New data from the Department of Labor Thursday reveals more than 3.8 million people filed for unemployment last week as new jobless claims eclipse 30 million in just six weeks.
According to the Labor Department, new filings for unemployment had reached 26 million last week with 4.4 million Americans making new claims the week prior. More than 5.2 million Americans had filed the week earlier, 6.6 million had filed the previous week, 6.9 million had filed the week before that, and 3.3 million people filed between March 15–21. Each week since the start of the pandemic stemming from the novel Wuhan coronavirus pandemic had shattered the previous record set for the most unemployment claims within a single week in 1982 with 695,000 new claims.
The nationwide unemployment rate is on track to reach 15 to 20 percent when the new jobs report is unveiled on May 8. The latest unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was at 4.4 percent in March before the pandemic had begun to take much of a toll.
To deal with the unprecedented surge in job losses spurred by the economic self-destruction from state and local leaders, Congress has passed about $3 trillion in stimulus spending to beef up unemployment insurance by an additional $600 a week on top of whatever states already offered, and provide individuals with direct payments of up to $2,400 a couple to assist with the economic fallout.
Congress also created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to provide life-saving assistance to sinking small businesses which was exhausted of funds in just two weeks after loans began to be distributed. The popular program was replenished with fresh cash in another nearly $500 billion stimulus bill earlier this month after a week-long partisan battle on Capitol Hill. Democrats stalled the bill, blocking clean-funding of the program to demand money for long-advocated programs. While small businesses received $310 billion in new relief, Congress also allocated money to hospitals, testing efforts and emergency disaster loans.
While new jobless claims exceed 30 million, a majority of state and local leaders are resisting calls to reopen until mass testing is adequately available or a vaccine is produced, both of which are likely years away from becoming possible.