Key Highlights

  • Additional 3.8M people filed for unemployment insurance benefits last week, according to Labor Department
  • This 3.8M now brings unemployment to 30M+ in just 6 weeks
  • 1 in 5 people who had job in February now doesn’t

The COVID pandemic has stripped the job market of 30M+ former workers in just six weeks. Clearly, all job titles from sous chefs to hotel clerks to airline pilots to attorneys to doctors to start-up entrepreneurs have been affected.

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30M+ newly unemployed workers translates into one in five workers now being jobless since February. A newly released NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 50% of survey respondents had either lost a job or had had their work hours reduced due to the pandemic and/or its ancillary public health measures that essentially closed the economy.

Prior to the COVID pandemic, minority workers, lower educated workers and Millennials were finally creating solid economic footings for themselves in January and February of this year when unemployment figures stood at record lows. Then, BAM…this current level of employment stands as a stark and terribly bleak reality comparable only to unemployment levels during the Great Depression in the 1930’s.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said mid week, “It is heartbreaking, frankly, to see that all threatened now (by such enormous job losses). All the more need for our urgent response and also that of Congress – which has been urgent and large – to do what we can to avoid longer-run damage to the economy.”

Both the Fed and Congress have taken unprecedented actions to plug the dikes in families’ finances, business losses and lending servicers to prevent credit from drying up but many workers are still waiting to receive their unemployment insurance benefits. The unemployment delivery system is frankly overwhelmed by demand volume and antiquated computer systems and software.

A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that some 50% more people than counted as filing claims in a recent 4-week period may have qualified for benefits but were blocked and/or didn’t even bother trying to file. “The problem is even bigger than the data suggest,” said, Elise Gould, as senior economist with the Economic Policy Institute.

Andrew Stettner, an expert on unemployment insurance with The Century Foundation, said, “Anyone who has spent time talking with displaced workers knows that it has been an exasperating and confusing process between filing for unemployment and getting paid. One can only hop that, with passing time, unemployment payments will catch up to the demands and needs of struggling families.”

 

Thanks to National Public Radio and The New York Times.

Also read: What’s Coming Next? “The Worst Economy in Our Lifetime”, COVID Job & Income Losses Hit Black & LatinX Families Harder, Economy Shrinks -4.8% in Q1 – Likely Just “Tip of the Iceberg”