Thursday, May 28, 2020

100,000 dead and 40 million unemployed in the U.S., the human toll of the pandemic so far

Yesterday, I described the economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on retail businesses in Many stores closing for good even as economy reopens, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse and COVID-19 pandemic. Today, I'm sharing two videos on the human cost from CBS This Morning, beginning with More than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.

As the U.S. observes the sobering milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, David Begnaud looks at the lives lost, and how cities nationwide are planning to reopen even as cases continue to rise.
I was not one of those who considered that 100,000 Americans dead from COVID-19 was unthinkable in March. While I didn't say so here, I did comment on a friend's Facebook page back then in response to an estimate of 120,000 to 200,000 Americans dead from this pandemic that if we ended up with 120,000 dead, the country would be lucky, although that's no comfort to the friends and relatives of those who died.

What did surprise me was the economic toll. CBS This Morning reported today In the last 10 weeks, over 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment.

More than 2.1 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing the number of jobless claims to more than 40 million over the last 10 weeks. CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss which industries are scrambling to hire some of those workers.
Near the end of February, I wrote "This stock market crash is the one reason I am not revising the recession call I made in CNBC explains how the yield curve predicted every recession for the past 50 years. Without the cornovirus outbreak, I might have to. With it, I still think it's likely." Within a month, I posted FiveThirtyEight examines coronavirus and the economy, by which time the recession was on, even if it won't be declared officially until July. I was right for the wrong reasons. Given the human toll, I'd rather have been wrong.

While I was right about the timing, I was wrong about the extent of the recession. As I wrote in The tax bill and the U.S. economy in 2018 and beyond, "I expect the next recession to be somewhere between the 2001 recession or the 1990-1991 recession in its effects, probably closer to 2001." Instead, the U.S. is experiencing the highest unemployment since the Great Depression, all within the first two months. Yikes! Now I know how a pandemic or nation-wide natural disaster affects the U.S. economy. I'm not sure I wanted to find out.

Speaking of being right for the wrong reasons, I wrote "I fully expect Peak Oil, economic decline, and social upheaval to end the national touring model, which has been around since 1971, by 2020" in Christmas in July eight years ago. Well, the 2020 drum corps season has been cancelled, so the national touring model is in a coma, not dead, but Peak Oil had nothing to do with it. Instead, it was the pandemic that drove what passes for economic decline and social upheaval and that caused there to be no competitive drum corps this year. I'll have to see if the pandemic ends next year and the activity can be revived. Stay tuned.

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