Just over a year ago the world was turned upside-down by the Coronavirus. People were faced with a devastating impact on their lives and livelihoods. Let’s take a look back at the impacts and where we stand today.
Unemployment numbers ballooned out of control during the past year but they’re finally coming back down to manageable terms. The first week of March 2021 saw 712,000 filing first time claims on unemployment. This is 6 percent lower than the previous week and a huge improvement over the millions of claims at the height of the pandemic. For the past 52 weeks, first-time claims have been higher than at any time during the Great Recession. Although we aren’t quite out of the woods yet, considering the only 211,000 claims before Covid hit one year ago.
Consider this: there are 20 million people receiving unemployment benefits across all programs. That is a huge, huge, number. In comparison, at the peak of the Great Recession, that number only got up to about 6.5 million. We also need to take into account the federal programs for gig workers, parents and the like, which means that about 8.5 million fewer out-of-work Americans would be getting unemployment benefits right now.
In other federal-related news, the White House announced a new rouind of relief payments which is a welcome piece of information for a lot of Americans. The IRS will make direct deposits if your banking information is on file, otherwise paper checks will be mailed to you. If you haven’t already filed your 2020 tax returns, then your 2019 returns will be used. All in all, this is a positive message well received by Americans who have survived a year of business closures and lockdowns.
More good news is that with the wide distribution of vaccines, we could be seeing a semi-normal return to life before this summer. Los Angeles Times reported this week that Covid is finally dwindling, and herd immunity is within reach — in a city that was hard-hit by the virus. As cases plummet nationwide and vaccinations total 1.7 million Americans a day and rising, health experts are increasingly optimistic tone in their pandemic assessments.
Just over a year ago a national emergency was declared. Here we are twelve months later, after surviving a global health crisis, millions in loss of life, massive unemployment, stock market crashes, a summer of protests and a hotly contested election year — all in the middle of a pandemic. But one year later there is light at the end of this tunnel that carries with it a message of hope: “This too shall pass.”
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