Economy

The United States is still losing jobs at an alarming pace two months after the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Another 2.4 million people filed claims for unemployment last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That's down 249,000 — or 9% — from the previous week, but still painfully high by historical standards.

In the past nine weeks, jobless claims have totaled 38.6 million. That's roughly one out of every four people who were working in February, before the pandemic hit.

Two-thirds of Americans do not expect their daily lives to return to normal for at least six months, and as states reopen, three-quarters are concerned that a second wave of coronavirus cases will emerge, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds.

"There's a great sense that normalcy is not around the corner," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll.

Updated at 3:49 p.m. ET

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a hit in the paychecks of close to half of U.S. households, the Census Bureau says.

Since March 13, 47% of adults say they — or another adult in their home — have lost employment income, while 39% say they're expecting their households to earn less from work over the next four weeks.

With the first of the month coming in less than two weeks, more than a fifth of adults report they have just slight or no confidence in their ability to make their next rent or mortgage payment on time.

Everyone knows that living in the Rockies can get expensive. Headwaters Economics wanted to know why. The non-profit published new research this week that examines what causes housing to become so expensive in places where outdoor recreation is a main economic driver.

Members of the Senate Banking Committee squabbled Tuesday over how quickly the U.S. economy can rebound from the coronavirus shutdown and whether the federal government is doing enough to support struggling families and businesses in the meantime.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warns it could be another year and a half before the U.S. recovers from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. But he says this will not be another Great Depression.

"It's going to be a very sharp downturn," Powell said in an interview with 60 Minutes that aired Sunday. "It should be a much shorter downturn than you would associate with the 1930s."

University of Wyoming

College students are leaving the University of Wyoming into an unknown job market. Normally students would have jobs lined up, but these are not normal times. Jo Chytka is UW's Director of Advising, Career and Exploratory Studies. She joins Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck to discuss the situation.

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle

State Parks are opening this weekend to Wyoming residents only. To ensure that this is the case the Department of Outdoor Recreation and State Parks has instituted a reservation process that's only opened to Wyoming residents. Deputy Director Dave Glenn discusses the plan with Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck.

Robert Alescio

Cody has anxiously been waiting for Yellowstone National Park to open up since its economy depends on summer tourism. Mayor Matt Hall said the community is willing to try new ideas.

Updated at 5:19 p.m. ET

Nearly 3 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week — bringing the total to 36.5 million in the past eight weeks, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The number of people filing claims has been steadily dropping for weeks, since hitting nearly 7 million during one week in March. Still, claims remain at historically high levels, suggesting that the coronavirus isn't done pummeling the U.S. economy.

CC0 / Public Domain

The Wyoming entrance gates to Yellowstone National Park will open on Monday, May 18, at noon. Grand Teton National Park plans to open its gates at the same time.

Additional government spending may be necessary to avoid long-lasting fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday.

Powell said the economy should recover once the virus is under control. But he cautioned that without more help, many small businesses may not survive that long. And he warned that a wave of business and household bankruptcies could do lasting damage to the nation's economic output.

At the end of April, the national unemployment rate hit 14.7% – the highest rate since the Great Depression. On CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett predicted the rate will exceed 20% when the Department of Labor issues May's numbers.

Updated at 4:11 p.m. ET

House Democrats are moving full steam ahead with legislation to provide a new wave of coronavirus relief at a price tag of more than $3 trillion, with plans to call the full House back on Friday to approve it.

If you're still waiting for your pandemic payment from the federal government, and you would like to receive it directly into your bank account, head over to the IRS website by noon on Wednesday.

If the IRS doesn't have your direct deposit information by that deadline, you'll still get your payment — but you'll receive it in the form of a paper check, which might not arrive until June.

Flickr Creative Commons/The Red Baron

Last week, Gov. Mark Gordon gave variances to most counties allowing them to lift restrictions on some businesses, and officials said he'll lift more by the end of the week. But Wyoming Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell said it could take a while for the state's economy to truly get back on its feet, not just because customers are wary but because business owners will be trying to figure out how best to safely reopen.

The worst of the nation's historic job losses are yet to come, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who told Fox News Sunday that "the reported numbers are probably going to get worse before they get better."

Downtown Laramie, Wyoming
Bob Beck


This is a tough financial time for a lot of Wyomingites. But impacts on the general public also impact funding for local governments, which directly impacts a wide variety of services from law enforcement to streets.

Courtesy of the Shoshone Rose Casino & Hotel


The largest employer in Fremont County isn't a school district or a hospital—it's the Northern Arapaho Tribe. Between the tribal government and its enterprises, they put more than 1,000 people to work.

Cooper McKim


The sun is beating down on a nearly empty gravel plot. Just a few weeks ago, trailers owned by oil field and pipeline workers lined this man camp.

Several members of the Joint Minerals Committee meeting over Zoom for the first time before the Special Session
Wyoming Legislature Youtube

The Joint Minerals, Business & Economic Development Interim Committee amended a bill that will determine how federal relief funds will eventually reach Wyoming businesses. Among other changes, the committee decided to double the allotted funds from $25 million to $50 million available.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

Democrats and some Republicans are considering ways for the federal government to get money into people's pockets while the coronavirus is keeping much of the economy on ice.

Proposals for the next round of aid are being floated, and Democrats in the House are prepping another relief package as jobless claims continue to rise in the country. The Labor Department announced Friday that 20.5 million jobs were lost in April, pushing the overall unemployment rate to 14.7 %.

The Labor Department is expected to deliver a historically bad employment report Friday, showing millions of jobs lost last month as the jobless rate soared to around 16% — the highest level since the Great Depression.

Updated at 8:43 a.m. ET

Another 3.2 million people filed for unemployment for the first time last week, bringing the total number of jobs lost during the coronavirus crisis in the last seven weeks to at least 33.5 million.

Last week's number was down from the nearly 3.9 million initial claims filed the week ending April 25, and filings have fallen for five weeks in a row.

The claims numbers come one day before the release of the April jobs report, which is expected to show a staggering jump in unemployment to around 16%.

Updated at 10:06 p.m. ET

The IRS has paid out more than $207 billion in coronavirus relief payments to individual taxpayers, as part of the $2 trillion package passed by Congress known as the CARES Act.

And among the recipients of those $1,200 payments are the bank accounts of dead individuals — a problem that could impact millions of American families.

Flickr Creative Commons/Jasperdo

Governor Mark Gordon gave county officials permission to apply for variances so they can begin lifting pandemic restrictions. Church services can now be held in Platte and Niobrara Counties, and Lincoln, Park and Natrona Counties will allow restaurants to offer dine-in services. 

Every state is wrestling with the tension between reopening economies and protecting communities from COVID-19. Some industries have remained open all along. There are the obvious ones, like grocery stores and hospitals. Then there are others, like mining.

Wyoming PBS

State officials say they are working hard to get a handful of businesses ready to open as early Friday. Gyms, barbershops, hair salons and day cares are among those who can open as long as staff are screened, wearing masks and the numbers of people in their facilities are limited.

Updated at 8:38 a.m. ET

The telephone lines are still jammed at the nation's unemployment offices.

Another 3.8 million people filed claims for jobless benefits last week, according to the Labor Department. While that's down from the previous week's 4.4 million, a staggering 30.3 million have applied for unemployment in the six weeks since the coronavirus began taking a wrecking ball to the U.S. job market.

That's roughly one out of five people who had a job in February.

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