Graham Kilmer

Post-Recession Job Growth Wiped Out

Federal government will release official unemployment rate tomorrow.

By - May 7th, 2020 03:17 pm
On March 19th, the downtown Milwaukee Punch Bowl Social laid off 91 employees. Photo by Jennifer Rick.

On March 19th, the downtown Milwaukee Punch Bowl Social laid off 91 employees. Photo by Jennifer Rick.

When looking at the latest data for unemployment claims, the amount of jobs lost in recent weeks because of the pandemic completely outstrips anything the United States saw during the worst weeks of the Great Recession experienced more than a decade ago.

The number of unemployment claims reported for last week is the lowest it has been in five weeks, and yet, there were still a whopping 3.2 million new claims for the week ending May 2, according to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Heidi Schierholz, former Chief Economist at the US Department of Labor and Senior Economist and Policy Director with the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) said, “For comparison, in the period before the coronavirus hit, just over a million workers would apply for UI in a typical five-week span, and in the worst five-week stretch of the Great Recession, it was less than four million. In the last five weeks, it was more than 24 million.”

The first jobs report that takes into account job losses from the economic shutdown is expected to be released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, May 7. That report will have data on job losses up to April 12th, at which time more than 20 million people had filed for unemployment insurance across the country.

There is a range of estimates on what the current actual unemployment rate is and what the latest jobs report will show. But many of the estimates fall between 10 and 20 percent. Which means the U.S. is at least experiencing unemployment on-par with the worst weeks of the Great Recession.

Elise Gould, an economist from EPI, wrote, “At the low end, the jobs losses in April will most certainly have canceled out all of the gains in the recovery from the great recession. At the high end, we will have returned to a level of employment last experienced in the mid-1990s, canceling out all of the gains in employment over the last 25 years.”

Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said that most economists are pointing to current unemployment being at somewhere around 15 percent. Their own estimates show it could be between approximately eight and 16 percent.

In the past seven days since Urban Milwaukee reported on unemployment figures in Wisconsin, 36,722 people have filed for unemployment. Compare that to the 4,153 who filed for unemployment during the same seven day period last year.

More than half a million Wisconsinites have filed an unemployment claim since March 15. Approximately nine percent of Wisconsin residents have filed for unemployment.

Wisconsin has a labor force of approximately 3.1 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means approximately 17 percent of the state’s labor force has filed for unemployment since March 15.

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Categories: Business

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