How Extreme Are the Unemployment Numbers? (Weekly Update)

(June 11, 2020) As the employment situation in the country has appeared to stabilize, we have decided to stop updating this graphic. Adding each week’s unemployment insurance claims number showing perpetual increases distorts the picture of current employment as shown by the metric of continued unemployment insurance claims leveling off. Should the situation change, we may change our stance.

June 4, 2020

On June 4, the US federal government reported 1.9 million new unemployment insurance claims following the prior ten weeks in which 2.1 million, 2.4 million, 2.7 million, 3.2 million, 3.8 million, 4.4 million, 5.2 million, 6.6 million, 6.9 million, and 3.3 millin new claims were filed respectively.

This surge in new jobless claims within eleven weeks equates to about 32.0% of the US labor force—a total of 42.6 million workers. The speed and magnitude at which layoffs are occurring is unprecedented. To put this in perspective, it would be as if the sea level—or the average level of jobless claims—rose in eleven weeks to cover all elevations under 1,642 feet.


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