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Jessie Morancy stays home with her nephew, Freddy Preseler, 2 years old, after being laid off from her job at the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport. She has applied for unemployment benefits, joining the millions of Americans across the country who have done so. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
COVID-19

6.6 million more Americans have filed for unemployment

Janet Nguyen Apr 9, 2020
Jessie Morancy stays home with her nephew, Freddy Preseler, 2 years old, after being laid off from her job at the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport. She has applied for unemployment benefits, joining the millions of Americans across the country who have done so. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

This story was updated on April 9 at 4:17 p.m. Eastern time.

More than 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment claims last week, the second largest number on record. 

About 6.8 million people filed claims for the week ending March 28, which the Labor Department revised up by 219,000 from the figure it initially released. This means that in the past three weeks, almost 17 million Americans have filed claims.

*Figures have been seasonally adjusted.

The largest number on record prior to the spread of COVID-19 was during a week in October 1982, when about 695,000 people filed for unemployment.

The state with the highest number of unemployment claims last week was California, which had more than 925,000 unemployment claims.

*Figures have not been seasonally adjusted. Week of April 4 claims are “advance” claims, which are reported by the state liable for paying the unemployment compensation. Meanwhile, previous weeks’ reported claims reflect claimants by state of residence.

For the week ending March 28, there were nearly 872,000 layoffs in the state’s services industries, according to the Labor Department. 

Following California, Georgia had nearly 388,000 people file unemployment claims. Earlier this month, Gov. Brian Kemp ordered residents to stay at home, only going out for essential services, and recently extended his shelter-in-place rules through April 30. The governor previously said Georgia would not require such extreme measures. 

New York, the U.S. epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, also had one of the highest numbers of unemployment claims, at nearly 367,000.

In terms of percent increase, Georgia also topped the list, with the number of people filing for unemployment claims increasing 190%. Arkansas followed, at 119%. The state has taken stricter safety measures, banning dine-in services at restaurants and bars and ordering salons and tattoo parlors to shut down. 

The governor of Arizona, which had the third-highest percentage increase at almost 49%, also issued stay-at-home orders which took effect earlier last week.

*Figures have not been seasonally adjusted. Calculations based on the percentage increase between advance claims for week ending April 4, and week ending March 28.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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