Coronavirus pushes U.S. unemployment toward highest since Depression
For the fifth week in a row, millions of American workers applied for unemployment benefits, seeking financial relief as businesses remained closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
First-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 4.4 million in the week ending April 18, after factoring in seasonal adjustments, the U.S. Department of Labor said.
Without those adjustments — which economists use to account for seasonal hiring fluctuations — the raw number was 4.3 million, CNN reported.
The last five weeks have marked the most sudden surge in jobless claims since the Department of Labor started tracking the data in 1967. American workers filed 26.5 million initial claims since March 14, according to the seasonally adjusted numbers.
The only other time in American history when unemployment was that high was in the early stages of the Great Depression almost a century ago.
Not all of those claims will result in benefits being paid. Some will be rejected because workers did not meet eligibility requirements. Even so, numbers at that level reflect a devastating blow to workers, indicating roughly 16.2% of the U.S. labor force is suffering from layoffs, furloughs or reduced hours during the coronavirus pandemic.