But at the same time, 759,000 people were laid off from jobs that won’t be coming back. That marks the second-largest monthly increase the United States has ever seen, topped only by an 805,000 jump in January of 2009, in the depths of the Great Recession.
There’s now a total of 3.7 million unemployed Americans whose previous jobs are gone for good. And millions more are at risk.
Temporary becomes permanent
More than 10 million Americans are currently categorized as temporarily out of work. But historically, nearly 30% of people who tell the Labor Department that they are temporarily unemployed never get their job back, said Heidi Shierholz, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank.
“Even though we don’t know if the historical record will hold in this case, it’s an extremely valid concern that not all of those people are going to get called back,” she said.
People who are counting on businesses reopening their doors may be surprised to find that a temporary loss has become permanent one, said Zandi.
But most of those 3.7 million workers lost long-term jobs.
‘This is just the beginning’
“The intensification of the virus has led to a second round of closure that might be too much for many of these businesses,” said Zandi.
The speed of the job losses is another reason for concern. The Great Recession was already more than a year old when it hit those record figures for permanent job losses. As economic problems build, economists say there will be more permanent job cuts ahead.
“This is just the beginning of the increase in permanent job losses,” said Zandi.
The data collection problem
But Zandi said he’s concerned that the good headline number in last week’s jobs report might make it tougher to get the needed help passed through Congress.
“People might look at the better than anticipated jobs numbers, they say ‘The coast is clear economically,'” he said. “That’s the exact wrong message.”