Today’s Pickup: COVID-19 putting half of American jobs at risk

Manufacturing worker


The COVID-19 virus is already
claiming American jobs, with workers being furloughed or laid off by companies
seeing a decline in business. In Connecticut, for example, 41 coronavirus cases
have been confirmed as of Monday evening, but those seeking unemployment jumped
over the weekend. The state normally receives approximately 1,000 filers over a
weekend, but over the past weekend more than 8,000 filed for unemployment.

And that was before Gov. Ned Lamont
put the state on a near-total lockdown, closing bars and restaurants and
limiting gatherings to fewer than 50 people.

The Connecticut example is symbolic
of the potential impact on jobs that Moody’s Analytics is warning about. The
firm’s latest update says that nearly half of all jobs in America are at risk,
with up to 27 million at high risk of disruption. Many of those are in
transportation, travel and leisure, hospitality and oil segments, all of which
may be slow to return to normal.

“People are going to be buying
less of everything. The stock market is down and wiping out people’s nest
eggs,” Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s said, according to CNN Business.
“They’re worried ‘Am I going to get sick? Are my parents going to get sick?’
That’s a prescription for people going into the bunker and for job losses.”

As more states shut down like
Connecticut – and at last count there were seven including New York that had
put in similar measures – job losses will mount, if even temporarily. How many
of those jobs will come back remains to be seen.

During the Great Recession, in March 2009, more than 800,000 job losses were counted. Kevin Hassett, former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, told CNN that job losses could cross 1 million once this week’s tallies are recorded.

Did you know?

The March Empire State
Manufacturing Survey showed declining business in the state. The survey,
conducted between March 2 and March 10, saw its index fall 34 points to -21.5.
It is the largest one-month drop ever and the lowest the reading has been since
2009. The new orders index fell to -9.3, meaning orders are declining.


“For the U.S., it presents the
very real chance that companies from auto makers to electronics manufacturers
will soon begin to cease or limit production. With a downed China as the
headstream of global manufacturing, mercantile America simply can’t function as
it’s accustomed to.”

– Daron Gifford, who leads Plante Moran’s strategy and automotive industry consulting services, in an op-ed for MarketWatch

In other news:

Intermodal faces new challenge

Intermodal, which was already
struggling as volumes dropped, is facing new headwinds thanks to the
coronavirus. (Supply Chain Dive)

United CEO details coronavirus impact

In a letter to Congress, United
Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said the coronavirus is having a worse impact on
airlines than 9/11 did in 2001. (Politico)

US factories face closure

Between the impact on supply chains
from China, to restrictions domestically, U.S. manufacturing facilities face
temporary closures. (MarketWatch)

Container lines start dropping surcharges

As congestion in China eases,
container lines are dropping surcharges placed on refrigerated goods after the
COVID-19 outbreak. (Seatrade Maritime News)

Seattle cargo terminals shut down

Two Seattle cargo terminals have
closed as trade has slowed due to the trade war and coronavirus. (Seattle Times)

Final thoughts

As truck drivers face life on the
road, many have traditionally driven while sick for a couple of reasons. One is
that access to a doctor is limited, with out-of-network physicians costing
significantly more than their family doctor. The coronavirus outbreak could
impact half of America, according to some experts, and drivers are going to
need access to a doctor. The government is easing restrictions on telemedicine
use, and some companies in the freight industry are opening those doors.
Konexial is one, offering drivers 30 days of free service if they sign up for
GoMedRX for six months. Drivers should ask their family doctors or health plan
administrators about what options are available for them while on the road.

Hammer down, everyone!