‘The silver lining’: 72% of jobs lost in April could soon return as the economy reopens

By May 8, 2020Bitcoin Business
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  • A majority of workers in Friday's April jobs report are classified as unemployed on temporary layoff, which could be a good sign as state economies slowly reopen.
  • Those workers "should be able to be more seamlessly rehired as the economy reopens," wrote Bank of America economists led by Alexander Lin in a Friday note.
  • Still, the number is a "very cautious and conditional glimmer of hope," Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed, told Business Insider, because what's temporary could become permanent.
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A measure of temporary unemployment may be a silver lining in April's dismal jobs report.

The April jobs report released by the Labor Department Friday showed that 20.5 million jobs were lost and the unemployment rate spiked to 14.7% as the coronavirus pandemic continued to slam the US economy.

But a majority of workers in the Friday report were marked as only temporarily unemployed, which could be a good sign as state economies slowly reopen.

Within the report's household survey, employment contracted by 22.3 million, and the number of people classified as unemployed on temporary layoff increased by 16.2 million — 72% of net jobs lost, according to Bank of America.

That means those workers "should be able to be more seamlessly rehired as the economy reopens," wrote Bank of America economists led by Alexander Lin in a Friday note, adding that this measure is "the silver lining" in an otherwise dismal report.

How quickly these workers will be able to return to their jobs will directly impact the US economic recovery from the depths of the coronavirus pandemic.

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"The number of those jobs restored and the speed at which they come back are crucial to how much damage the economy suffers, the length and depth of the recession and the speed of the recovery," said Robert Frick, a corporate economist with the Navy Federal Credit Union.

If people can go back to work right away, it will alleviate some of the pressure put on the labor market by the coronavirus pandemic. But, that's factoring a scenario where demand comes rushing back as economies reopen, which might not be the case.

The temporarily unemployed number is a "very cautious and conditional glimmer of hope," Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed, told Business Insider. That's because some of these workers may not have jobs to return to on the other side of the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent bans on nonessential business.

"Temporary can turn into permanent," Bunker said. If the US can't get the virus under control and return to some version of life pre-coronavirus, this measure of unemployment could change "pretty strongly in the wrong direction," according to Bunker.

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