Coronavirus economic updates: Pandemic could plunge half a billion into poverty

(NEW YORK) — The coronavirus pandemic has quickly evolved from a health care crisis to a financial one, shuttering businesses, upending industries and sending financial markets reeling.

Here’s the latest news on how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the economy. For more on financial resources available during the pandemic, click here.

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Pandemic could plunge half a billion people into poverty, Oxfam warns

A new report on Thursday from the nonprofit group Oxfam warned that the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic could push half a billion people into poverty unless action is taken to support developing countries.

The organization urged for an economic rescue package “for all” ahead of the meetings between the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and G20 finance ministers scheduled for next week.

The report cited research from King’s College London and the Australian National University.

#COVID19 LATEST: Half a billion people could be pushed into poverty by coronavirus.

— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) April 8, 2020

“The devastating economic fallout of the pandemic is being felt across the globe. But for poor people in poor countries, who are already struggling to survive, there are almost no safety nets to stop them falling into poverty,” Jose Maria Vera, Oxfam International’s interim executive director, said in a statement.

“G20 Finance Ministers, the IMF and World Bank must give developing countries an immediate cash injection to help them bail out poor and vulnerable communities,” Vera added. “They must cancel all developing country debt payments for 2020 and encourage other creditors to do the same, and issue at least US$1 trillion of Special Drawing Rights.”

White House setting up additional task force with economic focus

The White House is preparing to announce a second coronavirus task force — this one focused on reopening the U.S. economy, two senior administration officials and a person familiar with the discussions told ABC News.

This task force will include Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow and other top administration officials, plus additional people from the private sector, sources said.

While the president would not give a date of opening up the economy, the economic task force plans to focus on ways to reopen a majority of the country by April 30, the day to which Trump extended the administration’s guidelines on social distancing.

6.6 million more Americans file for unemployment

An additional 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Thursday’s figure adds to the some 10 million people who have already applied for unemployment insurance amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced non-essential businesses to close.

This means in just three weeks more than 16 million people have filed weekly jobless claims.

Just a few months ago, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was near a 50-year low.

“The unrelenting weekly deluge of UI [unemployment insurance] claims shows how abruptly the coronavirus outbreak has plunged the labor market into crisis,” Glassdoor Senior Economist Daniel Zhao said in a commentary Thursday. “In its first month alone, the coronavirus crisis is poised to exceed any comparison to the Great Recession.”

Zhao added that “the new normal” for unemployment claims “will be the canary in the coal mine for how long effects of the crisis will linger for the millions of newly unemployed Americans.”

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