Now Permanent Job Losses
September jobs report, six months after the pandemic hit the country, the US is now facing a wave of lingering unemployment. The Labor Department said 2.4 million workers laid off in March are still unemployed. This means they are now 27 weeks without work and long-term jobless. While its jobs report showed a decline in temporary layoffs, the permanent one increased. These are grim facts that can point to a long-drawn period of hardship for the American worker.
US Jobs Report: Recovery Running Out of Steam
The Labor Department’s September Job report is painting a grim picture. It said September generated 661,000 jobs, which is lower than expected. This is 139,000 jobs short of a Dow Jones survey estimate of 800,000. The unemployment rate fell to 7.9%, which is better than the expected 8.3% rate. The last time the unemployment dropped to this level, it was a month before elections in 2012.
Analysts attributed the shortfall in jobs to lesser government hiring. In particular, there is a large drop in hiring for census takers and school teachers. Census taking is an uneasy proposition as it involves house-to-house visits. Meanwhile, Americans preferred home study for kids instead of going back to school. 216,000 school jobs weren’t filled, while census workers lost 34,000 opportunities to work.
Workers reported as under temporary layoff numbered 4.6 million from 6.1 million last month. Workers holding part-time jobs for economic reasons fell to 6.3 million from 7.6 million. Permanent job losses increased by 345,000 to 3.8 million.
Boosted Unemployment Benefits
MarketWatch thinks that despite the positive reports, the economy is in danger. At present, the US economy depends on consumer spending. While high last summer, retail spending benefited from unemployment and stimulus relief measures. America’s CARES act provided $600 extra unemployment benefits. This led to personal income staying high despite a high unemployment rate.
By October, relief aid is gone. Congress tried but failed to enact a new round of stimulus relief. While politicians still hope to come up with a new aid package, time is running out. The elections are less than a month away, and nobody wants to help the other side. This is the dangerous part. Without a new round of stimulus, Americans will finally experience a true recession.
The pandemic beat most analysts’ expectations and continued unabated. Outbreaks are still reported all over the United States. Recently, the country reported its 7 millionth case and death toll exceeding 300,000. Unless a vaccine arrives, the coronavirus problem will continue until the end of the year. And with that comes disruptions in businesses and loss of jobs.
Businesses are still struggling to reopen
The economy only managed to get back half of the 22 million jobs lost from February until April. Businesses that depend on crowds are struggling, and are now laying off workers. These include restaurants, bars, theaters, entertainment centers, and sports facilities. Even major players are also feeling the crunch. Disney announced last week that it will cut 28,000 U.S. employees. Restaurant chains, retail stores, and hospitality services made thousands of long-term staff reductions. Airlines ran out of aid money and are now set to cut 50,000 jobs. Before September, thousands of workers retired or went into furlough.
More Stimulus Package
Businesses and workers are now starting to feel the loss of the Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP allowed businesses to apply for forgivable loans as long as they use the money for payroll. Millions of workers who got axed during the pandemic were able to get their jobs back because of this. But as the PPP dried up, businesses are now laying off workers again.
A simple solution is to get our politicians working to give hard-working Americans the relief they deserve. A new round of stimulus aid can help tide things over while the government races to find a coronavirus solution. But with the elections nearing, it’ll be hard to get them to work on a compromise with their rivals. Unless they forego politics and think of Americans. A fully-approved coronavirus vaccine would be the ultimate game-changer. For everyone’s safety, we’ll have to wait until tests show that candidate vaccines are both safe and effective.
Watch this as CNBC reports that U.S. jobs rose by 661,000 in September, but the unemployment rate is at 7.9%:
Who’s gonna save American jobs? Stimulus efforts, or the vaccine? Or maybe something else. Do you have an idea? Let us know what you think by sharing your comments below!
Multiple COVID-19 Vaccines Could Be Ready by Fall
Barring major setbacks, multiple Covid-19 vaccines could be ready as early as by fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention thinks at least two vaccines are good to go by then. Last week, the CDC sent word to state officials on several possible scenarios. This includes where small stocks are available by October and more doses by the year-end. The vaccines were not named, but instructions match those from Pfizer and Moderna.
RELATED: Russian Coronavirus Vaccine is Ready
Given the severity of the pandemic, a single company won’t be able to make enough vaccines. This is why the US government signed contracts with many pharmaceutical companies. Each pharma needs to supply the US at least 100 million vaccines as soon as they become available.
This means that the race to develop a vaccine is not contingent on a single winner. Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases dismisses the notion that it’s a contest. In an interview, he said: “I think the general public maybe has the wrong impression that there will be a winner and only one winner and everybody else will be a loser. That’s not the case at all. I think it’s quite conceivable, if not likely, that you’re going to have multiple candidates that’ll get over the finish line that will be good enough to be approved for production and use.”
Meet The Candidates
At present, there are a couple of candidates already in late-stage trials. This includes two vaccines undergoing late-stage trials: Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech. The third one from AstraZeneca and Oxford University is also undergoing large-scale trials. It had to pause trials earlier this week as a British subject developed an illness.
Despite the setback, AstraZeneca is confident it will roll out COVID-19 vaccines within 2020. CEO Pascal Soriot said that he expects data from the trials will support approval by year-end. He told reporters that “We could still have a vaccine by the end of this year, early next year.” The safety review due to the illness is a normal occurrence in large trials. This helps check if the illness is because of the vaccine, or is coincidental.
Two other companies that are in the running are Novavax and Johnson & Johnson. Both are about to start their large scale trials this September, in time for a Dec or early 2021 release. Vaccines from China and Russia also are in late-stage testing and are showing promise as well.
Limited Supplies At First
If ever the timetable proves true, not everybody will get vaccines immediately. Even as the US locked up pre-orders, limited supplies are foreseen at first. Experts estimate 10-15 million doses will arrive at first.
The National Academy of Medicine proposes rolling out the vaccine by phases. Frontline health workers and essential personnel will get to have the first doses. The next phase would vaccinate high-risk patients, seniors, and essential workers. Only after these groups will the program reach the general population.
Having different companies could also mean different segments can receive different vaccines. Different vaccine types can address groups that are more sensitive to side effects. Children and the elderly may need vaccines that are less potent than regular ones. Some types may prevent infections, while others can reduce the severity of symptoms.
COVID-19 Vaccines Possibilities
Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor, believes it’s possible to have many vaccines by 2021. He expects “different vaccines of different degrees of effectiveness and different degrees of effectiveness in a range of populations.”
By now, the Covid-19 pandemic has already caused a lot of stress among families and economies. Approval for an effective vaccine holds the best chance for things to normalize. Even if a candidate gets the green light, it will take some time before a dose reaches the average American. Until then, all we can do is remain prudent and safe.
Watch this as CNBC talks to Dr. Anthony Fauci of the CDC on the possibility that COVID-19 vaccines approval might come by end of the year:
Do you believe Covid-19 vaccines will be ready within the year? Or have you resigned yourself to a long winter ahead? Let us know how you feel about the progress of vaccine development by posting comments below.
Trump Wants To Fast Track COVID-19 Treatment
President Donald Trump wants to make sure that a COVID-19 treatment is available ASAP. If there’s something available before the elections, he wants them available. On separate occasions last week, the President signaled that the fight against COVID-19 is winnable. And more important, that the answers might come sooner than later.
Trump: “Focus on speed and saving lives!”
On Saturday, Trump fired shots at the Food and Drug Administration over the slow pace of approvals. He tweeted: “The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics.” Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!”
In response, the FDA gave an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 treatment the next day. This involved the use of plasma taken from patients who recovered from COVID-19. While promising, the FDA still maintains that the treatment only benefits some patients. The agency advised that the public should not look at plasma “as a new standard of care for the treatment.” The EUA will broaden the use of a treatment already used in more than 70,000 patients. Unlike drugs, plasma is not manufactured but depends on blood donations. This may present difficulty in getting the needed amount to help.
President begged to differ from the FDA. He said that the approval marked “a breakthrough” in the treatment of the coronavirus. Trump noted the approval came “by marshaling the full power of the federal government.” The treatment, he said, is welcome news in the fight against coronavirus.
By August, COVID-19 has infected more than 5 million Americans and has caused the deaths of 176,000 more. At present, the United States holds about 25% of all coronavirus cases in the world.
“A Major Advance in Treatment”
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said studies justified the EUA. During a White House briefing, Azar discussed a previous study with 70,000 volunteers. He said that “The data we gathered suggests that patients who were treated early in their disease course, within three days of being diagnosed, with plasma containing high levels of antibodies, benefited the most from treatment. We saw about a 35% better survival in the patients who benefited most from the treatment.” He added: “We dream in drug development of something like a 35% mortality reduction. This is a major advance in the treatment of patients. A major advance.”
Potential Fast Track for the Covid-19 Vaccine
Meanwhile, the President is also looking at fast-tracking a potential coronavirus vaccine. The Financial Times reported that the White House is looking at a EUA for a British vaccine. The vaccine under consideration is co-developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. It is now undergoing large scale Phase II/III trials, including 30,000 Americans. Using a regular timetable, AstraZeneca expects results until the end of the year. If the EUA happens, this can make a vaccine ready for Americans before the November elections.
The market was quick to pick up on the information. Stock prices of AstraZeneca (AZN), rose more than 2% on Monday. A company spokesperson denied there are ongoing talks with the federal government. He said, “it would be premature to speculate.”
Even without the EUA, the US will be among the first countries to receive an approved vaccine. The federal government gave over $1 billion to help fund AstraZeneca’s efforts. In return, the US will receive 300 doses of the vaccine as soon as it becomes available.
Not Just A Vaccine, But Maybe a Cure
Vaccines may be in the spotlight, but other Covid-19 treatments are under consideration. With millions infected at present, developing a cure can help turn the tide against Covid-19.
AstraZeneca also started testing its new antibody-based drug to prevent and treat Covid-19. This is a separate effort from its vaccine development program as mentioned above. If the tests show that the drug AZD7442 is safe, they will proceed to a larger trial phase. The company will test if it works both as a medicine to cure Covid-19 and as a preventative treatment.
Watch this as the U.S. FDA authorizes blood plasma for COVID-19 treatment:
Are you in favor of the fast track efforts of the President, notwithstanding whatever reasons are behind it? Let us know what you think by sharing your thoughts on the comment section below.
Coronavirus Relief Talks
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D – CA) and the Democrats have walked off the negotiation table. She said that coronavirus relief talks are dead unless the GOP agrees to a $2 trillion budget. In her weekly news conference, Pelosi said she doesn’t know when talks will resume. She said: “I don’t know when they come with $2 trillion. When they’re ready to do that, we’ll sit down.” Asked why she thinks the GOP won’t budge, she said she mistook them for “someone who gave a damn.”
Pelosi: No $2 Trillion Budget, No Coronavirus Relief Talks
The deadlock in the latest coronavirus relief package stems from the budget. Democrats want a $3.4 trillion package, while Republicans preferred a $1 trillion cap. Pelosi offered to decrease their proposal to $2T if the GOP would raise their budget to the same amount.
Talks further broke down between more disagreements in other areas. Both sides have not agreed on the amount for the second round of stimulus checks for Americans. The matter of unemployment aid remains unresolved. Equally open-ended were stated calls for more funds, as well as budgets for reopening schools.
White House Firm
The White House is firm in the $1 trillion camps. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin called the $2 trillion price tag “a non-starter.” He said that the additional $1 trillion for state and local governments is absurd. He added that states and cities already have plenty of cash. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow remarked talks are at a “stalemate.” He said that “the Speaker wants a $2 trillion commitment from us. We’re not going to give it. Kudlow added that Democrats have “too many tasks on their side that…don’t have anything to do with COVID…”
By Thursday, the Senate adjourned with no progress in the talks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) kept the chamber in session this week, despite the fact the Senate was already in recess. This week’s session was a last-ditch effort to get an agreement. Without any fresh developments, Senators proceeded with their recess. They followed House members who already left town and aren’t expected to return until Sept. 14.
McConnell accused Democrats of negotiating in bad faith. He noted that Democrats hold an agreement “hostage” while they pretend to negotiate. The senator warned that “voters are watching,” and the country knows what he’s talking about. “I’m talking about the absurd issues which the Democrats have turned into sticking points,” he said.
Without any deals, President Donald Trump’s executive orders appear as the only action. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that only Trump’s orders would be available by September. He said that “this is all you’re going to see until Congress gets back into session after Labor Day.” Trump issued a series of orders earlier this week aimed to provide Americans with relief. These include the resumption of the unemployment insurance, which expired last July 31. Reduced from $600 to $400, the financial aid would be borne by both federal and state governments 75%-25%. The President also ordered the temporary suspension of the payroll tax. Moratoriums were also requested for student loan payments and evictions from rented homes.
The orders will face some legal challenges when implemented. Congress controls the purse for any new projects and approves any budget diversions. If ever, the President will shrug his shoulders and say that at least he did something. He is almost daring opponents to stop his orders and deprive Americans of help. Trump remarked: “If we get sued, it’s [from] somebody that doesn’t want people to get money. And that’s not going to be a very popular thing.”
With time running out for a new deal, Americans are getting angrier by the minute. Coronavirus outbreaks are still happening, but promised relief packages are nowhere in sight. Both parties seem OK to suspend talks out of their principles. But it’s American folk who suffer in the meantime.
In the end, President Trump may get the last laugh out of this. His orders may have some legal issues, but with Congress acting like brats, his plan may be the only relief on the table. The more Dems and Republicans butt heads over the budget, the more popular Trump’s orders will be. Come November, you’ll be hearing a lot of people saying “at least he did something.”
Watch this as Pelosi discusses latest coronavirus relief negotiations:
Should Republicans act the better folk and meet Pelosi and the Democrats halfway? Or will doing so invite future trouble by giving more than what is necessary? If they get excuses instead of results, expect a strong response at the polls. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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