Many Temporary Layoffs During Coronavirus Outbreak Will Become Permanent As Crisis Continues, Experts Warn

A picture of an empty shopping mall during the coronavirus crisis.
Asanka Ratnayake / Getty Images

Millions of Americans have been laid off during the coronavirus outbreak with hopes that they will be able to go back to their old jobs once the crisis passes and the economy starts up again.

That may never happen, some economic experts are warning.

The Associated Press reported on the massive job losses that have taken place since lockdown measures were first put in place across the United States in March. The report noted that many employers that shed jobs with the idea that will come back after the crisis ends are starting to realize that it may not happen that way if the crisis continues on longer.

“Some large companies won’t have enough customers to justify it. And some small businesses won’t likely survive at all despite aid provided by the federal government,” the report noted.

The report noted that the pessimism among business owners has grown after April’s unemployment report showed that a record 20.5 million Americans lost their job that month, rocketing what was a historically low unemployment rate up to 14.7 percent — the highest mark in decades. As CNN noted, this comes on top of the 870,000 jobs that were lost in March during the early weeks of the coronavirus crisis.

The Associated Press report added that if these temporary layoffs were to become permanent, the recession that quickly came with the start of the crisis may extend much longer and the recovery would be much slower than some initially hoped.

“For a lot of those furloughed workers, a non-trivial number will have no job to go back to, because the company they worked for will have failed or will need fewer workers than they used to,” Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist and current director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, told The Associated Press.

This may already be taking place. As The Inquisitr reported, a number of vulnerable businesses have already been forced to close down permanently during the pandemic or are at risk of closing, which includes many well-known retail brands that had already been struggling before the public health crisis struck.

Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that health experts are not in agreement about how long the crisis could last, with some predicting that some level of social distancing measures may need to remain in place for a year or more, until a vaccine is created and widely available.