More than 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment last week alone, the Department of Labor announced in a new report. That brings the total number of claims filed since the pandemic began to more than 26 million.
Labor estimates the U.S. labor force to be about 162 million people. That would make the unemployment rate to be around 16 percent - a number much higher than the 10 percent peak seen in the 2008 crisis. The new numbers also delete all of the nearly 23 million labor market gains achieved in the last decade.
Numbers differ by states, with those that recently imposed lockdowns usually seeing greater increases in filings. Looking at raw numbers, California saw the highest number of claims at 533,000 for the week ending in April 18, down from 655,000 the prior week. Florida however saw around 505,000, more than double the number of the previous week. New York saw a drop of 190,000.
State websites are still collapsing. Some states, like Ohio, have enacted specific instructions to ease congestion, like requiring claimants to file on a specific day of the week depending on the first letter of their last name.
Economists seem divided. The number of claims filed each week is declining, and some see that as a positive. Others believe it isn't enough, and that the "Great Lockdown" will push the world into the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said that as of this week, 40 states were paying laid-off workers an additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits.
We surveyed 562 professional woodworkers late last month. We learned that most woodworking businesses face serious to major impacts from the coronavirus outbreak, but the vast majority are optimistic about the future after the virus passes. Many are pitching in to help by donating supplies and re-purposing their manufacturing.
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