Unemployment Claims Surge By Another 5.2 Million As White House Eyes Restarting Economy

April 16, 2020 by Dan McCue
Information papers display at IDES (Illinois Department of Employment Security) WorkNet center in Arlington Heights, Ill., Thursday, April 9, 2020. Another 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to the US Department of Labor, as American workers continue to suffer from devastating job losses, furloughs and reduced hours during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

WASHINGTON — Initial unemployment claims, a proxy for layoffs, jumped by another 5.2 million last week, bringing the four-week total to about 22 million, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

That number wipes out the total number of jobs created during the nine-and-a-half years that have elapsed since the global economic meltdown of 2007 and the recession that followed.

All told, nearly 12 million people are now receiving unemployment checks, roughly matching the peak reached in January 2010, shortly after the Great Recession officially ended.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 8.2% for the week ending April 4, an increase of 3.1% points from the previous week’s unrevised rate. This marks the highest level of the seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate in the history of the seasonally adjusted series. The previous high was 7.0% in May of 1975.

The report comes hours before President Donald Trump is expected to announce measures to reopen parts of the U.S. economy by May 1, and in some cases, potentially sooner.

 “There has to be a balance,” Trump said at a press briefing Wednesday evening. “We have to get back to work.”

He said the announcement will be made “sometime during the afternoon.”

The president’s daily schedule for Thursday is fairly packed. It includes separate phone calls with members of the House and Senate, the delivery of remarks “celebrating America’s truckers” and a video teleconference with governors on the response to the coronavirus outbreak and economic revival.

A seasonally adjusted 5,245,000 people filed initial unemployment claims for the week ending April 11, according to the Department of Labor, adding to the sharpest rise in unemployment in the nation’s history.

Thursday’s weekly report is the fourth in a row showing more than 1 million claims, a level that had never been reached until March.

All businesses deemed nonessential have been closed in nearly every state as the economy has virtually shut down. Deep job losses have been inflicted across nearly every industry.

Some economists say the unemployment rate could reach as high as 20% in April, which would be the highest rate since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

By comparison, unemployment never topped 10% during the Great Recession.

Initial jobless claims filed by former federal civilian employees totaled 3,395 in the week ending April 4, an increase of 944 from the prior week. There were 2,044 initial claims filed by newly discharged veterans, an increase of 292 from the preceding week.

There were 11,008 former federal civilian employees claiming jobless benefits for the week ending March 28, an increase of 1,630 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 6,328, an increase of 849 from the prior week.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending March 28 were in Rhode Island (11.9), Pennsylvania (9.8), Nevada (9.6), Washington (9.3), Connecticut (8.9), Massachusetts (8.7), Minnesota (8.7), Michigan (8.5), Ohio (8.4), and Georgia (8.2).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending April 4 were in Georgia (+256,312), Michigan (+84,219), Arizona (+43,488), Texas (+38,982), and Virginia (+34,872), while the largest decreases were in California (-139,511), Pennsylvania (-127,037), Florida (-58,599), Ohio (-48,097), and Massachusetts (-41,776).

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