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Daily COVID-19 Updates: May 28

May 28, 2020
COVID-19 Layoffs; Initial Unemployment Claim Rate at 2.1 Million; Manufacturers Staying Open

According to the latest numbers from the Department of Labor, continued unemployment filings fell 3.8 million two weeks ago, while initial unemployment filings remained at more than 2 million last week. The mixed signal indicates that, while some factories and businesses are starting up again, more layoffs are still running through the economy.

On Capitol Hill, arguments over whether or not to extend benefits with another COVID-19 stimulus bill remained mired in arguments for and against. Those for extended benefits say that letting stimulus benefits expire will hamper the economy’s ability to recover and cause an extended depression; Those opposed say, on the contrary, that the benefits will make people more reluctant to return to work and get the economy moving again.

And, in a sad reminder of the unprecedented nature of the times, the Boston Marathon announced today that its 2020 incarnation would be cancelled for the first time in 124 years of operations. In previous years, the Marathon went off during both World Wars as well as the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.

COVID-19 Layoffs

Two major companies recently announced significant layoffs due to business pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Chevron said May 27 they would lay off 10-15% of its global workforce, or between 4,000 to 6,750 people. The company reported improved earnings in the first quarter due to sales, but profits were significantly depressed due to stunted oil prices which are expected to affect the second quarter as well. Read the full story here.

Renault, meanwhile, is reportedly due to announce a 15,000-position restructuring on Friday, according to Reuters. The French carmaker is coping with profitability and stumbling sales figures. The cuts will total just less than 10% of Renault’s global workforce of 180,000. The company was seeing slumping sales even before the coronavirus pandemic hammered demand for travel worldwide.

Jobless Claim Rate Still High

According to the latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.1 million people applied for unemployment insurance last week, marking the tenth week in a row that more than 2 million people have applied for unemployment benefits.

In a sign that the reopening economy is reducing the number of applicants, though, the figure of continued claims—people who continued to receive unemployment benefits—fell by about 3.8 million people. As the weeks go by and more businesses return to more-or-less normal operations, that number may decline even further, although it’s clear the economic impact is far from over. Read the full story here.

Manufacturers Staying Open

According to a new survey by the National Association of Manufacturers, 98.7% of manufacturers have continued operations with only temporary operation halts, if any. Surveyed manufacturers also evaluated their own operating principles, and some found a way to give back. 22% re-tooled some operations to produce personal protective equipment, 67% re-engineered processes to reflect infection safety protocols, and 12% spent time “completely reevaluating the mission of the firm.”

NAM CEO Jay Timmons, in a statement, said ““Manufacturers have led the country through the COVID-19 response, and America is counting on our industry to lead our recovery and renewal.” Timmons indicated that Congress should implement policies that would allow manufacturers to further ramp up production and invest in workforce training programs. Read the full story here.

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