An estimated 3.8 million people filed for unemployment insurance last week, a decrease of 603,000 compared to the revised figure for the week ending April 18, 4.4 million. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the news April 30.
The number of people applying for unemployment insurance has been steadily but slowly falling at a rate of a roughly a million per week. The first dramatic spike in unemployment applications came the week of March 21, when the figure abruptly spiked to over 3 million. That figure doubled to peak at 6,867,000 newly unemployed people for the week of March 28. The following week, April 9, saw 5.2 million applicants, and the week ending April 11 recorded 4.4 million.
While the trend appears positive, as long as the number of new applicants is still reported in figures of millions per week the numbers are still unprecedented. Before the March 21 spike to over 3 million unemployed people, the highest recorded amount of unemployment claims in one week was 695,000 in October 1982, during the savings and loan crisis.
More states than before are reporting that their numbers for unemployment claims are decreasing. For the week of April 18, New York reported 189,000 fewer unemployment claims than the week previous. The state cited “fewer layoffs in the retail trade, accommodation and food services, and construction industries.” California cited fewer layoffs in the services industries to explain why unemployment insurance claims there decreased by 127,112.
Florida continued to bleed jobs, reporting 326,251 more unemployment applications for the week of April 18. The Sunshine State attributed the increase in claims to COVID-19. Connecticut also reported more unemployment claims than the week of April 18, 68,758 more, and blamed the coronavirus as well.
The current spate of layoffs, spanning six weeks, has seen more than one in six American workers without a job. Economists cited by the Associated Press have predicted that the unemployment rate for April could be as high as 20%—the highest it’s been since the Great Depression, when it reached 25%.