That would leave the federal government to fund it directly.
Some commentators have championed the idea, especially if individual states can direct the funds to projects they choose as priorities.
But the idea of adding $2 trillion more in debt on top of the rescue package, and another round of federal stimulus pending, could be a hard sell in Congress. Senate leader Mitch McConnell already has voiced caution about adding trillions more to the federal credit card.
TRENDPOST: Trillions borrowed to build infrastructure still has to be repaid, regardless of how low interest rates are.
The U.S. could cut that infrastructure expense if we “Occupy Peace”: we can bring our military troops home from overseas and put them to work rebuilding our roads and bridges. Most countries will be too preoccupied or too broke to launch aggressive military adventures in the near future.
 Meanwhile, our troops could be strengthening our national security by strengthening our infrastructure and learning constructive skills instead of perfecting the art and science of killing people.

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