SAN FRANCISCO - If you think March has been a harsh month, some economic indicators underscore not only how bad this month was, but how it's likely to get worse.
In fact, March was a two-edged sword: financial help on the way, but few places to spend in our consumer dependent economy. March roared in like a rejuvenated lion, but is going out and down in flames.
Coronavirus is the culprit.
With the number of COVID-cases in the U.S. rising exponentially, the stock market has taken huge hits.
Just this month. the Dow Jones Industrial average lost over 14% of its value, the broader S&P 500 down 13% and the NASDAQ fell 11%.
Jobs are getting hit by the shelter-at-home tidal wave says Duane Morris, law firm labor lawyer and former Employment Development Department Director Mike Bernick.
"We were at a time of unprecedented, the greatest employment weave had in our state since World War II and just in the past month, virtually all of that has collapsed or most of that," said Mr. Bernick.
On March 1, unemployment was at its all-time low since World War II with 164,500,000 workers.
The U.S. Labor Department says we've already lost 3.8 million jobs in the first three weeks of March.
"For California, that translates into 800,000 new claims in just within the past two weeks," said Bernick.
When the final numbers come out in May, an average of economists' projections surveyed by Reuters says that the U.S. could still lose an additional 4.8 million more jobs in March and will get worse thereafter.
"The highest unemployment rate we reached during the Great Recession was 12.4%. We are well or very likely to exceed that," said Bernick.
This month, two leading indicators of the national psyche, University of Michigan and Conference Board the Consumer Confidence Indexes, have plummeted. The Conference Board's Index was the lowest in three years. The University of Michigan's Index was the fourth lowest in almost a half century.
Consumers power America's economy.
"How much our current situation which is unlike anything remotely, remotely we've seen since World War II. How that plays out, we'll have to see," said Bernick.
The St. Louis District of the Federal Reserve projects that 47 million Americans will lose their jobs before this is over. That’s more jobs than lost the Great Recession.
Percentage wise, it would be seven percent more than jobs lost during the deepest depth of the Great Depression in the 1930’s.