This is obvious. The new Biden administration is inheriting a seriously damaged economy. The decline in payroll employment reflects the recent increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and efforts to contain the pandemic.
The BLS December report said this:
“In December, 15.8 million persons reported that they had been unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic-that is, they did not work at all or worked fewer hours at some point in the last 4 weeks due to the pandemic.”
“This measure is 1.0 million higher than in November. Among those who reported in December that they were unable to work because of pandemic-related closures or lost business, 12.8 percent received at least some pay from their employer for the hours not worked, little changed from November.”
After trending down to 787,000 new jobless claims from a high of over 6 million at the end of March 2020, the new claims jumped to 965,000 last week.
This situation was obviously driven by the continuing and growing impact of COVID-19.
However as the virus continues to spread car sales have been surging. Home sales have been surging. The stock market set an all time high this month.
These realities reflect on the fact that we have an enormously divided society between the haves and the have-nots.
For the better educated, who hold white collar jobs, their accumulation of wealth has created a whole class of people — at least the top 20% or so of earners — who’ve had to worry little about such things as having a job. And as lockdowns gripped the nation, millions of people, especially those at the upper end of America’s socio-economic ladder, were able to redirect money they would have otherwise spent on things like entertainment, dining and travel toward savings or, better yet, investments. With the rising stock market their wealth has grown significantly.
The continuing pandemic isn’t ending any time soon. According to Biden administration Surgeon General nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy, it may take until late spring to finish vaccinating high-risk populations, if all goes according to plan. If that happens, the general public may be looking at a rough time-frame of the middle summer before widespread vaccine distribution begins. To me that translates to millions not going back to work until the fall of 2021.
Unless Americans are willing to have a nation of massive homelessness the federal government will have to provide funding for rents, food, and education for our youth. Joe Biden will have to convince a majority of both houses of congress that this must be job one.