U.S. weekly jobless claims remain elevated as millions more seek benefits

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Three point eight million people filed claims for jobless benefits last week well that's down from the previous week this brings us to a new disturbing total thirty million people have applied for unemployment in this country in the six weeks since the corona virus began and Pierre Scott Horsley joins us now to talk about these numbers he's got good morning Rachel all this doesn't get any easier does that with each passing week what are these what are these numbers say ritual that total of thirty million jobless claims over the last six weeks since the pandemic started taking a wrecking ball the job market that represents nearly one out of five people who had a job back in February so the pandemic has really put a very large crater in the job market and while initial claims last week were lower than the week before they weren't a lot lower we continue to see very high volumes of people filing for unemployment week after week and that's a just the initial shock from the stay at home orders issued more than a month ago now is continuing to ripple out and due to broader damage in the economy it's not just restaurants and retail shops but other businesses that supply those firms that have now been affected and then they're sort of unrelated things you'll Boeing just announced they're gonna cut ten percent of the company's work force I mean the steep decline in air travel from the pandemic has just exacerbated Boeing's earlier problems with its troubled seven thirty seven Max jet so we're also going to get the overall unemployment rate soon parade that's not gonna look good isn't no we'll get that official number next week and it's probably going to be higher than anything we've seen since the Great Depression of the nineteen thirties certainly well above the ten percent mark we saw during the worst of the financial crisis and as bad as that official unemployment number is it will almost surely understates the depth of the job losses for one thing it's based on a survey that was taken a couple weeks ago and we've now seen millions more people filing for unemployment since then what's more people who are still in lockdown you know won't be searching for new jobs and if you're not actively looking for work you don't get counted in the headline unemployment number so we might look at other measures you know just this week and P. R. released a new survey along with our partners at PBS newshour and Marist college which found fifty percent of Americans had either lost jobs or lost working hours as a result of the corona virus pandemics of the pain has really been widespread and Entercom after such low unemployment rate I mean it's just such an abrupt turnaround yeah that's right we've got for having the lowest jobless rate in half a century to the highest since the Great Depression in the span of two months so there really is some economic whiplash here federal reserve chairman Jerome Powell talked about this yesterday and he noted once again that the long running job boom had been really good for workers who are often on the sidelines of the economy minorities people with less education these marginalized workers had finally begun to see some gains it is heartbreaking frankly to see that all threatened now all the more need for our urgent response and also that a Congress which has been urgent and large and to do what we can to avoid longer run damage to the economy Congress has authorized unemployment benefits that are both more generous and more widely available during this pandemic period but those expanded federal benefits only run through the end of July and it's not all clear we're going to be out of the woods by them right and there were so many problems with people of the phone lines being one of them they just couldn't get through it to start the process to get the benefits absolutely you know state unemployment offices have just been overwhelmed trying to distribute the regular state benefits and they're only beginning to distribute these expanded federal benefits offices have been adding staff but they're saddled with antiquated computer systems that the safety net is really stretched in here Andy Stettler who's an expert on unemployment insurance at the century foundation says anyone who spent time talking with displaced workers knows that it's exasperating and confusing between filing and actually getting your unemployment

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