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6.6 Million File for Unemployment, Doubling Unprecedented Record

April 2, 2020
March 28 saw a second straight week of record-breaking unemployment benefit claims.

Nearly ten million people applied for unemployment in the last two weeks of March, new data from the Department of Labor shows. 6,648,000 people filed for unemployment insurance in the week of March 28, according to the Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figure doubles the previous week’s adjusted number, 3,307,000. “This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series,” the report notes, the second time in two weeks it has done so.

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to a massive amount of layoffs, driving the number of people applying for unemployment benefits up dramatically. State comments submitted to the BLS say the damage is wide-ranging: While many states identify the services industry as the main driver of layoffs, others cited manufacturing, construction and retail layoffs.

The data, released April 2, also includes state comments from the week of March 21 and more detailed state comments from that week. Pennsylvania, which topped the list for having 362,012 more filers than before, identified layoffs in “transportation and warehousing, accommodation and food services, administrative, support, waste management, and remediation services, and health care and social assistance industries.”

Ohio, which followed Pennsylvania with 189,263 claims, simply noted: “Increase in initial claims due to COVID-19.” 26 other states echoed the phrase in their own comments, although several states did not include comments at all.

The CARES Act, or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, expanded unemployment insurance access to more workers and coverage by 13 more weeks. In total, the act, signed into law March 27, contained $260 billion to bolster unemployment benefits, in addition to $42 billion for direct payments to low-wage workers. It followed two other, smaller stimulus bills, and is likely to be followed by a fourth.

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