The view of a business in Queens, New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
COVID-19

Another 4.4 million Americans have filed unemployment claims

Janet Nguyen Apr 23, 2020
The view of a business in Queens, New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

About 4.4 million more Americans filed unemployment claims last week, bringing the number of new jobless claims since the COVID-19 crisis hit to 26 million.

This has erased all job gains since the Great Recession.

*Figures have been seasonally adjusted.

In response to the pandemic, Congress has approved a nearly $500 billion COVID-19 aid package that would provide funds to small businesses and hospitals. However, the package does not include extra funding that would go directly to state and local governments. States are the ones tasked with providing unemployment benefits and many of them are now faced with dwindling funds

*Figures have not been seasonally adjusted. Week of April 18 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.

California was the state with the highest number of unemployment claims last week, with more than 533,000 residents filing for unemployment benefits. It’s now been approved to borrow billions from the federal government . 

Following California, Florida had more than 505,000 unemployment claims. After weeks of not implementing strict measures, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order at the beginning of this month. 

Georgia also topped the list, with more than 243,000 unemployment claims. With many residents out of work, Gov. Brian Kemp is allowing businesses to start operating again this week — a move that’s been criticized by President Donald Trump and public health experts.  

West Virginia, Connecticut, Louisiana, Florida and Alaska had the biggest increases, percentage-wise. On April 9, Alaska allowed residents to file unemployment claim certifications every week, instead of every two weeks. 

*Figures have not been seasonally adjusted. Calculations based on the percentage increase between advance claims for week ending April 18 and week ending April 11.

Meanwhile, the states with the lowest number of unemployment claims included Wyoming (which had more than 3,300 claims), South Dakota (more than 5,100 claims), and Vermont (6,400 claims).

*Figures have not been seasonally adjusted and exclude the Virgin Islands. Week of April 18 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.

While the unemployment benefits that have been distributed have brought much-needed relief to some workers, the benefits vary widely.

“You see anything from $213 on average in Mississippi, to $555 in Massachusetts,” Michele Evermore at the National Employment Law Project told Marketplace.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

Read More

Collapse

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.