Graham Kilmer

Employment Still in Nosedive

Record levels of claims continue to be filed.

By - May 28th, 2020 05:36 pm
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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.

After nearly three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment across the country continues to worsen.

Since the beginning of March, approximately 25 percent of the country’s labor force has filed for unemployment. Last week, the country saw 2.1 million new unemployment claims, bringing the total since the beginning of March to 41.2 million.

And this figure does not actually capture the full picture of joblessness in the country. As Heidi Shierholz, a former chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor, has written, “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,” are not captured in the numbers of new unemployment claims.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of the middle of April, the national unemployment rate is likely approximately 20 percent. The official rate they released two weeks ago was 14.7 percent, but that percentage was estimated using incorrectly classified data.

Over the past seven days, Wisconsin saw one of the lowest numbers for new unemployment claims during a seven day period since early March. However, it still completely outstrips anything the state normally sees.

Over the past seven days the state saw 22,084 new unemployment claims. During that same seven day period last year, the state saw 3,591. Since March 15, Wisconsin has seen 606,556 new unemployment claims. Which is equivalent to approximately 20 percent of the labor force.

Both the national and state figures are down from last week when they were 2.4 million and 28,525 respectively.

Meanwhile in Madison, state officials are now fighting over who is to blame with software and staffing issues with the state unemployment system.

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Categories: Business, Economics

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