US Unemployment Begins Gradual Decline

Credit: AP Photo/Tony Dejak

The losses caused by the pandemic are very slowly being recouped.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US in full force in April, job losses worse than those seen during the Great Depression swept across the country. Approximately 20 million jobs were lost around the country, and the unemployment rate rose to an unprecedented 14.7%. Since April’s report, states have been making an effort to reopen and restore business to normal, or at least a rough approximation of normal. According to the new unemployment report for May, these efforts have paid off, if only slightly.

According to the May employment report, unemployment dropped very slightly to 13.3%, and approximately 2.5 million jobs were added to the US economy. Unemployment claims have dropped to 1.9 million last week from April’s peak of 6.6 million. Two particular industries hit especially hard by the pandemic, leisure and hospitality, managed to regain a large share of the new jobs at 1.2 million.

While any improvement is good, experts have stressed that the problem has yet to be solved. Jason Reed, a professor of finance at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, said the number of unemployed in the country is still enormous, and that even as states reopen and workers return, businesses that were hit too hard by the pandemic could begin issuing temporary or permanent layoffs.

Credit: Alba Vigaray/EPA

“The longer this goes on, the bigger the chance of permanent consequences,” Reed told The Guardian. He went on to add that without additional aid from Washington, local governments and businesses would have to make some “very uncomfortable decisions”.

Despite losses gradually diminishing, the pandemic is still ongoing, with new cases still popping up around the country. Until a vaccine is discovered and deemed safe for humans, an accurate prediction for when things can return to normal cannot be made.

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