COVID-19 unemployment claims approach 39 million since mid-March

By Dan McCaleb | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Even as much of the country eases restrictions and slowly begins to reopen state economies, new jobless claims continued their COVID-19 spike last week, increasing the total number of those filing for unemployment benefits to nearly 39 million since mid-March.

According to data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor, an additional 2.44 million workers filed for benefits in the week ending May 16. That’s down 249,000 from the revised number of claims filed in the week ending May 9.

The total number of jobless claims filed in the nine weeks since states began stay-at-home orders that temporarily closed businesses deemed nonessential now tops 38 million.

California again led all states in the number of new claims filed last week, with 246,115. New York saw the second highest number of new claims with 226,521, followed by Florida with 223,927.

The number of claims has been so massive that nine state unemployment trust funds have already applied to borrow money from the U.S. Treasury to backfill their unemployment funds.

The states with the highest real-time unemployment rates as of May 9, according to a analysis, are Kentucky (42.9%), Georgia (40.3%), Hawaii (35.8%), Louisiana (34.8%), Connecticut (34.7%), Nevada (34.2%), Washington (33.8%) and Pennsylvania (33.6%), which each have more than one in three workers unemployed.

The restaurant, hotel and entertainment industries have been hit particularly hard.

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