Key points in this update:
- Unemployment decreased in May from 14.7 percent to 13.3 percent, representing an increase of 2.5 million jobs.
- New legislation gives PPP recipients more time to spend the money they receive and makes it easier to convert the loans to grants.
- CDC Director Redfield believes the CDC needs to improve its messaging on the importance of wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
May Unemployment Report
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment decreased in May from 14.7 percent to 13.3 percent, representing an increase of 2.5 million jobs in May. The decrease in unemployment surprised many economic analysts who expected the unemployment rate to rise to as high as 20 percent in May.
- Health care employment increased by 312,000 over the month, with gains in offices of dentists (+245,000), offices of other health practitioners (+73,000), and offices of physicians (+51,000).
- Elsewhere in health care, job losses continued in nursing and residential care facilities (-37,000) and hospitals (-27,000).
- Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates declined in May for adult men (11.6 percent), adult women (13.9 percent), Whites (12.4 percent), and Hispanics (17.6 percent). The jobless rates for teenagers (29.9 percent), Blacks (16.8 percent), and Asians (15.0 percent) showed little change over the month.
- The Senate passed the House-passed version of legislation to change some of the requirements for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and President Trump signed the bill into law Friday, June 5. The bill gives PPP recipients more time to spend the money they receive and makes it easier to convert the loans to grants.
- The positive unemployment report has led some Republican legislators to advocate their position that Congress should wait to pass more relief legislation until we have a better understanding of how much worse or better the economy will get in the short term.
- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published a letter responding to questions from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that describes the economic impacts of the $600 weekly increase to unemployment benefits that was included in the CARES Act.
- The letter says that many who received unemployment benefits received more in benefit payments than they would have received from their normal wages.
- The letter also says that the increase in the benefit amounts helped economic productivity and unemployment in the short term.
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued new guidance that will require labs conducting COVID-19 tests to include race, ethnicity, gender, zip code and other information in the data it reports to the agency.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield acknowledged that the federal government needs to do a better job tracking COVID-19 disparities. This was part of his testimony at a House Appropriations Committee Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee hearing.
- The Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters to 35 companies regarding unsubstantiated claims about various COVID-19 treatment products.
- Dr. Ned Sharpless, the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI) posted a video where he answers some common questions about antibody testing and herd immunity.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new test from Roche that assesses if patients are at high risk for severe COVID-19 complications.
- CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield recommended that people who are attending large gatherings to protest racial injustices, be tested for COVID-19.
- A medical journal retracted a study that showed hydroxychloroquine was an ineffective treatment for COVID-19 because the dataset used for the study was incomplete. Studies of hydroxychloroquine from various researchers are ongoing.
- Though many states are seeing declining infections, some states are seeing infection spikes.