May 4, 2020 - Economy & Business

How April's jobs report will help to size up the economy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

April's U.S. jobs report will certainly reveal unprecedented losses after 30.3 million people filed unemployment claims in just six weeks, but it will also contain a number of other data points that will provide important context about the real hit to the economy and what a recovery might look like.

Why it matters: The monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) nonfarm payrolls report uses a combination of household surveys and employer records to more accurately assess the state of U.S. unemployment.

What to watch: Among the big questions analysts will be looking to answer are how many workers not counted as employed are still tied to an employer, how successful were the government's efforts at mitigating the economic shock, and how were those who remained employed affected?

  • Bank of America Global Research analysts expect average weekly hours worked will "plunge to a new record low of 33.5, though this will have a side effect of boosting wage growth by 1.0% [month over month] or 3.9% [year over year] as impacted workers will skew towards low-to-medium wages."
  • According to the latest report from the BLS, the number of workers placed on a part-time schedule as a result of reduced work or business conditions jumped 1.3 million (46%) between February and March.

Between the lines: A Gallup poll taken April 13–19 found 10% of Americans were temporarily laid off from work as a result of the coronavirus, and an additional 2% said they had permanently lost their job. A total of 26% said they had lost income and 15% reported reductions in hours.

  • The impacts were more pronounced among those in lower income brackets, with 32% of respondents whose annual household income (before the pandemic) was less than $36,000 reporting a loss of income.

The intrigue: The CARES Act's Paycheck Protection Program was designed to keep workers tied to their employers. But small business owners have complained that the program is poorly designed, and because of increased unemployment eligibility and benefits from the government, it could worsen relationships.

The big picture: A separate Gallup poll of 540 adults from April 1–12 found that 25% of employed Americans think they are likely to be laid off in the next year.

  • However, among those who have been laid off, 85% believe it is "likely" that they will be able to return to their job once the crisis has ended, with 60% saying that it is "very likely."

Go deeper

Census Bureau reports spike in signs of anxiety and depression since coronavirus

A food bank distribution line in Brooklyn, New York. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Americans are experiencing an increase in anxiety and depression amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Census Bureau survey cited by the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The findings indicate a significant uptick in clinical anxiety and depression since the onset of the virus. Despite communities and economies reopening, the COVID-19 outbreak is far from over.

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans Tuesday to make wearing face coverings mandatory statewide for most people over the age of 10 when inside public places. The measure is effective Friday and applies to places like retailers, on public transportation and government buildings.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from the novel coronavirus and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

New York reports lowest number of daily coronavirus deaths since March

The number of daily new coronavirus cases and deaths reported in New York was the lowest since the state started its lockdown in March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday, calling Memorial Day a "pivot point" for New York.

By the numbers: 73 New Yorkers died from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and 200 people tested positive. Hospitalizations and intubations also decreased.