Graham Kilmer

Unemployment Claims Set New Record, Again

6.6 million people file for unemployment, breaking record set just last week.

By - Apr 2nd, 2020 01:19 pm
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Unemployment Insurance Claims Office. Photo by Bytemarks (CC-BY).

Unemployment Insurance Claims Office. Photo by Bytemarks (CC-BY).

Much like the rate of infection for COVID-19, unemployment in the United States continues to grow, getting worse by the day.

Date released by the Department of Labor Thursday shows that more than 6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week. This set a new record, as the week prior saw a historic spike in claims with more than 3 million filing.

From March 22nd to March 28th, 6.6 million people filed for unemployment. Once again, the Department of Labor announced: “This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series.” The department said the same thing last week when it announced 3.3 million unemployment claims in one week.

In February, the national unemployment rate was 3.5 percent. But more than 10 million people filed for unemployment in March. If the majority of those were newly unemployed, then the share of the labor force currently unemployed has tripled in a month. Official data from the federal government on the current unemployment rate is not available, and won’t be for some time.

In Wisconsin, over a nine-day period from March 24th to April 1st, 154,800 people filed for unemployment. The last nine-day period Urban Milwaukee reported on showed 101,4000 had filed for unemployment.

Former Chief Economist at the Department of Labor, Heidi Shierholz, tweeted that the latest unemployment claims data has left her “shaking.” Shierholz, currently senior economist and director of policy for the non-partisan think tank Economic Policy Institute, said in a statement, “What the labor market is currently experiencing is far more extreme than anything we’ve ever seen, including the worst weeks of the Great Recession.”

Shierholz said that the latest data undercounts the actual number of unemployed because the numbers do not reflect “independent contractors, those who don’t have long enough work histories, those who had to quit work to care for a child whose school closed, and more.”

Based upon new gross domestic product forecasts, Shierholz said the Economic Policy Institute is predicting that nearly 20 million workers will be laid off or furloughed by July. These numbers, she said, incorporate the first stimulus package already passed and assume Congress will pass another aid package focused on providing relief to states. If there is not another recovery bill “far more than 20 million workers will be laid off or furloughed,” she said.

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Categories: Business, Economics, Health

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