UPDATED 5/21, 10:30 a.m. ET: Each of the past nine weeks has seen millions of Americans file for unemployment. The last week saw another 2.4 million people put in for benefits after losing work amid the pandemic. Reuters says the unemployment rate is at 17.2 percent.
CNN reports that 38.6 million people have made unemployment claims since the middle of March. “First-time claims have declined for seven straight weeks,” the outlet notes, slimming down from a peak of 6.9 million claims in March’s final week.
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As the economy continues to struggle as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, over 36 million U.S. citizens have now sought unemployment benefits since mid-March, CNN reports. As the Labor Department revealed on Thursday, the closing of businesses has impacted over 20 percent of working Americans.
Though the number of first-time applications has been in decline for six straight weeks, the 36.5 million total represents 22.4 percent of the March labor force, a number that would have been unthinkable just months ago. The highest number of first-time claimants in a single week occurred in the final week of March, with 6.9 million people filing. This past week, three million applied for unemployment benefits.
Some of the more staggering numbers we've seen include the 14.7 percent unemployment rate we saw in April. That's the highest since the Great Depression, but it's also worth noting that some workers in April were counted as employed and absent from work, but should have been actually counted as temporarily unemployed. As the Associated Press points out, plenty of laid-off workers didn't look for new work in April, either, due to discouragement over the mostly closed economy.
As states start to reopen, it's likely that unemployment numbers will continue to decrease as we head into the summer.