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Newsletter: The U.S. Labor Market Is Breaking Records

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This is the web version of the WSJ’s newsletter on the economy. You can sign up for daily delivery here.

The Record Store

A record-long stretch of job creation (110 months) has produced, well, some records. The share of the population age 65 and over in the labor force, for example, is the highest on record. At different times the unemployment rates for workers with less than a high-school diploma, black men, black women, hispanic men and hispanic women have all touched historic lows.

(For more on why older Americans are working longer, read John Stoll’s latest on retirement. Yes, there is some economic necessity. But…”With U.S. birthrates falling and membership in religious institutions at all-time lows, work is addressing a void once filled by children, churches or community organizations,” he writes.)

To be sure, not everyone is celebrating the daily grind. A report from Gallup last year showed about 60% of employed Americans say they’re stuck in a bad or mediocre job. And not everything is back to previous heights. The share of the prime-age (25-54 years old) population that is working or looking for work has picked up but was nearly two percentage points higher in the

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Newsletter: Millions More Unemployed

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This is the web version of the WSJ’s newsletter on the economy. You can sign up for daily delivery here.

U.S. jobless claims will offer a timely snapshot of the labor market this morning. Jeff Sparshott here with a quick preview and the latest from around the global economy.

Unemployment Line

More Americans are expected to have filed for unemployment benefits in the past two weeks than in the prior six months, marking a drastic downshift in the U.S. labor market. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect about 3.1 million Americans filed for jobless benefits last week after a record 3.3 million sought benefits two weeks ago as the U.S. shut down parts of the economy in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Jobless claims are a rough proxy for layoffs and often result in temporary financial assistance for workers who lose their jobs, Sarah Chaney and Eric Morath report.

The surge in job losses is set to drive up the unemployment rate and wipe out years of labor-market progress. Economic forecasters believe U.S. payrolls will fall by millions in the coming months. It’s not yet clear how quickly employers will bounce back.

Who is

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Business

The Coronavirus Worker Revolt Is Just Beginning

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The pandemic has revealed just how poorly many companies treat their employees. Will workers continue to fight back once life goes back to normal?

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Business

Newsletter: ‘Hell of a Bad Two Weeks’

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This is the web version of the WSJ’s newsletter on the economy. You can sign up for daily delivery here.

In the U.S. and much of the West, the health and economic toll from the coronavirus is expected to get worse before it gets better. Jeff Sparshott here to take you through the latest.

Digital Divide

The new coronavirus pandemic is deepening a national digital divide, amplifying gains for businesses that cater to customers online, while businesses reliant on more traditional models fight for survival. The process is accelerating shifts already underway in parts of the U.S. economy in ways that could last long after the health crisis has passed. Many bricks-and-mortar retailers, which had seen falling foot traffic for years due to online competition, have now shuttered their stores while online merchants watch sales boom. Sectors that had long resisted the move online are now joining in, from doctors and therapists to fitness providers to schools and universities. The transition is also driving labor force upheaval, with those who can work online still drawing paychecks while workers who depend on face-to-face contact suffer, Harriet Torry reports.

The big question, economists say, is whether the changes created by this sudden,

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