We might have grown numb to the numbers, but they remain grim. The Department of Labor reported that just over one million Americans filed for initial unemployment last week, which is essentially the same as the previous week. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. had never recorded more than about 700,000 filing for initial unemployment in one week, and now we’ve had more than one million per week almost every week for six months.
Making it worse, more than 27 million Americans filed for continuing claims, meaning they had been unemployed for more than a week. This is down slightly from 28 million in the previous week, but still represents about 17% of the labor force.
Even if the pandemic and lock down ended tomorrow, it’s hard to see how we could put 20 million or more people back to work in short order. We’re likely to have high unemployment for at least the next year or two.