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Another 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week

For the fifth week in a row, millions of American workers applied for unemployment benefits, seeking financial relief as businesses remained closed during th...

Posted: Apr 23, 2020 9:00 AM
Updated: Apr 23, 2020 12:15 PM

For the fifth week in a row, millions of American workers applied for unemployment benefits, seeking financial relief as businesses remained closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

First-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 4.4 million in the week ending April 18, after factoring in seasonal adjustments, the US Department of Labor said.

Without those adjustments — which economists use to account for seasonal hiring fluctuations — the raw number was 4.3 million.

No matter how you look at the data, the last five weeks have marked the most sudden surge in jobless claims since the Department of Labor started tracking the data in 1967. American workers filed 26.5 million initial claims since March 14, according to the seasonally adjusted numbers.

Not all of those claims will result in benefits being paid. Some will be rejected because workers did not meet eligibility requirements. Even so, numbers at that level reflect a devastating blow to workers, indicating roughly 16.2% of the US labor force is suffering from layoffs, furloughs or reduced hours during the coronavirus pandemic.

Weekly claims numbers have come down over the past three weeks, falling from a peak of 6.9 million in the last week in March. Even so, claims continue in the millions every week — a stark contrast to the pre-pandemic strength in the job market. Just a couple months ago, weekly claims were hovering in the low 200,000s. That puts recent weekly claims north of 20 times the pre-coronavirus level, and more than five-times of the worst five-week stretch during the 2007-2009 financial crisis, according to Heidi Shierholz, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

And even though the declines from week to week are somewhat encouraging, the data shows that much of the damage is already done, said Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics.

Continued jobless claims, representing workers who filed for their second week of benefits or more, stood at nearly 16 million in the week ended April 11, after seasonal adjustments, up from 11.9 million in the prior week.

Early studies have shown lower-income workers are particularly affected by job losses, and minorities, specifically black and Hispanic families, are expected to bear the brunt of the economic cost of this crisis.

Meanwhile, states continue to struggle to process the overwhelming volume of unemployment claims.

In Hawaii, where much of the economy is tourism-based, roughly 26% of the March labor force has filed for first-time benefits over the past five weeks. In Kentucky and Michigan, some 24% of workers have filed for initial claims.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Tuesday that his state had 1,000 people 'just to take the incoming unemployment calls. That's how high the volume is. And they still can't keep up.'

And Florida's state unemployment agency said on Tuesday that it had only paid a paltry 14% of the claims filed since March 15 — among the slowest in the country, according to an Associated Press analysis.

Just over a quarter of Florida's claims were rejected because filers were found ineligible for the regular jobless benefits program. However, some may still qualify under a new pandemic unemployment assistance program that Congress created in the $2 trillion relief package last month.

Lawmakers temporarily extended the unemployment program to independent contractors, the self-employed, gig workers and those affected by the coronavirus — and states have scrambled to update their computer systems to process those new types of claims.

— Tami Luhby and Annalyn Kurtz contributed to this article.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 590211

Reported Deaths: 9310
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion815581297
Lake44306666
Allen31919541
Hamilton28371304
St. Joseph26766371
Elkhart24098341
Vanderburgh18643213
Tippecanoe17422121
Johnson14496284
Porter14399160
Hendricks13870241
Madison10561212
Vigo10483171
Clark10240130
Monroe9076108
Delaware8836132
LaPorte8771155
Howard7897138
Kosciusko787277
Warrick643890
Hancock638797
Bartholomew626694
Floyd6150105
Wayne5933157
Grant5818110
Dubois544372
Boone534367
Morgan516291
Marshall494184
Henry493664
Cass471760
Noble460557
Dearborn458444
Jackson414745
Shelby402179
Lawrence380575
Clinton364539
Gibson356556
DeKalb337363
Montgomery334851
Harrison328542
Knox327839
Miami309843
Steuben306340
Adams295235
Whitley294125
Wabash293045
Ripley292345
Putnam284847
Huntington283557
Jasper282433
White267538
Daviess261672
Jefferson250738
Fayette242348
Decatur242182
Greene233360
Posey232326
Wells229447
LaGrange224161
Clay217932
Scott216937
Randolph208340
Jennings192535
Sullivan189031
Spencer181917
Fountain179725
Washington177118
Starke171341
Jay162821
Owen159537
Fulton159229
Carroll152115
Orange151433
Rush149918
Perry147227
Vermillion144933
Franklin143433
Parke12908
Tipton128232
Pike113625
Blackford107522
Pulaski95237
Newton89421
Brown85530
Benton84310
Crawford7579
Martin70013
Warren6587
Switzerland6205
Union6113
Ohio4677
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COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

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