Americans are suffering a hidden ‘depression’ and economic hell in 2020 — and it could get even worse: report

Americans are suffering a hidden ‘depression’ and economic hell in 2020 — and it could get even worse: report
Meaghan Ellis
Retail workers have a different reason to dread the Black Friday rush this year

Even in the worst of economic times, some Americans will continue to prosper — for example, the corporatists who made a fortune during the Great Depression of the 1930s while millions of other Americans were out of work. The coronavirus recession of 2020 has left parts of the U.S. economy unscathed — many online businesses are turning huge profits — while creating economic hell for others. And the latter is the focus of an article published by Axios on December 4.

Axios' Dino Rabouin breaks it down when it comes to who is faring well economically during the coronavirus recession and who is suffering economic hell. The journalist explains, "Big business, investors and the wealthy are thriving. But restaurant and bar employees, hotel and airline staff and other service workers are in a pretty hopeless situation right now. A 'depression' is an apt description of what they're facing — especially folks in rural and middle America who are parents."

Rabouin adds, "700,000 Americans have been filing unemployment insurance claims every week for 37 weeks — nine months. Plus, 20 million people are still on the pre-pandemic unemployment rolls. That's unheard of, and incredibly bad."

The coronavirus pandemic is the world's deadliest health crisis since the so-called "Spanish flu" pandemic of 1918/1919. According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, COVID-19 has killed more than 1.5 people worldwide and over 276,000 in the United States. And Dr. Anthony Fauci, expert immunologist, is warning that the worst is yet to come as the U.S. moves from late autumn into early winter.

From a business and economic standpoint, the U.S. was much different during the 1918/1919 pandemic — there was no such thing as the "digital economy" when Woodrow Wilson was president. But during the 2020 pandemic, the U.S. has digital-oriented workers who have the ability to earn a great living without leaving home and workers who have to physically go their brick-and-mortar jobs — and those brick-and-mortar jobs might have ceased to exist because of the pandemic.

"President-elect Biden faces a fragile recovery that could easily fall apart, as the economy remains in worse shape than most people think," Rabouin observes. "Why it matters: there is a recovery happening, but it's helping some people immensely and others not at all. And it's that second part that poses a massive risk to the Biden-Harris Administration's chance of success."

In November, the United States' official unemployment rate was 6.7%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But one thing unemployment figures don't reflect, as Rabouin points out, is the pandemic's effect on the gig economy — that is, freelancers who don't have a full-time job, but survive through freelance gigs.

Rabouin reports, "The official unemployment rate has been dropping, but that's because: (1) It never really counted gig economy workers well in the first place. (2) Its data collection abilities have been severely crimped by the pandemic. (3) Lots of people are falling out of the labor force — not working and not looking. What's next: 13.4 million people are on pandemic unemployment programs that expire at the end of the year — 27 days from now."

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