‘Far more extreme than anything we’ve ever seen, including the worst weeks of the Great Recession’ — economist gasps as U.S. jobless claims jump 3,000% in 3 weeks


‘A portrait of disaster.’


Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute

Initial unemployment claims jumped 3,000% to 6.6 million last week from 211,000 for the week ending March 7, the Labor Department said Thursday. Businesses have closed in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, as millions of Americans practice “social distancing” at home.

“This kind of upending of the labor market in such a short time is unheard of,” said Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist and director of policy at the progressive Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. She called the latest numbers, “A portrait of disaster.”

The $2 trillion stimulus package, passed by the Senate last week, will help the U.S. through the COVID-19 pandemic, of which New York City is now the epicenter, Shierholz added, but she added, “This kind of upending of the labor market in such a short time is unheard of.”

Dispatches from a pandemic: ‘Would you risk your life for a bagel?’ A New Yorker’s 5-point guide to surviving grocery stores during the coronavirus pandemic

“The spike at the end shows the unprecedented territory we are in right now,” she said, citing this graph (below), showing labor market trends over the last 50 years. “What the labor market is currently experiencing is far more extreme than anything we’ve ever seen, including the worst weeks of the Great Recession.”

The number of unemployed Americans is likely to surpass the prior record of 15.3 million, also seen during the Great Recession after the subprime-mortgage market crashed. Economists predict 25 million Americans or more could lose their jobs in the next few months, at least temporarily.


Department of Labor data presented by the Economic Policy Institute (above).

Shierholz said initial unemployment claims do not include many workers who are out of work due to the virus, including independent contractors, those who don’t have long enough work histories, those who had to quit work to care for a child whose school closed, so the actual number is higher.

‘The spike at the end shows the unprecedented territory we are in right now.’

“One of the most effective parts of the CARES ACT, the relief and recovery act that Congress passed last week, is a $250 billion expansion of unemployment insurance,” Shierholz said.

The $2 trillion stimulus package includes an increase in the level of benefits and the creation of a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program which would be available to many workers who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance (independent contractors, for example).

The $2 trillion stimulus bill will pay workers $600 a week on top of whatever sum they receive in their state-level unemployment claim for a period of up to four months, according to provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Coronavirus had infected at least 216,768 people in the U.S. as of Thursday evening and killed at least 5,148 people, with 1,374 deaths occurring in New York City alone, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Worldwide, there were 962,977 confirmed cases of the virus and 49,180 reported deaths.



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‘Coronavirus has ruined everything.’ My husband refuses to work. Is it too much to ask him to find a job when millions of people are now out of work?


Dear Moneyist,

I have been working since my now-husband and I have been together. He has bounced from job to job and finally landed on the couch. I’ve pushed him to go to school, take online courses for an information technology (IT) certificate, etc. We’re entering year two of our marriage, and I’m completely drained. What money I received from my inheritance is all but gone.

Dispatches from a pandemic: ‘Would you risk your life for a bagel?’ The Moneyist’s 5-point guide to surviving grocery stores without losing your mind during the coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus has ruined everything. My IRA is a shambles due to the pandemic, and now I’m working from home. I see him every day relaxing and taking it easy while I work. I’ve suggested jobs with car services and food-delivery services, but to no avail. He simply refuses to work, and now he has good reason not to. What are my options? Bills need to be paid. I need him to start working soon.

Am I asking too much now that the threat of COVID-19 has shut down a lot of businesses?

Sincerely,

Frustrated

Dear Frustrated,

You can blame coronavirus for a lot of things. You can blame it for social distancing, long lines outside the grocery store, and the lack of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. You can blame it for the deaths of 5,148 people to date in the U.S., 49,236 deaths worldwide, and the 3,000% jump in jobless claims between March 7 and last week. You and I could debate how much blame lies with COVID-19, plus how the lack of ventilators and available testing in the U.S., and action or lack thereof by governments around the world, have contributed to this global health crisis. But let’s not do that.

Your husband was a job hopper and a couch surfer before the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed global economies, closed businesses and threatened the livelihoods and lives of millions of people. He is someone who appears to have no qualms about relying on his marriage as an ATM machine, providing him with free cable, a roof over his head and a comfortable armchair to settle into. While you see the contrasts in your lifestyles and work ethics, he appears to see a square box on the wall.

Dispatches from a pandemic: Dating during a global health crisis: This couple got coronavirus on a first date — and they’ve been quarantining (together) ever since

Unless he had a complete personality change when you got married, I’m guessing that you had a pretty good idea what you were getting before you got it. You read the description and you overlooked it. Perhaps you were convinced that the companionship and love you felt for each other would encourage him to be the best version of himself. Here’s the bad news: This could be the best version of himself — and if it’s not, he may not be willing to show it to you or, indeed, himself.

Love is not a feeling. Hollywood producers and 17th-century French romantic novelists wanted us to believe that romance is an antidote to life’s problems. Let’s hope we have a vaccine for coronavirus before next winter, assuming social distancing works, and together we burn this pandemic out. But there is no cure for what you are dealing with here. Do the opposite of what millions of people who are doing as they wait this crisis out: Take action. Because love is an action.

Your husband can tell you what you want to hear, or whisper sweet nothings in your ear to soften your resolve, or opine about the state of the world, and buy himself another week, month or year on the couch. But my guess is that when this pandemic has passed, you still won’t have to go to the store for potatoes, because you will already have one big uncooked potato sitting at home on the couch. Love is respect, first and foremost. A successful marriage requires that above all else.

The Moneyist: ‘Your boss is playing God’: My grocery store banned face masks for staff. How on earth can I stay safe from coronavirus now?

The good thing about extreme situations like death and divorce — and even a time such as this, when the world seems to come to a standstill — is that they force our hand. If we allow them to, they can bring us new strength and perspective, the knowledge that we deserve to be happy, and the motivation to ensure that we invite positivity and good things into our lives. This is an opportunity for you to do that. Tell your husband what you need to happen and, if it does not happen, you have your answer.

By all means, do everything you can to make this marriage work. But he must join you in that quest. He must bring solutions, not problems. If you put his excuses for not wanting to work above your needs, you could spend a lifetime trying to fix something that doesn’t really want to be fixed. Do not merge your finances, do not buy property together, and do not blink and do nothing. Because if you blink, it will be 22 years from now, and you will look back at this letter and wonder, “What if?”

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Dispatches from the front lines of a pandemic: ‘Replace the term social distancing with spatial distancing.’ A behavioral economist on the psychological toll of endless waiting during the coronavirus pandemic

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com

Want to read more? Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter and read more of his columns here

Do you have questions about how the coronavirus is impacting your life and finances? Send them to MarketWatch’s Moneyist and please include the state where you live (no full names will be used). By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, in all media and platforms, including via third parties.

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 group where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Post your questions, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.





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Fitch sees ‘deep global recession’ just 10 days after predicting slow economic growth


In a chilling reminder of how fast the coronavirus epidemic has spread around the world, Fitch Ratings changed its 2020 view on the global economy to “deep global recession” from slow growth in just 10 days.

“The speed with which the coronavirus pandemic is evolving has necessitated another round of huge cuts to our [gross domestic product] forecasts,” Fitch said in a research report.

The credit rating agency said it now expects world economic activity to decline by 1.9% this year. On March 22, Fitch had projected global GDP growth of 1.3%.

“A deep global recession in 2020 is now Fitch Ratings’ baseline forecast according to its latest update of its Global Economic Outlook (GEO) forecasts,” Fitch said. The new baseline forecast incorporates full-scale lockdowns across Europe, the U.S. and many other countries, something the forecast in March didn’t assume. Read MarketWatch’s coronavirus update.

“The forecast fall in global GDP for the year as a whole is on par with the global financial crisis, but the immediate hit to activity and jobs in the first half of this year will be worse,” said Brian Coulter, Fitch’s chief economist.

In the U.S., Fitch said it expects the lockdowns to result in an “unprecedented peacetime” one-quarter GDP decline of 7% to 8% in the second quarter, or 28% to 30% on an annualized basis.

Also read: Jobless claims leap record 6.6 million at end of March as coronavirus triggers mass layoffs.

See related: U.S. manufacturers see biggest plunge in new orders and employment in 11 years — ISM finds.

For the year, Fitch is projecting U.S. GDP to decline 3.3%. Last week, Fitch said if its baseline GDP forecast deteriorated further, U.S. GDP could fall by “almost” 1%, which means the effects of the coronavirus outbreak is much worse than Fitch had imagined it could be at the time. See Economic Report.

Fitch isn’t alone in predicting a deep recession, as Bank of America Global Research said it expects the COVID-19-related recession in the U.S. to be the “deepest recession on record,” nearly five times worst than the postwar average.

Fitch also now expects eurozone GDP to fall by 4.2% this year and the U.K.’s GDP to decline 3.9%, while China’s GDP is expected to grow by less than 2%. Last week, the expectation was for Europe’s GDP to fall “by more than 1.5%” and China’s GDP to slow to growth of “slightly higher” than 2%, if its baseline forecast deteriorated.

While there is some optimism that in the second half of the year, government stimulus could help contribute to a recovery, and that the health crisis will likely be broadly contained, Fitch warned not to expect a V-shaped economic bounce, as the negative impacts on consumer behavior are likely to linger into next year.

“Our [new] baseline forecast does not see GDP reverting to its pre-virus levels until late 2021 in the U.S. and Europe,” Coulton said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, +1.80%

 has lost 26% year to date. That includes a first-quarter decline of 23.2%, which was the worst one-quarter performance for the index since the fourth quarter of 1987.



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16,000 New Yorkers could die from the coronavirus, according to Gates Foundation projections


The coronavirus pandemic could result in the death of 16,000 New Yorkers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned from Albany on Wednesday in his daily news conference.

To date, the virus has killed 1,914 across the state with 83,712 confirmed cases, according to the statistics shared Wednesday by Cuomo.

“There is a group that is funded by the Gates Foundation that projects 93,000 Americans will lose their life by the time this is over,” Cuomo said. “That model suggests 16,000 New Yorkers will pass away by the time this runs its course,” which could be through July, he added.

His U.S.-wide projection is less than what the White House gave on Tuesday, which estimated the number of deaths to be between 100,000 to 240,000 Americans.

The group referenced by the governor is the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), and their specific numbers for the two rates on Wednesday afternoon are 93,765 dying in the U.S. and 16,090 in the state. The institute takes into account the effects of social distancing measures until at least the end of May 2020.

Factors affecting the forecasts, which are updated every day at 6 a.m. (PST), are based on a wide range of data sources, including state health agencies, among others, a representative for IHME told MarketWatch.

The model, which only provides statewide projections, does not provide an estimate for the death toll in New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the U.S.

As of Wednesday, the city has accounted for 1,096, or 57.2%, of New York state’s 1,914 deaths.

Meanwhile, at a separate news conference Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the city is expected to run out of ventilators by Sunday. He said that to handle the surge of victims, New York City will need 2,500 to 3,000 ventilators over the next week and 65,000 hospital beds by the end of April. The city will be retrofitting hotels and large venues to create 39,000 beds.

Cuomo pointed out on Wednesday that New York state will account for roughly 16% of the total deaths in the U.S. based on the modeling from the IHME. The actual figure based on IHME’s specific online numbers is a just pinch higher at 17%.

“I don’t even understand that,” he said. “Since New York is so much higher right now.”

The governor was referring to the disproportionate number of both coronavirus cases and deaths in the state. New York currently accounts for 42.7% of the U.S.’s total 195,929 confirmed cases and for 45% of the country’s 4,310 coronavirus deaths.

“If you believe these numbers, 16,000 deaths in New York, that means you’re going to have tens of thousands of deaths outside of New York,” Cuomo said. “So to the extent people watch their nightly news in Kansas and say ‘well this is a New York problem’, that’s not what these numbers say. It says it’s a New York problem today, tomorrow it’s a Kansas problem and a Texas problem and a New Mexico problem.”

Along with the projections, Cuomo said Wednesday that 7,917 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed across New York compared to the figures he announced Tuesday, 1,297 new hospitalizations and 391 more deaths.



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Online dating amid coronavirus: Longer chats and fewer new prospects, Match says


As COVID-19 has spread across the globe, online daters are having longer conversations but finding fewer new dating prospects, Match Group Inc. said Tuesday, which is leading to a change in strategy.

The new chief executive of Match Group

MTCH, -0.94%

 — which owns Tinder, Match.com and other online-dating properties — wrote a letter about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic that was posted Tuesday on the company’s website and filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In it, she said that the length of Tinder users’ conversations increased 10% to 30% after the virus struck their countries, but services were struggling to attract new users (especially those older than 30) and paying subscribers in countries hit hard by infections.

“In Europe, we’ve seen new subscriber declines of around 5% in aggregate since the crisis began, but in countries severely impacted by COVID-19, like Italy and Spain, we have seen more significant declines,” CEO Shar Dubey wrote. “In the U.S., the impact also depends on the level of cases in the region and varies by brand. For example, Tinder in New York State has seen low double-digit declines in new subscribers since the outbreak accelerated, but much of the rest of the country has held up much better.”

See also: This is why loneliness and dating apps are such a bad match

As a result, Dubey said that Match was looking to “pivot” to quickly add video chat to more of its services. Dubey said Match had begun rolling out video chat on two services, Plenty of Fish and Twoo, and that usage had “exceeded our expectations.” The company now plans to roll out one-on-one video-chat services on its namesake Match.com service in early April.

“As nearly every aspect of our lives is now conducted via video, singles are also becoming increasingly comfortable with video dates, and we are integrating video chat into our apps,” she wrote. “We have offered video chat features in the past and seen low usage, but we think this time user behavior is likely to change more permanently.”

Match did not mention any plans for video on Tinder, its mobile-focused dating app. A spokeswoman said that the company had nothing to add beyond the letter.

The company also did not mention if it plans to charge for any video-chat offerings as part of subscription services like Tinder Gold, which have powered much of Match Group’s gains in recent years. Earlier this month, JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth cut his target for Match’s 2020 revenue by 15% because he expected to see “less social interaction likely weighing on dating subscriptions, which are largely month-to-month & easy to turn on and off.”

Jefferies analysts raised their price target after the news Tuesday, because Dubey said that Match’s first-quarter results would likely come in at the low end of the company’s guidance range, which called for sales of $545 million to $555 million. The analysts wrote that performance was better than feared, and the letter suggested Match “was likely on pace to exceed 1Q expectations prior to the COVID dynamic.”

“No recession in love,” they wrote, while bumping the target to $74 from $65.

Read: More people meet online than through friends or family or work

The letter also noted that the company’s divorce from parent company IAC/Interactive Corp.

IAC, -0.43%

 is on track to be completed in the second quarter, but the pandemic could impact that as well.

Match stock declined 19.6% to a market cap of roughly $18.7 billion in the first quarter of 2020 as the novel coronavirus spread across the globe, roughly in line with an 18.7% decline for the S&P 500 index

SPX, -1.60%

 . Shares fell 2.1% in late trading Tuesday. No analysts tracked by FactSet suggest selling the stock, with 10 rating it a buy and eight rating the shares as a hold.



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