Economy

Unemployment Climbs, Kudlow Says No Stimulus

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

The unemployment rate climbed to a post-Great Depression high of 14.7 percent during the month of April according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and that does not include a significant number of people.

At least 20.5 million jobs were lost last month, but several million more people lost their jobs in the last week and the statistics do not include many others.

The trail of job losses was heaviest at restaurants, retailers and hotels, but every major industry suffered. The health-care sector even lost nearly 1.5 million jobs amid the worst health crisis in American history, according to the Labor Department data released Friday morning. [...]

If millions of Americans who have been furloughed and expect to return to their jobs are counted, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the jobless rate would have almost 5 percentage points higher at nearly 20%.

A broader measure of unemployment that includes discouraged job seekers and other people on the fringes of the labor market skyrocketed to a record 22.8% in April, painting an even grimmer picture.

In related news, Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, appeared in front of cameras this morning where he said the White House will not talk to members of Congress about stimulus for the rest of the month for the most foolish of reasons.

They apparently drank their own Kool-aid and believe the economy will return to normal over the next four weeks.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House has halted talks with Congress over any further coronavirus stimulus package as it awaits the impact U.S. state reopenings have on the economy this month, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters on Friday.

“Well we just had another big infusion,” Kudlow said with regard to why there was a pause in talks. [...]

“No one could look at today’s jobs report, the highest unemployment since the Great Depression, and say we should hit the pause button on further government action,” U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “We need a big, bold approach now to support American workers and families.”

Unemployment is mostly likely going to be even higher at the end of this month, not lower, even as some businesses reopen on a limited basis. Consumer demand in the services sector, which represents the lion's share of the economy, is not going to be "normal" anytime soon and possibly not even this year. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that unemployment will average at least 10 percent through 2021.

But the White House isn't hitting the pause button on stimulus for economic reasons. This is a political message.

To agree to sign or even talk about more stimulus is to say that the economy is still in trouble and needs more help. Trump wants to project confidence and an image of normalcy even if it requires an enormous amount of magical thinking to believe in it. Trump's only chance to be reelected depends on getting enough people to think things are normal, so he will most likely spend the rest of the year congratulating himself even though our expected death toll from the virus is now well above 100,000.

I do not necessarily expect the Trump regime's refusal to talk about stimulus will actually last for the rest of month, but that's this week's message. The message is that things will be "great again" soon.