Shutdown directive must be last resort in fragile economy
With the coronavirus coming back strong, a number of governors have ordered renewed steps to combat the disease. Most are reluctant to mandate widespread business closings, however.
There are very good reasons for that. Our economy may not be able to withstand another blow like that earlier this year.
A truly impressive comeback has occurred. At last report, the U.S. unemployment rate had decreased to 6.9 percent. That is a remarkable demonstration of the economy’s basic strength. Numbers can be deceivingly comforting, however. That 6.9 percent in reality means more than 11 million Americans who want to work cannot find jobs.
Of that total, about 3.2 million are listed as “temporary layoff.” No doubt most of them lost their positions due to the epidemic-related business shutdowns earlier in the year.
About 3.7 million of those on the unemployment rolls are shown as permanently laid off, however. Their jobs are gone for good.
Governors are right, then, to be uneasy about new business shutdowns. They need to be a last resort — especially because there seems little likelihood of a new round of federal funding to cover unemployment benefits.