It was only Monday when we reported New York’s unemployment website crashed as tens of thousands of people out of work tried to file a claim all at once.
Last week, we warned that the gig-economy and service industry was expected to implode as a “coronavirus winter” unfolded across America.
The CDC has just banned gatherings over 50 people, which means stores, clubs, restaurants, bars, and hotels are voluntarily shuttering indefinitely as the economy grinds to a halt.
About 55 million folks, or about 44% of all US workers, aged 18-64, are considered low-wage and low-skilled, have insurmountable debts (with limited savings), including auto, student, and credit card debts, work in the gig-economy and services. These folks are the most vulnerable and are getting axed by employers. Cities across the country that were once vibrant with economic activity have now transformed into ghost towns.
The immediate impact can be seen if you take a drive down the street and look at the empty parking lots of bars and restaurants. With the unemployment rate hovering at a generational low, it’s only a matter of time before gig-economy/service workers hop on government welfare to weather the virus storm, a move that would undoubtedly reverse employment trends.
Search trends across the country for “unemployment benefits” have surged in the last three days, to levels not seen since the global slowdown in 1Q16, as the government is enforcing social distancing to flatten the curve to slowdown infections.
Searches for “unemployment benefits” have jumped the most in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Nevada, and Connecticut. Some of these states have hundreds of confirmed virus cases that prompted local and state officials to shutter businesses.
Other search-related queries that are in breakout patterns are “unemployment benefits for tipped employees;” “enhanced unemployment benefits;” “covid unemployment benefits;” “emergency unemployment compensation 2020,” and “covid unemployment benefits.”