Jobless claims continue to surge as more than 6.6 million Americans filed new unemployment benefits last week, according to new data released from the U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday.
That brings the three-week total of new unemployment claims to 16.8 million as the economic fallout over the Wuhan coronavirus continues to take its toll on the nation’s economy. About 6.6 million Americans had filed new claims the week before and 3.3 million new claims were filed in the week ending on March 21. The previous record for number of new filings in a single week was in 1982 when 695,000 new jobless claims were filed.
The new numbers illustrate the enormous impact that government-mandated closures are having on the American economy, shuttering business and landing millions out of work. According to a new survey released last week by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with MetLife, one in four businesses nationwide are on the brink of collapse reporting that they are less than two months away from permanent closure if unable to open by June. One in ten reported they were just under one month way from closing their doors for good.
While Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide some relief to small businesses in late March, Federalist Senior Editor Chris Bedford explains that the aid falls short of what is needed to keep them alive throughout the crisis. Unrealistic parameters surrounding the forgivable loans crafted in the legislation, Bedford writes, “allows far too little money to make up for a lost month and get through the following two or more.” In other words, the loans for many small businesses are “forgivable” in name only.
Senate Republicans are pushing for an additional $250 million aid package for small businesses this week but are facing resistance from Democrats making counter proposals to tie small business funding to more aid to local governments, hospitals, and welfare programs.
Meanwhile, models predicting a public health apocalypse used by officials have been revised in recent days showing fewer expected deaths from the virus as extreme social distancing measures keep the virus at bay.
As of Thursday, 42 states and the District of Columbia have issued shelter-in-place orders to slow the spread of the virus meaning at least 316 million people are living under the directives.
Many worry however, that prolonged social distancing measures promoting economic suicide could lead to another Great Depression, bringing with it public health consequences threatening to kill thousands more than the virus itself.
In March, Knox County Tennessee saw more suicides in one week for example, than the virus killed in the entire state. Economic devastation and social isolation with no end in sight exacerbates an existing mental health crisis.
Allysen Efferson, an East Tennessee therapist said the link between suicide and financial hardship has been well-established in the data and urged policymakers to consider the existing epidemic over suicide when crafting measures to combat the Wuhan virus.
“At the end of it all, what would be a real devastation to me is that we didn’t even consider that this would have an impact on individuals who may take their lives,” Efferson told The Federalist.