These are truly unprecedented times as the coronavirus pandemic brings the global economy to an abrupt halt. Here in the U.S., weekly jobless claims skyrocketed to 3.28 million, shattering the Great Recession peak of 665,000 and the all-time high of 695,000 logged in October 1982.
In today’s newsletter, we’re examining the impact of the outbreak on the economies of the U.S. and California. We're also looking at how the crisis is causing delays in orbital launches and pushing some space companies toward bankruptcy. Scroll for more and we'll see you in a fortnight.
Kim Taylor CEO, Cluster
United States Initial Jobless Claims (in thousands)
Outbreak Ravaging CA Labor Market
The coronavirus outbreak has analysts speculating the hit to the U.S. economy. A Goldman Sachs outlook suggests a 1.25% contraction in the first half of this year, translating into 3 million lost jobs. Prior to the crisis, California enjoyed a record-low 3.9% unemployment rate.
Given California’s vast tourist and transpacific transportation industries, economists predict the Golden State will experience a recession more severe than the rest of the nation. Joblessness could rise to 6.3% by year’s end and average 6.6% in 2021. More than 280,000 payroll jobs could be lost.
A Marist poll found that 18% of surveyed adults had already been laid off or had their work hours reduced. That figure rises to 25% for those earning less than $50,000 a year.
According to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the state, which normally averages 2,000 unemployment applications a day, received 40 times that amount or 80,000 applications in a single day in March.
Across the state, labor union members are faring better than nonunion workers with many receiving some pay and medical benefits while on leave. Independent contractors are seen as the most vulnerable as they are ineligible for unemployment benefits.
Space companies and agencies have begun announcing closures, and several rocket launches are being delayed due to the pandemic. A European mission to Mars was postponed for two years while launches from a spaceport in French Guiana have ceased.
Most of NASA’s staff is working remotely. It’s unclear whether the agency will proceed with its planned manned SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft in May, its Perseverance rover to Mars launch in July, or even its Artemis mission to the Moon. However, the April 9 launch mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is still a go.
Nevada-based Bigelow Aerospace, which had plans to build an orbiting space hotel in partnership with the United Launch Alliance, has laid off its entire workforce with some reports suggesting the layoffs could be permanent.
SpaceX is forging ahead and just recently launched its sixth Starlink satellite constellation mission, taking its total number of satellites in orbit up to about 360. It is continuing to prepare for its manned Crew Dragon mission, although a March 30 launch for the U.S. Air Force is on indefinite hold.
Softbank-backed OneWeb, which already launched 34 orbiting satellites as part of a planned constellation, has filed for bankruptcy. The company has laid off 85% of its workforce and the future of its constellation remains in doubt.
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Upcoming Events in SoCal
Apr 2: The Space Policy Show Virtual "What the Expiration of New START Could Mean for U.S. Space Forces with Mick Gleason" is the topic of this online webcast presented by The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy as an opportunity to stay engaged with the larger space policy community. Info
April 7: The Space Policy Show Virtual "Large Constellation Disposal Hazards with Bill Ailor" is the topic of this online webcast presented by The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy as an opportunity to stay engaged with the larger space policy community. Info
Check out our calendar for all the latest SoCal events here
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