The 22 million jobs lost in the month since the pandemic began to force governments and businesses to enact shutdowns and stay-at-home orders have all but erased the gains in jobs made since the Great Recession. By comparison, there were around 8.7 million jobs lost at that time.
Some states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania, have been hit exponentially harder, with one in every five working people now unemployed.
Economists say 15 percent of workers are now jobless and there could be more overall. Some of the data is still vague as everything has happened fast thus far and large amounts of people haven’t been able to access their unemployment websites due to the overload.
“The bad news is, there were so many unemployment claims that it has collapsed the unemployment department’s system, their website system, their phone system,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday (April 21).
Data for the week ending April 18 is expected to come Thursday (April 23).
Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said this time period is crucial because it gives a clearer picture of what the losses will look like this month. She said April is likely to be the worst month of the pandemic, and possibly the worst month in American history, for job losses.
She said the government’s methodology and some workers being furloughed rather than laid off or fired could soften the blow, but not by much.
Wilmington Trust Economist Rhea Thomas offered bit more hope, saying the filings likely peaked the week ending April 4 when there were 6.615 million filings. Thomas said there were probably still unemployment filings in process, but they might be slowing.
Swonk said the pace of losses is slowing, although “the pain is compounding.”