1 in 5 American workers has filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March

In total, more than 33 million people have filed first-time jobless claims since mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic is forcing businesses to close and lay off workers.

Posted: May 7, 2020 3:10 PM
Updated: May 7, 2020 3:10 PM

No end is in sight for coronavirus-related job losses.

The pandemic has ravaged the US labor market, and 1 in 5 American workers have filed for first-time unemployment benefits since mid-March, when lockdown measures took effect across the country.

Another 3.2 million Americans filed initial jobless claims last week, after factoring in seasonal adjustments, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.

Without those adjustments — which economists use to account for seasonal hiring fluctuations — the raw number was 2.8 million.

That brings the total number of seasonally-adjusted initial claims filed since mid-March to 33.5 million. Initial claims are considered a proxy for layoffs or furloughs, and that level represents about 21% of the March labor force.

These are staggeringly high numbers; weekly jobless claims were hovering in the 200,000s in the last few years before this crisis.

But last week also marked the fifth week in a row that the number of initial claims fell. They peaked at 6.9 million in the last week of March.

Economists say the downward trend is is a good sign that things aren't getting worse. Still, millions of new claims each week don't help the brutal overall picture of the job market during this pandemic.

Continued jobless claims, representing workers who filed for a second week of benefits or more, rose to 22.6 million.

Not all claims result in paid benefits. That is in part due to filing mistakes and because not everyone who submits a claim is eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

The continued claims suggest that few people are being called back to work. Those numbers could start to fall in coming weeks as lockdown restrictions begin to ease in some states, said Capital Economics' chief US economist Paul Ashworth.

But the pace of the recovery will depend on how willing consumers are to venture from their homes and spend money absent a coronavirus vaccine, said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.

In response to the crisis, the government broadened the definition of who is covered by unemployment benefits to include contractors, the self-employed and workers in the gig economy. The Department of Labor said that as of last week, all 50 states were paying out those extra benefits — but the agency has yet to release detailed breakdowns of how many claims have come in through that program in each state.

It did, however, note a total of 583,699 initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance came in between 23 states that reported the data for the week ending May 2.

Overall, the past seven weeks of record-high claims, dwarfing the Labor Department's historical data, paint a clear picture: America's job market is in distress and people are suffering.

"The data point to an unprecedented cascading crisis that hit frontline services like restaurants and retail businesses first, but has now reached into every corner of our economy, from manufacturing to even the healthcare industry," said Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation.

In Kentucky, home to many manufacturing plants, the number of initial jobless claims over the past seven weeks equates to nearly 33% of the state's March labor force. Hawaii and Georgia also have had claims representing more than 30% of their respective workforces.

On Wednesday, the ADP National Employment Report showed more than 20 million jobs were lost in the United States in April. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' official jobs report is due on Friday, with economists polled by Refinitiv expecting to see 22 million job losses and an unemployment rate of 16%, the worst layoffs on record.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1007681

Reported Deaths: 16470
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1355212121
Lake664101166
Allen57993801
Hamilton46350465
St. Joseph44397615
Elkhart35949510
Vanderburgh32251480
Tippecanoe27933260
Johnson25107445
Hendricks23897359
Porter22929365
Madison18748409
Clark18557252
Vigo17479303
Monroe15263200
LaPorte15173250
Delaware15073263
Howard14748290
Kosciusko12348148
Hancock11728176
Bartholomew11639180
Warrick11292189
Floyd11108215
Wayne10986253
Grant10082220
Morgan9472176
Boone8926115
Dubois8271131
Henry8229152
Dearborn822393
Noble8031106
Marshall7939135
Cass7546121
Lawrence7457171
Shelby7189119
Jackson698289
Gibson6597115
Harrison649192
Knox6421106
Huntington6395100
DeKalb632399
Montgomery6264111
Miami593398
Putnam581278
Clinton576171
Whitley565755
Steuben562576
Wabash5332104
Jasper532079
Jefferson511297
Ripley500586
Adams482576
Daviess4677114
Scott438974
Greene425196
Wells424888
Clay423360
White418764
Decatur4169102
Fayette406587
Jennings387361
Posey376644
Washington359151
LaGrange359078
Randolph3452100
Spencer340243
Fountain335760
Sullivan329452
Starke317171
Owen314771
Fulton312667
Orange293664
Jay284645
Franklin265643
Perry265452
Rush262432
Carroll261934
Vermillion258654
Parke231426
Pike229243
Tipton228159
Blackford193142
Pulaski183757
Crawford159823
Newton158348
Benton150617
Brown146747
Martin138719
Switzerland135011
Warren121116
Union107016
Ohio84613
Unassigned0540

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1515838

Reported Deaths: 23955
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1640131696
Cuyahoga1460532459
Hamilton1052061431
Montgomery738951279
Summit616491111
Lucas56212917
Butler51500718
Stark465771064
Lorain35525585
Warren32769377
Mahoning30719693
Clermont28151330
Lake26979448
Delaware24159164
Licking23882294
Trumbull22825561
Fairfield22354247
Greene22289326
Medina22002313
Clark19812354
Richland18559292
Portage17924252
Wood17427224
Allen15967279
Miami15524306
Muskingum14789185
Columbiana14017274
Wayne13755271
Tuscarawas12692311
Marion11957180
Scioto11452162
Pickaway11356142
Erie10867184
Ross10555203
Lawrence9746153
Ashtabula9701204
Hancock9687155
Belmont9287209
Geauga8933157
Jefferson8547199
Huron8380143
Union818859
Washington8085144
Sandusky7807151
Athens776179
Knox7705144
Darke7643158
Seneca7343145
Ashland6945130
Auglaize678699
Shelby6516115
Brown635291
Crawford6261130
Defiance6192105
Mercer614593
Fulton601296
Highland599399
Madison593978
Guernsey589771
Logan587996
Clinton582993
Preble5710125
Putnam5323110
Williams528088
Perry517363
Champaign511573
Jackson508573
Ottawa486286
Coshocton482283
Morrow458158
Pike433467
Fayette428263
Hardin418080
Gallia417267
Adams416695
Van Wert370882
Henry364072
Holmes3624125
Hocking356482
Wyandot322962
Carroll301765
Paulding279447
Meigs264651
Monroe215554
Noble199747
Morgan193933
Harrison181446
Vinton165525
Unassigned05
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