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Another 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week

Originally Published: 23 APR 20 08:31 ET
Updated: 23 APR 20 08:41 ET

(CNN) -- For the fifth week in a row, millions of American workers applied for unemployment benefits, seeking financial relief as businesses remained closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

First-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 4.4 million in the week ending April 18, after factoring in seasonal adjustments, the US Department of Labor said.

Without those adjustments — which economists use to account for seasonal hiring fluctuations — the raw number was 4.2 million.

No matter how you look at the data, the last five weeks have marked the most sudden surge in jobless claims since the Department of Labor started tracking the data in 1967. American workers filed 26.5 million initial claims since March 14, according to the seasonally adjusted numbers.

Not all of those claims will result in benefits being paid. Some will be rejected because workers did not meet eligibility requirements. Even so, numbers at that level reflect a devastating blow to workers, indicating roughly 16.2% of the US labor force is suffering from layoffs, furloughs or reduced hours during the coronavirus pandemic.

Early studies have shown lower-income workers are particularly affected by job losses, and minorities, specifically black and Hispanic families, are expected to bear the brunt of the economic cost of this crisis.

Meanwhile, states continue to struggle to process the overwhelming volume of unemployment claims. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Tuesday that his state had 1,000 people "just to take the incoming unemployment calls. That's how high the volume is. And they still can't keep up."

And Florida's state unemployment agency said on Tuesday that it had only paid a paltry 14% of the claims filed since March 15 — among the slowest in the country, according to an Associated Press analysis.

Just over a quarter of Florida's claims were rejected because filers were found ineligible for the regular jobless benefits program. However, some may still qualify under a new pandemic unemployment assistance program that Congress created in the $2 trillion relief package last month.

Lawmakers temporarily extended the unemployment program to independent contractors, the self-employed, gig workers and those affected by the coronavirus — and states have scrambled to update their computer systems to process those new types of claims.

— Tami Luhby contributed to this article.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Lawrence 35 days ago
USA could be on the brink of a major shift of economy from the current concentration of wealth in few hands, and something more equal. The .1% holding vast wealth resources will fight this with everything they have.
goodorbad Lawrence 35 days ago
? What? This is about JOB loss-either by lay off or total closure of the workplace altogether with no coming back or re-opening. The "wealth" you refer to will still be retained. Those who have lost jobs will hopefully find new ones. If not, they will have to rely on the Gov. (Tax payer funded) programs. Which the WORKING people fund. So those fortunate to still be employed may see a devastating income tax increase-enough that it would be better off NOT working. The uber rich: athletes, Hollywood, rap stars, Pelosi, etc. will NOT give up their mansions and money to allow you to have a "free" home and "free" healthcare and "free" food. You honestly think everyone in the USA is going to live in a micro home with group gardens and bike to their government sanctioned "job"? The uber rich DO donate $ to universities, research, red cross, etc to help out. That is an awesome thing to do. Help out is what it should be. If there were no uber rich there would be no scholarships, drug research, charities. it is up to each person who is capable of working to do so and support themselves. Be it a janitor or a CEO. It is called pride. A sense of SELF worth. We need both of those jobs to make the world go round.
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