3 million more unemployment claims as real jobless rate soars to Great Depression levels

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More than 2.98 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims in the week ending May 9, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That brings the total unemployment claims over the past eight weeks to 36.5 million.

The almost 3 million jobless claims represents the sixth consecutive weekly drop in claims, but were down from 3.2 million the week prior. However, it is still more than four times higher than the previous pre-pandemic record from October 1982 of 695,000 claims. That former record has been topped for eight weeks straight.

Over the past week, Connecticut and Georgia lead the nation with 298,680 and 241,387 claims, respectively.

The 14.7% unemployment rate released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics only represents the period tracked through mid-April. Since then, another 10 million Americans have claimed unemployment benefits. When those 10 million are added to the already 23.1 million unemployed Americans in the latest jobs reports, it brings the total unemployed over 33 million. That would be a real unemployment rate of 21.1%—compared to the Great Depression peak of 25.6%.

But not all of these Americans claiming unemployment benefits will get added into the official unemployment rate: Only out-of-work Americans who are searching for new positions are categorized as unemployed and in the labor force. And many jobless workers are choosing to wait out the virus and stay-at-home order before starting their search.

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