Another 2.4 million Americans file jobless claims amid economic fallout from coronavirus pandemic

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Desperate Americans forced out of work amid the coronavirus pandemic continued to file jobless claims at historically high rates, with another 2.4 million seeking unemployment assistance last week.
The latest figure released by the Department of Labor on Thursday brings the cumulative total to nearly 37 million since virus first started prompting government-mandated shutdowns and stay-at-home orders nine weeks ago. That includes roughly one out of every four people who were working in February, ahead of the pandemic.
What’s more, the number of claims filed last week are still roughly 10 times the typical number that prevailed before the virus struck.
Despite the high statistic, the number is still a 9% decline from last week’s 2.9 million jobless claims, and down from the record 6.9 million people who filed for unemployment benefits during the week ending March 28.
Since COVID-19 first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan back in December, states across America have closed businesses like hotels, restaurants and retailers, pushing the economy into a deep recession. In April, the U.S. shed 20 million jobs, eliminating a decade’s worth of growth and bringing the monthly unemployment rate to 14.7% — the highest it’s been since the tail end of the Great Depression.
New York state’s labor department told reporters on Tuesday it has paid out 4.5 years worth of unemployment benefits in just over two months and Florida’s online portal is still seeing delays.
Still, some economists have cautiously pointed to several tentative signs, suggesting that economic activity might be starting to recover, even just slightly. Among them, several states have moved toward relaxing some restrictions and the three major U.S. automakers, plus Toyota and Honda, recalled roughly 130,000 of their employees back to factories last week.
The reopening of states and businesses have put officials and employers alike in a difficult position of figuring out how to continue to safely operate as the pandemic wanes in some areas and spikes in others.
As of Thursday more than 5 million people worldwide have been infected with coronavirus, including nearly 130,000 who have died of the illness.

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