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Another 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week

Another 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending April 4. Altogether, more than 16 million Americans have sought aid in the form of jobless benefits in just the prior three weeks alone.

Posted: Apr 9, 2020 11:51 PM
Updated: Apr 9, 2020 11:51 PM

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.

It was the second largest number of initial unemployment claims in history, since the Department of Labor started tracking the data in 1967.

Altogether, about 16.8 million American workers, making up about 11% of the US labor force, have filed initial claims for jobless benefits in just the prior three weeks alone. About 7.5 million workers filed for their second week of benefits or more last week.

Numbers at those levels are startling and contrast starkly with any other economic downturn on record, especially because of how quickly they've surged.

Job losses during the Great Recession for example — as deep as they were — came at a much slower pace. It took two years for 8.6 million Americans to lose their jobs in that crisis. This time around, as businesses across the country close to slow the spread of coronavirus, the unemployment crisis has been far more acute, condensed into just a few weeks.

Another way to put the 16.8 million number in perspective: It's as if the entire adult populations of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin applied for unemployment insurance in the last three weeks, noted economists Elise Gould and Heidi Shierholz from the Economic Policy Institute.

How bad can it get?

Economists are expecting job losses will continue, with the unemployment rate peaking in the double digits sometime in the next few months, up from 4.4% in March.

"This week's unemployment insurance claims are yet another indication of the recessionary dynamics created by the coronavirus pandemic," Moody's Senior Vice President Robard Williams wrote in emailed comments.

That said, the government's economic relief package and policies by the Federal Reserve — including an additional $2.3 trillion in loans announced Thursday morning — will soften the blow a little bit.

Bank of America economists predict employers will cut between 16 million and 20 million jobs, with the unemployment rate peaking at 15.6% between now and June. If that's the case, it could take at least a couple years for unemployment to return to its pre-pandemic levels.

Still, economists are hoping the recovery from this downturn will be faster than the long drawn-out recoveries from the Great Recession and Great Depression. But ultimately, that will depend on when the coronavirus outbreak is contained.

Aid from the government

In the meantime, government stimulus could help some workers pay their bills. Congress included a historic expansion of unemployment benefits in its $2.2 trillion relief package passed two weeks ago. It includes a $600 weekly increase for up to four months, on top of state unemployment benefits. Workers in some states will start to receive those extra benefits this week.

State labor agencies have been upgrading their servers and adding staff, as they struggle to keep up with the sudden influx in claims. In many states, the computer systems that process claims run on a decades-old programming language known as COBOL. After his state was inundated with skyrocketing claims, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy put out a call for volunteers who know how to code in COBOL to help maintain the overloaded system.

And in Florida, crowds of people have lined up to file paper applications for unemployment benefits after the state's online and phone systems were also overwhelmed.

"The backlog of filings at the UI offices, [and] reports that some unemployment offices have people lined up outside to apply for benefits, shows how stressed the system is," said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO.

— CNN's Tami Luhby and Alicia Lee contributed to this report.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 119066

Reported Deaths: 3612
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21563768
Lake10745324
Elkhart6734112
St. Joseph6679115
Allen6364205
Hamilton4965109
Vanderburgh384231
Hendricks2779124
Monroe267137
Tippecanoe259013
Johnson2362125
Clark226757
Porter222447
Delaware201162
Cass19589
Vigo187928
Madison171475
LaPorte151941
Warrick140743
Floyd140464
Howard133964
Kosciusko127117
Bartholomew119357
Marshall102124
Dubois100919
Boone99746
Grant96636
Hancock94843
Noble92932
Henry82226
Jackson77610
Wayne77314
Morgan73940
Shelby68329
Daviess68129
Dearborn67928
LaGrange64711
Clinton63414
Harrison59824
Putnam59011
Gibson5455
Knox5379
Lawrence51829
Montgomery51321
DeKalb49111
White48814
Decatur46139
Miami4394
Greene42936
Fayette42314
Jasper4032
Steuben3977
Scott39311
Posey3541
Sullivan33812
Jennings31712
Franklin31525
Clay3105
Ripley3108
Orange28724
Whitley2876
Carroll28013
Adams2773
Wabash2758
Starke2737
Washington2702
Wells2694
Spencer2683
Jefferson2523
Huntington2503
Fulton2462
Tipton22922
Randolph2238
Perry22213
Jay1920
Newton17411
Owen1711
Martin1690
Pike1691
Rush1584
Vermillion1320
Fountain1302
Blackford1223
Pulaski1141
Crawford1100
Parke1072
Brown1033
Benton860
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren411
Unassigned0227

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 152907

Reported Deaths: 4783
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin27283615
Cuyahoga17603657
Hamilton13340321
Montgomery7993166
Lucas7377364
Butler6151112
Summit5393252
Warren313649
Mahoning3114282
Marion311447
Stark2946175
Pickaway268445
Lorain234286
Delaware232821
Fairfield214654
Licking196063
Columbiana195180
Wood194273
Trumbull1921132
Clark185341
Clermont176123
Lake166051
Greene153634
Medina149339
Miami147652
Allen147372
Portage117766
Mercer113919
Erie96047
Tuscarawas94320
Wayne94268
Richland94119
Ross90426
Madison85512
Darke81144
Athens7402
Geauga73349
Hancock73110
Belmont72427
Lawrence68622
Shelby66910
Ashtabula66248
Auglaize62511
Putnam62523
Sandusky58720
Huron5727
Union5512
Scioto5287
Seneca49514
Ottawa47230
Muskingum4553
Preble44716
Holmes3999
Jefferson3424
Henry33715
Defiance33212
Champaign3143
Logan3143
Clinton30512
Perry3039
Fulton2991
Brown2923
Knox28915
Jackson2667
Washington26323
Morrow2622
Hardin25713
Ashland2484
Crawford2486
Coshocton23511
Fayette2346
Highland2313
Williams2163
Wyandot21512
Pike2040
Gallia19713
Meigs17711
Guernsey1748
Hocking1679
Carroll1527
Adams1374
Van Wert1283
Paulding1130
Monroe11018
Harrison643
Morgan500
Vinton483
Noble350
Unassigned00
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