Nearly 3 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week as the viral outbreak led more companies to slash jobs, even though most states have begun to let some businesses reopen under certain restrictions.
Roughly 36 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the two months since the coronavirus first forced millions of businesses to close their doors and shrink their workforces, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Still, the number of first-time applications has now declined for six straight weeks, suggesting that a dwindling number of companies are reducing their payrolls.
By historical standards, though, the latest tally shows that the number of weekly jobless claims remains enormous, reflecting an economy that is sinking into a severe downturn. Last week’s pace of new applications for aid is still four times the record high that prevailed before the coronavirus struck hard in March.
* The Illinois numbers…
Add nearly 73,000 people to the more than 1 million Illinoisans who have filed for unemployment amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports of the 2.9 million people who filed across the country last week, there were 72,993 claims filed in Illinois.
That’s slightly down from the 74,476 who filed last week, but this week’s numbers will go up because 1099 workers were able to file claims starting Monday.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned Wednesday of the threat of a prolonged recession resulting from the viral outbreak and urged Congress and the White House to act further to prevent long-lasting economic damage.
The Fed and Congress have taken far-reaching steps to try to counter what is likely to be a severe downturn resulting from the widespread shutdown of the U.S. economy. But Powell cautioned that widespread bankruptcies among small businesses and extended unemployment for many people remain a serious risk.
“We ought to do what we can to avoid these outcomes,” Powell said.
Additional rescue aid from government spending or tax policies, though costly, would be “worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery,” he said.
*** UPDATE *** Press release…
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) today released new statewide data showing the department processed 72,671 new initial claims for regular unemployment benefits during the week ending May 9. The department has now processed 1,076,461 claims for regular unemployment benefits from March 1 through May 9. This amount is nearly 11.5 times the number of claims the department processed over the same period last year, when IDES processed just 87,000 claims for regular unemployment benefits.
IDES has processed 33,729 Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims (PEUC), which provides up to 13 weeks’ worth of 100% federally funded benefits to individuals who have exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits. PEUC is potentially available for weeks beginning on or after March 29, 2020 and continuing through the week ending December 26, 2020.
While the number of initial claims for regular benefits has plateaued in the last two weeks, IDES will experience an increase in overall claims processed when the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims data becomes available Thursday, May 21, 2020. Launched on May 11, more than 50,000 PUA claims have been filed through the new portal in the first three days of operation. IDES expects the number of claimants accessing the new unemployment system to continue to grow in the coming days and weeks.
Statewide unemployment claims data, which reflects activity for the week prior, is made available on the IDES website every Thursday afternoon. PUA claims data will follow these same federal embargo provisions, with this week’s data available on Thursday, May 21. Previous initial claims data has undergone a revision to properly account for the number of successfully processed claims.