New unemployment claims since start of shutdown is equal to about 1 out of 4 people who had a job in February.

If you could take a photograph of the US labor market today, the picture would look something like this. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A useful adjective to describe the devastation we are seeing in the job market escapes me.

New unemployment claims for week ending 5/16/20 were 2.12 million, seasonally adjusted. Nearly as many, 1.19 million who are not otherwise eligible unemployment filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) in the week.

That’s somewhere around 3.3 million people who lost their job in week 10 of the shutdown.

My tally of data:

  • 40.73M – seasonally adjusted new claims since the economy was put in an induced coma
  • 6.82M – new claims for unemployment by people who otherwise aren’t eligible for unemployment – self-employed and independent contractors
  • 47.55M – total of seasonally adjusted plus independent contractors and self-employed people out of work since shutdown began

Number of new unemployment claims is a tally equal to about one fourth (24.8%) of the civilian labor force in February. Independent contractors and self-employed people who are out of work is now equal to about 4% of the February civilian labor market.

That means about three out of ten people who were in the civilian labor force in February are now out of a job (28.9%).

If you haven’t passed out from the shock of those numbers, you could add in the number of people who were unemployed in February (5.7M or 3.5%) which means the number of people who were unemployed or who have filed for unemployment since the shutdown started is somewhere in the range of 53 million people. That represent about one out of three people who were in the civilian labor market in February (32.4%).

Anyone have any idea for what word could be used to describe our current situation where the number of people who are out of work is roughly equivalent to one third of the civilian labor force in February?

The devastation is going to continue sinse several states (California, New York, and Illinois) space have barely started to open up their economies.


Weekly press release from the Department of labor: Unemployment insurance weekly claims

5/28/20– Wall Street Journal –U.S. Workers Filed 2.1 Million Jobless Claims Last Week


Summary of new claims and running total

Here is my running tally of the new unemployment claims.

Table shows weekly claims in millions and as a percentage of February civilian labor force

Data for PUA is listed starting 5/2/20.

Several subtotals are presented.

unemployed % of Feb PUA % 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%
4/4/20             6.62 4.0%
4/11/20             5.24 3.2%
4/18/20             4.44 2.7%
4/25/20             3.84 2.3%
earlier    1.60 1.0%
5/2/20             3.17 1.9%    0.96 0.6%
5/9/20             2.69 1.6%    0.84 0.5%
5/16/20             2.45 1.5%    2.23 1.4%
5/23/20             2.12 1.3%    1.19 0.7%
 —-  —-  —-  —-
shutdown subtotal      40.73 24.8%    6.82 4.1%
PUA             6.82 4.1%
 —-  —-
shutdown total      47.55 28.9%
unemployed in Feb.             5.70 3.5%
 —-  —-
estimated unemployed      53.25 32.4%
2/20 civilian labor force    164.54


Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

The California Employment Development Division describes PUA as:

As part of the federal CARES Act, the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program helps unemployed Californians who are business owners, self-employed, independent contractors, have limited work history, and others not usually eligible for regular state UI benefits who are out of business or services are significantly reduced as a direct result of the pandemic. The provisions of the program include:

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