Silver Lining: Nearly 80% of Unemployed Say Layoff Is Just Temporary

TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump speaks during a 'Evangelicals for Trump' campaign event held at the King Jesus International Ministry on January 03, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

The overwhelming majority of Americans who lost their jobs in April say they have only been temporarily laid off or furloughed.

The government’s report on employment for April showed a loss of 20.5 million nonfarm jobs and unemployment rose to 14.7 percent, both record highs.

Out of the around 20.6 million Americans who lost their jobs in April, nearly 18 million say they have only been temporarily laid off. Just 2 million said they believe their layoff is permanent. That’s 78.3 percent of the newly jobless who say they expect to get their job back.

Typically, most workers describe their job loss as permanent. In January, 2.6 million people reported losing a job and just 742,000 described the loss of temporary, a 12.6 percent expected return rate.

The headline figure of job losses is taken from the government’s “establishment” survey. It is a net figure that includes both jobs eliminated and jobs added. It can differ from the total number of people losing jobs for the month, which comes from a survey of households. This month the establishment survey had total employment contracting by 20.5 and the household survey had 20.6 million losing jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The high number of the newly unemployed who expect to be rehired could provide additional support for the economy. People who consider their own joblessness only temporary and have access to unemployment benefits are more likely to maintain higher levels of economic activity and consumer spending that those who see the loss of their job as permanent. That’s even more true now that the federal government is bolstering unemployment benefits so that many workers will see little or no income loss despite being laid off–and some will actually be paid more while unemployed.

That spending will likely support the incomes of still-employed workers and help keep businesses from failing, which would keep job losses lower than they otherwise would have been.

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