Washington, D.C. — Center for American Progress Economist Michael Madowitz released the following statement today on the February 2020 Employment Situation figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
In February, the economy added 273,000 jobs and the unemployment rate continued to hover around 3.5 percent, but this positive news belies weaknesses in important sectors of the economy and an uncertain economic future due to the coronavirus threat. The economy is not at full employment, notably among Black and Latinx populations, and manufacturing appears likely to remain in recession—even based on data collected before financial markets began to fall.
Additionally, this months jobs’ report doesn’t reflect what has become the most pressing public health and economic issue of 2020: the coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump’s response to the COVID-19 virus threat has been dangerously inadequate. We have already seen in China and South Korea that even regional outbreaks can produce sharp shocks to domestic economic activity. Those shocks can be transmitted internationally; we may yet experience a decline in the supply of generic prescription drugs that come mainly from locations in China and India. And if the virus takes further hold in the United States, we may see, along with the human toll, similar economic disruption. The bipartisan coronavirus package passed by Congress, as well as action from the Fed earlier this week, were good first steps at constructing a response. But until we have credible plans to test for infection; support hospitals, medical personnel, and public health agencies should they come under stress; and mitigate the economic harms experienced by workers and their families, there will be increasing concern about the future trajectory of the economy.
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