Unemployment Numbers Just Keep Getting Worse, and Worse, and Worse, and Worse

A staggering 30 million people have now filed for unemployment because of the coronavirus, and the true unemployment numbers are likely much, much higher.
April 30, 2020, 12:46pm
unemployment coronavirus
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

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More than 3.8 million people filed initial claims for unemployment in the week ending April 25, the Department of Labor announced on Thursday, bringing the total number of unemployment claims since coronavirus-forced social distancing measures were enacted to a surreal 30 million.

The hardest hit state this week was Florida, which reported an estimated increase of 326,251 claims, which the state attributed to COVID-19. Connecticut reported an increase of nearly 69,000 initial claims, also attributing the surge to COVID-19.

The latest numbers come on top of news yesterday that the US GDP fell nearly 5 percent in the first quarter, and some economists are warning that GDP could fall as much as 30 percent in the next quarter. Friday will also offer the first full understanding of the number of total jobs lost across the country in March and April, when the Department of Labor releases its monthly jobs report. (The DOL reported earlier this month that 701,000 jobs were lost in March, although this is almost definitely an undercount.)

Although unemployment insurance claims continued to skyrocket, many states are struggling with an unprecedented caseload. A recent estimate from the Economic Policy Institute found that as many as nearly 12.2 million more Americans could have filed for unemployment between March 22 and April 18 had the process been easier or their state’s systems worked properly.

Connecticut’s half-century-old system, for example, is only designed to handle three-digit payments even though the maximum benefit (with $600 extra a week from the federal government) is $1,249, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Even as the coronavirus continues to ravage the country, however — the U.S. has so far crossed the threshold for both 1 million cases and 60,000 deaths this week — many state governors are rushing their states’ back to work. Officials in Iowa and Texas have warned that workers who refuse to return over safety concerns will be cut off from unemployment.

“To get the economy going, in order for us to have a good recovery, we need employees to return to work when there’s an opportunity for them to do that," Iowa Workforce Development director Beth Townsend told the Des Moines Register last week.

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Cover: A woman, holding an unemployment application, speaks with an unseen state worker via intercom outside this state WIN job center in Canton, Miss., Wednesday, April 29, 2020. The job centers lobbies are closed statewide to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However the continuing growth of unemployment demands and the various problems with obtaining online unemployment assistance, both technical and personal has drawn some people to the centers for information and to obtain and submit unemployment benefit applications. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

This article originally appeared on VICE US.