The Labor Department stated Thursday that roughly 4.4 million people have filed for unemployment in the past week alone. Despite the alarming number, its 800,000 lower than the 5.2 million who filed the week before and even more so down from the record of 6.86 million in late March.
What We Know:
- This week’s total puts the overall number at 26 million Americans, almost 8% of the population, who filed for unemployment benefits over the past five weeks, a record-breaking number revealing the devastating toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on the economy.
- Though last week’s tally was lower, the number of claims was still staggering, building toward a projected unemployment rate of 16.4% in May that would be the highest since the Great Depression, according to Morgan Stanley. There were more claims filed in five weeks than there were jobs created since the economic downturn in 2008.
- Even though many can file claims, not all of those claims will result in benefits being paid. Some will be rejected because workers did not meet eligibility requirements. Even so, numbers at that level reflect a devastating blow to workers, indicating roughly 16.2% of the US labor force is suffering employment loss.
- Early studies have shown lower-income workers are particularly affected by job losses, and minorities, specifically Black and Hispanic families, are expected to bear the brunt of the economic cost of this crisis.
Meanwhile, states continue to struggle to process the overwhelming volume of unemployment claims. In Hawaii for example, where much of the economy is tourism-based, roughly 26% of the March labor force has filed for first-time benefits over the past five weeks. In Kentucky and Michigan, some 24% of workers have filed for initial claims.