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Retail Sales Up, Jobless Claims Down: Reopening Slowly, Safely

July 16, 2020

This morning we saw some positive economic news. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Weekly jobless claims were lower than expected last week: Totaled 1.314 million, compared with the Dow Jones estimate of 1.39 million.
  • The total was a decline of 99,000 from a week ago.
  • The peak in March was peak of 6.9 million.
  • Continuing claims fell to 18.06 million, a drop of 698,000.
  • Retail sales rose 7.5%, including a 20% increase in sales at bars and restaurants.

What does this mean?

  1. We are making meaningful progress reopening with jobless claims beating expectations. People want to come back to work.
  2. The retail sales numbers help round out the picture: People want to go out, they want to work, but they also need to feel safe.
  3. This is the 15th consecutive week that claims totaled above 1 million. This shows how sensitive the labor market is to flare-ups in cases, which we can preempt with the right policies in place.
  4. There’s an opportunity to provide more support for workplaces to open safely and responsibly. One example: The Healthy Workplaces Tax Credit, being introduced Thursday morning by Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC), provides support for main street businesses that need to reconfigure their spaces for social distancing and provide PPE, among other measures.
  5. Never in our history was there an attempt to voluntarily shutdown and reopen the world’s largest economy. Thanks to the pro-growth policies enacted before the pandemic, the appropriate question we ask is no longer if we can reopen the economy, but rather when should we reopen.

Want to read more on the fight against Coronavirus? Read our Coronavirus Bulletin here which contains our extensive FAQ about recent federal actions.

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