Another 2.44 million workers filed initial jobless claims last week as coronavirus-induced job losses continue to mount.
In total, 38.6 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance since the pandemic began. Following an all-time high of 6.8 million applications in late March, the seasonally adjusted total has continued to fall for seven straight weeks — but claims continue to come in at historically high levels. Prior to the pandemic, the previous record had been 695,000 weekly jobless claims, recorded in October 1982. In the months leading up to the heath crisis, U.S. jobless claims have been hovering at about 200,000 until mid-March.
The coronavirus has infected more than 1.5 million Americans and killed over 93,000 persons, according to Johns Hopkins data from Monday. The virus has forced so-called nonessential stores and offices to temporarily close their doors, leading many employers to either furlough or lay off a portion of their workforce. Since the pandemic began, all job gains since the Great Recession have been wiped out, and the United States’ decade-long economic expansion has been brought to a halt. According to the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, 100,000 jobs have been lost in the footwear sector alone since the start of the pandemic.
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In its most recent monthly jobs report, released in April, the government reported a record loss of 20.5 million jobs. The unemployment rate spiked to 14.7% — making April the worst month for the U.S. labor force since record-keeping began at the start of the Second World War.
However, retailers, restaurants and other businesses have begun this month to reopen in a number of states — allowing some persons to return to work. The majority of states saw a week-on-week drop-off in the number of newly filed jobless claims. Georgia, which was one of the first states to reopen, saw the largest decline on a seasonally unadjusted basis, with week-over-week claims falling from 242,772 to 176,548, a decrease of 66,224. However, the number of working receiving unemployment benefits continued to rise in early May. The number of continuing claims climbed to 25.1 million for the week ended May 9, up from 22.5 million a week prior.