The current U.S. economy is struggling and the consequences could have long term effects: (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-scarring-analysis/retirements-layoffs-labor-force-flight-may-leave-scars-on-u-s-economy-idUSKBN2651IJ). Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit U.S. shores the economy was at an all time high. Unemployment was as low as 3.5%, GDP growth was at 3.1%, and the economy had been steadily growing dating all the way back to 2009 during the Obama administration.
Since then a majority of businesses have been shut down as most of the country has gone into lockdown. While certain companies that were deemed “essential” were able to stay open, most businesses were forced to shut their doors for months on end. This has caused unemployment numbers to spike as workers were either laid off or furloughed. Some have turned to early retirement instead. Some have warned that the negative effects of the lockdown could have a greater impact than COVID itself and unfortunately numbers are starting to trend towards that reality.
In the spring Congress stepped in to alleviate both workers and businesses with the payroll protection program, added unemployment benefits, and one time relief checks. This helped with short term problems, but Congress has not passed any additional legislation that would bring substantial assistance since.
Although some businesses have recently reopened, many are shut down for good. The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit with almost half shutting down permanently. Those on the right are calling for reduced restrictions so more businesses can open, while the left wants to pass more relief bills that would cover unemployment and rent/mortgage payments through the end of the year. A vaccine may be near completion, but the economy will continue to struggle until more workers can return.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma