Businesses throughout the United States are being ordered to close as cities and whole states enter quarantine lockdown. The Coronavirus, which emerged in China at the end of last year, has now spread to every corner of the world, causing widespread illness, deaths, and significant economic loss.
Last week, 70,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits. It was one of the biggest one-week surges in history. According to some experts, as much as 30% of the workforce could be unemployed by the time the pandemic peaks.
While the statistics and the news stories are shockingly grim, there is some hope in certain sectors.
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), one of the largest and most valuable companies in the world, is preparing to hire more than 100,000 new workers in the U.S. to ensure that it can meet demand as residents are ordered to stay home.
Stay at Home Orders Increase Demand for eCommerce
During the Coronavirus outbreak, eCommerce is arguably the safest way for people to buy their essentials.
Amazon’s business makes up almost 40% of all online shopping in America. It has seen unprecedented demand for groceries, essential goods, and other products in recent days. It is now deciding to expand its workforce at key distribution centers. Beyond the ramp-up in hiring, Amazon has also stated that it will increase its hourly rate for employees in Canada and the U.S. by $2 per hour.
Walmart (NYSE: WMT), a company that has recently expanded its online business model, has also seen increased demand since the Coronavirus made it to America. It is facing a similar situation as Amazon where it currently can’t meet the demand for orders. Walmart needs staff to cover both physical stores and its online distribution service. It will hire 150,000 new workers. Walmart hasn’t said that it will increase wages, but it will provide a $300 bonus to full-time employees this month, and a $150 bonus to part-time employees on April 2.
Jobs created by both companies may be temporary, depending on how demand evolves as the Coronavirus crisis continues.
Economy Will Suffer, But There are Silver Linings
The economy and investment markets are sure to take an incredible hit in this quarter, and the upcoming second quarter. We are already seeing the damage in stocks. However, there is still an opportunity for growth. With federal stimulus measures incoming, the damage may not be as bad as the worst predictions.
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