We are about to learn more about the devastating effects of the pandemic on American workers.
Even by standards for the coronavirus pandemic, Friday’s report on US jobs will be staggering.
It will also be much more informative than the data released so far, providing details on who lost their job and who did not. These details could reveal how quickly the economy could rebound after the pandemic closures are lifted.
Monthly report will no doubt show that job losses in April were the worst ever: economists expect the unemployment rate to reach 16%, by far the worst since the Great Depression, with as many as 22 million jobs lost.
It is not surprising that employers have cut millions of jobs; weekly data on unemployment benefit claims tracked the destruction. These reports have consistently shown that millions of workers have been claiming unemployment benefits every week since March, as businesses temporarily shut down due to home orders or closed for good as the economy shuts down.
But the monthly figures expected on Friday are much more complete than the weekly publication, as they are based on information collected from households and businesses.
They will break down employment by race and sex, important details that will show who bears the brunt of the economic devastation caused by the pandemic.
The report also includes hours of work data, which will show how many people have kept their jobs but have had their hours reduced, and it will also provide the most detailed breakdown to date of job losses by industry, which could help assess how far the damage has spread.
But if the losses have spread to other sectors like finance and professional services, this could indicate cascading damage and a longer recovery.
The monthly figures also distinguish between those who have lost their jobs permanently and those who are temporarily laid off or on leave. The larger the share of workers in the second category, the faster the recovery could be.
World markets advanced strongly on Friday morning, rallying to the solid performance of Wall Street the day before and the positive comments from the American and Chinese authorities on trade.
European markets opened higher after a largely positive day in Asia. The futures markets were expecting further increases when Wall Street opened later today.
Investors were encouraged by the prospects of reopening their economies, despite the fear that these efforts would cause an increase in infections. They were bolstered by announcements from the U.S. and China that appeared to support their Phase 1 trade deal, which would temporarily end their two-year trade war. The White House has openly questioned China’s commitment to the deal in recent days, which has hurt stocks.
Optimism was widespread. The prices of US treasury bills, which generally increase in times of crisis, fell on Friday morning. Oil prices have also risen.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index increased 2.6%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng index rose 1.1%. The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China finished up 0.8%. The South Korean Kospi increased 0.9%.
In Germany, the DAX index rose 1.1% at the start of the session. The French CAC 40 increased by 0.6%. The store in London was closed for holidays.
China and the United States announced Friday that they have held high-level trade talks. Despite Washington’s increasingly harsh rhetoric on trade, top trade officials from both countries appear to be reaffirming the Phase 1 trade agreement they signed in January, which has caused a truce in their close-knit trade war. two years.
“The two sides agreed that satisfactory progress is being made in creating the government infrastructure necessary for the success of the agreement,” said the office of the US trade representative. “They also agreed that despite the current global health emergency, the two countries fully expect to meet their obligations under the agreement in a timely manner.”
President Trump rocked the financial markets on Wednesday by promising to examine by the end of next week whether China has met its obligations under the agreement to increase purchases of US goods.
China has imported more American food products since the pact was signed. But overall imports of American products from China fell short of the administration’s initial hopes, as the coronavirus pandemic damaged Chinese consumer spending and investment.
The agreement itself set import targets for two years, but not quarterly targets along the way. The statement from the office of trade representatives on Friday morning was less confrontational with China than other recent statements by the administration.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He of China held a conference call with Robert Lighthizer, sales representative and treasury secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, the two countries said.
“The two sides said they should strengthen macroeconomic and public health cooperation, strive to create an atmosphere and conditions conducive to the implementation of the first phase of the China-US economic and trade agreement, and promote positive results, “said the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. said in a statement.
Asian stock markets rose Friday morning after the two countries made their announcements.
Chinese small businesses are still struggling as global demand plummets.
Li Mingqin’s factory in central China makes happy times products, using chicken feathers and other poultry to produce masquerade masks and badminton shuttlecocks. But with the pandemic, new orders have been stopped and she, like many other small business owners, is wondering how she will survive.
It has more than 100 employees it has not paid for a month and which it promises to pay in June. She has hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of feathers and other supplies stacked in a warehouse.
While China has almost completely eliminated local transmission of the coronavirus, its financial regulators are working to help the country’s small businesses get through the current crisis. global collapse in consumer demand. Commercial banks are now free to lend small businesses some of the money they previously had to park with the central bank. Regulators call bank managers daily to tell them to roll over small business loans.
Borrowers who miss payments on bank loans are not penalized on their credit history if they can find the money later. Companies that agree not to lay off are eligible for additional loans.
But to use all this credit, you must have a banking relationship. The banks deal mainly with public enterprises and some of the largest private enterprises. Companies like Ms. Li, the Gelan Handicraft Factory in Anhui Province, have struggled to get bank loans and depend mainly on borrowing from friends and relatives – and many of them face their own financial difficulties now.
Ms. Li fired her nanny and started to cook for herself.
“My husband and I are under a lot of pressure and often can’t sleep through the night,” she said, worried about the factory. “I don’t know the future, I’m so confused, I don’t know how long it can last.”
A confrontation between Amazon and French unions over security measures for the coronavirus intensified Thursday when the company said it would ask the highest French court to overturn a The Court of Appeal issued a decision last week that ordered the e-commerce giant to stop delivering non-essential items to France during the pandemic to protect workers.
Amazon will also seek approval on Friday from works councils, which represent around 10,000 employees, to keep its six gigantic French warehouses closed until May 13, while it consults them on measures to be taken to further strengthen the measures of security against the virus.
“We are working hard to resume business as usual for our French customers, French employees and French sellers,” Amazon said in a statement.
Amazon’s warehouses in France were closed for almost a month after a court sided in mid-April with French unions who had sued the company, accusing it of inadequately protecting workers against the threat of the virus and for not consulting unions on the measures, as required by law. The court ruled that Amazon should restrict supplies to food, hygiene and medical products only until it resolves the problem, or incur millions of euros in potential fines.
Rather than risk punishment, Amazon put its workforce on paid leave, but it continues to deliver items in France from its centers in Belgium, Germany and Spain. The company has attacked unions for bringing the lawsuit, which was confirmed by the Versailles Court of Appeal last week. Amazon insists that it has maintained strict health security on its French sites and has accused unions of seeking to promote their own interests amid the health crisis.
Catching up: here’s what else is going on.
J.C. Penney and Sephora, who had argued in court over a potential closure of Sephora mini stores in hundreds of J.C. Penney stores, said Thursday it “reaffirmed their longstanding partnership.” J.C. Penny had filed a lawsuit Monday that described disagreements between companies, partners since 2006, and highlighted the challenges that many retailers may face with vendors as they attempt to resume operations during the pandemic.
Frontier Airlines has become the first US carrier to announce its intention to take passenger temperature before boarding, a decision that would take effect on June 1. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or more will be denied boarding.
The Walt Disney Company said the 120-acre Disney Springs, one of the largest shopping malls in the United States, will begin a gradual reopening on May 20. The lakeside property on the outskirts of Orlando, Florida, has approximately 170 stores and restaurants. Disney theme parks and hotels will remain closed. Disney said the reopening of Disney Springs would involve masks for employees and guests and capacity limitations.
The reports and research were provided by Niraj Chokshi, Sapna Maheshwari, Ben Casselman, Keith Bradsher, Liu Yi, Mohammed Hadi, Brooks Barnes, Liz Alderman, Carlos Tejada and Daniel Victor.