More Than 40 Million Americans Have Filed Jobless Claims Since the Pandemic Began

Another 2.1 million Americans filed initial jobless claims last week, according to the Labor Department.

In total, more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance since the pandemic took hold in the U.S. in March. Following an all-time high of 6.8 million claims filed in mid-March, the seasonably adjusted total has continued to fall for eight straight weeks — but weekly job losses continue to break pre-pandemic records. The previous record for most applications filed came in October 1982, when 695,000 claims were made. Until mid-March, U.S. jobless claims had been hovering at about 200,000.

In its most recent monthly jobs report, released for 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. The May jobs report, which is slated for release on June 5, is expected to show an unemployment rate of just under 20%.

The coronavirus has sickened more than 1.6 million Americans and killed over 100,000, according to Thursday data from Johns Hopkins. All job gains since the Great Recession have been wiped out because of the outbreak, 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. The virus forced so-called nonessential businesses to temporarily shut their doors, leading many employers to either furlough or let go of staff members.

However, the economy appears to be showing some signs of rebound as stock benchmarks tick up and states begin to ease restrictions. All 50 U.S. states have started loosening lockdown measures, which has allowed some persons to return to work in nonessential industries.

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