Coronavirus: 22 million Americans out of work in just one month

Plants closed, value chains interrupted: Industrial production in the United States fell by 5.4% in March, its biggest decline since 1946.

The U.S. economy continues to fall like a stone. For the week ending April 11, 5.245 million people registered unemployment in the United States. In four weeks, 22 million Americans lost their jobs in a country with a labour force of 165 million. The unemployment rate is not known, but is expected to rise from 3.5% pre-crisis to nearly 17%. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts a recession of 5.9% in 2020 (less severe than the 7.5% recession expected in the euro zone) before rebounding to 4.7% in 2021.

The crisis concerns both supply and demand, as confirmed by the first indices published on Wednesday 15 April. Closed factories, interrupted value chains: in March, US industrial production experienced its biggest decline since 1946, with a 5.4% drop. As for consumption, the situation is also worse than expected, with retail sales dropping 8.7%. This is the worst situation since statistics were first compiled in the early 1990s.

While Americans have rushed to grocery and drug stores to stock up on basic necessities, they have deserted bars and restaurants (a quarter less sales), clothing stores (sales halved), car dealerships (-25%), and remain confined.

Funds swallowed up in a few days

The federal government and the states have been in a hurry to get ready. Twelve million Americans were thrown out of work last week. Those who lost their jobs are entitled to federal compensation of up to $600 (about 550 euros) per week for nearly nine months. This is in addition to state benefits of up to $500. The 150 million Americans earning less than $75,000 a year have begun receiving individual assistance of $1,200 (plus $500 per child) from the Treasury.