The federal government is moving at an I Was Social Distancing Before It Was Cool Corona Shirt breakneck pace to respond to the coronavirus recession. In the states, however, the preliminary data suggests staggering job losses, exceeding economists’ expectations of just a week ago. If the pattern holds, it will mark the sharpest downturn in the labor market on record. A spike in initial claims for unemployment insurance is among the earliest signs that a recession is underway. The most recent official number is from the first week of March, and it shows 221,000 claims, roughly on par with the average of the last several months.
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State unemployment offices, however, are I Was Social Distancing Before It Was Cool Corona Shirt reporting huge increases in the volume of more recent claims. Hawaii reported 1,500 claims on Monday, five times the previous Monday. From Friday to Tuesday, Connecticut saw 30,000 claims, about 10 times the average for a whole week. Pennsylvania received a staggering 50,000 claims on Monday alone, compared to 12,000 claims for the first week of March.
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All of this implies that for the I Was Social Distancing Before It Was Cool Corona Shirt U.S. as a whole, total initial claims for unemployment insurance for this week could spike to over 2 million. During the worst week of the Great Recession, the last week of March 2009, claims reached 665,000. Some perspective: Even when the economy is booming, hundreds of thousands of workers file for unemployment benefits each week, and an even greater number find new jobs. In December 2007, by way of comparison, the U.S. economy added 108,000 jobs. In March 2009, it lost 800,000.