Until the coronavirus pandemic struck, employers struggled this year to fill open positions, but now business success and employment rates have been shaken. In the blink of an eye, Americans are now feeling the impact of the Bureau of Labor Statistics release of the March unemployment rate, which rose to 4.4% after February’s 3.5% 50-year low. More than 700,000 US jobs were lost in February and 7+ million people are filing for unemployment benefits. Leisure and hospitality jobs dropped by 459,000.
Yet there’s hope for many. Thousands of companies are finding creative ways to keep businesses going, dine-in only restaurants are offering carry out services with daily specials and many took advantage of technology upgrades by reservation entities, Tock and Resy, to offer free delivery services. Yoga, meditation and fitness studios are turning to virtual class formats, with Peloton and Fitbit offering discounted or free subscriptions for a limited time. An Orland Park, IL college student, sent home due to school closing, launched a volunteer-based grocery shopping for seniors, covid senior shoppers, that has since gone viral. And, small businesses are encouraging people to buy gift cards with the anticipation to use them once it’s safe again to be amongst others.
Employers are also finding resourceful ways to manage through the coronavirus pandemic. Recently we hosted webinars on Managing Through the Coronavirus, Pandemic Planning: Employer’s Guide to New Regulations for COVID-1 and Transitioning to Virtual Hiring and On-Boarding. Record high numbers of viewers indicates there’s a need for this information and some people may have more time on their hands.
With the pivot to virtual hiring, we are also seeing an increase in virtual career events and for a number of employers a dramatic increase in job postings to fill the business process shifts they’ve made, which gives hope to the millions who are recently unemployed. Unemployment could rise anywhere from 15% to 30% in the coming months with economists worrying that the US may face a climate unseen since the Great Depression.
Yet, hope abounds. For the employed, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides paid sick leave and emergency family and medical leave for qualifying individuals. For businesses, the federal government has infused more than $2 trillion under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
Of the $2 trillion, 30% of the funds are set aside for individuals, 25% for large corporations, 19% for small businesses, 17% for state and local governments and 9% for public services. For employers the CARES Act provides:
- Paycheck Protection Program Loans
- Emergency EIDL Grants
- Enhanced Unemployment Benefits
- Payroll Tax Credit/Deferrals
This infusion of federal funding is unprecedented. Not since the 1930s has the federal government infused this much capital into the economy. Looking at the brighter side, there may be a silver lining for many, who while staying at home practicing social distancing, may receive federal funding, stay fit by working out indoors, have food delivered to their doors, learn new skills via the web and spend quality time with their immediate families.