With 11 million U.S. Cases, Unemployment Scares While Mnuchin Causes Controversy

On Sunday, the United States passed 11 million total coronavirus cases as new daily cases rapidly approach 200,000. The jump from 10 million to 11 million took ten days. This drastic rise has forced health officials to advise against communal holiday festivities and to instead quarantine.

Accordingly, stocks fell Friday amid concerns about the rising cases. The S&P 500 dove 0.7% following the Dow Jones Industrial Average which dropped by 0.8%. Even J.P. Morgan, America’s largest investment bank, provided expectations of negative growth in first-quarter 2021 stating, “This winter will be grim, and we believe the economy will contract again in Q1.”

The G20 Summit, a discussion amongst the world’s richest nations, gathered this past weekend to further examine the threat of coronavirus. As Trump’s last major international event, the United States’ President justified his administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord claiming, “ It was designed to kill the American economy,” and that he refuses to “surrender millions of American jobs.” Meanwhile, Democrats remain split over their jobs plan, the Green New Deal. On Tuesday, Democratic President-elect Joseph Biden will announce his cabinet picks.

Politics aside, in reality, the United States’ job market sees unemployment rates “nearing Great Depression levels.” Since early March, initial unemployment insurance claims have topped 36 million. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics indicated that the current unemployment rate is about 19.7%.

Labor economists, however, predict the downturn will fall short of depression standards due to a difference in causes and modern government policy. Still though, roughly half of Americans are currently jobless.

Additionally, new research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, illustrates the degree to which the United States’ unemployment benefits fail to help those in crisis, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

These developments, of course, fall on the heels of Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin’s announcement declaring an end to the emergency programs run through the Federal Reserve. Originally set to expire in December, many thought the programs would remain operational through the presidential transition, especially as Americans prepare for a rough winter. Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell and other members criticized the move.

This news came right as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell broke the Senate for Thanksgiving Break, again pausing the increasingly hopeless negotiations over a second stimulus package.

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