The Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims dropped about 10,000 last week, from 1.31 million to 1.3 million people claiming benefits for the first time. The number of people filing for insured unemployment, or people who are covered by state unemployment programs, dropped from 17.7 million to 17.3 million.
But there’s a bit more to it than that.
These numbers only consider those people who qualify for state programs, which cuts out gig workers, those who work part-time, and the self-employed. To get benefits to these people, the federal government developed the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program under the CARES Act. There were another 900,000 people filing for first-time benefits under this program, and a total of more than 14 million people claiming benefits under the PUA.
Across all unemployment programs, more than 32 million were receiving benefits the week of June 27 (which was reported July 16). That’s 400,000 less than the previous week, but still represents 20% of the U.S. workforce.
That’s a lot of people without jobs.