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What is America Post-Lockdown Look Like?

(Sun, 10 May 2020). U.S. unemployment hit a postwar record 14.7% in April, as the economy lost a decade of job growth in a single month. Fifty-two percent of U.S. small businesses could close their doors in six months, according to a new industry survey. Before the Covid-19 crisis, small businesses employed nearly 60 million people. The U.S. economy experienced unprecedented pain in April, as employers shed a historic 20.5 million jobs following government-mandated lockdown orders. For many small businesses, months of lost revenue could mean shuttering their doors permanently this year.


Lockdown Leads To Permanent Shutdown
To say that coronavirus has devastated U.S. businesses would be an understatement. New data from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) show 42% of small business owners have closed their business due to the pandemic. Sixty-two percent have cited a decrease in revenue; among those, 41% have reported losses above 30%. As Bloomberg reports, 52% of businesses surveyed by SHRM expect to be out of business within six months.

As the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, small businesses with fewer than 500 employees employed 58.9 million people in 2019. At the time, they accounted for roughly 47.5% of the country’s workforce. In 2014, small businesses accounted for 43.5% of U.S. GDP, according to the Small Business Administration. That’s a decline of about 4.5 percentage points over 16 years.


No ‘V-Shaped’ Recovery
That the U.S. economy will enter a steep recession in the second quarter is a foregone conclusion at this point. Where the contention lies is just how quickly the economy will recover post-pandemic. The destruction of small businesses will likely rule out a quick ‘V-shaped’ recovery, leaving more dire scenarios in play.

One such scenario is an ‘L-shaped’ recovery that sees a protracted recession followed by a slower recovery that could take years to materialize. As ZeroHedge reported Friday, April nonfarm payrolls reflect a 40% contraction in GDP. The latest estimates from U.S. investment banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs see a full recovery only in 2022. That’s only the base-case scenario, too. The bear case will see double-digit unemployment lasting through 2022 and beyond.

The destruction of small businesses and persistent unemployment suggest April’s job losses could be permanent. If President Trump’s motion to end China dependence comes to fruition, we could be looking at an entirely different America in the decade to come.

An “all of government” approach to repatriating supply chains could be a net positive for U.S. workers in the long run. But it’s all about incentives–not to mention all the years it would take to pull off.

 


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