Here is the situation the U.S. economy faces, a month before Election Day: Job growth is stalling. Layoffs are mounting. And no more help is coming, at least not right away.
American households and businesses have gone two months without the enhanced unemployment benefits, low-interest loans and other programs that helped prop up the economy in the spring. And now, after President Trump’s announcement Tuesday that he was cutting off stimulus negotiations until after the election, the wait will go on at least another month — and very likely until the next presidential term starts in 2021.
It could be a dangerous delay.
Already, many furloughs are turning into permanent job losses, and major companies like Disney and Allstate are initiating new rounds of layoffs. The hotel industry is warning of thousands of closures, and tens of thousands of small businesses are weighing whether to close up shop for good. An estimated one of every seven small businesses in the United States had shut down permanently by the end of August — 850,000 in all — according to data from Womply, a marketing platform. The deeper those wounds, the longer the economy will take to heal.
Economists say lawmakers should be acting immediately to send more money to workers marooned on unemployment by the recession, to businesses of all sizes that are struggling to survive until the pandemic abates and their customers return in full force, and to state and local governments that have seen tax revenues decline and are already moving to lay off public employees.
spoke twice on Wednesday about a stand-alone bill for airline relief. But prospects for even a limited package were uncertain and would fall far short of the amount that many economists say is needed to keep businesses and households solvent.
“The risk to waiting is that we may find ourselves in a place where we’re unable to turn back, we’ll hit a tipping point,” said Karen Dynan, a Harvard economist and Treasury Department official during the Obama administration.
R. Glenn Hubbard, a Columbia University economist who was chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, said the economy still needed $1 trillion in immediate aid for people, businesses and state governments. “Failing to act will have real economic consequences,” he said.
Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, echoed those concerns in a speech on Tuesday, arguing that the government should go big and that not providing adequate support carried risks for the economy.
unemployment rate, which reached nearly 15 percent in April, fell to 7.9 percent in September.
But most of the aid programs expired over the summer, and in recent weeks economic gains have faltered. Economists say the loss of momentum is likely to grow worse if more aid doesn’t arrive soon. Federal Reserve officials had been expecting another aid package to arrive when they released their economic projections in September, minutes released on Wednesday showed, and warned that “absent a new package, growth could decelerate at a faster-than-expected pace in the fourth quarter.”
While Republicans, Democrats and the White House have sparred over the scope and size of another package, many economists say the amount is less important than how fast and where the money is deployed.