unemployment claim form

22 Million People Have Filed For Unemployment in the Last Month

  • 22 million people, or 13.5% of the entire U.S. workforce has filed for unemployment in the last month.
  • Over 5 million people filed last week.
  • The carnage in the job market caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has smashed historical precedent.

Over 5 million new unemployment claims were made last week, new data show. In total, over 22 million people have filed over the last few weeks since the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have begun to be felt. This figure represents about 13.5% of the entire U.S. workforce.

The last four weeks have seen initial claims in the millions, each of which is unprecedented in its own right. Before the pandemic began, weekly claims generally were in the low 200,000’s. The previous record for highest number of claims in a week was 685,000 set in October of 1982.

Week endingNumber of claims
3/21 3,307,000
3/286,867,000
4/46,615,000
4/115,245,000

The last month’s period of unemployment claims dwarfs every period since the U.S. Employment and Training Administration has published data. The recent peak presents a stark contrast to previous trends including the Great Recession.

While the $2 trillion CARES act recently passed by congress promises to supplement weekly unemployment benefits by $600 per worker per week, many states are having trouble accommodating and processing the truly unprecedented number of claims.

In California, only about 224,000 of payments of the $600 aid went out last week of the total 2.7 million claims which have been made. “We are in the process, right now, of dealing with an unprecedented number of people making phone calls to our Employment Development Department,” Newsom said.

Despite huge bailouts to the wealthy and large corporations, state and federal agencies are experiencing difficultly giving out much needed aid to workers. Unless this trend reverses, workers and families all over the country will experience economic hardship not seen in this country for generations.

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