When the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals on April 3 what happened to jobs in March, we will likely discover that U.S. unemployment spiked faster than ever before. In four to six weeks, 10 million workers may lose their jobs, and that may only be the beginning.
But while in normal circumstances the unemployed can begin to look for new work, they are among the 100 million Americans being told to stay at hometo slow the spread of the coronavirus — and that number could triple to include most people in the country.
No war changed both behavior and economic conditions in the United States so drastically and so quickly.
Although no two crises are exactly alike, I learned valuable lessons about the right way to respond to a crisis as a member of the incoming Obama administration’s economic transition team, which had to deal with the government response to the 2008-09 financial crisis.
The Senate is expected to announce a coronavirus stimulus package soon, but the House still has time to apply hard-won lessons from the previous crisis. Before Congress throws a record amount of money at the current, and unprecedented, financial and healthcare emergency, it should slow down to take into account what the Obama team learned about the importance of helping the most people and businesses.