5.2 Million New Jobless Claims

Scary as Hell

The latest initial unemployment claims are out, and it’s 5.2 million claims over the past week, which is almost certainly an under-reporting, as overburdened offices are almost certainly falling behind.

In any case, it’s about 22 million claims in the past 4 weeks, and an unemployment rate of at least 15%:

More than 22 million workers have sought unemployment benefits during a month of coronavirus-related shutdowns, a record-shattering total that reflects a broad shock for the U.S. labor market.

Another 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday, adding to three prior weeks in which millions of people filed for jobless claims. Since mid-March, about 13% of the labor force has sought jobless assistance, far outpacing any prior four-week stretch on record. Last week’s total decreased from figures that approached 7 million in the prior two weeks, suggesting the wave of workers filing for benefits has passed its peak.

“Claims are now falling, having peaked…two weeks ago,” said Ian Shepherdson, economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “But the weekly level is still almost unfathomably high.” He said Google search data for “file for unemployment” suggests claims will fall again this week.

Jobless claims are applications by laid-off workers for unemployment-insurance payments—not all of which are approved. Each claim is made by an individual person and that person can’t file another claim until their previous request was either rejected or their benefits expire.

Before the pandemic, the largest number of Americans to ask for unemployment benefits in a four-week stretch was 2.7 million, or 2.4% of the labor force, in the fall of 1982.

The glass half empty folks note that there are simply fewer people who are employed to make claims.

This is grim.

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