Latest COVID-19 Job Toll: 112,000 in Virginia Last Week

by James A. Bacon

The latest unemployment claims are in, and they’re brutal — more than twice the level in Virginia (and across the country) of last week, which was, by far, the worst week in the history of the United States. For the week ending March 28, the number of seasonably unadjusted initial claims was 112,497 — up from 46,277 the previous week.

The map from the Virginia Employment Commission website above shows the geographic distribution of unemployment claims. In raw numbers, the layoffs look worse in Virginia’s major metropolitan regions — Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Roads. But it’s no surprise that the number of job losses will be highest in the most populous parts of the state. What the maps do not show is the job losses expressed as a percentage of the workforce. In that light, the jobs claims in the western part of Virginia (basically Lynchburg west) look dreadful.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond has been surveying employers in the Fifth Federal Reserve district, which includes Virginia, since late February. The questionnaires asked how the spread of COVID-19 has impacted businesses, and how the businesses expected the virus to impact operations. Both questions show a marked deterioration in expectations between Feb. 27 and March 18.

Again, no surprise. The mounting number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths has driven COVID-19 to the front of everyone’s consciousness in a way that nothing has since 9/11. Unlike 9/11, which had horrific but localized effects, the coronavirus potentially impacts everyone. If the virus itself doesn’t impact everyone, the government-mandated shutdown orders certainly will.

What the numbers don’t show. The flexibility of our economic system is one of this nation’s great strengths. (It’s not as flexible as it could be, but that’s a different subject.) These jobless numbers don’t reflect the creation of thousands of jobs by Amazon, grocery stores, food delivery services, and other businesses as they respond to the new shelter-in-place paradigm. The number of new hires probably pales in comparison to the number of layoffs, but we can be grateful that businesses adapt so rapidly.

Now, let’s see how rapidly state government, local governments, and school systems adapt to changing circumstances.

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29 responses to “Latest COVID-19 Job Toll: 112,000 in Virginia Last Week

  1. “The number new hires probably pales in comparison to the number of layoffs…”

    Regrettably you are correct.

  2. Apparently buying crop seeds is next to impossible. Food, or lack there of, for thought. Hope you guys who stocked in 1000s of .223s remembered a couple sacks of flint, or sweet kernels .

  3. Been saying….1929, not 2009… The problem with the “Economics of Sudden Stop” is the re-start. The canary in the coal mine, perhaps because of my past association, is Newport News Shipbuilding. That goes dark or even slows substantially, given its importance to the USN, it will be a very bad sign.

  4. Many have been through recessions, epidemics and even pandemics before but never like this – some who are older maybe remember the Spanish Flu and Depression but this has rocked our worlds to such a degree that it has taken some time for many to accept it as very real and very necessary. Some still do not but most have come around.

    Even more amazing, this cataclysmic upheaval in our lives is based on what scientists have told us how it would happen – something many of us, at the start, though was inconceivable and incomprehensible.

    We sent to do a food pickup from the Food Bank yesterday. We never got there because a line of cars snaked a mile from the Food Bank out to the highway turn to it. It was totally slammed. I fear that the Food Bank will have enough food left to be able to distribute to the satellite pantry’s

    Plenty of food at the local Walmart but a lot of it picked over with holes on the shelves where there are beans and canned meats and zero TP, paper-towels, bleach or alcohol available… The pipeline is still empty on those.
    Hot rumor that Wegmans had TP…

    Never again, after this finishes, will any of us every think that this country is so big and powerful than nothing could bring it to it’s knees. We – all of us – rich and poor are at the mercy of this, rich and poor and I do very much fear for the poor not only in this country but other countries that do not have the resources of ours and other developed countries , unless the developed countries develop a vaccine or something and come to the rescue of other less fortunate countries.

    • Many individuals are crushed. As a nation we are badly inconvenienced and fiscally stressed, but hardly on our knees. That’s the Leftist “we need government to save us” state of mind emerging again. Maybe the lesson we need to learn is that those of you preaching “I’m from the government, I’m here to help” were lying from the start, and those of us preaching self-reliance had a point. That’s not a government food bank you are describing but a private operation funded by charity from real people and real companies, right?

      Now, with the supply chain to the stores screwed up and the restaurants closed, warehouses will shut down next and your food bank is about to see some real problems. Send me the data and I’ll send ’em a check in your honor.

      • No Steve – it’s a hybrid with govt support like USDA and other govt-supported food programs.

        The grocery stores that donate – get a tax credit for their donations as do many others private or individuals.

        And people get to and from the Food Bank on Govt-built roads.

        You’re stuck on your ideology again..

        it’s not an either – or – it’s together – govt and non-govt.

        How can you possibly hold that viewpoint given the current circumstances?

        If we followed what some idiots were saying – instead of scientists and government – we’d be losing millions of people – basically to ignorance and anti-science, anti-govt ideology.

        I KNOW you Google and I KNOW you are very aware of the “right” and so you DO know the narratives that have come out of the right on this including the evangelicals… I don’t think you are that guy. You must feel some loyalty but in your heart of hearts you surely know the realities.

        • There is a half full, half empty element to this argument, but even the USDA programs you cite were sought by the farmers as a way to support their prices, their profits. Of course there is a role for government. But just because VDOT built the roads doesn’t mean Northam (or Trump) can behave like the Roman dictator Sulla. The nation has not been brought to its knees (admittedly, we ain’t at the bottom yet) and given you are generously giving of your time, I think you’d be the first to celebrate the individual and freely donated efforts that will play a huge role in survival and recovery.

          Don’t equate me with that fool Falwell Junior. I knew his old man. His old man had high regard for the medical profession. My own primary care doc now teaches at LU (maybe should call him) and I know he is not advising Falwell Junior to behave that way. His old man really hated and loved to ridicule the charlatan faith healers (Ernest Ainsley was my fav…but Pat Robertson was of that breed, too.)

          Serious about that offer. My “rescue” money is not staying in my account long.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            “we need government to save us”

            If so, then God forgive us all.

            Meanwhile, Bacon is back to his horror graphics. Looks like now the Commonwealth is almost totally afire, an infernal hell.

          • More government than just USDA for instance food stamps and other government programs for food. It’s a hybrid operation a combination of government charity and self-help. Be. Did not build a road the government filthy roads including the state and federal government and they are not emperor’s because they build the road that’s foolish. The anti-government sentiment being spouted is just it just boggles the mind

          • Larry –

            What is “government charity”?

          • re government charity = government, charity, self-help.

            good enough?

          • Larry,

            No. Your answer makes no sense.

            Where does the government get the money it uses for “government charity”?

          • re: ” Larry,

            No. Your answer makes no sense.

            Where does the government get the money it uses for “government charity”?”

            I missed a coma… I never intended the two together.

            Do you not understand? If not, so sorry. Move on to your next complaint please.

        • A person’s view of government is not “all or nothing.” Everyone short of an anarchist will agree that there is both a need and proper role for government. That role is supposed to be defined by the U.S. Constitution and implemented by federal legislation. The Constitution also sets certain parameters for the role of state government (for example, a state cannot regulate interstate commerce). Additional powers are set forth in state constitutions and implemented by state legislation. Local government, unlike the federal and state governments, is not sovereign. It’s powers are given and defined by the state.

          Government in the United States has grown well beyond what the Founders envisioned. Reasonable people can disagree about the extent and nature of the growth. Ditto for specific programs and funding levels.

          Clearly, there is a significant level of citizen opposition to both specific programs and their implementation. Look at all the lawsuits challenging this program or that or how agency A implements a statute or program. Community and individual concerns are often raised in public meetings and public writings.

          And there is an enormous number of constituencies that are funded by governments at various levels. They tend to support the funding program as critical to the public good. Others may view them as parasites.

          • re: Government and the Constitution

            THere is a long, long list of things that GOvt does that is not in the Constitution and my bet is that if we did not do a lot of them, we’d be in serious trouble as a country.

            There is ALWAYS the tension between how much government is right and how much is too much and wrong.

            But listen to the critics somedays – and their “ideas” are just anti-govt blather…

            “too much govt” is the govt that does not benefit you and so it’s “too much”..

            And when you cripple health insurance for the uninsured – on purpose – it causes a reaction at the polls and should.

          • TooManyTaxes

            And that’s from the guy who doesn’t think pipeline companies shouldn’t be able to take land by eminent domain. You sure wanted protection of the Constitution with that issue.

            We cannot pick and chose which laws we want to follow and which ones we want. Besides, who gets to pick. And if it’s the other guy, there’s nothing left but to start a shooting revolution.

          • re: ” And that’s from the guy who doesn’t think pipeline companies shouldn’t be able to take land by eminent domain. You sure wanted protection of the Constitution with that issue.”

            I don’t think ANY for-profit company should be able to take another persons property for their own purpose but you misunderstand that eminent domain IS legitimate when done for a public need. Is THAT in the Constitution?

            “We cannot pick and chose which laws we want to follow and which ones we want. Besides, who gets to pick. And if it’s the other guy, there’s nothing left but to start a shooting revolution.”

            Key word – laws – when laws are passed they are much more than “pick and choose” whether they are in the Constitution or not.

            The Constitution is a living document. There are thousands of laws and dozens of govt agencies that are not in the Constitution.

            It’s not what some think it is. For instance, where is the NTSB or NOAA ? Can we not have those agencies until we do a Constitutional amendment? How about the FDA and NASA ?

          • “…but you misunderstand that eminent domain IS legitimate when done for a public need. “

            Larry, I think you misunderstand. Eminent domain is legitimate when the property is needed for public USE, not public need. There is a difference.

          • re: ” Larry, I think you misunderstand. Eminent domain is legitimate when the property is needed for public USE, not public need. There is a difference.”

            How about explaining the difference?

            let me start with a definition:

            the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation.

            and is that in the Constitution?

            and what was KELO?

  5. Government is nothing before God.
    Government pales before every individual.
    Government is tool, and often a very bad one.
    Never worship Government.
    Never depend on Government. That is the ultimate Faustian bargain that eats you and all you love alive. Then Darkness falls, covering all.

  6. The day is coming when America’s Boomer Generation is going to have to decide whether to “man up” or not. Boomers today are between 55 and 74 years old. That has to be the majority of those who are very vulnerable to COVID-19. People 75 and older are almost all retired and ought to be relatively easy to protect through their isolation. While everybody is susceptible to COVID-19 and some younger people will continue to die from the disease the real “bulge” of vulnerable people are the Boomers. How long do we lock down society to reduce the already low odds of Boomers getting sick and dying? How much economic harm do we allow in order to protect Boomers?

    As a Boomer myself who is within the vulnerable age range I think it’s time for my generation to show a small fraction of the sacrifice and courage displayed by The Greatest Generation. While it’s too early to end the lockdown now it needs to end sooner rather than later. An early restart will place Boomers like me at greater risk than a later restart. It will also greatly reduce the mid to long term economic harm that will be caused by the lockdown.

    Time for the Boomers to “man up” and speak up. End the lockdown early and we’ll just have to take our chances.

    • DJ – the vast majority of “old” people still live in home, still buy groceries and gasoline and still have doctors appointments , etc, etc..

      The idea that you’d “isolate” them is just plain dumb.

      Are you going to bring them groceries, take them to dental or dr. appointments, allow them to walk in the park, etc… you know.. those things a lot of other folks do?

      There is no “man up”. It’s let the frustration convince you to do stupid things that endanger everyone.

      • There are hundreds of thousands of people out of work. No doubt the stimulus bill will include the modern day equivalent of “shovel ready projects”. How about grocery deliveries? As far as dental visits … will the patients wear masks for those appointments? Besides, how will the older people get to the dentist under your theory? If you’re afraid of the dentist then stay home. If your afraid of traveling to the doctor then use a teleconference.

        Any older people who want to relocate to temporary government housing should be afforded that opportunity.

        Time for Boomers to grow spines. We’ve trashed this country and its future for long enough. The least we can do is step aside and our children and grandchildren get on with their lives.

        Boomers: the Cowardest Generation

        • Older people who are still in their own homes and not nursing homes are NOT going to be “locked up”.

          Good Lord.

          Your “idea” has been proposed and discarded by virtually every epidemiologist and political leader in the country – even the POTUS. Only knuckleheads are still chewing on that bone.

          You must not have living older relatives, eh?

          You’re advocating the VERY THING the top epidemiologists have said will result in 1-2 million people dying…

          Are you daft?

    • I think that this is an opportune comment to ask a question in reply. For context, I am a boomer (almost 70 years old) and have no intention of retiring unless it is forced on me. I have been one of the most vocal proponents of ending the lockdown and am usually savaged for venturing my view. It seems to me that governments generally and Northam specifically are empowered by whipping up the winds of fear and hysteria. For instance, Northam’s VDH has made it almost impossible to determine the exact number of cases and deaths which are attributable to nursing homes and other skilled care senior facilities. That information is critical because the state is promoting the idea that everyone is as exposed as are the “vulnerable populations” stoking the fear fire. My parents were depression babies and I heard first hand about the devastation of lives inflicted by insane economic policy.

      I say let’s let businesses open again. I trust business owners more than I trust Northam with those decisions. I am appalled that we so easily trust a man who has proven multiple times that he has no compunction about lying when it gives him an advantage. I am quite ready and able to take the risk of working and catching the virus if the alternative is for my children and grandchildren to live as impoverished slaves.

      • If you feel I have “savaged” you, I apologize. Seriously.

        But the idea of some of the population returning to work has been
        strongly opposed by virtually every mainstream epidemiologist in the country, on the planet.

        People are frustrated and even fearful about the damage to the economy, and they should be and I share that fear but I do believe the epidemiologists and I do believe most elected politicians do of which Northam is just one of many – to my mind not apart and different from most others.

        I know there are, what 6-8 states that have not “locked down” so perhaps those Govs actually do not accept the guidance/warnings from epidemiologists.

        I do get off the bus when we start talking about conspiracies, sorry.

  7. Excellent point. American Boomers are most privileged and selfish generation in World History. Now is their last chance to shine, do something special beyond pampering themselves, staring at their own reflections in mirrors they’ve built round them.

    • Exactly what I was thinking. We’ll also get to see if America’s Boomer progressives who cry buckets of tears “for the children” as they propose one socialist program after another really care about the younger generations. I won’t hold my breath on that one.

    • Reed,
      You must know different boomers than I do . Almost all of my boomer friends are strong proponents of ending the lockdown now!

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