Nearly 3 million new unemployment claims drives two-month total to more than 36 million

By Dan McCaleb | The Center Square

New jobless claims continued their COVID-19 surge last week, driving the total number of those filing for unemployment benefits to more than 36 million over the past two months.

Even as many states across the country began easing restrictions and slowly reopening their economies, 2.98 million Americans filed for new unemployment benefits for the week ending May 9, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

That’s down 195,000 from the 3.17 million Americans who filed claims for the week ending May 2, but still well above the numbers seen before the coronavirus outbreak led to stay-at-home orders that closed businesses deemed nonessential.

Connecticut led all states with 298,680 new unemployment claims filed last week. Georgia saw 241,387 new claims, and California, 214,028.

Michael Lucci, president and publisher of 50economy.org, last week placed the real-time unemployment rate in the U.S. at 23.8 percent through April 25.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the American economy on its head, leaving nearly 1 in 4 American workers unemployed,” Lucci wrote. “In only two months, the U.S. economy transformed from full employment to extreme joblessness that Americans have not lived through since the Great Depression.”

Still, some workers are returning to their jobs. Since the calendar turned to May, several states began limited reopenings of certain business sectors. Even states that haven’t loosened restrictions yet are putting together plans for reopening that could begin to roll out this month or next.