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Today’s Pickup: COVID-19 putting half of American jobs at risk

The COVID-19 outbreak is jeopardizing half of all American jobs, Moody’s reports. How many of those jobs will be lost forever is unknown. (Photo: Pixabay)

Good day,

The COVID-19 virus is already claiming American jobs, with workers being furloughed or laid off by companies seeing a decline in business. In Connecticut, for example, 41 coronavirus cases have been confirmed as of Monday evening, but those seeking unemployment jumped over the weekend. The state normally receives approximately 1,000 filers over a weekend, but over the past weekend more than 8,000 filed for unemployment.

And that was before Gov. Ned Lamont put the state on a near-total lockdown, closing bars and restaurants and limiting gatherings to fewer than 50 people.

The Connecticut example is symbolic of the potential impact on jobs that Moody’s Analytics is warning about. The firm’s latest update says that nearly half of all jobs in America are at risk, with up to 27 million at high risk of disruption. Many of those are in transportation, travel and leisure, hospitality and oil segments, all of which may be slow to return to normal.

“People are going to be buying less of everything. The stock market is down and wiping out people’s nest eggs,” Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s said, according to CNN Business. “They’re worried ‘Am I going to get sick? Are my parents going to get sick?’ That’s a prescription for people going into the bunker and for job losses.”

As more states shut down like Connecticut – and at last count there were seven including New York that had put in similar measures – job losses will mount, if even temporarily. How many of those jobs will come back remains to be seen.

During the Great Recession, in March 2009, more than 800,000 job losses were counted. Kevin Hassett, former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, told CNN that job losses could cross 1 million once this week’s tallies are recorded.

Did you know?

The March Empire State Manufacturing Survey showed declining business in the state. The survey, conducted between March 2 and March 10, saw its index fall 34 points to -21.5. It is the largest one-month drop ever and the lowest the reading has been since 2009. The new orders index fell to -9.3, meaning orders are declining.


“For the U.S., it presents the very real chance that companies from auto makers to electronics manufacturers will soon begin to cease or limit production. With a downed China as the headstream of global manufacturing, mercantile America simply can’t function as it’s accustomed to.”

– Daron Gifford, who leads Plante Moran’s strategy and automotive industry consulting services, in an op-ed for MarketWatch

In other news:

Intermodal faces new challenge

Intermodal, which was already struggling as volumes dropped, is facing new headwinds thanks to the coronavirus. (Supply Chain Dive)

United CEO details coronavirus impact

In a letter to Congress, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said the coronavirus is having a worse impact on airlines than 9/11 did in 2001. (Politico)

US factories face closure

Between the impact on supply chains from China, to restrictions domestically, U.S. manufacturing facilities face temporary closures. (MarketWatch)

Container lines start dropping surcharges

As congestion in China eases, container lines are dropping surcharges placed on refrigerated goods after the COVID-19 outbreak. (Seatrade Maritime News)

Seattle cargo terminals shut down

Two Seattle cargo terminals have closed as trade has slowed due to the trade war and coronavirus. (Seattle Times)

Final thoughts

As truck drivers face life on the road, many have traditionally driven while sick for a couple of reasons. One is that access to a doctor is limited, with out-of-network physicians costing significantly more than their family doctor. The coronavirus outbreak could impact half of America, according to some experts, and drivers are going to need access to a doctor. The government is easing restrictions on telemedicine use, and some companies in the freight industry are opening those doors. Konexial is one, offering drivers 30 days of free service if they sign up for GoMedRX for six months. Drivers should ask their family doctors or health plan administrators about what options are available for them while on the road.

Hammer down, everyone!

Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected]