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Featured Article: “Coronavirus Cost to Businesses and Workers: ‘It Has All Gone to Hell’”
As the coronavirus outbreak forces the cancellation of trips, nights out and large gatherings, economic damage is mounting across the country.
In this lesson, students will learn about the economic fallout that happens when people are homebound for an unspecified amount of time. They then explore how federal, state and local governments; large corporations; and customers might pitch in to help.
Many Americans can work from home and still get paid during the pandemic. However, many others can’t. If the crisis lasts for weeks or months, consider ways that the following groups and individuals may be affected:
Questions for Writing and Discussion
Read the article, then answer the following questions:
1. Diane Swonk says of the economy, “It’s not just that we’re slowing down things. We’re actually hitting the pause button, and there is no precedent, there is no mold for that.” How is a “pause” different from an economic slowdown? What are examples from the article and from your own observations that present serious challenges to businesses being able to stay afloat during the pandemic?
2. How have stock market losses affected the real estate market, according to a Silicon Valley broker who is quoted in the article? How might the stock market’s drop affect other industries?
3. The article gives examples of the employees, related businesses and employees of those businesses that will suffer when a restaurant owner decides to close a dozen restaurants for months or when an event like a professional sports game gets canceled. What is another example of a business decision made in light of the pandemic that would have a ripple effect for businesses and their employees?
4. The Seattle restaurant Canlis has made changes in light of the pandemic. What are those changes? How might its decisions serve as a model for other restaurants? What about other sorts of businesses?
Return to the different groups you thought about in the warm-up activity. What should we as a society do to help the different groups affected by the coronavirus outbreak?
What should the federal government do to help each group or individual? Read about a proposal to reinstate powers that were used during the 2008 financial crisis to support the economy.
What should state and local governments do? What measures might be taken to help with economic difficulties faced by residents who lose income while not able to work?
How should large corporations protect their employees from economic hardship — even in the midst of falling profits and rising uncertainty caused by the pandemic?
Finally, what can local communities and individuals do to help workers who have lost wages or business owners dealing with losses?