By WeCruitr CEO Jack Kelly
Nearly 3 million people filed initial unemployment claims last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. We’ve now witnessed about 36.5 million Americans seek unemployment benefits since mid-March.
As large as these numbers are, they’re likely even higher than reported. The headlines focus on people who have applied for benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. They neglect to include the fact that prior to the outbreak, we had an unemployment rate of roughly 3.5%, which represents millions of Americans. The Labor Department also does not include all of the people who have finished collecting benefits, but did not find a new job.
It looks like things may get worse. Top-tier investment bank Goldman Sachs says the unemployment rate in the U.S. will peak at 25%. This is a level not seen since the Great Depression. Goldman suggests that the real jobless rate, which includes the percentage of people who want a job, but quit looking, has jumped to 22.8% in April—up from 8.7% in March.
Goldman issued a dire warning—things will worsen and the real jobless rate will hit 35%. The investment bank says that it will take years—possibly a decade—to get back where we were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Prolonged weakness could cause severe scarring effects such as permanent layoffs and business closures that delay the recovery,” said Goldman in a note.
While the world is falling apart, Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index shows that Jeff Bezos saw his immense fortune become even immenserer (I don’t think that’s a word, but anything goes now that we’re in the midst of a pandemic). As everyone is shopping on Amazon since all of the stores are closed, he’s minting money. His net worth rose from $125 billion on April 12 to $143 billion on May 5. What’s even crazier is that Bezos had to pay out billions of dollars during this time period to his wife due to their divorce.
Since people are stuck at home bored out of their minds, they turn to social media. For those who want to get riled up, many go on Twitter. A trending topic was a debate on how long it will take for Bezos to become the first trillionaire. I’m sure that the minimum-wage-earning warehouse workers and Amazon delivery people are not participating.
Our elected officials in Congress are supposed to look out for our best interests. In a shocking revelation, I reported back in March that a number of senators sold their stock holdings after being briefed about the coronavirus and the massive impact it will have upon the economy, jobs and the stock market. While telling the American public that there wasn’t much to worry about, they bailed out of their stock holdings to avoid large losses.
North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sold 33 stocks held by both him and his spouse. The value of the sales is estimated at between $628,033 and $1.72 million. Some of the stocks were in sectors hit hard by the outbreak.
Today, we learned that Federal agents seized Burr’s phone as part of a Justice Department investigation into his stock transactions.
Burr denies the allegations of insider trading. His excuse of “Hey, all of the other Senators are doing it too” (which some did and will probably get a knock on the door from the FBI) may not hold up in the court of law. At least, it’s better than his other statements, “Do you know who I am?!” and “There was absolutely no connection between being briefed about the world turning upside down and the possibility of the U.S economy collapsing and the stock market crashing and my selling of stocks to avoid a loss!”
In WTF news, inmates in Los Angeles County, California are infecting themselves with the coronavirus in the hope that they will be released from prison. Surveillance footage from the Pitchess Detention Center shows inmates passing a bottle of hot water around in what was described as an attempt to both become infected and raise their body temperature before a nurse takes their temperature in order to fake the illness.
In the ridiculous world we live in, inmates—some convicted for violent crimes—have been let out of jail over worries that they’d catch the coronavirus. Meanwhile, state governors and petty tyrannical local officials are threatening to send moms in jail for taking their child outside for a walk.