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Friday, April 3, 2020

6.6 million new unemployment claims April 2nd

As the saying goes, "Records are made to be broken." But I don't think it's too often the case that it happens at the very next opportunity. Nevertheless, one week after the United States smashed its previous record for first-time unemployment claims with just under 3.3 million, it doubled the record on April 2, with over 6.6 million new unemployment claims, adding another 4 percentage points to the unemployment rate.

After that news dropped, the Congressional Budget Office (via TPM) updated its economic projections for the nation's economy. Among other things, it expects the unemployment rate to exceed 10% in the second quarter. If you remember, the peak monthly unemployment rate during the Great Recession was 10.0%, so exceeding that figure represents yet another win for Trump. So much winning!

In fact, University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers, writing in The New York Times, estimates the current unemployment rate to be about 13%. This would be the highest rate reached since the Great Depression, he points out.

The CBO report also expects that gross domestic product will fall by over 7% in the second quarter, an annualized rate of over 28%. "Those declines could be much larger, however," it adds. In fact, Wells Fargo economists are much more pessimistic and suggest a second-quarter GDP contraction of 14.3%, topping the current record for quarterly GDP drop, the 10% fall during the Eisenhower administration in 1958 Q1. So much winning!

Of course, these impacts would have been much smaller except for the illegitimate Trump regime's failed preparations and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. After two months of minimizing the outbreak and assuring us everything was under control, the federal government is still not doing anything to ensure that supplies goes to the places most in need at a fair price. Indeed, the evidence from the April 2 nightly pandemic briefing/campaign rally suggests just the opposite. The federal government is flying in large amounts of needed equipment from abroad, then putting it in the hands of private companies which then force the states into bidding wars for the products! Unfortunately, my commenting rules prohibiting me from saying more; just imagine a string of obscenities.

In related pandemic news, as of 7:45am EST, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Dashboard shows the United States not just with the most cases in the world, but more than twice as many (245,573) as second-place Spain (117,710). The number of new daily cases continues to increase, as shown in this screenshot from the dashboard:

(Click on US at the top of the country list on the left, then select daily increase in the lower right.)

Yes, on April 1, the United States topped 30,000 new cases in a day for the first time, which was just shy of 3/8 of all new cases in the world.

And the most morbid statistic for last: With over 6,000 deaths so far, doubling every 3 days, the United States is set to pass both Spain and Italy in the next six days to reach the top spot for the most deaths of any country in the world.

Yes, I'm tired of all this winning. And scared, too.