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: 768624

Reported Deaths: 13993
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1055891807
Lake569801031
Allen43032699
St. Joseph37344568
Hamilton37335426
Elkhart29783470
Tippecanoe23503230
Vanderburgh23240405
Porter19580327
Johnson18843392
Hendricks18089323
Madison13575347
Clark13552198
Vigo12869256
LaPorte12578225
Monroe12575178
Delaware11155198
Howard10693237
Kosciusko9792124
Hancock8761150
Bartholomew8274157
Warrick8084157
Floyd8043182
Grant7378181
Wayne7239201
Boone7211105
Morgan6924143
Marshall6345117
Dubois6283118
Cass6096112
Dearborn602178
Noble600890
Henry5958111
Jackson517277
Shelby511598
Lawrence4928127
Gibson463696
Montgomery459292
DeKalb456785
Clinton456055
Harrison454077
Huntington417882
Whitley416745
Steuben411260
Miami406073
Jasper401655
Knox388691
Putnam385762
Wabash370384
Adams353856
Ripley351971
Jefferson343487
White340154
Daviess3089100
Wells304081
Greene295185
Decatur292693
Fayette286564
Posey282635
Scott281058
LaGrange277772
Clay274949
Washington254637
Randolph247783
Jennings239749
Spencer238731
Fountain235850
Starke229959
Owen222959
Sullivan221643
Fulton208945
Jay203032
Carroll197722
Orange191756
Perry189939
Vermillion181144
Rush177627
Tipton173347
Franklin172535
Parke155916
Pike142534
Blackford138032
Pulaski123748
Newton123336
Benton109715
Brown106243
Crawford105816
Martin92515
Warren87915
Switzerland8378
Union73610
Ohio58411
Unassigned0429

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1125420

Reported Deaths: 20490
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1305631493
Cuyahoga1173952263
Hamilton825481261
Montgomery536581062
Summit489381014
Lucas43799834
Butler40064614
Stark33876939
Lorain26072510
Warren24959312
Mahoning22738613
Lake21482396
Clermont20425261
Delaware19169138
Licking16879227
Trumbull16829492
Fairfield16825207
Medina15880276
Greene15565254
Clark14366308
Portage13450218
Wood13358201
Allen12064245
Richland11748213
Miami11047228
Wayne9275228
Columbiana9216236
Muskingum9144137
Pickaway8755123
Tuscarawas8724255
Marion8716140
Erie8146166
Ashtabula7280179
Hancock7050135
Ross7031165
Geauga6975153
Scioto6726108
Belmont6224179
Lawrence5964104
Union591649
Jefferson5729162
Huron5644122
Sandusky5498130
Darke5448131
Seneca5380128
Washington5373111
Athens527260
Auglaize507787
Mercer491785
Shelby484397
Knox4621113
Madison448066
Ashland446198
Defiance439499
Fulton436875
Putnam4358104
Crawford4120111
Brown410462
Preble3956107
Logan392279
Clinton391466
Ottawa376481
Highland366668
Williams357378
Champaign349860
Guernsey331554
Jackson321954
Perry299050
Morrow294943
Fayette289350
Hardin279665
Henry277467
Coshocton273061
Holmes2726102
Van Wert252365
Gallia251150
Adams250958
Pike244837
Wyandot235557
Hocking222963
Carroll201449
Paulding180142
Meigs151540
Monroe137945
Noble137939
Harrison115438
Morgan111724
Vinton87517
Unassigned04
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