AT almost that three times the level reported in December, 2019, Friday's Black unemployment rate number is surprising and unfortunate, no matter what partisan policymakers and economists say.
Remember, our expectation (and hope) was that fiscal and monetary policy actions would limit the initial damage. The Paycheck Protection and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs certainly helped keep May's unemployment rate below 20%, but the numbers show that more focused fiscal and monetary policy actions, coordinated on a global level, are needed.
In our comment on the Economic and Social Costs of "Reopening" America, we estimated that U.S. small businesses would need $6 trillion on an annual basis to ensure their survival through the coronavirus crisis. This was confirmed by the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. (See: https://twisri.blogspot.com/2020/04/economic-and-social-costs-of-reopening.html).
Unfortunately the unemployment numbers show that we are just beginning to see the true scale of the damage caused by the virus. As we forecast on December 26, 2016,
" Under any conceivable scenario, the current situation is very bad, and I mean toxic, for democratic institutions in general and for people of color specifically. Bottom line: our Fully Adjusted Return Forecast** indicates that, over time, things will get much, much worse....."