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Weekly Unemployment Insurance Claim Rate Falls to Just Under 3 Million

May 14, 2020
Despite falling for six straight weeks now, initial unemployment claims remain at record heights.

The Department of Labor said May 14 that 2,981,000 people filed for unemployment benefits during the week ending May 9. Unemployment claims dropped by 195,000 compared to the week ending May 2. This marks the sixth consecutive drop in the weekly rate of unemployment claims since they spiked to dizzying heights in late March. Previous to the COVID-19 crisis, the highest amount of unemployment claims in one week was 695,000 in October 1982 during the savings and loan crisis.

36.5 million people have now lost their jobs since late March, and a separate report released last week indicated the unemployment rate was just shy of 15% at the end of April, its highest level since the Great Depression.

The May 14 report, issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, also included data on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. The PUA program, passed in the third coronavirus stimulus package, allows independent contractors, business owners, part-time workers and other populations usually barred from ordinary unemployment assistance to apply for similar benefits. In the week ending May 9, 29 states reported 841,995 initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

According to the latest unemployment situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing lost 1.3 million jobs in April as the economy as a whole lost 20.5 million. Most of those jobs, just under a million, were in durable goods manufacturing, with motor vehicles and parts jobs accounting for 382,000 jobs and fabricated metal products accounting for 109,000. Nondurable manufacturing lost 416,000 jobs.

In March, a revised report found that manufacturing had lost 34,000 jobs, 20,000 in durable goods and 13,000 in nondurable goods.

While it has escaped the heavier losses borne by the leisure and hospitality sector, which lost almost 50% of its jobs in April, manufacturing was already experiencing troubled growth and difficulty attracting workers before COVID-19 related precautions began shutting down businesses. In a statement released earlier this month, the Alliance for American Manufacturing noted the sector had not even finished recovering from the Great Recession.

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