This statement was published in response to the March 19, 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’s jobless claims numbers provide the first glimpse of hard data about the Coronavirus’s impact on the economy, and the need to fix the unemployment safety net. The numbers reveal that 281,000 workers filed jobless claims for the week ending March 14, up from 211,000 in the prior week, with claims from early Coronavirus-impacted states of Washington and California contributing 23,000 to the increase. And this is only the tip of the iceberg: these numbers do not account for the surge of new claims from overwhelmed UI websites from coast to coast.
Today’s numbers reveal that while Congress considers new strategies to help the unemployed, Americans are turning to a jobless safety net that is unable to meet their needs. While the bill passed yesterday by the Senate provides some relief, much more must be done. Federal policymakers should increase the amount of aid available and extend the length of UI benefits, lifting the 26-week cap. And states should be required to roll back cuts that have lingered since the end of the last recession, and ensure that they have the manpower and technology to effectively and efficiently process Coronavirus claims.