Workforce Disrupted

For more than 30 million out-of-work Americans, Friday hit like a gut punch. That’s because the $600 weekly supplemental federal unemployment benefit passed by Congress as part of the CARES Act expired as Congressional leaders failed to act.

The news comes among other troubling signs for American workers.

According to the government’s Employment Cost Index released this past Friday, wages and benefits grew at the slowest pace in three years in the second quarter. That’s a signal employers may be holding back pay as well as cutting jobs as the impact from the coronavirus still weighs heavily on the economy.

According to CNBC, nearly 40 retailers had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy so far this year (as of July 23), exceeding the number of retail bankruptcies for all of 2019. This comes as Lord & Taylor, one of the nation’s oldest department stores, announced Sunday evening it had filed for bankruptcy.

Last week also saw the latest batch of job cuts as brands ranging from Nike and L Brands to LinkedIn and Walmart announced significant layoffs and furloughs across their businesses.

All of this put to the backdrop of a recent New York Times report that found in a survey of some 3,000 public companies, only a small percentage of CEOs and other senior executives experienced any significant cut to salaries as the pandemic has crushed profits and forced large layoffs.  

This sets the stage for Friday’s release of the July jobs report which comes at a critical moment of heightening political sensitivities during the coronavirus pandemic.