More than 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, more than doubling the previous week’s record of 3.3 million new filings, according to new figures released from the U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday.
The new numbers bring the two-week total of jobless claims to nearly 10 million as government-mandated quarantines shutter businesses and put people out of work to slow the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
The US initial jobless claims chart since 1967 now just has a straight vertical line at the end pic.twitter.com/oWI3D37WkN
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) April 2, 2020
The Labor Department’s announcement that 3.3 million people had filed new claims in a single week last month had already shattered the previous record of 695,000 new filings during a single week in 1982.
As of this writing, three in four Americans are being ordered to stay home as 37 states and 14 cities have implemented some kind of shelter-in-place order keeping businesses closed and millions of students out of school.
The orders have begun to take a tremendous toll on the American economy as the pandemic over the Wuhan coronavirus continues to panic an already anxious public preparing for the worst. On Tuesday, the White House predicted that the peak of the U.S. epidemic would arrive at some point in the next two weeks and is expected to take 100,000 to 240,000 lives, even with current social distancing measures in place. Under the worst case scenario without any precautionary action, the White House models predict that anywhere from 1.5 to 2.2 million would succumb to the virus. When the country will open up again remains uncertain.
Meanwhile economic self-destruction has landed 10 million people out of work facing financial devastation with an increasingly grim fate for every passing week that the campaign to slow the spread pushes onward possessing no end in sight.
Many have begun to worry about the public health consequences of another Great Depression spurred by a prolonged shutdown. President Donald Trump has even indicated an urge to begin re-opening the nation’s economy by the summer, tweeting in mid-March that “the cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”
During a Fox News town hall, Trump warned of “suicides by the thousands” if the current measures remained in place for months or even years to combat the virus.
Knox County, Tennessee last week has already seen this unfortunate scenario play out suffering more suicides in two days than the virus killed in the entire state.
Allysen Efferson, a therapist in East Tennessee told The Federalist that a strong positive relationship does indeed exist between economic stress and suicide. Efferson urged policymakers to take the current mental health crisis into consideration when crafting measures to curb the virus.
“At the end of it all, what would be a real devastation to me is that we didn’t even consider that this would have an impact on individuals who may take their lives,” Efferson said of the current approach.