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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Private companies shed 2.8 million U.S. jobs last month, according to a report from payroll processor ADP and Moody’s Analytics.

Why it matters: It's way less than the nearly 9 million private sector jobs economists estimated would be lost in May, suggesting layoffs during the coronavirus crisis could be slowing sooner than Wall Street expected.

Between the lines: The job losses are still huge (over 3 times worse than the record seen before pandemic crushed the labor market), but way less than the revised 19.6 million historic job losses seen in April.

  • Weekly applications for unemployment have tapered off from the record highs in recent weeks, but remain historically high, and in the millions.
  • But that data only captures those who are laid off and seeking unemployment — it does not consider hiring in the economy.

What they're saying: "Job loss is abating. Layoffs peaked in late March, early April and winded down by the end of May," Moody's Analytics' chief economist Mark Zandi said on a call with reporters.

  • Zandi expects a return to job growth in June and expects the economy to regain half the jobs it lost by September.
  • "If we don't have a major second wave, and we get a little bit more policy support, the covid recession is over," Zandi says.
  • But the economic "recovery will be a slog," Zandi says, until a coronavirus vaccine or therapy is distributed broadly and widely.

By the numbers: Two sectors saw net job gains last month: education and "administrative and support services," which includes everything from landscaping to security services, plus temp help.

Here are the job declines by business size:

  • Large businesses (500+ workers): -1,604,000
  • Medium-sized businesses (50-499 employees): -722,000
  • Small businesses (fewer than 50 employees): -435,000

What's next: It's not a perfect proxy, but the ADP report is closely watched for what’s to come when the official jobs data is released on Friday, which also includes government jobs.

  • That's expected to show payrolls decline by over 8 million, with the unemployment rate hitting 20%.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 16, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. surpassed 8 million coronavirus cases on Friday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: Coronavirus infections jumped by almost 17% over the past week as the number of new cases across the country increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C., according to a seven-day average tracked by Axios.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Sep 4, 2020 - Economy & Business

Unreliable data is complicating the unemployment crisis

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. unemployment picture looks to be improving but it's increasingly being clouded by shoddy data, a problem that seems to be getting worse as the pandemic progresses.

What's happening: The number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits rose to 29.2 million for the latest week of data, the Department of Labor announced Thursday.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

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