Record 6.6 Million Weekly Unemployment Benefits Claims Filed, DOL Reports

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

April 6, 2020

A record 6.6 million Americans filed unemployment benefits claims for March 23-27, the last full week of the month. That doubled the 3.3 million unemployment benefits claims filed the previous week and represents a staggering jump from the 200,000 claims filed just one month ago, before state governments ordered many nonessential businesses to close.

The actual number could be even higher than the 6.6 million figure that the US Department of Labor reported because many applicants reportedly had trouble filing claims as state labor departments became overwhelmed.

According to monthly jobs data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) last Friday, total non-farm employment fell by 701,000 in March. Employment in leisure and hospitality dropped by 459,000 during this period. Notable job losses also were reported in:

  • Health care and social assistance (-61,000);
  • Professional and business services (-52,000);
  • Retail trade (-46,000); and
  • Construction (-29,000).

The number of unemployed persons who reported being on a temporary layoff more than doubled in March to 1.8 million.

The BLS acknowledges that the reference period for compiling its data predated many coronavirus-related business closures that occurred in the second half of the month. Thus, the actual numbers could be even more dire than what is reported with its data.

The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting that the unemployment rate will exceed 10% for the second quarter of 2020, and some analysts predict that the figure will be closer to 15%.

A recent XpertHR podcast focuses on COVID-19 plant closing and furlough issues affecting employers across the US.