To illustrate how dire our economic conditions have become, we decided to gather some numbers. Starting with the number of Americans who would still have jobs if the health crisis had never happened. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 7 million people out of work in 2021 would reportedly be working if widespread business shutdowns haven’t occurred as a result of the outbreak. The CBO report stresses that this is a terrible situation for the labor market, and it calls “to immediate action, not calm, not wait-and-see”. The agency projected that without effective federal assistance, the unemployment rate will remain above its pre-outbreak levels until 2024, which means millions would be unemployed for years, even after the health threat is gone.
Additional numbers provided by the report outline that now that we’re almost a year into the crisis, nearly 11 million workers remain unemployed, and at least 4 million have been unemployed for six months or longer. Over 2 million women have left the labor force, as a consequence of school closures and challenges with child care. Right now, the figures that expose their suffering point out that roughly 24 million adults, and as many as 12 million children, are struggling with food insecurity, while more than 80 million adults are having problems covering household expenses.
According to Bloomberg, over 8 million Americans fell into poverty during the second half of 2020, which not only increased racial and income inequalities but will potentially jeopardize the future of millions of children in such tragically impoverished households. As the stimulus money keeps failing to reach those who need it the most, those numbers will inevitably continue to grow in the months ahead, especially because the federal aid is also failing to support our businesses. And that brings us to our next number. Approximately 9 million small businesses in the U.S. say that they “won’t survive” in 2021 without further government assistance, as 88% of the businesses surveyed disclosed that sales had not yet returned to pre-outbreak levels.
Even if business eventually goes back to normal, these businesses have piled up huge mountains of debt that will not go away. That is particularly concerning since the real estate and housing markets are already overwhelmed with the number of domestic renters behind on their rent payments, which lead us to the final figures: according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 10 million tenants across the U.S. were late on their rental payment in January, and an estimated 16 million renters had little to no confidence they could pay rent in February.
The survey describes that all of these people are at risk of eviction. Altogether, U.S. home renters now owe at least 30 billion dollars in back rent. As a result, America’s landlords have been experiencing extreme financial pain, and experts say that as soon as the rent moratoriums are finally lifted we are going to see the largest tsunami of evictions in all of U.S. history by a very wide margin.
So taking a step back and looking at the overall picture, we can see how the effects of the collapse have infiltrated all over the economy. The industries that didn’t immediately meltdown after the recession began, are now steadily decaying while the ones that were hit the hardest by the downturn are completely disintegrating right before our eyes. Jobs are being shed with every day it passes, and millions upon millions of Americans are deeply suffering from the financial setbacks the recession forced them to face. These are very dark times for the U.S. economy, and it seems like much more pain is on the horizon.
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