Epidemic crisis spreads about 23 million Americans or at risk of losing their jobs

BEIJING, March 24 (Xinhua) — The new corona epidemic has wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, with some 23 million Americans at immediate risk of losing their jobs. Employees working in retail, airline, travel agencies, restaurants, hotels and entertainment are the most affected, according to a new study by the Conference Board, a private research firm. These industries employ about 12 million people.

Epidemic crisis spreads about 23 million Americans or at risk of losing their jobs

Not all employees in these industries will be temporarily or permanently unemployed. In some cases, companies will actually increase hiring to meet demand growth.

Amazon and Wal-Mart have seen a surge in orders recently as thousands of Americans avoid home. Both sides said they wanted to add more than 100,000 new employees to cope with the large amount of new business. Some takeaway restaurants and fast food chains may also benefit.

However, millions of workers face leave, layoffs or a sharp drop in working hours. It is estimated that as many as 3 million people have lost their jobs in the past week.

Bank of America predicts that the number of first-time jobless recipients could be 3m in the week from March 15 to March 21. TD Bank has an estimated 2.5 million people and Goldman Sachs estimates it is 2.25 million.

By contrast, before the crisis, the average number of people asking for unemployment benefits averaged about 220,000 a week, but people will soon find new jobs.

Gad Levanon, chief north-east economist at The Conference Board, said that if the crisis continued for two to three months, “a quarter to a half” of the 23m high-risk unemployed would be out of work.

If the crisis starts to subside in mid-summer, the economy could recover relatively quickly, Levanon said.

“A lot of work is likely to resume in the six months from now, although he notes that “in some sectors we will see a slower recovery,” he said. “