A restaurant sits empty in the United Airlines terminal at San Francisco International Airport. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Another 5.2 million Americans have filed unemployment claims

Janet Nguyen Apr 16, 2020
A restaurant sits empty in the United Airlines terminal at San Francisco International Airport. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Another 5.2 million Americans have filed unemployment claims, the third largest number on record.

More than 6.6 million Americans filed claims for the week ending April 4, which the Labor Department revised up by 9,000 from the figure it initially released. Over the past month, about 22 million Americans have filed jobless claims.

Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund said we’re on the brink of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

*Figures have been seasonally adjusted.

The state with the highest number of unemployment claims last week was California, which has consistently topped the list. However, the number of claims in the state since the week of April 4 decreased, with the Labor Department noting that there were “fewer layoffs in the construction and manufacturing industries.”

*Figures have not been seasonally adjusted. Week of April 11 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.

States are the ones who are paying out these benefits and they’re strained, reported Marketplace’s Meghan McCarty Carino.

Jared Walczak, a researcher with the Tax Foundation, said federal figures indicate some of the hardest hit states, like California, New York and Texas, could be running low on funds in a matter of weeks.

Colorado had the highest percent increase, with its unemployment claims rising more than 126%. Last week, the state had more than 105,000 residents file for unemployment benefits.

*Figures have not been seasonally adjusted. Calculations based on the percentage increase between advance claims for week ending April 11 and week ending April 4.

These figures show a stark contrast with Colorado’s unemployment data just a few months ago: in December, Colorado’s unemployment rate reached a historic low of 2.5%.

In an address on April 6, Governor Jared Polis extended the state’s stay-at-home order until at least April 26.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Read More


We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.