We're now in 9 straight weeks of record unemployment numbers, and more than 38 million Americans have lost their jobs in that time. We are POLITICO reporters and an economist – ask us anything about the economy and current federal policy amid Covi...
The economic impact of the pandemic is staggering. The latest numbers on unemployment claims came out this morning: 2.4 million workers filed for unemployment last week, which means 38.6 million Americans – about 23.4% of the workforce – have lost their jobs over the last 9 weeks as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the economy.
(For some context, in normal times, the number of weekly unemployment claims usually hover around a couple hundred thousand.)
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned last weekend that U.S. unemployment could reach a Depression-level 25%. Thousands of small businesses are closed and many will remain shut for good after losing all their revenue. The stock market bottomed out in March but has recovered somewhat since then and is now down about 15% from its pre-virus high point.
What officials are trying to do to save the economy:
- Congress has raced to pass multiple rescue bills totalling around $3 trillion in federal support, but they probably still need to send more aid to state and local governments and extend extra jobless benefits.
- The Trump administration is pushing for a swift economic re-opening, but is mostly leaving the official decision-making up to the states.
- The Fed has taken extraordinary measures to rescue the economy – slashing interest rates to zero, rolling out trillions of dollars in lending programs for financial markets and taking the unprecedented step of bailing out state and city governments.
So what does this mean for the future of the U.S. economy? How will we recover and get people back to work while staying safe and healthy? Ask us anything about the current economy amid the Covid-19 crisis and what lawmakers, the Fed, the Trump administration and other groups are trying to do about it.
Ben White is our chief economic correspondent and author of our “Morning Money” newsletter covering the nexus of finance and public policy. He’s been covering the rapid economic decline and what might happen in the near future. Prior to joining Politico in 2009, Ben was a Wall Street reporter for the New York Times, where he shared a Society of Business Editors and Writers award for breaking news coverage of the financial crisis. Before that, he covered Wall Street for the Financial Times and the Washington Post.
In his limited free time, Ben loves to read history and fiction and watch his alter-ego Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Austan Goolsbee is an economist and current economics professor at the University of Chicago. He previously served as the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama and was a member of the cabinet. He is a past Fulbright scholar and Alfred P. Sloan fellow and served as a member of the Chicago Board of Education and the Economic Advisory Panel to the Congressional Budget Office. He currently serves on the Economic Advisory Panel to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Austan also writes the Economic View column for the New York Times and is an economic consultant to ABC News.
Victoria Guida is a financial services reporter who covers banking regulations and monetary policy. She’s been covering the alphabet soup of Fed emergency lending programs pouring trillions of dollars into the economy and explaining how they're supposed to work. In addition to covering the Federal Reserve, she also reports on the FDIC, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Treasury. She previously spent years on the international trade beat.
During the precious few hours she spends not buried in finance and the economy, she’d like to say she’s read a lot of good books, but instead she’s been watching a lot of stress-free TV.
Nancy Cook covers the White House. Working alongside our robust health care team, she’s broken news on the White House’s moves to sideline its health secretary, its attempt to shift blame for the coronavirus response to the states and the ongoing plans to restart parts of the U.S. economy. Usually she writes about the White House’s political challenges, its personnel battles and its domestic policy moves on the economy, taxes, trade, immigration and health care.
Before joining the White House beat, Nancy covered health care policy and the Trump presidential transition for us. Before Politico, Nancy focused on economic policy, tax and business at Newsweek, National Journal and Fast Company.
In her very limited free time, she enjoys trying new recipes, reading novels and hanging out with her family.
Edit: Thanks for the great questions, all. Signing off!