The Wuhan coronavirus shutdown continues to affect the economy as another 2.9 million Americans filed for unemployment claims last week.

While the number continues to decrease, it means 35 million Americans have filed claims in the past two months.

Last week is the lowest amount of claims since the week of March 15.

From The Wall Street Journal:

The number of Americans seeking jobless aid is still at historically high levels but has subsided since an initial surge in layoffs drove claims up to a weekly peak of nearly 7 million at the end March.

“The numbers are very high, but they’re stepping down every week, and I see no reason why that decline in filings wouldn’t continue,” Keith Hall, chief economist for the Council of Economic Advisers under former President George W. Bush said ahead of Thursday’s report. “Employers are likely poised to bring people back, but right now we’re in a holding pattern.”

The amount could be higher because states cannot process all the forms in a timely manner, especially since independent contractors and self-employed people can now file for unemployment:

Many states are receiving applications under a provision of a federal stimulus bill that allows workers who were largely ineligible for benefits before the pandemic, including independent contractors and self-employed people, to apply for unemployment benefits. About 800,000 individuals had filed such claims last week and slightly more than 1 million in the week prior, according to the Labor Department. Because those claims aren’t seasonally adjusted, they are excluded from the main claims figures.

State labor departments have been reallocating staff from other departments to process jobless claims and answer phone calls during the economic crisis. Some have turned to tech giants including Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google for new technology to handle the historic number of claims. Such efforts helped Rhode Island begin rolling out a federal unemployment program faster than other states, and Kansas to field more calls than earlier in the crisis.

However, states have begun opening their economies. Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah have lifted some restrictions on businesses.


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