economy

Chuck Quirmbach

“A live experiment.” 

That's what a local business leader says we're in after this week's state Supreme Court ruling throwing out Wisconsin's safer-at-home restrictions for the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent decisions by Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to maintain many limits. In contrast, Waukesha County says it's only issuing health recommendations for its businesses, not orders.

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.

Chuck Quirmbach

More Wisconsin hospitals are again offering services that were shut down while health care facilities focused on treating COVID-19 patients and urged the delay of non-urgent treatment.

We're now getting a better idea of what the loss of those other patients cost the health care industry.

Ann-Elise Henzl

Updated at 2:44 p.m. CT

Gov. Tony Evers on Monday allowed nearly all nonessential retail stores to reopen as long as they serve no more than five customers at a time, partially lifting the restriction that has kept them closed for weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Outbreaks in the meat industry aren't new. In the early '90s, mad cow disease was a trade problem that affected the entire industry, halting the sale of beef worldwide. Then a large outbreak of bird flu in early 2013 was a pathogenic problem that led to thousands of birds being euthanized.

Coronavirus is a different challenge for the meat industry since it affects plants' high concentration of workers. Some meat plants have about 1,200 workers, and they're at greater risk of getting COVID-19 because they're often standing elbow-to-elbow while working.

Updated at 11:43 a.m. ET

The Labor Department delivered a historically bad employment report Friday, showing 20.5 million jobs lost last month as the nation locked down against the coronavirus. The jobless rate soared to 14.7% — the highest level since the Great Depression.

The highest monthly job loss before this was 2 million in 1945, as the nation began to demobilize after World War II. The worst monthly job loss during the Great Recession was 800,000 in March 2009.

Vitalii Vodolazskyi / stock.adobe.com

People eligible for unemployment benefits are starting to see an extra $600 a week from the federal government. That's due to Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. 

People who receive regular unemployment insurance, pandemic unemployment compensation, work share or trade readjustment allowances are eligible for the additional $600

SCREENSHOT / FINCANTIERI MARINETTE MARINE VIDEO

A Wisconsin shipbuilder won a contract for up to 10 frigates on Tuesday, beating out three other shipbuilders, as the Navy seeks to build smaller, lethal warships during a time of growing threats.

The $795 million contract calls for Fincantieri Marinette Marine to move forward with design and construction of the lead ship, with options for up to nine more frigates, the Navy announced Thursday. The contract carries a value of $5.6 billion if all 10 ships are built, the Navy said.

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.

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