3.2 million new claims for unemployment last week. Running out of negative words to describe the severity of job losses.

Unemployment by Sean MacEntee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

New unemployment claims for week ending 5/2/20 are 3,169,000, seasonally adjusted.

The tally of new claims is 33.48 million since the economy was put in an induced coma.

That means about 1 out of every 5 people in the civilian labor force back in February are out of a job today.

I’m running out of words to describe how horribly the economy has been hit. Seem to have exhausted the adjectives that apply. We have a terrible mess and it is going to take a long time to fully recover from the lost jobs and even longer to recover consumer and business confidence.

This discussion will be posted across several of my blogs.


Expectations from economists interviewed by the WSJ, or perhaps we should say their wild guesses, are the flood of new claims will taper off in May. Will likely be months before the new jobs exceed the new unemployment claims. Will likely be years before new jobs offset the tidal waves of job losses in March, April, and May.

Summary of new claims and running total

I have prepared a running tally of the new unemployment claims, which is shown below.

The table accumulates the number of new claims by week with a subtotal of losses sin mid March. The new claims as a percent of the number of people employed in February is listed to show the magnitude of the devastation.

New this week is a tally of new claims before the economy was shut down.

Bottom of the chart shows the total new claims and percent of February workforce. This is combined with the February unemployment number to develop a guess at the total unemployed now.

unemployed % of Feb.
2/1/20              0.20
2/8/20              0.20
2/15/20              0.22
2/22/20              0.22
2/29/20              0.22
3/7/20              0.21
3/14/20              0.28
——  —-
3/21/20              3.31 2.0%
3/28/20              6.87 4.2%
4/4/2020 – released 4/9/20              6.62 4.0%
4/11/20 – released 4/16/20              5.24 3.2%
4/18, released 4/23              4.44 2.7%
4/25/20              3.84 2.3%
5/2/20, released 5/7/20              3.17 1.9%
 —-  —-
shutdown total            33.48 20.3%
unemployed in February              5.70 3.5%
 —-  —-
estimated unemployed            39.18 23.8%
2/20 civilian labor force          164.54


My tally shows that the number of unemployed is somewhere around one-fourth of the number of people in the civilian labor force back in February. Point estimate (or perhaps my wild guess) is 23.8%.

Let that sink in. One out of four people in the labor force in February is now out of a job.

In spite of that devastation, lots of governors are keeping the overwhelming portion of their state’s economy in the deep freezer.

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