America's hidden depression
President-elect Biden faces a fragile recovery that could easily fall apart, as the economy remains in worse shape than most people think.
Why it matters: There is a recovery happening. But it's helping some people immensely and others not at all. And it's that second part that poses a massive risk to the Biden-Harris administration's chance of success.
Two big reasons:
1. Big business, investors, and the wealthy are thriving. But restaurant and bar employees, hotel and airline staff, and other service workers are in a pretty hopeless situation right now:
- A "depression" is an apt description of what they're facing — especially folks in rural and middle America who are parents.
700,000 Americans have been filing unemployment insurance claims every week for 37 weeks — nine months. Plus, 20 million people are still on the pre-pandemic unemployment rolls.
- That's unheard of, and incredibly bad.
2. As Axios has been telling you, government statistics — because of the way they've always been reported — understate lots of red flags.
- The official unemployment rate has been dropping, but that's because:
- It never really counted gig economy workers well in the first place.
- Its data collection abilities have been severely crimped by the pandemic.
- Lots of people are falling out of the labor force — not working and not looking.
What's next: 13.4 million people are on pandemic unemployment programs that expire at the end of the year — 27 days from now.