As cities approach or pass the peak of new coronavirus cases, the national conversation is shifting to reopening the economy. But getting back to business won’t mean a return to normal – as the recently reopened city of Wuhan, China is revealing.
In today’s newsletter, we get our first glimpse into post-lockdown life, and we’re sharing some helpful financial tips for workers laid off as a result of the pandemic.
Scroll down for more and we’ll see you in a fortnight.
Kim Taylor CEO, Cluster
U.S. Initial Jobless Claims (in thousands)
Wuhan Reopens, but Nothing Is the Same
Last Wednesday, the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, Wuhan, China, ended its 10-week lockdown. While the industrial hub of 11 million people is reopen for business, movement is still regulated by authorities and life is far from normal.
Cars are back on the road and an estimated 55,000 people left Wuhan by train the day the lockdown ended. However, schools are still closed and officials continue to urge residents to stay at home as much as possible to reduce the chances of the epidemic returning.
Reopened shops have set up street-front counters so customers can make purchases without entering. Public buses and subways have restarted, but carry few passengers. Online shopping is still big, but an e-retailer says people are now treating themselves to clothes, cosmetics, and travel accessories over the staples.
94% of businesses have resumed operations, but it’s unclear how they are faring. While companies like Honda are back to producing at full capacity, electricity consumption in the city is one-fifth of what it was this time last year – an insight into reduced business activity.
Wuhan residents remain fearful about the economy. The restaurant industry has been devastated, and laid off workers across all sectors may not be rehired right away. Businesses also worry about unsold goods, maintenance costs for equipment, and flagging worldwide demand.
Bankrate released a list of 13 financial tips for laid off workers. Here are a few for those concerned about their budget – the complete list is linked below.
For those with mortgages, many states and the federal government have rolled out programs to help homeowners who may be experiencing financial distress. Repayment of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-backed loans can be suspended for up to 12 months. Search Making My Home Affordable to see if your mortgage qualifies.
Federal student loan payments are suspended until Sept. 30, and interest won’t accrue during this time. This doesn’t apply to private student loans, but you should contact your lender to work out a payment plan.
Contact your bank as many are waiving fees and minimum balance requirements, and allowing early certificates of deposit (CDs) withdrawals without penalty. Some lenders and credit card issuers are offering a reprieve to customers on monthly payments too.
Contact your utility company if you have trouble paying your bill. Many, including internet providers, are creating leniency policies and won’t shut down service for nonpayment. But inform them about any financial hardship before skipping a payment.
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