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51.2 Million People Have Filed for Unemployment Since March

photo by Dain Nielsen

As Congress reconvenes on Monday to discuss the future of pandemic relief, The United States is still losing millions of jobs every month since the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

New Claims for the week ending July 11th totaled 1.3 million, as reported by The Department of Labor on Thursday. The Labor Department reports on this weekly, and these reports have become a checkpoint for many checking the health of The United States economy.

Since late March, when the pandemic first started affecting the American economy, jobless claims have totaled 51.27 million. That’s nearly a third of people who were working in February before the pandemic hit.

The number of new claims does continue to decline week to week, but it seems to be flattening towards its current statistic considering it’s only down 10,000 from the week prior.

Compare this to the change week to week in late April, where the rate was dropping hundreds of thousands week to week. This is also still significantly higher than past unemployment numbers, pre-pandemic new unemployment claims sat consistently between 200,000 and 220,000.

The official unemployment rate is 11.1 %, down from its highest of  14.7% in April — the highest since the tail end of the Great Depression. Millions of additional people have joined the ranks of the unemployed since then.

A Federal Reserve survey found 20% of people who were working in February had been furloughed or laid off in March or early April. The job cuts were concentrated among lower-wage workers. In households making less than $40,000, nearly 40% said they were out of work.

As high as this number is, it doesn’t capture the full extent of the pandemic’s economic fallout. This is partly because the number of new claims doesn’t consider those who have gone back to work since March, either because they wanted to or they were forced to in order to afford rent without unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor has a different statistic to measure continued unemployment claims. As of July 11th, that number is at 17,338,000. At the pandemic’s highest (May 5th, 2020,) it was at 24,912,000.

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