1 in 5 Workers in the U.S. Have Filed for Unemployment Over Last Few Months as Claims Top 33M

An additional 3.2 million Americans filed for initial unemployment claims in the week ending May 2

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Nearly 3.2 million Americans filed for initial unemployment claims in the week ending May 2, meaning the total has now surpassed 33.5 million claims over the last seven weeks, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday.

The figure, which factors in seasonal adjustments, was down 677,000 from the previous week, but still means that nearly one in five workers have filed for unemployment since mid-March, when the coronavirus shut down the economy and led to layoffs and furloughs across multiple industries.

The silver lining in the large numbers comes as last week marked the fifth week in a row that the number of initial claims fell, since it peaked at 6.9 million the last week of March, CNN Business reported.

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, told CNBC that the claims numbers should fall to 1 million by mid-June at the current pace.

“We’re very hopeful that June will see the beginnings of a rebound as states begin to reopen,” he said.

The Labor Department is expected to release its official jobs report for April on Friday, and economists surveyed by Dow Jones expect to see a plunge of 21.5 million jobs, which would make it the worst month in American history, according to CNBC.

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The rate for the month is expected to hit 15 percent or higher — a huge surge considering just two months earlier, the rate was just 3.5 percent, a 50-year low, The New York Times reported. The unemployment rate has never gone above 10.8 percent in the many years the government has been keeping track.

According to the Times, the last jobs report was based on data from early March, and showed losses in restaurants, hotels and other industries. April’s report will likely show further losses in industries like retail.

As of Thursday morning, there were at least 1.2 million cases and 73,549 deaths attributed to the coronavirus in the United States, according to the Times.

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