economy

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.

Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to trigger the sharpest recession in the United States since the Great Depression. An early signal of that came Wednesday, when the Commerce Department said the economy shrank at a 4.8% annual rate in the first three months of the year — the first quarterly contraction since 2014 and the largest since the Great Recession.

Ann-Elise Henzl

Dog groomers, upholsterers, lawnmower repair shops and other nonessential businesses that can offer contactless services will be allowed to reopen in Wisconsin, the latest loosening of a stay-at-home order designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Tony Evers announced Monday.

Maridav / stock.adobe.com

As nonessential businesses keep their doors closed around the country, small business owners are losing capital needed to make payroll, pay bills, and try to reopen when it’s allowed.

Updated at 8:46 a.m. ET

The number of people forced out of work during the coronavirus lockdown continues to soar to historic highs. Another 4.4 million people claimed unemployment benefits last week around the country, the Labor Department said.

That brings the total of jobless claims in just five weeks to more than 26 million people. That's more than all the jobs added in the past 10 years since the Great Recession.

As the United States tumbles into a coronavirus recession, the Federal Reserve is using its nearly unlimited power to generate cash to cushion the fall.

"The Fed is doing everything they can to keep financial markets functioning and credit available to households and firms," former Fed Chair Janet Yellen said during a forum organized by the Brookings Institution.

Over the years, the federal government has spent trillions of dollars more than it brings in, racking up big deficits even in good times, when it ought to be paring debt down.

Now, as it struggles to repair the damage from the coronavirus epidemic, it's getting ready to spend trillions more, pushing up this year's deficit above $3 trillion.

"It's mind-boggling. I never contemplated this," says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, who headed the Congressional Budget Office under President George W. Bush.

How To Make Your Coronavirus Stimulus Check Last

Mar 30, 2020
Karin / stock.adobe.com

  

If all goes according to plan, you might see a $1,200 deposit in your bank account sometime in the next few weeks. The 3 million people who’ve recently filed for unemployment will get an extra $600 a month, and people with kids will get even more money.

Chuck Quirmbach

The biggest financial help from the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic passed the U.S. Senate Wednesday night. A House vote on the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package may come Friday. President Trump is promising to sign the measure that his administration helped craft.

But Wisconsin and national economists say the financial and unemployment crunch will still likely get worse before it gets better. 

>>The Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

Updated at 10:51 a.m. ET

A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country. The Labor Department's report for the week ended March 21 was one of the first official indicators of how many people have suddenly been forced out of work nationally.

In the prior report, for the week ended March 14, initial claims totaled 282,000.

Michelle Maternowski / WUWM

Here’s news for small businesses, private non-profit organizations, small agricultural co-ops, and aquaculture enterprises that have been financially harmed by the COVID-19 outbreak:  Those in Wisconsin, and in some nearby counties in neighboring states, can now apply to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for low-interest loans. 

Updated at 5:52 p.m. ET

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 913 points, leaving the index 2.8% lower than when President Trump took office. Friday's drop culminated a staggering week of losses as the coronavirus impact took an economic toll.

The Dow closed down nearly 4.6% Friday, and the S&P 500 index fell 4.3%. The Nasdaq dropped nearly 3.8%.

Chuck Quirmbach

Industries across the United States are making the recommended adjustments to their daily operations to try and help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Wisconsin is no exception.

On Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers ordered a ban on gatherings of 10 or more people. Also effective Tuesday: restaurants can only offer take-out or delivery services. 

Updated at 5 a.m. ET on Monday

European shares dropped more than 8% on Monday, led by losses in Italy and France, the two countries hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic that has girdled the globe in recent weeks, infecting tens of thousands of people, severing supply chains and slowing commerce as people are forced to stay home.

In early trading, Italy's FTSE MIB, France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX were all down more than 8%, with London's FTSE 100 just behind, dropping more than 7%.

Golden Sikorka / stock.adobe.com

Governments and health care agencies across the globe are working to slow and stop the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. This has not just impacted people’s health, but also their jobs and the health of our global market.

Updated at 4:04 p.m. ET

The stock market has suffered a relentless, breathtaking drop — moving deeper into bear territory. Stocks fell so fast Thursday morning that it triggered a 15-minute halt in trading for the second time this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2,352 points, or nearly 10% — the biggest one-day drop since 1987. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were each down more than 9%.

Economic Policies Running Thin Amid Coronavirus Woes

Mar 10, 2020
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

While the COVID-19 outbreak has led to some heavy handed approaches to public health, many Americans may also feel the effects of the economy’s invisible hand. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by more than 5,000 points since the outbreak took off, and the S&P 500 fell by 8% on Monday alone. These were the biggest drops since the 2008 recession.

John Haynes

Just about every morning, Ryan Klussendorf wakes up at 5 to get his cows ready for the day. He milks them, feeds them, and then it’s time to start on paperwork before doing it all again in the afternoon. It’s a job that he and his wife Cheri have done for most of their lives. 

Mario Tama / Getty Images

The Milwaukee-based Manpower survey shows a stable hiring picture for the second quarter of the year.  However, the survey was taken in January — before the spread of the new coronavirus

Chuck Quirmbach

When it comes to the local economy, there’s some good and bad news. It' on the venture capital front — the money provided by investors that often helps businesses get underway or grow.

The good news is that economists say more venture capital dollars are flowing to the Milwaukee area, and the Midwest. The bad news is that some other parts of the U.S. are faring much better.

About half the money in U.S. venture capital deals goes to California. New York gets 14%. Six other Great Lakes states, including Wisconsin, get a combined total of 4%.

Henryk Sadura / stock.adobe.com

The 2008 economic recession hit Milwaukee hard. The housing market wasn’t spared and with it came a wave of foreclosures. Property values still haven’t quite recovered in many neighborhoods throughout the city.

Chuck Quirmbach

The regional economic development partnership known as Milwaukee 7, or M7, says it has brought a lot of jobs to the area, or kept them here. But that may not be true in some low-income neighborhoods. 

M7 was launched in 2005 as a cooperative economic platform for Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties. The partnership has just completed its third, five-year job recruitment effort, funded by about $9 million in public money and private donations. 

Maayan Silver

Wisconsin leads the nation in farm bankruptcies.

Gov. Tony Evers addressed the plight of dairy farmers in his State of the State address on Wednesday night. He's calling for a special session on Tuesday to take up a package of bills aimed to help farmers. The bills address challenges from exports to mental health support.

Updated at 2:07 p.m. ET

A year and a half after launching his trade war against China, President Trump signed a partial truce on Wednesday.

"We mark more than just an agreement. We mark a sea change in international trade," Trump said during a White House signing ceremony. "At long last, Americans have a government that puts them first."

Updated at 9:58 a.m. ET

The tariff war has caused a lot of anxiety for business owners and farmers. But how much has it hurt the overall economy?

The stock market got off to a rocky start this week when President Trump launched a new round of tariff threats. But administration loyalists insist concern about the trade war is overblown.

'Milwaukee Magazine' Explores Women's Work In 2019

Nov 25, 2019
Libby Lang / Milwaukee Magazine

The November issue of Milwaukee Magazine focuses on women. From profiles of local women who are doing great things to national trends on pay equity, the issue takes a snapshot of how women are doing.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Updated at 1:43 p.m. CT 

Vice President Mike Pence visited a northeastern Wisconsin shipbuilding company on Wednesday. He went to Fincantieri Marinette Marine, a firm that already has two major deals with the U.S. Navy and is competing for a third. 

President Trump says the U.S. and China are close to striking a mini trade agreement. But he offered no guarantees.

In a speech to the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday, Trump downplayed the cost of his trade war, which has hurt farm exports and contributed to a slowdown in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

"The real cost would be if we did nothing," he said.

Trump offered few clues about the status of trade talks except to say, "We're close."

Milwaukee Jewish Federation

The Federal Reserve cut interest rates on lending by a quarter percentage point on Wednesday. Many analysts predicted another rate cut to spur business growth and head off a potential recession. But a national economist told hundreds of people in Milwaukee Tuesday that consumer spending should be able to keep the U.S. economy going anyway. 

Maayan Silver

Trade issues continue to go unresolved as farmers and manufacturers face higher import and export tariffs with China.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence has been traveling the country pushing a trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico. Pence was in Wisconsin Wednesday to drum up support for the agreement. 

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