The spread of the coronavirus has hit the economies of many countries around the world, and inequality is particularly prominent. According to a survey by the U.S. media, 45 of the 50 largest companies in the United States have made profits since March this year. However, many of the profitable companies have laid off workers and distributed most of the profits to shareholders. Another study shows that the national poverty rate in the United States has climbed in recent months, partly due to the reduction of unemployment benefits from the U.S. government.
The epidemic may expand the advantages of large companies.
Affected by the epidemic, a large number of small businesses in the United States have closed down this year, and millions of Americans have fallen into poverty. However, according to a survey published by The Washington Post on December 16, 45 of the top 50 most expensive listed companies in the United States made profits during this period, and some executives of large companies expressed optimism about the economic situation. But at the same time, at least 27 of the 50 largest companies have laid off workers this year, with a total of more than 100,000 layoffs.
It is reported that at the beginning of this year’s outbreak, many large companies promised to pay more attention to the well-being of their employees and communities and ensure that they will not lay off workers. However, since then, 21 large companies that made profits during the epidemic have laid off workers. Companies that lay off workers at a profit include Berkshire Hathaway, an investment company owned by investment tycoon Buffett (13,300 layoffs) and Cisco, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, etc. Some unprofitable companies lay off more, such as Disney’s 32,000 layoffs and Boeing’s 26,000 layoffs.
The Washington Post interviewed 27 major companies that have laid off workers this year. Many companies said that layoffs have nothing to do with the epidemic, but are necessary parts of the company’s larger “reorganization” plan, that is, the company will shift its spending from declining business to growing business. Some companies said that layoff plans were decided before the outbreak. Several companies stressed that they have more new hires than laid off this year. Others said they have improved the health and family benefits of employees, providing protective equipment to front-line workers.
The report pointed out that most of the big companies in the United States have made profits in this year’s epidemic economy. For example, during the pandemic lockdown, consumers have spent more time and money on large video websites, social media, online shopping websites, video games, home goods, etc. Even in the hardest hit industries, such as catering, McDonald’s and other large enterprises have used their resource advantages to expand takeout services and services. Drive-through service. And a large number of small enterprises have been robbed of market share by large companies with abundant resources due to unpredictable fluctuations in consumer demand and lack of resources to maintain operations during the epidemic.
In the first nine months of 2020, the revenue of the top 50 companies in the United States increased by an average of 2%, while small business revenue contracted by 12% during the same period, according to the data. Economists estimate that at least 100,000 small businesses were permanently closed in the first two months of the outbreak alone.
However, the report pointed out that despite this, the proportion of layoffs in large companies is actually higher than that of small companies this year. Data show that the proportion of layoffs in large companies is 9%, compared with 7% in small companies. The survey also shows that from April to September this year, the top 50 companies in the United States distributed a total of more than $240 billion (about 15,700 yuan) to shareholders through repurchase and dividend distribution, accounting for about 79% of the total profits generated during this period.
Poverty rate hits its biggest increase in 60 years
According to the Washington Post on the 16th, researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame have found that the poverty rate in the United States has soared since June this year. The poverty rate rose to 11.7% in November, up 2.4 percentage points from June, and a total of 7.8 million Americans fell into poverty every month. The researchers said that this is the largest increase in 60 years since the U.S. government began to count the poverty rate.
Economists say that there are two main reasons for the sharp rise in poverty. First of all, due to the impact of the epidemic, a large number of enterprises have closed or cut production, and millions of people have lost their jobs or been unable to find jobs. Second, since August, the U.S. government’s aid to the unemployed has decreased significantly, from the previous average of $900 a week to $300.
At present, the U.S. Congress is discussing whether to implement additional economic stimulus measures. Many economists and business people say that the government should provide more assistance because the economic recovery is stagnating and many small businesses and families have difficulty in maintaining their livelihoods.