WASHINGTON (SBG)— Though a quarter of the American workforce has filed for unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic, many in the White House remain optimistic a recovery will happen quickly.
On Thursday morning, data released by the Department of Labor showed 1.9 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. Many are bracing for impact when the updated unemployment rate is released Friday.
“What it will show without any doubt is that the labor market is extremely difficult for so many individuals," David Wilcox, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics said.
Many economists believe the American economy is fueled by consumer demand, which has increased for some industries in recent weeks.
Chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines Gary Kelly said business is better than it was in early April, when traffic was down 98%.
“I’m very pleased with the progress we’ve been seeing in terms of demand over the last month and the bookings for June and July look better still," Kelly said.
Many in the Trump administration are also optimistic. On Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump tweeted he's optimistic the economy is in the early stages of a strong recovery.
His labor secretary is taking stock in the fact that new unemployment claims, which are still in the millions per week, are declining.
“Where we’ll be you know, October, November, December, January, I’m not sure," Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said. "I’m hopeful we can get to 10% or lower unemployment by the end of the year."
Some less optimistic data came in a report this week from the Congressional Budget Office, which predicts the American economy will shrink by $8 trillion during the next decade.
“Behind an estimate like that are millions of individuals who won’t have the opportunity to earn a livelihood, to experience the dignity of work," Wilcox said.
Wilcox was hesitant to predict what Friday's unemployment rate will be. Other economists have predicted it could fall in the range of 20 to 25%.
“These data are so far outside the range of anything that any living person has experienced," Wilcox said. "There really is no guide for what the future holds at this point.”
Wilcox points to the especially devastating economic effects on people of color.
“The longer it goes on, the worse the damage is," Wilcox said.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he hopes to see things look up by July, when boosted unemployment benefits of an extra $600 per week implemented in the CARES Act is set to expire.
“My hope is that we’ll have a good rebound quickly," Cornyn said. “I think would give a lot of us some hope.”
Wilcox said it's important those benefits are replaced with another form of support.
As industry leaders attempt to lead a comeback, some businesses will reopen with accommodations that fit the needs of consumers who are now especially cautious of public health.
President and CEO of Wyndham Hotel Group Geoff Ballotti said his employees are working to meet those customer needs.
“From the moment they check in, they want to see the social distancing," Ballotti said. "As they walk up to that front desk, they want to see that acrylic shield.”
To keep the ball rolling on a recovery, Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have a variety of ideas but all appear in agreement that there needs to be more funding for small business loans. However, another stimulus package likely won't see life until later this summer.