This statement was published in response to the April 16, 2020 release of jobs numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the most up-to-date data please visit TCF’s comprehensive UI data dashboard here.
Today the Labor Department reported another massive increase in new unemployment claims, 5.25 million alone in the week ending April 10. That brings the total COVID-19 layoffs to at least 22 million in the last month, representing an unfathomable 1 in 7 U.S. workers who have sought emergency help. While this week’s data is down slightly from last week’s six million figure, it is a stark reminder that the economic damage from COVID-19 just keeps coming. The torrent of claims is clear evidence that economic mitigation efforts like Paycheck Protection for small businesses, while important, have not yet stopped the flow of people from payrolls to unemployment.
There is good news in today’s report, however, as more unemployment applications are moving through the process. The number of insured unemployed has risen by 10.2 million since the COVID claims started surging in March. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment has risen to an all-time record of 11.98 million last week. Our adjusted calculations indicate that 60 percent of the surge in claims through April 3 are now counted as insured unemployment, meaning that those claims are being processed and workers on their way to receiving a payment. The first part of the CARES Act—an extra $600 per week—is en route to many of these workers this week, and will reach most by next.
The numbers today don’t include millions of unemployed gig or self-employed workers who have been promised aid by Congress. For the most part, these workers can’t even apply for help yet as states are still delayed in setting up the required applications. The Department of Labor and states need to work harder to smooth out their unemployment programs, and expedite applications for help without cumbersome paperwork that could lengthen the excruciating wait period for relief.