On Election Day, Here Are Ten Grim Numbers That Sum Up The U.S. Economy Right Now
With coronavirus cases surging and no additional federal aid likely anytime soon, the American economy is at a critical juncture. Unemployment remains stubbornly high, but supplemental federal benefits have long expired. The advent of colder weather will bring new risks for businesses that have until now survived because they were able to shift shopping, dining and other experiences to the great outdoors. Both President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden have promised to revive the ailing economy and deliver relief to Americans during a long, bitter campaign. On Election Day, here’s where the American economy stands.
That’s how many people were unemployed in September. That’s significantly less than the peak of 23.1 million people in April but still more than double the 5.8 million that were unemployed in February, before the Covid-19 crisis.
That’s roughly how many women dropped out of the workforce in September. The New York Times points to two reasons for the mass departure: the extra burdens of childcare and virtual schooling during the pandemic, and the gender wage gap. Men tend to be the higher-earning partner in traditional dual-income households, so they have continued to work while their female counterparts have exited the workforce.
That’s how many Americans have fallen into poverty since May, according to researchers at Columbia University. The researchers noted that the expiration of certain CARES Act benefits over the summer—those $1,200 stimulus checks and an extra $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits—contributed to a spike in poverty rates in August and September.
That’s how much money the federal government has poured into relief legislation so far, between the $2.2 trillion CARES Act—the largest relief bill in American history—and the smaller bills that preceded and followed it. Experts credit the CARES Act with staving off an economic catastrophe in the spring, but warn that the economy is still in danger without additional relief measures from Congress.
That’s how many confirmed coronavirus cases there are in the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
That’s the portion of business closures that have become permanent during the pandemic, according to Yelp’s most recent Economic Impact Report. That translates to 97,966 businesses that were open on March 1 that have now shut down.
That’s the cumulative “fiscal shock” state and local governments, which are currently experiencing their worst budget shortfalls since the Great Depression, are facing as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to Moody’s Analytics. Additional federal aid to states and localities (on top of the $150 billion provided by the CARES Act) has been a bitterly contested issue in negotiations over the next stimulus bill, but in the absence of an agreement about the next bill, it’s not clear when—or whether—that aid will be delivered.
That’s the portion of front-line essential workers that in 2018 earned less than a living wage to support a family, according to Brookings.
0% to 0.25%
That’s the target range for the federal funds rate, as determined by the Federal Reserve. The Fed slashed interest rates in March as the stock market plummeted during the early days of the pandemic and has pledged to keep them low until it believes that the economy is on the road to recovery.
That’s how many points the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost last week. The market has since clawed back some of those losses (and has long recovered from the major hit it took in the spring), but investors are bracing for an intense bout of volatility tied to the election.