Updated: Dec 31, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has been bringing many different consequences to our society and environment through the past couple of months. One of the biggest effects it has been having on our society is the steep increase in unemployment and the big hit that the economy took. Due to this spreading pandemic, many public places, such as stores, movie theaters, and amusement parks, were forced to close, eventually leaving a large number of people unemployed. The United States has not seen this level of job loss since the Great Depression, and now the government has officially declared this economic crisis as a national emergency (Long, 2020).
In March, when the coronavirus first hit the United States, the country was slow to act during the most important time in which action must have been taken to prevent large scale spread of this virus. “When it came time to minimize the loss of life and economic damage, the country was very underprepared, had lost so much valuable time, and did not fight back as strongly as would have been recommended, leaving the U.S.A. to make more drastic economic sacrifices to catch up to the time the government had wasted in bringing the country to a stable and safe state" (Goodman and Schulkin, 2020). Just in March alone, the United States had lost more than 701,000 jobs, breaking a chain of decades of economic gains. The unemployment rate rose from 3.5% to 4.4%, which was the sharpest monthly rise since 1975 (Davidson, 2020). Oxford Economics estimates that the outbreak will result in 24 million job losses and a 14% unemployment rate in April alone, and to see the extremity of this situation, we can compare this estimation with the Great Recession, in which it took two years to lose nearly nine million jobs (Davidson, 2020). All of this data concerning the loss of jobs just in March doesn't even include the people who were “pushed to the sidelines” when this economic crisis occurred in this country.
While in January, February, and even March, the number of people filling out unemployment insurance claims was under 0.5 million, in April, the number reached nearly 7 million people. Unemployment rates had surpassed 20% in April, while the expectation was around 10% at the end of the 2019 (Long, 2020). Since the government has been slow to send out the money for the unemployment insurance claims, many families have been struggling to be able to pay for groceries and basic necessities, creating uncertainty about both day-to-day and long-term expenses. Now that it is May, some stores have been reopening, however the number of jobless claims is still rising. The state of Georgia says, “The reopening is bringing people back to work, reducing the total amount of people receiving unemployment insurance, but the number of initial jobless claims is still rising, which suggests there is still residual weakness in the economy" (Cohen and Hsu 2020). Because of this rapid increase in numbers, the government is unable to efficiently send out finances for all the claims, leading to not only lost in trust for the government but also financial stability, and sometimes even an inability to afford groceries.
The decreasing number of jobs, increasing number of people sending unemployment insurance claims, and the economic chaos that is occuring is creating an economic crisis for the United States. Due to its inefficiency and underpreparedness, the country is not able to respond as quickly to the economic problems that are being thrown at them as an effect of the coronavirus pandemic. Since the country and government aren’t able to completely support and help its citizens, many citizens are struggling financially in many different ways, and this is eventually leading to the people slowly losing trust in their government. Although these consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic may simply appear as an economic problem, they have been leading to other political issues, festering under the surface as well.
Cohen, Patricia, and Tiffany Hsu. "'Rolling Shock' as Job Losses Mount Even with Reopenings." The New York Times, 14 May 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/05/14/business/economy/coronavirus-unemployment-claims.html. Accessed 18 May 2020.
Davidson, Paul. "As Coronavirus Spread, Economy Lost 701,000 Jobs in March, Breaking 10-year String of Gains." USA Today, 3 Apr. 2020, www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/04/03/coronavirus-economy-loses-701-000-jobs-march-virus-spreads/5119265002/. Accessed 18 May 2020.
Goodman, Ryan, and Danielle Schulkin. "Timeline of the Coronavirus Pandemic and U.S. Response." Just Security, 7 May 2020, www.justsecurity.org/69650/timeline-of-the-coronavirus-pandemic-and-u-s-response/. Accessed 18 May 2020.
Long, Heather. "U.S. Now Has 22 Million Unemployed, Wiping out a Decade of Job Gains." The Washington Post, 16 Apr. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/16/unemployment-claims-coronavirus/. Accessed 18 May 2020.