April 23, 2020
New statistics from the Labor Department find more than 4.4 million Americans filed jobless claims in the week ending April 18. The tally, which was lower than last week’s revised 5.5 million claims filed, underscores the ongoing impact the coronavirus is having on the economy — and why so many local governments want to re-start business operations.
Indeed, with 22 million jobless claims filed over the previous three weeks, the unprecedented rise in claims since March has driven the unemployment rate near 20% — just 5% less than during the Great Depression in the early 1930s.
“Today’s unemployment report shows continued, elevated unemployment claims caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said in a statement.
Scalia said the federal government would continue assisting states with enhanced unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, with 44 States now paying the $600 additional weekly benefit provided by the Act.
The Department also continues to implement the paid leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and has now initiated hundreds of cases to ensure workers receive what they’re entitled to under the law.
“As American businesses look to open up again under the guidelines presented by the White House last week, the Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will continue to provide guidance and support to protect workers and ensure safe workplaces, backed up as necessary by appropriate use of OSHA’s enforcement authorities,” Scalia said.