Look at that. Look at that! A record 20.5 million jobs gone. In April. Unemployment  14.7%. Damn.
"Look at that. Look at that! A record 20.5 million jobs gone. In April. Unemployment 14.7%. Damn." Credit: Blue Planet Studio/gettyimages.com

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: A staggering 20.5 million jobs vanished in April and the unemployment rate soared from 4.4 percent in March to 14.7 percent (it was around 3.5 percent between February, 2019 and February, 2020). Nearly all of the jobs created since the crash of 2009 are gone. The US has officially entered the territory of a depression.

AP:
In addition to the millions of newly unemployed, 5.1 million others had their hours reduced in April. That trend, too, means less income and less spending, perpetuating the economic downturn. A measure of what’s called underemployment — which counts the unemployed plus full-time workers who were reduced to part-time work — reached 22.8%, a record high.

Expect more eye-popping figures in the months to come. Best believe this: No amount of opening will swiftly fix the crisis. As Bill Gates put it, the economy closed itself. So, the thing to do is just stay at home, help halt the virus, and force the White House to deal with the real.

The Stock Market Is: Up. Also, April was its best month since 1987.

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Let's Take a Break From the Bad News: And watch a praying mantis devour a murder hornet.


The head. Look at how the praying mantis chomped the hornet's head. Each bit sending a pulse of joy from the monster insect's triangular visage. But, dear reader, you too can also experience exactly this praying joy. Shoreline's acclaimed insect chef David George Gordon sells bags of dried giant Asian hornets for a song.
Snack in a bag of big hornets...
Snack in a bag of big hornets... Charles Mudede

Back to the Bad News: According to Apartment List, 31% of Americans did not make housing payments (rents or mortgages) in April.

The breakdown:


After surveying over 4,000 Americans, Apartment List’s latest report finds 31% of respondents failed to make their full May housing payments, up from 24% in April. In fact, 16% of those who were able to make their full housing payment on time in April haven’t yet been able to pay anything in May.

As I said a week before the March 16 lockdown, the US should suspend all mortgage and rent payments for at least 6 months. This, inter alia, would give the fight against the virus extra fire-power.

Mein Gott! Georgia teens are now permitted to skip driving test during pandemic. If they have a learner's permit, and they've done nothing for a year, they can skip the whole business and just go and do what they like.

Now Help a Brother Understand This: The Seahawks season is set to open in September in Atlanta? How is that even possible? 50,000 people in a stadium, in September? What kind of dreaming is this? Realistically, we might talk about maybe December? Or, if you are really playing it safe, September 2021. But five months from now? Stadiums around the US? Packed with people? As Depeche Mode sang: Help me understand.

Seattle Times:

Seattle will play four prime-time games for the eighth consecutive year (and could get the maximum five later if one is flexed), including its home opener Sept. 20 against the Patriots on “Sunday Night Football.” The Seahawks also will play on “Monday Night Football” on Nov. 30 at Philadelphia and will play on “Thursday Night Football” on Nov. 19 at home against Arizona.

Today, Ocean City Opens in the Middle of the Worst Pandemic Since 1918: And Maryland's Republican governor is just fine with that. For those not in the know, Ocean City is on a strip of land that separates the Atlantic Ocean from a lagoon. There is nothing there but godawful buildings, creaky boardwalks, dirty sand, and the amusement park from hell. I was forced by my family to visit this place as a boy, and all I got from those dismal summer trips was a lifetime of nightmares.

Ocean City is also the subject of a great 1968 short story by the literary genius John Barth, "Lost in the Funhouse." You can read it here. And as you read in the silence of your mind's eye, pause now and then to think about all of those Americans risking their lives for a tourist destination that the crassest forms of capitalism garbaged long, long, ago.

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From "Lost in the Funhouse":

“Stay out from under the boardwalk,” Uncle Karl growled from the side of his mouth. The boys’ mother pushed his shoulder in mock annoyance. They were all standing before Fat May the Laughing Lady who advertised the funhouse. Larger than life, Fat May mechanically shook, rocked on her heels, slapped her thighs while recorded laughter — uproarious, female — came amplified from a hidden loudspeaker. It chuckled, wheezed, wept; tried in vain to catch its breath; tittered, groaned, exploded raucous and anew.

This Has a Simple Explanation: Trump wants to tie-up the news cycle with a beast he can handle, rather than the one he cannot. Breaking the law: no problemo; doing something positive about the pandemic: impossible. The former presents only an obstacle; the latter, a limit.

Some Good News That Is Not as Grisly as That Praying Mantis Munching a Whole and Live Murder Hornet's Head: There is growing evidence that the virus is changing Seattle's transportation culture for the good. For example, on Thursday, May 7, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that the city will permanently devote almost 20 miles of its streets to pedestrians and bikers. The name given to these no-car streets by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), which, coincidentally, is run by a man whose surname is the same as the country that once claimed me as one of its subjects, Zimbabwe, is Stay Healthy Streets.