The economic damage is almost inconceivable already and it will be laid bare in two sets of what are likely to be awful jobs numbers on Thursday and Friday.
First up is weekly jobs data on initial unemployment claims — the measure that has recorded the terrible toll of weekly layoffs that have now topped 30 million people as the economy has gone into suspended animation.
To end the week, the Trump administration is braced for what could be the most disastrous unemployment numbers since the Great Depression. Economists polled by Refinitiv are expecting an unemployment rate at 16%. It’s possible that 10 years of jobs gains will have been wiped out in just a couple months.
One of the President’s top economic advisers, Kevin Hassett, has been preparing the country for an unemployment rate of up to 20%. That’s more than 15 percentage points higher than the 50-year lows in the jobless rate that Trump was celebrating just weeks ago.
The desperate economic situation is sharpening the dilemma between public health and the preservation of basic livelihoods that Trump appears to have already resolved.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said Wednesday that 4.1 million people have already lost employment in his state.
“The numbers are jaw dropping and it is alarming,” he said.