Millions more Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, sending the six-week total above 30 million since the coronavirus pandemic began to shutter businesses across the country.
Initial jobless claims totaled 3.84 million in the week ended April 25 following 4.44 million in the prior week, according to Labor Department figures Thursday. Economists had projected 3.5 million claims.
States have ramped up staff at workforce centers, with New York adding 1,000 more workers and Texas tripling the size of its phone center staff. But that is still not enough.
According to new data from the Labor Department, California — the first state to issue a stay-at-home order — paid only 1 in 8 claims in March. With an estimated labor force of 19.5 million, 3.3 million Californians have filed unemployment applications in the four weeks after March 14.
“We’re paying about $1 billion a day in unemployment insurance claims,” California Labor Secretary Julie Su told NBC News. “In California just in the last six weeks alone, we had over 3.5 million people file for unemployment insurance. To put that in perspective, two weeks ago that was already more than we had in all of 2019.”