Coronavirus Has Put More Than 16 Million People Out of Work in Just 3 Weeks

More than 6 million people filed for unemployment last week.
April 9, 2020, 12:38pm
coronavirus unemployment
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

More than 6.6 million people in the U.S. filed new claims for unemployment last week, according to jobs numbers released by the Department of Labor Thursday. That means that over the past three weeks, more than 15 million people have lost their jobs, although the true number is almost assuredly higher than that.

This week’s numbers are down slightly from the previous week, when more than 6.8 million new people filed for unemployment. (The Labor Department released revised numbers for last week on Thursday morning, adding more than 200,000 job losses that weren’t reported a week ago.) That doubled the total of more than 3.3 million who filed in the previous week. Until last month, the record for new unemployment claims in just one week was 695,000, set in October 1982.

The hardest-hit states in the past week include California, which reported 871,992 new claims, and New York, which reported over 286,000.

The economic catastrophe has been felt most viscerally in industries affected by stay-at-home orders, such as food service. But Department of Labor press releases from the past several weeks have also described hits to industries like manufacturing, healthcare and social assistance, retail and wholesale, and construction.


It’s also disproportionately hit those with less wealth and assets overall. The share of people who were able to pay even a portion of their April rent dropped a precipitous 13 percentage points from April 2019 to April 2020, according to new data from a landlord trade organization, the National Multifamily Housing Council.

As horrifying as the numbers are, they only include those who’ve been lucky enough to file new claims. States all over the country have seen their already-shaky unemployment insurance systems overwhelmed. In Texas, for example, the state’s workforce commission is receiving upwards of a million calls a day, as opposed to the tens of thousands it fields during a normal period, according to the Texas Tribune.

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Cover: "For Sale By Owner" and "Closed Due to Virus" signs are displayed in the window of Images On Mack in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., Thursday, April 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)