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American Workers Have Lost $1.3 Trillion in Income During the Pandemic

As the coronavirus continues to batter the United States economy, new research is showing just how much the pandemic has hurt workers’ paychecks.

According to findings from the Society for Human Resource Management and Oxford Economics, American employees have lost an estimated $1.3 trillion in income — or roughly $8,900 per worker. About one-fifths of this loss (or $260 billion) represents earnings of those who remain employed, which suggests that job losses alone are an incomplete account of the health crisis’ impact on the U.S. workforce.

“We’re talking about lives and livelihoods,” said SHRM president and CEO Johnny Taylor Jr. “That’s why, hard as it is to look at, leaders need to see this data. This is our reality — and it underscores the urgency with which we must move to safely reopen and return to work.”

According to the index, only 20% of metropolitan areas and 11% of smaller communities are expected to recover to pre-outbreak employment levels by the end of 2021. Nearly 40% of those smaller communities, researchers added, are not expected to bounce back until after 2024.

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“In many communities, it may take years to replace the jobs lost in a matter of weeks,” said Dan Levine, head of Oxford Economics’ location strategies practice.

The survey comes less than two weeks after the Department of Labor released its jobs report for April — the worst month for the U.S. labor force since the government began tracking the data at the start of the Second World War. Employers shed more than 20.5 million jobs last month, and the unemployment rate spiked to 14.7%, as scores of stores, offices and businesses closed their doors for weeks. Many nonessential employers were compelled to lay off or furlough their workers, leading more than 33 million people to file for unemployment benefits since mid-March.

Over the course of a little more than a month, the pandemic managed to wipe out all job gains since the Great Recession and brought to a halt America’s decade-long economic expansion. However, an increasing number of states this month have begun reopening shops, restaurants and other businesses, which could push some workers off of unemployment.

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