WITZ IS AN AFFILIATE OF NETWORK INDIANA
STATEWIDE -- Unemployment numbers improved last month as coronavirus layoffs began to end.
Economists had expected April's unemployment to deepen, but the 13-point-three-percent jobless rate is more than a full point better than the month before. The economy added a net two-and-a-half-million jobs, but the April and May jobless rates remain the highest in 80 years.
Ball State economist Michael Hicks says factories, hotels and restaurants are bringing furloughed workers back. But he warns there are still millions of job losses -- it's just different people out of work from the month before. While 14-million people went back to work in May, 11-million lost their jobs.
Hicks says it's a good sign that nearly three-million layoffs from April turned out to be temporary. But he says there's also a disconnect between unemployment claims data and the surveys the Labor Department conducts to calculate the jobless rate. He says the high volatility in the job market may mean revisions in future reports.
Hicks says he expects unemployment to remain in the mid-teens for the rest of the year, and says a full recovery is likely to take two-to-four years. He says there's still a concern that some layoffs will end up being permanent. And as people have less disposable income, a decline in consumer spending may create a fresh round of economic shocks.