The Wuhan coronavirus pandemic continues its devastation on the American economy as 2.4 Americans filed unemployment claims last week.

Fortunately, the number continues to decline after it hit its peak a few weeks ago.

The Labor Department revised last week’s number down by 294,000 due to a clerical error from Connecticut.

The number, though, could be higher since it does not include self-employed and gig workers. For the first time they have received the ability to file for unemployment:

While those workers don’t appear in the weekly claims number, they show up in data from the states.

“The pandemic unemployment assistance program is giving us a view into a segment of the workforce that’s harmed during a recession that we don’t typically get,” said Dante DeAntonio, an economist at Moody’s Analytics. “It gives us a better handle on the scope of what’s happening.”

Arizona delivered 165,000 checks to people last week. New Jersey processed 135,000 applications in the last two weeks.

But that has also slowed down, but it also depends on the state’s workforce:

Some states recorded large initial surges in claims under the self-employed program that have since subsided. Rhode Island, for instance, began accepting applications earlier than most other states and saw more than 11,000 people apply for the pandemic claims in a single day in April. As of last week, the state reported only hundreds of these claims were filed daily.

States vary in the level of demand they are likely to see based on the composition of their labor force. In California, about 8% of workers get income from self-employment and are likely eligible for pandemic unemployment assistance—nearly double the share in Utah—according to economists Andrew Garin and Dmitri Koustas in a University of Chicago report.

Since mid-March, around 38.6 million Americans have filed claims.

The Congressional Budget Office believes unemployment could hit 16% “in the third quarter if a small business lending program created in a coronavirus stimulus package expires.” The office predicted unemployment will be “as high as 8.6 percent” by the end of 2021.

The buildup after the pandemic might be slow. Places have begun opening up, but businesses might not need as many employees as they did before the outbreak.

I noticed quite a few restaurants have cut down capacity, which means not as many employees. I also found a lot of restaurants decided to close down because the outbreak decimated their revenue.


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