Two weeks ago it was a record 3.3 million initial claims; last week it was an additional (upwardly revised) 6.875 million in initial claims, and this week another 6.606 million claims (almost exactly our expectation of 6.5 million).
That is a shocking 16.78 million people who have applied for unemployment benefits in the last three weeks. And of course, last week’s “initial” claims and this week’s “continuing” claims… the highest level of continuing claims ever.
The three-week tally implies an unemployment rate of around 13% or 14%, surpassing the 10% peak reached in the wake of the last recession. Put another way, we have lost 1132 jobs for every confirmed US death from COVID-19 (14,817). This is simply stunning.
“The U.S. labor market is in free-fall,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics in New York.
“The prospect of more stringent lockdown measures and the fact that many states have not yet been able to process the full amount of jobless claim applications suggest the worst is still to come.”
And another important note is that weekly jobless claims data are based on “hard facts”, UBS points out, unlike survey data
which is subject to quirks around:
a) some of the treatment of supply chains, which has flattered data,
b) the fact that many respondents will not be replying to surveys during the virus disruption period, and
c) survey data will give more accurate assessments during ‘normal’ times, perhaps not as much in unusual times.
Of course, the government is coming to the rescue. As a result of the freshly-passed ‘relief’ bill, self-employed and gig-workers who previously were unable to claim unemployment benefits are now eligible. In addition, the unemployed will get up to $600 per week for up to four months, which is equivalent to $15 per hour for a 40-hour workweek. By comparison, the government-mandated minimum wage is about $7.25 per hour and the average jobless benefits payment was roughly $385 per person per month at the start of this year.
“Why work when one is better off not working financially and health wise?” said a Sung Won Sohn, a business economics professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
With more than 80% of Americans under some form of lockdown, up from less than 50% a couple of weeks ago, this is far from over.
Picking up on our analysis from last week, BofA notes that data from Google Trends reveals further pickup in searches for “unemployment benefits” and “filing for unemployment,” which could argue for even more upside from here.
Worse still, the final numbers will likely be worsened due to the bailout itself: as a reminder, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed on March 27, could contribute to new records being reached in coming weeks as it increases eligibility for jobless claims to self-employed and gig workers, extends the maximum number of weeks that one can receive benefits, and provides an additional $600 per week until July 31. A recent WSJ article noted that this has created incentives for some businesses to temporarily furlough their employees, knowing that they will be covered financially as the economy is shutdown. Meanwhile, those making below $50k will generally be made whole and possibly be better off on unemployment benefits.
Amazon Bans Sale Of N95 And Surgical Masks To General Public – Where Can I Buy N95 Masks Now?
Amazon has banned the sale of N95 and surgical masks to the general public, claiming it would restrict sales to hospitals and government organizations dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ban took effect April 1, according to Recode, after the company said in a forum for Amazon sellers that the ban includes “facial shields, surgical gowns, surgical gloves, and large-volume sanitizers.”
Ok, but where can I Buy N95 masks now?
With Pharmacies, Walmart and nearly all other physical stores out of stock, Amazon out of the game and ebay selling mostly gas masks from China, there’s not much place left to buy N95 masks to protect yourself in th Covid-19 crisis and even if they claim to sell N95 masks, it’s mostly cheap fake masks that won’t offer any protection at all:
As you may already know, the Darknet is selling pretty much everything that is hard to get by in stores or completely illegal. So even if you come by to find a shady shop or entity selling overpriced masks, you never know if they really are what they are advertised (N95 standard) and work and you also never know if they will ever arrive. However, there are still some online shops that are selling the very last N95 masks, one of them being a small company called Amazyble.com.
With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.
Research on SARS, another coronavirus, found that N95 masks were highly effective at blocking transmission of that virus. Even ill-fitting medical face masks have been found to interrupt airborne particles and viruses, keeping them from reaching as far when someone sneezes.
The universal use of mouth and nose covering with masks is a low-risk intervention that can only assist in reducing the spread of this terrible illness. If everyone wears a mask, individuals protect one another, reducing overall community transmission. It could even remind people not to touch their faces after touching potentially contaminated surfaces.