COVID-19 continues to take its toll on the nation’s economy, as another 3.8 million Americans filed for jobless claims week ended April 25, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday (April 30). That brings the total number of claims filed since COVID-19 struck America to more than 30 million.
The only good news is that the latest seasonally adjusted claims actually fell by 603,000 from the previous week’s level, which the Labor Department upwardly revised by 15,000 to 4,442,000. The agency also said that its four-week moving average of claims -- which can smooth out weekly variations -- fell 757,000 from the previous week's revised average to hit 5 million.
"As states begin the process of reopening and Americans return to work, today’s unemployment report reflects once again the hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic," Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said in releasing the numbers.
States with biggest increases in initial claims for the week ended April 18 were Florida, up 326,251, Connecticut, 68,758, West Virginia, 31,811, Louisiana 12,270 and Texas, 6,504. Those with the largest decreases included New York, where the numbers fell by 189,517; California, where the total was 127,112 lower; and Michigan, where claims decreased by 85,500. Georgia likewise saw 72,578 fewer claims, and Washington slipped by 60,980.
Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst with Bankrate.com, saw some positives in that the weekly tally of claims has dwindled since peaking at more than 6 million at March's end. “Muddling the picture is the expectation and hope that many of these workers can return to their jobs as society emerges from work-at-home measures,” he said in a statement. “Similarly, it is hoped that the Payroll Protection Program is having some success protecting workers and their incomes.”
But U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CNN minutes after the numbers were released that "we have to do everything in our power to make a path to reenter the economy and it’s testing, testing, testing, and it all comes back to science. We have to have confidence that Americans can join the workforce because others have been tested. The economy cannot be turned around with it.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. Commerce Department said the U.S. economy contracted at a 4.8 percent rate during the first quarter, its biggest dip since the Great Recession. The latest numbers bring an end to the longest expansion in the nation as the coronavirus has crippled the nation’s economy.