It’s Thursday, April 2. The White House will reportedly advise all Americans to wear face coverings in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
In today’s newsletter: The economy is toast, but it didn’t have to be like this, our economics reporter argues. Plus: The unique threat the coronavirus poses to southern states.
« TODAY IN POLITICS »
(Katie Martin / The Atlantic)
There goes the economy.
Remember when the White House was toying with the idea of reopening the economy by Easter, in a little over a week?
After the jaw-dropping mortality estimates this week, the U.S. government’s official position has moved toward keeping society—and the economy—shut down for at least another month.
As my colleagues have reported before, the economic devastation is still building, but we now have a better data on what the crisis looks like. Nearly 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks, new figures out today are showing.
But it didn’t have to be this way, my colleague Derek Thompson writes, and Congress can still act, despite the fact that the U.S. is “accelerating toward an economic and human disaster unlike anything recorded in American history.”
The U.S. economic rescue package implicitly encourages layoffs and increases spending on the unemployed. Jobless benefits have been expanded, and many households will receive one-time payments of $1,200 per adult—plus $500 per child.
Strengthening our jobless benefit programs in this way was necessary to keep families from starving, given the inevitability of historic layoffs. But had the U.S. reacted swiftly and creatively to the prospect of a historic sudden-stop recession, this level of layoffs would not have been inevitable. We could have paid workers a living wage to stay with their companies. Instead, companies are firing workers en masse, and we’re scrambling to pay them a living wage anyway.