While thousands of small businesses are filing for bankruptcy, and Americans are struggling to pay their rent and mortgage, corporate America is raking in the dough.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that 45 of the 50 largest American companies scored a profit since March, when the COVID-19 crisis sparked lockdowns and quarantines. But the unfortunate number is that despite the corporate success, at least 27 of those 50 largest companies had layoffs, accounting for more than 100,000 Americans out of work.
"The data reveals a split screen inside many big companies this year. On one side, corporate leaders are touting their success and casting themselves as leaders on the road to economic recovery," the report said. "On the other, many of their firms have put Americans out of work and used their profits to increase the wealth of shareholders."
As the shutdowns began, large companies told the world that they were there to help. CEOs even took a pledge to focus more on employees and less on shareholders, only to lay off workers anyway.
"Berkshire Hathaway raked in profits of $56 billion during the first six months of the pandemic while one of its subsidiary companies laid off more than 13,000 workers," said the report. "Salesforce, Cisco Systems and PayPal cut staff even after their chief executives vowed not to do so. Companies sent thousands of employees packing while sending billions of dollars to shareholders. Walmart, whose CEO spent the past year championing the idea that businesses 'should not just serve shareholders,' nonetheless distributed more than $10 billion to its investors during the pandemic while laying off 1,200 corporate office employees."
The impending rental crisis is about to have large ripple effects too. A whopping 32 percent of renters entered September with pandemic-related rental debt. When anti-eviction regulations expire, those Americans will be thrown out of their homes. Even as the vaccine rolls out, it may come too late for some desperate to stay in their homes. Then there's the debt that piled up for the unpaid rent. If people are able to gather enough money to rent a new place, their credit will be trashed, making it harder to find housing.
The Wall Street Journal warned in October that it is next great housing crisis.