Last updateFri, 03 Apr 2020 8pm

U.S. Payrolls Decreased by 701,000 in March

Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 701,000 in March, and the unemployment rate rose to 4.4% from 3.5%, the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to contain it.

In March, manufacturing employment edged down (-18,000). Over the past 12 months, employment in the industry has shown little net change. 

Approximately 10 Million File Jobless Claims in Past Two Weeks

New unemployment claims in the U.S. hit 6,648,000 this week, an increase of 3,341,000 from the previous week's revised level. Prior to last week the record was 695,000 from back in October of 1982. At this point it’s a possibility we see an unemployment rate of 20%, which would be more than double the high from the Great Recession of 08-09. 

Texas Manufacturing Activity Contracts, Outlook Worsens

Texas factory activity declined sharply in March, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, plummeted from 16.4 to -35.3, suggesting a notable contraction in output since last month. Perceptions of broader business conditions turned quite pessimistic in March.

Other measures of manufacturing activity also point to a sudden decline in March. The new orders index dropped to -41.3, its lowest reading since March 2009 during the Great Recession. Similarly, the growth rate of orders index fell to -44.9. The capacity utilization and shipments indexes fell to -33.4 and -33.8, respectively, also the lowest readings since the Great Recession. Capital expenditures declined sharply, with the index dropping from 6.9 to -34.3.

IMF: Recession Under Way, Recovery in 2021 Possible

At a press conference last week, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told reporters in attendance that the world is currently in a recession that is as bad or worse than 2009, and that a full recovery next year is possible.

“We do project recovery in 2021–in fact there may be a sizeable rebound, but only if we succeed with containing the virus – everywhere - and prevent liquidity problems from becoming a solvency issue. A key concern about a long- lasting impact of the sudden stop of the world economy is the risk of a wave of bankruptcies and layoffs that not only can undermine the recovery but can erode the fabric of our societies.”

Durable Goods Orders Up 1.2% in February

New orders for manufactured durable goods in February increased $2.9 billion or 1.2% to $249.4billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced. This increase, up four of the last five months, followed a 0.1% January increase. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.6%. Excluding defense, new orders increased 0.1%.


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