In a week of layoffs, MGM Resorts adds 18,000 more

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FILE – In this Aug. 3, 2015, file photo, a man rides his bike past the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas. MGM Resorts plans to lay off 18,000 workers as the casino company struggles with the fallout from the pandemic. The Las Vegas-based parent of the Bellagio said in a letter to employees that furloughed employees will keep health benefits until Sept. 30, 2020 according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

(AP) – MGM Resorts is laying off 18,000 people as an unchecked pandemic leaves economic scars across a broad swath of U.S. industries, particularly those that rely on healthy crowds of people.

Economists warn that big layoffs will continue and the jobs recovery will falter as long as the virus rages and Congress doesn’t come up with additional aid to the unemployed and desperate state and local governments.

MGM furloughed 62,000 of its 70,000 employees when casinos in Nevada were forced to close on March 17. Many of them opened again in early June, but mandated capacity controls are in place.

MGM has with properties in Mississippi, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and overseas in Macao and has brought back workers, but with 50% capacity limits, fewer workers are needed. Two properties, one in New York and one in Las Vegas, are still closed.

MGM said that federal law requires the company to send layoff notices to employees that have been furloughed for six months. The company said Friday that it will rehire workers when it can.

The layoffs at MGM, which amount to about a quarter of their U.S staff of about 70,000, caps a wave of job cuts and buyouts this week from a broad array of industries. Earlier on Friday, Coca-Cola said it was offering buyouts to 4,000 employees ahead of pending layoffs.

Half of Coca-Cola’s sales come from stadiums, movie theaters and other places where people gather in large numbers β€” venues that have been closed during the coronavirus pandemic. Revenue tumbled 28% in the Atlanta company’s most recent quarter.

United and American airlines, beset by plunging air travel, cut thousands of jobs this week. Tech company Salesforce is cutting 1,000 jobs and Bed Bath & Beyond cut 2,800 positions.

Those numbers represent only a fraction of job losses besetting the U.S. economy. Since late March, claims for unemployment benefits have exceeded 1 million every week but one.

On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that another million Americans applied for unemployment benefits. More than 14.5 million are collecting traditional jobless benefits — up from 1.7 million a year ago β€” with no end in sight.

Employers cut more than 22 million jobs in March and April as the outbreak brought normal business to a screeching halt. As economies slowly reopened, the economy generated than 9 million jobs in May, June and July. But that still a huge shortfall in jobs.

The steady drip of job losses may have already begun to play out in other crucial parts of the economy.

Consumer confidence has tumbled to its lowest level since 2014, the Conference Board, a business research group, reported this week. Consumer spending makes up about 70% of the economic activity in the U.S., and is watched closely.

The springtime layoffs were expected to be temporary. The workers seemed likely be brought back once the health crisis eased.

But Heidi Sheirholz, economist at the Economic Policy Institute, is worried that the recent wave of layoffs at big companies signals something more permanent.

β€œWe’re still in a terrible hole,’’ Shierholz said. β€œThe fact that jobs growth is slowing is devastating.’’

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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