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Time Sensitive

Economic restart will require federal help

About 156.5 million Americans are categorized as members of the civilian labor force. At least 41 million people who can work and by definition want to are unemployed.

In other words, approximately one of every four people able to work is not employed — and is being supported by the rest. That is unsustainable even in the short term. Money does not grow on trees.

In truth, the numbers probably are even worse. The 41 million people referred to above are only those who have filed new claims for unemployment benefits during the past couple of months. Nearly 5.9 million others were jobless prior to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Getting the economy back in gear may be more difficult than merely declaring that the epidemic is under control.

While tens of millions of us were under various levels of lockdowns and shutdowns because of the coronavirus, spending and consumption patterns have changed. More of us are saving money rather than spending it.

And the way many of us obtain what goods we are buying has been altered dramatically. Far more online purchases are occurring, simply because in many areas, far fewer brick-and mortar establishments are open.

Restoring economic normalcy will require changing our shopping habits back to what they were three months ago.

Plainly, that will not happen. A certain percentage of online shoppers will stick with that formula. That will mean jobs formerly available in our communities will not exist anymore.

Normally, government should not interfere with production, distribution and consumption patterns set by the public. These are not normal times.

Throughout the country, tens of thousands of businesses must find ways to evolve — or close their doors forever.

Going forward, government efforts to restart the economy will have to mature from simply handing out money to targeting specific sectors that require pump priming. Small brick-and-mortar businesses may well be the bullseye of such efforts.

Clearly, the sooner such a strategy is adopted, the better. Time is running out for many businesses that will either resume providing jobs in our communities — or will not.

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