Jobless Claims Reach New Record High As 6.6 Million File for Assistance

April 2, 2020 by Dan McCue
Virus-Outbreak-Unemployment-Benefits

WASHINGTON – More than 6.6 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, shattering the record number for the second week in a row, the Labor Department announced Thursday.

Last week, 3.3 million people filed jobless claims, meaning the two week total comes to close to an unprecedented 10 million new claims.

All of this, of course, is due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak which has effectively shut down large swaths of the U.S. economy.

Until last month, the worst week for unemployment filings was 695,000 in 1982.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during a conference call with reporters that Thursday’s jobless numbers “takes one’s breathe away.”

“Everything we see is evidence of a need for further action,” she said.

In addition to today’s new numbers, the Labor Department revised last week’s numbers for new claims up from the previously reported 3,282,000 to 3,341,000.

In the week ending March 28, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 6,648,000, an increase of 3,341,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

Initial jobless claims by former federal civilian employees totaled 1,282 in the week ending March 21, an increase of 709 from the prior week.

There were also 897 initial claims filed by newly discharged veterans, an increase of 461 from the preceding week.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending March 14 were in Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Montana, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and West Virginia.

All states reported increases in initial claims for the week ending March 21. The largest increases were in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, Texas, and California, while the smallest increases were in the Virgin Islands, South Dakota, West Virginia, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Earlier this week, an analysis from Goldman Sachs suggested unemployment could rise to as much as 15 percent for the second quarter due to the coronavirus.

However, the investment bank is still predicting a “V-shape” recovery, meaning the steep drop-off will lead to a bigger bounce to the positive in the third quarter.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the unemployment claims report is “the latest example of how the coronavirus has impacted daily life in our country.” 

“This demonstrates the urgency with which the federal government must step up rather than stand down,” Hoyer continued. “While the CARES Act aimed to mitigate the worst of the economic consequences, with direct payments to most Americans and assistance to small businesses to sustain their payroll, the House stands ready to take whatever further action may be necessary. 

“The only way to prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed is for as many Americans as possible to stay home,” he said. “We cannot begin to turn our economy back on until public health experts tell us it is safe to do so. We are all in this together, and every American has a role to play in defeating coronavirus, whether that means working in an essential job or staying home to prevent the virus’s spread.” 

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