Millions of Americans are working from home or not working at all as businesses shutter or reduce hours in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday (March 18).
Over 3,600 workers — not counting servers, bartenders, and other restaurant staff — have lost jobs because of Covid-19, research from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said. Most of the losses were in the entertainment and leisure sectors.
“We are certainly beginning to see the cracks in the foundation. Slowing demand, brought on by the need for Americans to practice social distancing, is going to very likely immediately hurt those who work in at the nation’s hotels, restaurants, and bars,” said Andrew Challenger, senior VP of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
The unemployment rate hinges on an economic stimulus bill getting passed, U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin said. He forecasts 20 percent of the population will be jobless if the package fails.
“It remains to be seen for how long the outbreak and response will last. Many establishments would like for their teams to return to work as soon as possible or otherwise keep them employed. Indeed, some bars and restaurants with delivery services may be able to keep some staff,” said Challenger.
“However, with no income, many of these workers will likely seek, and hopefully, find other employment in the interim, which could make them unavailable to come back. If the shutdowns continue even longer, many of these jobs may not exist immediately when the crisis ends,” he added.
The labor union Unite Here said on Wednesday (March 18) that it is forecasting 80-90 percent job losses in some industries it handles — food service, airports, gaming, transportation, manufacturing and textiles. The union’s membership is more than 300,000.
Mnuchin said the economic fallout from the pandemic could potentially be worse than the 2008 financial crisis if Congress fails to pass a $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus package.