SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A record-long hiring streak in the U.S., spanning nearly a decade, is suddenly ending in March. It comes in a big way as employers cut 701,000 jobs, mostly due to the coronavirus outbreak. The unemployment rate jumped to 4.4% from a 50-year low of 3.5%.
Zions Bank vice president of consumer and public policy, Robert Spendlove, said this is uncharted territory for the nation.
“To put in perspective, in the Great Recession we lost 8.7-million jobs over a twenty-five month period,” he explains. “We’re expecting that we could lose up to 15 to 30-million jobs by May.”
Financial experts continue to assess the situation cautiously, because so much uncertainty remains regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What it feels like, it’s like a natural disaster and it’s having the effect of shutting down effectively everything,” Spendlove said. “But rather than happening on a small-scale like in a community, it’s happening nationwide — and it’s really happening worldwide.”
The latest numbers come after 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. That figure shattered the previous record, which was set just the week before. With that in mind, experts are expecting next month’s report to be even more grim.
In response to the growing unemployment problem, national leaders have signed-off on a massive spending bill to hopefully jump-start the economy.
“The federal government is working very hard to address this,” Spendlove said. “Just last week they passed the 2-trillion-dollar CARES Act that goes to unemployment insurance, gives money to small businesses, to states and impacted areas.”
Hiring streak ends
The spike in unemployment comes as the nation was on a hiring streak for years. In fact, as recently as February, employers had added 273,000 jobs.
During the Great Recession, unemployment peaked at 10%. If things get even worse, closer to 15%, then it will approach marks the nation hasn’t seen since the 1930s.
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