Oil trading at a negative price? That’s stunning, especially when we remember that before the U.S. production boom of recent years, oil at one time traded for more than $100 a barrel. But now tankers are at sea with nowhere to unload, and people in the oil business have run out of places to store the precious commodity. Of course that is happening because people aren’t driving amid a global shutdown of the economy.
Most of us aren’t flying either, which has brought hard times to the airline and aircraft industries. Planes are being parked on shut-down runways or put into long-term storage. Meanwhile Hexcel, a mainstay of Casa Grande’s economy since the 1960s, has gone into survival mode. The company makes lightweight materials used in many of the world’s aircraft, and it has cut jobs in most of its plants, including the one in Casa Grande. Hexcel’s problems actually came earlier than the coronavirus pandemic with problems for major aircraft manufacturer Boeing and its 737 MAX, which has had crashes tied to its design.
On a local level throughout Pinal County and the country, businesses up and down Main Street are either closed or struggling. Forced closures and massive layoffs across the nation have reduced cash flow everywhere. Restaurants are allowed to serve takeout food only, which has hurt their business. Stores that sell food and household supplies have faced shortages as workers struggle to keep up with demand, some of it boosted by hoarding.
Congress this week apparently was able to reach consensus to pass a refill for the Payroll Protection Program, which aids businesses that are keeping people on the job. That is essential to many employers in Pinal County and elsewhere. Being in business means many challenges, but this one has been a hard surprise.
Some people now are protesting restrictions and anxious to see the nation get back to work. That seems to be coming soon, with caution and the assistance and advice of medical experts. In the months ahead this crisis may be mostly in the rearview mirror, and that is something to hope and pray for.