March unemployment numbers are ‘tip of the iceberg’ Valley economist says

Apr 3, 2020, 6:00 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2020, 12:45 am
(Pixabay Photo)...
(Pixabay Photo)
(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX — The U.S. reported the loss of 701,000 jobs in the month of March on Friday.

That metric is the worst in a single month since the Great Recession in 2009 and comes as a result of the coronavirus outbreak throughout the country.

“The unemployment numbers today are kind of meaningless,” Valley economist Elliot Pollack told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday. “The unemployment numbers and the unemployment rate because it’s just the tip of the iceberg. You get a better idea from the initial claims data because that’s much more recent.

“The April numbers, which will be in a month from now, will really be the key because that will have taken place after coronavirus really took hold. The data in March is when things were starting to fall apart, but they don’t really reflect how bad things are.”

Some economists expect that as many as 20 million Americans could lose their job, which would put the country’s unemployment rate at around 15%, the highest since the 1930s following the Great Depression of 1929.

The unemployment rate went from a 50-year low of 3.5% to 4.4% on Friday, but Pollack says that Arizonans need to be ready for the long haul.

“It’s going to get a lot worse. The unemployment rate is going to get a lot worse.” Pollack said. “But it really is almost meaningless because the real issue is what happens when this is all over?

“Whether people have been financially secure enough to really be economically viable at the other end of this and the $2.3 billion package that was passed last week by Congress goes a long way in doing that. Some people will fall through the cracks, but there will probably be modifications in the program so most people can remain economically viable.”

Pollack added that the unemployment package and small business package will help aid those from hardship that otherwise wouldn’t be able to survive.

However, when asked about a timeframe of when Arizona’s economy will be back up and running, Pollack said that nobody knows and that picking a date is just a “feel-good thing.”

And even with the uncertainty of how long COVID-19 will keep businesses closed, Pollack still has confidence that Arizona’s economy will be able to bounce back quickly.

“The major issue is how people fare during this thing and whether they come out the other side financially whole,” Pollack said. “If they do, I don’t think it’ll be a V, but it’ll start like V and level off and be more like a U.

“If it were not for this package that was passed last week, it would have been kind of an L where it would take a long time for those people who were unemployed to really get financially whole again. Whereas now, I don’t think it will so I think the recovery will be relatively fast.”

So how exactly will Arizonans begin to resume working once the coronavirus restrictions are uplifted?

Pollack says that people should go to work as soon as possible, but should do so in “launches” in order to limit the spread of the virus.

He says that those who have contracted COVID-19 and survived it should go first, followed by those less vulnerable or willing to take the risk.

“You have to keep a good percentage of the population sequestered until this thing gets under control,” Pollack said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jeremy Foster contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Lincoln Ventures, an Austin-based housing developer, broke ground on a new 24-story apartmebt build...

Groundbreaking held for 24-story downtown Phoenix apartment tower

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday for a 24-story downtown Phoenix apartment building that is projected to be open by 2023.
21 hours ago
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)...
Torrence Dunham

Tucson votes to terminate city employees who aren’t vaccinated against COVID by Dec. 1

The Tucson City Council voted Tuesday afternoon to terminate city employees who aren't vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 1.
21 hours ago
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

US Labor Department warns Arizona, 2 other GOP states over COVID rules

The Biden administration threatened Tuesday to revoke the authority for Arizona and two other Republican-controlled states to handle their own workplace safety enforcement because they have refused to adopt rules to protect health care workers from COVID-19.
21 hours ago
TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 07: The Weeknd performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show at R...

The Weeknd cancels tour with 2 Valley stops, teases stadium tour

Pop sensation The Weeknd on Monday announced the upcoming 2022 tour that had two stops in the Valley has been canceled, teasing a stadium tour that would commence next summer instead.
21 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Verde Valley Fire District)...

Arizona firefighter-paramedic dies of COVID-19 complications

Tyrone Bell, an Arizona firefighter/paramedic, died Monday from COVID-19 complications, the Verde Valley Fire District announced.
21 hours ago
(Facebook Screenshot/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)...
Associated Press

MCSO Deputy Juan Ruiz remembered for achieving his dream

A Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy who died after being beaten by a suspect was remembered Tuesday as man who lived his dream to protect and serve.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Why fall maintenance is important for your heating system and A/C

It’s easy to ignore your heater and air conditioner when they’re working but the moment something breaks, you will likely regret not keeping up with maintenance. After all, if something goes wrong, you may be stuck with a repair that will take longer and be more expensive than simple maintenance.
Sweet James

Best fall road trips to take on a motorcycle

Autumn in Arizona brings the beauty of color-changing leaves and a relief from summer heat. It’s one of the most pleasant times to explore the outdoors, especially on a motorcycle.
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
March unemployment numbers are ‘tip of the iceberg’ Valley economist says