Millions more people unemployed by virus, Washington fights to keep pace


Other countries have taken more direct measures to prevent the type of mass unemployment and the widespread collapse of businesses facing the United States.

France, Germany and several other European countries are paying employers not to lay off workers by paying 80 to 90% of the salary of a worker on leave.

The idea is to limit layoffs and business closings, so that when the coronavirus is finally under control, European businesses and economies will be able to rebound from the recession with less pain than if unemployment had skyrocketed .

More than seven million workers in France have been put on paid leave directly funded by the government, which spends 45 billion euros to keep workers and businesses afloat. Use of the paid vacation program in Germany is also booming, with almost half a million companies applying for support in March, including Daimler, Volkswagen and Lufthansa.

It seems unlikely that Congress will adopt a similar program, or even something that resembles what Mr. Hawley proposed on Thursday. And while Mr. Trump has promised an economic “boom” in the coming weeks – foreshadowing pressure to lift the restrictions the authorities have imposed on activity – many economists disagree.

Moody’s Analytics forecasters warned Thursday that some 45 million Americans are at risk of losing their jobs due to the pandemic, including three-quarters of workers in the hotel and construction industries. They warned that this was a “conservative estimate”.

“Most businesses are experiencing reduced demand,” wrote forecasters, “while consumers are shifting spending to necessities and cutting the rest.”

The reports were provided by Alan Rappeport, Emily Cochrane and Jeanna Smialek of Washington; Liz Alderman of Paris; Patricia Cohen, Stacy Cowley and Emily Flitter of New York; and Noam Scheiber of Chicago.


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