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3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing 8-week total to 36 million

3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing 8-week total to 36 million
Posted at 6:32 AM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 08:33:42-04

  • Weekly figures from the Department of Labor indicate 3 million Americans filed initial claims for unemployment last week.
  • A total of 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment assistance in the last eight weeks.
  • Surveys indicate those figures may actually underrepresent total job losses.
  • Last week, the Department of Labor said the unemployment rate had risen from 4.4 precent to 14.7 percent.

The Department of Labor said Thursday that 3 million people filed initial claims for unemployment for the week ending May 9, bringing an eight-week running total to 36 million.

Thursday's figures continued the downward trend in initial filings for the past month. But the number of unemployment claims continue to dwarf those of pre-pandemic numbers.

From 2007 to early 2020, the Department of Labor reports that the highest number of new unemployment claims filed was about 665,000. Since local governments began enforcing shutdowns of non-essential businesses, an average of 4.5 million Americans have filed claims per week.

Initial unemployment filings are usually seen as a reliable indicator of how many Americans have lost their jobs in the past week. However, a survey with the Economic Policy Institute suggests that the figures may be underrepresenting the number of job losses, as frustrated Americans have given up trying to apply with government offices bogged down with requests.

The new numbers come nearly a week after the Labor Department released figures that stated that a stunning 20.5 million jobs had been wiped away from the payrolls of American companies. Up through March, the U.S. economy had been working at nearly full employment, with an unemployment rate of 4.4. However, last week's report indicated that the unemployment rate had risen to 14.7 percent.