Unemployment Claims Drop For 5th Straight Week, But Still Total 3.2 Million

(PatriotHeadline.Com)- First-time unemployment claims have dropped for the fifth straight week.
That’s the good news.
The bad news: The total number of first-time claims for jobless benefits was still staggeringly high, at 3.2 million. According to the Department of Labor, the raw number of jobless claims was 2.8 million, without factoring in seasonal adjustments.
In the last few years, weekly first-time unemployment claims were totaling around the 200,000 level.
Since the middle of March, when the effects of the coronavirus pandemic were first fell in employment, the total number of seasonally-adjusted first-time unemployment claims is 33.5 million, which represents roughly 21% of the March labor force.
First-time jobless claims are used for analysis purposes, as they are a good measure of furloughs and layoffs that were done because of the coronavirus restrictions on business. But continued unemployment claims increased to 22.6 million, a number that represents all people who filed for a second week of jobless benefits.
The continued downward trend of unemployment claims is a good sign that things aren’t getting worse. In the last week of March, claims totaled 6.9 million, which was the peak.
The fact that new unemployment claims are still in the millions, though, paints a rather bleak picture of the U.S. job market. While not all unemployment claims are actually paid out — as some are filing mistakes and some people just don’t qualify — these raw numbers are the best representation of the job market as it relates to employment.
As part of the coronavirus stimulus package, the definition of who qualifies for unemployment benefits was expanded greatly. Self-employed workers, contractors and those who work in the new “gig economy” all now qualify for unemployment benefits.
The federal government also added $600 per week on top of whatever amount someone would qualify for under their state’s unemployment benefits, through July. The Department of Labor said all 50 states are paying out those added benefits now, though they don’t have detailed breakdowns of the total number of claims that have been processed through the program by state.
The current national unemployment rate sits at 4.4%, but that is a trailing statistic that is only updated on a monthly basis. It stops counting data in the middle of the month, so March’s number doesn’t reflect any of the coronavirus-related effects on the job market as of yet.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its official jobs report on Friday.
The ADP National Employment Report released Wednesday revealed that more than 20 million U.S. jobs were lost during April alone. Refinitiv polled economists on their predictions for the jobs report, and they predicted the report would show 22 million total job losses for an unemployment rate of 16%. Those numbers would represent the worst layoff rate in history.
During the Great Recession, the highest the unemployment rate reached was 10% in October 2009. The last time the unemployment rate was above 14% was during the Great Depression from 1931 to 1940. It topped off at 24.9% in 1933.