Coronavirus: How the economic fallout is being felt in the US – BBC Newsnight

published on July 25, 2020

what's always remarkable about America is its scale this is a place used to being the biggest the strongest the richest right now though what startling is the scale of economic contraction down on the ground

22 million people applied for unemployment benefit in the past month this is the result Food Bank lines at John rora Elementary School in Baltimore this is a poor area with little financial

Resilience even at the best of times my son got laid off yeah due to the Cova nineteen he D security I guess a financially files like bills and stuff you know you get behind in bills and so yeah make it the best way you can

Putting together bags of produce bread chicken cereal the American welfare system isn't set up for this crisis this is the work of charities and volunteers Kamal and Adam work for a film equipment hire company in Baltimore their usual

Work has completely dried up and so they volunteer here today they asked us if we could provide some tents and cones and tables so we got all that stuff pulled it from the warehouse wiped it all down and loaded up the trucks right I feel

Like doing things like this definitely makes me feel like I'm not just sitting at home waiting for you know us to go back to work we're finding ways to get out there and still be helpful creative and just you

Know together because that's what this is all about also playing a big role is the Baltimore City School Board many students would get free meals in term time now two meals a day served to anyone who wants them child or adult the

Cost is growing according to the head of the school board this emergency is asking profound questions of American society a lot of these folks had jobs a lot of these people were getting up and going to work every day and we're

Getting on public transportation and working two three jobs and so what do you do when people who absolutely have a work ethic people who absolutely want to support their families in much greater numbers are unable to do so that that's

A society question and I think we're going to we're gonna have to grapple with right now we're doing what we can because we know we need to do it people like Konica rice she lost her job

In a university canteen her family's finances have been devastated and so are those of many of her work colleagues there's only 12 workers out of 201 workers working right now my husband his job 80 workers nobody's working not one

I did start collecting unemployment around the end of March but we have quarters so once that money is gone in that quarter you have to reapply see if you are approved for the additional 13 weeks and that's slowly approaching this

Wave of unemployment that Konica and her husband are caught up in is also a story of how the American economy has changed for the whole of the 20th century this was the site of a huge enamel plant one of Baltimore's biggest employers it

Made coatings for household goods shipped all over the world it closed in 2006 a few years after China joined the World Trade Organization and became the world's low-cost workshop this land is now being redeveloped as a shopping mall

That will open well who knows places like this show you why the US economy has been so badly hit by this virus many other jobs they used to do here the manufacturing jobs have just disappeared over the last 20 years and

What have we got in their place service jobs face-to-face jobs jobs you just can't do during a pandemic jobs like cutting hair Derrick Burton has watched his thriving barber shop business destroyed in a few short weeks that

Would be buzzing every day but non-stop on a Saturday we have a ticket you know machine like an ax meat counter we're losing around forty to fifty thousand dollars a month are you feeling like you're gonna stick it out I'm not

Gonna stick it out I'm selling my chairs off to my partner I don't want to be involved here anymore really yeah I'm walking away what does that feel like after all that work defeat loss

Turmoil heartache stress there are already signs of pushback over the weekend people demanding to be allowed back to work many of them proclaiming support for the president the protests are mostly in

States with Democrat governors today makes exactly one month we've been out of work and then they're talking about another month we won't survive small businesses will not survive and the president is encouraging the protests

With a series of tweets back in Baltimore Derrick Burton didn't vote for the president last time but will in the next election I will vote for Donald Trump because I think he needs to get us out of this but I think it's not fair

That we have a democratic and a Republican Society where the working man doesn't fit in either one I don't see any point in stopping and waiting for a sign what kind of sign are we waiting to open up the economy you know we still

Have an economy that needs to exist regardless of any kind of illness or defects all the while the wages that just about kept these communities ticking over have drained away replaced by benefits that are hard to access and

Uncertain in duration I feel like the violence can increase because the more people aren't working or receiving some type of you know benefits the more eager they are to you know do whatever they can to get that money it's scary

It really is scary you don't know people's frame of mine all over Baltimore you can find the rusted remnants of long-dead businesses a reminder that once lost industry is hard to restart right now the vast

American economy for decades the main engine of global prosperity is shuttered much of its silent but how long before it too cannot be restarted

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