New data released from the Department of Labor Thursday shows new unemployment claims continuing to soar as the nationwide economic suicide over the novel Wuhan coronavirus lands millions out of work.
According to the Labor Department, an additional 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, marking the latest in a four-week stretch over which more than 22 million total new claims have been filed since shutdowns began in mid-March. More than 6.6 million new claims were filed in the first week of April, nearly 6.9 million claims were made in the week prior and more than 3.3 million were filed between March 15-21. Each week shattered the previous record for new unemployment claims filed in a single week with 695,000 in 1982.
If the current trajectory continues, which it likely will, the official unemployment rate will land somewhere between 15 to 20 percent when new figures are released on May 8. The latest nationwide unemployment rate reported from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is 4.4 percent. In March, Congress beefed up unemployment insurance with an extra $600 a week in the more than $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
While businesses across the country remain closed under government-mandated stay-at-home orders, many governors have expressed plans for a conditional reopening. President Donald Trump is expected to issue guidelines to work with states on restarting the economy Thursday afternoon.
Many state and local lawmakers however, have also recently extended their shelter-in-place orders. In Washington D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered non-essential businesses to remain closed for another month, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo did the same in New York, as have at least nine other states. Meanwhile, $350 billion in federal assistance for struggling small businesses officially ran out this week with no funding in sight. Senate Republicans proposed $100 billion to replenish the small business fund last week to keep operations afloat, but were blocked by Senate Democrats offering a counter-proposal of their own demanding money for a progressive wish-list.
As unemployment continues to skyrocket under the lockdowns, already struggling American industries in manufacturing and retail have taken an especially hard hit.
According to the Associated Press, manufacturing and overall industrial production are suffering the worst declines since post-WWII demobilization. The Federal Reserve reported Wednesday that U.S. manufacturing output declined by 6.3 percent in March, while industrial production which includes all factories, utilities and mines dropped 5.4 percent.
In retail, the Commerce Department reported that retail purchases in stores both online and in brick and mortar establishments, including dining, plummeted 8.7 percent last month.