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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.

Cases: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
LaPorte14311239
Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
Kosciusko11418135
Hancock10841165
Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
Lawrence6957153
Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
Huntington600195
Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
Knox5494104
Miami542488
Putnam536768
Clinton533665
Whitley524953
Steuben497268
Wabash483592
Jasper479160
Jefferson470092
Ripley454277
Adams444068
Daviess4169108
Scott405865
White391857
Clay390857
Greene388392
Decatur385296
Wells384983
Fayette374278
Posey359941
Jennings353156
Washington332047
LaGrange321375
Spencer317835
Fountain316555
Randolph312888
Sullivan307449
Owen283863
Starke280064
Fulton277553
Orange275859
Jay254837
Perry251652
Carroll243729
Franklin239338
Rush234130
Vermillion233250
Parke219820
Tipton209655
Pike207639
Blackford168334
Pulaski163551
Crawford146018
Newton144345
Benton142516
Brown135346
Martin128217
Switzerland125810
Warren114616
Union96911
Ohio79711
Unassigned0479

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1365800

Reported Deaths: 21596
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1522221560
Cuyahoga1344852327
Hamilton976051320
Montgomery670271141
Summit562091047
Lucas50900863
Butler47417655
Stark41580976
Lorain31567532
Warren30001331
Mahoning26963639
Clermont25628292
Lake24585417
Delaware22313145
Licking20487241
Fairfield20420221
Greene20309272
Trumbull19866509
Medina19796287
Clark17879328
Richland16314234
Portage16130229
Wood15681208
Allen14115256
Miami13786253
Muskingum12641152
Wayne11946238
Columbiana11708241
Tuscarawas10953269
Marion10725148
Pickaway10465129
Scioto10324127
Erie9747171
Ross9436176
Lawrence8755125
Hancock8458141
Ashtabula8317185
Geauga8173156
Belmont8140187
Jefferson7527172
Huron7423128
Union731851
Washington7183120
Athens697165
Sandusky6848134
Darke6756136
Knox6671122
Seneca6358137
Ashland5948113
Auglaize587188
Shelby5727101
Brown564171
Mercer557890
Defiance5483101
Madison543371
Crawford5425114
Highland541581
Fulton530683
Clinton525580
Logan512182
Preble4994110
Putnam4833106
Guernsey470364
Williams459282
Perry449852
Champaign445964
Ottawa436884
Jackson425362
Pike388843
Morrow383851
Fayette375853
Coshocton374766
Adams360675
Hardin359069
Gallia347356
Holmes3259108
Henry324668
Van Wert314670
Hocking301769
Wyandot280658
Carroll262652
Paulding242243
Meigs213942
Monroe189749
Noble169340
Morgan165829
Harrison157940
Vinton138118
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Huntington
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Hi: 57° Lo: 47°
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Decatur
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Van Wert
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Sunshine and warmer air return to round out the work week, but the warm-up is brief.
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