Jobless Claims Climb to Almost 40 Million

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Although state economies are beginning to reopen in a limited capacity, another 2.7 million Americans filed for unemployment last week according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nearly 40 million Americans have lost their jobs since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and the high number means current unemployment on a weekly basis is hovering above 20 million.

From CNBC:

In the nine weeks since the coronavirus-induced lockdown has closed large parts of the U.S. economy, some 38.6 million workers have filed claims.

The level of continuing claims painted a clearer picture of how unemployment is persisting even as states are increasingly taking steps to bring their economies back on line. The total for the week ending May 9 was 25.07 million, an increase of 2.52 million from the previous week.

The four-week moving average also increased sharply, jumping by 2.3 million to just above 22 million.

Because the economy can only be reopened in a limit capacity, and because consumer demand will remain depressed, the measure of current unemployment will likely stay elevated for a long time to come; as in months to a year.

The Trump White House and Senate Republicans are increasingly digging in and saying we don't need to pass more aid or stimulus, but how long they can keep that up?

The GOP believes reopening the economy will save them from more socialism but, as Politico highlighted this morning, Georgia was the first state to reopen their economy -- and you may recall that Governor Brian Kemp did so very recklessly -- but Georgia is actually leading the nation in unemployment claims even though they've been reopened for nearly a month.

Weekly applications for jobless benefits have remained so elevated that Georgia now leads the country in terms of the proportion of its workforce applying for unemployment assistance. A staggering 40.3 percent of the state's workers — two out of every five — has filed for unemployment insurance payments since the coronavirus pandemic led to widespread shutdowns in mid-March, a POLITICO review of Labor Department data shows.

I believe the GOP will eventually come around to passing more stimulus because Trump himself is going to feel an increasing urge to spend his way to reelection, but I don't think we'll get there without going through another phase.

I expect Republicans are going to call for ending social distance and suspending safety guidelines so that all businesses can reopen at full capacity. The Associated Press reported just yesterday that Trump's campaign is looking for quacks who are willing to say we don't need to worry about safety.

Before they agree to pass anything else, the GOP is going to try alternatives that will likely lead to more infections and deaths. And if that's what happens, consumer demand could sink even lower.

  • Tony Lavely

    a POLITICO review of Labor Department data shows

    Waiting for those reports to be classified Global Top Secret.

  • muselet

    Since Donald Trump has, from the very beginning, hitched his reelection to the notion that, in his words, “Our economy is the best it has ever been.” It’s all he has. It’s all he’s ever had.

    “I single-handedly pissed off every single one of our allies! Vote for me” isn’t a compelling slogan. Neither is, “I screwed up the US response to Covid-19! I deserve four more years!” I suppose he could get away with, “The economy’s coming back! Vote for me!” but that’s a tough sell if nobody’s buying and the second wave outbreak of Covid-19 is killing people.

    Congressional Rs are playing a very dangerous game, forcing people to go back to work by refusing even to consider extending expanded unemployment benefits. Punishing people for being out of work might not work this time, especially if enough of them habitually vote R. Yes, favoring programs that actually help ordinary people goes against everything they believe, but The Base might notice this time.

    Fingers crossed.


    • Draxiar

      “It’s all he’s ever had”…and it wasn’t even his.

      I’d argue that he’s got unrefined racism and willful ignorance on his side too. Sure he claims (or claimed) the economy as his big win but the economy was doing good before he got into office. Racism and willful ignorance by his base et al allowed their rationalization of a bad economy during President Obama’s administration but not with trump.