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Two things are becoming clear about the U.S. economy in the not-so-distant future: it will be open and it will be thoroughly freaked out. As tedious as lockdowns have been, a worry-free labor market is still a long ways off. Even the most extroverted among us will be nervous about strolling back into an open-plan office, factory or a co-working space for that matter.
Some gigs just can’t be done remotely. If you are a pilot, hairdresser or Amazon warehouse worker, braving coronavirus exposure may just be the cost of staying afloat. Almost half of U.S. small businesses expect to fold if the crisis lasts four months, with restaurants and retail shops providing the bleakest forecasts.
Meanwhile, another chunk of the workforce—typically a better-paid chunk—won’t be venturing far from the home office for months. Until a vaccine comes out, sweatpants will serve. But what about the folks in the middle? On the bubble, if you will? This group is far larger than anyone realized two months ago. A recent federal study found that almost 40% of U.S. jobs can be done from a pajama-friendly environment. The labor markets in Sweden and the United Kingdom are even more amenable to a virtual workplace.
32,491 in U.S.Most new cases today
-16% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23
-1.091 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23