Readers Write: Storm warning for employment prospects

Chart: U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey,

A few weeks ago, I put out an article warning people that a jobs recovery may be a long and painful process. (Don’t count on a fast employment recovery- The Island Now – May 21, 2020) Data just released by the Census Department could prove that to be the case, and worse than previously thought.

In recovery, there are usually some fast and easy initial gains as companies recover from an initial shock, find their footing, and settle into a “new normal.”

And indeed, we saw a tremendous jump in people returning to their jobs in the Labor Dept. report produced early this month, with 4.8 million recorded. From there on, you would expect more gains, but at a somewhat muted pace, which again, is normal in a recovery.

However, the Census Bureau report shows we may get a negative jobs print when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its monthly report on Aug. 7.

The Census Bureau uses a “Household Pulse Survey” to determine trends in employment as well as household wellbeing, like availability of food and shelter.

For the week ending July 14th, employment appears to have shrunk by 4.7 million. Now there IS some seasonality to these numbers, being the first two weeks of July, and COVID offers a convenient excuse for downtime. But even factoring in past years’ seasonal variances, the numbers will be ugly.

It is easy to see how this happened. With mostly larger states like ours that were initially hit by COVID reopening their economies in phases, and other states simultaneously refusing to take any precautions, we produced a solid gain in employment.

As those states that are now reckoning with the consequences of their behavior close down, that trend has now been broken. We could be in for a very difficult time, “like nothing you have ever seen before.”

The responsibility for this carnage lies with one man, and that is irrefutable.

Donald Davret


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The Island Now

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