Jobless Claims Obliterate Previous Record to Kingdom Come
Economists knew that this week's jobless claims report was going to bad following the lockdown of several major U.S. cities and states due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the official figure was far beyond their best educated guesses. The Labor Department announced that a record 3.28 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week in the U.S., completely annihilating the Great Recession peak of 665,000 and the all-time record of 695,000 logged in October 1982. Seeking to assuage fears, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that the sharp decline in economic activity will be followed by a good rebound.
Unemployed Engineer or Welder? SpaceX Wants You
While many businesses are making layoffs during these uncertain times, SpaceX is doing just the opposite and aggressively adding to its payroll. The aerospace company is looking to hire engineers and welders to manufacture its rapidly reusable Starship spacecraft designed for three flights a day. The SpaceX careers page website lists more than 600 job opportunities with 60 of the offered positions located at SpaceX's Boca Chica, Texas facility where Starship is being built.
Where Grounded Airplanes Quarantine
The airline industry is experiencing a steep downturn as people around the globe are hunkering down at home until the crisis abates. U.S. carriers are slashing domestic flights by some 30% and international flights by 75%, with many shelved older aircraft slated to never fly again. So what to do with all those grounded airplanes? Many go to aircraft storage operations located at desert facilities in places such as Victorville, Cali; Roswell, NM; and Tucson, Ariz where humidity is low (great for planes) and the runways are long enough to accommodate commercial aircraft. They will join hundreds of their Boeing 737 Max brethren still awaiting FAA certification to return to the skies.
Chinese EV Industry Plunges Under Flagging Demand
China is dominating the electrical vehicle game. In 2018, more than a million electric vehicles were sold in China; that's triple the number sold in the U.S. Much of the adoption is attributable to the Chinese government which heavily incentivized EVs. But last year Beijing decided to withdraw half of its buyer subsidies, and sales cratered in turn. Then came the coronavirus outbreak which kept people at home. Overall, auto sales plunged 79% in February compared with the same month in 2019, and sales of new electric vehicles fell for the eighth month in a row. Industry analysts expect falling demand to bankrupt several Chinese EV automakers.
Italian Engineers 3D Print Lifesaving Ventilator Parts
Italy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, even though cities large and small have instituted lockdowns weeks ago. The hospitals are overrun by patients and in desperate need of parts for ventilators which help the afflicted breathe and stay alive. In mid-March, two engineers in the town of Brescia heard that doctors from a nearby hospital didn’t have enough valves for their ventilators. So the pair fired up their 3D printer and got to work, finding a way to 3D print a hundred of the needed plastic pieces and offering to share their models with others around the world.
There's more recaps to be had in last week's Weekly Roundup.