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26 million workers have filed for unemployment claims since the start of the pandemic

26 million workers have filed for unemployment claims since the start of the pandemic
[Photo: Marco Bianchetti/Unsplash]

The economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to wipe out jobs at a record pace.

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For the week ended April 18, another 4.4 million workers filed for new unemployment benefits, the Department of Labor said today, bringing the total number of job losses to about 26 million in the last five weeks. That amounts to about one in six working Americans.

The number of new claims was down 810,000 from the previous week, but the four-week average was up 280,000 claims to about 5.8 million. 

Economists cited by the AP now estimate that unemployment could reach 20% in April, and it seems increasingly evident that the United States is heading into its worst economic disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

As of the previous week, the states with the largest increase in claims were Colorado, New York, Missouri, Florida, and North Carolina. Eugene Scalia, the U.S. labor secretary, said in a statement today that 44 states are now providing increased benefits—$600 more a week—as a result of the federal government’s economic stimulus package.

Still, the number of claims in the official tally is likely a significant undercount, as many would-be benefits seekers have not even had their claims processed due to overwhelming demand at local unemployment offices and technical glitches on state-run websites.

You can find the full labor report here.

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