Tuesday, April 14, 2020

A Second Round of Coronavirus Layoffs

Well, I hope I'm not laid off, sheesh.

At WSJ, "A Second Round of Coronavirus Layoffs Has Begun. Few Are Safe":

The first people to lose their jobs worked at restaurants, malls, hotels and other places that closed to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Higher skilled work, which often didn’t require personal contact, seemed more secure.

That’s not how it’s turning out.

A second wave of job loss is hitting those who thought they were safe. Businesses that set up employees to work from home are laying them off as sales plummet. Corporate lawyers are seeing jobs dry up. Government workers are being furloughed as state and city budgets are squeezed. And health-care workers not involved in fighting the pandemic are suffering.

The longer shutdowns continue, the bigger this second wave could become, risking a repeat of the deep and prolonged labor downturn that accompanied the 2007-09 recession.

The consensus of 57 economists surveyed this month by The Wall Street Journal is that 14.4 million jobs will be lost in the coming months, and the unemployment rate will rise to a record 13% in June, from a 50-year low of 3.5% in February. Already nearly 17 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits in the past three weeks, dwarfing any period of mass layoffs recorded since World War II.

Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist of Oxford Economics, projects 27.9 million jobs will be lost, and industries beyond those ordered to close will account for 8 million to 10 million, a level of job destruction on a par with the 2007-09 recession.

Oxford Economics, a U.K.-based forecasting and consulting firm, projects April’s jobs report, which will capture late-March layoffs, will show cuts to 3.4 million business-services workers, including lawyers, architects, consultants and advertising professionals, as well as 1.5 million nonessential health-care workers and 100,000 information workers, including those working in the media and telecommunications.

“The virus shock does not discriminate across sectors as we initially thought,” Mr. Daco said.

Gary Cuozzo, owner of ISG Software Group in Wallingford, Conn., said in recent weeks he’s received only a few hundred dollars in payments from customers, including manufacturers, nonprofits and retailers, for which he hosts websites and builds applications. It’s not enough to pay the $3,000 electric bill for his servers and other equipment, much less pay his own salary.

“Customers who paid like clockwork for 10-plus years are suddenly late,” he said. “I’m burning through all the cash I have.”

Mr. Cuozzo stopped drawing a salary several weeks ago, and has filed for unemployment benefits. He’s essentially volunteering in an effort to keep his business afloat. He can work at home or alone at his business, but that’s of little help. “We have no software projects,” Mr. Cuozzo said. “Everything is on hold.”

Those employed in industries where working from home is feasible are facing widespread layoffs, said ZipRecruiter labor economist Julia Pollak. The recruiting site itself laid off more than 400 of its 1,200 full-time employees at the end of March.

A survey of visitors to the job-search site found 39% employed in business and professional services reported they were laid off, nearly the same rate as respondents in retail and wholesale trade. (Active job seekers are more likely to be laid off than the average American.) Among the respondents who still had jobs, many in white-collar industries said their hours were cut...
Still more.