Weekly jobless claims are still, unsurprisingly, through the roof. The Labor Department reported that another 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total number of laid off U.S. workers to more than 16 million in just three weeks. For perspective, more people lost their jobs in March and early April due to the pandemic than during all of the Great Recession. Economists forecast 20 million people will be jobless by the end of the month, lifting the unemployment rate from 3.5% back in February to an unbelievable 15%.
Airbus’s Mobile, Ala. plant is idling about 1,100 employees as it halts production of its A220 and A320 passenger jets for three weeks. Employees that can work remotely will do so, and the company will pay those who cannot during the cessation of production. Airbus has already shut down most of its European aircraft manufacturing plants. Rival aerospace firm Boeing is temporarily shuddering its plant in North Charleston, S.C. where it produces the 787, affecting about 7,000 workers. Like Airbus, those who can work remotely will do so, and those who cannot will be paid for two weeks. Boeing’s Washington state facilities have been shut down since March 25th.
It’s been three or four weeks since Americans started sheltering in place, and many are now wondering when the economy will reopen so they can get back to business and work. That’s currently unknowable, but, according to experts, how we will know depends on meeting these four criteria. 1.) hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care. 2.) A state needs to be able to test everyone who has symptoms. 3.) The state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts. 4.) There must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.
The lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic are proving a boon for Alphabet’s drone delivery company Wing. The upstart has been testing out its service in Virginia, Finland, and Australia, and lo and behold, orders have doubled since social distancing measures limiting movement were put in place. Wing’s unmanned aerial vehicles have made some 1,000 deliveries, ferrying everything from pasta to baby food to customers' doorsteps at a speed of about 65 miles per hour. The company said it was surprised at just how many people had quickly taken to its drone summoning app.
A couple of people are going overboard with socially distancing and putting about 220 miles between themselves and the rest of humanity. The International Space Station (ISS) welcomed astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner after they blasted off this plague-stricken planet early Thursday morning. They crew of Expedition 63 launched aboard a Russian Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft as part of a six-month mission aboard the ISS. The trio will spend the next week with the three person team of Expedition 62 before relieving them of their duty. NASA isolates crew members for two weeks before all space missions so there’s little risk of transporting the coronavirus or other diseases into space.
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A bi-weekly roundup of the latest happenings in industrial tech, hiring and the future of work.