Nearly 3 million people applied for unemployment compensation last week after losing their jobs during the coronavirus crisis, but a historic wave of layoffs is likely to continue to subside as states take the first halting steps toward reopening their economies.
Initial jobless claims increased by 2.98 million in the week of May 3 to May 9, the government said Thursday, marking the eighth week in a row in which they’ve risen by at least an approximate 3 million.
More than 36 million people have applied for jobless benefits since the pandemic struck two months ago, including self-employed workers and independent contractors made eligible for the very first time under a federal relief program.
Some 33 million have applied under existing state unemployment laws, while at least 3 million have filed claims under the federal government’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. These figures are unadjusted, reflecting the actual number of claims processed.
Not all of these employees are still out of work. Some have been called back to their jobs in industries deemed essential. Others have returned to their jobs as many states reopen parts of their economies, particularly in less populated areas where the coronavirus is mostly absent.
Yet the unemployment rate has likely reached 20% unofficially, government data suggest, and it’s likely to rise again in May.