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U.S. economy lost jobs in March for 1st time since 2010 – CBC.ca

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The U.S. economy shed jobs in March, abruptly ending a historic 113 straight months of employment growth as stringent measures to control the novel coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses and factories, all but confirming a recession is underway.

The Labor Department said employers cut 701,000 jobs last month after adding a revised 275,000 in February. The unemployment rate shot up to 4.4 per cent from 3.5 per cent. That’s the biggest monthly increase in the jobless rate since 1975.

According to a Reuters survey of economists, nonfarm payrolls had been forecast to decrease by 100,000 jobs last month, snapping a record streak of employment gains dating to October 2010. Unemployment was seen rising to 3.8 per cent.

Friday’s report is far from an accurate depiction of the economic carnage being inflicted by the contagious coronavirus. The government surveyed businesses and households for the report in mid-March, before a large section of the population was under some form of a lockdown, throwing millions out of work.

The report could sharpen criticism of the Trump administration’s handling of the public health crisis, with U.S. President Donald Trump himself facing criticism for playing down the threat of the pandemic in its initial phases. Already, data has shown a record 10 million Americans filed claims for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks of March.

April numbers likely to be much worse

With jobless claims, the most timely indicator of labour market health, breaking records over the last couple of weeks and a majority of Americans now under “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” orders, Oxford Economics is predicting payrolls could plunge by at least 20 million jobs in April, which would blow away the record 800,000 tumble in March 2009.

“The economy has fallen into the abyss,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.

“Everywhere you look Washington and state governments were not prepared for the rapid spread of the virus and the devastating damage that would be done to the economy if businesses were shut down and workers sent home.”

Economists also worry the sudden closure of businesses could make it difficult for the Labour Department to accurately capture the magnitude of layoffs.

There are also perceptions that a $2.3 trillion US fiscal package signed by Trump last week, which makes generous provisions for the unemployed, and the federal government’s easing of requirements for workers to seek benefits could also be driving the jobless claims numbers higher.

“The April report should better reflect the severity of the recession, though the exact numbers are hard to pin down,” said Michelle Meyer, a U.S. economist at Bank of America Securities in New York. “Businesses that have closed won’t be responding to the survey.”

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Doug Ford rejects regional approach to reopening Ontario's economy – Toronto Star

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One size fits all.

That will be Ontario’s mantra for reopening the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, insists Premier Doug Ford.

Even though the Greater Toronto Area accounts for 65.6 per cent of Ontario’s cases, leaving huge swaths of the province relatively unscathed, Ford is rejecting the regional approach of opening up as is being done in neighbouring Quebec, Manitoba and New York state.

“I have to follow science and the medical advice. I always have, I always will,” the premier said Thursday, emphasizing that provincial chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams and other public health officials will make the call.

“I’ll take their advice and if Dr. Williams doesn’t think it’s the right thing to do, then I’m following his advice. I have from the beginning. I’ll continue to follow it,” he said.

Ford admitted he is under a lot of pressure to expedite the opening of the economy in regions beyond the GTA.

There are far fewer coronavirus cases in Kenora, Algoma, North Bay, Parry Sound, Sudbury, Kingston, Renfrew, Huron-Perth, Prince Edward County, and most of southwestern Ontario outside the Windsor city limits.

“I hear it at cabinet, I hear it at caucus. I hear it all the time from our own members,” the premier said.

Indeed, Progressive Conservative MPPs from outside the Golden Horseshoe privately confide that they are feeling heat from their constituents.

“How am I supposed to keep telling businesses in my area to remain closed for what’s essentially a Toronto problem?” said one rural Tory MPP, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to freely discuss internal caucus discussions.

“At a certain point, we’ve got to reopen,” added the MPP, who personally lobbied Ford against the universal reopening approach.

But the premier, who began the first phase of reopening the economy last week when stores with street-front entrances were allowed to welcome customers, said “we just have to be cautious” to curb the spread of a virus that has killed 2,248 people in Ontario.

“On a long weekend in the summer, there’ll be half a million cottagers going up to the Muskokas, the Haliburtons, up to the cottage area — and they’re coming, primarily, they’re coming from the 905 and 416 area,” he said.

In Quebec, where 4,228 people have died from COVID-19, Premier François Legault has pushed a phased regional approach to opening.

Outside of Montreal, the epicentre of the pandemic in that province, much of the economy will be up and running next week, including indoor shopping malls.

“We have to continue to be careful because we cannot afford to have large increases in the next few days or weeks in the number of people in our hospitals in Montreal,” Legault said earlier this week.

In Manitoba, where only seven people have died of COVID-19, Premier Brian Pallister announced Tuesday that most businesses — including restaurants, bars, and gyms — will be open next week.

Pallister stressed “slow and careful movement in the direction of easing our restrictions is the right approach.”

New York state has suffered 23,282 deaths — more than 10 times as many as Ontario despite a population of 19.5 million compared to the province’s 14.5 million — but is pushing forward with phased regional reopening.

In New York, a region must meet seven different metrics before being allowed to move a broader stage of reopening, including a sustained decline in total hospitalizations over a three-day rolling average and a decline in deaths.

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Each region must have at least 30 per cent of its intensive care unit beds and 30 per cent of all hospital beds open and must meet diagnostic testing and contact tracing capacity.

Western New York, across the Niagara River from Ontario, currently meets all seven requirements for reopening selected businesses and services.

Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended his plan.

“Close down everything, close down the economy, lock yourself in the home — you can do it for a short period of time, but you can’t do it forever.”

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie

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Province's decision to reopen economy still lacks some clarity: CFIB – HalifaxToday.ca

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The Atlantic Vice President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says he’s pleased with the province’s decision to reopen the economy, but adds it still lacks some clarity.

On Wednesday, Premier Stephen McNeil announced the province’s next steps to reopening the economy, saying businesses that were required to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to restart operations on June 5.

Jordi Morgan told NEWS 95.7 he’s happy to hear this, but adds there are still some questions that need to be answered.

“It remains to be seen how well this happens because we’re still not entirely clear on what all the requirements are for these individual businesses,” said Morgan.

Morgan is also pleased with the province’s new small business reopening and support grant, a $25 million fund that will help businesses welcome back customers safely.

“Very happy to see that because there are a number of businesses that are going to require some bridging to reopen, invest in personal protective equipment and other things that are necessary in order to operate the business,” said Morgan.

He says once they get all the guidelines in place, they’ll have a better idea of how to operate and keep both the public and employees safe.

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Nearly 40% of the economy may vanish in Q2 because of COVID-19, but then do something surprising – Yahoo Canada Finance

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The S&P 500 has crossed the 3,000 level again and investors are clearly riding high on hope for a second half economic recovery post the worst of COVID-19.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="But that doesn’t mean the market is immune to a pullback this summer primarily because the economic data will likely continue to be horrible. Remember bulls, the U.S. economy has been kicked in the face by the pandemic, and a rebound won’t happen overnight simply because states are reopening. Corporate sales and profits remain under severe strain, sending many off to explore bankruptcy or cut thousands of workers even with quarantines being lifted.” data-reactid=”17″>But that doesn’t mean the market is immune to a pullback this summer primarily because the economic data will likely continue to be horrible. Remember bulls, the U.S. economy has been kicked in the face by the pandemic, and a rebound won’t happen overnight simply because states are reopening. Corporate sales and profits remain under severe strain, sending many off to explore bankruptcy or cut thousands of workers even with quarantines being lifted.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“We think that the reported unemployment rate may be around as high as 20% in May,” Barclays chief U.S. economist Michael Gapen warned on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. The unemployment rate in April increased by 10.3 percentage points to 14.7%.” data-reactid=”18″>“We think that the reported unemployment rate may be around as high as 20% in May,” Barclays chief U.S. economist Michael Gapen warned on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. The unemployment rate in April increased by 10.3 percentage points to 14.7%.

Gapen believes the U.S. economy may contract a whopping 40% annualized in the second quarter, then surprisingly grow by 25% in the third quarter and 8% in the fourth quarter.

Part of Gapen’s cautiousness on the economy in the second quarter stems from his outlook on the consumer, which comprises two-thirds of the U.S. economy as is often cited.

A woman shops for clothes Wednesday, May 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. California moved to further relax its coronavirus restrictions and help the battered economy. Retail stores, including those at shopping malls, can open at 50% capacity. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
A woman shops for clothes Wednesday, May 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. California moved to further relax its coronavirus restrictions and help the battered economy. Retail stores, including those at shopping malls, can open at 50% capacity. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

“I think when we move into the third quarter, the savings rate will start coming down. All else equal, we are expecting the consumer to remain cautious. I think you will see a blend. Some return to normalcy, but it will take time,” Gapen explains. “Negative wealth is still at play. Equity markets are doing well, but the average household may not feel that. And I think that there will be caution and a preference for saving.”

To be sure, recent economic data warrants the markets taking a short-term breather.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Another 2.123 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits&nbsp;in the week ending May 23. Over the past 10 weeks, more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance. U.S. durable goods orders tanked 17.2% in April, U.S. Commerce Department data showed Thursday. Durable goods dropped 16.6% in March.” data-reactid=”34″>Another 2.123 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 23. Over the past 10 weeks, more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance. U.S. durable goods orders tanked 17.2% in April, U.S. Commerce Department data showed Thursday. Durable goods dropped 16.6% in March.

Pending home sales in April fell 33.8% year over year, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. That marked the biggest decline since January 2001.

“I think the market has priced in that April is probably the worst of the economic data,” explained Sevens Report Research founder Tom Essaye. “While it looks like the worst is behind us — which is great — we need to start to see more improvement.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.” data-reactid=”37″>Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read the latest financial and business news from Yahoo Finance” data-reactid=”38″>Read the latest financial and business news from Yahoo Finance

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, SmartNews, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit.” data-reactid=”50″>Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, SmartNews, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit.

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