Macy’s announced it will furlough most of its 125,000 workers as sales evaporated with the shuttering of 775 stores. Kohl’s and Gap also announced furloughs of about 80,000 each. Media giant Gannett announced furloughs for newspaper employees who earn more than $38,000 a year and pay cuts across the company. Sysco Corp., the country’s largest food distributor, also confirmed thousands of furloughs and layoffs of undisclosed number of workers worldwide.
The massive cuts have prompted some economists to predict the unemployed could top an eye-popping 40 million by mid-April, with deep economic consequences for workers struggling to make rent and mortgages amid public health isolation orders.
The rest of the economy isn’t doing much better. Oil prices sank to an 18-year low Monday from collapsing demand; Texas manufacturing activity and outlook plummeted to a record low; and a new forecast from IHS Markit estimates that “it will likely take two to three years for most economies to return to their pre-pandemic levels of output.”