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Grim December jobs report shows shutdowns must end

Grim December jobs report shows shutdowns must end
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The shutdowns to slow the spread of the coronavirus have wreaked havoc on the American economy and psyche.

At the beginning of the pandemic, when we knew very little about the novel coronavirus, emergency shutdowns were accepted by most Americans as a drastic but necessary tool.

But it has been almost a year since the emergency shutdowns were instituted. We know much more about the virus. We have testing, therapeutics and multiple vaccines. Yet, in many states, shutdowns are still in place. The shutdowns have dealt a devastating blow to the pre-pandemic U.S. economy, which was thriving on many fronts.

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In February 2020, before the shutdowns were instituted, there were roughly 5.7 million unemployed Americans. As of January 2021, the number of unemployed has almost doubled to 10.7 million.

Similarly, before the shutdowns, the labor force participation rate, a more accurate gauge of the nation’s employment situation, had ticked up to a near-record 63.4 percent. As a result of the shutdowns, it has sunk to 61.5 percent.

Aside from the disturbing employment figures, the U.S. economy has suffered in several other ways as a result of the prolonged shutdowns.

Over the past year, the U.S. national debt has increased by nearly $4 trillion, largely thanks to trillions of dollars in COVID relief and bailouts for a host of industries that were crippled by the lockdowns.

The U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio has skyrocketed as well. In February 2020, it was about 107 percent. As a result of the economic devastation due to the shutdowns, it now stands at 127 percent. Although this figure may not matter to most Americans, it will negatively impact the nation for years to come because it will fuel inflation, stifle economic growth and decrease job creation.

Sadly, the economic fallout from the shutdowns account for only part of the problem. The American people are suffering psychologically from the anxiety, isolation and other mental health issues that the shutdowns have wrought.

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Across the nation, substance abuse has increased substantially since Americans were told to stay home indefinitely. Sadly, the same pattern applies to domestic and child abuse. Even worse, the suicide rate in America has risen significantly as well, especially among teenagers.

Despair due to the shutdowns is killing Americans, literally.

Education is also in disarray due to statewide shutdowns. Millions of students have been out of classrooms for close to a full year. Although those under the age of 18 are least likely to contract the coronavirus, the youngest among us are arguably paying the highest price because their futures are being compromised.

By no means is this an all-encompassing list of the challenges that the shutdowns have placed upon our society. The short-term economic and social consequences are much more numerous. And the long-term consequences are incalculable.

But despite these dire circumstances, many governors continue to impose the failed shutdowns.

Notwithstanding the fact that the World Health OrganizationDr. Anthony Fauci and several others have suggested that lockdowns do more harm than good, they remain in place in many states.

From New York to California, lockdowns continue to wreak havoc, driving many to flee these places in favor of states where freedom and opportunities abound. Not surprisingly, in some states, namely Florida, where lockdowns have been avoided in place of more tactical approaches, much less economic and social damage has been caused.

In less than two weeks, Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Scalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration Sidney Powell withdraws 'kraken' lawsuit in Georgia MORE will be inaugurated as the 46th president. He will inherit an economy in shambles. He will preside over a nation in anguish.

Although Biden and many in the newly inaugurated 117th U.S. Congress have made it clear that they will pursue temporary measures, such as $2,000 stimulus checks, these and other short-sighted policies are simply stopgap strategies.

The only solution to the economic upheaval and social devastation wrought by the lockdowns is to reverse the lockdowns and allow the American people to pursue their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.org) is an editor at The Heartland Institute.